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RIP Colin Wilson (26 June 1931 – 5 December 2013)  

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Hamal
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09/12/2013 12:33 am  

Colin Wilson author of  'Aleister Crowley: The Nature of the Beast' amongst many other books died on Thursday (5th).

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/colin-wilson-author-8991678.html

RIP Colin, safe journey.

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joe93
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09/12/2013 1:37 am  

"A new faculty of consciousness...those 'other' times, those 'other' spaces...negative thoughts should be aborted, they are vampires feeding on mind stuff..." Not Colin Wilson, but quotes pulled from OtCoT. Let's not forget CW championed KG from the first Typhonian Trilogy, and continued to do so.
I always thought he'd be around forever. I really did. He showed me great friendship the few times we met. His work opened my mind to all types of unusual, from the ivory tower to the gutter. After he taught me that pessimism is a waste of energy, there was no going back. For all that and everything else I'm eternally grateful.
RIP CW. And safe journey.


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michaelclarke18
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09/12/2013 10:32 am  

CW definitely made the world of the occult accessible to a much wider audience. Must respect for that.


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Philip Harris-Smith
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09/12/2013 7:43 pm  

His works of fiction were and are a delight, sadly no more will be written now.


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Michael Staley
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09/12/2013 9:10 pm  

I certainly agree with your remarks about his fiction, Philip. My absolute favourite is The Philosophers' Stone, an exciting work which fires the imagination. The diversity of his fiction was as remarkable as that of his non-fiction: serial killers, space vampires, occult societies, to name a few. To my mind the core of Colin Wilson's work, the underlying vision - of both fiction and non-fiction works - was what he termed "Faculty X" and which he related to Maslow's "peak experience".

I only caught one of his talks, at one of Andrew Collins' Psychic Questing conferences when it was at Cecil Sharp House in Camden Town. He was an engaging and an engrossing speaker.


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joe93
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10/12/2013 10:14 am  

He often said that it was his fiction and some of his philosophical ideas that he wanted to be remembered for. On a Thelemic side note, the rather snarky obituary in The Times remarks that "Aleister Crowley was an obsession"- proof that whoever writes these things doesn't do their research properly.


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Hamal
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10/12/2013 11:47 am  
"joe93" wrote:
He often said that it was his fiction and some of his philosophical ideas that he wanted to be remembered for. On a Thelemic side note, the rather snarky obituary in The Times remarks that "Aleister Crowley was an obsession"- proof that whoever writes these things doesn't do their research properly.

The Telegraph wrote a really unpleasant obituary making out he was some kind of failure. I couldn't find a name against the article, all I could think was… what have you done that gives you the right to judge this man so harshly?

93
Hamal


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joe93
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10/12/2013 1:10 pm  

Most of the obits save the one at The Independent above had the similar dismissive tone. The Guardian one was written by a bloke who died three years ago! Some hacks are forgetting that his family and friends are suffering bereavement. An article for The Independent (again) by a children's author (can't recall his name, but writes books about a "Mr. Wiz" - not Mr.'Waz, unfortunately) is absolutely disgraceful and should never have been published. 


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William Thirteen
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10/12/2013 8:55 pm  

'The Occult' was one of the few volumes at the top of that long slippery slope that led downwards, ever downwards, eventually depositing me here some forty years later. Goodnight CW, wishing you the sweetest of dreams...

"Unto them from whose eyes the veil of life hath fallen may there be granted the accomplishment of their true Wills; whether they will absorption in the Infinite, or to be united with their chosen and preferred, or to be in contemplation, or to be at peace, or to achieve the labour and heroism of incarnation on this planet or another, or in any Star, or aught else, unto them may there be granted the accomplishment of their wills; yea, the accomplishment of their wills."


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Philip Harris-Smith
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12/12/2013 3:17 pm  
"MichaelStaley" wrote:
...My absolute favourite is The Philosophers' Stone, an exciting work which fires the imagination. The diversity of his fiction was as remarkable as that of his non-fiction: serial killers, space vampires, occult societies, to name a few. To my mind the core of Colin Wilson's work, the underlying vision - of both fiction and non-fiction works - was what he termed "Faculty X" and which he related to Maslow's "peak experience".

I only caught one of his talks, at one of Andrew Collins' Psychic Questing conferences when it was at Cecil Sharp House in Camden Town. He was an engaging and an engrossing speaker.

Sadly I never heard him speak, I wonder if there is any footage that could be put on youtube?


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jdes
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12/12/2013 3:49 pm  

Sadly I never heard him speak, I wonder if there is any footage that could be put on youtube?

Not footage, but a recording: Colin Wilson - Mysticism, Ancient Oddities & 'New Age' - 1996 Talk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65kwjnTlGi4


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 Anonymous
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17/12/2013 11:14 am  

I particularly enjoyed his biographies (and commentaries) on Gurdjieff, and also (separately) Ouspensky. Although CW had his own take on things related to Gurdjieff & Ouspensky's  work (generally non-esoteric and more on basic humanistic/creativity lines), he also had a lot of good original insights into where things went wrong with the work and the individuals involved.


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 Anonymous
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17/12/2013 11:51 am  

Small tribute.

http://www.ultraculture.org/colin-wilson-grandfather-occult/


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joe93
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17/12/2013 10:42 pm  

Proof that size isn't everything! Brilliant tribute to CW's own brand of existential occultism. Whenever I read "Every intentional act is a Magical act" in MTP, I think of The Occult when Crowley is compared to Husserl.


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Hamal
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17/12/2013 11:18 pm  

Yes that really is a much more fair tribute to Colin.

93
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 Anonymous
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18/12/2013 2:00 am  

That was a wonderful tribute to Colin Wilson!  I knew that if anyone would write an excellent and fair tribute to Colin Wilson, it would be from Ultraculture!  I must say that I have never read any of his books.  I started my Path with Witchcraft, briefly.  Not Gardnarian Wicca, but more Traditional Craft and Southern folk magick, as I have a grandmother who was taught many things by a black woman who was a sharecropper on their land.  Bear in mind, my family and I are from the Deep South, and the black lady was treated well and given her own seat at the dinner table with the family.  Anyway, my Path quickly progressed to The Golden Dawn, Crowley/Thelema, Grant, Necronomicon Gnosis, Spare, and the works of Chumbley and Schulke, where my interests still remain today.

But, I do plan to pursue Colin Wilson's works relating to occultism, once I have the spare time from Gradework and my duties in the Orders to which I belong, and I'm very much looking forward to it!

R.I.P Colin Wilson and know that your books have inspired so many people and will continue to do so!


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 Anonymous
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23/12/2013 11:24 am  

Wilson featured - along with Peter O' Toole and Joan Fontaine - in the latest edition of Radio 4's 'Last Word.'

Listen here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qpmv


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SatansAdvocaat
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24/01/2014 2:26 pm  

The January edition of Fortean Times (FT310) came my way rather belatedly, last evening.  It contains the obituary that Colin Wilson deserves: a comprehensive, two-page piece by Gary Lachman.  He refers to substantial titles by Wilson, which I must admit I had never heard of, let alone read. Recommended, but if you cannot obtain, check out:

http://www.forteantimes.com/features/interviews/144/colin-wilson.html

An October 2004 article by Lachman.


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Anonymous
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08/01/2015 9:56 pm  

I was thinking that although Wilson had the gall to downplay Crowley he (Wilson) didn't fully grasp that his earth shattering faculty x theorem was no more than a species of trance and if you like, a form of dhyana.  That said, Crowley specifically set out to build a science of spirituality (and succeeded) free of dogma and superstition (see any of the discussions on scepticism on this forum.) He made specific analyses of what dhyana is and how it is achieved whereas what did Wilson do to help us attain to faculty x?

I like Wilson's analysis of expansion consciousness experienced by a man who visits a foreign country on holiday and he feels more alive as his consciousness eats up the significance of the new environment.


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Michael Staley
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10/01/2015 10:42 am  

What makes you think that faculty x is a trance, as distinct from a temporary breaking-free of trance?

Colin Wilson wasn't exercising gall in "downplaying" Crowley. He simply compared him unfavourably to Gurdjieff, whose work in encouraging people to wake up from the dream of day-to-day living Wilson considered much closer to faculty x. His excellent book about Gurdjieff, The War Against Sleep, makes that clear.


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Anonymous
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10/01/2015 11:24 am  
"Michael Staley" wrote:
What makes you think that faculty x is a trance, as distinct from a temporary breaking-free of trance?

Colin Wilson wasn't exercising gall in "downplaying" Crowley. He simply compared him unfavourably to Gurdjieff, whose work in encouraging people to wake up from the dream of day-to-day living Wilson considered much closer to faculty x. His excellent book about Gurdjieff, The War Against Sleep, makes that clear.

By the way Wilson often referred to the process of  "memories (that) bubble up from the subconscious" when we have purpose and meaning and he related this to faculty x.  I refer to this as it reinforces my point (which you sort of missed) and answers your question.  Crowley made an entire scientific system and Wilson did downplay Crowley's contributions to an extent in that he never fully appreciated that faculty x is merely the result of scientific spiritual practices.  Wilson seems to think he's being original with his faculty x but e.g. Hindu yogis have been breaking down "the triviality of everydayness" for centuries and continue to do so. 

I think that Gurdjieff complements Crowley.  For example the jugorum exercises are an instigation of "self-remembering" but then again so is the ancient/modern practice of asana/dharana so again Gurdjieff was not doing anything much different from the tradition of the Buddhists who face up to discomfort and work on mindfulness in many ways.  You can find the notion of Gurdjiefff's war against sleep in Liber Al ; But ye, o my people, rise up & awake but again "wakefulness" is and has always been the goal of Buddhism.  In fact at it's root  the word Buddha is a title, not a name and it is derived from the Sanskrit: “Budh,” to know. It means “one who is awake." (from wiki)


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jamie barter
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10/01/2015 12:39 pm  
"david" wrote:
I like Wilson's analysis of expansion consciousness experienced by a man who visits a foreign country on holiday and he feels more alive as his consciousness eats up the significance of the new environment.

Not only a foreign country, of course.  There is no reason why exactly the same effect could not be duplicated by anybody just visiting a strange (!) part of the town they happen to be living in.  Or even a street a few yards away they’d never gone down before.  Etc.  It’s all more a question of adopting the correct mental attitude rather than actually needing to travel to faraway foreign shores.

Norma N Joy Conquest


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Michael Staley
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10/01/2015 1:02 pm  
"david" wrote:
By the way Wilson often referred to the process of  "memories (that) bubble up from the subconscious" when we have purpose and meaning and he related this to faculty x.  I refer to this as it reinforces my point (which you sort of missed) and answers your question.  Crowley made an entire scientific system and Wilson did downplay Crowley's contributions to an extent in that he never fully appreciated that faculty x is merely the result of scientific spiritual practices.  Wilson seems to think he's being original with his faculty x but e.g. Hindu yogis have been breaking down "the triviality of everydayness" for centuries and continue to do so.

I doubt very much that Wilson thought he was "being original with his faculty x". He was a very widely read man, and would have noted its parallels elsewhere. Nor do I agree with your statement that "faculty x is merely the result of scientific spiritual practices". Indeed, in Wilson's excellent novel The Philosopher's Stone, the state is induced by brain surgery. In many of Wilson's studies, faculty x is experienced by for example some serial killers, and he parallels it with Maslow's "Peak Experiences". So no, faculty x is not "merely" a result of spiritual practices, scientific or otherwise.

"david" wrote:
I think that Gurdjieff complements Crowley.  For example the jugorum exercises are an instigation of "self-remembering" but then again so is the ancient/modern practice of asana/dharana so again Gurdjieff was not doing anything much different from the tradition of the Buddhists who face up to discomfort and work on mindfulness in many ways.  You can find the notion of Gurdjiefff's war against sleep in Liber Al ; But ye, o my people, rise up & awake but again "wakefulness" is and has always been the goal of Buddhism.  In fact at it's root  the word Buddha is a title, not a name and it is derived from the Sanskrit: “Budh,” to know. It means “one who is awake." (from wiki)

I certainly agree with you that Gurdjieff complements Crowley, as David Hall's excellent study Beelzebub and the Beast demonstrates. I also agree with your point that work on "mindfulness" is widespread across many traditions.


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joe93
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10/01/2015 3:21 pm  

As "Faculty X" is shorthand for the less than snappy 'phenomenological faculty' it cannot be compared to methods of trance - Husserl specifically stated that phenomenology uncovered the secrets of the transcendental ego (of Kant, aka the "hidden God" of Nietzsche, Maslow's self-actualisation etc) without any need of spiritual or yoga disciplines. Wilson, who as Michael remarks, was very aware of his antecedents and contemporaries in these matters, also stated that Faculty X is not a mystical faculty. Dennis Radar is on record as saying that he "used it". But what is interesting here is that he did compare Crowley to Husserl - MTP states that "every intentional act is a magical act." More interesting is that the aesthetic of Wilson's Faculty is identical to that of Grant in his later trilogies: the near and far, the letter X (a crossing) and so on. One does not need to travel to experience this Faculty - see Wilson's comments on Huysmans "clumsy change of locality" in Frankenstein's Castle. And Wilson wasn't "downplaying" Crowley - he criticised Gurdjieff' too. Didn't Crowley 'downplay' everybody he ever met, with the exception of the few names he dedicated his autobiography to? 


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Anonymous
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11/01/2015 10:56 am  

First for any newcomers to Colin Wlison's ideas on faculty x consider this review;

Developed in his major studies on the paranormal – The Occult (1971), Mysteries (1978), and Beyond the Occult (1988) – and running through practically all his work, the central idea behind Wilson’s notion of Faculty X is that it is a sense of the reality of other times and places. As Wilson points out, probably the most famous example of Faculty X – so-called because we have yet to recognize it clearly and give it its own name – in modern literature is the opening of Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past (1913-1927). There, the narrator, Proust himself, tells of his curious experience eating his famous madeleine dipped in tea. Suddenly, from some dark forgotten psychic recess, the memory of his youth in Combray wells up in him, and it is as if he is there once again. The effect is tremendous; as Wilson quotes, Proust had “ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal.” Proust, too, suddenly realized the reality of his own life and the rest of his 1,100 page novel is an attempt to “recapture the past.”

........... the sudden realization that the past really happened and that, in some strange way, it is just as real now as it was then. Which is another way of saying that reality, however we want to define it, is not confined to the present moment.

This is strange. As Wilson points out, we tend to believe that reality is confined to the present moment. This is why the realization of the reality of other times and places has such a profound effect on writers like Hesse, Proust and Eliot. Clearly this suggests one thing: there is something wrong with our ideas about space and time.

........... we seem to be stuck to a particular chalk line we call “now.” The situation, Wilson argues, is absurd: human beings, he believes, are capable of transcending the limitations of the present moment and of achieving, as he calls it, a “mastery over time, as if every moment of your life could be recalled as clearly as the last ten minutes.”

Here's my point ;this bubbling up of deep vivid memories and a sense of other times and places and is what happens to someone who is trained in meditation.  Crowley mentions this in, for example Thisarb but again it's hardly earth shattering or unknown to any magickal/yogic practitioner;

8.The stimulation of memory useful in both practices is also achieved by simple meditation (Liber E), in a certain stage of which old memories arise unbidden. The adept may then practise this, stopping at that stage, and encouraging instead of suppressing the flashes of memory.
9.Zoroaster has said, "Explore the River of the Soul, whence or in what order you have come; so that although you have become a servant to the body, you may again rise to that Order (the A∴ A∴) from which you descended, joining Works (Kamma) to the Sacred Reason (the Tao)."
10.The Result of the Second Method is to show the Adept to what end his powers are destined. When he has passed the Abyss and become NEMO, the return of the current causes him "to appear in the Heaven of Jupiter as a morning star or as an evening star."[The formula of the Great Work "Solve et Coagula" may be thus interpreted. Solve, the dissolution of the Self in the Infinite; Coagula, the presentation of the Infinite in a concrete form to the outer. Both are necessary to the Task of a Master of the Temple.] In other words, he should discover what may be the nature of his work. Thus Mohammed was a Brother reflected into Netzach, Buddha a Brother reflected into Hod, or, as some say, Daath. The present manifestation of Frater P. to the outer is in Tiphereth, to the inner in the path of Leo.
11.First Method. Let the Exempt Adept first train himself to think backwards by external means, as set forth here following.
("a") Let him learn to write backwards, with either hand.

etc

.....but take any Hindu or Buddhist treatise about loss of time and you will see that Proust's and Wilson's experience is a well documented one e.g.


Ananda-maya is the blissful life of knowledge and eternity. As it is said in the Vedanta-sutra, ananda-mayo 'bhyasat
Approach Visnu. Then we get the same power, same eternity, same blissfulness. Just like a motorcar is running at the speed of sixty miles, and if a cyclist someway or other catches the motorcar, he can also go at the speed of sixty miles
As far as eternal existence is concerned, it is conducted by the sandhini potency; similarly, bliss and knowledge are conducted by the hladini and samvit potencies respectively
As far as the spiritual energy itself is concerned, it is exhibited in three forms because Krsna is a combination of eternity, bliss and knowledge
As soon as one is conversant with the real principles of religion, he is at once liberated to the eternal life of bliss and knowledge

B

 
and on the same subject from a modern holy book;" And the sign shall be my ecstasy, the consciousness of the continuity of existence"

"joe93" wrote:
As "Faculty X" is shorthand for the less than snappy 'phenomenological faculty' it cannot be compared to methods of trance - Husserl specifically stated that phenomenology uncovered the secrets of the transcendental ego (of Kant, aka the "hidden God" of Nietzsche, Maslow's self-actualisation etc) without any need of spiritual or yoga disciplines. 

I will address this below as Michael makes similar points.

"Michael Staley" wrote:
I doubt very much that Wilson thought he was "being original with his faculty x". .

Well he would've at least thought he was revealing something unknown to "the masses" otherwise he would've shelved the book and not published it. Same thing really.

"Michael Staley" wrote:
He was a very widely read man, and would have noted its parallels elsewhere.

Yes he was a well known self-taught academic and armchair commentator on subjects such as magick.  In that regard he was a thinker but not really a doer whereas Crowley was both.  That's my point as faculty x is merely his own modern interpretation of what has already been known.  Wilson did meditate as a young man when he first discovered Hindu philosophy but I don't think he fully appreciated Crowley's analyses.  However in saying Wilson was not a doer I'm in danger of contradicting myself as I will explain below. 

"Michael Staley" wrote:
Nor do I agree with your statement that "faculty x is merely the result of scientific spiritual practices". Indeed, in Wilson's excellent novel The Philosopher's Stone, the state is induced by brain surgery. .

Well of course as in the right brain memory activation but it's not realistic to propose brain surgery for people interested in spirituality so that's a moot point.

"Michael Staley" wrote:
. In many of Wilson's studies, faculty x is experienced by for example some serial killers, and he parallels it with Maslow's "Peak Experiences". So no, faculty x is not "merely" a result of spiritual practices, scientific or otherwise.
.

I don't think Wilson said that faculty x is achieved by the antics of psychopathic killers.  Some sort of warped frenzy may be achieved by them a mistaken attempt to unconsciously achieve faculty x yes but you're barking up the wrong tree there I feel.  You'd have to provide a citation and quote to clarify that.   

"Peak experiences" are the result of self actualization that healthy and  "successful people " feel.  When I say faculty x is "merely the result of spiritual practice"  I meant within in this community but you're right I have argued in the past (as did Crowley) that people may e.g. attain to 8=3 without knowing about any any technical magickal /mystical practice.  However I'm sure you and Maslow would agree that the common ingredient for such "successful people" is discipline and this is of course incorporated into Crowley's system so i'm not contradicting myself as such.  Crowley said that it's not the trances per se we aim for  it's the qualities we glean from the practices that count. 

We had a good discussion on this recently here on this thread  http://www.lashtal.com/forum/http://www.lashtal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=16.60  How would anyone recognize a Magister Templi?   (see if you will #Reply 66 onwards) where Los pointed out that Crowley once wrote, "There may come a time when Samadhi itself is no part of the business of the mystic. But the character developed by the original training remains an asset."
   

"Michael Staley" wrote:
.

"david" wrote:
I think that Gurdjieff complements Crowley.  For example the jugorum exercises are an instigation of "self-remembering" but then again so is the ancient/modern practice of asana/dharana so again Gurdjieff was not doing anything much different from the tradition of the Buddhists who face up to discomfort and work on mindfulness in many ways.  You can find the notion of Gurdjiefff's war against sleep in Liber Al ; But ye, o my people, rise up & awake but again "wakefulness" is and has always been the goal of Buddhism.  In fact at it's root  the word Buddha is a title, not a name and it is derived from the Sanskrit: “Budh,” to know. It means “one who is awake." (from wiki)

I certainly agree with you that Gurdjieff complements Crowley, as David Hall's excellent study Beelzebub and the Beast demonstrates. I also agree with your point that work on "mindfulness" is widespread across many traditions.

Hey.  Cool.


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Anonymous
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11/01/2015 11:33 am  
"jamie barter" wrote:
"david" wrote:
I like Wilson's analysis of expansion consciousness experienced by a man who visits a foreign country on holiday and he feels more alive as his consciousness eats up the significance of the new environment.

Not only a foreign country, of course.  There is no reason why exactly the same effect could not be duplicated by anybody just visiting a strange (!) part of the town they happen to be living in.  Or even a street a few yards away they’d never gone down before.  Etc.  It’s all more a question of adopting the correct mental attitude rather than actually needing to travel to faraway foreign shores.

Norma N Joy Conquest

Yeah good point Jamie I like that.  There are estates around these parts that I've yet to walk about.


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