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 Anonymous
Joined: 52 years ago
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Hi all

as I migrated from, a nonentity to a Student (I won't say in which A:.A:. - that would be telling) I want to know, if you would be so kind, how to best prepare to be a GOOD Student. How to best prepare to become a Practitioner.

OK, I just have the official Reading List and I'm throuh already and preparing for the -inevitable- test 🙂

I would just like to collect some advice how to best master this stage from you guys if you would be so kind ? 🙂

Is it really important to memorize every 'demon' from the Goetia?

or is it more about a complete picture and feel of 'it all'? The Tao? The Universe?

Just would like to hear your voices on it, be they symathetic or be they not -- anyway I will appreciata all of them.

Thank you very much

Fomalhaut


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Azidonis
(@azidonis)
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Ask your Superior.

Best wishes in the Great Work!


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 Anonymous
Joined: 52 years ago
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Well, thank you and good-bye  ;D

This is some kind of non-information, you know?

If I'd have the stones to ask my Superior I'd not be hanging around here, asking other people, y'know?  ::)

Anyone else? or do I have to handle this massive load alone - like always?

😉


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 Anonymous
Joined: 52 years ago
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- I don't want to come across wry or ironical. It's just that I think this stage is very important to me.

If you all - in your wisdom - have some clues up your sleeves


well; so be it.
If not, it's totally okey-dokey to me.

Just wanted to ask if any of you as a Student has some experience to share 😉


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Shiva
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"Fomalhaut" wrote:
... do I have to handle this massive load alone - like always?

Yes. Like always. There is no requirement to memorize the names of any Spirits. If you "get the feel of the Tao," you are already there and need not bother about books and grades; please proceed to the Oaths of the Abtss and the Magister Templi.

Otherwise and even so, proceed alone, read the books, take the test, move on, as always.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 52 years ago
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"Shiva" wrote:
"Fomalhaut" wrote:
... do I have to handle this massive load alone - like always?

Yes. Like always. There is no requirement to memorize the names of any Spirits. If you "get the feel of the Tao," you are already there and need not bother about books and grades; please proceed to the Oaths of the Abtss and the Magister Templi.

Otherwise and even so, proceed alone, read the books, take the test, move on, as always.

dear Shiva,

it's pleasure - as always - to meet or read an ADEPT of your calibre. As always I enjoyed your post very much 😉 Thank you ma

Thank you SOOOOO much for your advice as you answered all my questions with some few words and I don't have to search and read anymore here (or elsewhere) 😉

Love you, man.

See ya - whereever 🙂

Many thanks Fom


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Shiva
(@shiva)
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"Fomalhaut" wrote:
Thank you SOOOOO much for your advice as you answered all my questions ...

Actually, my response was not really so sarcastic or demeaning. It was what we might consider "the truth of the matter.

What you are asking is what fraternity brothers seek when they pass copies of prior exams around. They seek to cheat, or at least to get a preview of coming attractions. However, since you have alreadt perceived that this is something you're supposed to do by yourself, it is rather unbecoming to ask for assistance on a public forum. If I were your link (Neophyte), which I am not, and I caught you probing a semi-public society for advantage in approaching the "invisible order," then ... (the manuscript suddenly ends here)

ends here[/align:241o8awa]


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Los
 Los
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"Fomalhaut" wrote:
I want to know, if you would be so kind, how to best prepare to be a GOOD Student.

Question and doubt everything.

Do not accept any claim simply because it is written in some book, told to you by a supposed "superior" (superior in what, exactly?), or even proclaimed by some dude who called himself "Aleister Crowley."

I'm not sure what works are on the "reading list" of whatever group you're a part of. If the group is based on the A.'.A.'. that Crowley founded, then I would presume that they've updated the reading list from his day. If not, I'd ask why not. And then I'd question the answer given by your "superior."

I guess you can read whatever books are on the "official list" you're given to read, but I wouldn't stop there. Read everything that you can get  your hands on, especially works by respected and well-regarded members of many fields of study. Read books on biological evolution, cosmology, neuroscience, poetry, philosophy, etc. If you really are a student, then you should try to give yourself as broad a base of knowledge as humanly possible. Ideally, this stage of your development should never really end.

When you are reading, read carefully and critically. Underline anything that seems important, look up words you don't know, highlight those parts that puzzle you or that you have more questions about. Pursue those questions and do not accept any answers that do not make sense to you. Take notes on what you read and review these notes periodically. You may wish to give yourself short assignments, like writing essays that compare and contrast the thoughts of two different thinkers or fields of study. You can either write out your assignments or speak them aloud to yourself using a recording feature on your phone.

Your goal is not merely to take in information but to synthesize that information: to start thinking about how the information fits together. You don't need to come up with any definite answers. If your "superior" is someone whom you can bounce your ideas off of, then great. That's all a teacher ultimately is, anyway.

Above all, question your own ideas and assumptions about everything that you're reading. If you find that your readings are confirming an idea that you already think is true, then make a note of that idea and then research all of the arguments against the idea. Then research all of the arguments against the arguments against the idea. Ask yourself how one ought to go about determining truth from falsehood. Leave nothing unquestioned. Do not trust anybody who presents himself or herself as an "authority" on a subject. More to the point, do not trust this post that I'm writing.

If you follow these pieces of advice successfully, you will begin to cultivate an *attitude* toward learning that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life, no matter what the subject is. Remember, nobody can actually "teach" you anything in the sense of handing you knowledge. All education is ultimately self-education. Even if someone very carefully and slowly explains ideas to you, it's still up to you to understand and synthesize what that person is saying. At best, a "teacher" is someone who can make the process a little easier by pointing you in the right direction.


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Los
 Los
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"Fomalhaut" wrote:
Is it really important to memorize every 'demon' from the Goetia?

Nope. I can think of *far* better uses for your memory than stuffing it full of the rough equivalent of a D&D Monstrous Compendium.

or is it more about a complete picture and feel of 'it all'? The Tao? The Universe?

Thinking bigger and broader is always useful. Don't limit yourself to conventional "spiritual" texts, either. There's a lot more awe to be found in an episode of Cosmos than virtually any religious text ever composed.

Good luck on your journey.


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Azidonis
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"Fomalhaut" wrote:
If I'd have the stones to ask my Superior I'd not be hanging around here, asking other people, y'know?  ::)

Part of the point of the Student period is to develop a working dialogue and relationship with the Superior.

If you thought all your answers would come from an internet forum, why sign the Oath in the first place?


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Anonymous
 Anonymous
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"Azidonis" wrote:
"Fomalhaut" wrote:
If I'd have the stones to ask my Superior I'd not be hanging around here, asking other people, y'know?  ::)

Part of the point of the Student period is to develop a working dialogue and relationship with the Superior.

If you thought all your answers would come from an internet forum, why sign the Oath in the first place?

He considers himself to be "a beginner" asking people on a relevant forum which he perceives to be worthy of giving him advice.  Personally I don't see why that appears to be  a problem.


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ignant666
(@ignant666)
Elderly American druggie
Joined: 16 years ago
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Probably someone posting on a forum frequented by many who play baseball, questioning the arbitrary convention that one must run to "first base" prior to "second base" might expect some pushback also, david?
Many might explain that this is simply how the game of "baseball" works.
Note that this is not the same question as whether baseball is worth playing, or which team is best.
Asking people on a relevant forum may have a tendency to produce relevant, and even correct, answers.


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Tao
 Tao
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Unless I'm much mistaken, a Student of the A.'.A.'. doesn't have a superior, not yet being an initiated member of the order. Read the books, follow the instructions, take the test, and then, if you pass, you'll be assigned a Neophyte who you'd better have the stones to ask whatever questions you've got because s/he's the only official contact you'll have.


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Shiva
(@shiva)
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Warning. Long post ahead! Abandon brevity all ye who enter here ... 😉

"Tao" wrote:
Unless I'm much mistaken, a Student of the A.'.A.'. doesn't have a superior, not yet being an initiated member of the order.

That is correct. But they have somebody. That is, someone gave them the list to read. Therefore they have at least established a "link," as we called the relationship in Solar Lodge. Other schools, not related to Solar Lodge, also use this term. It's just a generic description of "forging a link" in a lineage chain. Even as a Probationer, the candidate is still not "initiated." They have taken a Probationary Oath, but it is not "binding," and there is no corresponding ceremony ... on the physical plane.

But it is my experience that there is a probationer ceremony within, that is, a "crisis" event, or an "insight," that results in the merely curious Sudent saying, "OK, I'm convinced. I'm ready to start doing "the work" (practices).

There is also the scenario where the wondering wanderer seeks out the A.'.A.'. by writing to some Office (at 124 Victoria St, London, or some more recent email address or Post Office Box), and they actually get a reply, furnishing them with a booklist and a tentative offer of an exam after reading said list. No "superior" will have been designated, but someone has probably signed the reply, even if a Frater XYZ or a Soror ABC has responded. So there is a "link," but not a designated "superior." It's all very tenuous at this point.

Read the books, follow the instructions, ...

This part is straightforward enough if one actually has a "link" person. But if they are seeking the A.'.A.'. in its sense as "the invisible order," then they simply have to read the books (according to their chosen "best list" they can find in print, and then seek, hope for, magnetically attract, or conjure up (actually "conjure down") a living representative. Crowley actually suggests this method in his writings ("Let him seek out ..." and "... if he cannot find one, then ..." or words to that effect.

It should be understood by anyone with experience in these matters that this process takes place all the time, as a "natural" process in life. A person who is pre-programmed by parents and teachers in a given orthodoxy (Catholic, Islamic, Communistic Atheist, Plymouth Brethren, Zion, etc) gets the impression that there is MORE to it than their present prision. So they read some books, maybe attend some lectures at the nearby spiritual booshop or center. If they're "really" serious, they set out to read "all" the different books/ideas available. This is parallel to the A.'.A.'. Student grade; in fact it IS the same if we're considering the "invisible order" (known as The Spiritual Hierarchy in other streams of the White Brotherhood.

One can even advance to Probationer level without a "link" of any kind. One simply reads a wide range of foundational books, then "begins such practices as he/she prefers, keeping a written record." (Often, the "written record" seems superfluous. Other times, it seems to be indispensible).

... take the test, and then, if you pass, you'll be assigned a Neophyte who you'd better have the stones to ask whatever questions you've got because s/he's the only official contact you'll have.

Right. Assuming one has a "link," an exam is provided. Theoretically, the one who furnishes and grades the exam will also become the Neophyte (if it's a really "pure" linking wherein there is a one-on-one student/teacher relationship, and nobody ever knows (officially or socially, or even casually) anyone else except their "superior" and any "inferiors" they introduce after becoming a member (yeah, good luck on that!) ... but maybe some executive 7=4 in some office or Post Office box looks at the exam and approves/passes the candidate and actually assigns her to Neophyte X, who has just passed his Probation and is ready for a student.

In real life, I have known, and heard of, "Neophytes" or "links" (who even hold a grade much above Malkuth) who are not worth a toot. Some will refuse to answer questions properly or directly. Some are worthless as teachers. One better hope that they have at least informal access to someone of exalted status. It has been my experience that Neophytes, by a strict first degree definition, are absolutely incapable of "teaching" a probation. Every one I ever saw broke the rules.

A Probationer is supposed to "begin practice as he/she may prefer," and "It is against the rules of probation to actually "set tasks" for Probationers." But they all do. They fill the Probationer's heads with illusionary nonesense and lord it over them like a dictatorial guru ... usually ... not always.

Because of this sorry state of affairs, wherein the reality of the matter conflicts with the written ideal, a certain lineage called Star System (1980 - 2012), would not allow a Probationer to be "linked" with any grade less than 5=6 (within).

I hold that it is even "possible" that a person who conforms to his or her practices for a year (Oh boy, and it is really a year, for some astrological/chronological reason). Sometimes exactly a year between the "crises" of signing the Probationary Oath and the Neophyte Ceremony - I'm speaking of "subjective experiences" sychronized with outer oath-writing, an annum of diverse indulgence in experimentation, and a culminating mind-blowing experience. This is the so-called path of self-initiation to which some folks like to refer.

But, in my actual, observed experience, I have asked at least two hundred people who have said that "Yes, I have experienced that event (the first degree burst of light [in some form]) that overwhelmed me, leaving me with the unshakable knowledge that there is something [god, angel, daemon, self, atman] up-out-in there and I'm overseen by it - even if I'm not in contact with it now or can contact it at will, I do know that I have seen it." - I have asked these people about their experiences, and in almost every case, there was some person, some mentor, some "link," that was up close or far in the background who influenced the event.

Note: I had access to this many people because I taught the "holistic" courses in a Holistic Health Practitioner school (HHPs are licensed to practice in many cities or counties), and in Oriental Medical colleges (where Shen, or spirit or consciousness, is a part of the paradigm). "Spiritual" types of people go to these schools. You (generic you) might be surprised how many folks have undergone the re-birthing of the first degree, and how many (not many, but a few) adepts have "met their angel," who were/are unaware of Thelema or A.'.A.'. - but then again, it's interesting how many know all about Crowley, even though they'll not be admitting it in public.

So, anyway, my point is that the procedures can be really formal and defined, or they can be a solo flight through the preliminary Aethyrs, but the process is similar and the results in operative consciousness are the same.

So the path of "self-initiation" seems possible, but in reality it's not probable.

Yes, yes. "All initiation is self-initiation." It just depends on where it's undertaken alone, or in company with a mentor, or in company with a grou. Many mansions, indeed!

Ideally, a Magister "tends the garden of disciples," and anything less than such as a "link" or as a "teacher" leads to the most annoying circumstances.


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Los
 Los
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I enjoyed your post, Shiva, and I actually agreed with quite a bit of it. I thought it was particularly important to point out that the "Student" level corresponds to the natural process of reading around and trying to broaden the mind.

It's a reminder that all of these different official "degrees" are just codifications of stuff that happens naturally, stuff that people can do on their own -- and *do* do on their own all the time -- without any "orders" whatsoever.

One point that deserves elaboration:

"Shiva" wrote:
So the path of "self-initiation" seems possible, but in reality it's not probable.

Yes, yes. "All initiation is self-initiation." It just depends on where it's undertaken alone, or in company with a mentor, or in company with a grou. Many mansions, indeed!

I have to disagree here. If all initiation is indeed self-initiation, then that means that groups cannot add anything substantial to the process but *can* take away a lot.

It's funny. Thanks to the magic of the internet, I've been able to have conversations with a number of people in magical orders, including a few people of relatively high ranking positions in some groups -- I've even had discussions with at least two people who are "Outer Heads" of certain magical orders. And when I say "conversations" and "discussions," I mean the kinds of discussions where I raise objections and challenges to certain fundamental principles that they promote but for which, in my estimation, they don't have sufficient justification.

I can't say that I've been terribly impressed by the quality of their thinking, nor can I say that I see a substantial difference between many of these people and various other religionists with whom I've had similar kinds of conversations (in some cases, I've challenged other religionists on nearly identical beliefs, and I've received responses from other religionists that resemble the responses of the "Thelemites").

Let me be clearer: a lot of these "order" people come off as deluded kooks who cannot defend many of the key ideas they promulgate. This is not to say that there aren't non-deluded people in magical orders, just that there seems to be quite a few of them, and the delusions don't seem any better at the "higher" levels of some of these organizations.

I think it's worth asking what, in practically the year 2015, a person seeks to gain by associating with such people and groups. People interested in finding a "group" or "order" or even a "teacher" really ought to be asking themselves what they hope to get out of it and why they think that their expectations are reasonable. I mean, if the goal is just to socialize or see what it's all about, then fine, but I get the impression that a lot of people have much higher hopes than these, and I don't see much of an endgame for such people aside from disappointment or delusion.

Specifically, these "magical order" groups tend to encourage supernaturalism, worship of the system itself, and the shutting down of critical inquiry (and the promotion of dogmatism).

As an example, look at what Shiva says above about "crises" and "ordeals." It's simply not true that taking an oath and signing your name on a piece of paper will cause "ordeals" to happen to you, any more than getting closer to Christ will cause the Devil to start messin' up your life. You're not going to encounter a Siren, you don't actually have a guardian angel, there isn't an actual separate "plane" called the "Astral," the Tree of Life isn't a real "place" that you can visit, and -- most of all -- you're not really on a "hero's journey" where you're destined to pass through the "belly of the whale" or whatever.

All of the above is an example of self-mythologizing encouraged by at least some "magical orders," and it's a distraction to attainment at the very best.

Second, many of these groups are actively against intelligent practice, telling students to just "do the work," as if the system itself is an object of worship and as if there's some virtue in just going through a bunch of practices without understanding what you're doing, what the practices are supposed to accomplish, how one can tell if the practices are "working," and how to modify the practices (or choose better ones) to achieve the result. Hell, it seems some of these groups are actively opposed to students even figuring out what the "result" is supposed to be, other than vague and woolly language that's virtually useless. Some of these groups even treat the practices like a kind of cookbook: do practices X, Y, Z; go through grades a, b, c...and voila! You'll "attain," no matter how little understanding you have of what you're trying to do.

If there's a more dumbed-down, egalitarian, everyone-gets-a-trophy approach to initiation than this, I haven't seen it. I'd expect that such conceptions of "attainment" would attract the least creative, least intelligent, least capable people...just do X blindly, and you'll get the result? What lazy oaf would pass up a deal like that?

Third, many of these groups encourage a kind of dogmatism that seeks to shut down critical thinking. For example, let's say that you successfully induce the kind of daydream that some people call "astral projection." In a group, there's going to be enormous social pressure on you to interpret this experience in the "right" way (i.e. "I got my 'body of light' to finally work, and I explored the 'lower astral' where I dealt with 'entities' who may or may not be projections of my 'shadow personality' instead of "Wow, that was cool -- I tricked my brain into having a lucid dream"). These interpretations feed back into and reinforce the overall dogma of the group. Rather than enabling you to escape the grasp of your mind ("Aha! See how malleable my mind is...maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge my initial impressions...."), these experiences become an excuse to subject the individual more fully to delusions dreamt up in the mind and feel as if one is "confirming" those delusions.

But more to the point, what's the good of these groups in terms of attainment? Leaving aside the nutty delusional ideas that many of these groups have, what is it that these people can teach you that you can't figure out on your own with a little effort? I would guess that the vast majority of people go looking for "magical orders" for the same reasons that other people join other religious organizations: to feel part of something greater than themselves, to soothe their insecurities by hooking up with a group that won't question their beliefs, to feel accepted and validated no matter what, and to stroke their "I'm so spiritual" self-image stories (or their "I'm-a-student-of-the-'Mysteries' self-image stories or their "I'm-so-humble-that-I joined-a-group-to-submit-to-someone-who-claims-to-know-better-aren't-I-great" self-image stories).

Overall, if I had to guess, I'd say that the percentage of people *in* these "magical orders" who have a solid understanding of themselves is waaaaay smaller than the percentage of people in the general population who have a solid understanding of themselves.

So in conclusion, you can dress up like a wizard if you like, but I'd urge you to spend some time first examining your motivation, expectation, and even your ideas of what "initiation" or "enlightenment" is. If you honestly think that "enlightenment" is something you can get from a group -- or even that could be made easier by a group -- I'd suggest that you really need to think through what it is you're calling "enlightenment" and why you're calling it that.


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William Thirteen
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nutty delusional ideas that many of these groups have

groups don't have ideas, individuals have ideas.

While your criticisms are certainly valid for some individuals, it is useless generalisation to attribute these qualities (positive or negative) to entire groups. I rather suspect that the ratio of those who have a 'solid understanding of themselves' is about the same within 'occult orders' as it is in other groups - such as archery enthusiasts, the Michael Bolton fanclub, or the membership of the LAShTAL forums. Then again it might be the sample size is so small that any anecdotal evidence hopelessly skews the results. 


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Tao
 Tao
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Given that this thread is looking for advice regarding the A.'.A.'. Student grade, I don't see how any of this is relevant. The A.'.A.'. is not a group system. In that respect, it is specifically unlike all of these other hypothetical groups causing this anecdotal analysis.


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Shiva
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"Tao" wrote:
The A.'.A.'. is not a group system.

"There is also a rule that the Members of the A.'. A.'. shall not know each other officially, save only each Member his superior who introduced him and his inferior whom he has himself introduced.
This rule has been relaxed, and a "Grand Neophyte" appointed to superintend all Members of the Order of the G. D. The real object of the rule was to prevent Members of the same Grade working together and so blurring each other's individuality; also to prevent work developing into social intercourse." - One Star

True, but guess what? Crowley was the first one to disregard this "rule."


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Los
 Los
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"WilliamThirteen" wrote:
groups don't have ideas, individuals have ideas.

Sure, and groups are made of individuals. Hence, the linguistic shorthand "ideas that many of these groups have."

While your criticisms are certainly valid for some individuals, it is useless generalisation to attribute these qualities (positive or negative) to entire groups.

I disagree. The observation that high-up members and leaders of a number of these groups express delusional ideas in public -- and seem incapable of defending their foundational ideas -- is useful in forming opinions about what kinds of people are attracted to these groups and how good these groups likely will be in encouraging students to escape delusion.

I rather suspect that the ratio of those who have a 'solid understanding of themselves' is about the same within 'occult orders' as it is in other groups - such as archery enthusiasts, the Michael Bolton fanclub, or the membership of the LAShTAL forums.

Michael Bolton fanclubs don't purport to "initiate" people and give them insight into themselves. The groups we're talking about *do* purport things like that, and -- for the reasons I explained in that long post above -- I don't think they're terribly effective at it.


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Los
 Los
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"Tao" wrote:
Given that this thread is looking for advice regarding the A.'.A.'. Student grade, I don't see how any of this is relevant. The A.'.A.'. is not a group system. In that respect, it is specifically unlike all of these other hypothetical groups causing this anecdotal analysis.

As Shiva points out, the A.'.A.'. is "not a group system" in theory, but groups based on Crowley's A.'.A.'. are not always so in practice. Even if there were a group in which one-on-one-instruction rules were followed exactly, pretty much everything I said in the long post above still applies. How's this "superior" supposed to give students insight into themselves? As I said, there's very little another person can do to practically aid the task of attainment, and a lot that another person can do to hinder it.


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Anonymous
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"Fomalhaut" wrote:
Hi all

as I migrated from, a nonentity to a Student (I won't say in which A:.A:. - that would be telling) I want to know, if you would be so kind, how to best prepare to be a GOOD Student. How to best prepare to become a Practitioner.

OK, I just have the official Reading List and I'm throuh already and preparing for the -inevitable- test 🙂

I would just like to collect some advice how to best master this stage from you guys if you would be so kind ? 🙂

What sort of magickal work have you been doing?  Have you started doing any asanas?


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Anonymous
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"Los" wrote:
"Tao" wrote:
Given that this thread is looking for advice regarding the A.'.A.'. Student grade, I don't see how any of this is relevant. The A.'.A.'. is not a group system. In that respect, it is specifically unlike all of these other hypothetical groups causing this anecdotal analysis.

As Shiva points out, the A.'.A.'. is "not a group system" in theory, but groups based on Crowley's A.'.A.'. are not always so in practice. Even if there were a group in which one-on-one-instruction rules were followed exactly, pretty much everything I said in the long post above still applies. How's this "superior" supposed to give students insight into themselves? As I said, there's very little another person can do to practically aid the task of attainment, and a lot that another person can do to hinder it.

What about support?


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Anonymous
 Anonymous
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"Los" wrote:
"I'm-so-humble-that-I joined-a-group-to-submit-to-someone-who-claims-to-know-better-aren't-I-great" self-image stories).

Overall, if I had to guess, I'd say that the percentage of people *in* these "magical orders" who have a solid understanding of themselves is waaaaay smaller than the percentage of people in the general population who have a solid understanding of themselves.

There's a member of the OTO and I believe he's  a member of the A A David Shoemaker.  He does lectures on all aspects of Crowley, magick and the A A practices on youtube all aimed at the beginner.  It's called "Living Thelema."  He does not strike me as a dogmatic kook in any way and has a common sense objectivity to him.  With that said, if he is typical of AA/OTO leadership then maybe they are not to blame.  Maybe there's just some wacko "seekers"/newcomers you cannot get through to no matter how much you try to demonstrate to them the importance of an objective approach.  You can empathise with that I'm sure.


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Azidonis
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"Fomalhaut" wrote:
I would just like to collect some advice how to best master this stage from you guys if you would be so kind ? 🙂

It's really not that hard, and there is nothing to master about it. You just read the hell out of the 11 books on the list, and take a test at the end of the period to demonstrate you actually have some inkling of the subjects therein, that you can retain the knowledge you have read, and that you can communicate clearly with your Superior. (If they haven't even assigned a contact person, then I guess you may just be along for the mail-order ride.)

The actual "Work" doesn't start until Probationer, at the least. The Student curriculum was not even a part of the original system, just added later to ensure that people actually applying for Probationer aren't completely new to the subjects involved.

Of course, once you start going at it, you may soon realize that 3 months of wading in the kiddie pool is nothing compared to the ocean that is waiting ahead.

"david" wrote:
He considers himself to be "a beginner" asking people on a relevant forum which he perceives to be worthy of giving him advice.  Personally I don't see why that appears to be  a problem.

I don't see where you having a problem with what I say is of any relevance.

"Shiva" wrote:
That is correct. But they have somebody. That is, someone gave them the list to read.

Right.

"Shiva" wrote:
Ideally, a Magister "tends the garden of disciples," and anything less than such as a "link" or as a "teacher" leads to the most annoying circumstances.

Yes, like a bunch of random internet people (like us!) telling a Student various odds and ends about being a Student (giving it all away), or even worse, offering advice!


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Tao
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"Shiva" wrote:
True, but guess what? Crowley was the first one to disregard this "rule."

There's a difference between knowing others in the order and practicing within a group system of the type that Los derides. Putting a secretary in place to oversee physical operations does not constitute the coffee klatch social club that he attempt to lampoon above, whether or not that characterisation is anywhere near accurate of actual group systems.


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Tao
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"Los" wrote:
How's this "superior" supposed to give students insight into themselves?

Within the A.'.A.'., she's not supposed to. She's there to observe the progress (reading the magical record at regular intervals) and apply course correction if her chela veers sideways. This is why it is imperative for every member of the A.'.A.'. to have completed ALL of the tasks of the grade before advancing to the next grade, regardless of the timing of their actual attainment. Even if a Neophyte accidentally manages to attain K&CHGA, she will remain a Neophyte in the order until she completes the tasks of the grade so that she is fully equipped to know when her chelas have successfully completed the tasks. Members of the A.'.A.'. aren't expected to be teachers, they are expected to be sources of information personally experienced.


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Los
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"Tao" wrote:
"Los" wrote:
How's this "superior" supposed to give students insight into themselves?

Within the A.'.A.'., she's not supposed to. She's there to observe the progress (reading the magical record at regular intervals) and apply course correction if her chela veers sideways...["superiors"] are expected to be sources of information personally experienced.

Well, first of all, there's a difference between "I'm just a source of information" and "I'm here to read your diary entries and pretend that I can tell when you're 'veering off course.'"

If it's just the former idea, then that's all well and good in an ideal world. But all of this "superior" terminology is a waste of time and potentially hazardous. One is better off just finding a friend who knows more stuff and asking questions. Preferably a friend who doesn't think of people as "chelas." Then after consulting with a more experienced friend, one can go consult other sources and question them all.

It's the latter idea that's problematic, and it's where the problems with "groups" that I was talking about earlier arise. If some "superior" is evaluating one's precious little diary entries and telling the "chela" when she thinks said "chela" is "veering off course," then the "chela" may well run into issues of supernaturalism, dogmatism, a lack of critical thinking, etc.

Now sure, it could turn out that one's "superior" has none of those problems and simply serves as a source of information about chosen practices or whatever. But in that case, the "superior" is not really adding anything substantial to the aspirant's journey. When we say that "all initiation is self-initiation," we mean it. Crowley put it this way:

It is impossible to lay down precise rules by which a man may attain to the knowledge and conversation of His Holy Guardian Angel; for that is the particular secret of each one of us; a secret not to be told or even divined by any other, whatever his grade. It is the Holy of Holies, whereof each man is his own High Priest, and none knoweth the Name of his brother's God, or the Rite that invokes Him. --One Star in Sight

Ultimately, you're on your own because the method is necessarily different for each individual. Maybe someone can "instruct" a person on some of the practices in the lower grades, but I think it's highly debatable how useful those practices are to begin with. The fact that the central operation is such a personal endeavor is a big part of why I say that groups don't add anything but can take away a lot.

It goes back to what I said earlier: it's nearly 2015. What does someone think they're going to get out of joining a "secret society" or a "mystery school" or "magical order" or whatever? If you're thinking about joining a group, just give some thought about what you're expecting and why you're expecting it.


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Los
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"david" wrote:
"Los" wrote:
"Tao" wrote:
Given that this thread is looking for advice regarding the A.'.A.'. Student grade, I don't see how any of this is relevant. The A.'.A.'. is not a group system. In that respect, it is specifically unlike all of these other hypothetical groups causing this anecdotal analysis.

As Shiva points out, the A.'.A.'. is "not a group system" in theory, but groups based on Crowley's A.'.A.'. are not always so in practice. Even if there were a group in which one-on-one-instruction rules were followed exactly, pretty much everything I said in the long post above still applies. How's this "superior" supposed to give students insight into themselves? As I said, there's very little another person can do to practically aid the task of attainment, and a lot that another person can do to hinder it.

What about support?

I think it's a good idea to have a friend who supports you -- even in other areas outside of magick. What I think is less useful is to set up your friend as a "superior" in the "magical order" that's making a wizard out of you.


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Tao
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"Los" wrote:
Well, first of all, there's a difference between "I'm just a source of information" and "I'm here to read your diary entries and pretend that I can tell when you're 'veering off course.'"

There's no "pretending" about it. That is the innovation of the A.'.A.'.: it's built on a framework of scientific rigour. Jones and Crowley set up the tasks of the early grades to provide a well-rounded series of practices towards attainable goals. The practices were published, the goals were not. Instead, they were passed down from master to chela as the chela accomplished them. In that way, a person coming to a practice for the first time wouldn't know in advance what the result was expected to be and thereby undermine the struggle of discovering it. It is that struggle that builds the character necessary for the crisis of the 5=6. That is the importance of the unbroken chain. A person cannot advance in the true A.'.A.'. without actually mastering the practice to attain the result known by the master who has gone before.

This method is similar to the practice of cracking codes. So long as the key remains unknown, the mind pushes itself through any number of hoops trying to suss out the underlying pattern. If the key were given out in advance, even a hint of it, the only difficulty remaining is in the arithmetic of applying it to the cipher.

But all of this "superior" terminology is a waste of time and potentially hazardous.

I might point out the obvious -- that this says much more about your own hangups and fears than about the actual relationship -- but that would just be too obvious, right?

One is better off just finding a friend who knows more stuff and asking questions. Preferably a friend who doesn't think of people as "chelas."

One might be. Another might not. Preferably, one will "Do what thou wilt."

It's the latter idea that's problematic, and it's where the problems with "groups" that I was talking about earlier arise. If some "superior" is evaluating one's precious little diary entries and telling the "chela" when she thinks said "chela" is "veering off course," then the "chela" may well run into issues of supernaturalism, dogmatism, a lack of critical thinking, etc.

You seem to have a very low opinion of people. Chela doesn't mean imbecile or reflect the Sanskrit usage: slave. It is used in the Hindi sense of pupil: a person who willingly and intentionally acknowledges another as more knowledgeable for the purposes of education. You show quite a lot of fear where others merely express a thirst for knowledge.

Now sure, it could turn out that one's "superior" has none of those problems and simply serves as a source of information about chosen practices or whatever. But in that case, the "superior" is not really adding anything substantial to the aspirant's journey. When we say that "all initiation is self-initiation," we mean it. Crowley put it this way:

It is impossible to lay down precise rules by which a man may attain to the knowledge and conversation of His Holy Guardian Angel; for that is the particular secret of each one of us; a secret not to be told or even divined by any other, whatever his grade. It is the Holy of Holies, whereof each man is his own High Priest, and none knoweth the Name of his brother's God, or the Rite that invokes Him. --One Star in Sight

Of course, the crisis of the 5=6 is individual to each aspirant. That says nothing about the training that the A.'.A.'. provides to prepare one to confront that crisis. As evidenced by the lines immediately following those you quoted:

The Masters of the A∴A∴ have therefore made no attempt to institute any regular ritual for this central Work of their Order, save the generalised instructions in Liber 418 (the 8th Aethyr) and the detailed Canon and Rubric of the Mass actually used with success by FRATER PERDURABO in His attainment. This has been written down by Himself in Liber Samekh. But they have published such accounts as those in The Temple of Solomon the King and in John St. John. They have taken the only proper course; to train aspirants to this attainment in the theory and practice of the whole of Magick and Mysticism, so that each man may be expert in the handling of all known weapons, and free to choose and to use those which his own experience and instinct dictate as proper when he essays the Great Experiment.

He is furthermore trained to the one habit essential to Membership of the A∴A∴; he must regard all his attainments as primarily the property of those less advanced aspirants who are confided to his charge.

-- One Star in Sight, [emphasis mine]

Don't mix the planes.

Maybe someone can "instruct" a person on some of the practices in the lower grades, but I think it's highly debatable how useful those practices are to begin with.

You are welcome to your opinion. However, given that you haven't gone through the process yourself -- or show all that much true understanding of it -- you'll forgive me for pointing out to the original poster that I don't find your opinion to be of much worth in regards to his trajectory.

It goes back to what I said earlier: it's nearly 2015. What does someone think they're going to get out of joining a "secret society" or a "mystery school" or "magical order" or whatever? If you're thinking about joining a group, just give some thought about what you're expecting and why you're expecting it.

I would assume that this question has as many answers as individuals who choose to do just that. I would also assume that somewhere in the vicinity of 93% of them have already given it some thought about what they're expecting. Most people are capable of that modicum of self-possession without a voice from the internet holding their hand.

Do what thou wilt, and all that.


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William Thirteen
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Michael Bolton fanclubs don't purport to "initiate" people and give them insight into themselves.

i guess you don't feel the Bolton 😉


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Los
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"Tao" wrote:
That is the innovation of the A.'.A.'.: it's built on a framework of scientific rigour.

Well, that's the claim. But it's one thing for it to be claimed and another thing for it to be true. What you seem to be suggesting -- both in this post and in other posts -- is that nobody can form a valid judgment about the effectiveness of any group without joining that group themselves...that's an awfully silly suggestion.

A person cannot advance in the true A.'.A.'.

The "true A.'.A.'. is an invisible order -- that is, a metaphor -- of which terrestrial groups calling themselves "A.'.A.'." are but a reflection.

You show quite a lot of fear where others merely express a thirst for knowledge.

Now who's projecting? The fact that you see "fear" speaks volumes.

Of course, the crisis of the 5=6 is individual to each aspirant. That says nothing about the training that the A.'.A.'. provides to prepare one to confront that crisis.

Right. That's the whole stated purpose of the (terrestrial) A.'.A.'. that Crowley formed (and the stated purpose of the various modern groups that call themselves A.'.A.'.).

Of course, this stated purpose takes for granted that the proposed "training" methods actually *are* useful precursors to 5=6. As I've been explaining, even to the extent that some such methods might be, groups in general -- even a group that strictly follows the one-on-one-student-teacher Sith rule -- come with a lot of drawbacks that, in my estimation, outweigh any potential benefits.

given that you haven't gone through the process yourself

Oh, come on. I've also never "spoken in tongues" at a Pentecostal service, gone through a Scientology auditing session, taken homeopathic medicine, or tried to fly under my own power by leaping off a tall building and flapping my arms. I have no problem validly concluding that all of those things are BS.

Are you seriously suggesting that no valid conclusions can be formed about a method without *personally* engaging in the method? That's really silly.

I would also assume that somewhere in the vicinity of 93% of them have already given it some thought about what they're expecting.

Yeah, somewhat. My point is that people ought to really interrogate their assumptions because I suspect that in a lot of cases these assumptions are half-formed, not clearly and consciously articulated, and bound up in all sorts of questionable premises. For example, I'll bet a lot of people interested in such groups take it for granted that there exists some group out there that facilitates initiation.

That's a great place to start questioning: why assume that?

What is it that one is looking for by joining such groups? Why does one suppose that a group can provide it or facilitate it in the first place? How will one tell that the group *is* providing it? How will one distinguish whatever-it-is-one-is-looking-for from the kinds of brainwash-prompted "experiences" that one can find in other religious systems?

I dispute that a lot of people interested in the so-called "mysteries" have clearly thought through these questions. For that reason, I think it's really good advice for me to give.

Most people are capable of that modicum of self-possession without a voice from the internet holding their hand.

Who's projecting here again? You see someone giving advice -- on a thread where someone was asking for advice -- and you interpret the giving of sound advice as condescending hand-holding.


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Los
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"WilliamThirteen" wrote:

Michael Bolton fanclubs don't purport to "initiate" people and give them insight into themselves.

i guess you don't feel the Bolton 😉

Haha. For what it's worth, I consider the following song to be the best thing Michael Bolton's ever done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GI6CfKcMhjY


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Anonymous
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"Los" wrote:
What about support?

I think it's a good idea to have a friend who supports you -- even in other areas outside of magick. What I think is less useful is to set up your friend as a "superior" in the "magical order" that's making a wizard out of you.

A friend?  So it would follow that if "a friend" is better for these "aspirants" then really what these aspirants lack is a proper social life?  They are "lonely" so that's why they join the OTO or the AA?  Lonely, one of those words that mean different things to different people.  I read it as insecurity, lack of resourcefulness and an ignorance on how to go about establishing new social contacts.


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Los
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"david" wrote:
A friend?  So it would follow that if "a friend" is better for these "aspirants" then really what these aspirants lack is a proper social life?

Well, it can be tough for some people to find others who are similarly interested in these "occult" topics, especially in some geographical areas. I don't think it's fair to say that anyone who can't find a friend interested in the occult has some sort of social problem.

But it's not bad advice to urge people to expand their social circles, in general. The more people you know -- and the more varied people you know -- the better for you. Even though it might be nice to have a friend who's specifically knowledgeable on occult topics, you might find that people who don't have the slightest idea about the occult can nevertheless give you remarkable insights.

If I may be permitted to be a bit flowery, the real "teacher" and "initiator" is life itself, and it speaks through all of the people you know. There's no reason to suppose that you're going to necessarily learn more from somebody who specifically studies the occult (nevermind someone who tells herself stories about being part of an elite band of wizards). In fact, as I've been suggesting, you might well learn far less from such people.

They are "lonely" so that's why they join the OTO or the AA?

Why do people join churches? They feel a need to fit in, pal around with others who don't question their core assumptions, feel like part of something bigger than themselves, tell themselves stories about how spiritual they are, etc. I suspect a lot of people are looking for something external to them to give "meaning" to their lives.


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Anonymous
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"Los" wrote:
"david" wrote:
A friend?  So it would follow that if "a friend" is better for these "aspirants" then really what these aspirants lack is a proper social life?

Well, it can be tough for some people to find others who are similarly interested in these "occult" topics, especially in some geographical areas. I don't think it's fair to say that anyone who can't find a friend interested in the occult has some sort of social problem.

But it's not bad advice to urge people to expand their social circles, in general. The more people you know -- and the more varied people you know -- the better for you. Even though it might be nice to have a friend who's specifically knowledgeable on occult topics, you might find that people who don't have the slightest idea about the occult can nevertheless give you remarkable insights.

Well yeah some people are intrinsically "Thelemic" even if they never heard of Crowley or occultism or "the new aeon" etc.  Good points by the way.


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Sophie Levi
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As someone rather new to Thelema and seeking a formalized group learning structure this thread has been interesting to me. There have been some very valid points raised about the issues that can arise when one submits to following a prescribed regimen in their study and work toward K&C of HGA. Since I have no experience in one of these groups or societies, I can't speak for good or ill on specific cases. However, I can certainly speak to the motivations one may feel for seeking them out and the drawbacks to individual self-guided study. This is not to say, of course, that self-guided study and initiation constitute the "wrong" path, but it does have limitations.

In the first instance, it can be incredibly difficult to find solid, reliable, and relevant information. Despite pursuing interests tangential to Thelema for most of my life, it took years before I can across Crowley's original writings much less any resources that could help me understand them. Even with these materials, contemporary occultism can be a terribly murky place, and knowing where to begin can feel like an insurmountable obstacle. Now, one could argue this confusion is the result of my own intellectual weakness, but I think there are many others who would relate to this situation. Simply put, there is no centralized authority or canon from which occult materials come to us. Rather, they are the result of hundreds of years worth of accumulated and disseminated knowledge aggregated and modified by individuals and groups disparate both geographically and chronologically.

Now, it has been mentioned here that the student-seeker should be their own authority and decide for themselves the quality of the material they come into contact with. Agreed. But a keen critical eye does not arise out of thin air, and there is thus a caveat to this. Without any expert knowledge or training, the student-seeker stands no realistic chance of happening upon all the relevant knowledge that they require. Similarly, without external training they have no method by which to evaluate this information. Let me draw a parallel to science. Very few (wo)men have achieved scientific discoveries in a haphazard manner. Those who have were lucky, no doubt, but typically the process of science requires highly specialized knowledge, a great deal of resources, and a large community of other scientists. Community is crucial to the advancement of science because without it the individual stands a very small chance of making tangible gains. This is because of the standards of peer review and replication. The body of scientific knowledge from which today's physicists, chemists, and biologists draw exists precisely because of the work of their predecessors as a community. Without it, each would have to start from scratch, and it is quite difficult indeed to imagine a single individual progressing from Newton's classical laws to pinpointing the Higg's boson in the course of a single lifetime. It is simply not feasible.

Likewise, occultists today benefit from the vast efforts put forth by those before them to accumulate, aggregate, and even eliminate knowledge in a similar manner. Through the experimentation of others, we can learn what is useful to try, what has worked repeatedly in the past, and what might not be beneficial to us on our spiritual path. Unfortunately, this process has been much more fragmented in the occult sciences than it has in the hard sciences, though we may be starting to see a change moving forward. It is my personal hope that through increased collaboration, review, and publication the occult sciences might one day collate as a body of knowledge similar in form to (though perhaps of a different substance than) physics, chemistry, etc.

On the other hand, it is certainly an understandable critique to note that solo practitioners may share particular personality traits which lead them to seek out others. The word "lonely" has been mentioned and I assume this is meant to signify some inability to function socially. Would you question a psychologist seeking to join the American Psychological Association similarly? If not, what are the differences? It seems to me that the desire to band together toward shared goals is perfectly human and incredibly pragmatic. It is through shared effort that we have achieved great communal AND individual progress (GPS, cognitive therapy, the pyramids at Giza, Enlightenment, and my favorite food chicken Pad Thai come to mind). If these achievements are too arbitrary, one can consider the wealth of strong evolutionary evidence which suggests that group religious practice is absolutely fundamental to our past and future survival as a species. Since this point has gone on far too long already I will not elaborate on this point further, but I would be downright excited to discuss it if anyone is interested.

Anyway,
TL;DR: Any practice, but especially spiritual practice, within the context of a community is essential to give one the ability to distinguish between good and bad information and learn how to effectively use it. Though an individual must always remain actively critical and experimental in their own right, the potential beneficial products of shared work are always multiplied.

S.L.


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William Thirteen
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well put!


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Anonymous
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Speaking of our faithful student; are you still following this thread?


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Los
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Sophie,

I agree that communities are indeed, in general, of great importance to people and are very useful in many kinds of endeavors.

And certainly I think that people can learn from each another. That's the whole point of having "spirituality" or self-development (or whatever we want to call it) as a subject of study: so that each new person interested in the subject doesn't have to reinvent the wheel. If "attainment" (or whatever we want to call the goal) is an actual skill that can actually be acquired, then it should be possible for one person to explain to another what the goal is, how to do it, and how to tell that they've done it.

In the same way that others can teach you how to play an instrument, others can teach you how to discover the True Will (incidentally, I know people who taught themselves how to play an instrument from books; but even in those instances, the books were written by other people, so it's still an example of other people instructing one in how to do something).

An analogy like learning to play an instrument is much more precise than an analogy like doing science because what we're talking about, at the end of the day, is the acquisition of a specific skill (or set of skills) rather than discovering independently confirmable truths and working with others to confirm them.

Altering the analogy can help us see how groups can ultimately be problematic: I didn't consider my piano teacher to be my "link to the True Invisible Order" of piano players to whom I pledged myself as "chela" (nor did my piano teacher think of our relationship in those terms); I took no oaths to learn piano; my piano lessons didn't involve irrelevant practices like balancing a saucer on my head or cutting my arms with razors or pretending to summon spirits; I never wore special robes when practicing; etc.

Now, if my teacher had subjected me to those things, I still could have learned how to play piano: but all of those weird extras wouldn't have added anything to my learning, and they would have had the potential to take a lot away.

For example, I might have become so wrapped up in the robes and signs and imaginary structures of authority that the piano playing might have become secondary; or worse, maybe my teacher is really not very good at teaching me how to play the piano and mainly just good at showing me how to do the irrelevant practices. Maybe my teacher has some nutty ideas like the notion that the irrelevant practices are "purifying" me and thereby making me better at playing the piano.

Of course,  there's an additional big problem that the analogy does not illustrate: the subject we're discussing just isn't the kind of thing another person can directly help you to do. Apart from telling you the general sorts of things you have to do to accomplish the task, pointing you in the right direction, and offering general encouragement and a friendly ear, pretty much nothing that somebody else does is going to be of much direct help.

But then again, it all depends on what you're looking for. If you just want to learn to do ritual "properly" (i.e. according to a given tradition that ultimately somebody just made up), if you want to join a religion, if you want to dress up and do a bunch of Middle Eastern-themed roleplaying, if you want to find people to hang out with and go to parties with...all of those things can be achieved by finding the right group. But if you're serious about gaining insight into yourself and learning how to discover your Will, it's just not the sort of thing that other people can really help you to do in any real way. They can help you with specific practices, but I'd dispute how useful many of the practices are, even.


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ignant666
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"Los" wrote:
An analogy like learning to play an instrument is much more precise than an analogy like doing science because what we're talking about, at the end of the day, is the acquisition of a specific skill (or set of skills) rather than discovering independently confirmable truths and working with others to confirm them.

I'd have to dispute the claimed distinction here: science, like spiritual practice, or playing a musical instrument, is very much about the acquisition (and application) of a "set of skills".
As i (and others) have pointed out (over and over), science does not produce (or seek) "independently confirmable truths".
Science produces observational results, and provisional explanations/models of those results (when possible). The "replication" (not "confirmation", which is not at all the same thing), or failure to replicate, is typically not the result of "working with others", but of efforts by other labs/shops to imitate cool new methods, or contradict the results of others with whom they have various types of, um, issues.
Also, I thought it was rock-ribbed doctrine of the "skeptical" church that a claimed spiritual result that isn't an "independently confirmable truth" was mere worthless unexplained "experience", or a "daydream"- isn't "working with others to confirm" the validity of spiritual experience the logical way to pursue "Los-ianity"?


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newneubergOuch2
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I would have thought your skeptic, rational viewpoint would be to do it and find out the truth for yourself Los.
At most you are just theorizing and not speaking from experience or scientific experimentation on the matter of joining a group.

But i can emphasize...

I had similar viewpoints and theories ... Before I joined a group for a time. And would argue that all initiation is just self initiation, or everything was in books anyway.

But from having had the experiences my understanding has deepened.

My grandfather is a fan of saying 'why travel to other countries?, i see them all in books and on tv, theres lots of foreigners about where i live- no need to travel' - but being there first hand, physically, mentally, emotionally is a depth he will never have.

It was not all rosy of course, but i now i have a deeper insight into the material i read, and for that i am thankful.


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Tao
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Interesting to bring up the analogy of learning piano without noting the necessity of drills. Hours upon hours upon years upon years of scales and repetitions, often first learned in a classroom with any number of other struggling neophytes, later practiced alone or in conjunction with other instrumentalists, never actually to be considered "playing the piano", but all necessary steps toward building the motor skills required to perform an allegro concerto.

Well put, indeed, Sophie.  😀


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newneubergOuch2
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"newneubergOuch2" wrote:
But i can emphasize...

*empathize.

Small mobile screens aren`t the best 😉


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Los
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"ignant666" wrote:
As i (and others) have pointed out (over and over), science does not produce (or seek) "independently confirmable truths".
Science produces observational results, and provisional explanations/models of those results (when possible).

I grant that that's a better phrasing for what I was trying to say. I didn't mean that science leads to some kind of absolute truth: rather, I agree that it's a process by which its practitioners arrive at these provisional models that seek to explain the world around us, as best as they can at the time based on the best evidence currently available and subject to revision.

But acquiring skills isn't an attempt to arrive at provisional models that seek to explain the world: that's why the original analogy to science doesn't work if it's supposed to be an analogy for attainment. Now, perhaps Sophie meant it to be an analogy for doing "spiritual experiments" to investigate supernatural phenomena. If so, science might work as an analogy for that, but such so-called "experiments" would be unrelated to attainment.

And still, the analogy to science would be nothing more than an analogy. "Scientific Illuminism" is not science. It's a cargo cult.

Also, I thought it was rock-ribbed doctrine of the "skeptical" church that a claimed spiritual result that isn't an "independently confirmable truth" was mere worthless unexplained "experience", or a "daydream"- isn't "working with others to confirm" the validity of spiritual experience the logical way to pursue "Los-ianity"?

Once again you demonstrate that you have not read or grasped my point.


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Los
 Los
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"newneubergOuch2" wrote:
I would have thought your skeptic, rational viewpoint would be to do it and find out the truth for yourself Los.

If you read the rest of the thread, you'd see that I've addressed this point: I don't need to go speak in tongues at a Pentecostal revival, undergo a Scientology auditing, or try to fly under my own power by leaping off a tall building and flapping my arms to know that those things are all BS.

Here, I'll make the point clearer: you will have the greatest of all spiritual attainments possible if you send me $500. Do you believe me? According to your way of thinking, if you don't do it yourself, you have no way of finding out the truth, so PM me and we'll set up the paypal arrangement.


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Los
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"Tao" wrote:
Interesting to bring up the analogy of learning piano without noting the necessity of drills.

Because that wasn't the purpose of the analogy. Obviously learning how to play an instrument requires work, just like learning how to discover the True Will requires work. But putting on a robe and doing Victorian-era rituals is unrelated to learning how to play an instrument, just like it's unrelated to learning how to discover the True Will. Pay attention, Gnosomai.


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Tao
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You're blurring the lines of your analogy. If you want to bring up robes and rituals on the Magic side, you need to balance it not with robes and rituals but finger-strengtheners and scales on the piano side. If you checked to make sure your teacher could play piano before enlisting her as a guru then you did consider her to be a link in the true and invisible chain of pianists. If you paid for lessons in advance, then you pledged yourself as her chela, your cheque was your oath that, for a set period of time, you acknowledged her as your guide. Balancing a saucer on your head is a common test of body stillness and poise. Though more common to yoga training, I must admit that my piano teacher did balance one on my head at times while running scales to remind me of my playing stature. Wearing robes while practicing piano is as off-analogy as would be playing scales while meditating.

Pay attention... Avada Cadavera ???


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Los
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"Tao" wrote:
You're blurring the lines of your analogy. If you want to bring up robes and rituals on the Magic side, you need to balance it not with robes and rituals but finger-strengtheners and scales on the piano side.

No, you're begging the question by comparing robes and rituals to things that actually help someone learn how to play piano. Whether the robes and rituals -- and all of the "order stuff" -- actually do help anyone discover the True Will is the very issue under contention, not something you get to presume.

You're welcome to explain why you think robes and rituals et cetera actually would help someone discover the True Will.


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Tao
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I was under the impression that this thread was about being a faithful Student in an esoteric order, not necessarily about discovering the true will, which I would guess could be just as easily done without as within. To that end, wearing robes and practicing rituals might occasionally come in handy.


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Shiva
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"Tao" wrote:
I was under the impression that this thread was about being a faithful Student in an esoteric order, not necessarily about discovering the true will ...

Your impression was correct. Sometimes the thread (always?) turns into one's "true will," or something along that line, depending on who joins the party.

Anyway, to be a "faithful" student, especially in reference to an A.'.A.'. Student, which is what the OP related to, we might just look in One Star in Sight, and start all over from that perspective:

"Student - His [her] business is to acquire a general intellectual knowledge of all systems of attainment, as declared in the prescribed books. (See curriculum in Appendix I.)"

Appendix I (Curriculum of A.'.A.'.) tells us: "The object of this course of reading is to familiarize the student with all that has been said by the Great Masters in every time and country. He [she] should make a critical examination of them; not so much with the idea of discovering where truth lies, for he [she] cannot do this except by virtue of his [her] own spiritual experience, but rather to discover the essential harmony in those varied works. He [she] should be on his [her] guard against partisanship with a favourite author."

Oh darn!  I guess I'll have to give up my partisanship with Edwin Arthwait ::)

Perhaps we could refer to the Student as "it," thus foregoing the his [her] distinction.


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