Do what thou wilt hall be the whole of the Law.
One thing I can say I share with Aleister Crowley is that neither of us like, or liked, the Book of the Law much. He wrestled with it for many years, even after he finally admitted he had in his hands a text he couldn’t gainsay. And well into his later years, he still found certain verses and sections baffling.
I’m always wary of people who say they have read the Book and embraced it all immediately. “Kill, and torture; spare not,” isn’t part of my personal approach to life, and I doubt it ever will be. Or, to cite the verse preceding that one, in Chapter III, I do fear certain men, some gods and (at times) ‘anything.’ The text is, I think, intended to be disturbing, and those who find it otherwise are disturbing in themselves.
Apart from his much contested seven-sentence ‘Comment,’ with its forbidding of the study of the Book, we have Crowley’s own commentaries on the text, as well as others, such as Jim Eshelman’s at http://www.aumha.org/arcane/ccxx.htm . There is guidance available, therefore.
Verse-by-verse analysis is definitely useful, if only for understanding how Qabalistic understanding is derived. The Book is fantastically compressed, and there is often considerable, concentrated meaning in one short verse. Anyone new to Thelema needs to work through some of the available commentary to comprehend how to approach the Book.
Recently, I began a private project with Chapter III. Crowley, like everyone, found this the most obtuse and arcane chapter of the Book, and I wanted to understand it better. I had plans to analyse it verse by verse, but from (ostensibly) combined boredom and aversion, the method I fell into has been simply to read the text aloud, every morning.
After about a month, I noticed something. Whatever I had read about the purported meaning of the verses had gone from my brain. I kept meaning to look up what Crowley or Eshelman had said afterwards and I kept not doing so. Increasingly, it has become a series of words without much surface significance: it could simply be a shopping list in odd English.
The second phase of my work, which I resisted for some time, has been simply to shut up and sit for a while after the final “Aum. Ha.” I fell into this not from inspired insight, but, again, from boredom and aversion after the reading.
I recall, years ago, when Chapter I finally came together for me, and seemed to flow out of itself organically, virtually reciting itself through me. The ‘continuous one of Heaven” was, simply, continuous. As far as I was capable at the time, I got it.
Chapter III has been different. It is, quite evidently, beyond my conscious mind’s ability to absorb. Yet if I sit quietly enough after the reading, I find I know something I didn’t know, or hadn’t thought of, previously. It might be something apparently trivial, or it might be something apparently of major significance to me. It’s just there.
I accept the assertion that this Chapter is about the supernal soul, the Neshamah, in its ‘dialogue’ with the self-consciousness, or Ruach. Relating that dialogue back to the Ruach-world of words and defined meanings strips it of its real significance, and closes the door of Daleth that it opens. Letting it simply be opens that door by a crack more.
I don’t doubt others have had the same experience as me. But I mention it to anyone who is trying to grasp the Book’s tougher passages, and is stumped by them.
Love is the law, love under will.