Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Unless you’re offended by references to pecking the eyes of Jesus on his cross, or wings flapping in the face of Mohammed, the thorniest verse to accept in the Book of the Law is probably II, 21: “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.”
I should stress here once more that I was raised in the school of those who think there is nothing wrong with discussing the Book, and the reference in the Comment about shunning such as myself as centres of pestilence is optional. Shun if you will, but I always see that statement as a dare by Crowley, not a real prohibition, since an actual restriction on discussing it would fly in the face of I, 41. His own commentaries violated it, in any case.
I take it as a given that someone living in accordance with Will is automatically disconnected from the outcast and unfit. More to the point, such a person is disconnected from his or her own unfitness, and is happy to let such emotionally numbing traits atrophy. The same applies to wretchedness and weakness, which only really trouble us in other people when they’re dominant in our own nature.
I thought it was just a negative stereotype of Mexican character, but at times in the village where I live, I see drunks lying on the street. I feel nothing in common with a need to seek oblivion, and anything I had to offer them would be irrelevant to the condition they’ve chosen. The ‘dying’ they might undergo in their misery is more an endless spiritual ebbing than a physical one, but either way, it’s not my concern. I gaze at the mountains before my eyes as I say Liber Resh at dawn, and I hear the owls when I recite the midnight Adoration. These things are ‘joy of the world’ for me, and if the drunks elect to block out such treasures, then let them marinate in their fatal misery.
The compassion line is the part of the verse that’s always fascinated me, and I’ve worked on several ways of comprehending it. I’ve had discussions about Buddhist compassion as opposed to the Christian or Jewish kind, and I’ve wondered – fruitlessly – if there’s some Qabalistic pun in the phrase. Crowley identifies the term ‘kings’ with the Adepti (the Lovers of I, 40), so we know that it’s not necessarily a blanket condemnation of compassion per se (though the chapter tends that way), but rather an observation on its manifestation through a certain community of aspirants. A discussion involving two acquaintances threw a light on the subject for me just recently.
Friend A claims the title of Master of the Temple. I can’t assess such a claim from this side of the Abyss, but A understands more than I do, seems consistently honest with me, and has given interesting answers to questions numerous times, which is all that seems relevant; so I accept A’s claim to the Grade.
Friend B, no novice at Hermetic studies, observed that A lacked certain qualities to be expected of an 8=3, stating that A was possibly deluded, or even putting on a show. I gave more or less the response I describe above, and avoided a pointless debate.
Afterwards, it occurred to me that a Master of the Temple is Nemo, No Man (or Nema, No Woman). In Crowley’s extraordinary and significant phrasing, A as an 8=3 has reached ‘emancipation’ from Adeptship. Such an individual has shifted from the Solar point of focus with its extrovert energy, to a Supernal One, that of Saturn-of-Binah. We can presume that the capital-U Understanding that comes at such a point has no compulsion to express itself.
The Adept, on the other hand, lives increasingly as a conduit for a deepening Solar orientation, even in the two senior grades of Adeptus Major and Adeptus Exemptus. Any Adept I’ve ever known has been an explainer and a clarifier, because the Sun is all about outpouring of energy. Or to phrase it differently ‘compassion,’ in the sense that discerning others’ uncertainties and wanting to share knowledge or vision is integral to Adeptship. That’s the whole point of it – the Adepti teach the First Order, where people have endless doubts and questions.
The Masters, on the other hand, teach as much through Silence, or by very succinct remarks. Obviously this varies from Adept to Adept, and Master to Master, but the Adept has awareness of other people as extensions of the same essential Beingness with which he or she is identified. The Master lives within such an understanding of unity, and no longer has the sense of difference or distance that needs to be eliminated.
I’m sure the Masters are capable of demonstrating compassion should it be relevant – that is, should it be their Will – to do so. But to make a broad-strokes generalisation, to those of us operating wholly below the Abyss, an Adept does, while a Master is. The functions are different, because of the naturally hierarchical arrangement of the grades of attainment, and of course the Master can choose to act as an Adept when it seems appropriate. But the Adept has to become Silence, and his or her vice of compassion needs to be bridled in order to go on.