Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The last time I posted a selection of favourite quotes here was a couple of years ago, so I can get away with it again today. The following selection isn’t necessarily “what I think is true,” so much as “I never thought of that in quite that way.”
I collect quotes. I have scores, perhaps hundreds, in different files. The ones that attract me are usually in some way Thelemic; not in the sense of necessarily conforming to something Aleister Crowley said (though some of them are his own), so much as being statements that tend to tip the mind in the direction of considering what is and what isn’t related to discovering True Will. Beyond this observation, I let them speak for themselves.
First, Barbara Ehrenreich, on a spiritual experience she had in her late teens:
This was not the passive beatific merger with “the all,” as promised by the eastern mystics. It was a furious encounter with a living substance that was coming at me through all things at once, and one reason for the terrible wordlessness of the experience is that you cannot observe fire really closely without becoming part of it. Whether you start as a twig or a gorgeous tapestry, you will be recruited into the flame and made indistinguishable from the rest of the blaze.
Ecstasy is a critical concept in Thelema, which Crowley (and other people) declares is essential to the human soul. Ehrenreich says of her experience, however:
“Ecstasy” would be the word for this, but only if you are willing to acknowledge that ecstasy does not occupy the same spectrum as happiness or euphoria, that it participates in the anguish of loss and can resemble an outbreak of violence.
This one is a cautionary comment by the esoteric Christian writer Richard Smoley, from a talk he gave in 2006:
[Kabbalah] means receiving in two ways. One is receiving the teachings as handed down over time, which is why Kabbalah is sometimes translated as “tradition.” But it’s also a matter of receiving spiritual impulses and translating them into action in this world. Apparently ‘kabbalah’ is the word used in modern Hebrew for TV reception.
The next two are by Johannes Scotus Eriugena, a 9th Century Christian monk (not Duns Scotus, if you know who he was), and David Chaim Smith, a modern Kabbalist. First, Eriugena:
We do not know what God is. God Himself does not know what He is because He is not anything. Literally God is not, because He transcends being.
The sole concern of the mystic is the realization of the atzmut (essence) of all phenomena. However the difficulty in understanding this rests in the fact that the essence has neither existence nor non-existence, and cannot be definitively reduced to any mode of knowing or state of being. Yet it is not discovered elsewhere.
(Those two quotes strike me as holding a few years’ worth of material for serious contemplation).
On a non-mystical level, yet a strongly Thelemic one, here’s Van Jones, a black CNN commentator, talking earlier this year to university students:
I don’t want you to be safe, ideologically. I don’t want you to be safe, emotionally. I want you to be strong. That’s different. I’m not going to pave the jungle for you. Put on some boots, and learn how to deal with adversity. I’m not going to take all the weights out of the gym; that’s the whole point of the gym. This is the gym.
And the novelist Doris Lessing:
Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.
(That applies, I find, to a number of people who are always about to start – or re-launch – magical study and practice. It’s in fact a specific condition occurring with much practical magick).
I put little store in ‘reason’ and its advocates, because it usually strikes me as being a cover for unconscious tendencies within the reasoner. Every time someone tries to persuade me otherwise, I try to listen and end up more convinced I’m right. In his essay, In Memory of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung had the following to say:
If our critical reason tells us that in certain respects we are irrational and infantile, or that all religious beliefs are illusions, what are we to do about our irrationality, what are we to put in place of our exploded illusions? Our naive childishness has in it the seeds of creativity, and illusion is a natural component of life., and neither of them can ever be suppressed or replaced by the rationalities and practicalities of convention.
So there. And from Jung’s essay on Psychological Aspects of the Mother Archetype:
Emotion is the chief source of all becoming-conscious. There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion.
I don’t know much about NIsargadatta Maharaj, but this one caught my eye (and mind):
No thing in existence has a particular cause – the entire universe contributes to the existence of even the smallest thing … A thing is as it is because the universe is as it is.
And a related observation from Ken Wilber, from his A Brief History of Everything:
It’s not that harming the biosphere will eventually catch up with us and hurt us from the outside. It’s that the biosphere is literally internal to us, a part of our very being, our compound individuality – harming the biosphere is internal suicide, not just some sort of external problem.
That will do for now. More ineffable wisdom of my own when some occurs to me.
Love is the law, love under will,