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What does LOVE mean in Thelema?  

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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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04/07/2010 5:24 am  

What is "love" in Thelema? Finally, I've come up with a half-way-decent threat topic! I've always understood the "will" part of "Do what thou wilt, love is the law, love under will", but I've never understood (as well) what the love part was about. My initial guess when I first read Liber AL, was that it had to do with 'passion', which made a general sort of sense at the time, and I never really thought that much more about it. I may be revealing something about myself that could be somewhat embarrassing, but, the the vast explanations of Thelema seem to focus on Will, not on Love. I got this quote from Bill Breeze on the U.S. Lodge OTO website, and it makes no sense to me..."the nature of that Will is Love. But this Love is as it were a by-product of that Will; it does not contradict or supersede that Will; and if apparent contradiction should arise in any crisis, it is the Will that will guide us aright. Lo, while in The Book of the Law is much of Love, there is no word of Sentimentality. Hate itself is almost like Love! “As brothers fight ye!” All the manly races of the world understand this. The Love of Liber Legis is always bold, virile, even orgiastic. There is delicacy, but it is the delicacy of strength. Mighty and terrible and glorious as it is, however, it is but the pennon upon the sacred lance of Will, the damascened inscription upon the swords of the Knight-monks of Thelema." I would 'love' to get some insightful opinions on this, embarrassing though the obviousness of the answer might be to me... 😳

Thanks,

Andrew

P.S.- I think this is a very important question, but if it has been debated before here, I apologize for the redundancy. 😀


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 Anonymous
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04/07/2010 5:28 am  
"adav93" wrote:
"Do what thou wilt, love is the law, love under will",

Well, I'm already 😳 , "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, love is the law, love under will."

A


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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04/07/2010 6:28 am  

Greetings

It’s an important question, indeed and I would like to share my point of view on this (I’m not sure if it is Thelemic or not, but…. what isn’t?).

What always opens the doors for me is declaring my intention “to manifest the Will of the Heart of the Father”.

As I see it, Will and Love are one inseparable current, the manifestation of which creates all that is, and Father is "the One that is All", the core of our real self that dwells and manifests through our own heart.

Regards
Hecate


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Los
 Los
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04/07/2010 7:12 am  

In the Thelemic sense, “love” has no necessary connotation of romance or sentimentality. It simply means union, specifically, to quote Crowley’s introduction to Liber AL, the “uniting of some one monad with one of the experiences possible to it.”

However, love – if it is to be satisfying to us – must be “under will,” which is to say that an individual’s union with possible experiences must be in line with that individual’s nature. As Crowley writes again in that introduction: “All events are equally lawful— and every one necessary, in the long run— for all of us, in theory; but in practice, only one act is lawful for each one of us at any given moment. Therefore Duty consists in determining to experience the right event from one moment of consciousness to another.

“Each action or motion is an act of love, the uniting with one or another part of “Nuit”; each such act must be “under will,” chosen so as to fulfil and not to thwart the true nature of the being concerned.”

The will is the direction – love under will is the product of following that will, the union with experiences that fulfill the individual’s nature.

Furthermore, love works to dissolve the individual’s sense of separateness from the universe by increasing the sum total of experiences that comprise that “self.”

In order to do this properly, you have to be able to perceive potential objects of love properly, as they are (i.e. without super-imposing your mind’s ideas of “good” or “evil” onto them). And this is the other, related meaning, of love in a Thelemic context: properly perceiving impressions by preventing your subjective judgments from clouding your perceptions.

It’s in this context that Crowley advises that a student should learn to “love” those things that the student (consciously) hates – it is by means of learning to perceive things as they truly are (underneath the veil that subjective judgments cast over impressions) that one begins to interact with the universe as it actually is and to perceive one’s own will as it actually is.

There’s a helpful post by a forum member here that uses extensive quotes from Liber Aleph to demonstrate this point

EDIT: I can't get the url tags to work, so I'll just quote relevant sections of the post below.

"Erwin" wrote:
To understand what Crowley meant by the term "love" (when talking about the Thelemic concept, at any rate) we need to break with convention and look at what the man actually said about it, and all will mysteriously become clear. Somebody has already quoted Reguli - without explanation - which sums it up reasonably well, but there are better places to look. Liber Aleph sheds a lot of light on the concept - as it does for many. From Cap. D we have:

"The Fault, that is Fatality, in Love, as in every other Form of Will, is impurity. It is not the Spontaneity thereof which worketh Woe, but some Repression in the Environment. In the Fable of Adam and Eve is this great Lesson taught by the Masters of the Holy Qabalah. For Love were to them the eternal Eden, save for the Repression signified by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Thus their Nature of Love was perfect; it was their Fall from that Innocence which drove them from the Garden."

So we learn from this that "love", whatever it may be, must be "pure" - that "innocence" must be maintained. What is innocence? Ignorance of (or freedom from, if you prefer) "the Knowledge of Good and Evil". In possession of this innocence, "Love [is] perfect."

We get a hint of Reguli from Cap. Ph:

"Therefore, must thou seek ever those Things which are to thee poisonous, and that in the highest Degree, and make them thine by Love. That which repels, that which disgusts, must thou assimilate in this Way of Wholeness."

At first glance, this would seem to contradict the previous quote - how can love be "pure" if we are to seek out "that which disgusts"? Cap. DP gives us an answer:

"Turn not therefore away thine Eyes, for that they are too pure to behold Evil; but look upon Evil with Joy, comprehending it in the Fervour of this Light that I have enkindled in thy Mind. Learn also that every Thing soever is Evil, if thou consider it as apart, static and in Division."

The "Knowledge of Good and Evil" is, therefore, the tainting of impressions by the judgmental mind. The mind labels impressions "good" or "evil", and it is this labelling that is the "impurity", because it colours and pollutes the pure impressions themselves. So why should one "seek ever those Things which are to thee poisonous...and make them thine by Love"? Simply to practice ceasing to label impressions in this way, to experience those things which you find distasteful until you simply stop finding them distasteful. Cap. EB tells us what happens if we don't:

"But now consider him that worketh not with his will, how his mind is idle, not reaching out after reality, but debating within itself of its own affairs, like a democracy, introspective. This this mind, not reacting equally and with elasticity to the world, is lost in its own anarchy and civil war, so that although it works not, it is overcome by weakness of division, and becometh Choronzon."

The failure to stop labelling and judging impressions through some false sense of morality means one does not perceive them for what they are, and if one does not perceive them for what they are, one obviously perceives them for what they are not, and if one tries to go through life reacting to things that aren't there then one only has oneself to blame for it. The mind "[debates] within itself of its own affairs" when it debates over things that are "good" and things that are "evil", because these are qualities is has created itself. There is no such thing in the real world.

Crowley's works are swimming with this idea. We see it all the way back in Book Four, Part Two, appropriately enough in the section on the cup:

"And this is the danger of the Cup; it must necessarily be open to all, and yet it anything is put into it which is out of proportion, unbalanced, or impure, it takes hurt. And here again we find difficulty with our thoughts. The grossness and stupidity of 'simple impressions' cloud the waters; 'emotions' trouble it; 'perceptions' are still far from the perfect purity of truth; they cause reflections; while the 'tendencies' alter the refractive index, and break up the light ... Since at the best this water is but a reflection, how tremendously important it becomes that it should be still! If the cup is shaken, the light will be broken up ... There is, however, a universal solvent and harmonizer, a certain dew which is so pure that a single drop of it cast into the water of the Cup will for the time being bring all to perfection. This dew is called Love ... human love is an excitement, not a stilling, of the mind; and as it is bound to the individual, only leads to greater trouble in the end. This Divine Love, on the contrary, is attached to no symbol."

Again, we see the idea that all impressions must be accepted without distortion, that the water "should be still". Labelling impressions as "good" or "bad" is not a perfect reflection; it "breaks up the light". Only by accepting all impressions for what they are without judging them can they be accurately reflected, and this process is "Love".

There are many other references for those who care to look, including the new comment (especially verses II, 8, II, 9 and II, 73), Magick Without Tears (especially chapters 17 and 33), The Book of Thoth ("We must understand, first of all, that the root of Moral Responsibility, on which man stupidly prides himself as distinguishing him from the other animals, is Restriction, which is Word of Sin. Indeed, there is truth in the Hebrew fable, that the knowledge of Good and Evil brings forth Death. To regain Innocence is to regain Eden. We must learn to live without the murderous consciousness that every breath we draw swells the sails which bear our frail vessels to the Port of the Grave. We must cast out Fear by Love; seeing that every Act is an Orgasm, their total issue cannot be but Birth."), the Confessions ("I was able to observe what went on as few people can, for the average man's sense are deceived by his emotions. He gets things out of proportion and he exaggerates them even when he is able to appreciate them at all. I made up my mind that it should be an essential part of my system of initiation to force my pupils to be familiar with just those things which excite or upset them, until they have acquired the power of perceiving them accurately without interference from the emotions ... Evil can only be destroyed by 'love under will'; and so long as it is feared and hated, so long as we insist on attributing a real and irreconcilable existence to it, so long will it remain evil for us. The same of course applies to what we call 'good'. Good it itself evil in so far as it is separate from other ideas.") and Eight Lectures on Yoga ("Venus represents the ecstatic acceptance of all possible experience.") amongst many others.

And there we have it. Going back to the source clarifies the matter, as always. It should be patently clear that even if we do presume a distinction between "inner man" and "outer man", it is the "outer man" who must undertake the process of "love under will"; the "inner man" doesn't need it, since he doesn't get clouded by such things. What this process of "love" works on is the tendency to colour, distort and judge perceptions, so it is a process that most definitely is intended to take place within the regular old mundane mind. To describe as something which only the "inner man" experiences is to make a complete nonsense of the whole concept. The "outer man" must strive to perfect 'love under will' in order to prevent his conscious mind from interfering with the expression of will by presenting false and distorted impressions to it. There's a reason why "will" and "love" are linked; it is the process of love that allows the will to come out, because love removes the self-imposed restrictions that keep it in or send it off skew-wise.

Now it is certainly true that we get plenty of things like "For although to thee in thy True Self, absolute and without Conditions, all the Universe, which is relative and conditioned is an Illusion; yet to that Part of Thee by which thou perceivest it, the Law of its Being ... is a Law of Truth. Learn then that all Relations are true upon their own Plane, and that it would be a violation of Nature to adjust them skewwise" which is probably where you are getting your "inner man" and "outer man" stuff from but this categorically does not mean that the "outer man" can ignore this stuff and "do what seems right to him"; as we've seen, the entire "love under will" process is directly squarely at him. The same book continues later to clarify this: "praise then or blame aught, as seemeth good unto Thee; but with this reflection, that thy judgment is relative to thine own condition, and not absolute. This also is a point of tolerance, whereby thy shalt avoid indeed those things that are hateful or noxious to thee." Far too many people make this misunderstanding - just because one perceives clearly that, for instance, murder isn't "evil", this doesn't mean that they suddenly go out and start murdering people. Similarly, just because you know on a very conscious level that drinking bleach isn't "evil" it doesn't mean that you will be indifferent to drinking bleach. You simply don't have to believe or even think at a conscious level that there is anything "wrong" with drinking bleach in order to avoid doing it. The task of "love under will" is indeed for your "outer man" to become completely impartial on a very conscious level to all the impressions he receives, but to act in a way that is most appropriate to his being, without any kind of consideration from whether those acts are "right" or "wrong". That's what "love" entails, in a Thelemic context. It does not mean that the "outer man" should just carry on believing in the same old morality he used to believe in because love is somehow reserved for the "inner man"; this would take away the whole point of practising Thelema. The process of 'love under will' is an entirely practical and everyday scheme; it's not some "mystical love" that only exists in the imagination. Describing it as some vague mystical feeling is just an excuse to avoid actually doing it.

As to the original querant..."And how does the Thelemite maintain Agape in a environment/society that corrupts, perverts and seeks the abasement of Agape?" This is like somebody saying "I tried to bench press 300lbs, and it was impossible! How does anybody bench press 300lbs when it's so heavy?!?!?" By practising, of course! The error is precisely in believing that "society ... corrupts, perverts and seeks the abasement of Agape." It is precisely through the practice of 'love under will' that these kinds of silly notion be destroyed. To ask in amazement how it can be possible is no different from asking "how can I become a chess grandmaster without doing any practice?!? I keep getting beaten!!" To imply that 'love under will' is impossible because "things are so evil" shows a complete lack of understanding for what 'love under will' is in the first place; as long as you think that "things are evil" you'll never accomplish it, because it is inherent to the accomplishment that you stop thinking things like this.

Erwin


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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04/07/2010 7:27 am  

Howdy,

Adav03 - love your logo!

I think love is a universal force, like gravity - easily ignored (like walking off a roof), but never to one's advantage. Dig into some greek exposition of Agape. But it is a passive force (sure as gravity is the weakest of the 4 forces). Animus, i.e., Will is required. Love and Will, make-a da world go round...

This has come up before, to good effect:
http://www.lashtal.com/nuke/PNphpBB2-viewtopic-t-2059-highlight-love.phtml

All that moves toward the Union of Nuit and Hadit is love:
"For I am divided for love's sake, for the chance of union. This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all." -AL I:29-30.

That dissolution is love.

Reckon?
a.


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 Anonymous
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05/07/2010 3:30 am  

Los, Azwyth, Hecate,

Thanks for the posts. That quote from Liber AL 1:29-30 is what I always thought I understood it as, I just wanted to get some further extrapolation on it, and I got it! The idea of the union of opposites, the dissolution of divisions, is a great way to look at what love is in a Thelemic context. I guess it's as simple as that, but I'm always looking for new ideas, and what better place to get them than here? Or myself, that is.

93,
Andrew


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phthah
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05/07/2010 5:08 am  

93 Andrew,

"adav93" wrote:
Los, Azwyth, Hecate,

Thanks for the posts. That quote from Liber AL 1:29-30 is what I always thought I understood it as, I just wanted to get some further extrapolation on it, and I got it! The idea of the union of opposites, the dissolution of divisions, is a great way to look at what love is in a Thelemic context. I guess it's as simple as that, but I'm always looking for new ideas, and what better place to get them than here? Or myself, that is.

93,
Andrew

Indeed, the concept of Love or "love under will" is fundamental to Thelema. There has been a lot written about it, but perhaps a good place to start might be Magick Without Tears (preferably the Motta version if you can find it, IMO) where the basics of "love under will" are discussed. There you will find the meaning of the term, "Point-Event", the Seer and the Seen. This "love under will" is our way to express our devotion unto Nuit! We grow by uniting ourselves (by love under will) with all things, one at a time. I would recommend reading all of MWT, but especially see Letter 3, Hieroglyphics, Life and Language Necessarily Symbolic and Letter 5, The Universe, The 0=2 Equation, to name but a few!

93 93/93
phthah


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 Anonymous
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05/07/2010 5:33 am  

Thanks, phthah,

"Magick Without Tears" was, and is, one of the most straight-forward and accessible works on Thelema OR Magick that I have ever read. It also was one of the first books I decided was important after being baffled by Crowley when I first found him, probably because of the genius of the title! 🙂

Andrew


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 Anonymous
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17/08/2010 6:58 am  

Crowley's concept of love isn't all that different from Christianity's, which I suspect was influential. Christianity introduced the concept of the "law of liberty" or "freedom." The idea is that the believer is granted freedom to follow Christ and the highest expression of this new found freedom is love.

"But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does." -James 1:25

The Thelemic concept of love doesn't seem that far off. It's the solution to ultimate Thelemic sin, restriction. Crowley seems to have merely substituted for Christ the idea of the "true will."


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 Anonymous
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17/08/2010 7:50 am  

93!

Interesting topic.

There is but one other word to explain. Elsewhere it is written— surely for our great comfort—“Love is the law, love under will.”
This is to be taken as meaning that while Will is the Law, the nature of that Will is Love. But this Love is as it were a by-product of that Will; it does not contradict or supersede that Will; and if apparent contradiction should arise in any crisis, it is the Will that will guide us aright. Lo, while in The Book of the Law is much of Love, there is no word of Sentimentality. Hate itself is almost like Love! “As brothers fight ye!” All the manly races of the world understand this. The Love of Liber Legis is always bold, virile, even orgiastic. There is delicacy, but it is the delicacy of strength. Mighty and terrible and glorious as it is, however, it is but the pennon upon the sacred lance of Will, the damascened inscription upon the swords of the Knight-monks of Thelema.
(Liber II - The Message of The Master Therion)

From this we can deduct:
- Love is subject to Will; Will rules, Love is second
- Love is not sentimental, but bold, strong, orgiastic, terrible etc.

'Terrible Love' seems a contradiction to me. There is 'terror' in 'terrible'...
I also ask myself how it would be possible to generate this type of love in ritual/inner work.

Do Thelemites love the Gods? How do you love Ra Hoor Khuit, the Supreme and Terrible God who maketh death tremble before him?

93 93/93

Eilthireach


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 Anonymous
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18/08/2010 4:02 pm  

93, "Love is the Law, Love under Will", to me, is a way of understanding and safeguarding against the more capricious loves of the dream self (the weak loves generated within Yesod). As a person who is a Pisces and has been diagnosed with ADHypoD this has been very helpful and personal to me. Maybe "safeguarding" is not the right word, but "keeping things in perspective" might be a better phrase to use.

While I definitely agree that Love is dissolution. There is another word that strikes me when I think of Love. That being Communion. Love leads to a communion between whoever shares it. I think describing love as psychic Communion is also very accurate. When I look up "Communion" on etymonline.com it only tells me that it comes from the words community and common. Does anyone out there know of any other information in regards to "Communion"s etymological history? 93


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 Anonymous
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13/09/2010 8:53 am  

Greetings,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law
Reason is a lie,
As long as it is under will, No other shall say nay! Agape is not Thelema

Also I love how Connections with Cursed Currents like Christianity can be made with such confusion both spiritually, mentally, and physically.

Love is the law, love under will.


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lashtal
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13/09/2010 12:47 pm  
"sebak" wrote:
Reason is a lie

Really? In all contexts? In this context? And what does this actually mean?

Owner and Editor
LAShTAL


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 Anonymous
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13/09/2010 2:17 pm  
"lashtal" wrote:
"sebak" wrote:
Reason is a lie

Really? ... what does this actually mean?

My take on this statement (for the tuppence ha'penny that it may, or may not, be worth) is that it is simply a recognition that rationalism is always secondary to reality. The world does not obey any laws - rather, we make things we call 'laws' based on 'norms' which are simply expectations, not rules for reality to obey. The map is not the territory, the un-restorability of initial conditions in any absolute sense, the fact that any system or model is always categorically diverse from the phenomenon which it more or less clumsily attempts to articulate to the ego. (Forgive me if the question was a specific one to sebak and not a general invitation for expressions of discursive opinion - one has dined perhaps over-heartily this evening, the calvados with apple pie being particularly good).

best
n


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gurugeorge
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14/09/2010 12:49 am  

I guess at the most abstract level, Will is Direction (i.e. in the space of possibilities - or you could say Path-i-ness), while Love is the catabolic/anabolic (tearing apart/crushing together, Empedocles' Love/Strife, Angels and Demons, etc., etc.) Energy of the Universe. So Energy under Direction.

So that is "echoed" at every level of Being, right into to the animal realm, and the human. Everything is "doing" this One Thing.

That's how I fink of it anyway 😀


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Shiva
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14/09/2010 1:15 am  
"sebak" wrote:
Agape is not Thelema

But, gee whiz, I thought Agape being Thelema was one of the pillars of the universe.

I mean, here's how it's supposed to work:

(1) Thelema = 93. Agape = 93. Any two words that add up to the same number are the same force (numerically speaking).

(2) When one is doing their Will, Thelema/93, the "by-product" (Crowley's word) of doing that Will is Agape/93, or "universal" love (not that little horned Eros), wherein one is part of everything. It is a dynamic samadhi in which one is barely (or narily = none) aware of one's own self but is aware of all the elements and uplifting electrical currents in the surrounding matrix - all accompanied by a feeling of controlled ecstasy (not that overwhelming ecstasy that knock's you out!). This goes beyond the contemplative samadhi perhaps envisioned in connection with Raja Yoga, sitting on a padded chair in silence. I have seen this dynamic state generated two ways:
(a) In ceremonial Magick, usually in the desert, and usually with the proper legal libation.
(b) In martial arts practice. Interestingly, in Aikido during the action, but in Karate after the action.

(3) When one is operating "above" the Reason that is a Lie, all things are seen to be "true" only in that they contain their opposite within themselves.


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alysa
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14/09/2010 1:24 am  

You stated that very well, Shiva, thanks for sharing your experienced knowledge.


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Los
 Los
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14/09/2010 7:10 am  
"sebak" wrote:
Reason is a lie

In context, that verse is discussing the role of reason in deciding action, not in evaluating claims. The surrounding verses make this abudantly clear.

In Thelemic terms, the ideal function of the reason is to assist the Self in accomplishing the True Will. When the reason tries to assume the place of the will and tell the Self that it should do such-and-such because of such-and-such -- whether or not the action in question is in line with one's nature -- one has fallen down the pit of because.

It is the reason that is partially responsible for coloring perception with ideas of "good" and "bad," and it is these notions that need to be shed in order to Love (in the Thelemic sense).

The Book of the Law in no way implies that reason cannot be used to determine whether or not claims about the universe are true -- on the contrary, reason is the only method we have that enables us to gain an accurate picture of reality, which makes accomplishing the True Will far easier.


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Palamedes
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14/09/2010 8:24 am  

In my opinion, Love in Thelema stands for the same thing that Buddhists call Compassion. But the words are tricky and slippery - floating signifiers and such - and the got corrupted. (Incidentally, Confucius maintained that one great problem was the corruption of words - when they stop meaning what they originally, or ideally, were meant to mean.) Anyway, compassion became associated with pity, with feeling sorry for the other guy, and thus feeling superior, better than him/her, holier than thou and such b/s. Thus, instead of compassion, Thelema says Love. It is the most difficult thing in the world, especially to love oneself, but once the knot in your heart loosens, it becomes the only possible thing, your true nature, your Will. Until that point, you are fighting the game you cannot win - as Robert Thurman would say - in which there is one one side you and on the other the rest of the universe. It's gonna crush you eventually, you'll have to die. But if you realize and accept that you and It are one, and you do this through the power of Love, you surrender to your Heart, your Holy Guardian Angel, and you become one with everything - just the way Buddha likes his hot-dog. To my mind, this are the real trials: how to distinguish between the royalty of your True Self and the arrogant pretensions of your little (or big) ego. In a similar vain, how to truly love instead of being sentimental idiot, with your compassion towards the fellow man. But as I am obviously getting incoherent, I will desist from this homily. Little children, love one another!


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 Anonymous
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15/09/2010 8:28 am  

But, gee whiz, I thought Agape being Thelema was one of the pillars of the universe.

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law

Well I wouldn't agree on that particularly in context to Truth. In fact the way I understand this theory,it would be like saying, "The Wand is the Cup? A great error in magical theory and practice as well as mixing of the planes!
Could there be a connection qabballisticlly in force? I would hope so! To imply there is two forces would mean division in the Highest. "Every number is infinite; there is no difference. "
Also I wouldn't agree that Love is a pillar, it definitely is an expression of effect or action. A strong bond uniting the universe, or maybe the copulation of time and space? this to me seems most fitting. Hadit unto Nuit! Yet, hasn't Dialectics enumerated what love is plenty enough, read Plato's Symposium. Plato's drama cuts it to shreds with his Diabolical Reasoning at any cost.
Also anyone whom may question "Why" Reason is a lie should read some of Plato's work. And if they call themselves Thelemite and not find some grave errors in it's Fact of theory called Reason. Then they might not be the point. "With the God & the Adorer I am nothing: they do not see me. They are as upon the earth; I am Heaven, and there is no other God than me, and my lord Hadit"
I agree whole heartedly for this expression called Love in ALL it forms, In fact since I have no place in containing it I will cease to define it.

Love is the law, love under will.


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