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IAO 131
18 February 2009 @ 03:08 pm


A warning - If one practices yoga with eyes closed, the material world becomes "mundane" and the senses become obstacles. This means: the form of one's practices may influence the metaphysic adopted from one's results (and we certainly do not want confounds in our spiritual experiments). {2.18.09}

Yoga deals with identity - The method of Yoga deals fundamentally with identity. The problem: We naturally identify with our bodies and minds. The solution: Attain to the identity of Brahman, of all the infinite in all things, which is not subject to change like the finite body & mind. "Feel your identity with the Supreme Being in meditation. That is the essence of meditation" (Swami Krishnananda). It is the dissolution of attachment to and identification with the personality; it is the dissolution of any kind of attachment to and identification with any kind of limit. Limit means separation; separation means duality... Meditation means identification; identification means union; union means non-duality, limitless, etc. {2.18.09}

The Tower - Magick (and Yoga) means disintegration and corruption; one expands oneself by knocking down & dissolving boundaries. {2.18.09}

Do initiates suffer? - Physical suffering is a necessary and useful reaction to certain harmful stimuli; psychological suffering is an unnecessary and maladaptive reaction to stimuli. The 'uninitiated' stance (and the impetus to become initiate) is that "everything is suffering" because of this maladaptation; the 'initiated' stance is that "everything is pure joy." The senses are embraces on both poles of pleasure and pain ('pure joy' encompasses and embraces pain... a perception attained by 'the initiated')."The embrace of him intense on every centre of pain and pleasure. The sixth interior sense aflame with the inmost self of Him..." (Liber VII); "All that a man bears for God's sake, God makes light and sweet for him. If all was right with you, your sufferings would no longer be suffering, but love and comfort." (Meister Eckhart) {2.18.09}
 
 
IAO 131
17 February 2009 @ 04:26 pm


Schopenhauer & samadhi - There is a definite connection between the metaphysics of Kant's transcendental aesthetic (that Space & Time are necessary backdrops for phenomenal reality, and noumenal reality lies behind the spatio-temporal world) and the idea of samadhi arising from the practice of concentration on any arbitrary object. I believe it was Schopenhauer who realized that, since we distinguish one thing from another thing by the fact that they are distinct in space and time, and since the noumenal is outside space and time, there would be no possible way to distinguish one Ding an sich ("thing-in-itself") from another. Therefore the noumenon can only be one Thing, and for Schopenhauer this was the Will. Schopenhauer realized that if one was to somehow perceive the noumenal reality, the Ding an sich, then one would be perceiving the same, unitary Will, or noumenon (since there can't be a multiplicity of noumena as explained above). This follows roughly the same logic as the Yogi when he practices toward the state of non-duality, samadhi. In Raja Yoga specifically, one concentrates one-pointedly on a certain object of attention - an image, phrase, word, etc. - to a point of such intensity that the perceiver and object of perception appear to merge. Subject unites with object in perception, but a new subject or new object doesn't arise. Instead, they both dissolve into That which contains both. In yoga terms, the yogi unites with the object of concentration and Vishnu arises. It is the same noumenal reality that emerges out of the union of any two things; behind the phenomenal reality of any thing is the same noumenal reality - that which Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Thelemites all understand as Will - and so concentration on ANY object is sufficient to bring about the same result, the same noumenon, the same Will underlying all phenomena, the same perception of the continuity of all things. {2.14.09}

• The unsuccessful revolutionary is a traitor; the successful revolutionary is a founding father. {2.17.09}

Spiritual attainment does not correct all the "ills" in the world - A world without corruption & chaos is a fantasy world. Many people look to spiritual attainment to end all sorrows and obtain the good life, but this is only a delusional phantom. Attainment doesn't change the world, it changes the perception of the world. ("Spiritual attainment" is misleading - it is a state of mind just like happiness, dreaming, and psychosis). The world is constantly changing; change implies motion; motion implies friction; friction implies conflict: the only way to escape this world is to falsify it. {2.17.09}

Embodied philosophy - One can most easily tell in a person (if they should suddenly decide to turn to philosophizing) whether they would be inclined to optimism or pessimism by observing whether they carry themselves with their chin up or their shoulders slouched. {2.17.09}

The taste of ego-dissolution is bittersweet - Envy, pity, and enmity all require an ego-concept (a sense of self as separate from the world)... and so do ownership (objects, actions, and even thoughts are no longer "one's own," for who is there to own things in this state?) and moral responsibility (who is it that is responsibility if there aren't separate agents or selves in the world?). The perception of Unity is both wonderful and terrible. {2.17.09}

• For any event, there are infinite potential interpretations on many planes (including especially the etiological & moral) - none inherently more 'true' than another, although some can be more useful towards particular ends in particular circumstances. {2.17.09}
 
 
IAO 131
04 February 2009 @ 10:22 am


When doing some practice or ritual, if one is a Thelemite then one must always ask this question:

How does this help the fulfillment of my Will?

Too many times do Thelemites perform ceremonial rituals and yoga practices for some aim other than the fulfillment of their Wills.

Thelema often speaks of Initiation, the Great Work, Knowledge & Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, Nothing/Naught/None, union of opposites, etc. which represents the attainment of the "consciousness of the continuity of existence" wherein one becomes "chief of all," insofar as one becomes identified with the All. The Universe and the Self are understood as one Thing, a state of non-duality. This unity is called "Nothing" because it is continuous (see Liber AL vel Legis I:22-23, 26-30). This is the First Step or the Next Step. One's Will is the dynamic nature of the Self: if you don't fully know the nature of that Self, then one cannot fully express that nature.

Therefore, attainment of "the consciousness of continuity of existence" must be every aspirant's First Aim. "There is a single main definition of the object of all magical Ritual. It is the uniting of the Microcosm with the Macrocosm. The Supreme and Complete Ritual is therefore the Invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel; or, in the language of Mysticism, Union with God. All other magical Rituals are particular cases of this general principle..." (Magick in Theory and Practice). If one seeks the Will of the True Self, one must attain to that True Self. "The True Self is the meaning of the True Will: know thyself through Thy Way" ("The Heart of the Master"). In this way, all Acts must be done "To me," with the intention of the attainment of Infinity in one's mind.

Once one has attained to 'Naught' (Solve), then one's task is the formulation of that Divinity in motion (Coagula). The True Self has been attained, now it must express itself in the world. "To me" now takes on a new meaning: All Acts must be done as an acknowledgement of that Infinity, as a fulfillment of one of its Possibilities. "To me" means treating all Acts as sacred... as participation in the Joyful Sacrament of Existence. Further, since the Higher (the attainment of unity of perception) has been attained and solidified, the Lower must be consolidated. The mind and body must be fortified and enhanced by all means. The Book of the Law says "Wisdom says: be strong! Then canst thou bear more joy." The mind and body are the means of manifestation of Divinity in the world; they are the means by which the All may become self-aware of itself in the Many. Therefore just as a polished diamond may reflect light more clearly, so must the mind and body be "polished" to reflect the Supernal Light more purely. One must "Contemplate your own Nature," "Explore the Nature and Powers of your own Being," and "Develop in due harmony and proportion every faculty which you posses" ("Duty"). The body must be strong and healthy, and the mind must be elastic and ever-expanding in its limits & knowledge. Not only must one's faculties be strong, but one must always "exceed! exceed!" You must "Go... unto the outermost places and subdue all things" ("Liber LXV") and "Extend the dominion of your consciousness, and its control of all forces alien to it, to the utmost" ("Duty"). This must always be done with the fulfillment of one's Will in mind as the impetus; whether one is attempting to attain to Unity or attempting to fortify the mind and body to fashion a suitable vehicle for Divinity to manifest is up to the individual.

We've seen that all ritual, yoga, or any workings must be towards the end of the fulfillment of the Will. First, "the consciousness of the continuity of existence" must be attained, and secondly one's mind and body must be strengthened, fortified, explored, contemplated, and their dominion extended. The former might be called the Mystic Half of the Path, and the latter might be called the Magick Half of the Path. Either way, both the Higher and the Lower must be attained "For Perfection abideth not in the Pinnacles, or in the Foundations, but in the ordered Harmony of one with all" ("Liber Causae"). If an Act is not made "To me," either as a desire of one's spirit to unite with All Things or as a rapturous love-cry coming from the joy of participation in the World... "if the ritual be not ever unto me: then expect the direful judgments of Ra Hoor Khuit!"

"There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt."
 
 
IAO 131
30 January 2009 @ 09:16 am


Introduction


The politics of Thelema is a mirror. One looks into it to find insight and only finds one's ideals reflected back. One might say that in approaching Thelema with a democratic spirit, one will see a justification of democracy; in approach Thelema with an aristocratic spirit, one will see a justification of aristocracy. What does Thelema really say about politics? It is a complex issue with many facets; to understand what Thelema does say, one has to separate away what Thelema doesn't approve of politically.

Anarchy


Let's first look at anarchy. People claim that if every person is doing their own Will there would be no order and it would be complete chaos. Against this, Crowley explains the nature of Will, "It has naturally been objected by economists that our Law, in declaring every man and every woman to be a star, reduces society to its elements, and makes hierarchy or even democracy impossible. The view is superficial. Each star has a function in its galaxy proper to its own nature. Much mischief has come from our ignorance in insisting, on the contrary, that each citizen is fit for any and every social duty" (The Law is for All, II:58). There is a general idea in Thelema that each star as a particular orbit or course. Thelema implies the freedom to do one's Will but also the severe restriction of only doing one's Will; "It is the apotheosis of Freedom; but it is also the strictest possible bond" ("Liber II: The Message of the Master Therion"), for "Thou hast no right but to do thy will" (Liber AL vel Legis I:42).

Crowley often makes the analogy that a person's relationship to the state is like a muscle's relationship to the body. It must perform the function it is effective at, not attempt to perform a function it is not fit for, and not concern itself with the functioning of the other parts. "For every Individual in the State must be perfect in his own Function, with Contentment, respecting his own Task as necessary and holy, not envious of another's. For so only mayst thou build up a free state, whose directing Will shall be singly directed to the Welfare of all" (Liber Aleph, "De Ordins Rerum"). Therefore Thelema does not justify anarchy as a political system because each star as certain qualities, abilities, proclivities, etc. which make it fit for a certain function; each star must go its particular course, concentrate on its particular functioning, and essentially mind its own business. Just as the different organs perform different functions yet work together to produce a working body, so also does the concentration of each star on following its particular course allow for a functioning State - or even Mankind. As Crowley says, "It is generally understood by all men of education that the general welfare is necessary to the highest development of the particular" ("An Epistle Concerning the Law of Thelema"). Thelema does encourage the autonomy of every individual and the diversity of expressions, yet that does not exclude the possibility of people voluntarily being a part of various organizations (educational, recreational, governmental, etc.).

Democracy


Let's now look at democracy. The equality of all people, the problem of elected officials, and the similarity of all people are all things which Thelema does not accept. Firstly, many people quote "Every man and every woman is a star" as a justification of democracy. Since every man and every woman is a star, we are all equal. Thelema asserts that everyone is equal in their Essence; the quintessence of every Star is Godhead. Thelema does not assert that everyone is equal functionally: different people have different abilities, detriments, and possibilities. As Crowley puts succinctly, "It is useless to pretend that men are equal; facts are against it. And we are not going to stay, dull and contented as oxen, in the ruck of humanity" (The Law is For All, II:25). Although people are not equal in the sense of their abilities, Thelema does assert that every person has a right to live, die, eat, drink, move, think, create, and love as they will - every person has the absolute and equal right to accomplish their Wills. "The Law is for all," after all (Liber AL vel Legis I:34)... Further, Thelema agrees with democracy in treating each individual as sovereign and responsible.

One reason that Crowley understands democracy to be ineffective is that it requires the mass, the mob, to elect representatives. Thelema is against mob-mentality and mob-morality. In Liber AL vel Legis (II:25) it plainly says, "Ye are against the people, O my chosen!" Crowley writes, "The average voter is a moron.  He believes what he reads in newspapers, feeds his imagination and lulls his repressions on the cinema, and hopes to break away from his slavery by football pools, cross-word prizes, or spotting the winner of the 3.30.  He is ignorant as no illiterate peasant is ignorant: he has no power of independent thought.  He is the prey of panic.  But he has the vote. The men in power can only govern by stampeding him into wars, playing on his fears and prejudices until he acquiesces in repressive legislation against his obvious interests, playing on his vanity until he is totally blind to his own misery and serfdom. The alternative method is undisguised dragooning.  In brief, we govern by a mixture of lying and bullying" ("The Scientific Solution of the Problem of Government"). In this way, democracy (ironically) encourages rule by deception and coercion of the mob-mentality. It does not engender political progress.

Democracy can lead to the 'bully' gaining power but it can also lead to the mediocre gaining power. Crowley writes, "The principle of popular election is a fatal folly; its results are visible in every so-called democracy. The elected man is always the mediocrity; he is the safe man, the sound man, the man who displeases the majority less than any other; and therefore never the genius, the man of progress and illumination" ("Liber CXCIV: An Initimation with Reference to the Constitution of the Order"). When the majority is in power - it is mob-rule - and the "efficient eccentrics," who are the real men and women of "progress and illumination" are never elected because the majority will always elect the common denominator. This is also not conducive to political progress.

Coming back to the idea that each person has a particular function for it to fulfill - a star with a certain course to run - Thelema would be against the general leveling of all people to uniformity that is associated with democracy. We tell our kids they can grow up to be anything but again, "Each star has a function in its galaxy proper to its own nature. Much mischief has come from our ignorance in insisting, on the contrary, that each citizen is fit for any and every social duty" (The Law is for All, II:58). Although in theory, there are potentially infinite possible courses of action, each person must understand their own tendencies, drives, and proclivities to find that 'function' which fits them. This large variation of many types of people allows for progress. Crowley writes, "Here also is the voice of true Science, crying aloud that Variation is the Key of Evolution. Thereunto Art cometh the third, perceiving Beauty in the Harmony of the Diverse. Know then, o my Son, that all Laws, all Systems, all Customs, all Ideals and Standards which tend to produce uniformity, are in direct opposition to Nature's Will to change and to develop through Variety, and are accursed. Do thou with all thy Might of Manhood strive against these Forces, for they resist Change, which is Life; and thus they are of Death." (Liber Aleph, "De Lege Motus") Basically, Thelema encourages maximum possible variation for the accomplishment of diverse functions.

Aristocracy


Now we turn to aristocracy - might Thelema align with aristocracy in some way? Many will most likely point to "Let my servants be few & secret: they shall rule the many & the known" (Liber AL vel Legis I:10) to justify the aristocratic tendencies of Thelema. Firstly, Crowley writes, "The theories of Divine Right, aristocratic superiority, the moral order of Nature, are all today exploded bluffs.  Even those of us who believe in supernatural sanctions for our privileges to browbeat and rob the people no longer delude ourselves with the thought that our victims share our superstitions. Even dictators understand this.  Mussolini has tried to induce the ghost of Ancient Rome to strut the stage in the image of Julius Caesar; Hitler has invented a farrago of nonsense about Nordics and Aryans; nobody even pretends to believe either, except through the "will-to-believe."  And the pretence is visibly breaking down everywhere."(The Scientific Solution of the Problem of Government"). In this sense, Thelema certainly doesn't approve of aristocracy founded on various superstitions. Coming back to the idea that Thelema focuses on the fitness of each person for their particular function, its possible that a meritocracy (a system where progress is based on accomplishments) could align closely. In this case, people would theoretically progress in the areas where they showed aptitude for advancement.

Further, the aristocracy may turn into a tyranny. Thelema is certainly against the tyrant who denies others their rights to their own advantage - everyone has the absolute right to accomplish their Wills. Crowley even mentions "the safefuard tyrannicide" (Letter to G. Yorke 9/13/1941) in relation to the line in "Liber OZ" which states "Man has the right to kill those who would thwart these rights." In short, Thelema recognizes the right of man to fight for his own freedom in the face of tyranny. If anything, Thelema would approve of the Taoist king or the Socratic philosopher-king for their rule is based on their ability to fit each person to their respective functions, yet "it is impossible in practice to assure the good-will of those in power" ("Liber CLXI: Concerning the Law of Thelema"). For this reason, we must guard against tyrants of all types, especially the wolf who appears in sheeps clothing - that is, those who promise benevolence only to gain power over others.

Coming back to aristocracy, one could say that Thelema adopts many facets of the "aristocratic attitude." Crowley writes, "The key of all conduct, generally speaking, is to make every common thing noble, every small thing great" ("Of Eden and the Sacred Oak"). He constantly makes references to Thelemites seeing themselves as Kings and Queens, seeing everyone as royal, noble, and perfect. For example, "Live as the kings and princes, crowned and uncrowned, of this world, have always lived, as masters always live" ("The Law of Liberty"). Every person is the Crowned and Conquering Child, divinity Itself - what could be a more noble attitude? Further, Liber AL vel Legis exhorts the reader to be strong, healthy, beautiful, powerful; the moral, social, and sexual freedom implied by this might be said to be "aristrocratic." Also, "chivalry" or "bushido" is similar to Thelema's attitude in that people can compete, contend, debate, etc. and still maintain respect for each other. Liber AL vel Legis describes this attitude succinctly: "As brothers fight ye!" (Liber AL vel Legis III:59) This again springs out of the "noble attitude" engendered in Thelema.

But what about "the slaves shall serve" (Liber AL vel Legis II:58)? If Thelema views all as free, sovereign, responsible, and noble then why the mention of slaves? It is true that "'There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt:' but it is only the greatest of the race who have the strength and courage to obey it" ("De Lege Libellum"). In short, there are those who are too riddled with fear to accept the Law along with the freedom and responsibility it entails. Crowley writes, "our Law teaches that a star often veils itself from its nature. Thus the vast bulk of humanity is obsessed by an abject fear of freedom; the principal objections hitherto urged against my Law have been those of people who cannot bear to imagine the horrors which would result if they were free to do their own wills. The sense of sin, shame, self-distrust, this is what makes folk cling to Christianity-slavery... Now "the Law is for all"; but such defectives will refuse it" (The Law is For All, II:58). Again he writes, "In my ideal state everyone is respected for what he is. There will always be slaves, and the slave is to be defined as he who acquiesces in being a slave" (Confessions, ch.60). Therefore slaves in Thelema are not physical servants but rather those who have slavish spirits: those who cannot accept the Law of Thelema because of fear of revealing their own natures, fear of the great freedom allowed, and fear of the great responsibility needed to do only one's Will.

Conclusion


In short, "The main ethical principle [of The Book of the Law] is that each human being has his own definite object in life. He has every right to fulfil this purpose, and none to do anything else. It is the business of the community to help each of its members to achieve this aim; in consequence all rules should be made, and all questions of policy decided, by the application of this principle to the circumstances." (Confessions, ch.87) Thelema constantly asserts the need to understand the diverse needs & proclivities of each system so that each part may fulfill its particular function with maximum effectiveness. "Success is your proof" (Liber AL vel Legis III:46). In this sense, it is highly elastic. It adopts several tenets of anarchy, democracy, and aristocracy while admonishing others; it contains their elements but is not limited to them. The individual freedom and autonomy of anarchy are propounded but its lack of structuralization is admonished. The individual sovereignty and equal rights of democracy are propounded but its herd-mentality, uniformity, and tendency to lead rulers to use deception are admonished. The noble spirit and moral freedom of aristocracy are propounded but its claims of inherent superiority (by Divine Right, birth, lineage, etc.) and its tendency towards tyranny are admonished.

Crowley writes, "[The Law of Thelema] admits that each member of the human race is unique, sovereign and responsible only to himself. In this way it is the logical climax of the idea of democracy. Yet at the same time it is the climax of aristocracy by asserting each individual equally to be the centre of the universe." (Confessions, ch.87) Essentially, Thelema is about fitting each part to its particular function in the whole for maximum effectiveness. Thelema may draw upon major political ideas like anarchy, democracy, and aristocracy but it is not limited to them. It seems, Necessity will dictate the politics of Thelema in the end.
 
 
IAO 131
21 January 2009 @ 10:01 am


* part 1: Metaphysics *
* part 2: Epistemology *


Ethics


The proclamation "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law" from Liber AL vel Legis (I:40) has especially profound implications in the sphere of morality. There is an immense amount of material on this topic throughout all of Crowley's works.

Since "There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt" (Liber AL vel Legis III:60), the only "right" action is that which fulfills that Will and the only "wrong" action is that which thwarts that Will. As Liber AL vel Legis says (I:41), "The Word of Sin is Restriction." Crowley explains that, "[This] is a general statement or definition of Sin or Error. Anything soever that binds the will, hinders it, or diverts it, is Sin" (The Law is For All). Essentially, any form of morality that works in absolutes, saying any quality is a priori "right" or "wrong" (or "evil"). "To us, then, "evil" is a relative term; it is "that which hinders one from fulfilling his true Will"" (The Law is For All).

The attitudes toward oneself and others are necessary outgrowths of "Do what thou wilt." Since "Thou hast no right but to do thy will" (Liber AL vel Legis I:42), the value of self-discipline helps one do one's Will with one-pointedness. As Crowley explains, ""What is true for every School is equally true for every individual. Success in life, on the basis of the Law of Thelema, implies severe self-discipline" (Magick Without Tears, ch.8). Further, since "every man and every woman is a star" (Liber AL vel Legis I:3) and each star has its own unique path, each "star" is must pursue their own Will and avoid interference in the affairs of others. In short, mind your own business. "It is necessary that we stop, once for all, this ignorant meddling with other people's business. Each individual must be left free to follow his own path" (The Law is For All). This consequently means there is total moral freedom, including sexual freedom. "Also, take your fill and will of love as ye will, when, where and with whom ye will!" (Liber AL vel Legis I:51). This is not "individualism run wild" in the sense that there is no possibility of government. The understanding is that each star has its own particular function in the scheme of things and must perform that function with one-pointedness, and this can include one's function in state affairs. "For every Individual in the State must be perfect in his own Function, with Contentment, respecting his own Task as necessary and holy, not envious of another's. For so only mayst thou build up a free state, whose directing Will shall be singly directed to the Welfare of all" (Liber Aleph).

Aside from moving the locus of morality to the individual, making the Will the measure of what is "right" and "wrong," Thelema does emphasize certain moral traits over others and views certain experiences as "good."

One course of action that Thelema encourages is towards the attainment of Knowledge & Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, Union with God, the dissolution of the ego or any other metaphor used in mysticism. Crowley explains, "A man must think of himself as a LOGOS, as going, not as a fixed idea. "Do what thou wilt" is thus necessarily his formula. He only becomes Himself when he attains the loss of Egoity, of the sense of separateness. He becomes All, PAN, when he becomes Zero [see the "Ontology" section above]" ("The Antecedents of Thelema"). Crowley puts it plainly when he writes, "There are many ethical injunctions of a revolutionary character in the Book, but they are all particular cases of the general precept to realize one's own absolute God-head and to act with the nobility which springs from that knowledge" (Confessions, ch.49). These attainments are understood to be available to anyone and to help one understand the world, oneself, and one's will more completely.

A common moral theme in Thelema is strength over weakness. "Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor, force and fire, are of us" (Liber AL vel Legis II:20). "My disciples are proud and beautiful; they are strong and swift; they rule their way like mighty conquerors. The weak, the timid, the imperfect, the cowardly, the poor, the tearful --- these are mine enemies, and I am come to destroy them" (Liber Tzaddi, lines 24-25).

Consequently, Thelema has a different view on "compassion:" "This also is compassion: an end to the sickness of earth. A rooting-out of the weeds: a watering of the flowers" (Liber Tzaddi, line 26). "We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world" (Liber AL vel Legis II:21). That is, "compassion" is not understood to be the support of the weak but rather the opposite: the "rooting-out of the weeds" or the destruction of the weak and the "watering of the flowers" or the promotion of the strong. This is compassion because it is "an end to the sickness of earth."

A different view of pity is also held in light of Thelema's view that "every man and every woman is a star" (Liber AL vel Legis I:3). Crowley writes, "Pity implies two very grave errors—errors which are utterly incompatible with the views of the universe above briefly indicated. The first error therein is an implicit assumption that something is wrong with the Universe... The second error is still greater since it involves the complex of the Ego. To pity another person implies that you are superior to him, and you fail to recognize his absolute right to exist as he is. You assert yourself superior to him, a concept utterly opposed to the ethics of Thelema—"Every man and every woman is a star" and each being is a Sovereign Soul. A moment's thought therefore will suffice to show how completely absurd any such attitude is, in reference to the underlying metaphysical facts" ("The Method of Thelema"). Also, "The Book of the Law regards pity as despicable... to pity another man is to insult him. He also is a star, "one, individual and eternal". The Book does not condemn fighting --- "If he be a King, thou canst not hurt himw"" (Confessions, ch.49).

This leads into another view which is that Thelema embraces conflict. "Despise also all cowards; professional soldiers who dare not fight, but play; all fools despise! But the keen and the proud, the royal and the lofty; ye are brothers! As brothers fight ye!" (Liber AL vel Legis III:57-59). "Lo, while in The Book of the Law is much of Love, there is no word of Sentimentality. Hate itself is almost like Love! "As brothers fight ye!'' All the manly races of the world understand this. The Love of Liber Legis is always bold, virile, even orgiastic. There is delicacy, but it is the delicacy of strength" ("Liber II").

Thelema also enjoins the individual to rejoice because of life. A general theme of embracing and seeing the joy in all facets of life permeates Thelema. "Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains... They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us... But ye, o my people, rise up & awake! Let the rituals be rightly performed with joy & beauty! ...a feast for life and a greater feast for death! A feast every day in your hearts in the joy of my rapture! A feast every night unto Nu, and the pleasure of uttermost delight! Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter... Write, & find ecstasy in writing! Work, & be our bed in working! Thrill with the joy of life & death!" (Liber AL vel Legis II:9, 19, 34-35, 41-44, 66); "There is joy in the setting-out; there is joy in the journey; there is joy in the goal" ("Liber Tzaddi", line 22). This view of the world arises out of the metaphysical ideas [see the "Cosmology" section above] that Thelema entertains. In short, "[Nuit] is the infinite in whom all we live and move and have our being. [Hadit] is eternal energy, the Infinite Motion of Things, the central core of all being. The manifested Universe comes from the marriage of Nuit and Hadit; without this could no thing be. This eternal, this perpetual marriage-feast is then the nature of things themselves; and therefore everything that is, is a crystallization of divine ecstasy" ("The Law of Liberty").

In the end one must remember "There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt" (Liber AL vel Legis III:60). All of these ideas are subservient to the central law of "Do what thou wilt." This is the beauty of the word Thelema, that it implies such a succinct and sublime answer to the problems of morality while also having complex and intricate implications.
 
 
 
IAO 131
19 January 2009 @ 10:17 am


* part 1: Metaphysics *
* part 3: Ethics *


Epistemology


There are two stances on reason that are expounded in Liber AL vel Legis. The first stance is that reason must be subservient to Will and the second stance is the importance of direct experience over reason. These ideas about reason all intertwine and support one another.

First, the Will is 'supra-rational' or beyond reason. The section in Liber AL vel Legis that deals with this comes from chapter 2,

"There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason. Now a curse upon Because and his kin! May Because be accursed for ever! If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops & does nought. If Power asks why, then is Power weakness. Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite & unknown; & all their words are skew-wise. Enough of Because! Be he damned for a dog! But ye, o my people, rise up & awake!" (lines 27-34)

Here we have a curse upon "Because," "Reason," and "Why." There is no "Why" or "Because" to Will: it simply GOES, it simply IS. Because we inhabit a world of Infinite Space and since reason can only work with finite ideas and quantities, then reason cannot express the Infinite purely and accurately. It is a "lie" because of this "factor infinite & unknown." Crowley writes, "There is no 'reason' why a Star should continue in its orbit. Let her rip! ...It is ridiculous to ask a dog why it barks. One must fulfil one's true Nature, one must do one's Will. To question this is to destroy confidence, and so to create an inhibition." (The Law is For All, II:30-31) Therefore, reason should attend to its own business (solving problems of rationality) and allow the Will to flow uninhibited; otherwise, "One risks falling form the world of Will (“freed from the lust of result”) to that of Reason" (Djeridensis Working, AL II:30). Crowley writes, "We must not suppose for an instant that the Book of the Law is opposed to reason. On the contrary, its own claim to authority rests upon reason, and nothing else. It disdains the arts of the orator. It makes reason the autocrat of the mind. But that very fact emphasizes that the mind should attend to its own business. It should not transgress its limits. It should be a perfect machine, an apparatus for representing the universe accurately and impartially to its master. The Self, its Will, and its Apprehension, should be utterly beyond it." (The Law is For All, II:27). Also, "When reason usurps the higher functions of the mind, when it presumes26 to dictate to the Will what its desires ought to be, it wrecks the entire structure of the star. The Self should set the Will in motion, that is, the Will should only take its orders from within and above" ("Djeridensis Working", II:31).

Another claim is made in Liber AL vel Legis, I:58, "I give unimaginable joys on earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in sacrifice." The Will does not require articles of faith to be accepted but rather asks that the individual rely on their experiences. It is the faith conferred by the direct experience of the "consciousness of the continuity of existence" (Liber AL vel Legis, I:26) that is offered. Rational precepts are not proposed, debated over, accepted, and rejected but rather one attains various Trances and learn from one's experiences. When one attains the "consciousness of the continuity of existence" (Liber AL vel Legis, I:26) and becomes "chief of all" (Liber AL vel Legis, I:23), the unity of this perception is not explainable by the duality of reason. In relation to this experience we find "there could be no reality in any intellectual concept of any kind, that the only reality must lie in direct experience of such a kind that it is beyond the scope of the critical apparatus of our minds. It cannot be subject to the laws of Reason; it cannot be found in the fetters of elementary mathematics; only transfinite and irrational conceptions in that subject can possibly shadow forth the truth in some such paradox as the identity of contradictories." (Eight Lectures on Yoga) Crowley also says, "To have any sensible meaning at all, faith must mean experience... Nothing is any use to us unless it be a certainty unshakeable by criticism of any kind, and there is only one thing in the universe which complies with these conditions: the direct experience of spiritual truth. Here, and here only, do we find a position in which the great religious minds of all times and all climes coincide. It is necessarily above dogma, because dogma consists of a collection of intellectual statements, each of which, and also its contradictory, can easily be disputed and overthrown." (Eight Lectures on Yoga) This perception of the world as continuous and unitary is not offered on faith but can be achieved and recognized as a certainty by those who attain thereto.

One other doctrine relating to reason that appears in Crowley's writings but not explicitly in Liber AL vel Legis is the idea of the circularity of reason. Reason can only manipulate and work with articles of reason; this relates to what was said above because the problems in the sphere of reason should not usurp the power of or dictate actions to the sphere of Will. We have an example of this doctrine of the circularity of reason in "The Antecedents of Thelema" where Crowley writes, "All proofs turn out on examination to be definitions. All definitions are circular. (For a = bc, b = de ... w = xy, and y = za.)" In this sense, reason deals with relations between illusion. This is certainly useful - science is a good example of this - but it doesn't give us any powerful facts of the way things are. In a deeper sense, reason works within the realms of duality while the Will must remain one-pointed and therefore not mired in the relations of reason. Crowley writes further on this idea in the essay "Knowledge" in Little Essays Toward Truth, "All knowledge may be expressed in the form S=P. But if so, the idea P is really implicit in S; thus we have learnt nothing... S=P (unless identical, and therefore senseless) is an affirmation of duality; or, we may say, intellectual perception is a denial of Samadhic truth. It is therefore essentially false in the depths of its nature." Reason is understood as simply the relation of words which point to other words, ad infinitum. Further, as mentioned above, because reason works with relations between ideas (the relation between 'S' and 'P' above), it affirms duality in the world. Two things can only be related in reason if they are distinct and therefore separate.

Again, all of these ideas about reason intertwine to give us a general picture of Thelema's approach to epistemology. Essentially, the Will of the individual is beyond reason, or supra-rational, so one cannot ask "Why" of it or justify it with "Because." The individual must then constantly go forward and experience new and various things, not depending on articles of faith. Reason is a human faculty that allows us to manipulate & find the relations between finite facts and ideas. Because of this it must work within its own sphere (i.e. deal with problems of rationality like mathematics, science, etc.) while leaving the Will to act uninhibited. With this understanding, one can be guarded against reason when it asks "whence camest thou? Whither wilt thou go?" with the response "No whence! No whither! ...Is there not joy ineffable in this aimless winging? Is there not weariness and impatience for who would attain to some goal?" (Liber LXV, II:21-22, 24)
 
 
IAO 131
13 December 2008 @ 01:19 pm



* part 2: Epistemology *

* part 3: Ethics *


Introduction


There is an ongoing and perhaps eternal debate about whether Thelema is a religion, philosophy, or way of life (or all of them or none of them). In my view, Thelema certainly has something to offer the areas of both religion and philosophy. This essay will look at how Thelema approaches the classic divisions of philosophy including metaphysics (including ontology, cosmology, eschatology, and teleology), epistemology, ethics, and more.

Metaphysics


Metaphysics is essentially the study of the nature of the world. It is traditionally split into ontology, cosmology, eschatology, and teleology.

Ontology: None & Two


Ontology is the study of being, existence, or reality. Thelema's ontology is stated simply as "None and Two." The world is understood as 'Nothing' or 'Naught,' which is something completely beyond all description and limit. In Liber AL vel Legis, it is written "Then the priest answered & said unto the Queen of Space, kissing her lovely brows, and the dew of her light bathing his whole body in a sweet-smelling perfume of sweat: O Nuit, continuous one of Heaven, let it be ever thus; that men speak not of Thee as One but as None; and let them speak not of thee at all, since thou art continuous!" (AL I:27). Many mystics have called it "Unity" but even this, some may argue, implies something as "not-One." Crowley writes in "De Lege Libellum," "All Things that are in Truth One Thing only, whose name hath been called No Thing." From this comes the necessity of explaining the appearance of duality. Instead of a "Fall of Man" or an imprisonment of the soul in matter, Thelema explains the appearance of duality in this fashion: "None... and two. For I am divided for love's sake, for the chance of union. This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all." (Liber AL I:28-30). In this way, the many or divided are in such a position so they may become one and unite. This is given further explanation in Book of Lies ch.3 where it is written, "The Many is as adorable to the One as the One is to the Many. This is the Love of These; creation-parturition is the Bliss of the One; coition-dissolution is the Bliss of the Many. / The All, thus interwoven of These, is Bliss."

...see also "Berashith" by Aleister Crowley, Magick Without Tears ch.5, Book of Lies ch.3, 12, and 46


Cosmology: Nuit, Hadit, Ra-Hoor-Khuit, and Stars


Cosmology deals with what the Universe is essentially. One might argue that there exist several similar but interchangeable cosmologies in Thelema: for example, the Creed of the Gnostic Mass gives a rudimentary cosmology, the "Matter in Motion" idea in the New Comment, and the Qabalistic understanding in chapter 0! of Book of Lies. In the end, the most widespread cosmology, and the one rooted in The Book of the Law, is the idea of Nuit, Hadit, and Ra-Hoor-Khuit. Thelema understands Nuit as Infinite Space which is occupied by various Points-of-View, or Hadit. Each star - every man and every woman - is in the Body of Infinite Space and has Hadit as its core. These together create the Universe as we know it. There are many interpretations of Nuit and Hadit - for example, with Nuit as matter and Hadit as motion and their interplay being the universe but the basic idea remains the same.

...see also Liber AL vel Legis ch.1 & 2, Book of Lies ch.0 & 11, the "Creed" of "The Gnostic Mass"


Eschatology: The destruction of the self & the dawning of the Aeon of Horus


Eschatology deals with the idea of end-times. There is certainly no Last Judgment in the philosophy of Thelema. In a sense, one can view the attainment of the Crossing of the Abyss, the destruction of the personality or ego, as the end-times of the 'self' and the waking to the Self. Another interpretation of eschatology is the "destruction of the world by fire" (which can also be interpreted in the former sense of the destruction of the self), which Crowley gives symbolically in Atu XX: Aeon of the Tarot. In this other interpretation, the world was "destroyed by fire" with the reception of Liber AL vel Legis in 1904. Crowley writes in The Book of Thoth, "The old card was called The Angel: or, The Last Judgment. It represented an Angel or Messenger blowing a trumpet, attached to which was a flag, bearing the symbol of the Aeon of Osiris... The card therefore represented the destruction of the world by Fire. This was accomplished in the year of the vulgar era 1904, when the fiery god Horus took the place of the airy god Osiris in the East as Hierophant."

...see also The Book of Thoth "XX. The Aeon"


Teleology: Will


Teleology deals with the purpose or the understanding of the design of the universe. In Thelema, the teleology is clearly one of "Will." One might contrast the teleology of Thelema with that of Schopenhauer's Will-to-Life and Nietzsche's Will-to-Power, where Thelema understands it as a Will-to-Love. All experiences and events are occurrences of two things uniting into a third. The necessary formula of each star is then "love under will" - to find that Will and do it. Just as each star has its particular orbit in the macrocosm of space, every man and every woman has their particular Way on earth. As Crowley writes in the introduction to Liber AL vel Legis, "Each action or motion is an act of love, the uniting with one or another part of "Nuit"; each such act must be 'under will,' chosen so as to fulfil and not to thwart the true nature of the being concerned."
 
 
IAO 131
11 December 2008 @ 09:15 am


Here are a couple of thought-experiments to ponder the intricacies of what many people take to be simple on the face of things... There is no "right" answer to any of these (although I definitely have my own answers) but are meant to bring some subtle complications to light

1) Addiction:
a) Suppose that someone is addicted to a substance or some behavior. Does this mean that they are a priori NOT doing their Will?
b) If you answer yes: Suppose that this person conquers their addiction and therefore learns more about themselves - they learn about their limitations and the extent of their willpower. Now are they doing their Will?
c) Is the person doing their Will 'better' or 'more completely' because of this ordeal? If yes, then wouldn't this imply that going through addiction is beneficial to the development of Will?

2) The problem of other Wills:
a) Suppose that person A does not enjoy what person B is doing. Does person A have a right to say that person B is not doing their Will?
b) Suppose that person A feels he is being infringed upon by what person B is doing, but person B feels she is doing their Will. Does person A have a right to say that person B is not doing their Will?
c) Suppose person A thinks person B is being irrational. Does person A have a right to say that person B is not doing their Will? Can person B point to the doctrines of Reason, Why, and Because being hindrances to assert her their position?
d) Is there any circumstance where person A can be sure about their right to tell person B that they are not doing their Will?
e) Is there any circumstance where person B can prove to person A that they are doing their Will?

3) Lust of result:
a) Suppose Person A wants circumstance X to come about (for example, getting an A on a test, retrieving groceries, getting a paycheck, wooing some person, etc.). Does this mean this person A suffers from 'lust of result'? If so, should all desires for anything be destroyed?
b) Suppose Person A does not achieve circumstance X. Is Person A's lamentation of this fact 'lust of result'? Conversely: Suppose Person A does achieve circumstance X. Is Person A's celebration of this fact 'lust of result?'

4) Pure will & duality:
a) Suppose Person A has not attained to a Trance of Non-Duality/Unity. Is Person A a priori not doing their Will? Not doing their Will to the full extent? Are there different extents of doing one's Will or is it simply Doing your Will & Not doing your Will?
b) Suppose Person A has attained to a Trance of Non-Duality/Unity but has "come down" from it - back to duality. Is Person A not doing their Will while in duality? Does the Trance of Non-Duality/Unity help this person to do their Will 'better' or 'more completely'?
c) Suppose Person A enjoys a constant Trance of Non-Duality/Unity. Is this person necessarily doing their Will?

5) Killing others:
a) Suppose Person A kills Person B. Was Person A a priori not doing their Will?
b) Suppose Person A kills Person B out of self-defense. Was Person A not doing their Will?
c) Suppose Person A kills Person B because Person B is infringing on their rights (Liber OZ). Was Person A not doing their Will? Was Person B a priori not doing their Will even if they think they are doing their Will?
d) Suppose Person A kills Person B because they BELIEVE Person B is infringing on their rights. Was Person A not doing their Will?
e) Suppose Person A kills Person B in a fit of ecstasy. Was Person A not doing their Will? Can Person A appeal to the ideas of Reason, Because, Why etc. being hindrances in justifying this act?
f) Suppose Person A decides to have an abortion. Was Person A not doing their Will? Suppose Person A knows that they do not have the means to support their baby. Was Person A not doing their Will in having an abortion?

6) A priori Will:
a) Is it possible to say a priori that anyone else is not doing their Will in any circumstance? What circumstances?
 
 
IAO 131


Anyone who has read Liber AL vel Legis, the Book of Law, has surely come upon the Comment which appends this great work. It inspires a cornucopia of reactions from awe to fear to zeal. For the sake of completeness I quote the Comment in full:

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

The study of this Book is forbidden. It is wise to destroy this copy after the first reading.
Whosoever disregards this does so at his own risk and peril. These are most dire.
Those who discuss the contents of this Book are to be shunned by all, as centres of pestilence.
All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself.
There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.


Some take this Comment as an injunction that only the individual can properly interpret the Book of the Law for him or herself, which I believe is, on its face, quite correct. But what I want to explore are some interesting implications and ideas surrounding this Comment.

Firstly, it hasn't been noted widely that this Comment itself requires interpretation. Many people interpret this Comment itself in various ways. We might take this Comment on its face and interpret it literally. In this case we should shun anyone who discusses the Book of the Law at all as "centres of pestilence," but we should also have destroyed the Book of the Law upon our first reading. This is exactly what many have done, having burned the book, thrown it into the ocean, or many other stories I have heard. Further, people often ignore the very first and very last lines of this Comment which both contain the phrase "Do what thou wilt." Couldn't it possibly be within the scope of one's Will to discuss, study, and interpret this Book? If there really is "no law beyond Do what thou wilt" then the other injunctions can only be mere appendages to this imperative. Therefore, even on a literal interpretation, if we take into account the first & last lines of the Comment, we are therefore still not obligated to either destroy the Book or shun others as centres of pestilence. In a sense, the literal interpretation is self-refuting.

Further, if we accept the Book of the Law's prime injunction of "Do what thou wilt," we might be able to interpret the other lines of the Comment in another light. If the sole authority of each star is his or her own Will, then there are absolutely no other authorities to guide his or her conduct. Therefore, one could view the injunctions to destroy the Book and to shun others as "centres of pestilence" as a sort of test. If one is still susceptible to obeying another's commands without thought of one's own Will - if one, in short, still is not acknowledging one's own Will as the sole authority of one's conduct - then these commands will naturally get rid of the "weeds" insofar as it causes them to destroy the Book and avoid discussion & study of it. Going even further, what true Thelemite is afraid of "risk and peril"? Did the perils of the unconquered mountains deter the Beast from his expeditions? "Is fear in thine heart" (Liber AL II:46) when you hear these seemingly harsh statements of forbidden activity? In the Book of the Law itself we are bidden to "fear not to undergo the curses" (Liber AL III:16), and, going even further, to "Fear not at all; fear neither men nor Fates, nor gods, nor anything. Money fear not, nor laughter of the folk folly, nor any other power in heaven or upon the earth or under the earth" (Liber AL III:17). Again, the Comment may appear in this way as a sort of "test" upon the reader and aspirant: if one is still following other's commands of what is "forbidden" and what to "shun, if one is still afraid of facing consequences & engaging in "perilous" activities... then perhaps this Book and its Word is not for you (at least at that time).

We might also look further into the words used in this Comment. Many people would acknowledge that the words used in Liber AL vel Legis have a symbolic meaning and I see no reason to see why the inspired Comment cannot include such symbolic meanings. The symbols of Thelema can often be off-putting on first glance with its mentions of war, pestilence, pitilessness, etc. Even "poison" is used as a symbol of mysticism in Liber LXV at various times (for example, "Thou hast fastened the fangs of Eternity in my soul, and the Poison of the Infinite hath consumed me utterly." -Liber LXV, III:39). The word "pestilence" itself is used in Liber LXV when it is written, "I too am the Soul of the desert; thou shalt seek me yet again in the wilderness of sand. At thy right hand a great lord and a comely; at thy left hand a woman clad in gossamer and gold and having the stars in her hair. Ye shall journey far into a land of pestilence and evil; ye shall encamp in the river of a foolish city forgotten; there shall ye meet with Me." (Liber LXV IV:61-62)

In short, the Comment itself requires interpretation. If we take the Comment literally or symbolically, neither interpretation (which is what they are) lends itself to an obvious following of the injunctions to destroy the Book, not study it, not discuss it, or shun those who choose to do any of the following (or their opposites). In my opinion, the growth of Thelema and its widespread & diverse community can be sustained not through dogmatic verbotenism nor through extreme secrecy, i.e. the shunning of all people who even hint at commenting on or interpreting or discussing this Book in part or in full. I say, with the Beast, "To hell with this Verbotenism!" (The Law is For All). The best path for growth is in all cases for a variety of opinions to come together and discuss their various points-of-view without taking any of them to be the One True Opinion. The only other advice would be to avoid "folly" insofar as we neglect to "appeal to [The Beast's] writings" on the matter of Liber AL in his own commentaries and writings like Liber Aleph, De Lege Libellum etc. In this way, we may measure our own understandings against others and perhaps learn something ourselves from the views of others.
 
 
IAO 131
01 December 2008 @ 10:10 am


• The structure of the body is the limit of my world - conceptually and factually {11.10.08}

• Mutual participation in an ordeal breeds closeness {11.20.08}

Equilibrium - Its more pleasurable and instructive to rise from a great depth than to maintain a steady balance {11.20.08}

• People agree with each other even when they don't truly agree in fear of that primal punishment: exclusion (excommunication) {11.20.08}

• People are much more vicious to others when they cannot see their face (politicans to constituents, a marksman vs. a foot-soldier, arguments over the internet, CEOs to their employees) {11.20.08}

• Great minds think differently. {12.1.08}

Things change: it shows one's character whether one sees this fact as a mark of the sorrow & suffering of the world or a mark of its joy. {12.1.08}

I have a powerful experience and learn something new: what is the benefit to ascribing this new knowledge to an intelligence external to oneself over understanding the knowledge to have been hidden within oneself but suddenly revealed? {12.1.08}