Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Quotes are something I’ve always collected. Creatively minded people, seeking originality in their creating, inevitably find themselves entering mind-spaces that others have been cautious about entering; and their going into such houses, rooms and spooky woods means they come back with thoughts that stand outside the mental mainstreams.
It’s been a year or more since I shared any quotes on this blog, so to wrap up August, I’m posting a few. There’s no theme here other than how such ideas from the edge offer intriguing hints on the way True Will manifests itself in our lives.
The American composer Charles Ives made me reflect on the breakthroughs we (think we) get in magick in this comment: “A rare experience of a moment at daybreak, when something in nature seems to reveal all consciousness, cannot be explained at noon. Yet it is part of the day’s unity.”
What we discover in the space between the worlds is like that, and while a skilled poet or musician can capture it, prose rarely can.
I’ve encountered many of Oscar Wilde’s aphorisms, but Stephen Fry (who portrayed the man memorably on film some years ago) paraphrased one with which I was unfamiliar, and which virtually epitomises Thelemic thinking:
“Oscar Wilde said that if you know what you want to be, then you inevitably become it – that is your punishment, but if you never know, then you can be anything. There is a truth to that. We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing – an actor, a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, I act – and I never know what I am going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.”
The quest to realise True Will needs to avoid the pitfalls of easy or convenient thinking. The psychotherapist Viktor Frankl was little impressed by American values, which too often we absorb osmotically in Canada.
“To the European,” Frankl wrote, “it is a characteristic of the American culture that, again and again, one is commanded and ordered to ‘be happy.’ But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to ‘be happy’.”
To be in tune with the Will produces, if not happiness, a least a sense of rightness. But happiness in itself is too vague as a general life-goal.
The next quote, from Carl Jung, is a corrective to suavely dogmatic Buddhists. Buddhism is, I would guess, the second-favourite spiritual pursuit of many people in Thelema. But in some of its western-oriented presentations, it becomes about clever word-games as much as existential insight. Jung observed:
“If one were to conceive of ‘God’ as ‘pure Nothingness,’ that has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact of a superordinate principle. We are just as much possessed as before; the change of name has removed nothing at all from reality.”
There is, if we invert with this observation, an interesting hint on comprehending how to imagine and approach the Holy Guardian Angel, without falling into too concrete and limiting an idea. That is, by seeing It as ‘pure Nothingness,’ a notion Crowley often discussed, we can find a way to deal with it without stumbling into an excess of conceptual paradoxes. (“Is it God/not God? Is it me/not me?” etc.)
Jung also addressed the notion that redefining ‘God’ as an archetype doesn’t simply make the power and force of Him/Her/It evaporate into a fog supposedly reducible to mere hyperactive neurons:
“If, therefore, we speak of ‘God’ as an ‘archetype,’ we are saying nothing about His real nature but are letting it be known that ‘God’ already has a place in that part of our psyche which is pre-existent to consciousness and that He therefore cannot be considered an invention of consciousness. We neither make Him more remote nor eliminate Him, but bring Him closer to the possibility of being experienced. This latter circumstance is by no means unimportant, for a thing which cannot be experienced may easily be suspected of non-existence.”
That’s the kind of subtle observation that drives Jung’s critics ballistic, because he steers deftly between all the markers that delineate discrete philosophical concepts. Dedicated fans of Richard Dawkins, I find, read such statements and become hyperbolically unable to consider the core point being made. But if we’re going to come into contact with the levels of consciousness where ‘something like’ God manifests, we need to suspend a lot of our notions of cause, effect and time.
And for God’s own view of things, nothing beats God’s own Tweets, transmitted via his scribe, David Jaberbaum. I particularly relished:
“There are some sins so bad that Jesus comes down from the cross and says “No way I’m dying for that shit.”
But my all-time fave is:
“If you think atheism promotes a lack of moral responsibility, you should see what happens when My son takes the blame for all your sins.”
Love is the law, love under will,