Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The first moments after waking are when we sometimes see most clearly. The mind is in a liminal state after its sleep, and still able to bridge two worlds. Once the conscious mind takes over, even in a rudimentary way – “Must make caffeinated beverage: must boil water, find mug and locate ingredients” – then the simple clarity of unmediated perception gives way to ideas, and we’re back in our usual state of consciousness.
Thus, this morning at 7:05 it was clear to me how difficult it is to use words to teach people anything spiritual, and how that isn’t always important At 7.22, when I sat down to write this post, I was trying to remember just what, despite having made some jot-notes, I wanted to say. I knew the notion I woke with was a continuation of a perception that came over me in my temple last night, my subconscious mind processed it through the hours of sleep, and there was, on waking, this clear comprehension of the connection between Will, reality, dhyana and the teaching process. Now I’m trying to pull that back up, from memory.
Years ago, though I was never a practitioner, I was fascinated by Zen, which was being promoted as the form of Buddhism best suited to the western mind. Its core methods, or so I read, and heard in lectures, addressed reality directly, and could assist in the attainment of direct perception of the heart of truth. Or various verbal formulas to the same effect. The oriental technical terms used were minimal. I never quite grasped why Tibetan Buddhism replaced Zen, since it involves learning a lot of transHimalayan jargon. But it did, and Zen, while still flourishing in its modest way, took second place. Suffice it to say that if I had remained the Buddhist I was in my teens, and was again for a time in my twenties, I’d be into Zen, or maybe Vipassana, but not Dzogchen or other forms of Vajrayana.
And I think the reason is that those Zenmasters, who supposedly went around glaring into their students’ eyes with tigerish ferocity (a favourite phrase back in the day) or punching them in the jaw to waken them out of their mental formulations and assumptions were clearly and cleanly expressing Will. The key factor in pushing anybody to the threshold of deep understanding is that the presence of another human being – the teacher – is an expression of essential or fundamental or actual or deep (etc. etc.) vitality. Once phrase the Rimpoche Tarthang Tulku popularised is, “The Universe is confident,” and by that I think he meant what I’m trying to say here, since at 7:05 I felt confident myself that I could see something similar; I was in a state where all Will’s potential appeared clear. Now I can only remember the excitement.
The problem for us in this excessively digital, too-monkey-minded time in social history, is that the words we use are only made transparent when Will, in the absolutely best sense of something “delivered from the lust of result” is communicated through them. And that is hard to do via a blog, not least because blogs are themselves part of our excessively digitised monkey-house. But before hand-held digital devices, we already had work, TV, mortgages and workplace politics to distract us, so the difference today is one of gradient, not an absolute one.
In our Temple training, we lead students through a succession of elemental degrees that help to make the mental veils not exactly transparent, but at least a lot thinner. People who stick it out through tests, trials, rituals and the daily practices come to grasp that all their ideas are somewhat arbitrary, and that Zen reality thing, which in a way is what we’re after in our work, is not something separate from all that we are, but is rather the quintessence of our lives.
An interesting discussion on HeruRaHa in the past week (http://www.heruraha.net/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=12431&start=50) has concerned the differences between Buddhist and Thelemic ideas. More interestingly, it has looked at how far we might or might not have come in terms of consciousness development since Gautama Buddha’s day. And there’s the issue, touched on by the participants, of how close ‘classic’ Buddhist enlightenment is or might be to what we call the Knowledge & Conversation. Jim Eshelman wrote in this:
“[W]e don’t actually have anything Buddha wrote. We have things that are claimed to be his words taken down. It seems unquestionable (from the ideas of the system) that he broke through into Briah – that’s kind of the whole point of it – which would make him at least what we today call an Adept. Whether he went further is difficult to say with the relatively little information we have – in a system that primarily addresses the Yetziratic aspect of people (and, only in beginning ways, the meta-levels of those awake to Briah).”
Crowley himself, based on his discussions with Allan Bennett, would likely have disagreed with this, but the idea is worth considering. Crossing from the world of Yetzirah into that of Briah is the critical spiritual crisis for those of us aligned with the parameters of this Aeon.
Gautama Buddha had to apply every ounce of Will that he could muster to break out of his frustrations to grasp the truth he sensed or intuited, but couldn’t realise when he was working with traditional approaches. His conscious attention has to be pushed up “all the way to eleven” for the breakthrough to come. We can do this through intense meditation, or through ritual means, which is what the Abramelin ceremonial work and its various derivative forms is about. Yet at some point in such a process, there needs to be a teacher who, despite using words that ultimately derive from, and apply to, his or her own particular case, somehow nudges us towards the threshold of a gnosis. Will (i.e., expressed life-force) is present, and consistently active, in what is said and presented to the aspirant. Buddha, for example, had a series of prior teachers who all contributed to his general understanding, and some must have impinged on his mind more than others.
Words – wise, crazy, off-the-cuff or traditionally sacred – are the carriers, Will’s means of expression, but never contain the actual import of a full-on gnosis. Will itself does that.
And this is applies also to our relations with ourselves, and our own inner teacher/intuition. We get ideas, we absorb teachings, we master prayers, rubrics and invocations, but until A connects to B within us, and reveals the vast and non-specific C, the mind-circuit hasn’t closed, and there is only knowledge, not realisation.
Will is activity, or going, and the realisation it seeks is the inexpressible not-ness that contains or underlies the Universe: Hadit ever seeks Nuit. But this seeking is the fundamental characteristic of manifest existence, and whosoever’s mouth or mind utters the sage words or thoughts, it’s all about Will looking for new pathways to open. And Crowley taught us (in The Heart of the Master) that every change in life is a result of an act of love. Words can obscure or muddle the mind’s perceptions, but active Will, pure Will, like one’s progress through elemental degrees in a mystery school, can make the obscurity transparent.
Love is the law, love under will,