Crowley and Advaita
Magick without Tears includes a chapter ‘The 0=2 Equation’. Crowley put forward the proposition that “It [serious philosophy] has of necessity been divided into these schools: the Nihilist, the Monist, and the Dualist.
“The Monist (or Advaitist) school is at once subtler and more refined; it seems to approach the ultimate reality (as opposed to the superficial examination of the Dualists) more closely.
“It seems to me that this doctrine is based upon a sorites of doubtful validity. To tell you the hideously shameful truth, I hate this doctrine so rabidly that I can hardly trust myself to present it fairly! [. . .] The dogma appears to excite its dupes to dithyrambs. I have to admit the ‘poetry’ of the idea; but there is something in me which vehemently rejects it with excruciating and vindictive violence.”
When first coming across this passage, I was – and still am – taken aback by the virulence of Crowley’s excoriation of Advaita. His dislike did not start with this passage from Magick without Tears. This, for instance, comes from the New Comment on AL.I.27, thus dating from the early 1920s:
“The attempt to resolve All into One is a philosophical blunder. It explains nothing; neither how One came to be, nor how Two came to be. The only sound conception is that of ‘Zero not extended’ with a phase of ‘Something’ (0º = X) which makes the answer to both questions self-evident.”
Crowley is here commenting on the second part of the verse: “O Nuit, continuous one of Heaven, let it be ever thus: that men speak not of Thee as One but as None: and let them speak not of thee at all, since thou art continuous!”
I think he is misrepresenting Advaita. The Sanskrit word simply means ‘not divided’, and this is not the same as asserting that all is one.
Yes, his antagonism has puzzled me as well. However, in some recent reading an author pointed out that early translators often translated "Shunyata" as Nothingness, rather than Emptiness - with the result that the concept was then derided as a form of Nihilism rather than, as you note, a concept of Undifferentiation or "not divided-ness".
These is a passage in chapter 86 of Confessions which in my opinion throws some light on this. It occurred during Crowley's Magical Retirement on Esopus Island in late 1918:
"5.00pm. The meditation of this afternoon resulted in an initiation so stupendous that I dare not hint at its Word. It is the supreme secret of a Magus, and its is so awful that I tremble even now – two hours later and more – 2:20 p.m. was the time – as I write concerning it. In a single instant I had the Key to the whole of the Chinese wisdom. In the light – momentary glimpse as it was – of this truth, all systems of religion and philosophy became absolutely puerile. Even the Law appears no more than a curious incident. I remain absolutely bewildered, blinded, knowing what blasting image lies in this shrine. It baffles me to understand how my brother Magi, knowing this, ever went on.
"I had only one foreshadowing of this Vision of Jupiter – for so I may call it! – and that was a Samadhi which momentarily interrupted my concentration of Sammasati. This can only be described vaguely by saying that I obtained a reconciliation of two contraries of which "There is a discrimination between good and evil" is one.
"This experience has shaken me utterly; it has been a terrible struggle to force myself to this record. The secret comes along the Path of Aleph to Chokmah. I could write it plainly in a few words of one syllable, and most people would not even notice it. But it has might to hurl every Master of the Temple into the Abyss, and to fling every adept of the Rose Cross down to the Qliphoth. No wonder One said that the Book T was in ashes in the Urn of a Magus! I can't see at all how it will affect me at present. Even the Way of the Tao looks idiotic – but then of course that's what it is! So I suppose that's it, all right. And its freedom, in an utterly fascinating and appalling sense, is beyond my fiercest conception."
Crowley ascribed 97 to the Record of his retirement, which he entitled "The Hermit of Aesopus Island". Amongst the gematrical correspondence for 97, Crowley lists "LA ALLH", which he translates as "There is no god". It's clear from the extract above that this vision had a strong effect on Crowley, and perhaps the revulsion he had for advaita is connected.
It baffles me to understand how my brother Magi, knowing this, ever went on.
Thank you for posting the quote. I often make reference to it - without knowing where to footnote its location. There is a similar, parallel passage in The Urn, wherein he quits (apparently due to this insight), then suffers agonies and claims damage for days - but finally relents ... knowing all his work is bullshit.
What? No Atma? No True Self? No God? He later corrects this by including the motto, Deus est Homo, in his OTO publications.
Thank you for posting the quote
It's a very interesting quote, to be sure. Even more interesting is that it would have formed part of the Magical Record of his Retirement at Esopus Island, and the Record of this he left with Achad when leaving the USA. Since the quote appears in The Confessions which would have been written without the Esopus Island Record, presumably he'd copied the quote elsewhere before handing the Record to Achad.
It occurred during Crowley's Magical Retirement on Esopus Island in late 1918:
August 1918 from what could be gleaned from an internet search.
Amongst the gematrical correspondence for 97, Crowley lists "LA ALLH", which he translates as "There is no god".
presumably he'd copied the quote elsewhere before handing the Record to Achad.
The timeline is interesting. I am aware Achad was exploring the number 31 and the word LA as early as December 1917, having asked Crowley about the number. The use of LA ALLH by Crowley in August 1918, and the delivery of the record to Achad, appears to precede Achad's conclusions two months later that involve LA = AL as a key. The chronology suggests a more extensive influence by Crowley on Achad's thinking in regard to the overall concept than was previously indicated.
rereading "Science and Buddhism" this week i came across this passage which may pertain:
THE TWILIGHT OF THE GERMANS.
It is a commonplace of scientific men that metaphysics is mostly moonshine; that it is largely argument in a circle cannot easily be disputed; that the advance since Aristotle is principally verbal none may doubt; that no parallel advance to that of science has been made in the last fifty years is certain.
The reason is obvious.
Philosophy has had two legitimate weapons — introspection and reason; and introspection is not experiment.
The mind is a machine that reasons: here are its results. Very good; can it do anything else? This is the question not only of the Buddhist; but of the Hindu, of the Mohammedan, of the mystic. All try their various methods; all attain results of sorts; none have had the genuine training which would have enabled them to record those results in an intelligible, orderly form.
Others deliberately set their face against such an attempt.
I am not of them; humanity has grown up; if the knowledge be dangerous in unsuspected ways, what of bacteriology? I have obtained one result; a result striking at the very condition of consciousness; which I may formulate as follows:
"If a single state of consciousness persist unchanged for a period exceeding a very few seconds, its duality is annihilated; its nature is violently overthrown; this phenomenon is accompanied by an indescribable sensation of bliss."
Very well! but I want this formula verified a hundred times, a thousand times, by independent investigators. I want it better stated; its conditions modified, defined exactly. I want it to leave its humble station as my observation, and put into the class of regular phenomena.
But I am verging back towards Hindu philosophy, and it is a reminder well needed at this moment. For this experience of the destruction of duality, this first phenomenon in the series, has, in all its illusory beauty, been seized upon, generalised from, by philosophers, and it is to this basis of partial and therefore deceptive fact that we owe the systems of Vedanta and Idealism, with their grotesque assumptions and muddle-headed "reconcilements" all complete.
One fact, O Sri Sankaracharya, does not make a theory; let us remember your fate, and avoid generalising on insufficient evidence. With this word of warning, I leave the metaphysician to wallow in his mire, and look toward better times for the great problems of philosophy. Remember that when the solution is attained it is not the solution of one learned man for his fellows, but one realised and assimilated by every man in his own consciousness.
And what the solution may be none of us can foreshadow. To hoist the problem on to the horns of a dilemma will avail nothing when A = A may be no longer true; and this by no Hegelian world juggle; but by direct apperception as clear as the sun at noon.
Therefore; no word more, but —to the work!"
Even more interesting is that it would have formed part of the Magical Record of his Retirement at Esopus Island
A parallel recording (perhaps the original) in The Urn (The Record of the Magus). However, these are mere scribblings compared to Liber B vel Magi, in which Class A text the whole deal is exposed as Illusion - but (there's always a Butt) this illusion is involved in the mystery of redemption.
I don't know what gets redeemed. Maybe my credit card rewards? But all the above stuff can be summed up in one paragraphic ...
Nothing is eternally stable, including us and our so-called "higher self." So it's all illusion. But we can build an illusionary ladder to get out of the illusionary world. The ladder leads to the Self, which is then exposed as temporary illusion and the Ladder, the Self, and the concerns may be discarded as you are out.
Coming back in is always a probability, but an occasional outing after that can be refreshing.
@shiva is the Urn his record of the wd from heroin?
And by the way I can't email you. Your Juno keeps bouncing me
is the Urn his record of the wd from heroin?
Not that I know of. It is the Magical Record of the Magus.
Juno keeps bouncing me
Juno merely ignores my wife and she cannot send pictures to me. I will investigate