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jamie barter
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30/09/2014 5:35 pm  

While we are on pause and waiting for Los to regroup and refresh himself, perhaps the hiatus afforded may be a convenient point to look at where things stand now?  In his last posting Los said:

"Los" wrote:
[...] In other words, his purpose or his path is what he actually does, not a pre-ordained course. In a similar way, a star has a "path" that is the result of the blind natural forces acting upon it.

This is how I understand Crowley’s use of “purpose” in many contexts – and especially when discussing the True Will – and I would like to know how you’re interpretation diverges from mine.

It is a curious use of language here, interpreting “purpose” as not having any sort of pre-ordained aspect to it, and although largely agreeing with Lutz’s viewpoint on the matter

"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
"Los" wrote:
In other words, his purpose or his path is what he actually does, not a pre-ordained course.

This doesn't make any sense any more. It renders anything like a purpose or a true will completely useless.

I'm willing to suspend disbelief for the time being & follow how this can possibly be developed with interest!  Once again, the aspect of a planet or a star having a fixed “orbit” or “path” gets touched on lightly and then sidetracked in the course of other discussion, although this issue, along with the whole matter of (non)determinism, seems to me fairly central to the whole debate.  It got mentioned right at the beginning of this thread, in the context there of the collision of galaxies:

Reply #1 by Los on: September 14, 2014, 09:36:53 pm:

The idea of "non-clashing" wills I think first appears in Liber II, and that's one aspect of Crowley's interpretation that I personally dispute, as it has no basis in either the Book of the Law or reality itself (stars do, in fact, collide). He would develop that interpretation in the New Comment, even though he undermines it in a few places in that same work (such as suggesting that rape and murder could be part of a person's True Will, and conceding that the collision of galaxies does happen and is "spectacular" in the sense of being an awe-inspiring spectacle).

while I also addressed this matter in

Reply #5 on: September 15, 2014, 01:16:21 pm:

Let’s not forget also that recent advances in astronomy have discovered that most stars in the universe belong to double or triple systems, and that actual individual stars on their own are actually in the minority.  The chances of collisions among stellar objects within a given system would therefore be dependent upon the stability of their inter-related gravitational fields, and may be occurring a lot more frequently than we currently suppose. 
Such being the case, A.C.’s idea of stars having their own unique path in the cosmos with violent interactions between them an ultra-rare occurrence may become superseded by further knowledge in this area; but whether this and its associated cosmogony in turn would then implicitly or explicitly affect Thelemic philosophy by correlation would probably become a matter open to heated debate.

and despite oscillations away from it, it seems a fact that what I further suggested in Reply #36 is being borne out:

"jamie barter" wrote:
I think the answer – or more accurately, the conversation groping towards some answer - comes back to the point raised a while back in discussing whether the True Will is rigid and laid down or whether it can flexibly adapt throughout life to circumstances, e.g. the course of another star coming towards it on a collision course.  This can also bring in aspects relating to (non)determinism as well, although I wouldn’t mind betting that that could be discussed and moaned about and picked back and forth on Lashtal for the next five hundred years & it wouldn’t be anywhere nearer a definitive answer.

Although there's no way we will arrive at a “definitive answer” to anything, there is still a certain amount of pleasure to be derived in the “aimless winging” about.  The thread also has a fairly ‘laid back’ quality about it - the title itself is wide open and not phrased as a question or even as a specific point, and even the initial focus was around the actual first use of the term True Will itself.

Swanning around,
N Joy


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belmurru
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30/09/2014 5:58 pm  
"jamie barter" wrote:
Although there's no way we will arrive at a “definitive answer” to anything, there is still a certain amount of pleasure to be derived in the “aimless winging” about.  The thread also has a fairly ‘laid back’ quality about it - the title itself is wide open and not phrased as a question or even as a specific point, and even the initial focus was around first use of the term True Will itself.

I'm glad you find the thread to have a laid-back mood, Jamie. I apologize for not posting more - I have a lot of notes on it, and some new (at least to me) thoughts - but I've been in the middle of a move, so it is hard to find time to settle down in front of the screen and compose.

In the meantime something I discovered in the immensely rich and useful "Editor's Notes" to Magick (2nd edition) - so much better, the whole book, in every way, to the first edition - specifically the notes to Appendix 1, page 751 (point 5). Here there is a letter from Crowley to C.S. Jones dated circa 10 September, 1916 (when Crowley was at "Lake Pasquaney" (Newfound Lake)), which lists "Liber VI (sic), The Message of the Master Therion" as one of the books Jones should add to the Syllabus of books from Equinox I,10. There is a typescript from Jones which shows he did this, and corrected the book's title to Liber II, showing it is the same book. It seems to have circulated among AA and OTO members, since the letter also lists "Liber 161", a letter to "Professor L.B.K." in response to some questions he had about The Message of the Master Therion.

I think it is safe to assume that this is indirect evidence that Crowley had coined the expression "true will" already by the summer of 1916. It's a short text, so the original typescript circular could still be buried, stuck between the pages of a book, maybe, in somebody's archives. The year and a half gap between this and the text's first public publication in January 1918 then helps us understand how the doctrine of True Will could be already so fully worked out in Liber Aleph (especially chapters 9 to 18), being written in early 1918 (finished in March or April of that year), while it appears uncapitalized and apparently as an afterthought in The Message of the Master Therion.


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jamie barter
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01/10/2014 12:27 pm  

You are certainly most industrious and thorough in your research, belmurru – and not only that but also accurate too, which always counts as a big plus.  I take it by the 2nd edition of Magick you were referring to the reprint done of the first edition by Weiser of Book 4 subtitled Magick, which was edited by Hymenæus Beta, rather than the first edition of Magick In Theory and Practice from 1929 – and yes, a lot of the mistakes from the 1st edition were corrected there, which makes it an improvement on that count, although I have come across people who still prefer the old version for some reason, if only because it is slightly more portable!  (And it is not for nothing that I refer to it as the big blue breezeblock, myself.  The “Editor’s Notes” do plump it out a bit, of course – and credit where it’s due, on the whole H.B. did a fair job on them – but I worry that his zeal to impart his own particular scholastic take on all things Crowleian is delaying, until he thinks he has done or is able to do personal justice to them, the appearance of projects some of which are now taking decades in the waiting.)

A.C.’s time at Lake Pasquaney seems to have been fruitful in lots of ways and it’s most unfortunate that a lot of the valuable material from particularly that part of his life and the American years as a whole – just prior to when he decamped to Cefalu for the Abbey of Thelema adventure - seems to have gone missing over time.  Perhaps one day some more of it may appear in the larger equivalent of “stuck between the pages of a book” – unearthed in someone’s private archive or a book depository warehouse, maybe, as I think happened in Detroit in the ‘50s decades after a lot of his material (mainly limited editions rather than manuscripts in that particular case) was found which was once presumed lost.  We are now a lot further forward than the ‘50s, but for as long as the actual paper doesn’t disintegrate there is still grounds for hope that some more original material may turn up someday, somewhere, somehow...

Cordially yours,
N Joy


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newneubergOuch2
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01/10/2014 12:41 pm  

I am reading various correspondence at the moment between Crowley and UK/US members towards the end of his life and there are a few mentions of True Will here and there. I find the letters to be quite revealing and succinct.

In letters and in forums it is better to be able to sum up ones thoughts in a line or five, that is a measure of success and clarity imho.


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belmurru
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01/10/2014 12:51 pm  

Still moving, but thanks for more people joining in, and the conversation is getting more interesting in general. I hope to have more time soon.

One thing that strikes me about the doctrine of True Will is Crowley's notion that conflict is problematic - this comes from his preferred metaphor, that of the course of a star. To me this seems like an unusal, if not unnatural, principle - that of perfection in performing True Will implying that no two true wills should come into conflict.


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belmurru
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01/10/2014 1:14 pm  
"jamie barter" wrote:
I take it by the 2nd edition of Magick you were referring to the reprint done of the first edition by Weiser of Book 4 subtitled Magick, which was edited by Hymenæus Beta, rather than the first edition of Magick In Theory and Practice from 1929 – and yes, a lot of the mistakes from the 1st edition were corrected there, which makes it an improvement on that count, although I have come across people who still prefer the old version for some reason, if only because it is slightly more portable!

Yes, sorry Jamie, I did mean the 2nd edition of the "Blue Brick" and not some second edition of the 1929 Magick - my first was the RKP Symonds-Grant edition from the 1970s, which still has some useful notes from those editors (just as Sangreal's Regardie edition of The Vision and the Voice is still useful for the editor's notes). I find it portable enough - and I cannot praise the changes from the first edition of 1994 highly enough. For one thing, my eyesight took a turn for the worse about 8 years ago, and this new edition is actually legible with my glasses. The old one had me pulling out a magnifying glass frequently. But that is superficial compared to the advantages of the better layout and fuller annotations. But scholarship is my vice - I could have used even more notes, to be honest.

For lost Crowleyana, I am thankful for Crowley's habit of publishing just about anything he could, as soon as he could. I think we lack very little of what we need to understand his thought or biography.


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Tao
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01/10/2014 5:19 pm  
"newneubergOuch2" wrote:
I am reading various correspondence at the moment between Crowley and UK/US members towards the end of his life and there are a few mentions of True Will here and there. I find the letters to be quite revealing and succinct.

Any chance you might be able to provide quotations from one or two? This thread has piqued my interest in the topic and I'd be very curious to read the old man's words on the matter.


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jamie barter
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01/10/2014 8:26 pm  
"belmurru" wrote:
Yes, sorry Jamie, I did mean the 2nd edition of the "Blue Brick"

You diplomatically prefer to use the label “Blue Brick”, but I think my description of “Breezeblock” goes further in that it serves to incorporate not only the idea of enormous size but of restrictive and monopolistic practices at work in stopping all other (more concise!?) editions from ever coming out.  "Size isn't everything", and I find Book 4 a bit daunting if I just want to flick through it quickly to maybe check a reference: and quite apart from any considerations of scholastic merit which it may or may not contain, part of me can't help feeling it's a bit ostentatious, a bit showy, as if to declare "look what I've managed to do here."

"belmurru" wrote:
and not some second edition of the 1929 Magick - my first was the RKP Symonds-Grant edition from the 1970s, which still has some useful notes from those editors (just as Sangreal's Regardie edition of The Vision and the Voice is still useful for the editor's notes).

I agree, the RKP edition did contain a lot of useful notes which have now in comparison unfortunately become extremely difficult to obtain. 

"belmurru" wrote:
I find it portable enough - and I cannot praise the changes from the first edition of 1994 highly enough. For one thing, my eyesight took a turn for the worse about 8 years ago, and this new edition is actually legible with my glasses. The old one had me pulling out a magnifying glass frequently. But that is superficial compared to the advantages of the better layout and fuller annotations. But scholarship is my vice - I could have used even more notes, to be honest.

Personally, I agree that there is nothing wrong with copious well-done notes and annotations.  But a substantial proportion would definitely disagree with the idea of further what they may see as unnecessary additions to A.C.'s text – and I have seen as much stated here on the Lash, in previous discussions.

"belmurru" wrote:
For lost Crowleyana, I am thankful for Crowley's habit of publishing just about anything he could, as soon as he could. I think we lack very little of what we need to understand his thought or biography.

Maybe now with the resources of the internet we lack very little of what we need, but that certainly wasn’t always the case.

"belmurru" wrote:
For lost Crowleyana, I am thankful for Crowley's habit of publishing just about anything he could, as soon as he could. I think we lack very little of what we need to understand his thought or biography.

I’m sure A.C. would have liked to have “published anything he could, as soon as he could”, but unfortunately events do not bear that out.  For example, Liber Aleph, what he regarded as one of his most supremely important works – no less than the extended epistle to his magickal heir & direct message to his successor – was never published in his lifetime but had to wait until 1962, forty four years after it was written, when Karl Germer (with Marcelo Motta’s invaluable assistance) was finally able to get it out.

Magick Without Tears, which A.C. was working on at his death, likewise had no definite plans for publication whilst he was alive although it was a toss-up between that and his World War I short-story collection Golden Twigs, if I remember correctly.  There was no trace of his “Chinese Texts of Magick and Mysticism” until Motta collated them together and published them as his The Equinox Volume V Number 3 – similarly, the Bagh-i-Muattur from 1910, which Motta also published as The Equinox Vol. V No. 4.  In fact, Motta did far more in terms of publishing neglected or overlooked Crowleiana in the short time available to him than Hymenæus Beta has done in nearly three decades.  Meanwhile, there are still half a dozen or so more libri “missing in action”: Liber IAO (sub figura XVII), Liber XXVIII, Liber Serpentis Nehustan (sub figura Liber XXVIII), “The Beast” sub figura DCLXVI (not to be confused with “Liber Artemis Iota vel Coitu Scoplia Triviæ” with the same number – also a little hard to come by unless you also have, ahem, Motta’s The Equinox Vol. V No. 1)... (etc.)

(Meanwhile, I might add we are also still waiting for a definitive version of The Urn, The Confessions, and The Equinox Vol. III No. 2, which we have been repeatedly informed by the ©.O.T.O. "originally got as far as galley proofs” (which then makes it even more incredible why it should be taking nearly 30 years to bring out a fair reproduction), which contained, among other things, Liber DCCCLXXXVIII, “Jesus” [a.k.a. “The Gospel According To St. George Bernard Shaw”]...) 

I could go on further, but I think that it is enough for now, even given the rather broad parameters of this thread…!

N Joy


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lashtal
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01/10/2014 9:32 pm  
"jamie barter" wrote:
You diplomatically prefer to use the label “Blue Brick”, but I think my description of “Breezeblock” goes further in that it serves to incorporate not only the idea of enormous size but of restrictive and monopolistic practices at work in stopping all other (more concise!?) editions from ever coming out...

Oh for goodness sake, Jamie, can't you give it a rest?

This thread isn't about your view of the OTO, it's about the 'True Will'. I, for one, would be really pleased to see a serious post by you that doesn't regurgitate the same old passive-aggressive nonsense. You're not a fan of Hymenaeus Beta. We get that. Can we move on now?

Owner and Editor
LAShTAL


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Anonymous
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02/10/2014 5:23 am  

I'm a fan of Hymaneus Beta, and I am not even a member of the OTO. I like his moxy, or chutzpah or whatever. He has a keen mind and is very well spoken. The Order is well served by his leadership in my opinion, and I'm not easily swayed. In fact, it would be really cool to just hang out with him for a few hours. I've hung out with Kenneth Anger, on several occasions, and that was fun but a little like dancing around a keg of dynamite with a torch. It seems HB is a little more stoic than that.

But you guys on this website, and mostly it is always the same guys, seem really Anti Caliphate.

I think Hymaneus Beta is the real deal, And like I said...I AM NOT A MEMBER.


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02/10/2014 6:15 am  

I think, historically, the Ottoman Caliphate was more important than the Caliphate OTO, man.


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belmurru
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02/10/2014 8:28 am  

Please keep posts relevant to Crowley's use of the expression "True Will", the etiology of the concept, and the interpretation or application of the concept.

There will be a quiz on October 12. 


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jamie barter
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02/10/2014 11:13 am  
"lashtal" wrote:
"jamie barter" wrote:
You diplomatically prefer to use the label “Blue Brick”, but I think my description of “Breezeblock” goes further in that it serves to incorporate not only the idea of enormous size but of restrictive and monopolistic practices at work in stopping all other (more concise!?) editions from ever coming out...

Oh for goodness sake, Jamie, can't you give it a rest?

This thread isn't about your view of the OTO, it's about the 'True Will'. I, for one, would be really pleased to see a serious post by you that doesn't regurgitate the same old passive-aggressive nonsense. You're not a fan of Hymenaeus Beta. We get that. Can we move on now?

Briefly – and because I don’t want a slight branch-off here to turn into a major diversion but think I need to make the point in response, it’s nothing to do with being a fan of Hymenæus Beta or not.  As I think I've said before, I quite like the guy on a personal basis, in fact we’ve always got on well on the occasions whenever we've met up, I just don’t agree with a lot of his policies.  (And incidentally, Magickal, your comments seems a little bizarre not to mention gushing considering you apparently have never even met him?!)

The posting was (partly) to do with regard to the (non-)availability of writings by Aleister Crowley for one reason or another, or else appearing exclusively in a manner and form dictated by the personal preferences of said H.B., a subject which far from being nonsense I’m sure must be of great relevance and concern to a lot of Lashtalians: and if it’s being passive-aggressive to be concerned about that, well then I suppose I’m passive-aggressive.  I’m sorry if I do seem to be banging a drum about it, but I am increasingly getting the impression that I am the only one who seems to care enough about these matters in order to try to discuss them.

There was at least one thread which I created which concentrated on the Caliphornian O.T.O. and could have served as just such a focus to discuss relevant issues, but that one became locked and so I bring these matters up as & when it seemed appropriate to do so, but not excessively I think.  It must be several months since I last mentioned it.  But like I said, I don’t want to divert this excellent thread of belmurru’s so yes, I agree to move along on now and not loiter with intent.

N Joy


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Los
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02/10/2014 3:01 pm  
"Tao" wrote:
No hurry. Take whatever time you need.

Yeah, it'll be a while still because I have a lot to do over the next few days, and I'm honestly not eager to write a post that gets into the nitpicky minutiae of the ways that I think you're misreading Crowley and misreading me.

In fact, writing such a post would be a waste of time if you and I are talking past each other, and I think we actually are right now (see below).

"Los" wrote:
I'm doing my best not to interpret ["purpose" in Crowley's writings], rather allowing it to speak for itself for as long as it's able.

Well, we're talking about what the guy wrote and what he meant. That's a form of interpretation. Even the process of selecting quotations, laying them out, and saying "here!" -- with no extra comment -- is itself guided by an implicit interpretation.

The nature of our disagreement appears to be that your interpretation of what Crowley meant by "True Will" differs from mine. I say "appears to be" because I'm not totally sure what your interpretation is, as you haven't really addressed my question about "purpose." See below.

I do see one or two things in your interpretation that don't quite stand up to Crowley's usage, at least in this instance.

First, you are generalizing across all of his writings again to find a definition to then apply to this particular rather than dealing with this particular on its own terms.

This point that you've labeled "First" is not an objection to the specifics of my interpretation. It's an objection to my method, and we need to address this, because if you object to the very idea of using an overview of Crowley's writings to develop a working definition of "True Will," then we can't have a productive conversation.

I've already conceded that the phrasing and perhaps aspects of meaning of Crowley's usage of "True Will" differs a bit from quotation to quotation. My goal here is to explain what I see as a remarkable consistency in Crowley's usage of the term over a very long period of time. Identifying that consistency necessitates pointing to general trends in his discussion of the term, which is an inductive process that emphasizes commonalities that are maintained over long periods of time and treats as far less important (and perhaps practically irrelevant) small differences that are not repeated with consistency.

This is, I claim, the best way to proceed when we're faced with a huge body of work and a desire to locate a definition for "True Will" (or, I guess we can say, the essence of Crowley's definition of True Will). The purpose of arriving at such a definition is not merely academic (figuring out what Crowley meant for the sake of figuring out what Crowley meant) but practical: figuring out what Crowley's writings, as a whole, tell us about True Will (what it functionally is and how to discover it) so that we may practice Thelema intelligently.

If you're not interested in figuring out what Crowley's body of work, as a whole, has to tell us about True Will, then you and I are talking past each other (as I suspect we're probably doing), and we either have to find some common ground to be able to have a discussion, or we'll just have to be frustrated.

Second, if we go along with you and accept that your interpretation is a common one with Crowley

I don't believe I've ever suggested that my interpretation is common. In fact, from what I've gathered, most people who style themselves "Thelemites" have extremely murky interpretations of Crowley and definitions of "True Will." These murky readings are probably the products of people who have not read and studied enough core Crowley texts for enough years.

The most "common" of these murky ideas is probably the idea that everybody has a "destiny" (like in Star Wars), a "reason that I incarnated in this lifetime," and that doing magick will (somehow?) reveal this destiny. None of them ever seem able to explain what they mean by any of this or why they think it's the case, and most often their stumbling answers are peppered with groundless supernatural beliefs, bald assertions, and platitudes.

EDIT: Reading this over, I think I may have misread you. When you said a "common one with Crowley," I think you might have been trying to say "accept that Crowley really did generally mean the thing that you [Los] are claiming that he did generally mean." If that's what I meant, disregard the above.

you seem to have an encyclopedic knowledge of his works while I am struggling along with Google searches of hermetic.com

I spent several years just reading every Crowley book I could get my hands on, and then several more years studying them (taking notes, underlining, cross-referencing, the whole nine yards). I've been writing about Crowley for enough years now that I have lists of quotations in various documents that I can look up, but I am mostly working from memory in most of these discussions.

I would still quibble with the application of that interpretation here. All correctly functioning digestive systems process food. We see this in all relavent data points. This processing of food is also necessary for survival ("a duty founded upon universal necessity") so we can therefore deduce that this "natural function" is the purpose of all digestive systems. The difficulty in applying this to our current usage is that "to be a poet" is not a common data point across all individuals. It is the finite expression of something specific to a particular Self. It is also not necessary for survival, either of the individual, the collective, or the universe. To remove an individual's ability to be a poet will not prohibit that individual from doing other things with her life nor will it kill her.

I wasn't using "purpose" to mean "that which is necessary for survival, universally." I was using "purpose" to mean "the function for which nature has fit something...what that thing naturally does." 

This is how I take Crowley's use of the term most often when discussing True Will.

In the context of purpose meaning "the function for which nature has fit something...what that thing naturally does," we're only talking about that one thing. If there were only one digestive system in existence, its "purpose," in this sense, would still be to process food. That's the function for which nature has fit it. That's what it naturally does. We could draw this conclusion by observing only that one digestive system.

The same with a poet. Someone with the authentic inclination to write poetry has been fit by nature to do so (and in the case of humans, we can include the influence of society/nurture, which is part of the natural world that gives rise to the individual's nature). That's the thing that he naturally does. It would still be his "purpose," in this sense, if he were the only poet in existence.

I'm still not sure how you think Crowley means "purpose" if you don't think that my reading is correct. You haven't addressed that point.


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Los
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02/10/2014 3:34 pm  
"belmurru" wrote:
One thing that strikes me about the doctrine of True Will is Crowley's notion that conflict is problematic - this comes from his preferred metaphor, that of the course of a star.

Even though stars do collide.

To me this seems like an unusal, if not unnatural, principle - that of perfection in performing True Will implying that no two true wills should come into conflict.

And as I've pointed out in a few places, I think this is one area where Crowley was just plain wrong. As I said in an earlier post, I think that what we call "Thelema" primarily comes from Crowley's writings (his interpretations of the Book of the Law), but that his writings are trumped by the Book itself, and the Book itself is trumped by reality. That is to say, if Crowley says something that can be demonstrated to be in conflict with the Book, then I'll go with the Book over Crowley. And if the Book says something that can be demonstrated to be in conflict with reality, then I'll go with reality.

On this point of non-clashing wills, both The Book and reality are against Crowley. There's really nothing in The Book that suggests that True Will won't conflict (and, actually, there's a lot of stuff in The Book that would seem to suggest otherwise). And certainly, reality gives us no reason to think that two creatures, following their natures, couldn't come into conflict. In fact, if we take it as a given that animals follow their natures (not having conscious minds that could pull them away from their natures, as humans do), then it would seem that creatures following their natures come into conflict all the time.

Of course, we might well speculate that if every person were to start doing their True Will, there would be less conflict in the world, maybe even significantly less (just think of how much conflict is driven by people caring about what other people do privately; at a stroke, all of the conflict about gay marriage, gay adoption, contraceptive coverage by health care, teaching sex education and evolution, etc. would just vanish).

Now Crowley did devote some space to trying to work out the idea that two True Wills can't conflict. It appears in several places in his Comment to the Book, in Duty, I think here and there in Liber Aleph, and in at least one of those epistles he wrote (the one with the example of two boys wanting to eat the last orange...they can't *both* have the True Will to eat the orange, Crowley reasons, because their Wills can't conflict!).

The reason I don't include this idea in the definition I generalize from Crowley's writings is that I think Crowley's demonstrably wrong on this point. Plus, it leads to incredibly weird conclusions, like the idea that whoever wins a fight was, by definition, doing his True Will while the loser was not (in the orange example, Crowley suggests that the two boys might fight over the orange, and the winner would be the one who *actually* had the True Will to eat the orange). This sort of idea strikes me not only as bizarre and impractical and completely unjustified by anything in The Book, but possibly even dangerous.


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jamie barter
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02/10/2014 4:02 pm  

I’ll leave it to Tao to deal with the meat of this latest offering – assuming that he won’t take umbrage at Los’s brand of casual but belittling put-down! – and wish him the best of luck with the semantic quagmire that ‘purpose’ – and Los - seems to be generating, but would just mention regarding

"Los" wrote:
I spent several years just reading every Crowley book I could get my hands on, and then several more years studying them (taking notes, underlining, cross-referencing, the whole nine yards). I've been writing about Crowley for enough years now that I have lists of quotations in various documents that I can look up, but I am mostly working from memory in most of these discussions.

that I am truly sorry for Los that indeed so great an application of purpose and such diligence on his part would in the end apparently manage to yield so little actual fruit in the way of harvest...

"Los" wrote:
(I recall one guy on here years ago who said that his "Holy Guardian Angel" -- which he believed to be an actual, separate being -- communicated to him through events in his life and, in one instance, through the ringing of bells timed exactly right. His "True Will," he said, was "to serve man" (you know, like in that Twilight Zone episode.)

Yes, that gag also featured in The Simpsons too, didn’t it!

Purpose is as purpose does?
N Joy


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newneubergOuch2
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02/10/2014 4:38 pm  

Aleister Crowley letter April 10, 1947. Quoted by Karl Germer to Jane Wolfe.
"The H.G.A is an individual, just as you and I are. But he lives in 4 dimensions, just as we do in 3 - a very rough summary. He belongs to a different order (*underlined) of Nature. Don't confuse with the "Higher Self" and such, which are merely part of ones own being"
-Red Flame, Jane Wolfe biography page 128, volume two.


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 Anonymous
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02/10/2014 5:30 pm  

The true self has the "true will". So when we take our turbans off, we also lose contact with our "true will". Out of sync.

when that is said, it's likely that every level has it's own relatively true will.


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 Anonymous
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02/10/2014 6:11 pm  

The true will in relation to each level (of the telemic grades) might be summed up as: ones perspective (knowledge) and ability to direct one's self on each level (which for instance depends on spiritual perception)  :-X


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Tao
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02/10/2014 8:25 pm  
"newneubergOuch2" wrote:
In letters and in forums it is better to be able to sum up ones thoughts in a line or five, that is a measure of success and clarity imho.

Agreed. Let's see what we can do...

"Los" wrote:
I'm honestly not eager to write a post that gets into the nitpicky minutiae of the ways that I think you're misreading Crowley and misreading me.

In fact, writing such a post would be a waste of time if you and I are talking past each other, and I think we actually are right now

Ah, well... then we're done here.


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Tao
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02/10/2014 8:29 pm  

Kidding.

Let's try that again...

"Los" wrote:
Well, we're talking about what the guy wrote and what he meant. That's a form of interpretation. Even the process of selecting quotations, laying them out, and saying "here!" -- with no extra comment -- is itself guided by an implicit interpretation.

The nature of our disagreement appears to be that your interpretation of what Crowley meant by "True Will" differs from mine. I say "appears to be" because I'm not totally sure what your interpretation is, as you haven't really addressed my question about "purpose." See below.

Yep, we're going to get off to a rocky start. To me, "interpret" carries the notion of explaining (from the Latin interpretari: to explain, translate). What you are doing is clearly a process of interpretation. If I were "selecting" quotations and laying them out, keeping back the ones that don't fit in with my preferred explanation, then I would agree that my practice could be said to be guided by an implicit interpretation. That is, in fact, what I see you doing in regards to the colliding stars and the fight over an orange. However, that is not my intention or my practice thus far. I am seeking out everything the man wrote on the subject in order to fit all the pieces into a coherent whole. To that end, I do not see myself as interpreting (at least not yet) and thus the frustration you are having in trying to discover my interpretation. I want to see what the man has to say for himself, from one end of his career to the other (or at least from 1916 onward) in order to see if there is an answer to this question that encompasses all of the data.

"Los" wrote:
I've already conceded that the phrasing and perhaps aspects of meaning of Crowley's usage of "True Will" differs a bit from quotation to quotation. My goal here is to explain what I see as a remarkable consistency in Crowley's usage of the term over a very long period of time. Identifying that consistency necessitates pointing to general trends in his discussion of the term, which is an inductive process that emphasizes commonalities that are maintained over long periods of time and treats as far less important (and perhaps practically irrelevant) small differences that are not repeated with consistency.

This is, I claim, the best way to proceed when we're faced with a huge body of work and a desire to locate a definition for "True Will" (or, I guess we can say, the essence of Crowley's definition of True Will). The purpose of arriving at such a definition is not merely academic (figuring out what Crowley meant for the sake of figuring out what Crowley meant) but practical: figuring out what Crowley's writings, as a whole, tell us about True Will (what it functionally is and how to discover it) so that we may practice Thelema intelligently.

If you're not interested in figuring out what Crowley's body of work, as a whole, has to tell us about True Will, then you and I are talking past each other (as I suspect we're probably doing), and we either have to find some common ground to be able to have a discussion, or we'll just have to be frustrated.

I, as well, am interested in figuring out what Crowley's body of work, as a whole, has to tell us about "True Will". In your interpretation thus far, you favorably reference Magick in Theory and Practice, Little Essays Toward Truth, The Heart of the Master, The New Comment to AL, The Scientific Solution to the Problem of Government, Liber Aleph, and Book 4, Pt. I, and you dismiss Liber II, De Lege Libellum, and Duty as, if not complete outliers, at least not consistent enough to fit in with the overall generalization. I've already questioned your use of the passage from Book 4 which leaves you at about a 66%, not nearly close enough to as a whole to rest one's laurels on it, IMHO.

We do clearly diverge on the academic/practical question. Guided by the OP, I am specifically looking at this thread from an academic viewpoint. It seems to me that, by grinding down the edges that don't fit into the neat little box of your practical usage, you are missing some of what Crowley actually meant.

"Los" wrote:
EDIT: Reading this over, I think I may have misread you. When you said a "common one with Crowley," I think you might have been trying to say "accept that Crowley really did generally mean the thing that you [Los] are claiming that he did generally mean." If that's what I meant, disregard the above.

Yes, specifically regarding the meaning of the word "purpose".

"Los" wrote:
I spent several years just reading every Crowley book I could get my hands on, and then several more years studying them (taking notes, underlining, cross-referencing, the whole nine yards). I've been writing about Crowley for enough years now that I have lists of quotations in various documents that I can look up, but I am mostly working from memory in most of these discussions.

Ah, that fickle fiend Memory.

"Los" wrote:
I wasn't using "purpose" to mean "that which is necessary for survival, universally." I was using "purpose" to mean "the function for which nature has fit something...what that thing naturally does."

Yes, but Crowley, in Magick in Theory and Practice (quoted previously), says both that this course is necessary (within the context of the Universe) and that doing one's True Will is "a duty founded upon universal necessity." Thus:
If your definition of "purpose" is meant to be "natural function"
and
If that definition is meant to apply when Crowley writes that "This injunction... binds every man to follow out exactly the purpose for which he is fitted..."
Then: The following out of natural function must be a duty founded upon universal necessity.

Do you have a new definition for "necessity" that makes that work or are we possibly looking at something a bit different than realizing you're fitted to be a plumber?

"Los" wrote:
This is how I take Crowley's use of the term most often when discussing True Will. [emphasis mine]

And yet there are still those rare instances where it doesn't fit, aren't there?

Here's what it boils down to: As I wrote in my long post addressing your interpretation, I agree with you (for the most part) as far as you go. But I don't think you go far enough. The crux of it was at the end of my post:

"Tao" wrote:
Your definitions go as far as Crowley's "'who' one is" and "'what' one is" but stop well short of the "'why' one is"... [Crowley] deems that the True Will is implicit in the "why" and that one should be able to put it into words. Those words (or "One Word") delineate a "proper course", i.e. in line with the necessity of the universe. Then one must train oneself up to fulfilling that purpose.

To Crowley, this is not a question of simply following one's inclinations. This is a question of discovering those inclinations and then examining them in order to discover one's purpose (one's destiny, to use his analogy), the thing that unifies them into a simple statement of Will. The Great Work is then to fulfill that statement of purpose.

A good analogy might be that of a chemistry professor. She will, over the course of her career, teach exponentially more Chem 101 lectures than she will Advanced Topics in Neurologically Active Compounds. In order to get the thousands of disinterested 18-year-olds through their science requirement, her 101 lectures contain general overviews of concepts that are all true, though not extremely detailed or complex. If we were to go through her writings after her death, we would be inundated with analogies of atoms to solar systems and lab experiments that amount to changing the color of liquids from red to blue. However, if we were to dig deeper into all of her writings, even the stuff that seems weird and far-out and possibly written under the influence of some of the compounds she examined in her upper level tutorial, we would start to get a picture of how her mind actually worked. We'd realize at the very least that she understood the difference between a model and reality and we might also start to see some of her explorations into non-standard ways of viewing reality through her discussion of advanced models.

In the case of Crowley and True Will, I don't argue that you've got the 101 down pat. I do, however, think that, in throwing out what you consider to be Crowley's whacky bathwater (filled with oranges and stardust), you've tossed his baby as well and replaced it with one of your own.


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belmurru
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02/10/2014 9:13 pm  
"Los" wrote:
"belmurru" wrote:
One thing that strikes me about the doctrine of True Will is Crowley's notion that conflict is problematic - this comes from his preferred metaphor, that of the course of a star.

Even though stars do collide.

Crowley's notion of stars colliding is interesting to me, since in his day it was - or must have been - one of the rarer things astronomers theorized, and, it remained unproven until at least 2000. See, e.g.

http://web.archive.org/web/20040419035725/http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/stellar_collisions_000601.html

"Scientists claimed Wednesday [May 31, 2000] to have found hard evidence of stellar collisions, something researchers had sought for decades. The announcement came at the outset of a conference entitled Stellar Collisions and Mergers, held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York."

The idea of stellar collisions to explain supernovae and other exceptional stellar events was floated in the 1930s, as far as I can tell so far in my superficial research, but for earlier references I have to assume it was science fiction.

I am chiefly interested in Crowley's stellar metaphor because I think it is one of the deeper roots of his doctrine of the True Will (this in another post), and it includes, intrinscically, the idea that each star has a proper orbit and rarely - if ever - collides with another.

And as I've pointed out in a few places, I think this is one area where Crowley was just plain wrong.
On this point of non-clashing wills, both The Book and reality are against Crowley. There's really nothing in The Book that suggests that True Will won't conflict (and, actually, there's a lot of stuff in The Book that would seem to suggest otherwise). And certainly, reality gives us no reason to think that two creatures, following their natures, couldn't come into conflict. In fact, if we take it as a given that animals follow their natures (not having conscious minds that could pull them away from their natures, as humans do), then it would seem that creatures following their natures come into conflict all the time.

But since Liber Legis doesn't even mention "True Will" at all, it is a matter of interpretation to find anything at all pertaining to it there. Crowley very much did, and that certainly makes it pertinent to the range of this thread.

Of course, we might well speculate that if every person were to start doing their True Will, there would be less conflict in the world, maybe even significantly less (just think of how much conflict is driven by people caring about what other people do privately; at a stroke, all of the conflict about gay marriage, gay adoption, contraceptive coverage by health care, teaching sex education and evolution, etc. would just vanish).

Now Crowley did devote some space to trying to work out the idea that two True Wills can't conflict. It appears in several places in his Comment to the Book, in Duty, I think here and there in Liber Aleph, and in at least one of those epistles he wrote (the one with the example of two boys wanting to eat the last orange...they can't *both* have the True Will to eat the orange, Crowley reasons, because their Wills can't conflict!).

The reason I don't include this idea in the definition I generalize from Crowley's writings is that I think Crowley's demonstrably wrong on this point.

I chose to put this thread in "Writer" rather than "Thelema" in order to focus on Crowley's own ideas, rather than on our ideas of what he got wrong or right in order to promote our own ideas of what Thelema is. It is important to discuss all of Crowley's essential ideas on the subject, not just the ones we agree with. Your system may well be worth discussing, based on Crowley and throwing out what you don't like or think is demonstrably wrong, but that is not for this thread. Crowley's idea that, in a world where eveyrone did their True Will there would be little conflict, is something he continually insisted on, and deserves to be discussed, debated, and interpreted as well. It does not deserve to be swept quietly under the rug.

Plus, it leads to incredibly weird conclusions, like the idea that whoever wins a fight was, by definition, doing his True Will while the loser was not (in the orange example, Crowley suggests that the two boys might fight over the orange, and the winner would be the one who *actually* had the True Will to eat the orange). This sort of idea strikes me not only as bizarre and impractical and completely unjustified by anything in The Book, but possibly even dangerous.

Perhaps that Crowley had some dangerous thoughts when taken to their logical conclusion may come as a shock to some, but I think most of us here take it for granted. Indeed, one of the dangerous aspects is that it implies fate, destiny, or pre-incarnate choice, which I think is very much part of Crowley's conception of True Will.


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Tao
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02/10/2014 9:23 pm  
"Los" wrote:
...reality gives us no reason to think that two creatures, following their natures, couldn't come into conflict. In fact, if we take it as a given that animals follow their natures (not having conscious minds that could pull them away from their natures, as humans do), then it would seem that creatures following their natures come into conflict all the time.

Of course, we might well speculate that if every person were to start doing their True Will, there would be less conflict in the world, maybe even significantly less (just think of how much conflict is driven by people caring about what other people do privately; at a stroke, all of the conflict about gay marriage, gay adoption, contraceptive coverage by health care, teaching sex education and evolution, etc. would just vanish).

Doesn't this suggest that this "True Will" thing is something different than fulfilling "natural function"? If by following our True Will we lessen conflict (and I do agree that Crowley says this throughout his writing), doesn't that belie the idea that it is just following "natural function" which, when we observe nature, causes conflict all the time?


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Tao
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02/10/2014 9:40 pm  
"belmurru" wrote:
I am chiefly interested in Crowley's stellar metaphor because I think it is one of the deeper roots of his doctrine of the True Will (this in another post), and it includes, intrinscically, the idea that each star has a proper orbit and rarely - if ever - collides with another.

belmurru, have you read Dion Fortune's The Cosmic Doctrine? I ask because, the more I turn the ideas of this thread over in my head, the more I am reminded of her terminology throughout that book. She uses words like Cosmos, Universe, Planet, solar system, etc. as place holders for concepts that don't fit directly into language in her (Its?) overall attempt to build up a complex metaphor for cosmic history. The parallels that stand out most at the moment are:

1 - Also a "channeled" work. In TCD, though, Fortune (or her source) states explicitly that the concepts are channelled but the translation into English relies on the contents of Fortune's brain at the time. Thus the use of terms she had acquired through general usage, Golden Dawn, and Theosophic training in ways that are not exactly dictionary kosher. This resonates with Crowley's use of "star" and "galaxy". Perhaps he's not exactly talking about those big balls of gas in the heavens or, if he is, perhaps, as you say, he's utilising the model that his brain had at the time to analogize a non-material concept.

2 - The concept of "proper course" is central to that work as well. For every being traveling through the cosmos, paths have been forged by beings in the past and there is benefit in riding along the one of those that is best for the present. This keeps each being evolving forward and prevents two beings from colliding. In TCD, it's made explicit that this is not a direct correlation to anything in the material universe but is a visual model to make the concepts comprehensible.


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belmurru
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02/10/2014 9:43 pm  
"Tao" wrote:
"belmurru" wrote:
I am chiefly interested in Crowley's stellar metaphor because I think it is one of the deeper roots of his doctrine of the True Will (this in another post), and it includes, intrinscically, the idea that each star has a proper orbit and rarely - if ever - collides with another.

belmurru, have you read Dion Fortune's The Cosmic Doctrine? I ask because, the more I turn the ideas of this thread over in my head, the more I am reminded of her terminology throughout that book. She uses words like Cosmos, Universe, Planet, solar system, etc. as place holders for concepts that don't fit directly into language in her (Its?) overall attempt to build up a complex metaphor for cosmic history. The parallels that stand out most at the moment are:

1 - Also a "channeled" work. In TCD, though, Fortune (or her source) states explicitly that the concepts are channelled but the translation into English relies on the contents of Fortune's brain at the time. Thus the use of terms she had acquired through general usage, Golden Dawn, and Theosophic training in ways that are not exactly dictionary kosher. This resonates with Crowley's use of "star" and "galaxy". Perhaps he's not exactly talking about those big balls of gas in the heavens or, if he is, perhaps, as you say, he's utilising the model that his brain had at the time to analogize a non-material concept.

2 - The concept of "proper course" is central to that work as well. For every being traveling through the cosmos, paths have been forged by beings in the past and there is benefit in riding along the one of those that is best for the present. This keeps each being evolving forward and prevents two beings from colliding. In TCD, it's made explicit that this is not a direct correlation to anything in the material universe but is a visual model to make the concepts comprehensible.

No, thanks for the reference. I'll go look it up now.


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Tao
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02/10/2014 9:45 pm  

In re: "totality of one's being"

Liber Aleph vel CXI, ν De Somniis. ε Clavicula.

THE Dream delightful is then a Pageant of the Fulfilment of the true Will, and the Nightmare a symbolic Battle between it and its Assailants in thyself. But there can be only one true Will, even as there can be only one proper Motion in any Body, no matter of how many Forces that Motion be the Resultant. Seek therefore this Will, and conjoin with it thy conscious Self; for this is that which is written: "Thou hast no right but to do thy Will. Do that, and no other shall say nay." Thou seest, o my Son, that all conscious Opposition to thy Will, whether in Ignorance, or by Obstinacy, or through Fear of others, may in the end endanger even thy true Self, and bring thy Star into Disaster.

And this is the true Key to Dreams; see that thou be diligent in its Use, and unlock therewith the secret Chambers of thine Heart. [emphasis mine]


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Tao
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02/10/2014 9:47 pm  
"belmurru" wrote:
No, thanks for the reference. I'll go look it up now.

It's a big one. And mind-bendingly dense. But if you read over the Introductions by Fortune and her source and possibly Chapter 1, you should get the gist of what I'm getting at.


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Los
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03/10/2014 12:53 am  
"Tao" wrote:
I do not see myself as interpreting

Well, okay, whatever you want to call what you're doing, you evidently disagree with what I mean by "purpose," and that's what I was asking you to explain. You still have not explained it (see the very end of this post).

In your interpretation thus far, you favorably reference Magick in Theory and Practice, Little Essays Toward Truth, The Heart of the Master, The New Comment to AL, The Scientific Solution to the Problem of Government, Liber Aleph, and Book 4, Pt. I, and you dismiss Liber II, De Lege Libellum, and Duty as, if not complete outliers, at least not consistent enough to fit in with the overall generalization.

I haven't "dismissed" them at all. They just weren't among the works I quoted because I have limited time and energy. If you look in those works, you'll see Crowley advancing the same points that he advanced elsewhere.

"Los" wrote:
I wasn't using "purpose" to mean "that which is necessary for survival, universally." I was using "purpose" to mean "the function for which nature has fit something...what that thing naturally does."

Yes, but Crowley, in Magick in Theory and Practice (quoted previously), says both that this course is necessary (within the context of the Universe) and that doing one's True Will is "a duty founded upon universal necessity." Thus:
If your definition of "purpose" is meant to be "natural function"
and
If that definition is meant to apply when Crowley writes that "This injunction... binds every man to follow out exactly the purpose for which he is fitted..."
Then: The following out of natural function must be a duty founded upon universal necessity.

Do you have a new definition for "necessity" that makes that work or are we possibly looking at something a bit different than realizing you're fitted to be a plumber?

I think this is one of those places where we're talking past each other.

If someone realizes that he's cut out to be a plumber -- that is, if his observations of his True Self, as free as possible from the distorting influences of the mind, consistently reveal an authentic inclination to do the kind of tasks consistent with the trade that we call "being a plumber" -- then that's the course that's "natural and necessary" for him. "Necessary" because it *is* his nature, and nature inevitably executes its function, always.

Remember, in one sense, the True Will is everything a person does. It has to be "necessary" because everything that happens is -- by definition (in fact, definition #1, as I mentioned earlier) -- the True Will.

But in a practical sense, that's not very useful, so it's more convenient to understand True Will as that which an individual does when that individual succeeds as much as possible in reducing internal restriction (definition #2).

And in terms of coming up with a plan for action, it's much more convenient to think of True Will as a "life path," as a course created by the natural inclinations of the individual, in the same way that the course of a star is created by the natural forces acting upon it (definition #3). It's in this sense that "figure out 'why you are'" makes sense; it's in this sense that "It's my True Will to design helicopters" makes sense.

I'm having a hard time figuring out what you mean by "necessary" and how you think it diverges from what I'm saying.

"Los" wrote:
This is how I take Crowley's use of the term most often when discussing True Will. [emphasis mine]

And yet there are still those rare instances where it doesn't fit, aren't there?

In the same way that anyone who wrote for decades on a topic is going to say some things that "don't fit" with some of the other things. I think you're putting *way* more emphasis than is justified on a handful of quotations that really don't echo across the decades the ways that the other aspects of Crowley's explanations of True Will do.

Here's what it boils down to: As I wrote in my long post addressing your interpretation, I agree with you (for the most part) as far as you go. But I don't think you go far enough. The crux of it was at the end of my post

Yeah, but you still haven't explained how you're reading "purpose," if not "The function for which something has been fit by nature...that which the thing naturally does." How does your definition of "purpose" diverge from mine?


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Los
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03/10/2014 1:13 am  
"belmurru" wrote:
But since Liber Legis doesn't even mention "True Will" at all, it is a matter of interpretation to find anything at all pertaining to it there.

Oh, come on. The exact phrase "separation of church and state" doesn't appear in the Constitution of the United States, but the *idea* referred to by the phrase clearly *is* in the Constitution. In a very similar way, the exact phrase "True Will" doesn't appear in the Book of the Law, but the idea does.

I chose to put this thread in "Writer" rather than "Thelema" in order to focus on Crowley's own ideas, rather than on our ideas of what he got wrong or right in order to promote our own ideas of what Thelema is. It is important to discuss all of Crowley's essential ideas on the subject, not just the ones we agree with. Your system may well be worth discussing, based on Crowley and throwing out what you don't like or think is demonstrably wrong, but that is not for this thread. Crowley's idea that, in a world where eveyrone did their True Will there would be little conflict, is something he continually insisted on, and deserves to be discussed, debated, and interpreted as well. It does not deserve to be swept quietly under the rug.

A few points here. I'm certainly not attempting to sweep anything under the rug. I've been very open about discussing what Crowley got wrong about The Book of the Law. If you'd like, I could enumerate the passages of the Book that suggest that the idea of "non-clashing wills" is wrong.

But a broader point here is that I'm not convinced that Crowley's idea of "non-clashing" is all that fundamental to his practical understanding of True Will (that is, how he thought one actually discovers and accomplishes the True Will) -- in the same way that I'm not convinced that Crowley's idea of "pre-incarnate choice" is all that relevant to his practical understanding of True Will.

We all know that Crowley badly wanted to style himself as some kind of wizard or grand poobah, and he of course played around with all kinds of metaphysical narratives -- far less seriously, I would argue, than some of his self-styled followers take a number of these narratives.

So we can find implications in Crowley's writings of True Will having an influence on multiple lifetimes, or of True Will possibly even precluding conflict if followed correctly.

But when push comes to shove -- when Crowley actually talks about how one actually does discover and engage with True Will -- none of these metaphysical speculations matter one whit. In contrast to his sometimes flighty and often flowery and poetically embellished speculations on what True Will might be, Crowley discusses the actual application of True Will in concrete, practical terms, as the actual nature of individual in conjunction with the environment.

It's all well and good to note that Crowley had a bunch of these speculations that he experimented with, but it's also important to put them into context. For every reference that kinda implies True Will might have an impact on past lives, I'm confident there are at least three of four explicit statements that True Will is actually the authentic inclinations of the individual. For every passage in which Crowley tries to work out how everyone following their True Will might somehow lead to cosmic harmony, there are many passages (in The Book and elsewhere, not to mention episodes in Crowley's life itself) where Crowley describes violence and conflict as necessary.

Now we can look at all that and say, "Dude was just confused," which is what someone might say if they insisted on parsing every single quotation and trying to make every single reference and every piece of terminology "fit" into some grand unified theory of the True Will. But that is, of course, not true to how people actually come up with ideas. The alternative is that we can look at the big picture and admire the remarkable consistency, over the course of decades, in which Crowley is very clear about the True Will being the actual inclinations of an individual (in contrast to what an individual merely *thinks* his inclinations are or should be ideally).


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Los
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03/10/2014 1:20 am  
"Tao" wrote:
"Los" wrote:
...reality gives us no reason to think that two creatures, following their natures, couldn't come into conflict. In fact, if we take it as a given that animals follow their natures (not having conscious minds that could pull them away from their natures, as humans do), then it would seem that creatures following their natures come into conflict all the time.

Of course, we might well speculate that if every person were to start doing their True Will, there would be less conflict in the world, maybe even significantly less (just think of how much conflict is driven by people caring about what other people do privately; at a stroke, all of the conflict about gay marriage, gay adoption, contraceptive coverage by health care, teaching sex education and evolution, etc. would just vanish).

Doesn't this suggest that this "True Will" thing is something different than fulfilling "natural function"? If by following our True Will we lessen conflict (and I do agree that Crowley says this throughout his writing), doesn't that belie the idea that it is just following "natural function" which, when we observe nature, causes conflict all the time?

No, you've misunderstood me (not for the first time, either).

I was saying above that a great deal of human conflict is motivated not by our actual natures/inclinations, but by stories dreamt up by our conscious minds (which is one of the primary things that distinguishes us from other animals).

It is because we have minds and thoughts -- which can lead us astray from our actual inclinations -- that we have conflicts like violent persecution of gay people, attempts to suppress realistic sex education, and even (on a more trivial level) fights between individuals driven by perceived threats to one's "manhood."

These are artificial conflicts, and what I was saying above is that if everyone started following their True Wills (that is, if people shifted their focus away from these stories or "fancy pictures" and shifted their focus *onto* their actual inclinations) then we would likely see a decrease in the overall amount of conflict.

After all, imagine a world where people didn't much care about what their neighbors were doing, other than when it directly impacted them. Imagine a world where each person just pursued their own interests and only got into conflict with others when it was absolutely necessary to achieve their own interests. There would still be conflict, but I feel pretty confident that it would be less conflict than currently exists.

What I've been saying on this thread, of course, isn't a "reason" to do one's True Will. It's just a thought experiment.


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Los
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03/10/2014 1:53 am  
"Tao" wrote:
In re: "totality of one's being"

Nothing in that extract clarifies what "totality of one's being" might mean.

Look, imagine a scenario where you and I are talking to a person who wants to be a Thelemite. The guy asks, "So...I want to discover my True Will. What should I do?"

You say to him, "Why, just discover the totality of your being and conjoin yourself to it!!!!!!"

I say to him, "In order to discover your True Will, it is necessary to discern those specific places where your mental representation of yourself (your "self image") fails to align properly with the actual inclinations that you have. For example, you might tell yourself that it's a good thing to be an artist or to work for a charitable organization, and you might build up a mental image of yourself having qualities that you associate with those things (compassion for other people, a duty to help random strangers in trouble whenever you see them, a need to get involved in social justice movements)...but if you follow that mental image when, in actuality, your inclination is to find a partner, get married, settle down, raise a family, write detective novels, and pass your existence in quiet enjoyment of the fruits of those activities, then you're going to be miserable if you try to make yourself be some kind of great activist. So the method of discovering your True Will is to train your mind to perceive without the distorting lenses that your thoughts typically throw over reality. Common techniques for training your mind in this way include meditation and basic magical rituals, but some creative investigation will reveal other methods better suited to you. Once you're capable of paying attention without the interference of the distorting influences of the mind, consistently paying attention to the reactions of your Self in real time will reveal those instances in which your mental image of yourself diverges from the actual inclination of the Self. Once you've seen this at least one time, your task will become exponentially easier, and you will be able to identify and ameliorate, in real time, the influence of the thoughts that veil from you the glory of yourself (you will, to speak symbolically, pierce the veil of the Khu that blocks the Khabs from your awareness)."

Which one actually conveys information, and which one is a feel good platitude that conveys little to no information?


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newneubergOuch2
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03/10/2014 1:59 am  

That was a good post Los. Well done.


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Tao
 Tao
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03/10/2014 3:12 am  

And yet again I will repeat myself: I do not disagree with anything you've said except the full stop at the end of your definition. I think you have a wonderful entry level explanation and, as your most recent post aptly demonstrates, very practical to boot. Future plumbers of the world, rejoice!

However, it stops short of Crowley's "why". It stops short of Crowley's "totality of one's being". It stops short of acknowledging that Crowley did indeed believe that a battle over an orange could be a legitimate test of the Truth of one's Will.

You are welcome to go out and spread your brand of Los-ianity as far as it will go. As a general, day-to-day application of Thelema to mundane affairs, it's the bees' knees as far as I'm concerned. I, however, find great intrigue in belmurru's exploration of what the man actually wrote and will be continuing to examine all of his writings, not just the ones that fit your paradigm. I like the guy because he's a bit of a weirdo. I'd like to see just how weird he actually got. Or if, perhaps, what looks weird on the outside isn't actually very weird at all once you realize that you're only looking through the wrong lens.


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belmurru
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03/10/2014 8:17 am  
"Los" wrote:
Look, imagine a scenario where you and I are talking to a person who wants to be a Thelemite. The guy asks, "So...I want to discover my True Will. What should I do?"

Crowley's answer would include three methods. In order of increasing importance:

1. Sammasati meditation, as codified for example in Liber Thisharb (this advice is given in The Message of the Master Therion). Introspection, "mindfulness meditation", self-observation.
2. Study and interpretation of your dreams. These are "pageants" of the True Will, this Will speaking to you directly - albeit in metaphor and imagery rather than in didactic language - "no longer inhibited by that conscious Control which is determined by Environment, and therefore oft times contrary to himself. This being so, the Will declareth himself, as it were in a Pageant..." (Liber Aleph, K (11)).
3. Astral journeys, travel in the "Body of Light" . This is of the highest importance because "Whereas the Direction of such Journeys is consciously willed, and determined by Reason, and also unconsciously willed, by the True Self, since without It no Invocation were possible, we have here a Cooperation or Alliance between the Inner and the Outer Self, and thus an Accomplishment, at least partial, of the Great Work." (Liber Aleph, Ξ (15)).

Thus: Introspection, Dream interpretation, Astral travel. 


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belmurru
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03/10/2014 2:28 pm  
"Los" wrote:
"belmurru" wrote:
But since Liber Legis doesn't even mention "True Will" at all, it is a matter of interpretation to find anything at all pertaining to it there.

Oh, come on. The exact phrase "separation of church and state" doesn't appear in the Constitution of the United States, but the *idea* referred to by the phrase clearly *is* in the Constitution. In a very similar way, the exact phrase "True Will" doesn't appear in the Book of the Law, but the idea does.

I don’t want to pretend to lecture an American about the US Constitution, but I would observe that this principle is in an amendment to the Constitution, not in the primary document itself, and that the phrase “wall of separation between Church and State” already existed (Jefferson) and informed the principle enshrined in the amendment. The First Amendment is that wall, even if the phrase Jefferson used is absent, and the idea expressed in different language.

In other words, you have not made an exact analogy, maybe not even one that’s “good enough”. It’s not good enough because while the First Amendment was intended to put Jefferson’s already-expressed principle of a “wall of separation of Church and State” into law, Liber Legis was not intended to be a handbook for discovering and executing any given individual’s True Will (except, arguably, Crowley’s). It is arguable that the full concept Crowley encapsulated in the expression “true will” was nowhere yet in his mind when the book was written. It is very difficult, in fact, to sift the contents of the book in order to reduce it to primarily an individualistic ethical system. Liber Legis is a lot of things, but the parts relevant to self-discovery and ethics or morality are merely small and scattered parts of it, and often very difficult parts if taken literally, or “concretely.”

The reason Crowley’s development of the doctrine of True Will is important is largely because The Book of the Law is not a very good “guide” to what most people want out of “the spiritual path” when they come to it in the first place, which is self-discovery and self’s relationship to the whole (most often sadly abused by spiritual fear-mongers in terms of “salvation” and “damnation” if you do or don’t do certain things). “True Will” provides one crucial trajectory through the confusing mass of visionary language and teaching that Crowley promulgated through his publications, lectures, and organizations like the AA. 

I chose to put this thread in "Writer" rather than "Thelema" in order to focus on Crowley's own ideas, rather than on our ideas of what he got wrong or right in order to promote our own ideas of what Thelema is. It is important to discuss all of Crowley's essential ideas on the subject, not just the ones we agree with. Your system may well be worth discussing, based on Crowley and throwing out what you don't like or think is demonstrably wrong, but that is not for this thread. Crowley's idea that, in a world where eveyrone did their True Will there would be little conflict, is something he continually insisted on, and deserves to be discussed, debated, and interpreted as well. It does not deserve to be swept quietly under the rug.

A few points here. I'm certainly not attempting to sweep anything under the rug. I've been very open about discussing what Crowley got wrong about The Book of the Law. If you'd like, I could enumerate the passages of the Book that suggest that the idea of "non-clashing wills" is wrong.

No need, I can do it myself. We’re in agreement on this point in any case.

But a broader point here is that I'm not convinced that Crowley's idea of "non-clashing" is all that fundamental to his practical understanding of True Will (that is, how he thought one actually discovers and accomplishes the True Will) -- in the same way that I'm not convinced that Crowley's idea of "pre-incarnate choice" is all that relevant to his practical understanding of True Will.

Well, as I said in a post above, I didn’t post this thread as a “how-to” or “what’s the best way to practice Thelema?’. I didn’t post it in Thelema or Magick. I posted it in “Writer” to examine Crowley’s understanding of the expression he coined, and what became and has remained a central principle for succeeding generations of Thelemites – “True Will”.

I think that that the theory is as important as the practical, and even moreso when examining his thought. It is vitally important to grasp the principles that lay behind all of his practical explanations and expressions.

We all know that Crowley badly wanted to style himself as some kind of wizard or grand poobah, and he of course played around with all kinds of metaphysical narratives -- far less seriously, I would argue, than some of his self-styled followers take a number of these narratives.

He doesn’t mince his words about his belief in reincarnation, the True Self as the reincarnating Supernal Triad, and the Oaths taken in a past life informing the present one, in letter 47 of Magick Without Tears. These are some of his core beliefs, unprovable as he admirably admits, and they did very much inform his development of the doctrine of True Will.

His assertions of skepticism in other places are just “plausible deniability”, or his diplomatic instinct. He really didn’t care if such beliefs could be "proven", as long as the belief worked for him and kept him going, even inspired him (he was a lyric poet, after all). I don’t begrudge him that attitude at all.

So we can find implications in Crowley's writings of True Will having an influence on multiple lifetimes, or of True Will possibly even precluding conflict if followed correctly.

But when push comes to shove -- when Crowley actually talks about how one actually does discover and engage with True Will -- none of these metaphysical speculations matter one whit. In contrast to his sometimes flighty and often flowery and poetically embellished speculations on what True Will might be, Crowley discusses the actual application of True Will in concrete, practical terms, as the actual nature of individual in conjunction with the environment.

Practical considerations will always outnumber abstract or theoretical ones. Especially since much of Crowley’s writing on True Will is addressed explicitly or implicitly to somebody’s request for practical information about the subject. An engineer may build 20 bridges, but that doesn’t mean that the theory of bridge-building he explained in only one place isn’t the core guiding principle behind the various diverse constructions. In fact, understanding the abstract theory may very well provide the key to understanding the success and consistency of his designs for various diverse conditions. 

Now we can look at all that and say, "Dude was just confused," which is what someone might say if they insisted on parsing every single quotation and trying to make every single reference and every piece of terminology "fit" into some grand unified theory of the True Will.

I don’t think dude was confused. I think he had a GUT of True Will, and that included the idea that the True Self, Jechidah-Chiah-Neschamah, incarnates expressly to try to perform it.

We may disagree, we may need to disagree with this core principle, but if we do, we have to explain why we insist on riding Crowley’s coat-tails using the term “True Will” when it is not necessary if we are simply explaining a simple psychological or self-consciously ethical way to live.


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belmurru
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03/10/2014 2:59 pm  
"belmurru" wrote:
In other words, you have not made an exact analogy, maybe not even one that’s “good enough”. It’s not good enough because while the First Amendment was intended to put Jefferson’s already-expressed principle of a “wall of separation of Church and State” into law, Liber Legis was not intended to be a handbook for discovering and executing any given individual’s True Will (except, arguably, Crowley’s). It is arguable that the full concept Crowley encapsulated in the expression “true will” was nowhere yet in his mind when the book was written.

I should have added that a legal code, hammered out over 15 years (and more), by dozens of men through argument and rough experience in the real world trying to implement it, is in no way comparable to a single man writing alone, without argument, in three hours.

BUT - the emergence of the principle that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." IS analogous, formally, to the emergence of the concept of "True Will" in Crowley's thought as he wrestled with himself and the Book over a decade later.


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belmurru
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03/10/2014 3:43 pm  

On the non-clashing of True Wills, while he expressed this potential "harmony" in exaggerated terms, I think that Crowley would ultimately agree with the "ameliorated" version that Los advocates, namely that more people doing their True Wills would lessen conflict, or the cause for conflict, but never, of course, eliminate it entirely. I don't have the quotes on hand, but I think Crowley would cite something like the "Law of the Jungle", - "The Law of the Strong, this is our law..." etc. He would say that the "strong", the King, knows his Will better, and therefore is more likely to win in a case of conflict. "The slaves shall serve" is then the principle that the lesser will, less pure or true, submits to the greater.

So in the case of the two boys and the orange, while both might think they must and will eat the orange, only one really wants to eat the orange, and this will be proven by his winning it.

It is a form of "Might makes right, or at least proves it in hindsight.

But I wonder what prevents the boys from sharing it? Or, in this thought experiment, can we be sure both boys are equally hungry, in an objective way? We would need two nearly physically identical boys, both starved for a week, and then put into a room with an orange and told that only one can have it, and must fight for it. And they must not share.

Obviously this experiment has biased the outcome already, so it seems unworkable even as a thought experiment. In the real world, where people do fight for things and often don't share, we can never measure all of the variables objectively and say that, definitively, the True Will of both contenders was either equal or not. It is just too complex of a question, and it seems like on such a small scale the doctrine of True Will is too blunt of an instrument to decide. We can't think to ourselves "Is it my True Will to wear the lighter or darker blue socks with these shoes?"

In fact, convention is enough of a guide for such decisions, and "the law of the strong" is enough for the orange-fight, and it is gratuitous to invoke True Will as some kind of judge. True Will might come into the case where someone decides, against all convention "I won't wear any socks or shoes at all, I'll go barefoot", because then it would be a test of one's will in the face of whatever kind of opposition.


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Michael Staley
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03/10/2014 4:23 pm  

An interesting series of posts, belmurru; enjoyable food for thought.


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belmurru
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03/10/2014 5:31 pm  
"Michael Staley" wrote:
An interesting series of posts, belmurru; enjoyable food for thought.

Glad you find them interesting. I told you (all) that I had a lot of notes, I am just not a great writer, really, I find it tedious, and I tend to be painstaking when I compose a response I'm willing to defend, as long as it's not misunderstood - either willfully (by someone with an axe to grind) or by some inadvertent phrasing on my part. And that is what makes it so difficult to compose - trying to write so as not to be misunderstood - and that is just the beginning! 

I became interested in the origin of the phrase "True Will" because of a series of passages in the Confessions where Crowley uses it quite a lot, and, knowing that the term wasn't in the Book of the Law, or any of the Holy Books, or a lot of other earlier places, I wondered if it would be possible with my knowledge of the chronology of his bibliography and biography to determine exactly when and where he coined it.

The passage was this one, from the chapter "Magical Workings" -

Confessions, chapter 58 (p. 514; my bold emphases)

“A magical oath is the most irresistible of all moral forces. It is an affirmation of the true will; that is to say, it is a link between the conscious human and the unconscious divine nature of the man who takes it. A magical oath which does not express the true will sets these forces in opposition and therefore weakens the man the more gravely as the oath is more seriously meant and taken. But given that the oath is a true expression of the true will, its effect is to affirm that very union between the insignificant force of the conscious being and the irresistible might of that which is "one, eternal and individual", that which is inexpugnably immune to all forces soever; which when accomplished constitutes it supreme.

My position was this. In 1897 I had unconsciously discovered my true will and devoted myself to find the means of carrying it out. In 1898 I had found the means and had concentrated all my resources of any kind on making the most of it. I had swept aside every obstacle, internal and external. The reaction of 1902 had lasted just three years; the dam, my carnal mind, had begun to leak; a moment later, it was swept away by the avenging tides; they swept away the last remnant of my reason.”

Besides the intrinsic interest of defining or formulating what he meant by "unconsciously discovered my true will" (and that the phrase is uncapitalized - I don't know if this is due to Symonds-Grant or is original) because of this "Stockholm Revelation" (as I call it - at the moment the best overall definition I can come up with is that his True Will was to be consumed by love, to be the beloved rather than the lover, to surrender rather than conquer (see De Lege Libellum III, “Of Life”, §10 (p. 73 in Equinox III,10) for his use of these terms in the context of (True) Will, and which I think are also best seen in the light of the meaning of 5=6 and 8=3, the two essential or crisis “grades” which are everyone’s birthright (see One Star in Sight, last Crowley footnote)), there is also the important emphasis on the “conscious human” and “unconscious divine” natures, the importance of the Oath (which is better understood in the context of reincarnation, as per the note in One Star in Sight above, as well as other places), as well as his use of the quoted phrase “one, eternal and individual”, which we can understand better in the light of his commentary on AL I,3, where he includes the diary entry from 1919 beginning “All elements must at one time have been separate…”, and equates the normal chemical elements, assumed to be equally indestructible (which we now know not to be precisely the case) by analogy with the indestructible True Self).

Finally, another stray note on this passage -

What was the oath, what was the link? One answer is the general “Perdurabo”, and the Oath he took in his Neophyte Initiation into the G.D., but in this passage he is also building up to the diary entry of 8 February 1906 that he quotes in the next paragraph – “About this full moon consciousness begins to break through Ruach into Neschamah. Intend to stick to Augoeides.” This oath and its performance was the link that brought him to the long-awaited Samadhi of 9 October of that year – “Certainty, not faith”: the gnosis. Crowley frequently emphasizes this direct knowledge, through experience, such as in De Lege Libellum I, where he says that the True Will is a discovery that “each must make for himself, attaining absolute conviction by direct experience, not merely reasoning and calculating what is probable..”


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belmurru
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03/10/2014 6:28 pm  

This passage from earlier in the Confessions gives some more indication of what he meant by "unconsciously discovering" his True Will in 1897. It alludes to Dickson in Stockholm, Pollit exactly one year later, and his illness of October 1897. He also gives us his first formulation of his True Will - by which point, it would seem, it was no longer "unconscious".

Confessons, chapter 14 (pp.  123-125)

“Two main events were destined to put me on the road towards myself. The first took place in Stockholm about midnight of December 31st, 1896. I was awakened to the knowledge that I possessed a magical means of becoming conscious of and satisfying a part of my nature which had up to that moment concealed itself from me. It was an experience of horror and pain, combined with a certain ghostly terror, yet at the same time it was the key to the purest and holiest spiritual ecstasy that exists. At the time, I was not aware of the supreme importance of the matter. It seemed to me little more than a development of certain magical processes with which I was already familiar. It was an isolated experience, not repeated until exactly twelve months later, to the minute. But this second occasion quickened my spirit, always with the result of "loosening the girders of the soul", so that my animal nature stood rebuked and kept silence in the presence of the immanent divinity of the Holy Ghost; omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, yet blossoming in my soul as if the entire forces of the universe from all eternity were concentrated and made manifest in a single rose.

“The second event took place in October 1897. The occasion was an attack of illness. It was nothing very serious and I had long been accustomed to expect to die before I came of age. But for some reason or other I found myself forced to meditate upon the fact of mortality. It was impressed upon me that I hadn't a moment to lose. There was no fear of death or of a possible "hereafter"; but I was appalled by the idea of the futility of all human endeavour. Suppose, I said to myself, that I make a great success in diplomacy and become ambassador to Paris. There was no good in that --- I could not so much as remember the name of the ambassador a hundred years ago. Again, I wanted to be a great poet. Well, here I was in one of the two places in England that made a specialty of poets, yet only an insignificant fraction of the three thousand men in residence knew anything about so great a man as Aeschylus. I was not sufficiently enlightened to understand that the fame of the man had little or nothing to do with his real success, that the proof of his prowess lay in the invisible influence with he had had upon generations of men. My imagination went a step further. Suppose I did more than Caesar or Napoleon in one line, or than Homer and Shakespeare in the other --- my work would be automatically cancelled when the globe became uninhabitable for man.

“I did not go into a definite trance in this mediation; but a spiritual consciousness was born in me corresponding to that which characterizes the Vision of the Universal Sorrow, as I learnt to call it later on. In Buddhist phraseology, I perceived the First Noble Truth --- Sabbé Pi Dukkham --- everything is sorrow. But this perception was confined to the planes familiar to the normal human consciousness. The fatuity of any work based upon physical continuity was evident. But I had at this time no reason for supposing that the same criticism applied to any transcendental universe. I formulated my will somewhat as follows: "I must find a material in which to work which is immune from the forces of change." I suppose that I still accepted Christian metaphysics in some sense or another. I had been satisfied to escape from religion to the world. I now found that there was no satisfaction here. I was not content to be annihilated. Spiritual facts were the only things worth while. Brain and body were valueless except as the instruments of the soul."

His earlier biographical account in "Temple of Solomon the King" makes no references to these events, but he did write up a similar brief account in The Revival of Magick in 1917. For comparison -

"I was in my third year at Cambridge when the call came. I had been intended for the Diplomatic Service, and had also a great ambition to be a poet. In fact, I had written many hundred thousand lines, all of which I diligently destroyed in one great holocaust of paraffin and paper a matter of eight years later. It now struck me quite suddenly that, even if I got the Embassy at Paris – why, who was ambassador a century before? I did not know, and nobody knew , or cared.
Even if I got fame like that of Aeschylus – why, who reads Aeschylus? A few scores only, even in a University where Classics are compulsory.
And, anyhow, one day or other the earth must fall into the sun, or go dead like the moon.
I saw the Vanity of Things. I must find a material to build my temple; something more permanent than the hearts and minds of men.
This conclusion came to me reasonably enough, yet all the force of a vision. I cannot hope to convey the quality of that despair. I rushed to the Bookseller, ordered all works ever published on Alchemy, Magic, and the like, and spent the long winter nights in ploughing those dreary sands. I had no knowledge enough even to begin to understand them.
However, the magical capacity was there, as will be seen. “In my distress I called upon the Lord; and He inclined unto me and heard my cry.”" [KJV; Psalms 18:6 and 40:1, conflated]

(”The Revival of Magick” (2), The International, vol. XI, no. 9 (September, 1917), p 281)


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arthuremerson
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03/10/2014 6:53 pm  

Excellent and insightful posts, Belmurru.

I would like to reintroduce something you said earlier in this thread that has stuck with me throughout these discussions, not only due to its insightful simplicity, but also because it has not been properly contended with in Los' interpretation of Crowley. It's brevity is its virtue:

"belmurru" wrote:
Of course he'd agree - the True Will has no "(be-)cause" - this is the context of his definition of True Will in D, on verse II:33. Yet he continually insists that this causeless and purposeless Will be grasped and explicitly formulated by the conscious mind as one's life purpose. In that way, I think he'd say (and I'm sure he did here and there), the conscious human part can become a better vessel for the unconscious "divine" part - that latter, in his view, uncreated, uncaused, eternal, one, etc.

Crowley was a metaphysical dualist: transitory physical forms are subordinate to their "divine", eternal counterparts. Crowley's doctrine of True Will is in part indebted to the Neoplatonists and their doctrine of ἕνωσις: union of the ephemeral with the eternal; becoming God oneself. It strikes me that to understand "True Will" as Crowley himself did, one must contend with this dualism.

Regards,
ae


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wellreadwellbred
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04/10/2014 3:12 am  
"belmurru" wrote:
"[The bold emphasis in this quote from belmurru, is added by belmurru][...] Confessions, chapter 14 (pp.  123-125)[:]

“Two main events were destined to put me on the road towards myself. [...] [The] "... second occasion quickened my spirit, always with the result of "loosening the girders of the soul", so that my animal nature stood rebuked and kept silence in the presence of the immanent divinity of the Holy Ghost; omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, yet blossoming in my soul as if the entire forces of the universe from all eternity were concentrated and made manifest in a single rose.

“The second event took place in October 1897. [...] I found myself forced to meditate upon the fact of mortality. [...] "... I was appalled by the idea of the futility of all human endeavour." [...] "I formulated my will somewhat as follows: "I must find a material in which to work which is immune from the forces of change." [...] Spiritual facts were the only things worth while. Brain and body were valueless except as the instruments of the soul." His earlier biographical account in "Temple of Solomon the King" makes no references to these events, but he did write up a similar brief account in The Revival of Magick in 1917. For comparison - [...] "... I saw the Vanity of Things. I must find a material to build my temple; something more permanent than the hearts and minds of men. [...] “In my distress I called upon the Lord; and He inclined unto me and heard my cry.”" [KJV; Psalms 18:6 and 40:1, conflated] (”The Revival of Magick” (2), The International, vol. XI, no. 9 (September, 1917), p 281)

[My bold emphases below:]

"Each soul is  [...] absolute , and 'good' or 'evil' are merely terms descriptive of relations between destructible combinations. [...] The indivisible essence of things, their 'souls', are indifferent to all conditions soever, for none can in any way affect them [1]."

"... Khabs is the secret Light or L.V.X.; the Khu is the magical entity of a man. [...] The doctrine here taught is that that Light is innermost, essential man. Intra (not Extra) Nobis Regnum Dei ["Intra Nobis Regnum deI," a version of the Christian INRI, means 'Inside Ourselves [is] the Kingdom of God']. [...] "This 'star' or 'Inmost Light' is the original, individual, eternal essence [2] .

"Masters of Mankind defined. Those who adore and love all things alike, for that they are of Truth, are yet but few, and are not known of men. Yet being free of fear and lust their power controls the many whose souls are subject to limit, the limit of knowledge, which is always two, and can be counted [3]."

"[...] By Us let all men learn that all that may be is their Way of Joy for them to go; and that all souls are of the Soul of True Light [4]."

"Mankind to obey 666, to follow his method of attainment to the knowledge of Nuit and the Benefits thereof. True nature of 666. Let all men obey me, The Beast, the Prophet of Nuit! For my number is 666, the Number of the Sun. That is, I am the Light and Centre of their system of Stars; and my Word is as a ray to them who are of Earth. Let them obey the light, and Impulse of that which I am in Truth, although I lie deep hidden in a body of flesh. Seek ye to know Nuit! Seek to enjoy all that may be, although ye loathe it in your souls. This is your ordeal, which ye must pass in order to be free and whole; to know all things alike, to try, to do, to love and to rejoice in all [5]."

[1] The New Comment to BOTL I,5: "Help me, o warrior lord of Thebes, in my unveiling before the Children of men!"

[2] Conflation of The Old Comment and The New Comment to BOTL I,8: "The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs."

[3] The Comment called D to BOTL I,10: "Let my servants be few & secret: they shall rule the many & the known." 

[4] The Comment called D to BOTL I,15: "Now ye shall know that the chosen priest & apostle of infinite space is the prince-priest the Beast; and in his woman called the Scarlet Woman is all power given. They shall gather my children into their fold: they shall bring the glory of the stars into the hearts of men."

[5] The Comment called D to BOTL I,32: "Obey my prophet! follow out the ordeals of my knowledge! seek me only! Then the joys of my love will redeem ye from all pain. This is so: I swear it by the vault of my body; by my sacred heart and tongue; by all I can give, by all I desire of ye all."

"There are many ethical injunctions of a revolutionary character in the Book [The Book of the Law], but they are all particular cases of the general precept to realize one's own absolute God-head and to act with the nobility which springs from that knowledge." Source: http://hermetic.com/crowley/confessions/chapter49.html - The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, chapter 49, page 401.

"Tao" wrote:
If we take the materialist viewpoint, then all that we consider to be ourselves, our consciousness, our individuality, our preferences, our tendencies, are all functions of brain. This being the case, they are all therefore susceptible to manipulation, whether by hypnosis and its relations, or by trauma, or by self-induced meta-programming. This would, by necessity, also include whatever it is that we are calling "True Will".
"Los" wrote:
[...] I would probably quibble with how much can realistically be accomplished by “hypnosis and its relations” or by “meta-programming,” but the basic idea you’re advancing – that anything about an individual could, at any time, theoretically be changed – seems to be true.

What of it?

You seem to be implying that what I’m calling “True Will” does not qualify as “True Will” merely because it might be changed, in some cases, by extreme trauma or the equivalent of brainwashing. [...]

"Chapter I: What is Magick? [...] I. DEFINITION: MAGICK is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will. [...] III. THEOREMS: 1. Every intentional act is a Magical Act. [...] 9. A man who is doing his True Will has the inertia of the Universe to assist him. (Illustration: The first principle of success in evolution is that the individual should be true to his own nature, and at the same time adapt himself to his environment.) [...] 27. Every man should make Magick the keynote of his life. He should learn its laws and live by them. (Illustration: ..." [A man doing this] "... will prove himself superior to others; because he will not be an individual limited by transitory things, but a force of Nature, as impersonal, impartial and eternal as gravitation, as patient and irresistible as the tides. His system will not be subject to panic, any more than the law of Inverse Squares is disturbed by Elections. He will not be anxious about his affairs because they will not be his; and for that reason he will be able to direct them with the calm, clear-headed confidence of an onlooker, with intelligence unclouded by self-interest and power unimpaired by passion.)" Source: http://hermetic.com/crowley/magick-without-tears/mwt_01.html - Magick Without Tears, Chapter I: What is Magick?


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wellreadwellbred
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04/10/2014 12:40 pm  
"belmurru" wrote:
Confessions, chapter 58 (p. 514; my bold emphases)

“A magical oath is the most irresistible of all moral forces. It is an affirmation of the true will; that is to say, it is a link between the conscious human and the unconscious divine nature of the man who takes it. A magical oath which does not express the true will sets these forces in opposition and therefore weakens the man the more gravely as the oath is more seriously meant and taken. But given that the oath is a true expression of the true will, its effect is to affirm that very union between the insignificant force of the conscious being and the irresistible might of that which is "one, eternal and individual", that which is inexpugnably immune to all forces soever; which when accomplished constitutes it supreme.

(My bold emphases:)

The Book of the Law, chapter I, verse 3: "Every man and every woman is a star." The New Comment: "This thesis is fully treated in "The Book of Wisdom or Folly".  Its main statement is that each human being is an Element of the Cosmos, self-determined and supreme, co-equal with all other Gods. From this the Law "Do what thou wilt" follows logically. One star influences another by attraction, of course; but these are incidents of self-predestined orbits." Source: http://hermetic.com/legis/new-comment/

"There are many ethical injunctions of a revolutionary character in the Book [The Book of the Law], but they are all particular cases of the general precept to realize one's own absolute God-head and to act with the nobility which springs from that knowledge." Source: http://hermetic.com/crowley/confessions/chapter49.html - The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, chapter 49, page 401.

With regards to the quotes above, it is my impression that Crowley attributed absolute God-head to every human being plenty of time before writing The Book of the Law, that his Law "Do what thou wilt" follows logically from him first attributing absolute God-head to every human being, and that he understood his concept of true will as a link to "the irresistible might of" the absolute God-head of every human being, "which is inexpugnably immune to all forces soever".


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Anonymous
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04/10/2014 1:11 pm  
"Tao" wrote:
And yet again I will repeat myself: I do not disagree with anything you've said except the full stop at the end of your definition. I think you have a wonderful entry level explanation and, as your most recent post aptly demonstrates, very practical to boot. Future plumbers of the world, rejoice!.

Plumbers, rocket scientists, brain surgeons university lecturers, marines, butchers, poets, nobel prize physicists and so on.  The Law is for All don't you know?  Maybe you didn't know.

 

"Tao" wrote:
However, it stops short of Crowley's "why".

Crowley's "why?"  What?  As far as I know there is no Crowley's "why" other than DWTWSBTWOTL.  Waxing philosophically about TW is probably going to push someone further away from finding it.

 

"Tao" wrote:
It stops short of Crowley's "totality of one's being". .

"Totality of being?"  What is that?  You mean our different bodies on different spiritual planes by any chance?  if you do, well  Crowley said that such a mental model is a mere tool and it doesn't matter if these so called planes exist or not. 

Anyway does it stop short of Crowley's scepticism?  I'd say no it doesn't.  That is the overriding factor in being able to do our TW. 

"Tao" wrote:
It stops short of acknowledging that Crowley did indeed believe that a battle over an orange could be a legitimate test of the Truth of one's Will. .

I don't understand this point or whether it's a reference to what Crowley said.

"Tao" wrote:
You are welcome to go out and spread your brand of Los-ianity as far as it will go. As a general, day-to-day application of Thelema to mundane affairs, it's the bees' knees as far as I'm concerned. .

Seriously, what other affairs are there other than the mundane?  Bolstering weakened self-images with delusional stories that we were  Joan of Arc or the Queen of Sheba or King Solomon in a past life?  Pretending that aliens transmit ESP messages to us about our mission on earth?  Make believing that we have super powers? 

"Tao" wrote:
I, however,.

You however have a different idea of what TW is?  A personalised preference?

"Tao" wrote:
I like the guy because he's a bit of a weirdo.

Well that's a great reason (or personal preference) for finding (or having a personal interpretation of defining) TW even though we are not for the outcast and the unfit according to Thelema.

"Tao" wrote:
I'd like to see just how weird he actually got. Or if, perhaps, what looks weird on the outside isn't actually very weird at all once you realize that you're only looking through the wrong lens.

Perhaps not.  The overall drive of your post seems to show that you want Crowley as mystic and otherworldly wizard (which is a common desire amongst occultists of course) whist avoiding the mundane practicalities of his writings on Thelema.  That sort of thing is not conducive to finding TW imo.


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04/10/2014 1:23 pm  

In reality Crowley's way of thinking wasn't much different from Jesus. He followed his higher self's true will, went to the cross and was crucified. Jesus was a thelemite, no doubt.


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belmurru
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04/10/2014 4:06 pm  

David, please quote Crowley on True Will and interpret him. That's what this thread is about. If you just want to pick a fight with someone, this isn't the place.

This thread is not about whether Los' theory is right, or Tao's, or mine; it isn't even about whether Crowley was "right" or if True Will really exists. It is about examining what he wrote about the subject, where the term and the concept behind it originated, and what place it has in the philosophy of Thelema.

Of course, interpretations will be debated, arguments presented with proofs, both textual and anecdotal, and a lot of other things, sometimes mildly tangential, pertinent to what Aleister Crowley wrote on the subject of True Will. Discussions of positions expressed in posts will ensue, always with the aim of clarifying either Crowley or the poster's interpretation of something.

If you are uncertain of the origin of a quote or allusion, read through the thread - the source of everything is cited in one place or another, and if you don't have it on your bookshelf, almost everything is online and you can do a keyword search for it.

Thank you.


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Anonymous
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04/10/2014 5:03 pm  
"Tao" wrote:

However, it stops short of Crowley's "why".

There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason.

28. Now a curse upon Because and his kin!

29. May Because be accursed for ever!

30. If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops & does nought.

31. If Power asks why, then is Power weakness.

32. Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite & unknown; & all their words are skew-wise.

33. Enough of Because! Be he damned for a dog!

34. But ye, o my people, rise up & awake!

belmurru I'd say Liber Al is the best reference point for understanding what True Will is wouldn't you?.  The main requirement is an ability to read and understand English or maybe you want to move away from the source?


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Shiva
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04/10/2014 5:44 pm  
"david" wrote:
30. If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops & does nought.

belmurru I'd say Liber Al is the best reference point for understanding what True Will is wouldn't you?

Actually, the term "True" Will doesn't appear in AL. This thread is about the term"True Will" and where/when it came into use. Liber AL does not help us in this case. We are not discussing Will and it's characteristics. We are looking at the unique term "True Will" - as opposed to just plain old "Will," which is capitalized in contrast to ordinary "will." or "willpower."

Personally, I have always used Will vs. will as the difference between divine Will or universal Will and the personal will (although I believe the idea is to merge them). And I have never used the term "True Will" as the capitalized "Will" has always served my purpose. But so what? This thread is about where and when AC started using the term with a "True." If you want to start a thread defining "Will," by itself, without a "True," then that's what should be done.

By the way folks, is there a "False Will?"


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Los
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04/10/2014 8:44 pm  
"Tao" wrote:
However, [Los' discussion of "True Will"] stops short of Crowley's "why". It stops short of Crowley's "totality of one's being".

No, it doesn't. I agree with Crowley that the True Will is the "why" of one's being, that it is the "totality of one's being." My position differs from yours, however, in that I can *explain* what those terms actually *mean* (and what I think Crowley meant by them). The "why" of one's being (the "purpose") is the function, the "totality of one's being" encompasses all of an individual's authentic inclinations in conjunction with the environment.

You evidently disagree with me on these points because you think there's something "more" that I'm missing. So again I ask you to explain what *you* think "purpose," "why," and "totality of one's being" actually mean (or at least where you think my reading is deficient).

It stops short of acknowledging that Crowley did indeed believe that a battle over an orange could be a legitimate test of the Truth of one's Will.

No, it doesn't. I happily acknowledge it. I also happily discuss why Crowley was wrong on that point.


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Los
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04/10/2014 8:49 pm  
"arthuremerson" wrote:
I would like to reintroduce something [belmurru] said earlier in this thread that has stuck with me throughout these discussions, not only due to its insightful simplicity, but also because it has not been properly contended with in Los' interpretation of Crowley.

As always, I'm happy to address any points that people are willing to state or to draw my attention to.

"belmurru" wrote:
Of course he'd agree - the True Will has no "(be-)cause" - this is the context of his definition of True Will in D, on verse II:33. Yet he continually insists that this causeless and purposeless Will be grasped and explicitly formulated by the conscious mind as one's life purpose. In that way, I think he'd say (and I'm sure he did here and there), the conscious human part can become a better vessel for the unconscious "divine" part - that latter, in his view, uncreated, uncaused, eternal, one, etc.

I don't disagree with any of this. In fact, I said exactly this in different language a few posts back: the individual observes the True Self, infers a tentative idea of the Will's preferences, assists the Will in manifesting, and keeps observing the Will to make sure that one is on the right path. I believe I gave the example of someone observing that he consistently has an authentic inclination to produce poetry, so he tentatively concludes that he has a Will to write poetry (consciously formulating his Will), and he starts carving out time in each day to devote to writing poetry: then, he doesn't just force himself to write poetry. He keeps observing and seeing if he actually *does* write poetry with that time. He keeps observing and keeps adjusting his "conscious formulation" of that Will.

Crowley was a metaphysical dualist

That's a questionable claim.

It strikes me that to understand "True Will" as Crowley himself did, one must contend with this dualism.

I disagree.

I'll get to Belmurru's posts later.


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