Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
One of the commonest frustrations among beginners with Thelema is also one of the commonest among experienced practitioners. That is: where is the objective viewpoint? How can I relate practically to the world, or know if what I’m doing is sensible or pointless? How should I look on other people, especially when we come to those apparently judgemental passages in the second chapter of The Book of the Law about scorning the weak, and letting them die in their misery?
Switching from a viewpoint of external authority to one of internal, Hadit-centred authority sounds like it should be easy, but it isn’t. Intuition is a useful tool, but it’s not necessarily forthcoming at the difficult moments when we need clear guidance, and the intensity of that need is disrupting our subtler senses.
Intellect offers everyone’s fallback position, but it’s an equally unreliable friend. It has roots in personal desires or deep needs and anxieties, and anybody who pretends it is somehow ‘objective’ is dead wrong. Intellect is a tool of mind, and of ego, and both of those have their own survival (or pseudo-survival) agendas in place.
Now, intellect has its place. We don’t have that longed-for, objective viewpoint available to us, and we need something that seemingly helps us come closer to such a thing. But intellect works best when subjected to peer review – which can be simply sitting in a bar with a friend, or even seeing a favourite trope you’ve posted on Facebook get shot down by a half-dozen cynical ‘friends.’ It derives from mind, and functions as a part of it, not in some zone of Olympian clarity, so it isn’t outside of it, and its operations need some counter-balancing to be reliable.
For most attainment-oriented Thelemites, Aleister Crowley provides the objective viewpoint, even though he was far too sharp to claim to be such a thing. But his commentaries on The Book of the Law, for example, are often cited as the final word on its verses, even though the text is infinitely subtle and multi-faceted, and his own comprehension of it was always evolving. At best, he provides an extremely perceptive indicator of how to comprehend the Book.
In this context, it’s worth noting that many people still assume that he really did create it himself, disregarding his well-known story of its reception. Crowley was never shy about hailing himself as a master of English, a wonderful poet, a Hermetic Magus, and as accomplished a mountaineer as his own times could have produced. But he always swore he had no role in the Book’s appearance beyond that of secretary, and that he could never have produced such a concise, concentrated piece of work on his own.
But this very information, for the anxious-in-search of-objectivity, seems still further to exclude the possibility of a safe, knowable objectivity, because it calls the idea of objective information into question as much as magick itself does. What is an Aiwass anyway … and could the same thing happen to me? (Answer: Sure, if you’re on the road to becoming a Magus in this lifetime).
The point is, however, that only be allowing ourselves not to be blind-sided by the intellect, and to include our intuition in the calculations as and when it shows up, do we make serious progress on the road to comprehension. Comprehension, that is, of the True Will and its nature, and ultimately, of the Aiwass, the Holy Guardian Angel, behind all that we are. Which, in the end, is the only fully reliable perspective we can have on our own truth. Our analyses and opinions on this subject are often just so much distraction for the core tasks.
But having to reach what seems to be the end of the road before making a beginning (even though it’s a way station, not the destination at all) can be a discouraging prospect. Only the expanding sense of wonder that comes along the journey keeps us going much of the time. It’s no surprise, therefore, that we keep looking for objective markers that don’t, and can’t, exist.
Internalising Thelemic philosophy is the first stage of the journey. But it has to overlap with the second stage – developing a relationship with the HGA. We can end up in a muddle at various points in these processes, because until we have that relationship in place, the reality of identification with the HGA isn’t going to arise. We need a provisional paradigm in place in order to come close to our spiritual essence and reality. Thus, we use the devotions of Liber Resh, or banishing rituals, or Middle Pillar exercises, and a bunch of other practices to develop a devotion to something that, ultimately, we believe not to be separate from ourselves.
There’s something very Zen-like underlying a lot of serious Thelemic work of this kind. And Zen, if you’ve done your reading (or even some practice), pulls all of our rugs out from under us over time. Merely the methodologies we use are different. But both schools, Zen and Thelema, aim to bring us to the most intimate and most transcendent centre of our own experience.
At some point, some perhaps dire and uncomfortable point, Hadit will be seen to dwell within, and establish itself within our worldview. Exactly how and when the inner balance tips for any one aspirant is hard (and unnecessary) to predict, but eventually, it does so, and the craving for external objectivity begins to decline. We’ll continue to have up days and down days, but the absolute necessity for some exact standard to hang onto will be gone.
We can then begin, finally, to claim as our own the notion that Nu is our refuge, as Hadit our light. Heru-ra-ha, the living reality of this experience, can then move to replace the hunger for something objective, something irreducible, that satisfies the greedy intellect, but can never satisfy the soul.
Love is the law, love under will,