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  Attainment Without Authority
General Thelema Posted by Xnoubis on April 19, 2001 @ 01:12 PM
from the master-blaster dept.

Aleister Crowley could be accused of having sought to overthrow the old spiritual authority in order to establish himself as the new authority. At the same time, much of his writing suggests that no outside authority is necessary for attainment.

Crowley himself accepted the authority of the Golden Dawn -- but not for long. It could be argued that he learned as much or more from the friends he made within the G.D. (such as Allen Bennett and George Cecil Jones) as he did from the official "chains of command."

This makes me wonder about other examples of those who have achieved some measure of attainment without having accepted an authority as a necessary precondition. Some, like Da Free John, are like Crowley in that they attained independently yet set themselves up as authorities. Others, like Alan Watts or Franklin Merrell-Wolff, neither accepted nor established authority.

In either case, who else is there?



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    Re: Attainment Without Authority
    by Tim Maroney on Thursday April 19, @06:57PM
    LIBER LXI VEL CAUSAE

    The Preliminary Lection Including The History Lection

    http://www.luckymojo.com/esoteric/occultism/magic/ceremonial/crowley/061causae.txt

    20. Thereupon these two adepts conferred together, saying: May it not be written that the tribulations shall be shortened? Wherefore they resolved to establish a new Order which should be free from the errors and deceits of the former one.

    21. Without Authority they could not do this, exalted as their rank was among adepts. They resolved to prepare all things, great and small, against that day when such Authority should be received by them, since they knew not where to seek for higher adepts than themselves, but knew that the true way to attract the notice of such was to equilibrate the symbols. The temple must be builded before the God can indwell it. [...]

    27. In the fullness of time, even as a blossoming tree that beareth fruit in its season, all these pains were ended, and these adepts and their companions obtained the reward which they had sought -- they were to be admitted to the Eternal and Invisible Order that hath no name among men.

    • Re: Attainment Without Authority
      by Xnoubis on Friday April 20, @11:02AM
      I had forgotten about this passage. If I understand it correctly, they wanted to teach, and felt that they needed Authority to do so. So they worked diligently, and obtained Authority through a combination of preparation and grace.

      What does it mean that they could not establish a new order without authority? I would think that it means that an order (in this sense) needs to be able to provide a definitive evaluation of whether its aspirants have or have not attained. Usually (the text seems to imply), this ability is itself evaluated by senior adepts who have previously been bestowed with authority. But in this case, the authority was bestowed through preparation and grace.

      Why, then, seek to claim authority at all? To shorten the tribulations, it seems. One wonders, though (with the clarity of hindsight), whether the tribulations might not be best shortened simply through preparation and trusting in grace.

      That's one reason why I'm interested in other examples of self-initiated adepts. The fact that Alan Watts, for example, more or less drank himself to death could be seen as evidence of tribulations that might have been shortened by an "authorized" lineage. But further examples might help to clarify this point.


    Re: Attainment Without Authority
    by Mordecai Shapiro on Friday April 20, @01:31PM
    I would venture Ramana Maharshi as one who attained without an outside authority, and though he went on to be a teacher he always emphasized that no outside authority could "enlighten". William James is an example of someone who had a spiritual crisis and then apparently attained some sort of mystic state, but he still remained within a Western academic framework (where he was indeed regarded as an authority, but displayed far less of the arrogant certainty to which most academic authorities seem prey).

    Re: Attainment Without Authority
    by Rev. Mike Margolin on Friday April 20, @09:41PM
    In either case, who else is there?

    93,
    Me, but as authority no.
    More like a mediator when needed.
    Authority is out dated and useless for the most part. Yes police and governments need and use it but if they were really "For the people by the people" they would not need it.
    Much like the "Every man and woman is a star."
    Each person is thier own athority.
    93/93/93
    ISN
    Rev. Mikey 666

    Re: Attainment Without Authority
    by Alex Chapunoff on Saturday April 21, @09:18AM
    Krishnamurti stated that each person may be a disciple of Truth so long as they realize they needn't follow anyone else.

    • Re: Attainment Without Authority
      by Xnoubis on Monday April 23, @10:44AM
      I just watched Krishnamurti: With a Silent Mind, a terrific Mystic Fire Video on the life of the great man. And I agree: Krishnamurti had a commitment to the individual's power for realization that is wonderfully inspiring.

      But just to play Guru's Advocate here: it seems to me that he felt some frustration in later life, in that he was only able to communicate his level of insight to a very few people. If he had been part of a real lineage (as opposed to having gotten burned by Theosophy in his youth), do you suppose that he might have learned things about how to teach that would have served him well later on?



    Re: Attainment Without Authority
    by proteus on Sunday April 22, @12:46PM
    42. The ordeals thou shalt oversee thyself,save only the blind ones. Refuse none, but thou shalt know & destroy the traitors. I am Ra-Hoor-Khuit; and I am powerful to protect my servant. Success is thy proof:....
    (liber AL ch.III)

    62. To Me do ye reverence! to me come ye through tribulation of ordeal, which is bliss
    63. The fool readeth this Book of the law, and it's comment; & understandeth it not.
    64. let him come through the first ordeal, & it will be to him as silver.
    65. through the second, gold.
    66. Through the third, stones of precious water.
    67. through the fourth, ultimate sparks of intimate fire.
    68. Yet to all it shall seem beautiful. Its enemies who say not so, are mere liars.
    69. there is success
    Liber AL ch.III

    93,

    I think authority is not to be found in groups as OTA, UR-OTO, Thelemic golden dawn, buddist sekts, etz. Those authoritys can only ask you out to play in their backyard
    verse 62-69 seem to imply different states of intimacy with the univers. Authority than is only as valid as it is practical,for it does not imply faith(AL ch.I v.58): the reason of incarnation(samsara) or knowledge of our heritage,the messias.In Crowley's authority (tora) as prophet of nuit, the point of view of the individuel is what's counts.(Duh)The book of law is but the sublimation of all true arts of ascent; christian,islamitic,buddist enz.From this it is easy to see that Aiwass was not Crowley's HGA but a voice from beyond the grave.AAAAGGh It was just the shock of being called a prophet that made Crowley get religious mindfucks as to his "embassy to the King thy Brother"(liber LVX)
    and not doing his job,the great work.

    Blessing and worship to the prophet of the lovely star

    • Re: Attainment Without Authority
      by Nekial on Friday April 27, @10:52PM
      93

      The body of your post strikes me as very clear and illuminating.

      Regarding the last two sentences though:
      I may be taking your comment too seriously, but I think Crowley, who identified his will as the initiation of the new aeon and the promulgation of the law of thelema, was very successful.

      And I think the evidence clearly shows that Aiwass was a praeter-human intelligence, not some spirit of the dead as one may find dribbling banalities at seances.

      93 93/93


    Re: Attainment Without Authority
    by Nekial on Sunday April 22, @04:07PM
    Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

    Buddha. And although he didn't set himself up as an authority, he certainly became one. As did Krishnamurti.

    I think Crowley and Jones were setting up an order in the traditional Western Hermetic manner, and this calls for authority (as the cipher manuscripts led Mathers et al. to gain authority from the European order).
    Why is that important? Yes, to minimize errors; the idea being, if you want to go to Rome, and don't know where Rome is, you contact someone in Rome, or who's been there, to guide you. But also, if you believe there's an ancient order, Beings guiding humanity through the ages, you recognize them as your superiors and you don't make a move without clearance. I think Crowley and Jones accepted this and knew better than to establish an order without approval: just following protocol.
    I don't think the history lection implies that mere grace and devotion resulted in their gaining a sense of authority; I think what's implied is that after a period of grace and devotion, they were given authority. Their proposal was officially approved by the higher-ups. (I only mean that's what it seems to me to imply.)
    Is attainment possible without authority? Yes (or, if you are your own authority, no). Is it possible to establish an initiating order of the Hermetic tradition without authority? Yes if you don't think the Hidden Masters are a part of that tradition, No if you do.
    Most important,

    Love is the law, love under will.

    • Re: Attainment Without Authority
      by Xnoubis on Monday April 23, @10:26AM
      Buddha didn't set himself up as an authority? I would have thought that laying down something like the Four Noble Truths implied that he should be regarded as someone in a position to know, even if he also asked that images not be made of him. (I'm not really up enough on my Buddhist studies to know which statements were likely his and which were attributed to him later, though.)

      > Their proposal was officially approved by the
      > higher-ups.

      If these higher-ups were non-corporeal (which is how the text reads to me), their approval sounds an awful lot like grace.


      • Re: Attainment Without Authority
        by Jon Auviere on Monday April 23, @10:46AM
        It would be fair to say that Crowley acted like Buddha when he mentioned authority only to claim that his methods are tried and true. Like Buddha, he offers suggestion only, and stresses that one should not take his word for it. Buddha however claimed "authority" in the broad sense when he said to his pupils, now go out and teach this word to the world. But there is no rigid sense about it. The word is always open to discussion. Just like Xnoubis' objection to "survival of the fittest".


      • Re: Attainment Without Authority
        by Nekial on Friday April 27, @10:18PM
        93

        Well, I'd just say there's a difference between being treated like an authority, and announcing, like say Mr. Smith, or Crowley, that you ARE the authority. (remember those fellows that wanted to start a cult after Stranger in a Strange Land came out? Heinlein wanted no part of it...)

        As to the Higher ups, this is academic, of course, but are you saying Aiwass in 1904 (for instance) was mere grace?

        93 93/93


        • Re: Attainment Without Authority
          by Xnoubis on Saturday April 28, @07:39AM
          What's "mere" about grace?

          By "grace," I mean something given by the divine, as opposed to something demanded of the divine. The reception of The Book of the Law seems like a borderline case. The Vision and the Voice does not seem like grace to me, as the visions were outcomes of specific workings. In the case of the History Lection, I think that, if the Authority couldn't be acquired through calling up some godform and having it stamp your charter, and if it wasn't done through sneaky flesh-and-blood Rosicrucians, then it was done through grace. It's not a word generally used in polytheistic traditions, but I think it could be.


          • Re: Attainment Without Authority
            by Nekial on Thursday May 03, @04:45PM
            93

            Thank you for the explanation; I think I see what you mean by grace.

            I don't mean mere in the colloquial sense of 'slight', I mean it in the sense of 'only'.

            Given your definition of grace, which I agree has a place in polytheistic religions, then perhaps it was by grace that they received their charter. The question is, what form did that grace take?

            The implication to me is that the order was sanctioned in some manner by some sort of intelligence with which they interacted, not merely by a sense of grace. Oh; if they were seeking approval, as the Lection says, then how could it be grace in the 'given without being asked' sense? It hardly seems like an example of grace when the aspirant, after starving herself for days outside the temple, is finally admitted. Or is it?

            93 93/93


            • Re: Attainment Without Authority
              by Xnoubis on Friday May 04, @02:45PM
              > I mean it in the sense of 'only'.

              Oh. Got it.

              > how could it be grace in the 'given without
              > being asked' sense?

              I don't so much mean "without being asked" as "cannot be demanded". If the authority could have been granted by conjuring so-and-so and saying "hibbety-hibbety," I'm sure they would have done it.

              To use your example, if every aspirant that starved herself for, say, 4 days was admitted, no, that doesn't sound like grace. But there are countless Sufi stories along the lines of the righteous man who starves himself for 1 day and is admitted, while the opportunist starves himself and ultimately dies while the gates remain closed. That's more in line with the idea of grace, I think: the decision is up to the gatekeepers.


              • Re: Attainment Without Authority
                by Nekial on Friday May 04, @09:14PM
                93

                Ah, NOW I see what you mean. And I see that I agree with you.

                Hibbety-bibitty, bobbity-bink,
                I demand you grant me the magical link!

                No, I suppose that wouldn't do...

                93 93/93


    Re: Attainment Without Authority
    by Tim Maroney on Monday April 23, @11:32AM
    I have not participated in this conversation much, because I no longer believe in the idea of spiritual attainment. My current working model of enlightenment cults is that they revolve around a person who was made very strange by nature, and whose strangeness happened to fall into that band which is perceived as "hidden wisdom" by some.

    These unusual individuals, most of who suffer from mental pathology as well as whatever positive qualities their uniqueness has granted them, heed the requests of their admirers and set up programs of study which are not their own means of "attainment," since they were effectively born into enlightenment, or otherwise stumbled into their condition.

    These programs are ineffective in creating a similarly unusual state in the minds of the followers, except in rare cases of similar predisposition, or for very short periods of time. Their production of unusual and short-lived psychological phenomena is striking enough to keep the personality cult of the original oddball alive, but in fact these short-term effects rarely have much impact on personality.

    Tim

    • Re: Attainment Without Authority
      by Thelemick Knight on Monday April 23, @02:18PM
      Dear Tim:

      Si Vales, Valeo

      Well, your point certainly seems to concur with the overall feeling of this thread: that a teacher cannot get you enlightened.

      I am one of those people who sees value in teacher student relationships. My feelings are not just theoretical, they are based on experience. I was fortunate enough to have had a teacher. So in this part of the thread, I must respectfully disagree. I will go out on a limb, and make a comment which will undoubtedly be unpopular, and go as far as to say that the feeling that no one has anything of value to teach may be at least partly responsible for the sorry state of the occult movement in
      general. Often times, rebellion to following instructions is nothing more than laziness concealed under the flag of individuality and independence.

      Anyone who has ever watched a child grow up can understand and identify this behavior.

      No disrespect intended, I just see this from a different angle.

      Also, you said:

      I have not participated in this conversation much, because I no longer believe in the idea of spiritual attainment.

      I remember going through a stage like that myself only very recently and never had I felt such a profound loss: a void. If there is such a thing as a "dark night of the soul" this was certainly mine.

      I observed the great things that we as a species are capable of, and it really drove the idea that there is "no god but man." It came as a knowing, a moment of clarity where I understood for a moment exactly what that meant.

      The idea of enlightenment, spirituality or religion (yes, I said the R word) are capable of pushing us toward the greatest heights and achieve the greatest good. So even if you were correct (and I am not saying you are not, only that I disagree), then wouldn't it be in our best interest to continue to use these tools in order to move us forward, with the emphasis on integrity and honor rather than speed?

      Pax Profundus,
      GM

      http://www.thelemicknights.org/


      • Re: Attainment Without Authority
        by Xnoubis on Monday April 23, @02:43PM
        I know your remarks were addressed to Tim, but I'm intrigued.

        > the overall feeling of this thread: that a
        > teacher cannot get you enlightened.

        As the author of the original article, I'm surprised to see the thread characterized in that way. I intend to ask, what evidence is there that progress in attainment can be achieved without a teacher? In other words, is a teacher necessary? I, for one, certainly didn't mean to imply one can't get there with a teacher.

        >> I no longer believe in the idea of spiritual
        >> attainment.
        >
        > I remember going through a stage like that
        > myself only very recently and never had I felt
        > such a profound loss

        I believe that I know the feeling. On the other hand, I think that for some people, abandoning the idea of attainment would seem liberating, like setting aside a superstition. I consider this the "secular humanist" view.

        > even if you were correct [...] then wouldn't it
        > be in our best interest to continue to use
        > these tools in order to move us forward

        If I were a secular humanist, I would think that we'd be best off focusing on what we know rationally, but within a society that was tolerant of those who wished to focus on irrational concerns such as attainment. Just don't teach it in public schools. ;-)


        • Re: Attainment Without Authority
          by Thelemick Knight on Monday April 23, @04:58PM
          Dear Xnoubis:

          Si Vales, Valeo

          > > the overall feeling of this thread: that a
          > > teacher cannot get you enlightened.

          > As the author of the original article, I'm > surprised to see the thread characterized in
          > that way.

          I realize that is not how the thread began, but in my opinion the current thread doesn't seem to follow the original question.

          > I intend to ask, what evidence is there that > progress in attainment can be achieved without a > teacher? In other words, is a teacher necessary?

          Most people have answer with a "no." I believe that *for me* there was value. I have met many self professed knowitalls in the movement who don't know anything. But becaause there is no instruction on avoiding chalattans the sincere seeker is sometimes drawn into the web of the pathological liar with fragile ego. It really comes as no surprise when some one who has been exposed to this determines that there is no value in seeking enlightenment

          The problem seems to be a classic case of the blind leading the blind.

          > I, for one, certainly didn't mean to imply one > can't get there with a teacher.

          Sorry to have given you a different impression of what I really meant. English as a second language, you know.

          My apologies.

          Pax Profundus,
          GM

          http://www.thelemicknights.org


      • Re: Attainment Without Authority
        by Tim Maroney on Monday April 23, @02:57PM
        I appreciate your comments.

        I am not in a "dark night of the soul" over my disbelief in spiritual attainment and enlightenment cults. It's been many years coming; it's emerged incrementally from a number of smaller insights; and I view it as a freeing viewpoint rather than as a disappointment.

        I don't feel that ideas of enlightenment generally are for the benefit of humanity, though they often represent themselves as such. More and more, I have come over my adult life to think that acts undertaken in the name of organized religion -- and even individual religion -- are among the worst acts of humanity, rather than the best. Endless bickering over minor points of doctrine, the reduction of enemies and disbelievers to subhuman status, and pissing matches over who is really the Holiest are altogether characteristic of this area of human endeavor.

        The people who work their ways into spiritual hierarchies are often the most petty and intolerant of humans rather than the most spiritually advanced. This flies in the face of the idea of a mystical organization as providing emanations of spirituality from an advanced center through increasingly lower rings. The inner rings of mystical cults are often made up of people vastly inferior in emotional maturity and compassion to those outside the circle.

        And when we look at the inmost circle, the supposedly advanced beings like Crowley, Trungpa, Blavatsky, Mathers, etc., we find without exception evidence of severe mental disorders. Funny that the most advanced of beings also seem to be the least advanced. It is my contention that they are neither advanced nor non-advanced by any objective standard, only striking and impressive.

        This does not mean that no one in any religion has anything useful to teach, or that no one can learn anything useful from a religion. It only shoots down the idea that the inner circle and founders of a religion possess some transferrable quality of superior holiness. Moving towards the founders and hierophants of such a group is not a march forward. It is only a march away from ourselves and away from realizing our own unique potential as individuals.

        Tim


        • Re: Attainment Without Authority
          by Thelemick Knight on Monday April 23, @04:47PM
          Dear Tim:

          Si Vales, Valeo

          Sorry if I seemed to interpret your feelings as a dark night of the soul: I only meant I had similar ideas during one.

          Thank you for restating you view. I understand it a little better now, and there is nothing in your claims about religion or mystical orders that I can find fault in... unfortunately. But if religion, organized or otherwise, has brought us the most bad, it has also brought us the most good. It seems to bring out the best and worst in us.

          Perhaps I am a bit naive to think that to do good is human nature, not the other way around.

          Pax Profundus,
          GM

          http://www.thelemicknights.org


          • Re: Attainment Without Authority
            by Tim Maroney on Monday April 23, @05:52PM
            But if religion, organized or otherwise, has brought us the most bad, it has also brought us the most good. It seems to bring out the best and worst in us.

            Yeah, I think that on alternate Tuesdays myself. But usually I think a similar but slightly different thing. Religion and spirituality are in many ways the worst arenas for acting out destructive behavior, but they are not simultaneously the arena for the best. However, they do contain a value without which we would be immeasurably diminished, even though it is not necessarily the highest value. In plainer words, religion is a necessary evil.

            My question then becomes whether it is possible to have the benefits of spirituality without such negative consequences. The creative arts already embody that kind of purified spirituality. The arts are not without their own doctrinal infighting, true, but somehow it rarely seems to escalate to the same level of human tragedy as in the spiritual realm.

            In addition, art does not generally postulate a basic scale of human worth, which religion usually does. Again, in the arts there is a great deal of concern about who is better or worse, but there is less of a tendency to imagine that one's rankings are absolutes or that those nearer the bottom of the scale are subhuman. Again in plainer words, the arts are less "holier-than-thou."

            In practical terms, here is how I would apply these principles to a Thelemic initiatory group, such as OTO, TOT, HOOR, or what have you. First, create a doctrine that initiations represent only relative personal progress. De-emphasize the idea of the initiatory system as a scale of human worth by including direct statements that a person of degree N+1 may be superior to themselves at degree N, but may well not be superior to someone else who is only degree N or less. This would also involve uprooting structural assumptions that, for instance, only people of the fifth degree are worthy enough to have any say in their own governance, or that someone of seventh degree is magically qualified to pass judgment on others. Breaking up these false statements and actings-out of a general scale of human worth would decrease the degree-based power struggles and anti-"trog" sentiment within the group.

            Second, recast the group not as a religion but as a performing arts group dedicated to the art of ritual. Remove those aspects that are redolent of traditional belief systems, such as recitation of doctrinal formulas when greeting or eating. Make the flagship projects of the group into theatrical arts projects rather than just reprinting received wisdom. Encourage innovation in ritual and discourage the rote repetition of the same few rituals -- or at least, require groups to have a strong mix of original and traditional ritual.

            Crowley stated in MWT that Thelema was diminished by calling it a religion, but in his usual paradoxical way he included elements which were clearly the appropriation of traditional religious practices, such as the substitution of Boleskine for Mecca. I think we should proceed to the next stage and make it even less a religion than he left it. Instead, make it a federation of artists' workshops. This gives us access to all of its actual values and virtues while pushing away from the rocky bed of religion into which many Thelemic initiatory groups have fallen.

            Tim



            • Re: Attainment Without Authority
              by GM on Monday April 23, @11:24PM
              Dear Tim:

              Si Vales, Valeo

              You said:

              ...Religion and spirituality are in many ways the worst arenas for acting out destructive behavior, but they are not simultaneously the arena for the best. However, they do contain a value without which we would be immeasurably diminished, even though it is not necessarily the highest value. In plainer words, religion is a necessary evil.

              Completely agreed. And if it is, as you say, a necessary evil, then perhaps "Religion" should be redefined to reflect what we know to be its positive aspect. My personal definition for "religion" is the celebration of the spirit. WE get to decide what that word will mean to us.

              You:

              My question then becomes whether it is possible to have the benefits of spirituality without such negative consequences.

              Why not? We can enjoy beer without bar fights and drunk driving? We can even enjoy a drive in the country without killing anyone with our cars.

              You:

              ... art does not generally postulate a basic scale of human worth, which religion usually does.

              But Thelema posits that every man and every woman is divine.

              You:

              Again, in the arts there is a great deal of concern about who is better or worse, but there is less of a tendency to imagine that one's rankings are absolutes or that those nearer the bottom of the scale are subhuman. Again in plainer words, the arts are less "holier-than-thou."

              The prejudice you describe is not only confined to religions or religious groups. Consider what Crowley says about Thelema for a moment:

              "It is the Law that Jesus Christ, or rather the Gnostic tradition of which the Christ legend is a degradation, attempted to teach; but nearly every word he said was misinterpreted and garbled by his enemies, particularly by those who called themselves his disciples."

              He certainly does not appear to be down on religion here. In fact he seems to insinuate that Thelema is True Christianity.

              Now, back you your comments about the degree system: the problem is not the degree system.It is the criteria with which one receives those degrees. Often times (most times) they are not based on any kind of merit or work. THAT is the problem with degree systems.

              On the other hand, if an organization sprung up that didn't have time to deal with scoundrels, the losers would just label it as "authoritarian" for expecting excellence from its members. It is a quantity over quality issue when it comes to organizations that collect dues. We have seen how the refusal to buckle to popular (and often vulgar) beliefs has already hurt the Masons.

              You:

              Second, recast the group not as a religion but as a performing arts group dedicated to the art of ritual.

              Been there and done that. All this does is invite a few hams and showoffs to have their day in the sun. The focus of the officers goes into how cool they look, and what the audience will think of their performance rather than focusing their attention on the candidate for whom the ritual is performed.

              Remove those aspects that are redolent of traditional belief systems, such as recitation of doctrinal formulas when greeting or eating.

              Why is this bad? Is it so terrible to remind ones self of what they are doing and why?

              Make the flagship projects of the group into theatrical arts projects rather than just reprinting received wisdom. Encourage innovation in ritual and discourage the rote repetition of the same few rituals -- or at least, require groups to have a strong mix of original and traditional ritual.

              Absolutely. Couldn't have said it better myself. It is the only way to prevent falling into a rut. The problem is that people have a tendency to indulge in people worship. This is something that slipped into Thelema from the Christian schools. It is much easier to worship the person than to actually do the prescribed work. Thelemites are no exception: we do love the Old Fart, and some people even believe that only Crowley can define Thelema for the world, and so Crowleyites go about mimicking his pathological behavior. With all the talk about individualism, and freedom, some of us are no bettr than the Christians who confuse the messenger with the message. It really is a shame.

              In any case, thank you for your posts. They cause me to think about areas I don't usually explore. Thanks for indulging me.

              Pax Profundus,
              GM

              --
              The nature of God is a circle of which the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere. --Empedocles


              • Re: Attainment Without Authority
                by Nekial on Thursday May 03, @04:18PM
                Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

                "It is the law that Jesus Christ..."

                Forgive me for butting my nose in, but in the segment of Book IV part four that you quote, I would say that Crowley is not down on the Gnostic tradition; but is definitely down on Christianity as it came to be under the influence of those 'disciples' that misread and garbled.

                But this doesn't matter regarding you gist: elsewhere in that book he makes it clear that Thelema is the perfection of religion; that it succeeds in the aims that all other religions attempt, but unsuccessfully. That indeed, Thelema lays the foundation for a true and universal religion (Summary of the Case). I still dislike use of the word religion, as it has so many meanings to so many of us that it becomes meaningless; useless in conversation. See my comments under "Thelema is...", and everyone elses!

                Love is the law, love under will.


            • Re: Attainment Without Authority
              by Xnoubis on Tuesday April 24, @01:04PM
              I think of religion as a response to the crisis that occurs collectively and individually when living for oneself alone is no longer satisfactory. On the basis of individual experience, there is no irrefutable evidence of a greater value than individual gain, which works out okay until the realization that such gains end with the death of the individual. This crisis invites the idea that there is something of value outside the self, and this idea can be supported by faith or (so I would assert) by gnosis/direct experience. Generally speaking, Western religion has emphasized faith while Eastern religion has emphasized gnosis, although both traditions include elements of both approaches.

              What usually comes along with bridge to "something greater than the individual" is an authoritative worldview. To some extent, the driving force of our civilization (individualism and secularism) is the response to the later crisis that occurred when we found that conformance to the religious authorities is also not satisfactory.

              Crowley's work, as I see it, is both an expression of the prevailing individualist direction of our culture, and a reaction against its secularism. While on the one hand, secularism is not ultimately satisfying (most likely, nothing ever will be), Crowley ran the risk of falling into the errors of religion by establishing himself as a new authority. Often, it seems that he was aware of it, but for those of us who have worked within his tradition, it sometimes appears that he (and subsequent Thelemic authorities) could have done more to sidestep the problem.

              What I'd like to see in Thelemic orders is a decision making process less dependent on rank, as Tim says. But I wouldn't want to move away from religion altogether, only from religious authority. A combination of gnosis (as opposed to faith) and collective rule would work for me.

              But greater emphasis on sacred arts is always a good thing.


        • Re: Attainment Without Authority
          by Nexist on Tuesday April 24, @10:43PM
          Endless bickering over minor points of doctrine, the reduction of enemies and disbelievers to subhuman status, and pissing matches over who is really the Holiest are altogether characteristic of this area of human endeavor.

          This sounds to me like a problem inherent in declining social groupings, whether it be Spiritual, Political or what have you. Ideology, no matter what its source, can fall into degredation when those who understand the Ideology are no more, once the Ideology becomes confused, then the bickering, infighting and bloodshed occurs.

          The problem isn't enlightenment, but rather a lack of it.


          • Re: Attainment Without Authority
            by Xnoubis on Wednesday April 25, @11:28AM
            Ideology is a map of human truth. Human truth is vast enough that no map can be comprehensive. (Also, to adapt a map of human truth is to change human truth, thus requiring changes to the map, ad infinitum.) To say, "There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt," seems to point towards an end to ideology. To take it as another ideology seems to mistake the reflection for the image.

            "Think for yourselves!" said Brian.

            "Yes, we will think for ourselves, O Brian!" said the crowd.


            • Re: Attainment Without Authority
              by Nexist on Wednesday April 25, @05:19PM
              I tend to think of Ideology as a guide and system for ordering perceptions.


    Re: Attainment Without Authority
    by Alex Chapunoff on Monday April 23, @10:27PM
    The dysfunctional aspects of the esoteric and exoteric scenes (grandiosity, elitism, self-righteousness, conspiracy, dogma, prejudice, etc.) could probably be ascribed to the ego. People get into the supposed power of it or else get trapped in the method, the trappings, seemingly forgetting that all religion, ritual, prayer, meditation, texts, etc., are just tools, and not the thing itself. It's all Knowledge. If at some point it isn't transcended, it can mire us.

    Crowley hints at the futility of the trappings here and there; for example, stating that methods are useful mostly in the beginning. Alan Watts deals with the issue explicitly in The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are. And it's a big theme with Krishnamurti. In the latter's case, I don't think he would have had the same purity of message if he belonged to an order
    or had a specific lineage. He emphasized the idea that anybody can Realize by cultivating their own awareness; and suggested practices which might help others to that end, but these means were not fetishized and could be used in daily life, any time, anywhere.

    It may be that, in his later years, he appeared frustrated that more people were not "getting it." Perhaps he would have liked to see more progress in his lifetime; but as it is, it seems his message is out there. Crowley too has become better known posthumously.

    The issue brought up by Tim Maroney on the mental instability of renowned occultists is interesting as a rational observation. But, as useful as reason is, I think it's hard (perhaps impossible) to rely on reason for assessing the suprarational. What if reason is just a human trait and the Universe doesn't operate that way? Presumably, an initiate is operating from this level and, as such, may be a "sane man appearing insane to an insane
    world."

    • Re: Attainment Without Authority
      by Mordecai Shapiro on Thursday April 26, @09:03AM
      >What if reason is just a human trait and the Universe doesn't operate that way?

      Or one might say, reason is presently overvalued by humans and it is just one among the many ways in which the Universe operates.


      • Re: Attainment Without Authority
        by Rev. Mike Margolin on Thursday April 26, @10:44PM
        93,
        Shhhh, they might acuse you of being like me.
        93/93/93
        ISN
        Rev. Mikey 666


        • Re: Attainment Without Authority
          by Mordecai on Thursday April 26, @11:43PM
          I am constantly being accused of being like you, bro. it's just that it's me who's doing the accusing. :-)

          bro mo


          • Re: Attainment Without Authority
            by Rev. Mike Margolin on Saturday April 28, @09:43PM
            93,
            I'll always love you Bro,
            twins are hard to seperate.
            93/93/93
            ISN
            Rev. Mikey 666
            P.S. Congratulations on the lil universe on the way. She will be a blessing not only to you both but the world as well.
            Aum Ha


    Re: Attainment Without Authority
    by aquamage on Monday April 30, @09:09PM
    Excellent treatise. All these sorrows are but as shadows, they pass and are done. The need for authority implies a lack of something. Intermediate authority figures are abandoned upon attainment. Grace is. Be the star of your own show because, ya know. . . every man and every woman is a star. No authority required.

    • Re: Attainment Without Authority
      by Mordecai Shapiro on Wednesday May 02, @01:39PM
      >every man and every woman is a star. No authority required.

      And we have that on the authority of the Book of the Law.

      :-)


      • Re: Attainment Without Authority
        by Adrian Dobbie on Thursday May 03, @09:01AM
        From experience, it seems to me that we are almost always disappointed by our initiators as people because their earthly vehicles can never live up to the titles they are given. Graded initiation is good as far as it goes, but when we get into a situation where people are given badges just for sticking around, the whole system falls on it's ass. Shortly before his death, Crowley was said to have been looking at ways of re-structuring the O.T.O. in order to remove the hierarchy on which it was and still is based. Unfortunately he never completed the task, but he at least left us a clue that he himself saw that the structure wasn't working as well as it could. Both Jack Parsons and Kenneth Grant had a stab at coming up with new formulae and although I personally feel that Mr. Grant went barking up (or is it down) the wrong tree years ago, his model for a non-ordered order has much validity. An associate of mine is involved with the T.O.T.O. and we have discussed at length the problems involved with modelling a magickal order on the Masonic template. If we look at Crowley's writings on how he saw Thelema developing, his vision was that of independent, intelligent individuals using scientific methods BASED ON his research - not copying it to the letter. In the modern secular arena, it appears that the most effective way to work with Thelema is to involve oneself in lone experimentation and to come together with others of a similar mindset when group work is willed.

        As a member of a group of varied independent Thelemic individuals who do come together to perform both experimental and published group ritual, I can say with some authority (ha ha) that this method can and does work very well. As there are no badges of office, division of labour within the group is different each time - everyone gets a stab at playing both initiator and initiate depending on what is needed at the time. All that is needed here is balance and respect for the others in the group, which to my mind is the whole reason for stepping onto the Magickal path in the first place.

        I can state that the ritual work undertaken by this group is at least as powerful in the gnostic sense as any other - without the problems incurred by ordered hierarchies where so often we hear of people who ought to know better, deliberately manipulating those in their charge for their own personal ends.

        I propose a New Order (with tongue planted firmly in cheek) - The Quantum O.T.O. or Fractal O.T.O. - an order of which we are all the Grand Master.

        Hail Eris!!


        • Re: Attainment Without Authority
          by Mordecai Shapiro on Friday May 04, @08:56AM
          One would think, with all the baggage that comes with the name, that people wouldn't even consider using "O.T.O." as the name or part of the name of their new organization. I know that this poster is joking, but it does seem indicative to me. Can anyone think of any reason (other than glomming on to Crowley's cachet) that people who disapprove of the O.T.O.-as-it-is often utilize some form of its name for their own group?


          • Re: Attainment Without Authority
            by Jon Auviere on Friday May 04, @12:10PM
            Is this a trick question? ;)


            • Re: Attainment Without Authority
              by Mordecai on Friday May 04, @07:24PM
              In the sense that it's a lead-in to a joke, or in the sense that I'm trying to draw someone into a trap (logical or otherwise), in either of those senses? No, not at all. But in the sense that any question conceals a multitude of varying implications for the questioned, then of course.


        • Re: Attainment Without Authority
          by Xnoubis on Friday May 04, @02:25PM
          > Shortly before his death, Crowley was said to
          > have been looking at ways of re-structuring the
          > O.T.O. in order to remove the hierarchy on
          > which it was and still is based.

          Could be, but I'm curious: said by whom?

          > Both Jack Parsons and Kenneth Grant had a stab
          > at coming up with new formulae

          Jack Parsons had ideas for restructuring the OTO?

          > his model for a non-ordered order has much
          > validity

          And it's a shame that Thelemites have polarized on this issue so strongly. That is to say, some feel he was completely wrong about this, others that he was completely right, and the two parties don't tend to listen to each other very much.

          > I can state that the ritual work undertaken by
          > this group is at least as powerful in the
          > gnostic sense as any other

          While I have no particular reason to doubt this (and even have an aesthetic reason to believe it), how can any of us know that the path we have pursued is as powerful as some other we might have pursued instead?

          Like Mordecai, I don't see much sense in using the name "OTO" for new organizations. But you might look here for a glimpse of a group that works along similar lines to what you're advocating.


          • Re: Attainment Without Authority
            by Adrian Dobbie on Tuesday May 08, @08:02AM
            Hi Xnoubis

            Far be it from me to quote without backing up, I do remember reading about Crowley's dissatisfaction with the O.T.O. structure in his later years, but I cannot remember where I read it! I will endeavour to find the reference and post it if I am successful. With regard Jack Parsons, he didn't try to re-structure the O.T.O. so much as develop his own thoughts on such. Freedom is a Two-Edged Sword goes in to some detail on his developing of what he called 'The Witchcraft', but unfortunately he blew himself to bits before completing his work!

            With regard your other points, of course I am in no position to comment on the power of rituals or groups that I have not been a party to, and really what I meant by this was to say that the members of the group with whom I work do get a great deal from the work and this is borne out in their actions in every day life.

            Yes the Q.O.T.O. / F.O.T.O. was meant as a joke - no more. Thanks for the link.

            Regards

            Adrian
            93 93/93


        • Re: Attainment Without Authority
          by Adrian Dobbie on Monday May 06, @09:55AM
          From experience, it seems to me that we are almost always disappointed by our initiators as people because their earthly vehicles can never live up to the titles they are given. Graded initiation is good as far as it goes, but when we get into a situation where people are given badges just for sticking around, the whole system falls on it's ass. Shortly before his death, Crowley was said to have been looking at ways of re-structuring the O.T.O. in order to remove the hierarchy on which it was and still is based. Unfortunately he never completed the task, but he at least left us a clue that he himself saw that the structure wasn't working as well as it could. Both Jack Parsons and Kenneth Grant had a stab at coming up with new formulae and although I personally feel that Mr. Grant went barking up (or is it down) the wrong tree years ago, his model for a non-ordered order has much validity. An associate of mine is involved with the T.O.T.O. and we have discussed at length the problems involved with modelling a magickal order on the Masonic template. If we look at Crowley's writings on how he saw Thelema developing, his vision was that of independent, intelligent individuals using scientific methods BASED ON his research - not copying it to the letter. In the modern secular arena, it appears that the most effective way to work with Thelema is to involve oneself in lone experimentation and to come together with others of a similar mindset when group work is willed.

          As a member of a group of varied independent Thelemic individuals who do come together to perform both experimental and published group ritual, I can say with some authority (ha ha) that this method can and does work very well. As there are no badges of office, division of labour within the group is different each time - everyone gets a stab at playing both initiator and initiate depending on what is needed at the time. All that is needed here is balance and respect for the others in the group, which to my mind is the whole reason for stepping onto the Magickal path in the first place.

          I can state that the ritual work undertaken by this group is at least as powerful in the gnostic sense as any other - without the problems incurred by ordered hierarchies where so often we hear of people who ought to know better, deliberately manipulating those in their charge for their own personal ends.

          I propose a New Order (with tongue planted firmly in cheek) - The Quantum O.T.O. or Fractal O.T.O. - an order of which we are all the Grand Master.

          Hail Eris!!


    Re: Attainment Without Authority
    by Jon Auviere on Friday May 04, @12:24PM
    As for Aleister and "operation overthrow"--I think can be said of his title of the Great Beast do these things come rather instinctively, as a driving force behind his genius-equation. Modesty is not purported at least by the Crow's standard of Thelema to be an honorable gesture.

    At the same time his oaths restricted him to an opposing direction as that above. Much of his follies and wisdoms alike derived from his many personalities--and all those frequented to overthrow one another! Such is the rollercoaster of one TEITAN-breathing drug-addict genio-troll-man-beast.

    Re: Attainment Without Authority
    by ARIAIRA on Monday June 11, @03:12PM
    Gentleman,

    Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

    As i read through the numerous replies, i notice that they get further and further away form the actual question. I for one have never been "taught" under any authority. I believe that i have attained to some degree that can only be validated by me. If you all would really like to know the answer to your question, then why not find out (if there is a method) if i have infact attained by your standards. And if i have or have not; would hopefully help in giving everyone a better understanding of what it means to attain without Authority.

    The question arises which has hindered me since i first became interested in the system of the OTO as well as the A.'.A.'.

    Could i actually attain without any help? and if so, how would i know without comparing my sense of attainment to that of any given order.

    I would like to believe that i have attained to a certain degree, but how will i show it? I have proven to myself that i do perform acts of a magical nature and have infact caused change to occur in occordance with my will, but this is not enough to show for attinment.

    so then i leave it up to you fine people to question my attainment because this is the only way to prove it.

    The one aim of this is to see if there is a way to construct an order that would allow individuals to attain on their own as easily as would another through the authority of an order. If this were accomplished then it would encompass the very nature of Thelema. IMO

    Love is the Law, Love under Will.

    Coordinally,
    ARIAIRA

    Re: Attainment Without Authority
    by Xnoubis on Monday June 11, @08:57PM
    > I believe that i have attained to some degree
    > that can only be validated by me.

    That much is clear; a sensible viewpoint.

    > why not find out (if there is a method) if i
    > have infact attained by your standards

    The possibility of such a method (and whether our standards are relevant to your attainment) is exactly the question under discussion, isn't it?

    > so then i leave it up to you fine people to
    > question my attainment because this is the only
    > way to prove it.

    How about, "I leave it up to you to recognize my attainment or not, because this is the only way to abide in it"?

    • Re: Attainment Without Authority
      by ARIAIRA on Tuesday June 12, @09:03AM
      Do what thou wilt, shall be the whole of the Law!

      >How about, "I leave it up to you to recognize my >attainment or not, because this is the only way >to abide in it"?

      Very well put. Pretty smart people in here, and i'm sure that if this thread were to keep going, the question will get answers.

      For me, the greatest and most difficult task is to put my knowledge to practice. there are several texts out, both published and on the net, that would start me off one the right foot in becoming a practicing magician. If i were to reach this level of understanding in the art, then i would consider that a very high form of attainment. So yes, i do believe it is possible, but only to a certain degree. I believe that after that point, my next task would be K&C W/HGA. This might not be the "next step" for all, but certainly is a possible Step. At that point i wouldn't be able to say if it is attainable without further guidance from a more experienced adept. I guess i'll have to wait and find out when i get there.. :-)

      I was a little nervous before posting my first reply, but i am glad i did. This helps me know me a little better and to put my thoughts down in text. If my posts don't make all that much sense at times, please keep in mind that i am still very new. Expect naught much from this 22 yr old, I live, I learn daily.

      Love is the Law, Love under Will.

      93, 93/93

      ARIAIRA


      • Re: Attainment Without Authority
        by Xnoubis on Wednesday June 13, @04:45PM
        > If my posts don't make all that much sense at
        > times

        Your posts make fine sense. Please feel welcome.


    Re: Attainment Without Authority
    by Lurelurken on Thursday August 16, @06:24AM
    I am sorry for not reading all the posts in this debate, and twice sorry if I repeat something written already by anyone here. (I am trice sorry that I only repeat things I have read in books elsewhere!)

    Without Authority is Anarchy. A hierarchy is necessary for order. Authority in its true form does not restrict freedom in any sense (Except in the sense of voluntary restriction.).

    Then there is the debate as to what is true Authority. Is it the visible or the hidden? The answer is evidently: "Yes."

    Oh, blast! It appears that I have overstrained my mind.

    Sincerely Yours,
    L.

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