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Azidonis
(@azidonis)
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04/12/2012 6:32 pm  
"Los" wrote:
"Azidonis" wrote:
If anything then, contradiction exists below the Abyss, while above the Abyss all contradictions are destroyed.

Correct. And our conversation -- like all rational discourse -- occurs below the Abyss.

Down here, there is such a thing as true and false, and the laws of identity and non-contradiction are still in effect. Down here -- in the world of making and evaluating claims about what's what -- two conflicting statements cannot both be simultaneously true.

"The world of making and evaluating claims" is an illusion, sir. The word maya is from a Sanskrit root that means, "to measure". You are trying to determine a difference between truth and falsity within a framework that can only present falsity at worse, and merely point to truth at best.

The HGA permeates through all modes of existence. Attempting to talk about it as though it is restricted entirely to the Ruach is merely a construct of thought at worst, and at best a method of skillful means that one may use to assist the Aspirant, a focusing in on one aspect of the Light. But to say it is only an aspect of Ruach and naught else is erroneous.

It is like saying many molecules of water together form a single lake, as a matter of convention. But the moment one focuses on the many molecules, one loses focus of the single lake. It is mistaking each individual tree for the entire forest.

You are trying to say that a disconnection exists between the way Crowley describes Aiwass in various cases, and using that apparent disconnection in an effort to state that Aiwass was not Crowley's HGA.

What you don't seem willing to understand is that the Light of the HGA is the Light of Ain Soph Aur, refracted by the sense of consciousness, allowing for the perception of a particular point-of-view.

The Light of Ain Soph Aur is never divided. It is never two things, or three things. It is a single Light, and is viewed in many ways, as a spectrum of viewpoints, even by the same viewer. Crowley's talk of the HGA experience in the many ways you have asserted is a testament to some of the possible viewpoints which allow an interaction with said Light, various aspects of the one spectrum. In fact, had Crowley looked from all of those possible viewpoints and not found Aiwass in them, we would not be having this discussion, as I would have agreed with you from the beginning. If you are wondering where they "met up" - they met in Crowley, as the hub of the wheel, the axle of which is nonexistent.

Liber 7: V:22 "Every breath, every word, every thought, every deed is an act of love with Thee."

As the lens changes, the view of the Light changes. In various circumstances, and in various conditions, the Light may be viewed in an infinitude of ways. Through all of this, the Light itself doesn't change, in that it is a continuous flow of living energy - stability within change.


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Shiva
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04/12/2012 7:05 pm  
"Azidonis" wrote:
... the Light of the HGA is the Light of Ain Soph Aur ...

Oh swell!   Now you're trying to get out of it by invoking some suprarational realm of nothingness. Your critics are surely going to enjoy that ...  😮  😛  ::)


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Azidonis
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04/12/2012 7:17 pm  
"Shiva" wrote:
"Azidonis" wrote:
... the Light of the HGA is the Light of Ain Soph Aur ...

Oh swell!   Now you're trying to get out of it by invoking some suprarational realm of nothingness. Your critics are surely going to enjoy that ...  😮  😛  ::)

I'm sure they will.

But I'm not trying to get out of it. Saying that descriptions of the HGA are only of the Ruach in their nature is like saying the Sun stops radiating light when it is dark outside, forgetting completely about the Night of Pan.


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Azidonis
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04/12/2012 8:15 pm  

platoscave.gif[/align:2y45dujo]

From Great Dialogues of Plato (Warmington and Rouse, eds.) New York, Signet Classics: 1999. p. 316.[/align:2y45dujo]

"[url=http://Source wrote:
The Allegory of the Cave

1. Plato realizes that the general run of humankind can think, and speak, etc., without (so far as they acknowledge) any awareness of his realm of Forms.

2. The allegory of the cave is supposed to explain this.

3. In the allegory, Plato likens people untutored in the Theory of Forms to prisoners chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads. All they can see is the wall of the cave. Behind them burns a fire.  Between the fire and the prisoners there is a parapet, along which puppeteers can walk. The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave. The prisoners are unable to see these puppets, the real objects, that pass behind them. What the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see. Here is an illustration of Plato’s Cave [above]:

4. Such prisoners would mistake appearance for reality. They would think the things they see on the wall (the shadows) were real; they would know nothing of the real causes of the shadows.

5. So when the prisoners talk, what are they talking about? If an object (a book, let us say) is carried past behind them, and it casts a shadow on the wall, and a prisoner says “I see a book,” what is he talking about?

He thinks he is talking about a book, but he is really talking about a shadow. But he uses the word “book.” What does that refer to?[/align:2y45dujo]

6. Plato gives his answer at line (515b2). The text here has puzzled many editors, and it has been frequently emended. The translation in Grube/Reeve gets the point correctly:

“And if they could talk to one another, don’t you think they’d suppose that the names they used applied to the things they see passing before them?”[/align:2y45dujo]

7. Plato’s point is that the prisoners would be mistaken. For they would be taking the terms in their language to refer to the shadows that pass before their eyes, rather than (as is correct, in Plato’s view) to the real things that cast the shadows.

If a prisoner says “That’s a book” he thinks that the word “book” refers to the very thing he is looking at. But he would be wrong. He’s only looking at a shadow. The real referent of the word “book” he cannot see. To see it, he would have to turn his head around.[/align:2y45dujo]

8. Plato’s point: the general terms of our language are not “names” of the physical objects that we can see. They are actually names of things that we cannot see, things that we can only grasp with the mind.

9. When the prisoners are released, they can turn their heads and see the real objects. Then they realize their error. What can we do that is analogous to turning our heads and seeing the causes of the shadows? We can come to grasp the Forms with our minds.

10. Plato’s aim in the Republic is to describe what is necessary for us to achieve this reflective understanding. But even without it, it remains true that our very ability to think and to speak depends on the Forms. For the terms of the language we use get their meaning by “naming” the Forms that the objects we perceive participate in.

11. The prisoners may learn what a book is by their experience with shadows of books. But they would be mistaken if they thought that the word “book” refers to something that any of them has ever seen.

Likewise, we may acquire concepts by our perceptual experience of physical objects. But we would be mistaken if we thought that the concepts that we grasp were on the same level as the things we perceive.[/align:2y45dujo]

Power+of+OM.jpg[/align:2y45dujo]


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Los
 Los
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05/12/2012 5:17 am  

There are quite a number of elementary errors in Azidonis’ latest posts, and it will be useful to explain some of these errors in detail, as they are made by many beginners.

Error 1: Special Pleading

Azidonis is correct when he observes that “’The world of making and evaluating claims’ is an illusion.” Evaluating claims is nothing more than a series of mental processes that represent reality. While these mental processes are real mental processes, their *content* merely represents other real things, is not of the same order as what we call “reality,” and can therefore be described as “illusion.”

Azidonis goes wrong, however, when he fails to realize that all factual claims -- including factual claims made about the HGA and what it symbolizes -- are equally representations created by the reason and thus fall under its framework and are subject to its rules. [*Important: this is not a statement that reason is “supreme” or “perfect”: reason is extremely limited, being only effective in the realm of evaluating claims, but in that realm it is the only consistently reliable tool]

Religious types often select a handful of cherished factual claims and declare, arbitrarily, that these claims are outside the scope of the rational criteria to which one would subject any other claim. This is called “special pleading.”

For example, sometimes when atheists debate Christians, they’ll object to Christian claims on the grounds that the claims are self-contradictory (in violation of the law of non-contradiction) and therefore cannot be true. For example, Christians claim that there is a God who is simultaneously three persons and one person. Depending on the denomination, there are different versions of this claim, but assuming that we are not talking about three different forms of one being or three different modes of one being, it is impossible for one being to also be three beings simultaneously. To pick another example, Christians often claim that Christ was both entirely man and entirely god. Or as another example, Christians claim that their god is omnipotent (which is inherently contradictory: an omnipotent being cannot be *all* powerful, because it cannot have the power to render itself powerless without violating the law of non-contradiction).

When it is pointed out that their claims are illogical, Christians typically respond by special pleading: “God is beyond the limitations of logic!” they’ll say. “He created logic, so he is not subject to its rules!” Or they’ll say, “It is a mystery! You are trying to evaluate the Creator by the standards of the creature,” etc., etc.

In other words, these religious believers think that every claim is subject to these rules except those claims that they arbitrarily select as exempt.

What Azidonis is doing is structurally identical.


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Los
 Los
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05/12/2012 5:22 am  

Error 2: Mistaking a Different Perception for “Reality.”

As ever, Azidonis is deeply confused about the idea of “illusion.” He seems to be incorrectly conflating rational thought – which is indeed “illusory” in the sense of its content being a representation of reality rather than reality itself – with a perception of duality (which is "illusory" in a different sense, of being one (partial) mode of perceiving reality, among other partial modes).

His appeals to ideas like “many molecules in a single lake” and “Plato’s Cave” suggest that he’s making some bumbling attempt to argue that there’s a (presumably mystical) “Ultimate Reality” out there that we experience as our day-to-day life (which he calls “illusion”). He then proceeds to conflate rational thought with the perception of duality (saving, one supposes, a vaguely-conceived idea of “Intuition” for the realm of “Reality”). And just to amplify the confusion, he throws in terms from Crowley’s philosophy, completely misapplying them along the way (using “HGA” to convey an idea more properly suited to Nuit or Pan, for example).

To take the sub-mistakes one at a time:

Sub-mistake One: Duality is an “illusion” only in the sense that it’s a partial perception of reality. The perception of non-duality (a concept we could render as “zero” or “Nuit” if we choose) is equally an illusion in this sense: it is just as much a partial perception of what’s there.

The universe is the universe, whether one chooses to see it as Nothing or as a collection of separate “things”: neither view is “reality.” Each one is a partial and incomplete perception. Many students get excited when they achieve trance states (in which the universe appears as "one" or as "none"), but they usually fail to understand that they haven’t discovered “truth”: they’ve just discovered a different way of looking at the world. This different way of looking at the world may be useful to them, but it’s in no way “more real” than their usual way of looking at the world.

Sub-mistake Two: “Reason” cannot be conflated with the perception of duality in the way Azidonis seems to want to do. Reason is a tool that exists within the perception of duality, and it can no more be conflated with duality than any other tool within that perception (like, say, a hammer).

Rational claims are “illusions” in the sense that their content represents reality, but the perception of duality is “illusion” in the sense that it is one possible mode of perceiving reality. It’s important not to mix up different ideas that happen to share the same label.

Sub-mistake Three: The HGA is specifically attributed to Tipareth in Crowley’s system, and – since it represents the True Self of an individual – it vanishes above the Abyss because there is no more True Self. Hence, the magician is stripped of his angel and reduced to a pile of dust in the city of pyramids.

If one insists on using language to describe the universe as it appears to a person under the illusion of perceiving it as “Nothing,” a term like Nuit is preferable to HGA, which refers to something different.


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Azidonis
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05/12/2012 6:25 am  
"Los" wrote:
Sub-mistake Three: The HGA is specifically attributed to Tipareth in Crowley’s system, and – since it represents the True Self of an individual – it vanishes above the Abyss because there is no more True Self. Hence, the magician is stripped of his angel and reduced to a pile of dust in the city of pyramids.
"Anna Kingsford calls him Adonai (Clothed with the Sun). Buddhists call him Adi-Buddha --- (says H. P. B.)

"The Bhagavad-Gita calls him Vishnu (chapter xi.).

"The Yi King calls him "The Great Person."

"The Qabalah calls him Jechidah. *

    * WEH note: In the sense used here, it might be more accurate to say "Neshamiah".

"We also get metaphysical analysis of His nature, deeper and deeper according to the subtlety of the writer; for this {159} vision --- it is all one same phenomenon, variously coloured by our varying Ruachs *

    * Ruach: the third form, the Mind, the Reasoning Power, that which possesses the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

--- is, I believe, the first and the last of all Spiritual Experience. For though He is attributed to Malkuth, *

    * Malkuth: the tenth Sephira.

and the Door of the Path of His overshadowing, He is also in Kether (Kether is in Malkuth and Malkuth in Kether --- "as above, so beneath"), and the End of the "Path of the Wise" is identity with Him. 

"So that while he is the Holy Guardian Angel, He is also Hua *

    *The supreme and secret title of Kether.

and the Tao. *

    * The great extreme of the Yi King.

Not to mention that the very Oath of the Magister Templi includes, but is not limited to: "that I will continue in the Knowledge and Conversation of my Holy Guardian Angel".

The Angel returns upon full entry into Binah.

Did you not get the memo?


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ignant666
(@ignant666)
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05/12/2012 2:27 pm  

Los: Has it ever occurred to you that the very patronizing tone with which you advance your arguments may not be entirely helpful to convincing others? We are not in fact your students, aspiring for your approval; thus your habit of "grading" responses &, eg,  correcting "elementary mistakes" because "it will be useful" (!!!) is pretty inappropriate.
Since you are fond of setting questions for others, I have one for you: whatever logical interpretive arguments you believe you have made based on AC's work (or what others have pointed out to be a very selective reading of the AC corpus) for the "Thelema without spooks, spacemen, or spirituality" you champion, is it not a problem for your argument as a matter of social history that no one who knew AC personally, or was his student (or indeed anyone else on earth for at least 50 years following his death) ever interpreted his work in this way?


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HG
 HG
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05/12/2012 3:32 pm  

Los: Has it ever occurred to you that the very patronizing tone with which you advance your arguments may not be entirely helpful to convincing others?

To say it another way:

You cannot find anything wrong in what Los says, so you're complaining about the way he says it.

"Yeah, you may be right, but you're unpopular!"

This is usually where these conversations end up.

(By the way, is the "quote" function broken?  I had to cut and paste Ignat's text by hand.)


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the_real_simon_iff
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05/12/2012 6:03 pm  

93, HG!

No, unfortunately these conversations end up where Los' fanboys jump in and try to be witty. Nothing in ignant666's post suggests that he really finds nothing wrong in Los' posts and so he complains about the way he articulates. And moreover: Los is everything but unpopular here. I myself admire his firm convictions and intelligence but sometimes I also get too bored to read on, and that's usually when he presents the arguments for his firm convictions in a manner where his condescending (probably meant: authorative) tone starts to sound like a hysterical "I am right and you're wrong!"-cry. And that's quite understandable since Crowley wasn't as consistent in certain views on supernaturalities or HGAs etc. as Los wishes. To accept this is easier for some, for some it is really hard. Especially when your convictions are firm.

Love=Law
Lutz

And yes, the quote function seems not to work.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
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05/12/2012 6:19 pm  

Plato & Theory of Forms

The last Frontier!


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Azidonis
(@azidonis)
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05/12/2012 6:21 pm  

I too am having problems with the quote button today. I click the button, but nothing shows up in the reply box.

Ayino, I just thought it was cool and worth putting on the forums somewhere. 🙂


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 Anonymous
Joined: 50 years ago
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05/12/2012 6:50 pm  

No problem.

I really have no time or interest to write a lengthy post discussing some Aristotelian or Platonist metaphysics thist time.

I rather quote some lyrics of some of my favorite songs I've been listening lately;

There is no God or Belial, the only way is Denial, Denial, Denial

One could go on forever to justify his/her view of the world to anyone, but when one views the world in his personal, spiritual or personal view, it will represent total Negation as I already did state in one of my previous posts before.


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Los
 Los
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05/12/2012 8:57 pm  

It’s unsurprising that the one point you respond to is a quibble over symbolic attributions. Vey well, then:

"Azidonis" wrote:
The Temple of Solomon the King

First of all, the section you quote isn’t a rigorous analysis of the symbolic position of the HGA on the Tree of Life: it’s a list of different possible names for a certain phenomenon in lots of different systems.

Second of all, sure, we can attribute the HGA to Kether (in the sense that everything ultimately comes from Kether), but such an attribution isn’t practically helpful.

Notice the passage reads, “while he is the Holy Guardian Angel, he is also Hua.” Grammatically, the sentence presents the HGA and Hua
(the supreme and secret title of Kether) as separate things: the HGA can be seen as a manifestation of Hua (that is, the True Self (Tipareth) can be viewed as a manifestation of the Nuit-Hadit-RKH triad summed up in the negative veils and Kether and/or the Supernal Triad).

Not to mention that the very Oath of the Magister Templi includes, but is not limited to: "that I will continue in the Knowledge and Conversation of my Holy Guardian Angel".

The Angel returns upon full entry into Binah.

You’re being very imprecise with your language here: we were discussing whether the HGA/True Self exists above the Abyss or can be attributed above the Abyss. Now you’ve switched to talking about whether someone who attains to 8=3 can still be said, in a certain sense, to have an HGA.

They’re not the same topics at all.

The short answer is that an 8=3 doesn’t have an HGA because an 8=3 has no “self” to speak of, but insofar as the “pieces” that once comprised what the 8=3 used to call his “self” still exist, we could still talk about his “True Self” as it manifests below the Abyss (hence the Master of the Temple is “cast out” into a sphere appropriate to “his” “nature”).

Above the abyss, though, there isn’t an Angel/self – the aspirant has been stripped of everything (including the Angel).

As Crowley writes, in One Star in Sight, of the Adeptus (7=4, one step below the Abyss): “He then either (a) becomes a Brother of the LeftHand Path or, (b) is stripped of all his attainments and of himself as well, even of his Holy Guardian Angel, and becomes a babe of the Abyss, who, having transcended the Reason, does nothing but grow in the womb of its mother.” Emphasis added.

He describes the becoming of a Babe of the Abyss as “attained by the resolve of the Adeptus Exemptus to surrender all that he has and is for ever.” Notice the words “for ever.”

Further, it is “an annihilation of all the bonds that compose the self or constitute the Cosmos, a resolution of all complexities into their elements, and these thereby cease to manifest.” The complexities (the personality, the bonds that hold together the qualities of the 8=3) have been reduced to “elements” (the bonds have dissolved, but the elements still exist). Hence, the complexities – the bonds that comprise the personality -- cease to manifest, even though the “elements” of that personality still exist below the Abyss.

Then, Crowley describes the attainment of the Grade of Magister Templi (8=3) as “the absolute abandonment of himself and his attainments.” Note the word “absolute.”


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Los
 Los
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05/12/2012 9:02 pm  
"ignant666" wrote:
Los: Has it ever occurred to you that the very patronizing tone

My tone is appropriate for each post I write: what would be “patronizing” would be for me to assume that the membership here is so sensitive and so prey to their emotions that I have to sugar coat everything I write.

may not be entirely helpful to convincing others?

People with a religious commitment to certain interpretations aren’t going to be “convinced” otherwise, regardless of the tone I take. People sufficiently strong and open minded will be swayed, regardless of the tone I take. There is no need, then, for me to expend energy on regulating my tone, except insofar as it is necessary to prevent the moderator from banning me from the site.

All of the above, of course, assumes that it is my goal to “convince” people, and we all know what happens when one assumes….

what others have pointed out to be a very selective reading of the AC corpus

A (very) few people have asserted – in rather shrill tones – that I’m “cherry-picking” Crowley’s work, despite the fact that I support my contentions from textual references spanning Crowley’s entire career *and* take the time to anticipate potential counter-claims and thoroughly explain passages that might *seem* to suggest a different interpretation if they are not carefully read.

You’re free to try to demonstrate that my reading of Crowley is “selective,” but I predict that you will not succeed.

is it not a problem for your argument as a matter of social history that no one who knew AC personally, or was his student (or indeed anyone else on earth for at least 50 years following his death) ever interpreted his work in this way?

No, it’s not a problem. Not any more than it’s a “problem” for modern biologists that no students of Darwin (or indeed anyone on earth for at least 50 years following Darwin’s death!) ever interpreted his work along the lines of gene-based evolution.


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Azidonis
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06/12/2012 5:05 am  

Quote feature is still broken, it seems. Regardless...

"Los" wrote:
First of all, the section you quote isn’t a rigorous analysis of the symbolic position of the HGA on the Tree of Life: it’s a list of different possible names for a certain phenomenon in lots of different systems.

Second of all, sure, we can attribute the HGA to Kether (in the sense that everything ultimately comes from Kether), but such an attribution isn’t practically helpful.

Notice the passage reads, “while he is the Holy Guardian Angel, he is also Hua.” Grammatically, the sentence presents the HGA and Hua
(the supreme and secret title of Kether) as separate things: the HGA can be seen as a manifestation of Hua (that is, the True Self (Tipareth) can be viewed as a manifestation of the Nuit-Hadit-RKH triad summed up in the negative veils and Kether and/or the Supernal Triad).

It is One Light. Ararita. The Light Itself doesn't change. It is not many different Lights that turn on and off at different junctures. It is One Light.

Concepts like internal and external are by-products of a filtered [read: ego-filtered] perception. And so, when you are talking about Crowley saying the HGA is internal at one point, and external at another, and that being a contradiction in terms, it is really not so. It is all one thing, One Light, perceived in various ways.

Liber LXV I:3 "For the colours are many, but the light is one."

"Los" wrote:
You’re being very imprecise with your language here:

we were discussing whether the HGA/True Self exists above the Abyss or can be attributed above the Abyss.

Now you’ve switched to talking about whether someone who attains to 8=3 can still be said, in a certain sense, to have an HGA.

Nothing nameable exists above the Abyss. There is a flow of life, a life energy [Light], if you will, but describing it in any way is [sadly] erroneous. The human being is that same life energy. When the energy manifests into reality using the human form, it looks, walks, and talks like what one perceives as a human being [ie. the body is simultaneously the battery, the alternator - the Vehicle - for the energy of life].

The life energy is not extinguished upon entering into the Abyss. If it was, a complete, literal death would occur, and there would be no rebirth, metaphoric or actual. Such thinking leads to the same trap that had early Buddhists committing murders and suicide thinking they would reach Nirvana faster. Needless to say, it really pissed Buddha off.

Da'ath means Knowledge. Maya means Measurement. Both of these imply Time. Time is a measurement of moments, two or more aspects of anything whatsoever [pratityasamutpada]. The Veil is the belief that all such measurements of any kind are real, have intrinsic value, and are important to the functioning of life. This is what really goes.

"Los" wrote:
The short answer is that an 8=3 doesn’t have an HGA because an 8=3 has no “self” to speak of, but insofar as the “pieces” that once comprised what the 8=3 used to call his “self” still exist, we could still talk about his “True Self” as it manifests below the Abyss (hence the Master of the Temple is “cast out” into a sphere appropriate to “his” “nature”).

"There is that which remains." The pieces are arbitrary - things like heredity and environment. They are not preferential things as such. There is a loose set of 'preferences', but ultimately they are understood as unnecessary, and of no real value as such.

An interviewer once asked U.G. why he came to the interview. He replied, "I came because of the ticket."

As far as the sphere goes, there is No Man to be cast into any sphere. It is the Angel that Operates within said Sphere, if you want to use that term, and "Thou Art That". If you want you can say, "a Concentrated Light", or some other such thing. Point being, the Angel continues to Work within that Sphere in an effort to exhaust, burn off, or otherwise completely resolve the Karma - understood as Action, until it is completely balanced [Binah, Chokmah, Daleth, etc.], resulting what U.G. called, "the calamity", or the birth of the Ipsissimus.

"Los" wrote:
Above the abyss, though, there isn’t an Angel/self – the aspirant has been stripped of everything (including the Angel).

As Crowley writes, in One Star in Sight, of the Adeptus (7=4, one step below the Abyss): “He then either (a) becomes a Brother of the LeftHand Path or, (b) is stripped of all his attainments and of himself as well, even of his Holy Guardian Angel, and becomes a babe of the Abyss, who, having transcended the Reason, does nothing but grow in the womb of its mother.” Emphasis added.

Uh huh. It doesn't say that the Angel dies, or is destroyed, either.

In a comparative analogy, the Aspirant is assisted through the Veil of Paroketh by the Angel. Through the Veil of the Abyss however, the Angel cannot assist the Adept. The Adept has to make the choice, the last choice of 'free will' [to use a silly term], to 'stay or go'. The beginnings of 'going' is the realization that even the choice is an illusion, a realization that can lead the Adept to say metaphorically, "Take it all. It's Yours."

Liber VII II:29: "Oh madness! madness! madness! desirable art thou! 30. But I love Thee, O God!"

"My prayer used to be, Oh God, if there is a God, why hast Thou forsaken me? It has now only changed into something like this: Oh God, if there is a God - that bit 'if there is a God' still remains unchanged - why hast Thou chosen to bestow all Thy divine favors on me?" - U.G.

"Los" wrote:
He describes the becoming of a Babe of the Abyss as “attained by the resolve of the Adeptus Exemptus to surrender all that he has and is for ever.” Notice the words “for ever.”

All that he has and all that he is. The Ego is the mechanism that separates the perception of self from the perception of the Angel. The Ego annihilated, there is no separation between perception of self and perception of Angel. There is only perception of Angel, or the Light, the Action, or whatever you want to call it. The term Angel is misleading, because it implies some sort of spiritual being.

The very word "Ipsissimus" means "His Most Self-ness", and Kether is attributed to Asar Un Nefer ["Myself made Perfect"]. This refers to the sense of an Angel as such. It is the One Light completing the final return into itself. "It is the final death." - U.G.

Note that the "The Ipsissimus is pre-eminently the Master of all modes of existence" - Those modes being the Yin and Yang, the ebb and flow of Chokmah and Binah.

The eventual path is to completely destroy all sense of separate existence whatsoever, otherwise known as the Balancing of Karma [Action], the completeness of that event leading to Nirvana, or Pure Will, or "One with the Light", "Unity with God", etc. in which Everything is One and therefore None [Union and Dissolution].

From Liber B: "How then shall He end His speech with Silence? For He is Speech. He is the First and the Last. How shall He cease to number Himself? [...] From all these actions must He cease before the curse of His Grade is uplifted from Him. Before He attain to That which existeth without Form."

"Los" wrote:
Further, it is “an annihilation of all the bonds that compose the self or constitute the Cosmos, a resolution of all complexities into their elements, and these thereby cease to manifest.” The complexities (the personality, the bonds that hold together the qualities of the 8=3) have been reduced to “elements” (the bonds have dissolved, but the elements still exist). Hence, the complexities – the bonds that comprise the personality -- cease to manifest, even though the “elements” of that personality still exist below the Abyss.

Yep.

"Los" wrote:
Then, Crowley describes the attainment of the Grade of Magister Templi (8=3) as “the absolute abandonment of himself and his attainments.” Note the word “absolute.”

Yep.

Liber LXV I:26 "Now I am with thee; I will never leave thy being."
Comment: "Union once made is permanent.

Again,

The Oath of the Magister Templi includes, but is not limited to: "that I will continue in the Knowledge and Conversation of my Holy Guardian Angel".

"Confessions wrote:
My own errors of judgment, due to the annihilation of my ego and the consequent lack of leadership felt by my body and mind, produced their own immediate effect. I did not yet understand the extent of my fault, or even its real cause and character, but I felt myself forced back into my proper orbit. I was the Spirit of solitude, the Wander in the Wilderness. I had no business to take part in the affairs of men by personal contact with them in their sheepfolds, monkey houses and pigstys. My sole link with them was to guide such as adventured themselves into the desert. I was cast out from the Abyss into "the heaven of Jupiter as a morning star or as an evening star. And the light thereof shineth even unto the earth and bringeth hope and help to them that dwell in the darkness of thought and drink of the poison of life." It was therefore for me to attend strictly to the Great Work which had been appointed for me by the Secret Chiefs, to dwell in communion with mine Holy Guardian Angel and to write down the instructions by following which men might attain "to the Summum Bonum, True Wisdom and Perfect Happiness".

The Angel "returns". No man, Nemo, comes forth from the Abyss.

Everything known, all knowledge, all sense of individuality, all sense of self, all sense of anything at all, becomes like a mirror [as an analogy]. And then the mirror is shattered into countless pieces. The initial response is to grab hold of one piece or another, and attempt to put it back together. The necessary response is to let it stay shattered and completely dissolve into nothing, in other words giving every last drop of blood into the Cup of Babalon instead of trying to cling to any one thing. It is a complete surrender. It is a Death.

There is a rebirth, into the Womb of Babalon. No man is reborn into the Womb. It is not an individual, an ego, a set of discriminations and divisions. It is more like becoming a conduit for the Light to pass through unhindered. It manifests into "that which remains", which is the vehicle consecrated in waiting for, the Angel.

The Magister Templi is his/her Holy Guardian Angel. Notice that Crowley said "in communion with mine Holy Guardian Angel". That communion is a constant union. Nothing happens thereafter without the Angel. "Thy Will be done." Crossing the Abyss simply destroys the illusory barrier of measurement and time, the seeming gap between the Adept and the Angel. When the gap no longer exists, the Knowledge and Conversation is instant, constant, and continuous. It is not "at Will" in the case of the Adept, who learns to "Invoke and abide in the K&C at Will". The Magister Templi simply is the Angel. It is the creation of an Avatar.

However, the tendency for arising thoughts still remains. Until the tendencies are purified and brought to rest [Balancing of the Karma], some sense of a thing having tendencies continues to exist. That thing has been described as a Ray of Light Energy, particular the the nature of the individual human being - otherwise known as the Holy Guardian Angel.

It is the Magister Templi who obtains Mastery of Samadhi [Absorption, Union of Thinker/Thought], but the Master of Annatta [Anatman - No Self], is the Ipsissimus.


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ignant666
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06/12/2012 5:06 am  

me

is it not a problem for your argument as a matter of social history that no one who knew AC personally, or was his student (or indeed anyone else on earth for at least 50 years following his death) ever interpreted his work in this way?

Los

No, it’s not a problem. Not any more than it’s a “problem” for modern biologists that no students of Darwin (or indeed anyone on earth for at least 50 years following Darwin’s death!) ever interpreted his work along the lines of gene-based evolution.

Your analogy comes very close to admitting that, in fact, your claims are not well supported by AC's work or the understanding of those who knew him or studied with him, but rather represent a later (claimed) advance building on AC's work but not found in his work, just as modern biology builds on Darwin's work but contains much not found in his work.
This response would make perfect sense if this were a Thelemite site, rather than one devoted to AC's work, just as a site about biology would surely take cognizance of post Darwin developments in biology. One would be entitled to surprise, however, if a site about the life and work of Charles Darwin spent much time discussing DNA.
Since you have evaded the question, as you so often do, I will set the question again, because your response is simply unsatisfactory : If AC is indeed so clear & consistent in arguing for a purely rationalist and materialist system of psychological deconditioning with no spooks or religious elements, why do suppose no one who studied with him ever noticed this?
As to your challenge to engage you in a "battle of the AC quotes", I do not think this would be a valuable use of my time. I admire the patience of those willing to engage with you given your tendentious apologetics.
Another question: if you do not seek to convince others of your very silly arguments, why do you insist on hijacking such a large percentage of the forum discussions here to explicate them?


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Los
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06/12/2012 6:02 am  

Your analogy comes very close to admitting that, in fact, your claims are not well supported by AC's work or the understanding of those who knew him or studied with him, but rather represent a later (claimed) advance building on AC's work but not found in his work, just as modern biology builds on Darwin's work but contains much not found in his work.

It depends on what we're talking about. When it comes to application or practice of Thelema, I'm of course going to build on what Crowley said. When it comes to talking about what Thelema is, I appeal to Crowley's works since he's the guy who invented it.

The Darwin analogy is pretty close: obviously we know a lot more about evolution today than Darwin did. In any field or area of study -- if it's a real field of study -- the people who come after the guy who first came up with it know more about it than he did (just as we should know more about the practice of Thelema today than Crowley did...*if* Thelema is a real field of study and not some mindless, religious repetition of prayers/rituals). But the basic idea of what evolutionary theory actually is is still recognizable as what Darwin laid out (just as the basic idea of what Thelema is -- the discovering of the True Will by distinguishing between what one is and what one "fondly imagines [oneself] to be" -- is still recognizable as what Crowley laid out).

One would be entitled to surprise, however, if a site about the life and work of Charles Darwin spent much time discussing DNA.

I wouldn't be surprised if a site about Darwin's life and legacy had a section to discuss modern developments of evolutionary theory. That's a huge part of his legacy.

Since you have evaded the question, as you so often do

Aren't you a pleasant little fellow.

If AC is indeed so clear & consistent in arguing for a purely rationalist and materialist system

Depends on what you mean by "system." If by "system" you're talking about his entire output -- including his writings on occultism and his claimed beliefs -- then I wouldn't argue that his "system" is materialist (all systems, however, are rational, insofar as they are created by reason...so whether his system is "rationalist" depends on what you mean by "rationalist").

But if you're talking about Thelema, that "system" -- insofar as it is the system Crowley described of distinguishing between what one is and what one fondly imagines oneself to be -- is entirely non-supernatural. Now certainly Thelema can be practiced in the context of occult practices -- and certainly Thelemites, including AC can hold supernatural beliefs -- but none of those practices or beliefs are necessary for the central task of Crowley's Thelema, and Crowley never presented them as such.

So it's not clear what you are asking.

Maybe this will make things clearer: Crowley's Thelema is a system built around the idea of skepticism. Crowley, I feel, did not personally fully live up to the skeptical ideals advocated by the system he created -- and thus he apparently held some supernatural beliefs outside the scope of Thelema -- but luckily, we don't need to be bound by his mistakes. Nowadays -- when we have so much more information at our disposal than Crowley did, by the way -- the proper application of skepticism invariably leads to atheism and naturalism.

As to your challenge to engage you in a "battle of the AC quotes", I do not think this would be a valuable use of my time.

I agree with you there.

Another question: if you do not seek to convince others of your very silly arguments, why do you insist on hijacking such a large percentage of the forum discussions here to explicate them?

It takes a warped mind to interpret what I do -- that is, critically and seriously engage with conversations on these forums with specific appeal to (and close readings of) Crowley -- as "hijacking" discussions.

Most people would call that "seriously discussing the material." If you can't figure out why someone would want to seriously discuss a subject, apart from trying to convince others of a position, then -- to quote a not-so-great man -- "that's your problem!"


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Azidonis
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06/12/2012 6:44 am  

"obviously we know a lot more about [nothing] today than [Crowley] did"

What a work of not-so-great art!


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ignant666
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06/12/2012 2:18 pm  

Me

Since you have evaded the question, as you so often do [...]

Los

Aren't you a pleasant little fellow.

Los earlier

My tone is appropriate for each post I write: what would be “patronizing” would be for me to assume that the membership here is so sensitive and so prey to their emotions that I have to sugar coat everything I write.

Ah, I see. So you are free to adopt a professorial tone "correcting" our "errors" from your magisterial perch, while reserving the right to be so personally "sensitive and so prey to [your] emotions that [those engaging with you] have to sugar coat everything [they] write." Did you find me more or less persuasive when I adopted your tone and condescended to you?
Another note on rhetoric: generally ad hominem attacks are viewed as a weak sort of argument; some nasty folk may even suspect those who engage in them to be lacking in stronger arguments, such as folks who call their interlocutors "warped", who are by implication weak and closed-minded (because they are not "strong and open-minded" enough to share your views) due to their unthinking "religious commitments", which are apparently the only reason anyone might not be persuaded by your claims.
Passing from rhetoric to substance:
Clearly skepticism plays a central role in AC's system- "the method of science" is to be employed (the part you like), but in service to "the goal of religion"(the part you can't seem to admit is the point ("goal") of the practice of skepticism within AC's system).
I will note that yet again you have evaded providing a straightforward answer to the central question I have now posed twice as to why those who knew AC personally or studied under him did not share your understanding of his work if he is indeed so clear and consistent in laying out a system of stripping away the superego AND NOTHING ELSE, allowing the ego & id to play untrammeled.
So your position is more or less "All existing Scotsman practice Thelema as a mystical/spiritual practice, sure, but no true Scotsman does so"?


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Shiva
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06/12/2012 3:36 pm  

Los says ...

Crowley's Thelema is a system built around the idea of skepticism. Crowley, I feel, did not personally fully live up to the skeptical ideals advocated by the system he created -- and thus he apparently held some supernatural beliefs outside the scope of Thelema

Finally, a two-sentence summary that makes sense (to me, anyway).


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Los
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06/12/2012 3:39 pm  

Quote feature still broken.

So you are free to adopt a professorial tone "correcting" our "errors" from your magisterial perch, while reserving the right to be so personally "sensitive and so prey to [your] emotions that [those engaging with you] have to sugar coat everything [they] write." Did you find me more or less persuasive when I adopted your tone and condescended to you?

I was observing (correctly) that you're not pleasant -- not because of any "tone" you take but because you falsely accuse me of evading questions. Your tone has nothing to do with the quality of your arguments, but making false claims on a thread where anyone can look back and see that I've answered all of your questions -- with admirable patience, I might add -- makes you look like you don't know what you're talking about.

generally ad hominem attacks are viewed as a weak sort of argument

It's a logical fallcy to use an ad hominem as an argument ("You're wrong because you're stupid!"). But it is not a logical fallacy to state an argument and then -- independent of that argument -- add an observation that might be taken as an insult ("You're wrong for reasons X, Y, Z. Oh, and you're stupid, too").

Clearly skepticism plays a central role in AC's system- "the method of science" is to be employed (the part you like), but in service to "the goal of religion"(the part you can't seem to admit is the point ("goal") of the practice of skepticism within AC's system).

Religion. From "religio," to link back, to reforge the connection to the True Self that we have lost due to the interference of the conscious mind. This kind of religion is greatly aided by skepticism.

"Religion" can also refer to popular systems of supernaturalist belief (maintained by faith and poor examination of the evidence). In this sense of the word, it's pejorative.

Having a religious (in the second sense) commitment to supernatural beliefs can, in some cases, get in the way of the aim of religion (in the first sense). As ever, it's important not to be misled by words.

I will note that yet again you have evaded providing a straightforward answer to the central question I have now posed twice

Because your question is nonsensical on a number of levels. You're confusing mystical/magical practice with supernatural belief, you're confusing practices used in the service of Thelema with Thelema itself, and you're also confusing the personal interests of Crowley and those around him (interests that include occultism, magick, and supernaturalism) with Thelema.

I'm afraid you don't have a terribly clear grasp on what it is you're trying to ask in the first place. I realize that you're trying (stumblingly) to turn this into some sort of "gotcha!" moment, but your ideas are so murky and mixed up that it's not working. I'm actually doing you a kindness by trying to make some kind of sense out of your words, and you criticize my sincere efforts to unpack your confused writing for not being "straightforward."


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ignant666
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06/12/2012 4:46 pm  

Well, that's me told then; certainly your kindness and patience with my murky thinking is very much appreciated; I have been very fortunate that the peer-reviewers of my 22 published scientific papers have not been so sharp & clever as you.
To respond to the sole factual assertion in your very defensive farrago:
Los

Religion. From "religio," to link back, to reforge the connection to the True Self that we have lost due to the interference of the conscious mind. [...]

Well, not so much, at least according to the three sources I consulted (American Heritage Dictionary, 3d ed., Compact OED; Wikipedia; accents on some vowels omitted):
AHD:

Middle English religioun, from Old French religion, from Latin religio, religion- , perhaps from religare to tie fast [emphasis added]. See RELY.

OED:

AF religiun (11th c.), F[rench]. religion, or ad. L[atin]. reliogion-em, of doubtful etymology, by Cicero connected with relegere, to read over again [emphasis added], but by later authors with religare, to bind [emphasis added] [...]; the latter view has usually been favored by modern writers in explaining the force of the word by its supposed etymological meaning.

Wikipedia etymology of "religion"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion#Etymology
No mention of "to link back" or "True Selves", is there?
However "stumbling" and "confused" I may be, I don't resort to just making stuff up to support my arguments, or, more charitably, just passing on what I've been told & never bothered to check just because it seemed so right.
This is known as scholarship, the thing that people who have earned the right to the magisterial tone you affect do.


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ignant666
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06/12/2012 5:21 pm  

Also, Los, if you can spare the time in between telling me how stupid I am, would you be willing to respond to me pointing out that your entire argument is simply that "no true Scotsman" has any truck with spacemen, spooks & spirituality and that it is a mere coincidence that AC and all his historical disciples and students shared the same irrelevant-to-Thelema occult hobby?


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Los
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06/12/2012 6:11 pm  

Well, that's me told then; certainly your kindness and patience with my murky thinking is very much appreciated

You’re quite welcome.

I have been very fortunate that the peer-reviewers of my 22 published scientific papers have not been so sharp & clever as you.

Well, evidently you're better at science than at making arguments about Thelema.

No mention of "to link back" or "True Selves", is there?

You’ve missed the entire point I was making if you think I was purporting to give a thorough, scholarly investigation into the historical roots of the word.  The offhand way I tossed it in should have been your first clue that the precise etymology was non-essential to the argument I was making.

My point was that the word “religion” can refer to several very different things and that the mere fact that Crowley adopted as part of his slogan “the aim of religion” is in no way a necessary contradiction to my opposition to (a very different meaning of) “religion.” My referencing the etymology of the word was simply a gesture to demonstrate that there’s nothing necessarily supernatural inherent to the idea of “religion.” The precise etymology, which you posted, confirms that.

Seriously, this desire to pull a “gotcha!” on me is tedious, and it's making you miss obvious points.

Also, Los, if you can spare the time in between telling me how stupid I am

Where did I say you were stupid? I thought it was pretty clear that my parenthetical“Your argument is wrong because you’re stupid!” was a hypothetical example. I could have used “ugly” just as easily as “stupid.” Now granted, you’ve said some dumb and confusing things, sure, but that’s hardly the same thing as calling you stupid.

me pointing out that your entire argument is simply that "no true Scotsman" has any truck with spacemen, spooks & spirituality

I’ve never said that “No True Thelemite” has “any truck with spacemen, spooks & spirituality.” To take a key example, Aleister Crowley had all sorts of “truck” with “spacemen, spooks & spirituality,” and he was a Thelemite (the first one, no less).

I really think this is a good opportunity for you to take a deep breath and read what I actually say. If you honestly think that my “entire argument” is “that "no true Scotsman" has any truck with spacemen, spooks & spirituality,” then I’m afraid your reading comprehension needs a lot of improvement (and no, that’s not calling you “stupid”).

You are further under the mistaken impression that I think

it is a mere coincidence that AC and all his historical disciples and students shared the same irrelevant-to-Thelema occult hobby

What in the world? Of course it’s not a coincidence that a guy interested in occultism would hang out with people interested in occultism and attract students interested in occultism. It’s also not a coincidence that a guy who used occult practices in the service of Thelema would attract students who used occult practices in the service of Thelema. Even today, there are plenty of Thelemites who use occult practices in the service of Thelema. I, for example, am one.

This is what I mean when I say that your ideas are murky and muddled: I can’t make heads or tails out of what you’re trying to argue against me.

Let’s try to salvage something productive from your little tirade against me. I’ll try to show you where you’re going wrong. You claimed earlier that Crowley’s “students” didn’t interpret Thelema as a “materialist system,” but that I do [we’ll assume, for the sake of argument, that by “system,” you mean Thelema and not Crowley’s occult system]. Let’s just look at that one claim.

First, and most importantly, you’re wrong about the last part of the claim. I don’t interpret Thelema as a “materialist system.” It’s a skeptical system. Its centerpiece is skepticism, and – if properly applied – skepticism nowadays (with the evidence we have at our disposal) leads one to the position called materialism (the position of not believing in any worlds besides the material one, until evidence to the contrary arises). But nothing about Thelema is directly tied to materialism.

So the premise of your question is flawed: of course none of his students interpreted Thelema as a “materialist system” (because Crowley didn’t present it as one), but that’s no contradiction of my position because I don’t present Thelema as a “materialist system” either.

As I said, it’s not clear at all what you’re asking or where you think the supposed contradictions are because your questions are riddled with faulty premises and a confusion of all sorts of things. That doesn’t mean you’re “stupid,” but it does mean that you really need to think this stuff through before trying to challenge me on it.


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ignant666
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06/12/2012 7:14 pm  

Los: Thank you for finally responding to my question on the third try.
I will freely admit to being confused by much that you say, doubtless due to the many personal limitations which you have been so helpful as to point out, and not at all to any lack of clarity, or clear logical reasoning in your voluminous writings on this site. As you have pointed out, the only reason anyone is not immediately persuaded by your claims that do not seek to persuade is the many personal failings you have cataloged with regard to each forum participant with the audacity to "challenge" you.
Is your assertion that AC did not present Thelema as a materialist system but rather as a skeptical system that now (but not during AC's lifetime, or during the lifetime of any who know him or were his "students" (why the scare quotes? Do you assert AC didn't have students?), presumably because of new evidence developed since 1947 or at some later date, or because we are better at being really skeptical), "leads one to the position called materialism"?
Do you further assert that, although AC was not privy to the evidence that now leads us necessarily to a materialist position and thus could not have developed arguments or claims or practices or written things based on that understanding, we can nonetheless most correctly interpret his writings based on those subsequent understandings, and that anyone who interprets his work as he himself would have (based on his "not-as-skeptical-or-informed-as-Los" historical perspective) has a problem with reading comprehension, or is mixing up the "baby" (the parts of his work that support your claims) with the "bathwater" (the parts that don't), as no true Scotsman would ever do?
As you point out, many years of experience with "the method of science" may not be helpful in understanding the thing you call "Thelema" and I thank you for any efforts you may care to make to alleviate my evident confusion.


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Los
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06/12/2012 8:18 pm  

Los: Thank you for finally responding to my question on the third try.

Well, when your questions are predicated on premises flawed enough that they can’t be quickly untangled or made sense of, it can take a while for both sides of a conversation to figure out what’s even being discussed.

I will freely admit to being confused by much that you say, doubtless due to the many personal limitations which you have been so helpful as to point out, and not at all to any lack of clarity, or clear logical reasoning in your voluminous writings on this site. As you have pointed out, the only reason anyone is not immediately persuaded by your claims that do not seek to persuade is the many personal failings you have cataloged with regard to each forum participant with the audacity to "challenge" you.

Whatever you say.

Is your assertion that AC did not present Thelema as a materialist system but rather as a skeptical system that now (but not during AC's lifetime, or during the lifetime of any who know him or were his "students" (why the scare quotes? Do you assert AC didn't have students?), presumably because of new evidence developed since 1947 or at some later date, or because we are better at being really skeptical), "leads one to the position called materialism"?

The grammar is difficult to parse here, but I think you’re asking if I think Thelema “leads one to the position called materialism” (?).

No. Thelema isn’t directly connected to materialism, supernaturalism, realism, idealism, atheism, theism, socialism, totalitarianism, or most other –isms. Thelema doesn’t “lead one” to materialism because Thelema isn’t a mechanism for drawing conclusions about the composition of the world. If the world were created by a god – or by many gods – or if the world were all an illusion and we’re all brains in a vat or if the world was created last Tuesday by a pixie, or if there are numerous supernatural critters floating around us unseen, etc., etc., etc….Thelema would still be what it is: an individual philosophy concerned with conduct. The practical details of it are unaffected by the existence or non-existence of supernatural things, and one cannot logically get from the philosophy Thelema to conclusions about what exists. [This isn't to say that Thelema doesn't have a metaphysical description of the universe, but what I mean to say is that we cannot draw factual claims about the existence or non-existence of entities simply from Thelema itself]

What “leads one” to materialism – or, rather, one major thing that leads one to materialism – is skepticism, which is a mode of thought in which an individual strives to accept claims if and only if the evidence for those claims is sufficient (the purpose of adopting skepticism being to attempt to accept as many true claims and as few false claims as possible).

If you’re really interested in this point, you can read the introduction to my blog where I argue not that Thelema leads to materialism, but that the proper application of skepticism leads to atheism, naturalism/materialism, and moral nihilism…and these –isms lead to Thelema: http://thelema-and-skepticism.blogspot.com/2011/06/introduction.html

Thelema, as a system, has skepticism at its heart – skepticism directed toward the claims of the mind about what one “should” be doing, and various other distorting tendencies of the mind that prevent one from seeing the self and the world clearly. I have another post on Crowley’s skepticism that goes through his writings spanning pretty much his entire career, right up until the end, emphasizing the importance of skepticism for his system: http://thelema-and-skepticism.blogspot.com/2012/03/thats-what-he-said-crowley-on.html

As I said, it’s an open question how well Crowley lived up to the skeptical ideals of his system. He advocated all kinds of occult ritual practices as aids for discovering the True Will – which many Thelemites, myself included, continue to use – but that isn’t a mark against his skepticism: as I observe in the article I just linked to, he consistently cautioned against accepting supernatural theories or explanations for these rituals and the experiences generated by them.

If, however, we take Crowley at his word as to some of his personal beliefs about, say, supernatural beings or “forces” etc. – which, to be clear, are beliefs that exist outside the scope of Thelema – then we are forced to conclude that he was not sufficiently skeptical. Which doesn’t mean he was “No True Thelemite” (!!). It just means he didn’t live up to the ideals of his system and that we, today, can learn from his mistakes and do better.

I’m willing, though, to cut Crowley some slack: after all, he was raised in a nutso religious environment, and he lived at a time when we knew far less about the universe, when it was at least *understandable* that someone might hold out hope that some of this supernatural stuff is true and we just haven’t figured it out yet. That he may have held some supernatural beliefs isn’t exactly surprising, given these circumstances.

In other words, I do think that the proper application of skepticism, even in Crowley’s day, would lead one to naturalism/materialism, but that the vastly greater amount of evidence that we have today – and the even longer time that’s passed without any evidence at all of the supernatural – makes the conclusion of naturalism even more compelling for people today.

I don’t think people today have the same excuses that people of Crowley’s time did. We’re not any closer now to having any evidence of the existence of the supernatural, and the mountains of evidence of what we’ve discovered about the world in the past hundred years do not suggest in the slightest way that there’s anything supernatural. Once more, this is not a conclusion to which Thelema itself "leads" anyone, but I would argue that it is the natural conclusion of skepticism, and since skepticism is so fundamental to the practice of Thelema, the philosophy of Thelema is best practiced today in the context of atheism, materialism, and moral nihilism.


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ignant666
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06/12/2012 8:54 pm  

That was indeed much clearer than you have been in the past, perhaps because you simply explained your ideas, rather than berating your interlocutors for not agreeing with you.
My hard-to-parse grammar aside (an odd complaint from one so superior in reading comprehension, I can't help being petty enough to note), I believe you have agreed that I have fairly characterized your argument in my first question.
If that's so, can you respond more fully as to my second question: How can understandings of Thelema not shared by AC or those who knew him be the most useful way to read his work, as an historiographic matter? Note that this is not a question as to "truth", Thelema as a developing historical entity, or ongoing practice, but about what AC meant when he wrote or transcribed the things he wrote or transcribed. If, as I think you say, Thelema has developed beyond AC, how can arguments to authority by reference to his writings be an effective mode of arguing for that later understanding that you have developed?
The "method of science" as I understand it involves praxis intended to test (strictly speaking, falsify) hypotheses generated by observation of phenomena informed by previous praxis. Was AC just lucky in anticipating later understandings, despite his insufficient skepticism?
I know I will regret asking this just as we were getting all collegial, but would I be correct in assuming (please spare us a repetition of your earlier undergraduate Odd Couple joke) from your advocacy of "moral nihilism" that you do not have any children?


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ignant666
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06/12/2012 9:38 pm  

Incidentally, in case it may be helpful in understanding my confusion at your interventions here, I do not myself have the least degree of belief in any supernatural entities as I believe you have defined the term, & have no intention whatever of asserting that beliefs not rooted in evidence are at all useful in understanding the world.
In fact, I suspect that "my Thelema" is not a million miles away from "your Thelema"- the issue I am taking here is not at all with "What Is To be Done" (as Lenin titled a volume about another praxis) or what might be Platonically "true", but rather with a) ex-historical/anachronist hindsight-based "baby/bathwater" parsing of texts as a discursive strategy- my problem is not with what you say is "true", but with your saying that the only reasonable way to read AC is in light of what you say is "true", even though you admit AC disagreed as to the "truth" of these matters; and b) your previously very condescending tone.
You are undoubtedly very clever & probably spend more time than I currently do thinking about AC's work, but i think you would do well to devote more attention to the role of paradox and contradiction in AC's work, and dialectics in the modern marxist (and perhaps the Hegelian, where i'd be instantly out of my depth) sense of the term- TBOL is the master-text here obviously, but I would suggest that paradox and dialectical tension, far more than skepticism is in fact the center of AC's work- skepticism is the scalpel, not the surgery, & certainly not the enterprise of medicine.


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Los
 Los
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07/12/2012 1:32 am  

I believe you have agreed that I have fairly characterized your argument in my first question.

Sort of. I just wrote a whole post explaining that Thelema doesn't "lead to" materialism, as your question implied that I think, but the fact is that I think materialism (when derived from skepticism) leads to Thelema. Further, I think skepticism is central to Thelema and that skepticism, properly applied, necessarily leads to atheism, naturalism/materialism, and moral nihilism, and that Thelema is best practiced in the context of these -isms.

How can understandings of Thelema not shared by AC or those who knew him be the most useful way to read his work, as an historiographic matter?

I haven't been advancing an "understanding of Thelema not shared by AC." I've been advancing what Thelema is, as explained by Crowley: an individual philosophy of conduct.

What we've been speaking about recently on this thread are not the specifics of Thelema (which is concerned more or less entirely with discovering and executing the True Will) but about a host of ideas (outside the scope of Thelema) in which to contextualize a practice of Thelema: naturalism or supernaturalism, atheism or theism, skepticism or faith, rational inquiry or enthusiasm, etc. Plus there are a number of practices, outside the scope of Thelema, that can be used in the service of discovering and executing the True Will: meditation, ceremonial magick, mindfulness, etc.

I claim Crowley's understanding of what Thelema is is very close (if not identical) to my take on what Thelema is (it should be, since I derive my understanding of Thelema from his interpretation of Liber AL). His beliefs about things outside the scope of Thelema -- the existence of spirits, magical forces, "preternatural whazzamacallits," etc. -- are all extra-Thelemic ideas that are non-essential to understanding what Thelema is or practicing it.

People often get confused on this subject: they want to lump everything Crowley ever wrote -- or at least all of his writings on occultism -- into the "Thelema" pile. But occultism and Thelema are two separate subjects, just as mountain-climbing and Thelema are two separate subjects or chess playing and Thelema are two separate subjects.

Witness, for example, the extensive commentary to Liber AL, which hardly says anything at all about ceremonial magick but goes on and on and on about conduct and behavior.

Everywhere in Crowley's writings, when he's talking about Thelema, he's talking about conduct, discovering and performing the Will, etc. Look at Liber Aleph, for example, where he carefully explains the Will as "buried" within an individual, to be discovered if one only "gives ear." Liber II, where Crowley defines Thelema exclusively in terms of discovering and carrying out the Will. De Lege Libellum, where he's takling again about conduct and not about supernatural beliefs.

Even those magical practices -- note: practices, not supernatural beliefs -- associated with the discovery of the True Will (Liber Samekh, as an obvious example), describe the process entirely in psychological terms. If you look at Crowley's notes for Samekh, he clearly says that the purpose of the ritual is to distract the body, mind, and imagination of the magician so that he can be free to concentrate on his "deepest self," the HGA.

We also have Crowley on record telling Frank Bennett that Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel is nothing other than integrating the conscious and unconscious minds (Bennett recorded in his diary that Crowley told him that the HGA is the Unconscious mind and that KCHGA is the process of freeing it from the restrictions of the conscious mind...this insight is what caused Bennett to attain, without the use of any ceremonial rituals).

Right up until the end of his life (in Little Essays and Magick Without Tears) we find Crowley presenting the same doctrine that saturates his work all through his career: that there is a True Self (or "genius" or HGA) dwelling beneath the body and mind and that the purpose of initiation is to set that genius loose.

Nowhere, anywhere, is there any injunction to accept any supernatural claims as part of any of Thelemic practice. Now sure, if we step outside the scope of Thelema and want to talk about Crowley's personal beliefs on subjects other than Thelema, he said he believed in supernatural critters of various kinds -- and we might question how seriously he actually took some of the claims he said he believed -- but those beliefs are outside the scope of Thelema.

So I guess I'm not getting where you think I have an "understanding of Thelema" not "shared by AC." I have a different understanding of the supernatural, maybe, if we take him at his word on some of those claims he said he accepted. And I arguably have a more developed take on Thelemic practice (that is, on the application of what Thelema is), but my understanding of what Thelema is comes directly from Crowley's interpretation of Liber AL.

Could you explain more fully where you think my "understanding of Thelema" (remember: Thelema, not the occult or the supernatural, etc.) differs from Crowley's?


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Los
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07/12/2012 1:48 am  

would I be correct in assuming [...] from your advocacy of "moral nihilism" that you do not have any children?

Huh? This is a non-sequitur. What does one have to do with the other?

On the relationship of moral nihilism to Thelema, see Crowley's New Comment to AL II:28: "There are no 'standards of Right.' Ethics is balderdash. Each Star must go on its orbit. To hell with 'moral Principle;' there is no such thing; that is a herd-delusion, and makes men cattle."

I'll post up some thoughts on your observation about dialectics tomorrow.


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ignant666
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07/12/2012 3:18 am  

I am honestly not trying to be tendentious, and I do appreciate the courteous tone & reasoned argument you have presented here, but it seems to me that you continue to rely on "no true Scotsman" arguments, where everything in AC's work that supports the idea that Thelema is simply psychological deconditioning is Thelema, and everything else in his work is just something extraneous AC (and all his students) happen to have been interested in too, with no more connection to Thelema than that.
Los

People often get confused on this subject: they want to lump everything Crowley ever wrote -- or at least all of his writings on occultism -- into the "Thelema" pile. But occultism and Thelema are two separate subjects, just as mountain-climbing and Thelema are two separate subjects or chess playing and Thelema are two separate subjects.

Could you explain why you think this confusion is so commonplace, yet few think that playing chess or climbing chalk cliffs are Thelema? Did AC do anything to foster this confusion? Why might he have done this, if you think he did?
Also, I'm curious about the apparent dichotomy you seem to enunciate: Thelema is either supernatural beliefs (which you quite reasonably reject based on the lack of socially shared evidence for such beliefs), or a system of skepticism that leads to your exact views. Is there no third possibility?
I agree that we do well to be skeptical as to whether or not AC was sincere if he purported to have supernatural beliefs, as we do well to be skeptical of everything else he said; I am however having difficulty remembering where he mentions belief in this context.


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ignant666
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07/12/2012 4:06 am  

It would all be so much simpler if I could agree with you, BTW. The thing is, everything you say is so reasonable.
Your post at #79 above is uncannily close to the rap I give my scientific friends who ask about the weird stuff in my office etc about how Thelema isn't some kind of racist misogynist kooky Satanic sex cult for people with acne & appalling taste in music, but really this subtle & poetic system of psychological self-actualization.
This is of course all true, but so very incomplete as to verge on Thelemite taqiyya, as it leaves out all the cuckoo baggage that you so reasonably want to jettison.
In the other AA (I have never been a member of either or indeed of any other such organization since my expulsion from the BSA), they say "Fake it til you make it". It has always seemed to me that AC wanted very badly to believe, but was never able to, yet in fact did indeed "fake it til he [much, perhaps,  to his own surprise] made it"- he thought he was hip to the scam & ended up taking himself (see Burroughs on "the mark inside"; right up your alley, Los), or as Biggie (PBUH) so eloquently put it, "getting high on his own supply".
The thing is, the only actual non-falsifiable belief I have in connection with all this is that it worked: he was, in the end, a master.
He hustled his way to Nibbana.


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Los
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07/12/2012 4:15 am  

I am honestly not trying to be tendentious, and I do appreciate the courteous tone & reasoned argument you have presented here

Likewise. This part of the conversation is much more pleasant.

it seems to me that you continue to rely on "no true Scotsman" arguments, where everything in AC's work that supports the idea that Thelema is simply psychological deconditioning is Thelema, and everything else in his work is just something extraneous AC (and all his students) happen to have been interested in too, with no more connection to Thelema than that.

Well, you agree, I hope, that not every single thing AC ever wrote can be considered "Thelema." If that were true, then his shopping lists would be about Thelema or his writings on chess or moutaineering would be about Thelema or his poems on any number of subjects would be about Thelema.

Assuming that we agree that "Thelema" refers to something contained within Crowley's body of work -- but not equatable to his entire literary output -- then we need some criteria for distinguishing Thelema from the stuff that's not Thelema.

So what does Crowley actually tell us about Thelema? From Liber II:

Θελημα—Thelema—means Will.

The Key to this Message is this word—Will. The first obvious meaning of this Law is confirmed by antithesis; “The word of Sin is Restriction.”

Again: “Thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that and no other shall say nay. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.”

[...]

Do what thou wilt—then do nothing else.

[...]

Thou must (1) Find out what is thy Will. (2) Do that Will with a) one-pointedness, (b) detachment, (c) peace.

Thus he defines Thelema entirely in terms of discovering and carrying out the True Will.

From De Lege Libellum:

The great bond of all bonds is ignorance. How shall a man be free to act if he know not his own purpose? You must therefore first of all discover which star of all the stars you are, your relation to the other stars about you, and your relation to, and identity with, the Whole.

From The Editorial to the Equinox:

The Law of Thelema offers a religion which fulfils all necessary conditions.

The philosophy and metaphysics of Thelema are sound, and offer a solution of the deepest problems of humanity.

The science of Thelema is orthodox; it has no false theories of Nature, no false fables of the origin of things.

The psychology and ethics of Thelema are perfect. It has destroyed the damnable delusion of Original Sin, making every one unique, independent, supreme and sufficient.

The Law of Thelema is given in the Book of the Law.

And you'll note that there's not a thing about occultism here: Thelema is presented as a "religion" (in that positive sense I mentioned) concerned with philosophy, "sound" metaphysics (i.e. not the otherwordly metaphysics of Christianity and other slave religions [religions in the negative sense of the term]), "orthodox" science, psychology, and ethics. Not a word about occultism.

It refers us to the Book of the Law, the place where the Law of Thelema is given, and if we turn to the Book of the Law, there's hardly any reference to the occult at all. There are a few rituals given -- to be performed by those whose will it is to perform them -- but there are no requirements to accept any supernatural claims regarding these rituals. And, as I said, Crowley's voluminous commentary to Liber AL also hardly mentions occultism: it's mainly concerned with behavior, conduct, will, etc.

Forgive me for quoting at length here, but I wanted to establish that Thelema is presented by Crowley as an individual philosophy of conduct. I'm not "cherry picking" some parts of Thelema, you see: I'm just looking at Crowley's works and telling you what it says.

Quite apart from any of this, by the way, is the plain fact that most of what we call occultism (systems like the Qabalah, ceremonial magick, Enochian, Tarot, etc.) existed long before Thelema and were known by Crowley before he created Thelema and thus cannot be equated with Thelema.

Could you explain why you think this confusion is so commonplace, yet few think that playing chess or climbing chalk cliffs are Thelema? Did AC do anything to foster this confusion? Why might he have done this, if you think he did?

It's so commonplace because Crowley used occult rituals in the service of discovering the True Will and did not use chess-playing or mountain-climbing in the service of discovering the True Will (although nothing's stopping a person from using those non-Thelemic things in the service of Thelema as well).

Lots of things can be used in service to Thelema, but that doesn't make them part of Thelema. Crowley was, in addition to being a Thelemite, an occultist, so it's not terribly surprising that he used occultism this way and attracted students who used it in the same way: but when he's writing about what Thelema is, it's clearly presented as will and conduct and behavior, etc.

Given his own use of occult practices, it's not at all surprising that people conflate Thelema with occultism and think of Thelema as a "system of occultism." From this error come other errors, like thinking that talking to spacemen is how one discovers the True Will.


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Los
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07/12/2012 4:20 am  

Thelema [...] [is] really this subtle & poetic system of psychological self-actualization.
This is of course all true, but so very incomplete

Let's look at this. What makes you say that, specifically? What are you defining as "Thelema," exactly, and where from Crowley specifically are you deriving your definition?

Answering this question will get you closer to answering the other question I posed to you (that you have -- gasp -- evaded): "Could you explain more fully where you think my "understanding of Thelema" (remember: Thelema, not the occult or the supernatural, etc.) differs from Crowley's?"

the cuckoo baggage that you so reasonably want to jettison.

Not "want to jettison." It never was a part of Thelema to begin with, just some stuff, among others, that could potentially be used in service to Thelema. I've given you quite a lot of textual support for my position, and I'm curious as to what your position is and how you support it.


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ignant666
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07/12/2012 5:04 am  

Los

[in the] Book of the Law, the place where the Law of Thelema is given,[...] there's hardly any reference to the occult at all. There are a few rituals given -- to be performed by those whose will it is to perform them -- but there are no requirements to accept any supernatural claims regarding these rituals. And, as I said, Crowley's voluminous commentary to Liber AL also hardly mentions occultism: it's mainly concerned with behavior, conduct, will, etc.
Forgive me for quoting at length here, but I wanted to establish that Thelema is presented by Crowley as an individual philosophy of conduct. I'm not "cherry picking" some parts of Thelema, you see: I'm just looking at Crowley's works and telling you what it says.

Do you see how much work the italicized words are doing here? This is the nub of our disagreement: whether "hardly any" is pretty much the same as "none at all", or a very, very different thing.
I am not trying to evade your question as to how it seems to me that your Thelema differs from AC's Thelema & apologize if I have been unclear. Have I now been clear? Your Thelema is so much more reasonable than AC's Thelema.
You mentioned before that you had some thoughts on my comment that paradox may be more central to AC's system than skepticism & I was curious what they were?


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 Anonymous
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07/12/2012 5:34 am  

Los,

You say "It never was a part of Thelema to begin with" referring to the "cuckoo baggage" i.e. supernatural occult type stuff.  You are just plain incorrect.  It was indeed a part of Thelema to begin with i.e. the reception of Liber AL which BEGAN Thelema as we know it today.

Now, once again the same people (not naming names...you know who you are) have derailed yet another thread to serve their own agenda....which has amounted to nothing more than arguing!
I am sick of seeing threads devolve into the incessant jabbering of Choronzon!  It is now time for SILENCE!  I move for this thread to be locked as it is very far from being on topic.  You guys have seriously put a damper on the fun factor around here, and I for one am seriously considering leaving this site.  I really do LOVE this site but the dynamics around here have drastically changed from how it used to be.  Changed for the worse, imho.  Paul, please step in and lock this thread.  Also, I think its time for more robust moderation in keeping things on topic and all this ridiculous arguing to a minimum.


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Los
 Los
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07/12/2012 5:37 am  

Your Thelema is so much more reasonable than AC's Thelema.

That's not specific. Give me a specific way in which you think "my Thelema" differs from "Crowley's Thelema." And remember, we're talking about what Thelema is, not how Thelema is practiced or what Crowley and I think about non-Thelemic topics, like the supernatural.

It would be best if you could actually find a quotation from Crowley saying, "Here's what Thelema is:" followed by something that contradicts what I've been saying.

If all you've got is "Crowley practiced magick!" or "Crowley believed in spirits!" or "It said something about 'ordeals' in Liber AL, and that must mean occult ordeals, so that means Thelema and occultism are equatable!" then you've got less than nothing to support your contention.

You mentioned before that you had some thoughts on my comment that paradox may be more central to AC's system than skepticism & I was curious what they were?

It's the old joke, "How do you keep a Thelemite in suspense?"

The answer: "I'll tell you tomorrow."


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Los
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07/12/2012 5:57 am  

N.O.X. writes:

You say "It never was a part of Thelema to begin with" referring to the "cuckoo baggage" i.e. supernatural occult type stuff.  You are just plain incorrect.  It was indeed a part of Thelema to begin with i.e. the reception of Liber AL which BEGAN Thelema as we know it today.

First, even assuming that the reception legend actually happened the way Crowley tells it, this supposedly supernatural event has no bearing on the philosophy of individual conduct that we call Thelema. The system we call Thelema was invented by Crowley from his interpretation of Liber AL.

Second, just because something has a purported supernatural origin, that doesn't make the "something" in question, itself, supernatural. If I told you a spirit gave me the plans to build a car, and then I went and built it, that wouldn't make it a magic car. It would be a mundane car that supposedly had a supernatural origin, just like Thelema is a mundane philosophy that has its origin in one guy's interpretation of a book that may or may not be of supernatural origin.

Third, I have a strong suspicion that the reception legend is bullshit anyway.

I am sick of seeing threads devolve into the incessant jabbering of Choronzon!  It is now time for SILENCE!

By all means, show us your mighty powers by silencing yourself and doing something else with your time apart from complaining about threads that you're not even substantively participating in.

You guys have seriously put a damper on the fun factor around here

I think this may be the root of the problem you're having. You're just here to have "fun." Some of us are actually interested in serious discussion of  the material.

I really do LOVE this site but the dynamics around here have drastically changed from how it used to be.

Yep. Gone are the days where people started threads about whether cats go to heaven, for example. 

I move for this thread to be locked as it is very far from being on topic.

Well, it's Paul's call. Broadly, my opinion on threads is that discussions are organic things: they go where they go, not always orderly conforming to a topic, but as long as they are generating interesting and insightful conversations that could benefit the membership, it's useful to keep them open or to splinter off part of them into separate threads.

I think the conversation between me and ignant666 in the latter part of this thread has generated some good posts, and it would be a shame to have to move it to PM because some kid thinks it's "no fun" to talk about what Thelema is. Just this reporter's opinion.


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Azidonis
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07/12/2012 6:05 am  

I would fine just learning what's wrong with the quote button.


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 Anonymous
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07/12/2012 6:14 am  

Los,
I am not here just to have fun (I have participated in, and started many fruitful discussions here.)  But this place used to BE fun.  The thing is, you don't splinter off threads into new ones, you just further derail them off topic.  This is the main issue I have with all this. 

"Some kid"....I'll have you know I am an adult.  That's it, I've had it!  Paul, this guy has resorted to flinging insults now, which is against the Guidelines.....I expect you to do something about this.


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obscurus
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07/12/2012 11:02 am  

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

While I have no desire to enter the current discussion, I would like to make a quick comment or two while there is a break. First to Los and ignant666, thank you for this conversation, I have found it very interesting and would hate to see it move to pm.

Los, where you say," Broadly, my opinion on threads is that discussions are organic things: they go where they go, not always orderly conforming to a topic, but as long as they are generating interesting and insightful conversations that could benefit the membership, it's useful to keep them open or to splinter off part of them into separate threads. I think the conversation between me and ignant666 in the latter part of this thread has generated some good posts", I could not agree with you more.

Love is the law, love under will.


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Michael Staley
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MANIO - it's all in the egg
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07/12/2012 11:39 am  
"obscuruspaintus" wrote:
While I have no desire to enter the current discussion, I would like to make a quick comment or two while there is a break. First to Los and ignant666, thank you for this conversation, I have found it very interesting and would hate to see it move to pm.

It doesn't need to move to PM. A new thread could be started to continue the discussion.

"obscuruspaintus" wrote:
Los, where you say," Broadly, my opinion on threads is that discussions are organic things: they go where they go, not always orderly conforming to a topic, but as long as they are generating interesting and insightful conversations that could benefit the membership, it's useful to keep them open or to splinter off part of them into separate threads. I think the conversation between me and ignant666 in the latter part of this thread has generated some good posts", I could not agree with you more.

I agree with Los up to a point. In practice, few threads remain strictly on-topic; they grow organically. However, they need to remain broadly on-topic. Otherwise, why bother with a system of threads at all? Why not just have one thread where conversation can meander all over the place, like conversations in the pub after a few pints? The conversation in this thread is of interest to many, but would be best split out into a thread of its own in my opinion.


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jamie barter
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07/12/2012 12:19 pm  

I've been following this debate with some interest and was going to contribute something, although lately it does seem to have rather diverged from what I saw was its original theme into a discussion about (Crowley's) HGA - which dovetailed a little bit with my own discussion - then onto Platonic Forms, then via a good old set-to into a more general debate about what Thelema means vis-a-vis skepticism - all well and good, in their own places!  But very little to do with the original point...

I'm also reminded of that bit in Doctor Strangelove: "Gentlemen, no fighting, please - this is the War Room!" 

Izzy Wizzy,
Norma N.Joy Conquest


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obscurus
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07/12/2012 12:20 pm  

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

Michael they do take on a life of their own at times which can be quite illuminating? A couple pints? Would that be apple cider? ;D
While I rarely find myself agreeing with Los, I have found this conversation between him and ignant666 very interesting.

An after thought...I view this whole thing which we call "a shared perceived reality" as being supernatural. It is that which lies just beyond this put your finger on it bubble called the endless universe I aspire towards. I cannot get there through sterile skeptical thought. Where would science be without imagination?

Love is the law, love under will.


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Azidonis
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07/12/2012 6:11 pm  

[flash=250,250:15u92jl8] https://www.youtube.com/v/QJJFAOonJxY[/flash:15u92jl8]


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ignant666
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08/12/2012 5:19 am  

To respond to obscuruspaintus' poetic and Los' prosaic name-checks of the "supernatural", as this is a term that seems to keep cropping up like the proverbial bad penny:
What is this "supernatural" that we keep hearing about & what might it have to do with Thelema?
Very little, it seems to me, as things that occur or are experienced are by definition"natural" as being part of the body of experience of living beings, which sounds a lot like "natural" to me.
So, I guess it makes sense that this word "belief" keeps coming after "supernatural", as one would have little reason to "believe" in a thing one had experienced. I have a hard enough time believing the things I have experienced to have time to believe or doubt some other stuff.
My best effort to contribute here & now after a bit too much of "the method of science" today at work & subsequent libations to Ceres.


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Los
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08/12/2012 6:32 am  

What is this "supernatural" that we keep hearing about & what might it have to do with Thelema?

"Supernatural" is a word used to refer to phenomena like ESP, ghosts, goblins, gods, "magic" (in the sense of rituals "causing" real effects in the physical world), etc.

The word literally means "beyond nature" or "outside nature." I guess that's fitting since none of those things I listed above exists (as far as anyone can tell): they are literally outside of existent reality, by virtue of not existing.

What does it have to do with Thelema? Nothing directly: I already pointed out that Thelema is an individual philosophy concerned with conduct. It is not directly connected with materialism, idealism, atheism, theism. But it is (centrally) concerned with skepticism, and a proper application of skepticism -- based on the evidence currently at our disposal -- leads to the conclusion that supernatural things (i.e. things typically labeled by the word "supernatural," including those things I listed above) don't exist.

However, insofar as Thelema is a method of best navigating the territory of reality, we can say that the practice of Thelema is greatly aided by having the clearest map of the terrain possible. Thus, striving to hold as many true beliefs and as few false beliefs as possible is most conducive toward discovering and carrying out the true will. Thus, as I continue to argue, Thelema is best practiced in the context of atheism, naturalism, and moral nihilism (the inevitable results of properly applied skepticism).

So, I guess it makes sense that this word "belief" keeps coming after "supernatural", as one would have little reason to "believe" in a thing one had experienced.

You have to be careful when it comes to things like this. People experience all kinds of stuff...but it's their interpretations of what they experience that they should be skeptical of (or, alternatively, that they [mistakenly] just start believing).

So, for example, I don't doubt at all that there are people who have had experiences that they describe as having seen a ghost. It's undoubtedly true that they had an experience of some kind. What I'm skeptical of -- and what they should be skeptical of, too -- is their interpretation of that experience.

Interpretations -- like all conclusions -- are produced by the reason, after all. Liber AL's condemnation of "reason" is, in large part, an injunction to be on guard against the ways that reason leads us to false conclusions...first and foremost conclusions about the self or behavior ("I should be doing X because good people do X!" or "I'm X kind of person. Therefore, I should do Y, because X kind of people do Y!"), but also conclusions about the world around us.

This position, by the way, is perfectly in line with exactly the kind of skepticism that Crowley recommends in his writings (even if he himself didn't live up to these standards in terms of the beliefs he [at least claimed that he] accepted as true).

If you're interested in the argument I make regarding skepticism in Crowley's system, I turn your attention to my article that I posted earlier: http://thelema-and-skepticism.blogspot.com/2012/03/thats-what-he-said-crowley-on.html

If I may be permitted to quote myself:

Crowley is not saying that he expects students to prove “to themselves” that the supernatural is real: he’s saying that he wants students to undergo the experience on their own and [...] wants them to avoid attaching supernatural explanations to the experience.

How do we know that last part is true? Well, we can start with the famous quote from Liber O:

In this book it is spoken of the Sephiroth and the Paths; of Spirits and Conjurations; of Gods, Spheres, Planes, and many other things which may or may not exist.
It is immaterial whether these exist or not. By doing certain things certain results will follow; students are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophic validity to any of them.

But we can also turn our attention to the very beginning of Book IV, Part I, where Crowley argues that many of the great “religious leaders” in the world were really people who had a certain kind of experience (what Crowley calls Dhyana) and insisted on (mistakenly) attaching supernatural explanations to the experience.

For example:

By [Dhyana’s] light all other events of life are as darkness. Owing to this, people have utterly failed to analyse it or to estimate it. They are accurate enough in saying that, compared with this, all human life is absolutely dross; but they go further, and go wrong. They argue that "since this is that which transcends the terrestrial, it must be celestial." One of the tendencies in their minds has been the hope of a heaven such as their parents and teachers have described, or such as they have themselves pictured; and, without the slightest grounds for saying so, they make the assumption "This is That."

We are now in a position to say what happened to Mohammed. Somehow or another his phenomenon happened in his mind. […] he connected it with the story of the "Annunciation," which he had undoubtedly heard in his boyhood, and said "Gabriel appeared to me." But in spite of his ignorance, his total misconception of the truth, the power of the vision was such that he was enabled to persist through the usual persecution

[…]

The history of Christianity shows precisely the same remarkable fact. Jesus Christ was brought up on the fables of the "Old Testament," and so was compelled to ascribe his experiences to "Jehovah"

According to Crowley, the individuals he uses as examples – such as Mohammed and Christ – didn’t go wrong because they “believed someone else” instead of “finding out for themselves”: according to Crowley, these men went wrong precisely because they believed their own (false!) supernatural interpretations of their experience.

This sort of thing really can’t be stressed enough. What Crowley is explaining in Book IV, Part I is a practical application of the injunction in Liber O [...]

A lot of people get confused on this point, so it’s necessary to slow down here: when people claim to have “seen God” or “had a mystical experience where they talked to Jesus” or “were granted a vision of Lord Shiva” or “experienced union with the Star Goddess” or “evoked a demon to visible appearance” or “did a ritual to attract money and then found some cash in the street later that week” etc., etc., etc. – nobody is denying that the person in question had an experience.

Obviously the person had an experience. Nobody questions that.

What skeptics doubt – and, like it or not, what Crowley is saying that one should doubt – are the supernatural explanations advanced for those experiences.

One may very well have had an experience that felt like “talking to God,” but that in no way means that there is a God or that one was actually talking to him. It’s the same down the line with all of those other claims: nobody is disputing that people have had experiences that felt like those things, but having an experience that feels like X is vastly different from demonstrating that X is true.
___________________________

By the way, ignant, you haven't yet answered my question as to how, specifically, you think my reading of Thelema departs from Crowley's (and remember: we're talking about what Thelema is, not how it's practiced or about the supernatural or other topics).


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Azidonis
(@azidonis)
Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 2964
08/12/2012 7:13 am  
"Los" wrote:
"Supernatural" is a word used to refer to phenomena like ESP, ghosts, goblins, gods, "magic" (in the sense of rituals "causing" real effects in the physical world), etc.

The word literally means "beyond nature" or "outside nature." I guess that's fitting since none of those things I listed above exists (as far as anyone can tell): they are literally outside of existent reality, by virtue of not existing.

What does it have to do with Thelema? Nothing directly: I already pointed out that Thelema is an individual philosophy concerned with conduct. It is not directly connected with materialism, idealism, atheism, theism. But it is (centrally) concerned with skepticism, and a proper application of skepticism -- based on the evidence currently at our disposal -- leads to the conclusion that supernatural things (i.e. things typically labeled by the word "supernatural," including those things I listed above) don't exist.

All you have done, is taken the "materialism, idealism, atheism, theism, etc." out, and replaced it with "skepticism".

"Los" wrote:
However, insofar as Thelema is a method of best navigating the territory of reality, we can say that the practice of Thelema is greatly aided by having the clearest map of the terrain possible. Thus, striving to hold as many true beliefs and as few false beliefs as possible is most conducive toward discovering and carrying out the true will. Thus, as I continue to argue, Thelema is best practiced in the context of atheism, naturalism, and moral nihilism (the inevitable results of properly applied skepticism).

Back to this again. You like to put the terms "true" and "beliefs" into an adjective-noun format. If something is true, it doesn't matter whatever or not it is believed.

All you are doing is creating a set of conditions whereby one may attach their perception of themselves to any particular idea or event (or series thereof), and label it as "true", "acceptable", "useful", etc.. This is hardly monumental or ground-breaking.

This is quite the opposite of the Third Noble Truth, which characterizes the cessation of the arisings, and attachment to the arisings, of the mind as the way to enlightenment.

"Los" wrote:
You have to be careful when it comes to things like this.

Here we go for another round of "Los explains it all".

"Los" wrote:
I turn your attention to my article that I posted earlier: http://thelema-and-skepticism.blogspot.com/2012/03/thats-what-he-said-crowley-on.html

Followed by an advertisement...

"Los" wrote:
If I may be permitted to quote myself:

Crowley is not saying that he expects students to prove “to themselves” that the supernatural is real: he’s saying that he wants students to undergo the experience on their own and [...] wants them to avoid attaching supernatural explanations to the experience.

And a tooting of one's own horn.

"Los" wrote:
One may very well have had an experience that felt like “talking to God,” but that in no way means that there is a God or that one was actually talking to him.

What do you suppose causes such an experience and subsequent perception, Los?


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Obitus
(@obitus)
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Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 44
08/12/2012 9:20 am  

Regardless of one's own personal beliefs and experiences that may lead one to believe or disbelieve in the existence of the "supernatural," to claim that Crowley himself did not view many of his methods and practices as ways to achieve contact with spiritual realities is simply ignoring a vast quantity of his works and focusing on a few quotes, such as those found in his introduction to the "Goetia" or "Liber 0."


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