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  Thelema and Post-Modernism
General Thelema Posted by Nathan W. Bjorge on October 02, 2000 @ 05:33 AM
from the critical-mass-theory dept.

If Thelema contains an answer to the problem of Post-Modernism's nihilism, it is not through deleting the real insights of Post-Structuralism. Rather it is by realizing those real insights but transcending the limited understandings of, or exaggerations of them. What is the real insight of Post-Modernism? Centrally, it can be argued that it is its openness to exploring multiple interpretations of certain phenomena. Its awareness that there are multiple valid ways of interpreting the world. Its acknowledgement of difference. Leaving aside as beyond the scope of this article the issue of how radically this difference should be understood in various contexts, let us instead ask the more germain question -- how does Thelema address difference? I would like to argue that it does so directly through its central conception of the 'True Will.'


The True Will is understood in Thelema as primarilly and necessarily an individual matter. One must find one's own unique and valid perspective of existing, and express that to the maximum. Now, Thelema maintains a concept of 'attainment' of this True Will. This is only seemingly in conflict with the recognition that Thelemites often discover, that they can never not be doing their True Will. That the True Will is radically inclusive, and encompasses all of one's being -- indeed is one's being, which is light. This seeming contradiction between attainment and radical inclusiveness is resolved in the recognition that the need to experience a 'search' for the True Will is itself the True Will. Recognition of this resolution is understandable as a direct truth, not merely as an intellectual reasoning.

It is this individualized discovery of total meaning that answers decisively the problem of Post-Modernism. The root of the matter is Thelema's explicit articulation of the fundamental truth that truth manifests itself in multiplicity -- that the sovereign point of view does not lose its sovereignity by having other sovereigns around. The light extends itself through multiple replication -- and as it is all brightness in essence, it never dims from infinity by extension.

The entire Golden Dawn system can be seen as an attempt to communicate an awareness of this Light in Extension, or LVX.

It is this radical insight that Thelema possesses that can revolutionize the world, if we have the strength to live its freedom. The insight of the True Will, which we designate by this weird Greek word 'Thelema.' This is our meaning whereby we take our stand. This is our truth and our way, our Logos, our Word.

The Book of the Law and the Prophet are vehicles of this Word. The Word resides in and is embodied in them, as well as in the initiatory communities of Thelema. Their community activities embody and realize the Word. They are the Word. There is no difference. Buddha, Dharma, Sanga. Magus, the Law of Thelema, the orders of Thelema. The tripod upon which we build the Great Work.

There is no limitation on this truth, so there is no need for it to be called 'Thelema,' or for people to read the Book of the Law or join some Order or do anything other then their will. Therefore there is no reason for them not to do these things. We have no right but to do our wills.



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    Re: Thelema and Post-Modernism
    by Mordecai Shapiro on Monday October 02, @11:53AM
    >let us instead ask the more germain question

    There is a French saint named Germain, but I don't see how it's germane.

    >how does Thelema address difference? I would like
    >to argue that it does so directly through its
    >central conception of the 'True Will.'

    I don't think that 'True Will' actually is a central concept of Thelema, though it certainly is a phrase used by Aleister Crowley, apparently to distinguish between the limited, so-called conscious will of an individual, and the "divine" Will of the "Holy Guardian Angel" or Ra-Hoor-Khuit or God or the Absolute or whatever you want to call It. That distinction may be made without resort to distortion of the actual message of the Thelemic Holy Books, that is, to know and do your Will, and leave the questions of Truth for this sort of intellectual discussion.

    Re: Thelema and Post-Modernism
    by Xnoubis on Friday October 06, @11:09PM
    > Buddha, Dharma, Sanga. Magus, the Law of
    > Thelema, the orders of Thelema. The tripod upon
    > which we build the Great Work.

    I find this idea quite promising. I have two reservations to make, though, one small and one more extensive.

    For Sangha, I'd prefer "initiatory community" rather than "the orders of Thelema." For one mustn't ignore the "far-flung webs of Thelemic power-zones," the independents who shun all orders as such.

    More importantly, I don't quite see the Dharma in the way you describe it here. Like Mordecai (whom you have for some reason evoked in his wrathful form), I draw a distinction between Will and True Will. But both constructions are meaningful for me. Will is all-inclusive, which is, I think, the recognition that you describe Thelemites often discovering. We do nothing that is not Will; there is nothing that is not Will.

    On the other hand, Will can easily manifest as confusion, from the point of view of the individual. We might distinguish True Will as the condition where one is identified with the fullness of Will, as opposed to being identified with something more superficial. To say that the confusion of everyday life is "all True Will" eliminates the usefulness of the term, as far as I can see.

    To attempt to dabble in your terminology: in Modernism, there is the stance that we can approach the one true interpretation, and that this is the measure of progress. Post-Modernism, in response, declares that there are many interpretations of equal validity. What I want to say is, yes, there are indeed many interpretations of equal validity, but that truth is not a matter of interpretations at all. Interpretations must always fall short of essential truth. The objection that some people have with the idea of True Will is, I think, the idea that one could attain a "true interpretation" of oneself, which is absurd.

    One can be oneself, and have the perspective and expressiveness that arises spontaneously therefrom. But this is not a matter of interpretation, and is thus not so easily allied with Post-Modernism. There is a dimension of difference in Will, yes. But there is also a dimension of unity that is of at least equal importance.

    You could be taken to mean in this article that the importance of Thelema is the idea that I have the right to decide exactly what interpretations I will hold as true. That's not what Thelema is for me; far from it.

    This is, in part, a beautifully written essay. Although I disagree with much of what you're saying here, I have to thank you for bringing up these issues. I've had a wonderful time pondering exactly how I do feel on the subject.

    • Re: Thelema and Post-Modernism
      by Mordecai Shapiro on Saturday October 07, @01:11AM
      >Will is all-inclusive, which is, I think, the recognition that you describe
      >Thelemites often discovering. We do nothing that is not Will; there is nothing
      >that is not Will.
      >On the other hand, Will can easily manifest as confusion, from the point of
      >view of the individual. We might distinguish True Will as the condition where
      >one is identified with the fullness of Will, as opposed to being identified
      >with something more superficial. To say that the confusion of everyday life is
      >"all True Will" eliminates the usefulness of the term, as far as I can see. ...
      >The objection that some people have with the idea of True Will is, I think, the
      >idea that one could attain a "true interpretation" of oneself, which is absurd.

      Let me paraphrase to see if I'm understanding you: one's 'HGA' has a "Will" which one does whether one is conscious of it or not, however if one is conscious of and does that will then it is "True Will". But why bring in this conception of "Truth"? Is the will of the 'HGA' somehow false because it is done unconsciously? Why not then just call it knowing and doing your will? and leave all this "Truth" business to philosophers, scientists, and politicians.


      • Re: Thelema and Post-Modernism
        by Xnoubis on Saturday October 07, @08:36AM
        That doesn't sound like the formulation I'm describing. Let me first say that there would certainly be a different way to describe it if one doesn't want to use the phrase "True Will." But there is something that I find meaningful in Crowley's use of the term, even though it could easily be mistaken for the absurdity I refer to.

        It could be said that, impersonally, there is nothing that is not Will. I may not have intentionally driven my truck off of a cliff, but I did Will my foot on the accelerator, Willed my distracting thought, and it was the Will of the mass of the truck to respond to the mass of the earth and plummet.

        Personally, one can attain to a greater or lesser clarity. This doesn't effect the extent to which one is Will, since one is nothing else, but it does effect how that Will manifests in relation to the fullness of oneself.

        It is very often the case that we take ourselves to be something less that what we are. We take ourselves to be some idea or other. This, I find, impinges on the free and spontaneous manifestation of Will within our lives. What I'm attempting to describe as "True Will" is the absence of this impingement. What I'm attempting to avoid is the notion that this True Will is in some way the "right idea."

        When I hear you or others object to the notion of True Will, I relate to it in the sense of "True Love," like, there's a self-concept out there somewhere that is right for me, and doggone it, I'm gonna find it. That seems to me like a particularly pernicious distortion of Thelema. Am I right in thinking that what you're objecting to is something along those lines?


        • Re: Thelema and Post-Modernism
          by Mordecai Shapiro on Sunday October 08, @01:05AM
          >When I hear you or others object to the notion of True Will, I relate to it in the sense
          >of "True Love," like, there's a self-concept out there somewhere that is right for me,
          >and doggone it, I'm gonna find it. That seems to me like a particularly pernicious
          >distortion of Thelema. Am I right in thinking that what you're objecting to is
          >something along those lines?

          I don't know. Is it "something along those lines" to question why we need to supplement the Book of the Law's use of the terms "will" and "pure will" with something we define as "True Will"? It seems to originate from the fear that idiots will identify their wills with any desire, obsession, or stray thought that occurs to them. But idiots will make the exact same identifications with their "True Wills", and a lot of other people might be fooled into thinking that their desires, obsessions, and stray thoughts aren't clues to their wills. They might miss out on many opportunities for pure will to express itself silently in these and other activities of mind and/or body.


          • Re: Thelema and Post-Modernism
            by Xnoubis on Sunday October 08, @10:06AM
            Why do we need to constrain ourselves to the terminology of the Book of the Law?

            It seems to me that illusory identification is not just a problem for idiots, but the norm. Good point, though, that these identifications are important clues for self-realization.


            • Re: Thelema and Post-Modernism
              by Mordecai Shapiro on Wednesday October 11, @12:36PM
              >Why do we need to constrain ourselves to the terminology of the Book of the Law?

              We needn't, but do need to demonstrate the necessity for the new terminology. See
              http://www.egroups.com/message/thelema93-l/4624 for a pretty good explication of what many people don't like about the use of the phrase 'True Will'.


              • Re: Thelema and Post-Modernism
                by Xnoubis on Thursday October 12, @09:42AM
                It seems to me that I've already demonstrated the distinction between "True Will" and terms used in the Book of the Law in my message of October 8 in this thread. Again, we could use another term; the only necessity for this one is that it is already in use. Oscar Ichazo used the term "clarification of consciousness," which I believe would do as well. I don't think that this is sufficiently described by "Will." "Pure Will" comes closer, but is an impersonal term. "True Will" gets at the personal dimension of the subject: there is nothing but Will, but one may or may not be true to oneself in the willing.

                Thus it is a useful term for me, and I usually seem to understand what Crowley and others mean when they use it. It's fine that it doesn't work for you, but I do think that the usage is defensible.


                • Re: Thelema and Post-Modernism
                  by Mordecai Shapiro on Saturday October 14, @08:26PM
                  >there is nothing but Will, but one may or may not be true to oneself in the willing.

                  This isn't at all clear to me. If there is nothing but Will, who is there to be untrue to it? Even talked of from the point of view of that sense of "oneselfness" which is the basis of the illusion of personality the will as it works out is always true, though it may seem easy or difficult from that point of view. Will SHALL be perfect, it's a matter of time. Love IS the way at any moment to get from difficult to easy in the working out of the process of will.


                  • Re: Thelema and Post-Modernism
                    by Xnoubis on Sunday October 15, @08:44AM
                    I've been trying to work with your terminology just now, but I perceive a difficulty: if one chooses a path that is anesthetizing but debilitating, it could seem easy, but hardly the perfection of will. How does your framework deal with that?

                    There's another point here, but it's not going to be too easy to express. There is a self that is beyond the illusion of personality. It is unreflected and unrepresentable (which is why as I describe it, I am not describing it, dammit), and so is also characterized as Void and No-self. It is the identity of the One Thing and is also within each point. A human being can reside in this self, but ordinarily is subject to what you describe as the illusion of personality. To not be subject to this illusion is the condition of "Mrph Nrgh".

                    Mrph Nrgh is only what it is called by some people. It is not conditioned by the associations that people usually have with Mrph, or even the associations that people have with Nrgh. But there is an obvious need in work on self to have a term for it. I don't use the term myself, but when Nathan uses the term "Mrph Nrgh," I know what he's talking about.

                    (I use substitute terminology in the hopes of eventually climbing out of this quagmire...)


                    • Re: Thelema and Post-Modernism
                      by Mordecai Shapiro on Sunday October 15, @11:15AM
                      >I don't use the term myself, but when Nathan uses the term "Mrph Nrgh,"
                      >I know what he's talking about.

                      Or apparently believe that you know. That's the problem with such "fuzzy" terminology, people may be talking past each other about two completely different things and yet not realize it.


                      • Re: Thelema and Post-Modernism
                        by Xnoubis on Monday October 16, @10:01AM
                        "Vagueness is the rebellion of truth against intellect." -- Bertrand Russell


        • "What Is Truth?"
          by Marfiza on Saturday October 21, @02:26PM
          > When I hear you or others object to the notion of True Will,
          > I relate to it in the sense of "True Love,"

          Isn't it in Illuminatus, something along this line: The opposite of a truth is a lie. The opposite of a Great Truth is another Great Truth...

          We now return you to your regularly scheduled debate...

              - M


    Re: Thelema and Post-Modernism
    by Nathan W Bjorge on Saturday October 07, @12:34AM
    I agree with everything you say and see nothing in the article which contradicts what you say.

    Mordecai doesn't have a wrathful aspect, in my opinion. He simply likes to tangent off under the pretense of making 'objections', so as to take the conversation in interesting directions.

    -Nathan

    Re: Thelema and Post-Modernism
    by Patrick E. McCaffery on Friday March 09, @01:43AM
    Im here a bit late and possibly a dollar short but here goes...

    I too agree that "True" is a limited word in this context. To centralize or crystallize a "Truth" (ie True Will) is to EXACT a singular or definable set of conclusions from the ever present transient nature of not only belief, but more importantly perspective. There is no possible solidification of truth without perspective. To capture a "Truth" one must eventually disregard other possible (probable?) outcome. So even on a purely physical/animal level what is true, is simply what is "expected" or possibly what "feels good" to project as thought form.

    In relation to the HGA I believe that finding your "True Will" is in animal terms, bringing the lower aspects of ones physical nature into union with the higher divine aspects of ones being. I will also say that when commenting on "true will" an author may be appealing to the common readers lower physical aspect. To imagine and or predict the readers comprehension level as being more than it is, could result in a text that is both useless to the un-initiated and unmarketable to the mundane mass. Is this a petition towards accessability for the "idiots(who)will identify their wills with any desire, obsession, or stray thought that occurs to them".- Mordecai
    Possibly. Or the word "truth" may well be just a giant road marker that doesn't contain a map. Vague enough? Pedantics abound.

    As far as Mordeci's questioning, it reflects to me, my own need to constantly reevaluate my own obscene conclusions and - at least we're not all standing (typing?) around nodding our heads in complacent agreement like a bunch of...well sheep.

    Thanks to Nathan, Mordecai, Xnoubis and all others for beginning and equating this topic. And Thanks to this forum for the clarity and community it offers.
    - Patrick McCaffery

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