| up a level
from the are-we-there-yet? dept.
Crowley described the work of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel as "the Next Step." If this work really is the next step for humanity, how might it come about?
I think I see in Crowley's writings and in the models of many Thelemites a certain set of assumptions about this: that since the Secret Chiefs appointed Crowley as the Prophet of the Aeon, his teachings are the most effective means for achieving the Next Step, and that even those who achieve the Next Step through other means will come to recognize Crowley as the Prophet of the Aeon. In this way, the accomplishment of the Next Step and the spread of Crowley's teachings go hand-in-hand.
Of course, we don't really know what the future will bring. But I have a hunch about a very different scenario, one that I feel Thelemites should consider and prepare for.
What if the field of psychology were to undergo a revolution, akin to the one that occurred through the work of Sigmund Freud, so that the substance of what we refer to as the Next Step became accepted by mainstream science as a goal of human development?
Obviously, the form of this would have to differ greatly from what Thelemites are accustomed to. I'm not predicting that a doctor will prescribe, "Perform the Abramelin Operation and call me in six months." A form that seems to me to have potential for widespread acceptance is A. H. Almaas's model of the Personal Essence, as I've written elsewhere. But it needn't be that model either. In fact, the less it looks like one person's model, the greater its chances for acceptance.
So a new psychological consensus develops, no doubt with a boring, unthreatening label, like "Continuous Development" or just "Human Development." As a result, today's concept of mental health becomes only a starting point, beyond which there is the common recognition of a further stage of growth, at one time labelled by occultists as the Great Work.
What role would Thelema play in this scenario?
The greatest problem that Thelema faces in this light is the set of assumptions that I described above: that Thelema intrinsically possesses the most effective means for accomplishing the Next Step. Do we have any way of evaluating what is going on in this field outside of Thelema? Do we have much interest in doing so?
My feeling is that we should first of all cast aside these assumptions. With that in mind, I think that it becomes apparent that Crowley's works, the Holy Books, the rituals, the whole cultural heritage of Thelema remains effective as an inspiration to the Great Work even if held in conjunction with techniques originating outside of Thelema.
When the value of the Next Step becomes a consensus, it will be accomplished in a variety of settings, depending on the preferences of those undertaking it. As I see it, Thelema resonates most strongly with young people, and this could be a function that it could take on quite effectively within this future scenario. As Rock and Roll is to the arts, so could Thelema become to the field of human development, with Aleister Crowley as the Chuck Berry of the Spirit.
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