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Los
 Los
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02/06/2009 8:02 am  
"IAO131" wrote:
I could claim that Freud's 'ego' is a fantasy entity of the same fantasy-quality as the gaseous vertebrate God. I could also claim they are both (ego, God) useful concepts for various ends.

At the risk of being accused of "going off topic" again, let me run with this Freud example because I think it sets up a good analogy to my point.

The "ego" is the name that Freud gave to the part of the psyche that mediates between the id and the rest of the world (including the superego, which the psyche interiorizes from the rest of the world). The "id" is the name he gives to the energy that seeks pleasure and gratification of urges.

I have no reason to doubt that human beings have a drive to fulfill urges and basic needs -- it's overwhelmingly obvious from not only my own experience but from everything that human beings have ever observed about the human condition. Similarly, I also have no reason to doubt that there is a part of the mind that mediates between those needs and the demands of the real world.

In short, what Freud is doing is labeling parts of the mind. We can argue about the specifics of it and whether or not he got it right. But the point is that he's labeling something real.

On the other hand, "God" (let's use the Christian god, simply because it's most familiar to us in our culture) is a name for a disembodied intelligence that supposedly created the world and rules over it. This being exists only in the imaginations of the people who believe in it -- no evidence of its existence has ever been produced, and its existence would fly in the face of several established facts.

You can label that fantasy whatever you like. The fact is that it doesn't exist in reality (as far as we can tell).

Thus, the two claims "the ego exists" and "God exists" are two completely different kinds of claim. One is a claim about how best to label and describe something in the real world, while the other is a claim that asserts a being exists in the real world without any evidence.

Claims about the true will are claims of the former kind, and I would expect that reasonable people might very well have differences about how they use the word "will" and about which model of the self and mind that they find most useful, most reflective of reality.

It's late now, so I'll expand on my thoughts about the will tomorrow. Let me know if any of what I've said is unclear.


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kidneyhawk
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02/06/2009 2:23 pm  

The religious instinct in Man must be exercised. The trappings of religion are necessary; it is only a matter of changing our religious affirmations to be in accord with the facts of the universe as we understand them

I agree with this. It is very simply put but does well in addressing the initial query: is Thelema no different from the "rest?" The "religious impulse" within the human being is very multi-layered and rises up to address many things in our experience. A huge problem we've seen in almost all religions, however, is the crystalization of vision into dogma and that dogma setting itself up against an honest and real inquiry into the universe and the self. Thelema destroys this conflict and creates (or reveals) a space of unihibited flow.

The "facts of the Universe" must include things we cannot presently comprehend, elements we are not even aware of. It also includes things we've only understood or experienced in part. But, as I see it, Thelema is not about stamping out religion as the enemy of "Truth" in as much as it is that evolutionary "upgrade" which is aiming at cultivating the expression of religion to accord with Truth. The removal of Blake's "Mind-forg'd manacles."

Crowley endeavored to set up a religious framework for this approach and, when viewed from this standpoint, he is something of a force of nature. Like Blake, he single-handedly "created his own system," drawing off of what had gone before to mould a super-structure capable of advancing to the "next level."

The danger is in allowing that "super-structure" to go the route of previous religions, crystalizing and going no further. But just as Thelema tears down the wall of conflict between science and religion, it also proclaims of basic liberty to Do as we Will. If we succumb to restriction in this regard, it is our choice and the Current will, hopefully, keep going until it tears down the walls we've erected within ourselves.

93,

Kyle


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 Anonymous
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02/06/2009 2:46 pm  
"IAO131" wrote:
The ties are 'magical' and 'occult' - one is symbolically 'born' into the Order.

Yes, and one is symbolically [re]born in Masonry, Christianity, A.'.A.'., and all primitive, indigenous, shamanic-type ceremonies. But they don't usually proclaim that "... NOTHING can break the ties ... "

"IAO131" wrote:
How about you read the basic documents on the OTO website fi [sic] you dont [sic] know about the simple things?

It's not necessary for anyone to go to anyone's website and read any basic documents. The question was rhetorical (that means the answer is, duh, obvious, and the question was asked in order to get you thinking) and everyone should know that the Order is temporal (that means physical plane Malkuth) and if you're bad they can stop taking your fees and you have no privileges, like attending meetings, taking orders, and using their rest rooms.

The "magical" or "occult" ties are only as strong as one "thinkests in his heart."

How about you knock off the condescending attitude?

As stated above, Thelema differs from most "religions" in that it encourages one to seek the truth (Will) on one's own, whereas most religions offer to do it for you through their priest(s) - your donations being heartily accepted. Of course, we know they can't deliver the result.

But there are also many schools of thought that encourage direct seeking and contact. They don't use the word "Thelema," but they use words and terms like Solar Angel [HGA], Atmic/Atma/Atman [Chokmah], Will [Thelema], etc. So, in some cases, Thelema is not so different.


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Michael Staley
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02/06/2009 4:40 pm  
"VictimofChanges" wrote:
You can claim anything, but reality is reality and that's the test.

This formulation, which Los considered so pertinent and which IAO131 described with admirable restraint as a "boring tautology", doesn't exactly cut the mustard.

We have reality on the one hand, and our understanding of it on the other. The latter is subject to change as our knowledge and experience proceeds apace. For instance, a few hundred years ago it appears to have been our understanding of reality that the heavenly bodies revolved around the earth. Similarly, unless you consider that we now know all there is to know, a few hundred years hence the 21st Century understanding of reality will very likely appear deluded in at least some respects.

So, what this formulation amounts to is: our understanding of reality is our understanding of reality, and that's the test. In other words, anything that does not conform to our present understanding of reality is delusional.


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IAO131
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02/06/2009 6:35 pm  
"KCh" wrote:
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

93,

I cant help but take issue to some statements.

Thelema is Law not Faith.

Just saying it doesnt make it so. Did you read the discussino above? Do not people take (a) praeter-human intelligence (b) the idea of a True Will (c) the possibility of finding and doing this Will (d) the idea that doin this will bring satisfaction/happiness/meaning all based on ... faith?

The word 'Religion' does not occur in the 'Book of the Law'

Neither does Magick. Or sex. Or ceremonial ritual. Or occult. And...?

it never asks of you to 'believe'.

No but it does ask you to do things "To me" (who is that exactly?) It does threaten with "direful judgments." It does give the promise of the consciousness of continuity of existence, of peace unutterable etc.

There is no Original Sin.

No, but there is the idea that barely anyone is doing their True Will and thats the source of all conflict. Thats somewhat of a 'Fall'.

There are no intercessors for the Gods.

Is that was Aiwass was minister of Hoor-paar-kraat??

Many facts about the Universe as we understand it are affirmed in the Book, superstition is absent from it.

I have to disagree and I think this is actually naive to think such.

As has been written before the most materialistic man of science should not find anything in the Book disagreeable with his views; nor should the most atheistic.

That was about hte Gnostic Mass, not the Book of the Law... and I believe 0/100 modern materialistic men of science would accept even half of the Gnostic Mass as remotely valid scientifically (without some extreme bending of whats going on).

The religious instinct in Man must be exercised.

We have new 'musts' now? I thought the only 'must' was doing your will? Perhaps this is that whole 'everyone interprets the Law for themself' thing you mentioned earlier?

"Sphynx" wrote:
"IAO131" wrote:
The ties are 'magical' and 'occult' - one is symbolically 'born' into the Order.

Yes, and one is symbolically [re]born in Masonry, Christianity, A.'.A.'., and all primitive, indigenous, shamanic-type ceremonies. But they don't usually proclaim that "... NOTHING can break the ties ... "

...So? I never said I thought the OTO's claim was real or even legitimately believed by anyone, in fact I made fun of it in relation to GD's idea that youll be struck paralyzed by a current of magical energy.

"IAO131" wrote:
How about you read the basic documents on the OTO website fi [sic] you dont [sic] know about the simple things?

It's not necessary for anyone to go to anyone's website and read any basic documents. The question was rhetorical (that means the answer is, duh, obvious, and the question was asked in order to get you thinking) and everyone should know that the Order is temporal (that means physical plane Malkuth) and if you're bad they can stop taking your fees and you have no privileges, like attending meetings, taking orders, and using their rest rooms.

Just like every other order, organization, group, commune, etc. on the face of the planet. Perhaps your expectations are a wee too high? Might I even ask why you are speaking of these things in this thread when they are so obviously off topic?

The "magical" or "occult" ties are only as strong as one "thinkests in his heart."

You can believe whatever floats your boat about the ties. Im really not sure why youre obsessing over htem like this - you are really blowing such a minor point out of proportion.

How about you knock off the condescending attitude?

Nah, Ill keep it. Thanks for the suggestion though!

As stated above, Thelema differs from most "religions" in that it encourages one to seek the truth (Will) on one's own, whereas most religions offer to do it for you through their priest(s) - your donations being heartily accepted. Of course, we know they can't deliver the result.

Do we? I feel like a common naivete of Thelemites is to lump all old religions into "Just like Christianity" category. A LOT of religions in the past have not had priests or asked for donations as a way to salvation. Thats either a highly ignorant statement or a highly disingenuous statement.

But there are also many schools of thought that encourage direct seeking and contact. They don't use the word "Thelema," but they use words and terms like Solar Angel [HGA], Atmic/Atma/Atman [Chokmah], Will [Thelema], etc. So, in some cases, Thelema is not so different.

So, even though you are really just using labels that people in Thelema, Theosophy, and perhaps some Hindus might use arent you contradicting your idea above? Other religions have worked and honestly, some are much more straightforward than Thelema (if you count Zen as a religion). I really dont see the point of all these posts saying "Thelema is just so much better than other religions" without any back up. For example, "Thelema doesnt ask for your faith". Really? That seems like a naive statement to me. "We know other religions didnt deliver." Really? And why put 'we' as if there are multiple poeple already agreeing with you on your idiosyncratic opinion? I dont get it...

"MichaelStaley" wrote:
"VictimofChanges" wrote:
You can claim anything, but reality is reality and that's the test.

This formulation, which Los considered so pertinent and which IAO131 described with admirable restraint

Im glad someone noticed 😛

as a "boring tautology", doesn't exactly cut the mustard.

Side note: How did that phrase ever come about?

We have reality on the one hand, and our understanding of it on the other. The latter is subject to change as our knowledge and experience proceeds apace. For instance, a few hundred years ago it appears to have been our understanding of reality that the heavenly bodies revolved around the earth. Similarly, unless you consider that we now know all there is to know, a few hundred years hence the 21st Century understanding of reality will very likely appear deluded in at least some respects.

Indeed - the fact is that cosmology has moved on and most people still think of the world as Newtonian.

So, what this formulation amounts to is: our understanding of reality is our understanding of reality, and that's the test. In other words, anything that does not conform to our present understanding of reality is delusional.

Indeed and that is a lighter claim than mine which is that sentence is meaningless. To say that X is real because it is real - to say that how we find reality is what is real - is saying nothing (although its showing a muddle of the mind, in my opinion).

IAO131


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Walterfive
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02/06/2009 6:45 pm  
"Sphynx" wrote:
"IAO131" wrote:
The ties are 'magical' and 'occult' - one is symbolically 'born' into the Order.

Yes, and one is symbolically [re]born in Masonry, Christianity, A.'.A.'., and all primitive, indigenous, shamanic-type ceremonies. But they don't usually proclaim that "... NOTHING can break the ties ... "

"IAO131" wrote:
How about you read the basic documents on the OTO website fi [sic] you dont [sic] know about the simple things?

It's not necessary for anyone to go to anyone's website and read any basic documents. The question was rhetorical (that means the answer is, duh, obvious, and the question was asked in order to get you thinking) and everyone should know that the Order is temporal (that means physical plane Malkuth) and if you're bad they can stop taking your fees and you have no privileges, like attending meetings, taking orders, and using their rest rooms.

The "magical" or "occult" ties are only as strong as one "thinkests in his heart."

How about you knock off the condescending attitude.

I'll see your condescending attitude and raise you pretension. If you are asking questions that any Probationer or Minerval could answer, it IS neccesary to go to the website and read the basic material. Feigning ignorance as a method of asking rhetorical questions doesn't work in correspondence-based internet communications, and is disingenuous as best. Don't hide behind the lie that you 'are trying to make people think.' Make your own self think, if you can, and don't worry about the rest of us. You're not our Guru or anything, so it's not your job.

Those who belong to the Order have avenues for officially airing grievances, and those grievances are heard. Wether or not the authorities in question decide to agree, or decide to act upon them is another matter. The method by which one can make change in the Order is to become a 5th Degree, and volunteer to be on the Electoral College. If one does not do these things, and one is member of the Order, one really has no room for complaint, other than the sort of belly-aching that any member of any organization or Union might make about "what the heck are those guys upstairs thinking?" This organizational structure was set forth by Crowley in the Constitution of the Order. We've failed at getting it right for over 90+ years now, but we are appreciably closer to it now than the Order has ever been before. Rome wasn't built in a day, but the Goths burned it down overnight.

I have been a member of the Order for 20 years, come next month. I have never held office in the Electoral College. I never stepped up to bat for it, my career does not give me the time that such duties require. However, the grievances I have aired have been heard to my satisfaction. The decisions made about those grievances or issues have *not* been in my favor, or in support of my opinion. Oh well. Sometimes the breaks don't roll one's way. Mature adults understand this. Their decisions don't change my *personal* opinion, or my personal experience. It doesn't change my friendship with the men and women who hold those offices, or the Bonds of Brotherhood that I have with them.

The opinion of someone like yourself, however, who is not a member of the Organization in question carries no weight whatsoever. Opinions such as yours are usually linked to ulterior motives. One can't help upon hearing them to wonder 'what brand of Snake Oil is *he* tryin' to sell', as we say here in Texas.

You have no *idea* of the Magickal Link that one makes in the Initiatory Rituals with the Order. You have not experienced them, therefore, you do not comprehend the matter. Nor could you understand the consequences of them being cut. End of discussion. Please don't try to parrot the criticisms of those who worked to build the Order and have left it, or have been expelled or suspended-- they *earned* their right to *their* opinions, where you have earned nothing, and it may be that present or even future leaders will see their way to reason and reinstate them.

Have a nice day,

Walter Five


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Los
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02/06/2009 7:59 pm  
"VictimofChanges" wrote:
You can claim anything, but reality is reality and that's the test.

I've ignored objections to this sentence mainly because I'm trying to keep my posts succinct. But alright, I'll slow down and address this.

I should have explained that I was taking this sentence to mean the following: "The test of a claim is the degree to which it measures up to reality (which is always reality and not not-reality)."

"Reality" I'm going to tentatively define as "that which is not contingent on a mind." So, illustration: the unicorn I'm imagining right now is contingent on my mind. When I stop imagining it, it no longer affects me. So it's not real. On the other hand, if I go and light a match, that lit match is not contingent on my mind (or any mind). I could drop it, walk away, and forget about it, but it would continue to exist and burn things. So it's real.

Claims need to be measured not against our model of reality, but against evidence that comes from reality. That's how models get modified and/or overturned -- by evidence from the reality.

So someone who claims that the earth revolves around the sun can produce a great deal of evidence drawn from the world around us -- evidence that is not contingent on minds but which exists independently of us. It doesn't matter what anyone thinks or what our current "understanding of reality" is...if you have enough evidence, you can overturn our current understanding of reality. It's similar with someone who claims that the earth is round.

Naturally, our models are always changing as we acquire more evidence. But just because our understanding of the world might one day be different does not invalidate the knowledge that we have. If you want to invalidate our current models, you are welcome to do so -- with evidence.


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kidneyhawk
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02/06/2009 8:09 pm  

"Reality" I'm going to tentatively define as "that which is not contingent on a mind."

And how do you perceive and validate the existence of anything which is "not contingent on a mind" if not with the mind itself? Are you taking it on "faith" that such things exist? "No, I'm examining the evidence." And how do we go about this asessment process? What examines the evidence? The mind...


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IAO131
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02/06/2009 9:27 pm  

93,

WalterFive: Very firey spirit you got there. 8)

"Los" wrote:
"VictimofChanges" wrote:
You can claim anything, but reality is reality and that's the test.

I've ignored objections to this sentence mainly because I'm trying to keep my posts succinct. But alright, I'll slow down and address this.

I should have explained that I was taking this sentence to mean the following: "The test of a claim is the degree to which it measures up to reality (which is always reality and not not-reality)."

"Reality" I'm going to tentatively define as "that which is not contingent on a mind." So, illustration: the unicorn I'm imagining right now is contingent on my mind. When I stop imagining it, it no longer affects me. So it's not real. On the other hand, if I go and light a match, that lit match is not contingent on my mind (or any mind). I could drop it, walk away, and forget about it, but it would continue to exist and burn things. So it's real.

I'm going to play Devil's Advocate in this post - I dont necessarily believe everything I say but I will attempt to give the most valid rebuttal possible in every case.

Let me give the standard response which you will most likely get and which is, in fact, valid if not supplanted by other supernatural/idealist whatnot. The response is: Are dreams not real? They may not refer to physical events but dont the occurrences cause actual thoughts, feelings, and memories? A hallucination of pain is still painful, but its not 'real' for some reason?

Now let me give a slightly nuanced philosophical rebuttal: Are qualia not real then? Suppose we took Galileo's idea that an apple/rose is really colorless, odorless, etc. By this logic virtually our entire reality is not 'real' in that a lot of it is 'contingent upon a mind' in many ways. On top of this: Many people think of consciousness as being produced passively from stimuli impinging on a nervous system (bottom-up), but in reality this is half of teh equation: the 'mind' (brain, for you materialists) does a lot of artistry or 'unconscious inferences' as Helmholtz said a while back. That is, there is a whole lot of top-down processing going on taken as reality but in reality, comes from the 'top' (i.e. top fo the hierarchical processing of information with sensory stimuli/sensory apparatuses being at the 'bottom' and the cortex of the brain at the 'top')

Claims need to be measured not against our model of reality, but against evidence that comes from reality. That's how models get modified and/or overturned -- by evidence from the reality.

Yet we arent dealing with objective processes of objects in space but phenomenological realities that cannot be seen from more than one perspective (almost by definition) and therefore arent able to be 'measured' let alone 'repeated' even within the same person.

So someone who claims that the earth revolves around the sun can produce a great deal of evidence drawn from the world around us -- evidence that is not contingent on minds but which exists independently of us.

Yet, what if the person said "I experienced the sun as momentarily blue in color." How would you verify that? What if the person even admits that it could've been "all in their head" but nonetheless they very-much-so had a subjective experience of a "blue sun" for a moment?

It doesn't matter what anyone thinks or what our current "understanding of reality" is...if you have enough evidence, you can overturn our current understanding of reality. It's similar with someone who claims that the earth is round.

And yet we arent building a system describing objects in space, matter in motion as Newtonians were fond of saying. We are describing a system to describe Experience which is not subject to this kind of repeatability, objectivity, multiple corroborating views of hte exact same phenomenon, etc. The best we can do, I think (to not play Devil's advocate for a moment), is to combine third-person accounts of biochemistry/neurology with first-person accounts of people trained in phenomenological descriptions of their experiences (I have an article on this Phenomenological Language as used to describe occult phenomena - anyone can PM me if they want a link).

Naturally, our models are always changing as we acquire more evidence. But just because our understanding of the world might one day be different does not invalidate the knowledge that we have. If you want to invalidate our current models, you are welcome to do so -- with evidence.

In conclusion: Your notion of reality deprives a whole host of subjective phenomena that most people would take as reality. Let me illustrate with one example: Is a phantom limb sensation simply not real? Their feelings of pain and discomfort and/or simply feeling a limb where its not are very very real. Or put another subtler way: What is the difference in reality between a feeling of pain and a hallucination of pain?

IAO131


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James
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02/06/2009 9:39 pm  

Reality is being used as a disguised value judgment on certain experienced phenomena over other experienced phenomena. Of course an imagined unicorn is real - it is a real imagined unicorn! Why is this experience judged as not real? Many pharmaceutical companies get very rich developing drugs to prevent mentally ill people from seeing these phenomena that if not real then what are they. Clearly they exist so to say that something is not real is not the same as saying that it does not exist?

The objective world is an assumed world, yes, with lots of evidence, but cannot be finally proved (see Kidneyhawk's post for that argument). Why? Because no one lives in it, that is why. All of us live in a world of experience, phenomenological if you prefer. If you want a counter argument to the existence of the 'objective world' then go see the Matrix films again. Yes, I know, but it makes the point and disallows absolute certainty. Finally, the view of the objective world as separate and distinct from the the world of subjectivity, that is the world of mentations is challenged by the Schodinger's cat thought experiment (surely shome mishtake?). Well there are lots of physicists who take this aspect of quantum theory very seriously indeed.


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Los
 Los
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02/06/2009 10:42 pm  
"kidneyhawk" wrote:
And how do you perceive and validate the existence of anything which is "not contingent on a mind" if not with the mind itself?

Obviously, I use my mind to build up a picture of the world, but that doesn't mean that my mind is unable to distinguish with a fair degree of certainty "that which is contingent on a mind" from "that which is not contingent on a mind."

I could go back to my example of the imagined unicorn. Or how about a guy who literally thinks he's Napoleon? He lives in a world of fantasies that depend entirely on his mind and not reality. We lock him up in an asylum -- don't you think we have good reason for doing that?

Again, I'm not claiming to know with 100% certainty what is "dependent on a mind" or not -- I'm claiming that we have means by which we can determine what is most likely to be "not dependent on a mind." And we get better at determining this as time goes by.

"James" wrote:
Of course an imagined unicorn is real - it is a real imagined unicorn!

*sigh* The experience of imagining a unicorn is quite real. Mental processes are contingent on brain chemistry, remember. That thoughts exist is not in question...we can observe brainwaves, we can stimulate certain parts of the brain to cause mental experiences, etc.

What we're talking about now is whether certain contents of thought (a unicorn in this case) exist outside of those thoughts.

We're talking about how we determine whether unicorns exist in the world around us, whether they continue to exist after we stop thinking about them.

They don't.

(by the way, I'm obviously talking about magical unicorns of legend, not the deer that was born with a single horn, a genetic mutation which probably gave rise to the legends)


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Los
 Los
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02/06/2009 11:12 pm  

Ok, I'm going to try to do this in a succinct fashion.

"IAO131" wrote:
Are dreams not real?

Real. They're mental phenomena. They are contingent on brain chemistry. Now let's say I dream of a unicorn -- that unicorn is contingent entirely on mental processes (unreal), even though my experience of dreaming of the unicorn is contingent on my physical brain (real).

the 'mind' (brain, for you materialists) does a lot of artistry or 'unconscious inferences' as Helmholtz said a while back.

Yeah, I'm fond of Nietzsche's saying, "we are more artists than we know." It's true that a lot of what we think we perceive we add to reality. Part of the task before us in our practice is learning to separate what is reality from what we add to reality (Erwin has a really good essay on this, but the basic idea is given in Crowley's description of the Mahasatipatthana meditation...see also "The Sword" in Liber ABA, Book II).

That we add things to reality suggests that there is very much a reality to which things can be added. The goal here is not to perceive what's really there perfectly (we'd have to somehow be able to see atoms and quantum level stuff to do that) -- the idea is to do as best we can to distinguish fact from fantasy.

phenomenological realities that cannot be seen from more than one perspective (almost by definition) and therefore arent able to be 'measured' let alone 'repeated' even within the same person.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by that -- can you give an example?

If you just mean that "you cannot step into the same river twice," well, yeah. But the fact that reality is always changing doesn't alter the fact that we can also abstract regular laws about its operations and make statements that we are sure (to a fairly high degree of certainty) are true. The table I'm sitting at might be a flux of atoms, but it really is a table and not a unicorn.

Yet, what if the person said "I experienced the sun as momentarily blue in color." How would you verify that?

I wouldn't. I'd just shrug.

There are lots of screwy things with our perception that we can't explain perfectly. The goal isn't to explain everything we experience with 100% perfection; the goal is to distinguish what's likely true from what's likely not true.

If, from this experience, you claimed, "The sun turned blue for a moment!" and there is no other corroboration and no data from the real world to support it, it probably didn't turn blue for a moment. Probably. You should go get your eyes checked.

But if you said, "From my experience, I conclude that the sun periodically turns blue because a race of solar trolls is having a party on its surface," I'd tell you you're nuts.

Is a phantom limb sensation simply not real?

It's real. Dependent on brain chemistry. But if you claimed that your phantom limb had the power to create beer out of thin air when you will it, that would be a delusion (dependent only on your mind).

What is the difference in reality between a feeling of pain and a hallucination of pain?

A feeling of pain derives from the nerves sending messages to the brain. The hallucination only derives from the mind playing tricks on you. It's still a "real" experience (insofar as thought is dependent on brain chemsitry and real), but it doesn't correlate with something outside of you.


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kidneyhawk
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02/06/2009 11:16 pm  

Again, I'm not claiming to know with 100% certainty what is "dependent on a mind" or not -- I'm claiming that we have means by which we can determine what is most likely to be "not dependent on a mind." And we get better at determining this as time goes by.

But the one infers the other, yes? And this is how I'm seeing the problem here: all phenomena is known and experienced, evaluated and worked within the realm of Mind. I don't think this is quite the same thing as saying "It's all in your mind, dude." But there is nothing to be experienced or known which doesn't come through this field. As such, we might observe that any "reality" and the Mind are wholly intertwined. We increasingly learn and broaden our frontiers and this leads us to conclude that whatever thus and such is, we are experiencing and reasoning from our perception of it, not the thing itself. The thing itself cannot be "known" beyond our perceptual limits, which constitute experience. This gives rise to the Buddhist declaration that "Form is Emptiness." But just as mind and phenomena are so interwoven, the declaration goes on to add: "Emptiness is Form." The two are one.

Science entails much advancement of the perceptive field. Using the "method of science" in our "aim of religion," we seek, via the art and science of magick, to broaden our own ability to perceive and thus, open up new avenues of engagement with the Universe. These are greater vistas in which the Will may flow and, each according to his own, the Will seeks to open such vistas for its own fulfillment.

We just so happen to have inherited the "human condition" with its limitation and possibilites. I am suspect of the desire or need to get a firm grasp on reality for the sake of making it some sort of exhibit of intellectual triumph over the problems of perception. It's a human conceit and may make us feel better but says nothing about what anything really IS, in and of itself. With the means at our disposal (sense organs, language etc) we may intelligently communicate and determine a plethora of "facts" which are beneficial to us. But these things are useful and not absolute. To recognize their limits is to push onto further possibility of experience which the Will, never in stasis, moves towards.


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IAO131
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02/06/2009 11:38 pm  
"Los" wrote:
Ok, I'm going to try to do this in a succinct fashion.

"IAO131" wrote:
Are dreams not real?

Real. They're mental phenomena. They are contingent on brain chemistry. Now let's say I dream of a unicorn -- that unicorn is contingent entirely on mental processes (unreal), even though my experience of dreaming of the unicorn is contingent on my physical brain (real).

The point is that hte experience of the unicorn is real although the unicorn itself would most likely never be admitted as corresponding to an object in the physical world.

the 'mind' (brain, for you materialists) does a lot of artistry or 'unconscious inferences' as Helmholtz said a while back.

Yeah, I'm fond of Nietzsche's saying, "we are more artists than we know." It's true that a lot of what we think we perceive we add to reality. Part of the task before us in our practice is learning to separate what is reality from what we add to reality

I dont think thats right. To continue with the Nietzsche (which I danced around directly quoting), "The conditions of life might contain error" or to put it another way, things might be "useful fictions." If we separate out what our nervous systems graft on top of base sensory stimuli (which are themselves necessarily 'interpreted' even in bottom-up processing), chances are we wont have anything close to what we consider reality. If Kant was right that Space, Time, and Causality are not things-in-themselves but rather the necessary backdrops/modes wherewith we are able to experience anything, the reality outside of our perceptual projections may not even be in space or time or have causality as we know it. Nietzsche has anohter quotation. Nietzsche attacks the very faith-foundations of the scientific-objective-materialistic world which is 'real': "We operate only with things that do not exist: lines, planes, bodies, atoms, divisible time spans, divisible spaces—, how should explanations be at all possible when we first turn everything into an image, our image!" (Gay Science)

(Erwin has a really good essay on this, but the basic idea is given in Crowley's description of the Mahasatipatthana meditation...see also "The Sword" in Liber ABA, Book II).

The idea is to exclude the ego-idea and other conceptualizations over sensory experience yet Im saying that base sensory experience itself is part-artistry, to stay with Nietzsche.

That we add things to reality suggests that there is very much a reality to which things can be added.

Yes, we mean the reality of plain sensory information being interpreted and become-aware-of in bottom-up processing. Thats not the Reality-in-itself though... that itself is a representation. (Schopenhauer's tome "The World as Will & REpresentation touches on all these points Im making here, focusing especially on the Kantian ideas above... and his idea is that the reality behind phenomena is outisde of space-time, etc. but I wont get into that).

The goal here is not to perceive what's really there perfectly (we'd have to somehow be able to see atoms and quantum level stuff to do that) -- the idea is to do as best we can to distinguish fact from fantasy.

Yet scientists now speak of atoms pragmatically - they can also be described as diffuse wave-functions of probability. Describing things at the lowest most simple physical level doesnt somehow give us the most accurate picture of reality - in fact, the "laws" of particle physics have a very hard time accounting for size/mass scales at the level of planets (let alone the Big Bang).

phenomenological realities that cannot be seen from more than one perspective (almost by definition) and therefore arent able to be 'measured' let alone 'repeated' even within the same person.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by that -- can you give an example?

If you just mean that "you cannot step into the same river twice," well, yeah. But the fact that reality is always changing doesn't alter the fact that we can also abstract regular laws about its operations and make statements that we are sure (to a fairly high degree of certainty) are true. The table I'm sitting at might be a flux of atoms, but it really is a table and not a unicorn.

I mean that no two phenomenal states can be said to be equal, especially since the previous phenomenal state would suppsoedly have an effect on the next one. There is an inherent problem in studying 'mystic states' because of this: how do you know youre getting an IDENTICAL experience? Theres the problem of reproducibility in the sphere of experience... that sthe only point I was trying to make.

Yet, what if the person said "I experienced the sun as momentarily blue in color." How would you verify that?

I wouldn't. I'd just shrug.

My point si that it was a real experience for him - reality doesnt consist in the supposedly objective world which creates our experience, reality for humans consist in that experience itself, reality "as it appears", as phenomenological (literally).

There are lots of screwy things with our perception that we can't explain perfectly. The goal isn't to explain everything we experience with 100% perfection; the goal is to distinguish what's likely true from what's likely not true.

If, from this experience, you claimed, "The sun turned blue for a moment!" and there is no other corroboration and no data from the real world to support it, it probably didn't turn blue for a moment. Probably. You should go get your eyes checked.

But if you said, "From my experience, I conclude that the sun periodically turns blue because a race of solar trolls is having a party on its surface," I'd tell you you're nuts.

No, no, no. My point was that the persno in question DOESN'T add unnecessary supernatural or even objective judgments to the experience. He simply says "I had an experience of the sun looking blue." That experience is real. He doesnt think this means the Sun is always blue, actually turned blue for all people at that moment, or anything similar. My point is to draw a distinction from 'objective reality' and 'reality as it is experienced' i.e. a phenomenological reality.

Is a phantom limb sensation simply not real?

It's real. Dependent on brain chemistry. But if you claimed that your phantom limb had the power to create beer out of thin air when you will it, that would be a delusion (dependent only on your mind).

Yet the person is feeling sensations in a limb that literally does not physically exist. They feel the sensations as if it were a normal arm, yet that normal arm does not correspond to anything in objective "reality." Therefore, by your standards, either its not real AT ALL or everything perceived is real since all perceptions are contingent on brain chemistry.

What is the difference in reality between a feeling of pain and a hallucination of pain?

A feeling of pain derives from the nerves sending messages to the brain. The hallucination only derives from the mind playing tricks on you.

All experiences are contingent on brain chemistry and so neuron-patterns are firing. I can show you empirical studies that conclusively show the visual cortex fires identically for a "real" physical object and an imagined o bject... Same experience, same brain firing.... but one is not "real"?

It's still a "real" experience (insofar as thought is dependent on brain chemsitry and real), but it doesn't correlate with something outside of you.

So you admit that experiences are real in themselves without necessarily referring to objective phenomena. Therefore Thelema does not necessarily correspond to "objective" reality or approach it...? How are the concepts of HGA, Will, Crossing the Abyss, etc. measurable in any way in the sense of measuring things in that objective, "real" world?

IAO131


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Los
 Los
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03/06/2009 12:34 am  
"kidneyhawk" wrote:
It's a human conceit [i.e. the desire to know] and may make us feel better but says nothing about what anything really IS, in and of itself.

No one is making absolute claims or claiming to know what "really IS." We're talking about how we go about determining what is likely to be true.

Let's go back to the guy who thinks he's Napoleon. Based on everything we know about the universe, it is very likely that he is living in a world that depends only on his mind, not reality.

Even though everything I know about him is filtered through my mind, I can still make that judgment...in fact, it's *because* I have a mind that can conceptualize and think about reality that I can make statements like, "His claim to be Napoleon is likely to be false."

You do think a person's claim in the modern day to literally be Napoleon is false, don't you? On what basis do you make that decision?

Get rid of this idea of absolute certainty and knowing what IS -- we're talking about what's likely to be true as far as we can ascertain.

Knowing reality (ok, again, knowing to a fair degree of probability what is likely to be true) isn't just something that makes us "feel good"...witness the entirety of technological and scientific progress that depends upon us figuring out what's likely to be true and likely to be false. For instance, you're reading this message on a computer that was produced by people who took the time to figure out what's real.

What's funny is that it's actually fantasy that usually just makes people "feel good." They tell themselves that they're in contact with a god or a spirit, or they tell themselves that they're "chosen" in some special way or have access to some special knowledge that the "profane" do not. It *is* fun playing make believe, but it's still just make believe.

"IAO131" wrote:
All experiences are contingent on brain chemistry and so neuron-patterns are firing. I can show you empirical studies that conclusively show the visual cortex fires identically for a "real" physical object and an imagined o bject... Same experience, same brain firing.... but one is not "real"?

Right, all experiences are contingent on brain chemistry. The experiences themselves are real.

What's not always real is the *content* of those experiences. And the test for that is whether the content of the experience is dependent on a mind or not.

If I imagine an apple and if I see an apple, similar brain functions happen in each case -- each experience is equally real. But the imagined apple itself (the content of the experience) is not real in the way that the apple in front of me is. If I stop imagining the first apple, it ceases to exist. But that other apple...I could disbelieve in it all I wanted. My beliefs wouldn't change the fact that it's there.

I don't know how to say it any more clearly.

By the way, IAO131, responding to you point by point is exhausting -- and I imagine that others on the thread (and lurkers) might be bored with us. I'll answer your post fully sometime tomorrow, and probably by PM.

For the time being, I'd be happy getting people on this thread to agree that unicorns aren't real and that the guy in the asylum who thinks he's Napoleon really *is* wrong about reality. Sheesh....


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kidneyhawk
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03/06/2009 1:56 am  

Los,

First off, you've reinterpreted my statement. I did not indicate that the "desire to know" is a human conceit. In fact, I expressed that this impetus and its subsequent widening of the perceptive field and understanding is part of the expression and activity of the Will.

I never introduced the idea of

absolute certainty

The direction of this dialogue will wind its way back to your affirmation of the attitude that "what's real is real and that's the proof."

NOW you are speaking in terms of things are "likely" to be true, as opposed to sticking with the idea that we can know what is real and what is not real. This is changing the game a bit, yes? However, I think we're moving in each other's direction....

You state:

you're reading this message on a computer that was produced by people who took the time to figure out what's real.

Actually, that's a pretty big assumption. I would state it otherwise. Those whose collective efforts to establish this technology worked hard to find out what GOT THE JOB DONE. This includes experiments with repeatable results, observed patterns and so on. But it says nothing about what is "real."

Now, this whole discussion can quickly devolve into the line for line semantic sparring match. My intent is not to "prove Los wrong" or "prove myself right" but to look at the subject at hand in a sensible way.

Los, when I read a line like

I could disbelieve in it all I wanted. My beliefs wouldn't change the fact that it's there.

I am not at all convinced. You're basically saying that when you don't have "proof" you can rely with certainty on your assumption. Yet, you've gone on about having proof as a substantial justification for knowing what is "real" or "true." This is swiftly sailing into what is "likely true" since proof is absent but the assumption accords with your individual experience.

I have no argument against increasing knowledge (and workable practical knolwedge) based in observation and applied to the fulfillment of our Will. THAT is part of our "human condition." But we may also limit ourselves by allowing the usefulness of this process to constrain our total vision. Many "practical people" exist who can function very effectively in the realm of material affairs but have no inclination towards understanding the larger scope of their fleeting material existence. Thelema, as a type of "religious phenomena," IS concerned with addressing "the facts of the Universe" and not just our proficiency in surviving and thriving in admittedly temporal human conditions. Hence, we are not only busy acquiring knowledge but examing the nature of knowledge, of how and what we "know" and what we "are." I don't think a characteristic of "Thelema," as such, is that it is comfortable being rooted in assumptions and what's "likely."

I hope this doesn't come across as snide. I DO see elements in the work of Crowley which surge up above many things that have gone before, opening up portals into a deeper and better understanding of what we are and what this field of experience "is." And, in Crowley, this sets the stage for what we DO, which is the primary thing.

93,

Kyle


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Los
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03/06/2009 3:03 am  

Hi Kidneyhawk,

I'll respond to your post later on when I have more time. For the moment, would you mind addressing my point about the guy who thinks he's Napoleon?

Do you think he's right or wrong about reality? What's your basis for deciding this?

I'm actually curious how you go about evaluating claims.

Thanks.


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 Anonymous
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03/06/2009 3:51 am  

I'd like to respond to a few criticisms here.

Just saying it doesnt make it so. Did you read the discussino above? Do not people take (a) praeter-human intelligence (b) the idea of a True Will (c) the possibility of finding and doing this Will (d) the idea that doin this will bring satisfaction/happiness/meaning all based on ... faith?

No. None of these qualify as faith. The fact that Thelema is a Law is repeatedly stated throughout the book. The title is also 'The Book of the Law.' I don't see how any confusion could be possibly made on this point.

No but it does ask you to do things "To me" (who is that exactly?) It does threaten with "direful judgments." It does give the promise of the consciousness of continuity of existence, of peace unutterable etc.

None of which require beliefs.

No, but there is the idea that barely anyone is doing their True Will and thats the source of all conflict. Thats somewhat of a 'Fall'.

The doctrine of Original Sin declares that we are sinful and have fallen from birth. I don't know what a somewhat fall is. Either you have fallen or not, even if it be just a certain degree of fall relative to one's experiences. I don't subscribe to any notion that not doing one's True Will and knowing it as such constitutes a fall so much as a folly, ignorance, or misunderstanding. All of which can be corrected, or not, only through one's own will; there need not be the added absurdities of notions like 'through Christ'. This is one of many ways Thelema is not only different but superior.

Is that was Aiwass was minister of Hoor-paar-kraat??

I wrote intercessor, not minister.

That was about hte Gnostic Mass, not the Book of the Law... and I believe 0/100 modern materialistic men of science would accept even half of the Gnostic Mass as remotely valid scientifically (without some extreme bending of whats going on).

I am familiar with the quote you reference, however I was alluding to something I had written before, not Crowley. Despite I'm certain there is a relevant passage by Crowley on this matter that echos my sentiments as well. You have no place to speak for even the worst of scientists.


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kidneyhawk
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03/06/2009 4:39 am  

Los,

I tend to adapt to my circumstances as they arise. This is not to say I give no thought to the future etc. but there are so many facotrs which come into play at any given moment when evaluating and acting upon experience. The "guy who thinks he's Napoleon" is a hypothetical character of which I know nothing more than he thinks he is "THE" historic Napoleon. My present experience and knowledge would lead me to the pretty immediate conclusion that he is not accurately perceiving things. He may be a raving madman or a harmless kook (he's too hypothetical for me to say!). But in this instance, with its limitations and lack of information, I would rely on those things I know (which is to say those things I have accepted as being reliable based on the sum total of my experience). But let me add this, there was a time when that experience was accumulating, when I believed in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and so on. And I certainly believed in Santa. My parents told me about him, I saw the evidence (repeatedly!) and my understanding of how things worked was limited enough to think that this was a plausible thing. As I grew older, I began to scrutinize detail increasingly and I wanted to know more about this truly amazing person who could travel the world in a single night. I left Santa a note one year, asking him to kindly leave me his autograph. I wanted to analyze his handwriting and see if it might compare to anyone else's (such as those who had led me to this belief in the first place). So I was certainly growing in critical thinking and observation, putting things to test, as it were.

But the hypothetical fellow who is already presented as a delusional specimen-or the unicorn for whom we have no experience or evidence in the material universe-are "set ups" as they arrive in our conversation, not to be experienced, but to prove a point.

In terms of "materiality," I am not expecting the Unicorn Believer to produce a photograph to back up his assertion. I am certainly open to the possibility that "Bigfoot" exists but from all I've seen and all I know, I highly doubt it. Again, this goes back to my present level of experience, the knowledge it has been assembled into and how I tend to apply that knowledge. But here I'm applying it to

claims

which have been, thus far, hypothetical. The discussion of "Praeternatural Intelligences" such as Aiwass, on the other hand, is more of a relevant topic to this site than Bigfoot. It is something Crowley attested to and, as such, worth our consideration, regardless of the conclusions we draw.

When I read of Crowley's experiences in Cairo, I was very intrigued, fascinated, doubtful etc. But throughout all the reading and thinking of how AC presented things, I also wanted to "see it and believe it" myself (I wanted Aiwass' signature! LOL!). It wouldn't be until years later (many years) that I would experience what I feel is phenomena similar to that which Crowley experienced in Cairo and subsequent workings. That is not my "claim" but a relating of an area of my experience as a human which goes beyond what the purely "sensory" experience allows for.

I'll also add that over the years, I've worked providing support for many people with various levels of cognitive impairment and/or mental illness. I've observed what I understand as very unfortunate states of mind which I have not glibly asserted to be as equally valid as my own. My own experiences did not fit these contexts. This doesn't necessarily justify or "prove" anything but it removes certain contexts into which such experience might be conveniently docketed and leaves me investigating other possibilities. In this area, I have been particularly inspired by Robert Anton Wilson who set up a multitude of "models" for his experience of contact with intelligences from Sirius. He was in unusual and convincing territory but didn't latch onto it with some ardent belief. Rather, he kept open and worked through his "models" towards an explanation as opposed to explaining it AWAY based on the need to justify a perception his experience seemed to contradict.

My experiences, however, have tilted the scales in favor of attributing a veracity to much of Crowley's account of the highly unusual elements of his Cairo story. This isn't because I want to have faith in the Word of Crowley or anything like that. What at one time seemed really "out there" became more plausible because I had actually encountered something similar myself. Do I make an absolute claim that there ARE "Praeternatural Intelligences" because I've met 'em. No, of course not. But I don't categorize it in the "likely" category, either, as that belongs to speculation. To say "I think its likely..." is to say I don't know for sure. To say "I know for sure" is to say I'm closed to other options.

Rather, I'm experiencing things...I'm processing what I experience and I'm not simply a PASSIVE perceiver. I generate experiences and open to areas which I might otherwise not encounter. Crowley's curriculum of Magick is quite dedicated to this approach. But we're continually reassessing what is going on, right? For example, I've had unusual experiences which I thought were much more significant than they were...from a later perspective, I see a certain encounter in the "Spirit World" as being a more direct experience of my own subconscious. I simply have to laugh it off and learn from it. And then along comes another experience which goes far beyond anything I know of my subconscious mind. And so the wheel turns.

But in the end, our physical bodies die and we're in for a major transformation. I don't see amassing knowledge as giving some great post-mortem payback in and of itself. Instead, we flow along the paths of our individual passions and struggles and aspirations and actions according to our unfolding of the Will. Generation and evaluation of experience ought to fit the needs of that path.

I know that wasn't a neat and tidy "here's how I evaluate claims in 3 easy steps" but I hope it conveys something of how I'm seeing the process. We can't help but deal with what lies on our path at any given moment. We don't want to be sidetracked or suckered, even and perhaps especially, by ourselves. But we also want to push the enelope into greater degrees of activity in which the Will may develop and express itself. Thus we work with what we know and keep moving into what we don't, with a vibrant energy and without crippling attachments.


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Tiger
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03/06/2009 5:53 pm  

I'd be happy getting people on this thread to agree that unicorns aren't real and that the guy in the asylum who thinks he's Napoleon really *is* wrong about reality. Sheesh....

locked up in a cell you conjured.
With pick axe, poetry and a pipe;
out on a ledge a stupendous temple unreal.

wrong about reality. Sheesh....
getting people to agree,
unicorns not real
and asylum real.

a pandemoniac delight
a reflection to see
the mirror as real.

yours truly,
Napolean


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IAO131
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03/06/2009 8:15 pm  
"KCh" wrote:
I'd like to respond to a few criticisms here.

Just saying it doesnt make it so. Did you read the discussino above? Do not people take (a) praeter-human intelligence (b) the idea of a True Will (c) the possibility of finding and doing this Will (d) the idea that doin this will bring satisfaction/happiness/meaning all based on ... faith?

No. None of these qualify as faith. The fact that Thelema is a Law is repeatedly stated throughout the book. The title is also 'The Book of the Law.' I don't see how any confusion could be possibly made on this point.

No but it does ask you to do things "To me" (who is that exactly?) It does threaten with "direful judgments." It does give the promise of the consciousness of continuity of existence, of peace unutterable etc.

None of which require beliefs.

No, but there is the idea that barely anyone is doing their True Will and thats the source of all conflict. Thats somewhat of a 'Fall'.

The doctrine of Original Sin declares that we are sinful and have fallen from birth. I don't know what a somewhat fall is. Either you have fallen or not, even if it be just a certain degree of fall relative to one's experiences. I don't subscribe to any notion that not doing one's True Will and knowing it as such constitutes a fall so much as a folly, ignorance, or misunderstanding. All of which can be corrected, or not, only through one's own will; there need not be the added absurdities of notions like 'through Christ'. This is one of many ways Thelema is not only different but superior.

Is that was Aiwass was minister of Hoor-paar-kraat??

I wrote intercessor, not minister.

That was about hte Gnostic Mass, not the Book of the Law... and I believe 0/100 modern materialistic men of science would accept even half of the Gnostic Mass as remotely valid scientifically (without some extreme bending of whats going on).

I am familiar with the quote you reference, however I was alluding to something I had written before, not Crowley. Despite I'm certain there is a relevant passage by Crowley on this matter that echos my sentiments as well. You have no place to speak for even the worst of scientists.

Is it so hard to fathom that one would have faith in a Law in teh same way one has faith in God's Will or something like that? Also the idea of HGA and Crossing the Abyss aren't 'Law'... how do you address that?

In the same way, simply saying something is 'Law' doesnt immediately nad necessarily put it above faith somehow.

IAO131


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Los
 Los
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03/06/2009 9:40 pm  
"kidneyhawk" wrote:
]My present experience and knowledge would lead me to the pretty immediate conclusion that he is not accurately perceiving things. [...] I would rely on those things I know (which is to say those things I have accepted as being reliable based on the sum total of my experience).

Ok! So we can agree that our hypothetical Mr. Napoleon is not perceiving things correctly. And your criteria for determining this is similar to mine...you rely on "what [you] know," which you define as "those things [you] have accepted as being reliable based on the sum total of [your] experience."

Now, knowledge is rational, of course. You had to reason from the sum total of your experiences to abstract general principles about how the world (likely) works. (even if you don't articulate it to yourself like that, that is precisely what you do)

Let's be very clear about this: "knowledge" (the way I use it) is a shorthand for "so likely that it would be absurd to doubt it." It doesn't mean certainty, and it's not a claim about what IS (absolutely), which probably can't be determined. It's a claim about what is very likely to be true, abstracted (reasoned out) from the sum total of evidence (which includes one's perceptions).

Of course, the problem is that one's perceptions are fallible, very easily fooled. We might, for example, convince ourselves that we're pushing "preview" when we really push "submit." It's very easy to do that. If you've ever studied stage magic (conjuring), you know that most tricks rely on people's senses being extremely easy to fool. Audiences at magic shows don't pay attention to which the magician really is doing -- they pay attention to what they *think* he is doing, as he usually plants a suggestion that their imaginations run with (misdirection, this is called).

Hell, we were just talking on this thread about how most people tend to perceive things that aren't even there, but just in their heads. To use an extreme example, a paranoid schizophrenic sees a world that isn't really there -- a world that depends entirely on his mind, not reality. All of us are, to various extents, prey to seeing the world in a warped way.

For this reason, we've determined ways of correcting the fallibility of our senses when making claims. The prime way of doing this is collecting evidence drawn from reality (what we determine to be most likely not contingent on a mind).

When we reason knowledge out of the evidence, we have to make sure we have a broad base of evidence. A handful of personal experiences is often insufficient for this purpose and can lead to incorrect conclusions. For example, if I dressed up as Santa and visited you as a little kid, it would be a mistake for you to reason on the basis of that experience that "Santa is real!" even if your "direct experience" of Santa matched accounts of other kids who were similarly visited by Santa.

You may have a "direct experience" of Santa, but that's only one piece of evidence (and a pretty weak one, since it depends only on your easily-fooled perceptions). When we look at all of the evidence available to us, even taking into account that there are some people who (think they) have experienced Santa, the rational conclusion is that Santa isn't real.

I can't prove 100% that he isn't real, but that's so likely to be the case that to doubt it would be absurd. So I feel fine saying, in day-to-day conversation, "I know there's no Santa." And if there were some new evidence that became available, I would reconsider that position -- but it had better be more convincing evidence than my personal experience of kidneyhawk dressed up as Santa.

To draw an analogy to the Santa example, look at all the millions upon millions of people, from various religions, who claim to be in touch with various gods and spirits. They reason out claims on the basis of very limited evidence -- and those claims contradict the claims of other believers. They can't all be right. All of those religious groups (except possibly one of them) are fooling themselves...could it be everyone? What's the most rational conclusion on the basis of *all* the evidence available to us?

I don't see amassing knowledge as giving some great post-mortem payback in and of itself.

No, it won't give that. I don't recommend doing anything at all for "post-mortem payback" (nice turn of phrase). Not only does an afterlife (likely) not exist, focusing on it diminishes the worth of this world, the here and now (which is where the Will is).

But we also want to push the enelope into greater degrees of activity in which the Will may develop and express itself.

I don't quite know what you mean by this. I don't see why you couldn't engage in "greater degrees of activity" while acknowledging reality. In fact, one could argue that acknowledging reality would allow you to accomplish a "greater degree of activity" with much more ease and success.


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Nomad
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03/06/2009 9:43 pm  

In response to the original question:

"To you who yet wander in the Court of the Profane we cannot yet reveal all; but you will easily understand that the religions of the world are but symbols and veils of the Absolute Truth. So also are the philosophies. To the adept, seeing all these things from above, there seems nothing to choose between Buddha and Mohammed, between Atheism and Theism. "

- Liber Porta Lucis


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
04/06/2009 4:27 pm  
"IAO131" wrote:
I never said I thought the OTO's claim was real or even legitimately believed by anyone, in fact I made fun of it ...

Yes, you did.

"Nomad" wrote:
"... To the adept, seeing all these things from above, there seems nothing to choose between Buddha and Mohammed, between Atheism and Theism. "

Perfectly written and pefectly quoted.


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James
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04/06/2009 10:59 pm  
"Los" wrote:
The experience of imagining a unicorn is quite real. Mental processes are contingent on brain chemistry, remember. )

And yet brain chemistry is not the same as the experience of mental processes. It is true that one may be contingent upon the other but the experience of imagination is the primary focus of that which knows - e.g. consciousness. In the same way the neurologist can describe what happens in the brain when someone is in love. However the poet better describes the living experience of it. For some reason you seem to prefer the material basis as the measure of what is real. This seems quite arbitrary. As long as a person does not mix up what is material with what appears in mental states I do not see why you insist one is to be considered as 'real' whilst the other one is not real (although clearly existing as a real experience).

I guess some people really believe that red exists or that objects are really solid or that matter is somehow real outside of consciousness- beats me how?


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kidneyhawk
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04/06/2009 11:40 pm  

I guess some people really believe that red exists or that objects are really solid or that matter is somehow real outside of consciousness- beats me how?

This is a good point. "Red" has no existence. And yet is experienced...or better yet, it IS the experience. We experience something and we call it "red."

The idea that "matter is somehow real outside of consciousness" is an assumption. It's the consciousness embracing an IDEA it calls "reality" and affirming to itself certain characteristics of that thing. When consciousness goes, so does the "reality." The IDEA that "reality" sticks around and persists is just that, an IDEA which has it's basis in...consciousness (a phenomena of experience).

When Los writes:

I don't quite know what you mean by this. I don't see why you couldn't engage in "greater degrees of activity" while acknowledging reality. In fact, one could argue that acknowledging reality would allow you to accomplish a "greater degree of activity" with much more ease and success

I'm a bit baffled. "Reality" is a term of convenience. It attests to nothing absolute. And I wouldn't simply qualify the term with the words "most-likely." In some ways, we observe and utilize those factors "most likely" to occur for the sake of willfully introuducing elements that are "quite unlikely" to occur from a purely passive experience of events. We also react to the "unlikely" which is surprising us all the time. The likely, the unlikely, the seemingly fixed, maleable and so on...these are all perceived "characteristics" of focal points in an ever shifting sea of experience. I don't see any "denying reality" going on...or giving "reality" a crutch to limp on as we champion it...it's a term which gets used very nonchalantly and often to assert the supremacy of limited knowledge ("There ain't no spooks, boy. If there was, we'd have some proof. And that's how it IS. Now come back to reality." Not really a substantial argument there...)

So, if "reality" is what is "really" there, we never directly experience this "reality." We only experience our perception of it. I think there is something of this angle when Crowley lists the signs that you aren't really meditating. The final sign was that you are meditating. In other words, we are operating in a void, which has given rise to a universe of "useful fictions." 0=2. And conversely, 2=0. Hence, my earlier reference to the Heart Sutra with its equation of Form and Emptiness. Between our experience of Form and the "Emptiness" which cannot be known, there is a myriad of things that manifest, all of which are equally "real" but may be differentiated on the basis of characteristics. We're not dealing with an innate superiority of certain characteristics. We're dealing the usefulness and application of given characteristics in relation to the movement of the immediate moment. This gives rise to the values we apply to any given moment in our "starry course." To insist upon acknowledging a certain collection of characteristics over another regardless of the impetus of Will is not aiming at Truth. It's imposing a mental tyranny. And, perhaps it's ironic, Los, that Blake's Revolt of the Imagination is a direct reaction to this very tyranny.

93,

Kyle


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Los
 Los
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05/06/2009 2:13 am  

The idea that "matter is somehow real outside of consciousness" is an assumption.

I told you already that the word "real" is a word I use to mean "not contingent on a mind." I didn't say "matter is real outside of consciousness." I said that "real" is my word for stuff that exists outside of the mind.

We know -- and remember that "know" means "very, very likely to be true" -- that there are things not contingent on a mind. For example, if you light a match in your house, drop it, walk away, and forget about it....your house will still burn down. It doesn't matter if you're thinking of the match.

When consciousness goes, so does the "reality."

Your ideas about reality will indeed go. Reality itself (that upon which you base your ideas) will still exist. The universe existed long before your birth and will exist long after your death. You and your consciousness are not important to the universe in the slightest.

In other words, we are operating in a void, which has given rise to a universe of "useful fictions."

Well, how about that. I addressed this exact point in my PM to IAO131 yesterday, thinking it not directly relevant to this thread. I guess that shows me.

I'll give you the short version: I agree with Nietzsche in that we impose "convenient fictions" on reality in order to think about it -- most notably, we impose the idea of "things" onto reality.

But this is a different use of the word "fiction" than the one we normally use.

I can't stress that enough. When we draw boundaries around something and refer to it as a "thing" as a matter of convenience, we are labeling something outside of ourselves, something not contingent on a mind. It's "fictional" only in that it doesn't *perfectly* represent the Becoming of the universe, in that it is a label we put on reality.

Compare that to something like "unicorn" -- a "unicorn" isn't a label we put on things outside of ourselves. It's something we make up, something that depends only on our minds. If we stop thinking about unicorns, that's the end of them.

In many ways, this is similar to the difference between the claims "there is an ego" and "there is a God" I discussed earlier in the thread.

Though you could philosophically refer to both of them as "fictions," it should be very clear that they are "fictions" in very, very different senses (one labeling, one inventing). Confusing the two either means 1) you are thinking sloppily, or 2) you are deliberately misunderstanding in order to justify fantasy.

The very reason I didn't want to bring this topic up in this thread, as I said to IAO131, was that I just *knew* someone was going to confuse the two and say something along the lines of, "Ah ha! So reality is a fiction, and so are spirits, and spirits are just as fictional as everything else, which means they're functionally real! Ah ha!"

To seriously maintain that position is to be utterly and completely confused.

What's really funny is that the argument you dismissed as "not very substantial" is actually quite good: "There ain't no spooks, boy. If there was, we'd have some proof. And that's how it IS. Now come back to reality."

That's not the "supremacy of limited knowledge" -- that's an illustration of the fact that claims made without evidence can be dismissed instantly. When a claim is made (like the claim "I am Napoleon Bonaparte"), we measure that claim against evidence (data that is not contingent on a mind). If we find that there is no good evidence, then we are not only justified in rejecting the claim, we are required by common sense to do so.

My "deep feeling" that I am Napoleon is completely contingent on my mind; it's quite possible that I'm just deluding myself. So we then see how much evidence there is for my claim outside of my mind.

And of course we find that there is none.

"You ain't Napoleon, boy. If you was, we'd have some evidence. And that's how it IS. Now come back to reality."

That's exactly what you do when you analyze the claim "I am Napoleon." It's not the "supremacy of limited knowledge" to say that I'm not Napoleon. It's a statement of the most accurate representation of reality we can determine.

To insist upon acknowledging a certain collection of characteristics over another regardless of the impetus of Will is not aiming at Truth.

And yet, you acknowledge that our hypothetical nutjob is not Napoleon. You acknowledge that over his claim that he is. [Ok, again -- "is" is shorthand for "very, very likely based on what we're able to determine"]

In daily life, you always acknowledge certain characteristics over others.

But at least you're talking about will, which brings me back to Thelema. In Thelema, the True Will is a part of reality, not fantasy. The True Will isn't contingent on a mind because it's a label for something that is real, outside of a mind (namely, a course of action -- the course depending partly on nature [which is real] and partly on environment [which is real], to almost perfectly quote Crowley in Magick Without Tears). [Yes, IAO131, I realize that this is something I'm going to have to justify...at length...hang on to your hat, one post at a time]

And this brings me back to the thread topic: Thelema is not about faith. It's about recognizing what's real.


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kidneyhawk
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05/06/2009 3:02 am  

Los,

I'm enjoying our conversation and appreciate the manner in which you're approaching the debate. I am still finding myself in some disagreement with you (and the opposite, I'm guessing, is also true). But I think we are also touching upon the central theme of this thread at the same time: how is Thelema different from the rest of relgious systems? The emphasis in Thelema is just that: Thelema. The Will. The Will damns "Because" and moves in liberty, according to its own impulse. It's not simply chucking discipline, reflection and reason to the wind. AL tells us to "refine our rapture." To do so, we seek to understand the NATURE of our "rapture" and act upon our circumstances to the best of ability for the sake of maximizing and fulfilling it. Here I will strongly disagree with your statement:

Thelema is not about faith. It's about recognizing what's real.

From one vantage point, EVERYTHING is real. Real hallucinations. Real emotions. Real thoughts and speculations. Real subjective perceptions. Real injury to our real and very temporal and ever changing flesh-suits. We can't escape "reality." But we CAN wake up and engage with it...we can discover our "True Will" and plunge into the sea of phenomena with both power and direction.

Again, I think of Blake, who emphasized the "minute particulars" of our life, stating that "to generalize is to be an idiot." Hypothetical Napolean Dude is just that: an imaginary character who exists in this thread to prove your point. The use, role, reality, power, potential and so on of things you may deem "inferior" to what you perceive as the "reliable world" of so-called materiality requires determining by the Will of the individual. A "subjective series of thoughts" can impact and alter that "world" significantly...they do all the time. The reason we are cautioned to take care and not mix up the "planes" is because there ARE "planes" we are working with.

Thelema is the Great Path cut through all of these planes, using them all for its own purpose and impulse. Nomad's quote above is quite relevant here...for the Will, there is no conflict. There is a determination which harmonizes with action. It's not particularly interested in justifying itself. Rather, it seeks to fulfill and manifest Itself. Reality and Unreality become inconsequential notions. Rationality and Irrationality are just useful potentialities...Success will be the Proof. Effectiveness will be the Method.


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Los
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05/06/2009 9:07 am  

I'm enjoying our conversation as well, and I'm very happy we're moving into discussing Thelema, on which I want to spend most of this post.

One of the most crucial ideas in Thelema -- at least in regards to the True Will idea -- is that it is possible to be *wrong* about yourself (wrong about the reality of your nature or environment). A person can be misled and think that his will is X when really it's Y.

If it is possible to hold a false belief about yourself, there has to be some reality about which it is possible to be wrong.

If that's not the case -- if reality is up for grabs and anything is "true" -- then Thelema would be utterly and completely useless as a practical philosophy; it would be at best a pleasant set of symbols and at worst a waste of everyone's time.

But of course, Thelema does postulate that it is possible to be wrong about reality. As Crowley puts it in Magick Without Tears: "A man may think it his duty to act in a certain way, through having made a fancy picture of himself, instead of investigating his actual nature."

Let's pause for a second and examine this, using the classic example of the guy whose will is really to be a sailor, but who decides to become a doctor instead. This person is wrong about himself -- i.e. he holds a belief about himself that contradicts reality, that contradicts his "actual nature," which he presumably has not investigated. How did he come to hold this false belief?

There are two primary causes. The first is reason in its form of the dreaded Because: "I should become a doctor *because* I want to be just like that cool doctor on TV" or "because it will bring me lots of money and respect" or "because it will make my parents really proud" or "because I look good in white," etc. etc.

The second cause, lurking behind the dreaded Because, is the imagination. This man has made what Crowley calls a "fancy picture" of himself (the word "fancy," by the way, invokes the idea of something imaginary and not real...something contingent only on the mind and not reality). Doubtless, such a person thinks about his goal of being a doctor; he imagines what it is like to be a doctor and is charmed and flattered by the fantasy. Gradually, the fantasy comes to color his perceptions and reasoning process so that when he is actually involved in being a doctor, he's not paying attention to his actual nature in that moment, but to that fantasy goal in his head (what we might term one manifestation of the "lust for result").

Our good doctor misses reality in a way similar to the way that audiences of stage magic shows pay attention not to what the performer is doing but to what they imagine he is doing. This doctor has probably never learned to distinguish fantasy from reality, so he's going to have a hell of a time distinguishing between what Crowley calls his "actual nature" and his "fancy picture" of himself.

Now, his fantasies of being a doctor are "real" in the sense that they're real fantasies in his head, but they're unreal in the sense that they do not correspond to his actual nature or to the actual environment he is in. That is, they do not correspond to reality [ok, once again: they very, very likely do not correspond to reality...just assume that's implied in every sentence I type].

I guess you could say, if you really wanted to, that he enjoys having those "real" fantasies, so it's his true will to spend his time fantasizing about being a doctor. But, to me, that seems not only pointless, but antithetical to the spirit of Magick, which is about causing change to occur in conformity to will. Causing fantasy to occur in conformity to will seems...counterproductive.

Anyway, I'm sure a lot of people are in agreement with me thus far, so let me pick a different fantasy, one that will surely get a few people angry. Let's a say a fellow has a few daydreams that he "strongly feels" are his past life memories. Rather than investigating the actual environment he's in (like, determining whether there's even likely a soul or a means of surviving death at all), he decides to run with these fantasies, and before you know it, he thinks he's this ancient soul who has a spiritual duty to save mankind by advancing all consciousness through ancient, lost meditations delivered to him by his disembodied spirit guide, Megalomanior.

So, he does his duty in accord with the fancy picture he has built up: he does his ten hours of meditations every day, or whatever, and those practices generate more fantasies and he imagines himself to be all "advanced" and "enlightened" and so far above the "profane" who waste their time with reason, which is oh so limiting.

I'm sure he enjoys having the fantasies, just as much as our good doctor enjoys fantasizing about being a doctor.

But just as the good doctor was wrong about his actual nature and its interactions with the environment, our would-be spiritual savior is also wrong about his actual nature and the actual environment. There's [likely, given all the evidence at our disposal!] no afterlife, no reincarnation, no spirit guides, no lost meditation techniques, etc. And, in reality, he is [most very likely!] not some long-lost ancient soul on a mission of mercy. Elsewhere in Magick Without Tears, Crowley correctly calls speculation about reincarnation a "device for flattering yourself." Now we see why "flattering yourself" -- and building up a "fancy image" -- is so dangerous.

Anyway, that's what I meant when I said that Thelema is about recognizing reality. If you try to reduce Thelema to "do whatever you feel like, whether or not it's in accord with reality -- your actual nature (and actual environment)," then what you have is a linus blanket. It wraps you up tight, and it makes you feel good, but...how do I say this?

Enlightenment is about getting rid of comfortable illusions, not increasing them.

[Sorry these posts are so long...we should have a thread about Blake one of these days -- my favorite poet]


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 Anonymous
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05/06/2009 10:26 am  
"Los" wrote:
"VictimofChanges" wrote:
Is there anyone interested in showing me where my thinking of Thelema has gone wrong?

Well, you did respond approvingly to a post of mine earlier in this thread in which I said the following:

"Los" wrote:
But, as I explained in my previous post, it's not necessary to accept any of those supernatural claims to be a Thelemite.Thelema does not require you to "assume faith and personal experiences over demonstrable objective scrutiny." The main concept of Thelema, the will, is not supernatural in the slightest.

That's as good as I can do to tell you where your thinking has gone wrong. You seem to have it in your head that Thelema necessitates the acceptance of the supernatural. Regardless of whatever others here may tell you -- and putting aside all the silly claims about reality being malleable -- Thelema does not require the acceptance of the supernatural.

What I've been attempting to do in my last few posts is to explain how the ideas of Thelema (mostly the will) are not dependent on faith, but on reality.

You seem like you are actually level-headed, rooted in reality, and have a low tolerance level for B.S. -- that's all good. I'm claiming that the main idea of Thelema (the true will) is also rooted in reality. If you're not persuaded to accept that claim, then I guess there's nothing for you to do other than to give up on Thelema and go do something more productive with your time.

I don't think Thelema and atheism could be reconciled. The Book of The Law at face value is mostly gibberish, you gotta have some faith that there's a lot of coherent ideas in there! Otherwise, all these threads trying to decipher the meaning of this or that part are searching for something that might not be there.

If Crowley was the author of the book, and it contains nothing supernatural, you might as well save your time and buy a book that goes from one logical argument to the next, perfectly understandable; why spend your time deciphering what came out of a man's mind when you can go out and get a book where the man just lays it down?

You might say, "well, it has passages that are inspiring and in line with my beliefs", and that's fine, but that doesn't make it sound very special and different; we're just getting back to a classic religious argument.

The Book of The Law doesn't say do this this and this and you'll be happy, it asks you to dig and find you're own meaning-which is something that gets other religions in trouble when there's conflict between beliefs.

A belief in Thelema is that it's different because it asks you to interpret the holy book yourself, but many religions are vague and self contradictory enough for you to do that. All religions break up in to different sects of beliefs over time.

If Thelema is reality, then it is demonstrable!

I wonder, if Thelema is a fact based philosophical belief, then why is the Book so unintelligible?


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 Anonymous
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05/06/2009 10:38 am  
"VictimofChanges" wrote:
"Los" wrote:
"VictimofChanges" wrote:
Is there anyone interested in showing me where my thinking of Thelema has gone wrong?

Well, you did respond approvingly to a post of mine earlier in this thread in which I said the following:

"Los" wrote:
But, as I explained in my previous post, it's not necessary to accept any of those supernatural claims to be a Thelemite.Thelema does not require you to "assume faith and personal experiences over demonstrable objective scrutiny." The main concept of Thelema, the will, is not supernatural in the slightest.

That's as good as I can do to tell you where your thinking has gone wrong. You seem to have it in your head that Thelema necessitates the acceptance of the supernatural. Regardless of whatever others here may tell you -- and putting aside all the silly claims about reality being malleable -- Thelema does not require the acceptance of the supernatural.

What I've been attempting to do in my last few posts is to explain how the ideas of Thelema (mostly the will) are not dependent on faith, but on reality.

You seem like you are actually level-headed, rooted in reality, and have a low tolerance level for B.S. -- that's all good. I'm claiming that the main idea of Thelema (the true will) is also rooted in reality. If you're not persuaded to accept that claim, then I guess there's nothing for you to do other than to give up on Thelema and go do something more productive with your time.

I don't think Thelema and atheism could be reconciled. The Book of The Law at face value is mostly gibberish, you gotta have some faith that there's a lot of coherent ideas in there! Otherwise, all these threads trying to decipher the meaning of this or that part are searching for something that might not be there.

If Crowley was the author of the book, and it contains nothing supernatural, you might as well save your time and buy a book that goes from one logical argument to the next, perfectly understandable; why spend your time deciphering what came out of a man's mind when you can go out and get a book where the man just lays it down?

You might say, "well, it has passages that are inspiring and in line with my beliefs", and that's fine, but that doesn't make it sound very special and different; we're just getting back to a classic religious argument.

The Book of The Law doesn't say do this this and this and you'll be happy, it asks you to dig and find you're own meaning-which is something that gets other religions in trouble when there's conflict between beliefs.

A belief in Thelema is that it's different because it asks you to interpret the holy book yourself, but many religions are vague and self contradictory enough for you to do that. All religions break up in to different sects of beliefs over time.

If Thelema is reality, then it is demonstrable!

I wonder, if Thelema is a fact based philosophical belief, then why is the Book so unintelligible?

And I like Thelema as the concept of a free person with a purpose in life- but I can't reconcile the supernatural beliefs of Thelema with the fact that nothing supernatural has ever been substantiated objectively.


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kidneyhawk
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05/06/2009 2:27 pm  

Los,

Hey!

You make some good points in your post above but I wanted to address this particular thought:

Now, his fantasies of being a doctor are "real" in the sense that they're real fantasies in his head, but they're unreal in the sense that they do not correspond to his actual nature or to the actual environment he is in.

Good example. No disagreement. We can observe many people who fit this bill and we can also observe the same tendencies within ourselves.

BUT...

...there are ALSO the "fantasies" of the doctor who dreams of being that sailor! A fleeting thought in the restroom or before bed at night or his being taken with some nautical adventure movie and imagining himself in it and so on. Silly thoughts for this esteemed doctor to have. But it is precisely THESE "fantasies" (an activity of his mind) which reflect his Will and his well-paid, well-respected and highly effective treatment of someone's strep throat is his traveling down the path which leads in the opposite direction.

Blake wrote that those who repress their desires do so because they are weak enough to repress, right? So if this fellow's desire, which surges up and manifests in thoughts ("fantasies") is sufficiently awakened, he may begin to ACT on them...turn the ship around and start to move where he will be best fulfilled. In this instance, the "fantasies" are his best guide and although you write

Causing fantasy to occur in conformity to will seems...counterproductive

it is quite the opposite. The "fantasy" is a thought-form, a matrix of sorts into which action may now flow. This process of thinking, imagining, creating scenarios and so on in conjunction with movement and action happens all the time. In fact, without this process, we wouldn't act in any other way than is habitual and instinctual.

It's not simply "reasoning" and then acting according to reason, either. People can evoke situations that thrust them into the "unlikely to succeed" category but do so anyway as that is precisely where their Will leads.

This all requires looking within, cultivating some mindfulness and applying the "whole being" to the experience of life. Again, another Blakean model...the 4 Zoas united in harmony as a "magickal machine." Blake's revolt against Urizen is due to Urizen's revolt against the other Zoas. A perfectly useful and important element seeks to set itself up as superior to the others and thus shuts down the potential of those other forces. Backlash is to be expected. But the vision in the end is one of balance, expressing and manifesting the creative potentiality within through action.

Here we need more than hypothetical examples. We need the stuff of our individual lives.


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Tiger
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05/06/2009 5:30 pm  

Reality can manifest in a dazzling array. Samsara / Malkuth is inconceivably vast with innumerable surprises inhabited by innumerable powers and beings. Everything is a means even the rational logic job that created you. Take a leap.


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IAO131
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05/06/2009 6:23 pm  

93,

Los: You called it.

..and Megalomanior? Lol.

"VictimofChanges" wrote:
I don't think Thelema and atheism could be reconciled. The Book of The Law at face value is mostly gibberish, you gotta have some faith that there's a lot of coherent ideas in there! Otherwise, all these threads trying to decipher the meaning of this or that part are searching for something that might not be there.

If Crowley was the author of the book, and it contains nothing supernatural, you might as well save your time and buy a book that goes from one logical argument to the next, perfectly understandable; why spend your time deciphering what came out of a man's mind when you can go out and get a book where the man just lays it down?

Thats like saying why read Shakespeare when you could have Romeo and Juliet explained in English class.

Either way Atheism is moreo f a lack-of-an-ideology or a lack-of-faith than the opposite. Its simply saying "Theism" is not true (or to use Los' disclaimer, very very likely to not be true based on current evidence!)

You might say, "well, it has passages that are inspiring and in line with my beliefs", and that's fine, but that doesn't make it sound very special and different; we're just getting back to a classic religious argument.

I see. For Liber AL to be 'special and different' for you, you have to believe it came from a supernatural source. Many of us dont hold that view and think its special and different otherwise. I think the Tao Teh Ching is special and different, for example, but I would not think for one second that this text came from anywhere else but a man.

The Book of The Law doesn't say do this this and this and you'll be happy, it asks you to dig and find you're own meaning-which is something that gets other religions in trouble when there's conflict between beliefs.

It does promise bliss...

A belief in Thelema is that it's different because it asks you to interpret the holy book yourself, but many religions are vague and self contradictory enough for you to do that. All religions break up in to different sects of beliefs over time.

Perhaps Thelema pre-empted that then?

If Thelema is reality, then it is demonstrable!

I wonder, if Thelema is a fact based philosophical belief, then why is the Book so unintelligible?

I often ask myself the same thing about Kant and Plato. I can barely understand what they are saying...

93 93/93,
IAO131


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Los
 Los
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06/06/2009 1:23 am  
"VictimofChanges" wrote:
You might say, "well, it [Liber AL] has passages that are inspiring and in line with my beliefs", and that's fine, but that doesn't make it sound very special and different

"Special" and "different" are ideas that humans come up with and attach to things we value. They're not inherent in things themselves.

If you go around looking for something "special," you're going to be following a "fancy picture" you've made of reality and miss out on what's in front of you.

You say that Liber AL is unintelligible, and indeed some passages are rather obscure -- it came from the mind of a Victorian occultist, so it would be amazing if it were not obscure in places! But have you ever tried, say...studying the Book? Reading commentaries about it? Having discussions about passages that trouble you?

I don't know what you expect...something you don't have to work hard to understand?

"IAO131" wrote:
..and Megalomanior? Lol.

I picture Megalomanior to look exactly like the Great Gazoo, if you want a visual.


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Los
 Los
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06/06/2009 1:34 am  

This process of thinking, imagining, creating scenarios and so on in conjunction with movement and action happens all the time.

Of course, but this is a different use of imagination than the "fancy picture" I was talking about in my last post.

What I'm saying is that the fantasies can't tell you which course of action is your true will. They might help your current course of action by helping you anticipate what's about to happen -- as long as you keep in mind that they're just the map and not the territory -- but when you start chasing them, you're lost.

Our doctor may indeed have fantasies of being a sailor. He may also have fantasies of being an astronaut and a cowboy, too. Most people have lots of fantasies, many of them very strong. The question is not "which of these fantasies is strongest or most vivid?" The question is "where is my will driving me even after I stop paying attention to --and lusting after -- all of them?"

Fantasies aren't your best guide to your true will. Your best guide is observing your real nature in real environments and working to keep restriction out of the way (remember the meaning of "real" I've been using). Once you're on your way, fantasies might be helpful, but only as long as you're not confusing them with reality and carefully keeping them from becoming restriction.

Even if it's your true will to be a sailor, your fantasies of being a sailor might still get in the way if you're too attached to them -- for example, you might experience disappointment when the reality of being a sailor is not exactly the way you envisioned it to be (another meaning of the "lust of result").

Crowley similarly affirms reality in many places. Take, for instance, his essay on The Sword in Book 4 Part II. He writes "the Sword frees the perceptions from the Web of emotion. The perceptions are meaningless in themselves; but the emotions are worse, for they delude their victim into supposing them significant and true." (emphasis changed by me) Instead of being deluded by the emotions, Crowley advises that students should "estimate occurences at their true value." (emphasis mine)

When Crowley says "emotions" here, he means something very similar to -- and related to --what I've been using his later phrase "fancy picture" to mean.

So since the task before us appears to be separating our real nature from what we imagine our nature to be (and the real environment from what we imagine the environment to be), a good idea for the student is to begin learning how to distinguish fantasy, in general, from reality, in general. Getting good at this will enable you to do a better job of distinguishing between your real nature and the stories you tell yourself about your real nature.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
06/06/2009 7:57 am  

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

McMurtry was expelled by Motta!!!!!!!!!!! Also, M.M.M. is tainted by Mohammedan symbolism, etc.

In my extensive experience, the Work of the Society O.T.O. is superior, having purged the Old Aeon symbolism from our Rituals after King exposed the old ones.

Love is the law, love under will.

-Horrificus


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Michael Staley
(@michael-staley)
MANIO - it's all in the egg
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3951
06/06/2009 9:24 am  

Horrificus,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

With all due respect, if we start going into the contentious areas of O.T.O history here - and interesting though it is to some, it's wildly off-topic to this, equally interesting thread - then this thread is likely to be locked, which in my view would be a pity.

This consideration applies also, I would think, to those who wish to dispute Horrificus's point. Best done elsewhere.

Love is the law, love under will.

Best wishes,

Michael.


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IAO131
(@iao131)
Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 461
06/06/2009 9:41 am  
"Los" wrote:

This process of thinking, imagining, creating scenarios and so on in conjunction with movement and action happens all the time.

Of course, but this is a different use of imagination than the "fancy picture" I was talking about in my last post.

What I'm saying is that the fantasies can't tell you which course of action is your true will. They might help your current course of action by helping you anticipate what's about to happen -- as long as you keep in mind that they're just the map and not the territory -- but when you start chasing them, you're lost.

Our doctor may indeed have fantasies of being a sailor. He may also have fantasies of being an astronaut and a cowboy, too. Most people have lots of fantasies, many of them very strong. The question is not "which of these fantasies is strongest or most vivid?" The question is "where is my will driving me even after I stop paying attention to --and lusting after -- all of them?"

Fantasies aren't your best guide to your true will. Your best guide is observing your real nature in real environments and working to keep restriction out of the way (remember the meaning of "real" I've been using). Once you're on your way, fantasies might be helpful, but only as long as you're not confusing them with reality and carefully keeping them from becoming restriction.

Even if it's your true will to be a sailor, your fantasies of being a sailor might still get in the way if you're too attached to them -- for example, you might experience disappointment when the reality of being a sailor is not exactly the way you envisioned it to be (another meaning of the "lust of result").

Crowley similarly affirms reality in many places. Take, for instance, his essay on The Sword in Book 4 Part II. He writes "the Sword frees the perceptions from the Web of emotion. The perceptions are meaningless in themselves; but the emotions are worse, for they delude their victim into supposing them significant and true." (emphasis changed by me) Instead of being deluded by the emotions, Crowley advises that students should "estimate occurences at their true value." (emphasis mine)

When Crowley says "emotions" here, he means something very similar to -- and related to --what I've been using his later phrase "fancy picture" to mean.

So since the task before us appears to be separating our real nature from what we imagine our nature to be (and the real environment from what we imagine the environment to be), a good idea for the student is to begin learning how to distinguish fantasy, in general, from reality, in general. Getting good at this will enable you to do a better job of distinguishing between your real nature and the stories you tell yourself about your real nature.

What can tell you your actual will, then, under your model? Certainly not emotion. Strong desires to be something don't seem to work. Is it only possible to say what it is not? How does one distinguish one's 'real nature' beyond saying its 'not fantasy' which is basically the same as saying its 'real' which is another tautology. Unfortunately our will is not an object in space that can be objectively and equally measured and such by multiple subjects... so what is it?

93 93/93
IAO131


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
06/06/2009 3:58 pm  

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

As someone who is a Black Brother of the Left Hand Path, I am opposed to all religion, though not to the individuals within them at all, except to defend myself from them. This extends to Thelema even though I am a Thelemite. I do not want to see Thelema become a religion unless perhaps it is a very accepting one that allows inorthodoxy and tolerates its Left Hand Path. I expect though that it has allready become one to a lesser extent or several in the form of its Magickal Orders, let's hope it doesn't go the way of ignorance like the established church or more extreem intolerent religions. That would not mean the end of the Left Hand Path but like when the Black Brotherhood was defeated by the White Brotherhood in the Albigensian Crucade, it simply goes underground, as it did back then to form the Nothern French Satanist movement or the Cathar influenced European Witchcraft Tradition.

'Left Hand Path Religion' like 'Left Hand Path Magickal Order' are essentially oxymorons and do not exist. All that say they are either of those are disgruntled Right Hand Path organisations usually headed by people who wished they were Crowley or have some masianical ego problem. Ego is actually a sin (restriction or limitation) in the Left Hand Path.
The closest we have in history in Christianity to the Left Hand Path is perhaps Alchemy. It could be argued though that Satanism and Witchcraft are Christainity's rejected Left Hand Path but that is due to the murder is the name of religion perpetrated by the church really. To disabuse people, the Black Brotherhood never had anything to do with people like the Nazis, that was the White Brotherhood (see J.F.C. Fuller - member of the Nazi Party, even though they washed their hands later) and the Black Brothers of the Left Hand Path have allways been an underground anti-establishment anarchistic anti-hierarchical collective. The closest they ever got to being political was in fighting fascist political movements like in the Albigensian Crucade (where the White Brotherhood went about lynching Jews and Cathars and the Black Brotherhood stood up to them when nobody else would), the Spanish Civil War and the Occupied French Underground, and perhaps as purely political only, the Surealist Movement, about as political as the Left Hand Path can really get.
Often a Magickal Order will label something it disagrees with as 'Left Hand Path' when actaully it is simply an alternative Right Hand Path. True Left Hand Path do not take sides in such issues and do not really have fixed views but rather favour the idea of fluidity in such matters.

Back to the topic though, I think that all individual Thelemites have the right to express themselves and their spiritual path as they will. The trouble starts when groups say this is un-Thelemic or that person is not being Thelemic according to some Magickal Orders interpretation of Liber AL. That I and other Left Hand Path Thelemites will allways take issue with and rightly so. The Black Brotherhood Of The Left Hand Path is here to stay and it will remain our job to keep that sort of thing in check.

Love is the law, love under will.

Alex


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Patriarch156
(@patriarch156)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 486
06/06/2009 5:02 pm  
"Alex_Bennett" wrote:
Back to the topic though, I think that all individual Thelemites have the right to express themselves and their spiritual path as they will.

The irony that you already have disallowed several such expressions is striking but not one I think you will realize yourself given the hyperbole you launched about the left hand path, religion and magical orders.

That being said, what I find the most interesting about this discussion is the fact that in a thread where there are several people arguing voraciously for the uniqueness of Thelema, their legitimation strategies are very common among religions, particularly those grouped under the heading of new religious movements.

Almost all religions have had a variation of the very same discourse on religion that we have in Thelema, where it's adherents regard it as special in one way or other and either not really a religion (like most Christians argued until very recently) or at the very least fundamentally different from any other religion.

Consequently arguments that Thelema is a revealed Law, or a current etc. reminds one of the arguments of Christians declaring that Christianity is God's revelation to humanity, as opposed to religions which are merely Man's attempt at revealing God.

Both are basically statements of faith (the message that is) and to the extent that they can be proven they are done so by individual and personal experience, which again most vital religions partake in, including Christianity (despite the general prejudice and oversimplification levelled against it and it's adherents from Thelemites in general).

With the exception of some of the stricter Protestant sects they too seek and often partakes directly in the experience of God and the fracture of Protestantism into laychurches that practice glossolalia has made it a very common feature within these groups as well. Roman Catholicism as well has a rich history and structure and a vast and complex theology centered around how to achieve the grace of God by direct experience.

Similarly the claim that it is science or at the very least partakes of the nature of scientific investigation and deals with facts of nature is a very common rhetorical device found among the new religious movements that were birthed after the enlightment had paved way for a more rationalistic and naturalistic based science. The same also holds true for attempts to legitimize it from a more rationalistic and materialistic point of view.

Due to the cost associated with Thelema, not only due to the antics of Crowley himself of course, but the very rhetoric found in our holy books, such discourse is as simplistic as Crowley's Praeterhuman claim which even if we accepted their superior knowledge does not mean that they necesarily have our best of interests at heart (and which Crowley in the end basically solved by informing us that Aiwaz is not asking but telling us). Such a rationalistic strategy does not address why one should incur the cost by associating with the material, unless of course you regard it as an expression of art that you enjoy from an aesthetical point of view (which still does not solve the cost incurred by identifying as a Thelemite). Surely there are less costly not to mention intelligible ways of transmitting the same message?

I have also never found much to be unique about Thelemites in general, except a preponderance of an interest in countercultural topics, be it occultism or art. In my experience they are as capable of idiocy or genius, wisdom or folly, and so on as any other group of people. What I however find is a lot of legitimization strategies that seek to acknowledge famous or semifamous people who are clearly outspoken against Thelema (like Alan Moore, who while he likes Crowley does not care for Thelema) as Thelemites. I suspect the reason for this is the simple fact that all things considered Thelemites in general and Thelema in particular has made very little impression on human society outside of that particular subset of religious doctrine that is grouped under the term occultism.

In fact as far as there is anything new under the Sun it is the particular synthesis of Thelema as manifested in the writings and teachings of Aleister Crowley, which while like any other religious movement relies heavily on the cultural flux that birthed it in general, as manifested in particular in the synthetic genius of Crowley in particular, is still like any other recognizable movement unique in the sense that it's particular synthesis is unique.

One thing is for certain and that is that the legitimization strategies used in this discussion to prove the uniqueness of Thelema, is not really unique.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
06/06/2009 5:38 pm  

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

I have not disalowed any expression of Thelema and would not, merely that I have 'disalowed' that which would disalow my expression. That includes Aleister Crowley vehement hatred of the Left Hand Path I suppose, but I forgive him of this ignorance. I will not stop me being a Thelemite, the Holy Books themselves are not so biased.

I don't think Thelema is very unique as a spiritual movement with regards the topic. It has allready split into various traditions even amongst the neo-masonic traditions of Thelema. This is entirely up to those adherents and therefore of little real interest to me unless it tries to disqualify me as an expression of Thelema again.

No what I find unique is Thelema's timeliness that is all. If I were to live for a few thousand years you would see me abandon it like the gods will in time. My point is that we are in the infancy of a spiritual path that should be able to express itself to the full in both Right Hand Path and Left Hand Path ways and in deed there should even be at some point a Middle Path that sorts out the differences between these two aproaches. Religion is though the prerogative of the Right Hand Path and best luck to them as long as they let me get on with my Left Hand Path Thelema I while have not cause to interfere with theirs.

Love is the law, love under will.

Alex


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Proteus
(@proteus)
Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 243
06/06/2009 7:03 pm  

Religion is though the prerogative of the Right Hand Path and best luck to them as long as they let me get on with my Left Hand Path Thelema I while have not cause to interfere with theirs.

Agreed. However, it will be a great day when the biggest obstacles in my path are placed by anyone but myself. In the meantime, my Self has a lot more Work do do on myself.

John
Om Sri Ganeshaya Namah 😉


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
06/06/2009 10:17 pm  

Patriarch156,

While your post was astute and well taken, I would prefer also that you include some examples that validate the unfounded claims of your post. Excuse my skepticism, but my study of the history of religions in general does not conform with your rather vague points. Your use of language is commendable, yet honestly I find it sorely lacking in genuine evidence.

When you speak of Christians as in one time or another seeking grace through personal experience, i.e. Gnosis, that is a particular sub-sect of Christianity that was eradicated or suppressed by the General population of Christians. Especially that of the Roman Catholic Church.

One very important difference that I think has not been discussed much in this thread is the particular claim of Thelema to finally realize the age old drive towards a true Brotherhood of Man. No other religion at this time is truly capable of this. Can the same be said of Thelema as time progresses?


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Patriarch156
(@patriarch156)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 486
06/06/2009 11:31 pm  

KCh I appreciate your candour and skepticism, so I will try to reply in the same spirit. For a groundbreaking study of various legitimization strategies of new religious movements in a post-enlightement world, I suggest you check out Olav Hammer's Claiming Knowledge -- http://www.amazon.com/Claiming-Knowledge-Strategies-Epistemology-Theosophy/dp/900413638X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244325455&sr=8-1

For a rather interesting discussion of how Thelema as expressed by Crowley differs (including how it fails) in this I suggest you check out Egil Asprem's article in Aries 8:2, "Magic Naturalized" -- http://www.citeulike.org/article/2967229 -- which is very interesting in that nobody here has expressed this particular approach of Crowley (which is only valid as truly different in the outer college of the A.'.A.'. which had a naturalist approach to occult phenomena).

The discourse of religion versus one particular faith and various legitimization strategies can be found in Sharpe's Comparative Religion -- http://www.amazon.com/Comparative-Religion-Eric-J-Sharpe/dp/0715610813/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244325886&sr=8-1 The Norwegian State Church which is protestant cultivated this very ideal in the curricullum for the religion classes in the Norwegian public school system until 1975, where they defined Christianity as God seeking man, and religion as man seeking God. You can even find several webpages debating this to this day if you google it.

As far as your claims regarding Christian grace and "gnosis" you seem to have an erroneous view of the Gnostics as a homogenous group of individuals seeking a personal, non-hierarchic approach to God, while in actual fact as can be found in Starke's "Cities of God" -- http://www.amazon.com/Cities-God-Christianity-Movement-Conquered/dp/0061349887/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244326142&sr=1-1 -- and other studies, they could more apropriately be grouped under the term heresiologies, since they often were very small, in competition with each other and often had little in common with each other. Nearly all of them were strongly hierarchical and centered around the personality cult of the leader through whom alone one would be able to approach God.

That being said, surely you are aware of the many lay churches practicing glossolalia today, if not I urge you to check out Speaking in Tongues -- http://www.amazon.com/Speaking-Tongues-Cross-Cultural-Study-Glossolalia/dp/1556358539/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244326285&sr=1-1 -- for a general overview of the phenomenon. Modern research -- http://www.amebrasil.org.br/html/Newberg2006.pdf -- by Andrew Newberg moreover shows that the same centers are activated as under meditation and prayer (though opposite in actual manifestation these two are labelled by Newberg as calming and ecstatic and results in the same end through different means).

Speaking of the latter, surely you are well aware that Newberg in his groundbreaking Why God Won't go Away -- http://www.amazon.com/Why-God-Wont-Go-Away/dp/034544034X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244326606&sr=1-1 -- used franciscian nuns, that is practicing Roman Catholics, engaging in ecstatic prayer as a controlgroup.

This phenomenon has of course been prevalent within Catholicism for a long time and Molinos whose book the Spiritual Guide remains on the A.'.A.'. student curricullum wrote a whole book about the meditative calming approach (quietism) to it and his work received the approval of the Inquisition itself as orthodox and it was not until the Jesuits moved against him due to political reasons that he encountered problems and remained after that highly popular among protestants.

You can read more about grace and the various concepts of God touching someone directly in the Catholic Encyclopedia which is online at (newadvent.org) or if you want a very thorough and good introduction to this by the current pope, check out "Introduction to Christianity" -- http://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Christianity-Communio-Cardinal-Ratzinger/dp/1586170295/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244327111&sr=8-1 -- which touch directly among other things on this personal relationship with God that good catholics should strive for.

Protestants of course were in general due to their emphasis on rationality and logical discourse and analysis (which birthed as can be seen in the Sharpe book already referenced modern comparative religion in Germany) highly skeptical towards the ecstatic parts of Roman Catholicism, which many of them viewed as pagan in origin, but as we have seen most of them have progressed to small secterian groups, centered around charismatic leaders where the focus is on receiving the benediction of the holy ghost and become touched by Christ himself directly through personal experience. In fact a cynic would regard that structurally these small sects have much more in common with the original Gnostics than it's modern self-proclaimed heirs.

As far as Thelema's claim to universal brotherhood of man. This remains an unsupported claim and somehow I doubt that Crowley's solarphallic religion as the universal identifier of all true religious systems could actually achieve such a thing (which was what his claim actually rested on). It certainly holds no sway among academics, where after a brief surge of popularity during the very time that the same ideas also took hold of continental occultism, it got quickly rejected as simplistic and naive and largely a result of confirmation bias created by looking at other cultures through a western point of view.


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Patriarch156
(@patriarch156)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 486
06/06/2009 11:34 pm  

Alex, as there currently exists no officially statesanctioned status of Thelema as a Statereligion I am really unaware of any way that Thelema could hinder your own point of view beyond the very type of critical discourse you offered yourself on those who would disagree with you.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
07/06/2009 5:38 am  
"Patriarch156" wrote:
"Alex_Bennett" wrote:
Back to the topic though, I think that all individual Thelemites have the right to express themselves and their spiritual path as they will.

The irony that you already have disallowed several such expressions is striking but not one I think you will realize yourself given the hyperbole you launched about the left hand path, religion and magical orders.

That being said, what I find the most interesting about this discussion is the fact that in a thread where there are several people arguing voraciously for the uniqueness of Thelema, their legitimation strategies are very common among religions, particularly those grouped under the heading of new religious movements.

Almost all religions have had a variation of the very same discourse on religion that we have in Thelema, where it's adherents regard it as special in one way or other and either not really a religion (like most Christians argued until very recently) or at the very least fundamentally different from any other religion.

Consequently arguments that Thelema is a revealed Law, or a current etc. reminds one of the arguments of Christians declaring that Christianity is God's revelation to humanity, as opposed to religions which are merely Man's attempt at revealing God.

Both are basically statements of faith (the message that is) and to the extent that they can be proven they are done so by individual and personal experience, which again most vital religions partake in, including Christianity (despite the general prejudice and oversimplification levelled against it and it's adherents from Thelemites in general).

With the exception of some of the stricter Protestant sects they too seek and often partakes directly in the experience of God and the fracture of Protestantism into laychurches that practice glossolalia has made it a very common feature within these groups as well. Roman Catholicism as well has a rich history and structure and a vast and complex theology centered around how to achieve the grace of God by direct experience.

Similarly the claim that it is science or at the very least partakes of the nature of scientific investigation and deals with facts of nature is a very common rhetorical device found among the new religious movements that were birthed after the enlightment had paved way for a more rationalistic and naturalistic based science. The same also holds true for attempts to legitimize it from a more rationalistic and materialistic point of view.

Due to the cost associated with Thelema, not only due to the antics of Crowley himself of course, but the very rhetoric found in our holy books, such discourse is as simplistic as Crowley's Praeterhuman claim which even if we accepted their superior knowledge does not mean that they necesarily have our best of interests at heart (and which Crowley in the end basically solved by informing us that Aiwaz is not asking but telling us). Such a rationalistic strategy does not address why one should incur the cost by associating with the material, unless of course you regard it as an expression of art that you enjoy from an aesthetical point of view (which still does not solve the cost incurred by identifying as a Thelemite). Surely there are less costly not to mention intelligible ways of transmitting the same message?

I have also never found much to be unique about Thelemites in general, except a preponderance of an interest in countercultural topics, be it occultism or art. In my experience they are as capable of idiocy or genius, wisdom or folly, and so on as any other group of people. What I however find is a lot of legitimization strategies that seek to acknowledge famous or semifamous people who are clearly outspoken against Thelema (like Alan Moore, who while he likes Crowley does not care for Thelema) as Thelemites. I suspect the reason for this is the simple fact that all things considered Thelemites in general and Thelema in particular has made very little impression on human society outside of that particular subset of religious doctrine that is grouped under the term occultism.

In fact as far as there is anything new under the Sun it is the particular synthesis of Thelema as manifested in the writings and teachings of Aleister Crowley, which while like any other religious movement relies heavily on the cultural flux that birthed it in general, as manifested in particular in the synthetic genius of Crowley in particular, is still like any other recognizable movement unique in the sense that it's particular synthesis is unique.

One thing is for certain and that is that the legitimization strategies used in this discussion to prove the uniqueness of Thelema, is not really unique.

One could quite easily say the same of anything that uses language. I'm not so sure most would base the true uniqueness of Thelema on its strategies of legitimization. That seems a mundane misdirection.

The legitimization of Thelema lies in its accordance with the facts of the universe as we understand them.

Honestly I don't find that similarities between Thelema and other Religions all that negative. In fact I find it positive as it confirms that Thelema taps the same source of One True Religion throughout the Aeons, that One being None.

As regards the legitimizing of famous or infamous people to its ranks, I am glad this has fell flat and that the majority of 'people' disregard Thelema. I would never suspect the masses to fall into what proclaims the Law 'Do what thou wilt'. This is a far too frightening proposition for the mobs that wish to be subsumed in generality and mediocrity.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
Posts: 0
07/06/2009 6:00 am  
"Patriarch156" wrote:
KCh I appreciate your candour and skepticism, so I will try to reply in the same spirit. For a groundbreaking study of various legitimization strategies of new religious movements in a post-enlightement world, I suggest you check out Olav Hammer's Claiming Knowledge -- http://www.amazon.com/Claiming-Knowledge-Strategies-Epistemology-Theosophy/dp/900413638X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244325455&sr=8-1

For a rather interesting discussion of how Thelema as expressed by Crowley differs (including how it fails) in this I suggest you check out Egil Asprem's article in Aries 8:2, "Magic Naturalized" -- http://www.citeulike.org/article/2967229 -- which is very interesting in that nobody here has expressed this particular approach of Crowley (which is only valid as truly different in the outer college of the A.'.A.'. which had a naturalist approach to occult phenomena).

The discourse of religion versus one particular faith and various legitimization strategies can be found in Sharpe's Comparative Religion -- http://www.amazon.com/Comparative-Religion-Eric-J-Sharpe/dp/0715610813/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244325886&sr=8-1 The Norwegian State Church which is protestant cultivated this very ideal in the curricullum for the religion classes in the Norwegian public school system until 1975, where they defined Christianity as God seeking man, and religion as man seeking God. You can even find several webpages debating this to this day if you google it.

As far as your claims regarding Christian grace and "gnosis" you seem to have an erroneous view of the Gnostics as a homogenous group of individuals seeking a personal, non-hierarchic approach to God, while in actual fact as can be found in Starke's "Cities of God" -- http://www.amazon.com/Cities-God-Christianity-Movement-Conquered/dp/0061349887/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244326142&sr=1-1 -- and other studies, they could more apropriately be grouped under the term heresiologies, since they often were very small, in competition with each other and often had little in common with each other. Nearly all of them were strongly hierarchical and centered around the personality cult of the leader through whom alone one would be able to approach God.

That being said, surely you are aware of the many lay churches practicing glossolalia today, if not I urge you to check out Speaking in Tongues -- http://www.amazon.com/Speaking-Tongues-Cross-Cultural-Study-Glossolalia/dp/1556358539/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244326285&sr=1-1 -- for a general overview of the phenomenon. Modern research -- http://www.amebrasil.org.br/html/Newberg2006.pdf -- by Andrew Newberg moreover shows that the same centers are activated as under meditation and prayer (though opposite in actual manifestation these two are labelled by Newberg as calming and ecstatic and results in the same end through different means).

Speaking of the latter, surely you are well aware that Newberg in his groundbreaking Why God Won't go Away -- http://www.amazon.com/Why-God-Wont-Go-Away/dp/034544034X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244326606&sr=1-1 -- used franciscian nuns, that is practicing Roman Catholics, engaging in ecstatic prayer as a controlgroup.

This phenomenon has of course been prevalent within Catholicism for a long time and Molinos whose book the Spiritual Guide remains on the A.'.A.'. student curricullum wrote a whole book about the meditative calming approach (quietism) to it and his work received the approval of the Inquisition itself as orthodox and it was not until the Jesuits moved against him due to political reasons that he encountered problems and remained after that highly popular among protestants.

You can read more about grace and the various concepts of God touching someone directly in the Catholic Encyclopedia which is online at (newadvent.org) or if you want a very thorough and good introduction to this by the current pope, check out "Introduction to Christianity" -- http://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Christianity-Communio-Cardinal-Ratzinger/dp/1586170295/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244327111&sr=8-1 -- which touch directly among other things on this personal relationship with God that good catholics should strive for.

Protestants of course were in general due to their emphasis on rationality and logical discourse and analysis (which birthed as can be seen in the Sharpe book already referenced modern comparative religion in Germany) highly skeptical towards the ecstatic parts of Roman Catholicism, which many of them viewed as pagan in origin, but as we have seen most of them have progressed to small secterian groups, centered around charismatic leaders where the focus is on receiving the benediction of the holy ghost and become touched by Christ himself directly through personal experience. In fact a cynic would regard that structurally these small sects have much more in common with the original Gnostics than it's modern self-proclaimed heirs.

As far as Thelema's claim to universal brotherhood of man. This remains an unsupported claim and somehow I doubt that Crowley's solarphallic religion as the universal identifier of all true religious systems could actually achieve such a thing (which was what his claim actually rested on). It certainly holds no sway among academics, where after a brief surge of popularity during the very time that the same ideas also took hold of continental occultism, it got quickly rejected as simplistic and naive and largely a result of confirmation bias created by looking at other cultures through a western point of view.

I was specifically referencing the Cathars in my earlier post. While not Christian, Manichaenism could be substituted as similar to my intended meaning. I have not read the references you give and I would be curious, since I will assume you have read them, if the Cathars are subject to your conclusion on the Gnostics.

Your choice of words regarding Christianity here are revealing to me. You seem to have purposefully singled out Christianity from other religions as 'God seeking man'. I would like to add to this that in the Book of the Law and also in the Book of the Goat it is readily affirmed there is no God but Man. With this in mind it could be understood that Thelema is more Man revealing himself to himself than the addition of a separation between himself as seeking after a 'God' as something higher than himself.

As regards the Brotherhood of Man, I wouldn't place my canon of Truth solely on the Academics. Especially if they consider Thelema and the Book of the Law 'simplistic' and 'naive'. Truth is ever Simple. To base a Truth on its complexity is an affront. As for it being 'naive', I don't find this conclusion satisfactory.


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Patriarch156
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07/06/2009 11:11 am  

KCh, I think you should read a bit more closley what I wrote, but here goes: No... I did not single out Christianity out as God seeking Man, Christians did this, not me. What I am addressing is the similar legitimizing strategies that we find in the discourse on religion and the unique status of ones own religion as opposed to others. It is also very common in other religions besides Christianity and Thelema as well.

Consequently your arguments about Thelema at the end remains irrelevant to this point, though I do appreciate and find interesting your novel approach (it was not something A.C. agreed on unless you define Man as something more than what we usually think of him) since for him his legitimizing strategies centered themselves on praeterhuman intelligences. In general though I do agree that religion (not only Thelema) as any human endeavour that involves knowledge is revealing Man and his place in Nature to himself.

As far as your comments on academics goes, it is fine that you would not place your reliance on their conclusions, but one would at least hope that you would be able to offer some legitimate addressing of the criticism of this now debunked view of religion (I am not arguing against solar-phallic religion btw, or even that it might legitimately serve as the foundation for a universal brotherhood of Man, I am arguing against the historical and anthropological revisionism that goes on in this) or at the very least offer some proof that has not been debunked or can be explained by simpler theories for your ideas.

But even if it were true: I remain unconvinced of AC's claim that since Roman Catholicism is really a pagan cult, that it's adherents, let alone it's leaders, as he believed would fall in line once this was revealed to them, embracing their true "solar-phallic" heritage. The same holds true for any other religion as well. As far as I know Protestantism only grew in popularity when it focused on debunking the Pagan fertility aspects of Roman Catholicism.

I am not sure why and how bringing in the Cathars would fundamentally alter or change the gist of my argument. As far as I know this does not really change the fact that old and modern Christianity as seen through it's established and organized forms in general (with the exception of a brief and now largely abandoned as I showed stint within Protestantism) place a great deal of reliance and emphasis on the personal experience with God.


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Los
 Los
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07/06/2009 8:30 pm  
"Patriarch156" wrote:
Surely there are less costly not to mention intelligible ways of transmitting the same message?

This was your only critique of the position I've been advancing on this thread, and it fails to address what I'm actually arguing: that the ideas of Thelema refer to reality, independent of thought, and do not require what religions commonly call "faith" (belief without evidence). If you'd care to dispute that point, feel free to do so.

Of course there are different ways of transmitting the same message, some of them more or less intelligible than others. All the basic ideas in Thelema have been advanced before in different ways. If you properly practice Taoism, for example, I think you'll come to a lot of the same conclusions that I am in this thread. What we decide to label ourselves, whether that label has any "cost," and whichever brand of poetry and/or inspirational symbols we like are irrelevant. But Thelema happens to be the topic of this thread.

"IAO131" wrote:
Is it only possible to say what it [the will] is not?

In this thread, I've been simplifying for illustrative purposes when I say things like "it's his will to be a doctor." The will isn't really an object to be "known": "Yet she shall be known & I never."

So what is the will, then? It's what Crowley said: a course of action depending partly on nature and partly on environment. Course of action: it's a process, a doing, a going -- not a static object to be known.

In fact, once you start saying things like, "My will is X," you immediately start crystalizing X into a fantasy that can lead you astray. It might be your will to do X at the time you made that statement, but if you cling to X, even when circumstances change, you can be misled.

How does one distinguish one's 'real nature' beyond saying its 'not fantasy' which is basically the same as saying its 'real' which is another tautology

"Real" is just my label for things that aren't contingent on a mind. I'm not attributing some metaphysical "truth" to things, and I'm not advancing claims of absolute truth or absolute knowledge. I'm just saying that there are things that don't depend on what I think about them. Often, what I think about things is just wrong, and I need to actually look at things to help me correct what I think about them.

What's at issue is correcting false beliefs and judging things as accurately as possible, not knowing the absolute truth of things.

Watch: I can easily distinguish the real table I'm typing on from the image of the table I have in my head when I close my eyes and picture it. The picture in my head, for example, might be all shiny and pristine, but when I actually examine the table, I notice that it has some little marks on it, that it's not so shiny, that it has a wobble I never noticed before. I don't have to perfectly know what the table is in order to figure out that my image of it is flawed in several key ways.

Similarly, I can also distinguish my "real nature" in a situation from the thoughts I have about it. For example, I might tend to think that I'm a people person, and if I allow myself to be charmed by this "fancy picture" (a "picture" that owes its existence to my "fancy," my imagination, my thoughts), I probably will come up with all sorts of reasons to substantiate the picture (that is, I will selectively evaluate evidence, I will make mistakes in coming to conclusions, etc.). But if I actually pay attention to what's going on when I'm at big social functions, I might determine that my idea about myself is completely wrong.

Realizing this might not make the image leave my mind; it might not end my "desire" to be a people person. I may very well still enjoy fantasizing about being a people person. But my realization will show me that my fantasy is in contradiction to the facts, and over a period of time, the hold that the fantasy has over me will gradually lessen.

This is important: you can really, really want something that is not your will. You can absolutely *love* to fantasize about something that is not your will. That is the precise reason that achieving some "trance state" and finding your will by "experiencing" nothing more than your own energized enthusiasm will more often than not lead you away from your will and not towards it.


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