| up a level
from the department-of-education dept.
"Who calls us Thelemites will do no wrong, if he look but close into the word. For there are therein Three Grades, the Hermit, and the Lover, and the man of Earth. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." (Book of the Law, I:40)
Three grades, three ordeals, three ways; though the Prophet's one one one makes none, his order is triune. What are the implications of this for the development of the culture of Thelema? I've been thinking about it for over twenty-five years, in essays and organizational plans. There seems to me to be an underlying theme in the reaction to this concept of "Three Grades". Whether the grades are considered to represent the path of spiritual development followed by an individual's career within the order, or to express the existence of three entirely separate orders of humanity, there is still an implicit acceptance of the idea of hierarchy.
The Book of the Law repeatedly uses themes of success and failure, ordeals and tests, kings, beggars, servants, and slaves. It talks of whoso shall "lose" all in that hour, and of the "winners" of the Ordeal x. Quotes like "Let my servants be few & secret: they shall rule the many & the known." and "Ye are against the people, O my chosen!" hardly discourage a Thelemite from believing in the existence of spiritual elites.
Openly elitist philosophies, especially those where the definition of success is highly subjective, attract people who think that the espousal of an elitist philosophy will somehow make up for their absolute lack of elite qualities. Even otherwise intelligent and creative people can find ego gratification in asserted (as opposed to demonstrated) eliteness. Illustrative of that is the recent opinion expressed on "CHUD Management", in particular the seeming belief that writing about other people's low standards is somehow a demonstration of one's own high standards. In fact, just complaining in general that other people are lazy and/or thieving can itself be seen as lazy timewasting (though complaining in a proper venue about specific instances of misbehavior is of course entirely justifiable).
Perhaps the elitism seemingly inherent in the message of the Book of the Law is responsible for the present-day Thelemic culture consisting largely of bickering self-proclaimed elites (including many elites of one). At the same time, natural elites form themselves. Some people, professed Thelemites among them, are joyously successful, happy high-achievers; most people, in my estimation, are not. Some people work very diligently at the mystical and magical lessons designed by Aleister Crowley, but most people, even among professing Thelemites, do not. Some people are ever mindful of the entire universe through their place in it, while most are not. In the final analysis, elites imply results, not insults.
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