Welcome to The Beast Bay General Thelema Science Art Scholarship The Beast Bay website
 up a level

  Transcending the Predator
General Thelema Posted by Xnoubis on January 17, 2002 @ 07:43 PM
from the claw-is-for-all dept.

I'd like to return to two frequently recurring Beast Bay themes: "Is Thelema a Religion?" and Clare W. Graves' "Theory of Emergent, Cyclical Levels of Existence" (a.k.a., "Spiral Dynamics").

According to Spiral Dynamics, human values evolve over time as our conditions change. As cavemen, we sought to survive every moment, acquiring food and avoiding dangers. Through this survivalist value, we accumulated solutions for survival. This accumulation constituted a change of condition, whereby we began to value tradition, or the passing down of accumulated knowledge from one generation to the next, resulting in the development of the tribe. The new value system and social order constituted a further change of condition, which eventually led to yet another value system, and so on.

Much of our earliest recorded history is set squarely within the value system of egocentric power. The mighty hero who crushes his foes is held as the ideal. Courage, mastery, and greatness are the highest virtues.

(I should make it clear that by "egocentric power," I mean something much more specific than "ego." One can be egocentric, or egotistical, in many different ways. But to hold egocentric power as one's central motivation is particular to ego at its most raw. Think children in the "terrible two's," gladiators, and professional wrestlers.)

The historical emergence of religion, in this view, can generally be understood as a solution to the problems accumulated through the egocentric power value system. What sort of problems are these? For the victor, the problem is that he can't take his victories with him after death; that there is no apparent meaning beyond his own life. For the vanquished, the problem is finding any meaning at all from within a life of deprivation. For society, the acceptance of "might makes right" does not provide sufficient stability for a social fabric of appreciable complexity.

So we sought solutions to these problems. First, we examined the strategies we had used so far in coping with earlier problems. Will acquiring food and avoiding danger help, as it did back in the caves? No. Will following the traditions of the tribe help? Up to a point, perhaps, but the traditions do not even grasp the nature of egocentric life, let alone offer up remedies to its crises. And egocentrism isn't solved through even more egocentrism, try as we might.

Eventually, we conceived of a truth that was greater than the wishes of any one person, a truth that oriented us, providing meaning to our lives and stability to society. In the West, we typically think of this truth as salvation: an acceptance of a loving God and an afterlife that will reward the just and punish the wicked. In the East, the more typical approach was to regard this life as an illusion, and to seek truth and goodness beyond this world. In each case, the general result was that people developed into more complex states of existence than that offered by egocentric power, and civilization advanced.

Of course, this view wasn't the end of the story. (There is no "end of the story" unless we make ourselves extinct.) New problems of existence accumulated around the "higher truth" value system, leading to entrenched dogma and suppression of alternative views, etc., ultimately resulting in the development of the competitive/achievist value system that has characterized much of our culture since the Industrial Revolution.

But I want to focus on the transition from egocentric power to higher truth. If we define religion as the institutionalization of solutions to the problems of egocentric power, it is clear that Thelema is not a religion.

Crowley, like many of us, was raised with altogether too much "higher truth" through his fundamentalist family. It's no surprise, then, that the system he created was as different from the salvific environment of his childhood as he could make it. However, he did present his system as the successor to Christianity. And so it has been held by many of his admirers since then.

I propose that many difficulties experienced by individual Thelemites and Thelemic groups have their origin in the fact that Crowley's system does not contain real solutions to the problems of egocentric power. These are not burning problems for every Thelemite. But those who are so inclined can use Thelema as a justification for egocentric power beyond all limits. Instead of finding a higher truth beyond egocentric power, egocentric power is enshrined as its own higher truth.

(For those familiar with Spiral Dynamics jargon, I'm saying that in the absence of healthy Blue vMemes, Thelemites with active Red traits tend to become arrested in Red, rather than progress to Blue.)

I am not saying here that Crowley fell victim to this error, although others might. Instead, I would characterize this as an unintended side-effect of Crowley's system. It helps to account for the volatility of social relations within Thelemic groups, and for the blackened reputation that Thelema often has among non-Thelemites.

I am familiar with at least two post-Crowleyan Thelemic systems that seem to address these concerns: the "Maat Magick" of Nema, and the "Pagan Dharma" of Sam Webster.

Maat Magick is based upon Liber Pennae Praenumbra, a text which Nema claims to have received in 1974. It's a complex and subtle work, but two points might illustrate the orientation that it provides in the face of egocentric power.

The first is the Word of the Aeon of Maat: IPSOS. This is taken to mean, "by the same mouth," as in the opening to Pennae Praenumbra:

2. By the same mouth, O Mother of the Sun, is the word breathed forth and the nectar received.

This conception succeeds in characterizing all experience as a co-emergence of being and consciousness, a kiss between two who are ultimately one.

Another passage that points to the transcendence of egocentric power involves a vision of a bee and its hive, as emblems of the Maatian Work:

47. The Hive now lives, immortal. With queen and workers, drones and builder-bees, soldiers, fostermothers -- all are one. In constant life-renewal the Hive breathes as One Being, for indeed it is. In the Will of the Hive is the Will of the Bee fulfilled.

It should be emphasized that this collectivist ethos is not positioned as a final answer: "Man is not a Bee," as Pennae Praenumbra says. But it is a facet of the answer, well-suited to the problems of the egocentric value system.

At a more basic level, simply placing Maat, the Egyptian Goddess of Truth and Justice, at the center of a magical system helps to draw awareness beyond the confines of the personality. It may even be that Maat was originally an ancient Egyptian response to exactly this problem.

I first became aware of Sam Webster's magical approach when I read his essay "Pagan Dharma" in Gnosis magazine. In it (and its sequel, published in PanGaia), he describes his methods and rationale for introducing elements of Tibetan Buddhist ritual technique into magical practice.

In a discussion of invocation in "Pagan Dharma 2," he writes:

Even if the energy has been discharged in such a way that extremes of self-absorbed emotional discharge are avoided, there yet remains the subtle after-effect on the ego for having been such a vast and powerful being as a deity. The sense of self importance brought about in our invocations dulls our compassionate acceptance of others and leads us into errors of judgment that can cause harm and dissension. In short, it makes flaming egoists out of us. We all know people who act this way. There are times when we do it ourselves. How many witch wars, magickal battles, foolish feuds or simple snits have we all witnessed? The ways in which we don't get along are some of our favorite topics of conversation. Our history and the history of the cultures we build our religion upon show many times when our internal strife has made us vulnerable, even to our destruction.

By "importing" the practices of Taking Refuge, Generating Bodhichitta, and the Distribution of Merit from Tibetan Buddhism, Pagan Dharma efficiently grounds the individual in a transpersonal context. In practice, I have found that these techniques are effective for newcomers and seasoned magicians alike.

In short, Maat Magick transcends the "predator" (for so we may call the individual anchored in egocentric power) by extending the scope of Thelema into the Aeon of Maat, while Pagan Dharma accomplishes something similar by adapting Tibetan ritual technology. I have no doubt that there are other such formulations out there, and that there will be more in the future, as Thelemic culture finds ways to cope with those who are drawn to the great beauty of Crowley's writings while still pre-occupied with the limitations of the power-driven self.

<  |  >


  Related Links
  • Articles on General Thelema
  • Also by Xnoubis
  • Contact author
  • The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them.

    Re: Transcending the Predator
    by jcat on Friday January 18, @01:53AM
    ...ok; do we look into thee shew stone of ourselves to see, 'truth and justice'...?

    see its real nice to flesh out the problems; so to speak...

    we are so good at that..!

    ok...my take on Nema; she could have been a very
    good poet or story writer; insted she got sorta sidetracked into
    magick...she had a very fast metabolisem psychicaly, she hardly had to do do any ritual at all; where upon she fell into deep trances; well
    perhaps she eat some substances; at any rate
    she was very sensitive at the time and she was
    opening up her psychic channels on a lot of levels; so she really did sorta fall into a deep swoon or trance...and she was receptive in a way that few are; thus she literaly channeled
    some pretty intense automatic writing...

    ...my feeling is that it would have been better
    if she had extracted herself from the whole
    magic/cult community; and stood back from it all,
    and just taken a few deep breaths; and read some\
    other poets; gotten away from the clutches of people like Kennith Grant; and just had gotten a
    really great book of poetry published; that way
    maybe her work would have had more effect on the
    whole alternate community as a whole; cuz i feel that anyone that tries to follow in the shady
    pagan/ thelemic/ scene gets a reputation based
    on a rather shakey foundation that had a lot of promice in the seventies; because a lot of people where being very motivated to explore different
    modalities; ie. radical politics; psychedelics; communes; merry prankster like; and so thelema
    had a kind of Hippie papa in the guise of Grady MacMurtry, and very eccentric people like Kennith Grant, ect. ...

    and wild times they were...but here we are in the 2000's and what does Ipsos really mean in the
    harsh light of post 9/11/200?

    ...see Crowley was a freak; no matter how attached to various systems and no matter how adroit he was
    at workin them...he was also a world class mountain climer and a very wealthy man by the standards of those times...

    thus he has staying power...and Nema is a foot note?

    and Buddhism was very fertile coming out of the changes of the era Crowley came out of...
    but to fudge pagan values together with Buddhism
    is a valiant effort...but East meets West
    only in our dreams....sometimes it does
    happen out of the blue...

    Re: Transcending the Predator
    by Alcofribas Nasier on Friday January 18, @07:58AM
    Thelema -- which is to say, Crowley's writings -- does seem to address the problems of power that you note. The Book of the Law expresses that subjugation-based systems are natural and that one's position within them is determined by a fundamental personal factor, which is whether one is a "King" or a "slave." Crowley's political writings hold that there is a natural aristocracy which is destined for rule, and that it is the true will of others to be ruled by them. Perhaps it is not so much that Thelema does not address these problems as that you do not like its solutions. It might be better to state directly that you are rejecting and trying to replace the Thelemic model of social power, rather than trying to fill a gap. There doesn't seem to be a gap.

    • Re: Transcending the Predator
      by Xnoubis on Friday January 18, @10:37AM
      Brilliant summation. But for me this only reinforces what I'm saying. The model you describe is a restatement of the egocentric power theory of management that formed the political basis for the Age of Empires. Here's part of a description of the "Egocentric Existential State" from a summary statement of Graves' theory prepared by Chris Cowan in 1981:
      Believes humans exist in three classes: (a) the strong, far-seeing, anointed ones, (b) the desirous motivated but not far-seeing ones, and (c) the inherently weak and lazy masses who need and prefer directions.

      Organizational life where the anointed use the masses to accomplish the anointed one's ends through the direction of the desirous is spawned at this level. This is the EXPLOITATIVE form of management which presumes that those of demonstrated superiority have the right, because they were "chosen," to organize and carry-out, through delegated power to the desirous, the efforts of the lesser ones toward whatever the anointed chooses. This management believes that the world, all its people and all its things, are there to serve the anointed one's ends. Only superior power can challenge in combat the organization's goals and means.
      This is the establishment of the egocentric power system, and you're right: Crowley's work includes ample material to that end. My point, though, is that life in this system generates its own problems, which societies and individuals have grappled with for centuries. One set of solutions involves shifting the focus beyond the individual, either through ideology (e.g., Christianity) or experience (e.g., Buddhism). Another set of solutions involves reifying egocentric power, which creates what Spiral Dynamics would call an arrested condition.

      One of the great difficulties facing Thelema, in my opinion, is that the application of arrested egocentric power to modern social conditions has already been attempted on a large scale with the advent of fascism and Nazism. That attempt failed, and failed in such a way that the entire approach has been discredited in the eyes of most of the world -- and in my eyes as well, I must admit.

      So how is Thelema to look at the history of fascism so far? Was it a good idea in principle that only failed because its advocates didn't play the game well enough? Or was it (as most of the world feels) a horrendous mistake that was only fought off with great sacrifice by those who valued a nobler vision of humanity?

      I'd say that we owe it to the world and to ourselves to explicitly condemn fascistic interpretations of Thelema. I am not positive that Crowley entertained such interpretations. (No doubt many quotations could be produced to prove it, but why bother?) But I do think that Thelema can learn enough from the fall of 20th century fascism to say, "Okay, that didn't work. What's next?"

      One of the reasons that I'm drawn to Graves' Theory is that it provides a framework for separating the wheat of Thelema from the chaff of fascism.

      So I would say that what you describe as the Thelemic model of social power doesn't fill the gap, rather, the gap is created as a consequence of that model. And, yes, I do reject and am trying, along with others, to replace it.

      • Re: Transcending the Predator
        by Alcofribas Nasier on Sunday January 20, @07:07PM
        I wonder, though, how it is possible to argue that if one is to derive a system called Thelema from the Book of the Law and Crowley's interpretation, the fascism is not an intrinsic element. What makes that the chaff and Thelema the wheat? I think there can be little doubt that the book itself endorses the weak/strong distinction as a basis of polity.

        In any case, leaving beside "what is Thelema?", are modern democratic models sufficient to the task of moving beyond fascism, or is there something further that must move beyond them? Crowley's arguments that democracy selects for mediocrity seem to have some merit, but it's not clear how democracy could be reformed to avoid that problem.

        One approach I toyed with in my youth was to have office be only partly selected by vote, and partly by direct competition, judges and rules to be selected as objectively as possible. If, for instance, one had to get through several rounds of debate competition in order to even be nominated for office, then we might wind up with a better set of candidates. However, the goal of power-seekers would be to corrupt the competition process as much as possible, and given that intellectual contests such as debate must involve some subjectivity in judgment, this seems like a potentially insurmountable problem. Using objective games such as chess might work better, but such games do not necessarily select for the intellectual characteristics we want in our leaders.

        • Re: Transcending the Predator
          by Xnoubis on Monday January 21, @11:16AM
          Yes, there seems to be a contradiction between those who support a populist approach and deny that there is a human developmental dimension, and those who uphold the developmental dimension and thereby conclude that the most highly developed should rule.

          The importance of the Spiral Dynamics perspective, in my view, is that it reconciles these two sides: there is a developmental dimension, and the way to keep that dimension healthy is by allowing people to pursue their objectives at every stage of development. In general, this means working towards an Open Society. Are tribesmen being exploited by business men? Are beaureaucrats closing off funding for scientific research? These are both examples of one level interfering with another. To a certain extent, some give-and-take is necessary among the levels, but care should be taken that each level is permitted to flourish to as great an extent as possible.

          I do think that modern model of social democracy, as practiced in Europe, the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and until recently the U.S., is probably our best way of achieving this. There needs to be more work done in political theory, sociology, and management cybernetics in order to progress to a system of governance that is both more efficient and more conducive to liberty, but democratic processes are needed along the way to minimize the potential for the abuse of power.

          Of course, one of the important avenues of investigation will need to be: What happened to America, and what can be done to return it to the community of democratic societies?

          The trick is that, while the politicians don't necessarily have to be from the most advanced segments of society, they have to be at least sophisticated enough to appreciate the value of an Open Society, i.e., to work toward everyone's freedom, not just the freedom of those who resemble the politicians. That seems to me to be the proper target for Thelemic political engagement. Don't give Superman the throne; just let him go about his business -- and the indigenous tribes as well, while we're at it.

        • Re: Transcending the Predator
          by Mordecai on Monday January 21, @03:38PM
          I have been intrigued by ideas that have been proposed to select legislators by lottery among all qualified citizens. Make the qualifying criteria objective enough, and easy enough, to avoid perceptions of bias or elitism, and we would have a huge pool of citizen legislators unbeholden to big money interests and, with regular rotation in office, far more reflective of our actual society than what we currently get from the party duopoly.

          • Re: Transcending the Predator
            by Alcofribas Nasier on Monday January 21, @05:25PM
            My main problem with this idea is the mediocrity of the average citizen. And I'm not sure why you think those selected by lottery could not be easily reached by big money interests. "Would you like a cushy consultant job for the rest of your life? Sign here."

            • Re: Transcending the Predator
              by Mordecai on Monday January 21, @06:45PM
              Does that happen a lot with juries? Do they enforce laws against jury tampering or just wink at it?

              • Re: Transcending the Predator
                by Alcofribas Nasier on Monday January 21, @11:11PM
                Interesting question. I really don't know. But I think full-time government officials have more accessibility and a longer window of exposure than jurors.

                • Re: Transcending the Predator
                  by Mordecai on Monday January 21, @11:30PM
                  Of course most full-time government officials are unelected appointees and career bureaucrats. But if congressional representatives, county supervisors, transit board members, etc. were selected by lottery for, say, two year terms I don't think our society would necessarily be any worse off. Maybe laws would become easier for most people to understand.

        • Re: Transcending the Predator
          by Xnoubis on Tuesday January 22, @02:20PM
          On the subject of reforming democracy and the "mediocrity" argument, I'd like to recommend a little book of Stafford Beer's called Designing Freedom. Beer had been called on by Salvador Allende to redesign socialism along cybernetic lines, using Chile as a test case. In the course of eighteen months, Beer and his team managed to create a country-wide information network modelled on the neurophysiology of the human nervous system -- and this in the early '70s. It was efficient enough to ward off the initial CIA-backed coup, but the U.S. government redoubled its efforts, and the system eventually collapsed in a bloody revolt that led to Allende's assassination. Designing Freedom is a transcript of a series of radio lectures that Beer presented shortly afterwards.

          According to Beer, our greatest obstacle to effective governance is our habit of treating governing institutions as entities, when they should be regarded as dynamic systems designed to produce freedom. He claims that there is enough scientific knowledge available about effective organization to make governance much more efficient than it is now, but that there are legitimate questions about how to uphold individual freedom in the face of efficient governance. His view is that all governance requires a model of the system being governed, and that freedom can best be protected by alloting to the people the responsibility for constructing the model, and that this construction proceed from the local to the global, in a public and accountable way. He further suggests that experiments be conducted for such an alternative system of governance, with the consent and cooperation of existing governments.

          This dovetails nicely with David Held's conception of "Cosmopolitan Democracy," a vision of global polity that involves bringing principles of democratic organization to levels both above and below that of the state. Apply Beer's cybernetic analysis to Held's call for the devolution of political power into local hands wherever possible, and we have a model that defangs the mediocre bureaucrat while providing democratic safeguards against the abuse of concentrated power.

          • Re: Transcending the Predator
            by adrian dobbie on Thursday January 24, @07:23AM

            There is much talk of Kings and Slaves - but wherever there is polarity there is a force inbetween. I think one of the major stumbling blocks to be overcome by many Thelemites is the tendency to desire recognition as a Great Magi by the tribal group. The aspiring King (who of course is not a Slave) seeks to add hir new insights and hold them up for all to see before really having time to assimilate the experiences gained from Working. I feel that there is a middle path to tread between King and Slave, by integrating Thelemic principles into one's life without becoming a weirdy beardy sporting massive pentagram pendants and acting like a new Messiah. In my experience, the greatest exponents of Thelema are those who go unseen if not unfelt. Why not be a Thelemic solicitor, truck driver, graphic artist? Do we all have to wear our Thelemic badges on our sleeves, or ought there be a little subtlety therein?

            If one dogmatically clings to the King/Slave mentality without truly understanding that to be a King one does not necessarily have to demand a glittering throne, there will always be the problem of overblown egoism within Thelema.

            Just a thought…

            93 93/93

            • Re: Transcending the Predator
              by Barnaba Christer Yount on Thursday January 24, @10:04AM
              Why not be a Thelemic solicitor, truck driver, graphic artist? Do we all have to wear our Thelemic badges on our sleeves, or ought there be a little subtlety therein?

              The business of Thelema begins with knowing your true will. Crowley laid out very detailed instructions for how to go about doing this. If one, too lazy or weak to carry out these instructions, decides to just pack it in and declare it one's will to be a solicitor, truck driver, etc., it's very hard to see that person as an earnest Thelemite. A King doesn't have to wear a Thelemic badge on his sleeve, but he certainly has to live up to some real standards.

              • Re: Transcending the Predator
                by adrian dobbie on Friday January 25, @07:15AM

                I am puzzled by your attitude - do you mean that a prerequisite for Thelemic status is that one must become nothing more than a walking advert for Aleister Crowley? I can tell you I am neither lazy nor weak, and I know my Will well enough to realise that there is more to life than boosting my ego by asserting my position as part of a very small elitist sub group of a sub group. What point is there to being a Thelemite if you are unable to put food on your own table or a roof over your own head. Writing books that will only ever appeal to the converted and joining occult orders because Crowley told you to do it is more slavish than truly knowing what is that you are here to do.

                By the way - what is your true Will? Do you work? Are you happy in your life? Could you drop Thelema if you wanted to? If the answer to any of these is no - then you yourself are not living up to the standards you profess to live by.

                93 93/93

                • Re: Transcending the Predator
                  by Mary Smith Yarnell on Friday January 25, @10:04AM
                  Your defensive overreaction is quite silly. You say that you know your Will "well enough". What method did you use to achieve this Knowledge and Conversation? Liber VIII? Abramelin? Some method of your own inspired devising? Or are you perhaps clueless as to what knowing one's will actually means?

                  By the way - what is your true Will? Do you work? Are you happy in your life? Could you drop Thelema if you wanted to?

                  These are questions to determine whether or not one is a good little Xtian droid, not a proud self-aware Thelemite. If you can drop something that is true just to pander to your own illusion of Will then you are not strong, just deluded.

                  • Re: Transcending the Predator
                    by Prophet 718 on Sunday January 27, @09:43AM

                    Crowley makes it clear that his instructions are essentially examples - *one* method. In his Confessions he advises we hack our own way through the jungle. In Magick In Theory & Practice he advises that one is better off performing crudely constructed rituals born of self-design than using the polished rituals of others. He has stated "my Qabala is not your Qabala". Upon hearing that Jack Parsons was attempting the creation of a magical child - a Moonchild - his reaction was negative, something along the lines of being tired of others borrowing his ideas and having none of their own. I think his appreciation of diversity is best summed up by Mary d'Este Sturges in Book IV:

                    "Frater Perdurabo is the most honest of the great religious teachers. Others have said: "Believe me!" He says "Don't believe me" He does not ask for followers; he would despise and refuse them. He wants an independent and reliable body of students to follow out their own methods of research."

                  • Re: Transcending the Predator
                    by adrian dobbie on Monday January 28, @11:04AM

                    It has been said that doing one's Will constitutes doing what one has to do - gladly.

                    I personally can think of no better way of putting it. The best way to ascertain who is close to, or actually doing, their true Will is to have a look at whether the Work they are engaged in is pleasant and productive for the individual and those around them. By this, I don't mean easy - for instance, as part of my Magickal work I have been involved in full-contact martial arts, which I found pleasant, even if pain and bloody hard work was part of the process.

                    There are as many true Wills as there are Stars - are you really saying that there are no people out there who's true Will is to be a truck driver? Who are you to deny this of anyone?

                    "Make no difference between one thing and another thing - for thereby cometh harm."

                    'Nuff said.

                    93 93/93

            • Re: Transcending the Predator
              by Prophet 718 on Sunday January 27, @08:46AM

              I agree with your interpretation of what constitutes a Thelemite. There are Three Grades - none of them are Slave! The slaves of Because do not accept the Law of Thelema. Thelema needs a diverse range of occupations and thinkers for a balanced world to live in. To think a plumber or truck driver cannot step into the temple and achieve great things constitutes a *very* narrow vision. I find the elitist attitudes coveted by the intellectual extremists of Thelema disturbing.

              Prophet 718

              • Re: Transcending the Predator
                by Lucifera on Sunday January 27, @02:33PM
                Yes I agree, the idea that certain occupations or whatever are "unworthy" is a worrying one. If someone thinks the world can do without plumbers or truck drivers then, well, ask them what they'll do if their central heating packs up...! As for setting oneself high standards, this is very important. It means that if it's your will to be a plumber then you'll make sure you're a damn good one.

                • Re: Transcending the Predator
                  by Stockard Collins Yost on Wednesday January 30, @10:19AM
                  It's a typically complete misunderstanding of true will to identify it with a particular career path, as in "It's my true will to be a physicist (or peach picker, prostitute, etc.)". True will consists in Knowledge of and Conversation with one's HGA, no more, no less. Continuous contact with the basis of one's being, not "being" a particular "something", is true will. Read Liber Tzaddi, and try to understand it if you can.

                  • Re: Transcending the Predator
                    by Mordecai on Friday February 01, @12:10AM
                    Elitism and ill manners aside, you are right about "True will" being a snowballing process rather than a set of specific accomplishments. In Chapter 64 of MWT Crowley writes: "it ought in fact to be obvious from the start that anyone's True Will must be deeper and more comprehensive than any mere technical achievement."

      • Re: Transcending the Predator
        by star_phoenix on Thursday March 28, @10:02PM
        I'm responding to Xnoubis' entry of January 18 on the question stated above.

        Xnoubis fixation with 'the egocentric power system' presupposes a world view predicated on power struggle. Anyone who reads history knows that the aphorisms of Machiavelli emerged from a canny reading of the human condition, but where Xnoubis makes an egregious error is to attempt an interface between the 'egocentric power system' and the 'elect' i.e. the aristocracy of true will, referred to in many Thelemic writings.

        Egotistical action operates from a matrix that is fundamentally subjective. The popular opinion of the egoist as selfish is entirely appropriate. So whether we are speaking of getting to the head of the coffe line first or planning an attack to overthrow an opposing empire, the genesis of the impulse arises from an inherent need to assert, often at any cost and irrespective of the price. In my opinion, to attempt to compare this impulse with actions arising from the operation of higher will demonstrates a complete misreading of the fundamental distinction between higher will and ego. Furthermore to suggest that the failure of nazism is in some bizarre fashion, a wake-up call for Thelemites, comes close to what any self-respecting Thelemite might refer to as blasphemy (since we hold the sanctity of will higher than that of doctrine).

        The doing of higher will requires an act of self transcendance and thus action when it occurs, is derived from an objective relationship to reality. This is not to imply (to the relief of Xnoubis), that ego is absent, but it does presuppose a consciousness and intent that is more than simply desire galvinized by ego.

        However, let us be clear - the 'master and slave' relationship referred to in Thelemic holy books, and Therion's saying "let the slaves serve" is not an argument for the type of crass class oppression that Xnoubis is clearly alluding to. True will is a type of 'magic in action' which demonstrates the simple truth that certain qualities of higher energy nix other less evolved forms of expression.

        This truth is wonderfully illustrated in the writings of G.I.Gurdjieff. He speaks of an occasion when he had to lead a group of students out of Russia when the country was in the grip of revolutionary mayhem - a condition he refers to as 'mass psychosis' (Xnoubis' communal egocentric power in action). G. constantly spoke of the need to seperate oneself from the psychosis abroad, a feat which he personally was able to do with some style and accomplishment.

        On trying to make good their escape from Russia, G. and his group were stopped by drunken and belligerent Bolshevik soldiers whose intentions were less than noble. However the group was permitted to pass without harm - a result which Gurdjieff credited to the action of higher will and purpose. For it was his contention, as it was Crowley's too, that the 'slave' will bow to the exigencies of higher will. But this is not a demand enforced by ego and law, it is a result negotiated through the magic of polarities. So in all this talk of a Thelemic 'caste system' all social and political analogies must be applied with extreme caution, if at all. In essence there is actually no real point of comparison - and the comparison can only be useful, perhaps, as a metaphor.

        I very much enjoyed Xnoubis' stimulating argument but I feel it founders on the rock of misconception. Thelemic will emerges through ego in order to transcend it. Any so-called Thelemites who edify their egotistical actions with the term 'will', deserve to be snared in Xnoubis' net.

        • Re: Transcending the Predator
          by Xnoubis on Friday March 29, @09:37PM
          I, for the most part, endorse your views. I'm only a bit puzzled that you feel I'm saying something different. It is not that Will and ego should be conflated, but that they too often are. And further, that anyone making such a conflation can quote Thelemic writings endlessly in support of their stance.

          My deduction is that you have had much less exposure to these sorts of pseudo-Thelemites than I have -- congratulations! In light of some of the things I've seen, the failure of fascism should indeed serve as a wake-up call to Thelemites as you understand them, not on their own behalf, but in regards to humanity's boundless capacity for self-deception -- even in the face of real knowledge.

        • Re: Transcending the Predator
          by Xnoubis on Friday March 29, @09:53PM
          But I have to ask: do you really not see any evidence of this error in Thelemic culture?

          If you do, even if you feel that it isn't so pervasive as I make it out to be, I'd be interested in your views on what can be done to communicate the distinction more clearly among readers of Crowley's work. (I wish everyone found Gurdjieff to be their cup of tea -- he's a great curative -- but I'm afraid it isn't so.)

          • Re: Transcending the Predator
            by star_phoenix on Sunday March 31, @01:19AM
            I don't disagree Xnoubis - in practice the ego frequently gains primacy, even when higher will is the declared aspiration.

            If I appeared naiive in my pre-suppositions, then let me assure you that I'm nothing if not cynical in these matters - especially after witnessing the sometimes bizarre ego inflation which magick can induce in those who lack 'the window' so crucial to objective assessment. This path has more land mines than Afghanistan.

            The 'problem' as far as Thelemic applications are concerned originates in the person of The Master Therion. Those who elevate him as any kind of 'word' are brethren who are adding way too much yeast to their dough. At best he is a prototype - and a flawed one at that. In his grand person he magnifies our best and our worst, and in this respect he is a tongue-in-cheek avatar ... "one hell of a holy guru".

            Those who approach Crowley with the earnest conviction of the devotee are those most likely to drink from the same cup as Leah Hirsig and Norman Mudd. The Beast demands that the acolyte aspires through opposition, not indentification. Crowley ain't no Jesus. And it's precisely this issue of 'identification' that lies at the heart of the ego questions you raise in respect to Thelema.

            The Beast for good or ill, attracts legions of the lost and alienated, many is search of a mythical father figure ... their own personal Zeus. So a great deal of the egotism derives from mimicry and identification; the type of inflation that rises helium-like from a seed bed of uncritical need.

            I'd like to speak more on this, but more mundane matters are demanding attention.

            Love under will.

    The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them.

        "As St. Paul says, 'Without shedding of blood there is no remission,' and who are we to argue with St. Paul?" -- Aleister Crowley
    All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments are owned by the Poster.
    [ home | search ]