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

Thursday, May 24, 2012

That’s What He Said II: Distorting Influences of the Mind

The only way to discover the True Will is to observe it free from the distorting influences of the mind.
Some people object to such an absolute statement, protesting that there might be more than one “valid” way of discovering the True Will: yet none of these objectors are capable of explaining how some other method actually works. Many and varied are the egalitarian dimwits who think that discovering the True Will is simply a process of performing rote rituals conceived by Victorian-era freemasons or by medieval magicians. Take, for example, a recent post on the Temple of Thelema Forums, in which a newcomer asks, referring to the Abramelin operation and to the process of "Knoweldge and Conversation," a metaphor Crowley uses for discovering the True Will:

Has anyone developed a workable method to achieve K&C that doesn't involve a month of secluded free time?

The very notion that knowledge of one’s own nature is only available to people who perform an elaborate and complicated regimen of prayers is downright ridiculous: yet people new to Thelema consistently think that “discovering the True Will” is a matter of performing rituals. Their misunderstanding is due both to the individuals themselves failing to read and comprehend Crowley and to the sorry nature of Thelemic teachers in these matters. [Edit: To his credit, Jim Eshelman does tell the poster that there are other methods of attaining, but they all seem to revolve around a different regimen of prayers, organized differently so as to allow normal activity during the day]
Indeed, the only way to discover the True Will is to observe it free from the distorting influences of the mind. This fact necessitates that discovery of the True Will requires a thorough understanding of those distorting influences. As Erwin Hessle wisely says in his important Fundamentals of Thelemic Practice,

The mind must, in short, be trained to become aware of the particular ways in which it colours, influences and distorts perception. It is not sufficient to merely obtain a general knowledge of the ways in which the mind may do this; it must become able to identify the specific ways in which it does this itself, and ultimately able to detect when it is doing this in real time.

“Magick,” rituals, meditation, divination, and all the rest are – at best – actions that can aid an individual in preparing for the work of observing the distorting influences of the mind and observing the self free from them. [Note: this does not mean that the distorting influences go away, merely that the aspirant learns to see through them] Practices such as these train the mind in paying attention, in thinking about situations more broadly and free of mental preference so that it is the preferences of the True Self – in conjunction with an accurate perception of the environment – that dictate action.

This is all well and good, but what did Crowley have to say on these subjects? Is it the case that the “Thelema” explained above is actually some kind of materialist philosophy that has hijacked the word “Thelema”? Or is it that the method outlined above arises from a fair reading of Crowley’s words?
I think we all know the answer to this question. Crowley wrote frequently about the necessity of perceiving the True Will free from the distorting influence of the mind, and it is the purpose of this blog post to examine some of the more prominent quotes from Crowley on the subject.

Unlike some Thelemic commentators who simply post a wall of Crowley quotes without explanation (or very little explanation) – and unlike some dolts who think that serious discussion of Crowley should reduced to lists of quotations so that seekers can “find their own answers” – readers will observe that this post carefully examines and closely reads these quotations, placing them in the framework outlined above, outlined also in the post Skeptical of the True Will, and used to explicate the practices detailed in Erwin’s Fundamentals of Thelemic Practice.

Read on for very much more.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Success is your...wait a second, how do you know it's a success?

My somewhat lengthy discussion with occult author Donald Michael Kraig over on his blog (read it in the comments section of this post) seems to have come to an end. Looking back over it, I see a number of curious strategies on Kraig’s part that deserve some analysis and examination here.

Much, much more after the cut.