Fragments from the Book of the Golden Precepts
The Voice of the Silence
[Madame Blavatsky’s notes are omitted in this edition, as they are diffuse, full of inaccuracies, and intended to mislead the presumptuous.—Ed.]
1. These instructions are for those ignorant of the dangers of the lower iddhi (magical powers).
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Nothing less can satisfy than this Motion in your orbit.
It is important to reject any iddhi of which you may become possessed. Firstly, because of the wasting of energy, which should rather be concentrated on further advance; and secondly, because iddhi are in many cases so seductive that they lead the unwary to forget altogether the real purpose of their endeavours.
The Student must be prepared for temptations of the most extraordinary subtlety; as the Scriptures of the Christians mystically put it, in their queer but often illuminating jargon, the Devil can disguise himself as an Angel of Light.
A species of parenthesis is necessary thus early in this Comment. One must warn the reader that he is going to swim in very deep waters. To begin with, it is assumed throughout that the student is already familiar with at least the elements of Mysticism. True, you are supposed to be ignorant of the dangers of the lower iddhi; but there are really quite a lot of people, even in Boston, who do not know that there are any iddhi at all, low or high. However, one who has been assiduous with Book 4, by Frater Perdurabo, should have no difficulty so far as a general comprehension of the subject-matter of the Book is concerned. Too ruddy a cheerfulness on the part of the assiduous one will however be premature, to say the least. For the fact is that this treatise does not contain an intelligible and coherent cosmogony. The unfortunate Lanoo is in the position of a sea-captain who is furnished with the most elaborate and detailed sailing-instructions, but is not allowed to have the slightest idea of what port he is to make, still less given a chart of the Ocean. One finds oneself accordingly in a sort of “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came” atmosphere. That poem of Browning owes much of its haunting charm to this very circumstance, that the reader is never told who Childe Roland is, or why he wants to get to the Dark Tower, or what he expects to find when he does get there. There is a skillfully constructed atmosphere of Giants, and Ogres, and Hunchbacks, and the rest of the apparatus of fairy-tales; but there is no trace of the influence of Bædeker in the style. Now this is really very irritating to anybody who happens to be seriously concerned to get to that tower. I remember, as a boy, what misery I suffered over this poem. Had Browning been alive, I think I would have sought him out, so seriously did I take the Quest. The student of Blavatsky is equally handicapped. Fortunately, Book 4, Part III, comes to the rescue once more with a rough sketch of the Universe as it is conceived by Those who know it; and a regular investigation of that book, and the companion volumes ordered in “The Curriculum of the A∴ A∴,” fortified by steady persistence in practical personal exploration, will enable this Voice of the Silence to become a serious guide in some of the subtler obscurities which weigh upon the Eyelids of the Seeker.
2. He who would hear the voice of nāda, the “Soundless Sound,” and comprehend it, he has to learn the nature of dhāranā (concentrated thought).
The voice of nada is very soon heard by the beginner, especially during the practice of pranayama (control of breath-force). At first it resembles distant surf, though in the adept it is more like the twittering of innumerable nightingales; but this sound is premonitory, as it were, the veil of more distinct and articulate sounds which come later. It corresponds in hearing to that dark veil which is seen when the eyes are closed, although in this case a certain degree of progress is necessary before anything at all is heard.
3. Having become indifferent to objects of perception, the pupil must seek out the Rāja (King) of the senses, the Thought-Producer, he (sic!) who awakes illusion.
The word “indifferent” here implies “able to shut out.” The Rajah referred to is in that spot whence thoughts spring. He turns out ultimately to be Mayan, the great Magician described in the 3rd Æthyr (See The Equinox, Vol I no. 5, Special Supplement). Let the Student notice that in his early meditations, all his thoughts will be under the Tamo-Guna, the principle of Inertia and Darkness. When he has destroyed all those, he will be under the dominion of an entirely new set of the type of Rajo-Guna, the principle of Activity, and so on. To the advanced Student a simple ordinary thought, which seems little or nothing to the beginner, becomes a great and terrible fountain of iniquity, and the higher he goes, up to a certain point, the point of definitive victory, the more that is the case. The beginner can think, “it is ten o’clock,” and dismiss the thought. To the mind of the adept this sentence will awaken all its possible correspondences, all the reflections he has ever made on time, as also accidental sympathetics like Mr. Whistler’s essay; and if he is sufficiently far advanced, all these thoughts in their hundreds and thousands diverging from the one thought, will again converge, and become the resultant of all those thoughts. He will get samadhi upon that original thought, and this will be a terrible enemy to his progress.
4. The Mind is the great Slayer of the Real.
In the word “Mind” we should include all phenomena of Mind, including Samādhi itself. Any phenomenon has causes and produces results, and all these things are below the “REAL.” By the REAL is here meant the NIBBANADHATU.
5. Let the Disciple slay the Slayer. For—
This is a corollary of Verse 4. These texts may be interpreted in a quite elementary sense. It is of course the object of even the beginner to suppress mind and all its manifestations, but only as he advances will he discover what Mind means.
6. When to himself his form appears unreal, as do on waking all the forms he sees in dreams;
This is a somewhat elementary result. Concentration on any subject leads soon enough to a sudden and overwhelming conviction that the object is unreal. The reason of this may perhaps be—speaking philosophically—that the object, whatever it is, has only a relative existence. (See The Equinox, vol. I, no. 4, p. 159).
7. When he has ceased to hear the many, he may discern the ONE—the inner sound which kills the outer.
By the “many” are meant primarily noises which take place outside the Student, and secondly, those which take place inside him. For example, the pulsation of the blood in the ears, and later the mystic sounds which are described in Verse 40.
8. Then only, not till then, shall he forsake the region of ASAT, the false, to come unto the realm of SAT, the true.
By “SAT, the true,” is meant a thing previous to the “REAL” referred to above. SAT itself is an illusion. Some schools of philosophy have a higher ASAT, Not-Being, which is beyond SAT, and consequently is to Shivadarshana as SAT is to Atmadarshana. Nirvana is beyond both these.
9. Before the soul can see, the Harmony within must be attained, and fleshly eyes be rendered blind to all illusion.
By the “Harmony within” is meant that state in which neither objects of sense, nor physiological sensations, nor emotions, can disturb the concentration of thought.
10. Before the Soul can hear, the image (man) has to become as deaf to roarings as to whispers, to cries of bellowing elephants as to the silvery buzzing of the golden fire-fly.
In the text the image is explained as “Man,” but it more properly refers to the consciousness of man, which consciousness is considered as being a reflection of the Non-Ego, or a creation of the Ego, according to the school of philosophy to which the Student may belong.
11. Before the soul can comprehend and may remember, she must unto the Silent Speaker be united just as the form to which the clay is modeled, is first united with the potter’s mind.
Any actual object of the senses is considered as a precipitation of an ideal. Just as no existing triangle is a pure triangle, since it must be either equilateral, isosceles, or scalene, so every object is a miscarriage of an ideal. In the course of practice one concentrates upon a given thing, rejecting this outer appearance and arriving at that ideal, which of course will not in any way resemble any of the objects which are its incarnations. It is with this in view that the verse tells us that the Soul must be united to the Silent Speaker. The words “Silent Speaker” may be considered as a hieroglyph of the same character as Logos, אדני or the Ineffable Name.
12. For then the soul will hear and will remember.
The word “hear” alludes to the tradition that hearing is the organ of Spirit, just as seeing is that of Fire. The word “remember” might be explained as “will attain to memory.” Memory is the link between the atoms of consciousness, for each successive consciousness of Man is a single phenomenon, and has no connection with any other. A looking-glass knows nothing of the different people that look into it. It only reflects one at a time. The brain is however more like a sensitive plate, and memory is the faculty of bringing up into consciousness any picture required. As this occurs in the normal man with his own experiences, so it occurs in the Adept with all experiences. (This is one more reason for His identifying Himself with others.)
13. And then to the inner ear will speak— THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE. And say:—
What follows must be regarded as the device of the poet, for of course the “Voice of the Silence” cannot be interpreted in words. What follows is only its utterance in respect of the Path itself.
14. If thy soul smiles while bathing in the Sunlight of thy Life; if thy soul sings within her chrysalis of flesh and matter; if thy soul weeps inside her castle of illusion; if thy soul struggles to break the silver thread that binds her to the MASTER; know, O Disciple, thy Soul is of the earth.
In this verse the Student is exhorted to indifference to everything but his own progress. It does not mean the indifference of the Man to the things around him, as it has often been so unworthily and wickedly interpreted. The indifference spoken of is a kind of inner indifference. Everything should be enjoyed to the full, but always with the reservation that the absence of the thing enjoyed shall not cause regret. This is too hard for the beginner, and in many cases it is necessary for him to abandon pleasures in order to prove to himself that he is indifferent to them, and it may be occasionally advisable even for the Adept to do this now and again. Of course during periods of actual concentration there is no time whatever for anything but the work itself; but to make even the mildest asceticism a rule of life is the gravest of errors, except perhaps that of regarding Asceticism as a virtue. This latter always leads to spiritual pride, and spiritual pride is the principal quality of the brother of the Left-hand Path.
“Ascetic” comes from the Greek άσκέο “to work curiously, to adorn, to exercise, to train.” The Latin ars is derived from this same word. Artist, in its finest sense of creative craftsman, is therefore the best translation. The word has degenerated under Puritan foulness.
15. When to the World’s turmoil thy budding soul lends ear; when to the roaring voice of the great illusion thy Soul responds; when frightened at the sight of the hot tears of pain, when deafened by the cries of distress, thy soul withdraws like the shy turtle within the carapace of SELFHOOD, learn, O Disciple, of her Silent “God,” thy Soul is an unworthy shrine.
This verse deals with an obstacle at a more advanced stage. It is again a warning not to shut one’s self up in one’s own universe. It is not by the exclusion of the Non-Ego that saintship is attained, but by its inclusion. Love is the law, love under will.
16. When waxing stronger, thy Soul glides forth from her secure retreat; and breaking bose from the protecting shrine, extends her silver thread and rushes onward; when beholding her image on the waves of Space she whispers, “This is I,” —declare, O Disciple, that thy Soul is caught in the webs of delusion.
An even more advanced instruction, but still connected with the question of the Ego and the non-Ego. The phenomenon described is perhaps Ātmadarshana, which is still a delusion, in one sense still a delusion of personality; for although the Ego is destroyed in the Universe, and the Universe in it, there is a distinct though exceedingly subtle tendency to sum up its experience as Ego.
These three verses might be interpreted also as quite elementary; v. 14 as blindness to the First Noble Truth “Everything is Sorrow”; v. 15 as the coward’s attempt to escape Sorrow by Retreat; and v. 16 as the acceptance of the Astral as SAT.
17. This Earth, Disciple, is the Hall of Sorrow, wherein are set along the Path of dire probations, traps to ensnare thy EGO by the delusion called “Great Heresy.”
Develops still further these remarks.
18. This earth, O ignorant Disciple, is but the dismal entrance leading to the twilight that precedes the valley of true light—that light which no wind can extinguish, that light which burns without a wick or fuel.
“Twilight” here may again refer to Ātmadarshana. The last phrase is borrowed from Eliphas Lévi, who was not (I believe) a Tibetan of antiquity. [Madame Blavatsky humorously pretended that this Book is an ancient Tibetan writing.—Ed.]
19. Saith the Great Law:—”In order to become the KNOWER of ALL-SELF, thou hast first of SELF to be the knower.” To reach the knowledge of that SELF, thou hast to give up Self to Non-Self, Being to Non-Being, and then thou canst repose between the wings of the GREAT BIRD. Aye, sweet is rest between the wings of that which is not born, nor dies, but is the AUM throughout eternal ages.
The words “give up” may be explained as “yield” in its subtler or quasi-masochistic erotic sense, but on a higher plane. In the following quotation from the “Great Law” it explains that the yielding is not the beginning but the end of the Path.
- Then let the End awake. Long hast thou slept, O great God Terminus! Long ages hast thou waited at the end of the city and the roads thereof.
Awake Thou! wait no more!
- Nay, Lord! but I am come to Thee. It is I that wait at last.
- The prophet cried against the mountain; come thou hither, that I may speak with thee!
- The mountain stirred not. Therefore went the prophet unto the mountain, and spake unto it. But the feet of the prophet were weary, and the mountain heard not his voice.
- But I have called unto Thee, and I have journeyed unto Thee, and it availed me not.
- I waited patiently, and Thou wast with me from the beginning.
- This now I know, O my beloved, and we are stretched at our ease among the vines.
- But these thy prophets; they must cry aloud and scourge themselves; they must cross trackless wastes and unfathomed oceans; to await Thee is the end, not the beginning. [LXV, II, 55-62]
AUM is here quoted as the hieroglyph of the Eternal. “A” the beginning of sound, “U” its middle, and “M” its end, together form a single word or Trinity, indicating that the Real must be regarded as of this three-fold nature, Birth, Life and Death, not successive, but one. Those who have reached trances in which “time” is no more will understand better than others how this may be.
20. Bestride the Bird of Life, if thou would’st know.
The word “know” is specially used here in a technical sense. Avidya, ignorance, the first of the fetters, is moreover one which includes all the others.
With regard to this Swan “Aum” compare the following verses from the “Great Law,” “Liber LXV,” 11:17—25.
- Also the Holy One came upon me, and I beheld a white swan floating in the blue.
- Between its wings I sate, and the æons fled away.
- Then the swan flew and dived and soared, yet no whither we went.
- A little crazy boy that rode with me spake unto the swan, and said:
- Who art thou that dost float and fly and dive and soar in the inane? Behold, these many æons have passed; whence camest thou? Whither wilt thou go?
- And laughing I chid him, saying: No whence! No whither!
- The swan being silent, he answered: Then, if with no goal, why this eternal journey?
- And I laid my head against the Head of the Swan, and laughed, saying: Is there not joy ineffable in this aimless winging? Is there not weariness and impatience for who would attain to some goal?
- And the swan was ever silent. Ah! but we floated in the infinite Abyss. Joy! Joy!
White swan, bear thou ever me up between thy wings!
21. Give up thy life, if thou would’st live.
This verse may be compared with similar statements in the Gospels, in The Vision and the Voice, and in the Books of Thelema. It does not mean asceticism in the sense usually under stood by the world. The 12th Æthyr (see The Equinox, vol. I, no. 5, Supplement) gives the clearest explanation of this phrase.
22. Three Halls, O weary pilgrim, lead to the end of toils. Three Halls, O conqueror of Mara, will bring thee through three states into the fourth and thence into the seven worlds, the worlds of Rest Eternal.
If this had been a genuine document I should have taken the three states to be Sirotāpanna, etc., and the fourth Arhat, for which the reader should consult “Science and Buddhism” and similar treatises. But as it is better than “genuine,” being, like The Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz, the forgery of a great adept, one cannot too confidently refer it thus. For the “Seven Worlds” are not Buddhism.
23. If thou would’st learn their names, then hearken, and remember. The name of the first Hall is IGNORANCE —Avidyā. It is the Hall in which thou saw’s the light, in which thou livest and shalt die.
These three Halls correspond to the gunas: Ignorance, tamas; Learning, rajas; Wisdom, sattva.
Again, ignorance corresponds to Malkuth and Nephesch (the animal soul), Learning to Tiphareth and Ruach (the mind), and Wisdom to Binah and Neschamah (the aspiration or Divine Mind).
24. The name of Hall the second is the Hall of LEARNING. In it thy Soul will find the blossoms of life, but under every flower a serpent coiled.
This Hall is a very much larger region than that usually under stood by the Astral World. It would certainly include all states up to dhyāna. The Student will remember that his “rewards” immediately transmute themselves into temptations.
25. The name of the third Hall is Wisdom, beyond which stretch the shoreless waters of AKSHARA, the indestructible Fount of Omniscience.
Akshara is the same as the Great Sea of the Qabalah. The reader must consult The Equinox for a full study of this Great Sea.
26. If thou would’st cross the first Hall safely, let not thy mind mistake the fires of lust that burn therein for the Sunlight of life.
The metaphor is now somewhat changed. The Hall of ignorance represents the physical life. Note carefully the phraseology, “let not thy mind mistake the fires of lust.” It is legitimate to warm yourself by those fires so long as they do not deceive you.
27. If thou would’st cross the second safely, stop not the fragrance of its stupefying blossoms to inhale. if freed thou would’st be from the karmic chains, seek not for thy guru in those māyāvic regions.
A similar lesson is taught in this verse. Do not imagine that your early psychic experiences are Ultimate Truth. Do not become a slave to your results.
28. The WISE ONES tarry not in pleasure-grounds of senses.
This lesson is confirmed. The wise ones tarry not. That is to say, they do not allow pleasure to interfere with business.
29. The WISE ONES heed not the sweet-tongued voices of illusion.
The wise ones heed not. They listen to them, but do not necessarily attach importance to what they say.
30. Seek for him who is to give thee birth, in the Hall of Wisdom, the Hall which lies beyond, wherein all shadows are unknown, and where the light of truth shines with unfading glory.
This apparently means that the only reliable guru is one who has attained the grade of Magister Templi. For the attainments of this grade consult The Equinox, vol. I, no. 5, Supplement, etc.
31. That which is uncreate abides in thee, Disciple, as it abides in that Hall. If thou would’st reach it and blend the two, thou must divest thyself of thy dark garments of illusion. Stifle the voice of flesh, allow no image of the senses to get between its light and thine that thus the twain may blend in one. And having learnt thine own ajñāna, flee from the Hall of Learning. This Hall is dangerous in its perfidious beauty, is needed but for thy probation. Beware, Lanoo, lest dazzled by illusive radiance thy Soul should linger and be caught in its deceptive light.
This is a résumé of the previous seven verses. It inculcates the necessity of unwavering aspiration, and in particular warns the advanced Student against accepting his rewards. There is one method of meditation in which the Student kills thoughts as they arise by the reflection, “That’s not it.” Frater P. indicated the same by taking as his motto, in the Second Order which reaches from Yesod to Chesed, “ΟΥ ΜΗ,” “No, certainly not!”
32. This light shines from the jewel of the Great Ensnarer, (Māra). The senses it bewitches, blinds the mind, and leaves the unwary an abandoned wreck.
I am inclined to believe that most of Blavatsky’s notes are intended as blinds. “Light” such as is described has a technical meaning. It would be too petty to regard Mara as a Christian would regard a man who offered him a cigarette. The supreme and blinding light of this jewel is the great vision of Light. It is the light which streams from the threshold of nirvāna, and Māra is the “dweller on the threshold.” It is absurd to call this light “evil” in any commonplace sense. It is the two-edged sword, flaming every way, that keeps the gate of the Tree of Life. And there is a further Arcanum connected with this which it would be improper here to divulge.
33. The moth attracted to the dazzling flame of thy night lamp is doomed to perish in the viscid oil. The unwary Soul that fails to grapple with the mocking demon of illusion, will return to earth the slave of Māra.
The result of failing to reject rewards is the return to earth. The temptation is to regard oneself as having attained, and so do no more work.
34. Behold the Hosts of Souls. Watch how they hover o’er the stormy sea of human life, and how exhausted, bleeding, broken-winged, they drop one after other on the swelling waves. Tossed by the fierce winds, chased by the gale, they drift into the eddies and disappear within the first great vortex
In this metaphor is contained a warning against identifying the Soul with human life, from the failure of its aspirations.
35. If through the Hall of Wisdom, thou would’st reach the Vale of Bliss, Disciple, close fast thy senses against the great dire heresy of separateness that weans thee from the rest.
This verse reads at first as if the heresy were still possible in the Hall of Wisdom, but this is not as it seems. The Disciple is urged to find out his Ego and slay it even in the beginning.
36. Let not thy “Heaven-born,” merged in the sea of mäyā, break from the Universal Parent (SOUL), but let the fiery power retire into the inmost chamber, the chamber of the Heart, and the abode of the World’s Mother.
This develops verse 35. The heaven-born is the human consciousness. The chamber of the Heart is the Anahata lotus. The abode of the World’s Mother is the Mulādhāra lotus. But there is a more technical meaning yet—and this whole verse describes a particular method of meditation, a final method, which is far too difficult for the beginner. (See, however, The Equinox, on all these points
37. Then from the heart that Power shall rise into the sixth, the middle region, the place between thin eyes, when it becomes the breath of the ONE-SOUL, the voice which filleth all, thy Master’s voice.
This verse teaches the concentration of the kundalini in the Ajñā Cakra. “Breath” is that which goes to and fro, and refers to the uniting of Shiva with Shakti in the Sahasrara. (See The Equinox.)
38. ‘Tis only then thou canst become a “Walker of the Sky” who treads the winds above the waves, whose step touches not the waters.
This partly refers to certain Iddhi, concerning Understanding of Devas (gods), etc.; here the word “wind” may be interpreted as “spirit.” It is comparatively easy to reach this state, and it has no great importance. The “walker of the sky” is much superior to the mere reader of the minds of ants.
39. Before thou set’st thy foot upon the ladder’s upper rung, the ladder of the mystic sounds, thou hast to hear the voice of thy INNER GOD in seven manners.
The word “seven” is here, as so frequently, rather poetic than mathematic; for there are many more. The verse also reads as if it were necessary to hear all the seven, and this is not the case— some will get one and some another. Some students may even miss all of them.
(This might happen as the result of his having conquered, and uprooted them, and “fried their seeds” in a previous birth.)
40. The first is like the nightingale’s sweet voice chanting a song of parting to its mate.
The second comes as the sound of a silver cymbal of the dhyānis, awakening the twinkling stars.
The next is as the plaint melodious of the ocean-sprite imprisoned in its shell.
And this is followed by the chant of Vina (the Hindu lute).
The fifth like sound of bamboo-flute shrills in thine ear. It changes next into a trumpet-blast.
The last vibrates like the dull rumbling of a thunder cloud.
The seventh swallows all the other sounds. They die, and then are heard no more.
The first four are comparatively easy to obtain, and many people can hear them at will. The last three are much rarer, not necessarily because they are more difficult to get, and indicate greater advance, but because the protective envelope of the Adept is become so strong that they cannot pierce it. The last of the seven sometimes occurs, not as a sound, but as an earthquake, if the expression may be permitted. It is a mingling of terror and rapture impossible to describe, and as a general rule it completely discharges the energy of the Adept, leaving him weaker than an attack of Malaria would do; but if the practice has been right, this soon passes off, and the experience has this advantage, that one is far less troubled with minor phenomena than before. It is just possible that this is referred to in the Apocalypse XVI, XVII, XVIII.
41. When the six are slain and at the Master’s feet are laid, then is the pupil merged into the ONE, becomes that ONE and lives therein.
The note tells that this refers to the six principles, so that the subject is completely changed. By the slaying of the principles is meant the withdrawal of the consciousness from them, their rejection by the seeker of truth. Sabhapaty Swāmi has an excellent method on these lines; it is given, in an improved form, in Liber HHH. (See The Equinox, vol. I, no. 5, p. 5; also Book 4, Part III, app, VII.)
42. Before that path is entered, thou must destroy thy lunar body, cleanse thy mind-body and make clean thy heart.
The Lunar body is Nephesch, and the Mind body Ruach. The heart is Tiphareth, the centre of Ruach.
43. Eternal life’s pure waters, clear and crystal, with the monsoon tempest’s muddy torrents cannot mingle.
We are now again on the subject of suppressing thought. The pure water is the stilled mind, the torrent the mind invaded by thoughts.
44. Heaven’s dew-drop glittering in the morn’s first sun beam within the bosom of the lotus, when dropped on earth becomes a piece of clay; behold, the pearl is now a speck of mire.
This is not a mere poetic image. This dew-drop in the lotus is connected with the mantra “Aum Mani Padme Hum,” and to what this verse really refers is known only to members of the ninth degree of O.T.O.
45. Strive with thy thoughts unclean before they overpower thee. Use them as they will thee, for if thou sparest them and they take root and grow, know well, these thoughts will overpower and kill thee. Beware, Disciple, suffer not, e’en though it be their shadow, to approach. For it will grow, increase in size and power, and then this thing of darkness will absorb thy being before thou hast well realized the black four monster’s presence.
The text returns to the question of suppressing thoughts. Verse 44 has been inserted where it is in the hope of deluding the reader into the belief that it belongs to verses 43 and 45, for the Arcanum which it contains is so dangerous that it must be guarded in all possible ways. Perhaps even to call attention to it is a blind intended to prevent the reader from looking for something else.
46. Before the “mystic Power” can make of thee a god, Lanoo, thou must have gained the faculty to slay thy lunar form at will.
It is now evident that by destroying or slaying is not meant a permanent destruction. If you can slay a thing at will it means that you can revive it at will, for the word “faculty” implies repeated action.
47. The Self of Matter and the Self of Spirit can never meet. One of the twain must disappear; there is no place for both.
This is a very difficult verse, because it appears so easy. It is not merely a question of Advaitism, it refers to the spiritual marriage. [Advaitism is a spiritual Monism—Ed.]
48. Ere thy Soul’s mind can understand, the bud of personality must be crushed out, the worm of sense destroyed past resurrection.
This is again filled with deeper meaning than that which appears on the surface. The words “bud” and “worm” form a clue.
49. Thou canst not travel on the Path before thou hast become that Path itself.
Compare the scene in Parsifal, where the scenery comes to the knight instead of the knight going to the scenery. But there is also implied the doctrine of the tao, and only one who is an accomplished Taoist can hope to understand this verse. (See “The Hermit of Esopus Island,” of The Magical Record of the Beast 666, to be published in The Equinox, vol. III)
50. Let thy Soul lend its ear to every cry of pain like as the lotus bares its heart to drink the morning sun.
51. Let not the fierce sun dry one tear of pain before thyself hast wiped it from the sufferer’s eye.
52. But let each burning human tear drop on thy heart and there remain; nor ever brush it off, until the pain that caused it is removed.
This is a counsel never to forget the original stimulus which has driven you to the Path, the “first noble truth.” Everything is now “good.” This is why verse 53 says that these tears are the streams that irrigate the fields of charity immortal. (Tears, by the way. Think!)
53. These tears, O thou of heart most merciful, these are the streams that irrigate the fields of charity immortal. ‘Tis on such soil that grows the midnight blossom of Buddha, more difficult to find, more rare to view than is the flowers of the Vogay tree. It is the seed of freedom from rebirth. It isolates the Arhat both from strife and lust, it leads him through the fields of Being unto the peace and bliss known only in the land of Silence and Non-Being.
The “midnight blossom” is a phrase connected with the doctrine of the Night of Pan, familiar to Masters of the Temple. “The Poppy that flowers in the dusk” is another name for it. A most secret Formula of Magick is connected with this “Heart of the Circle.”
54. Kill out desire; but if thou killest it take heed lest from the dead it should again rise.
By “desire” in all mystic treatises of any merit is meant tendency. Desire is manifested universally in the law of gravitation, in that of chemical attraction, and so on; in fact, everything that is done is caused by the desire to do it, in this technical sense of the word. The “midnight blossom” implies a certain monastic Renunciation of all desire, which reaches to all planes. One must however distinguish between desire, which means unnatural attraction to an ideal, and love, which is natural Motion.
55. Kill love of life, but if thou slayest tanhā, let this not be for thirst of life eternal, but to replace the fleeting by the everlasting.
This particularizes a special form of desire. The English is very obscure to any one unacquainted with Buddhist literature. The “everlasting” referred to is not a life-condition at all.
56. Desire nothing. Chafe not at karma, nor at Nature’s changeless laws. But struggle only with the personal, the transitory, the evanescent and the perishable.
The words “desire nothing” should be interpreted positively as well as negatively. The main sense of the rest of the verse is to advise the Disciple to work, and not to complain.
57. Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance.
Although the object of the Disciple is to transcend Law, he must work through Law to attain this end.
It may be remarked that this treatise—and this comment for the most part—is written for disciples of certain grades only. It is altogether inferior to such Books as Liber CXI Aleph; but for that very reason, more useful, perhaps, to the average seeker.
58. And she will open wide before thee the portals of her secret chambers, lay bare before thy gaze the treasures hidden in the depths of her pure virgin bosom. Unsullied by the hand of matter she shows her treasures only to the eye of Spirit—the eye which never closes, the eye for which there is no veil in all her kingdoms.
This verse reminds one of the writings of Alchemists; and it should be interpreted as the best of them would have interpreted it.
59. Then will she show thee the means and way, the first gate and the second, the third, up to the very seventh. And then, the goal—beyond which he, bathed in the sunlight of the Spirit, glories untold, unseen by any save the eye of Soul.
These gates are described in the third treatise. The words “spirit” and “soul” are highly ambiguous, and had better be regarded as poetic figures, without a technical meaning being sought.
60. There is but one road to the Path; at its very end alone the “Voice of the Silence” can be heard. The ladder by which the candidate ascends is formed of rungs of suffering and pain; these can be silenced only by the voice of virtue. Woe, then, to thee, Disciple, if there is one single vice thou hast not left behind. For then the ladder will give way and overthrow thee; its foot rests in the deep mire of thy sins and failings, and ere thou canst attempt to cross this wide abyss of matter thou hast to lave thy feet in Waters of Renunciation. Beware lest thou should’st set a foot still soiled upon the ladder’s lowest rung. Woe unto him who dares pollute one rung with miry feet. The foul and viscous mud will dry, become tenacious, then glue his feet unto the spot, and like a bird caught in the wily fowler’s lime, he will be stayed from further progress. His vices will take shape and drag him down. His sins will raise their voices like as the jackal’s laugh and sob after the sun goes down; his thoughts become an army, and bear him off a captive slave.
A warning against any impurity in the original aspiration of the Disciple. By impurity is meant, and should always be meant, the mingling (as opposed to the combination) of two things. Do one thing at a time. This is particularly necessary in the matter of the aspiration. For if the aspiration be in any way impure, it means divergence in the will itself; and this is will’s one fatal flaw. It will however be understood that aspiration constantly changes and develops with progress. The beginner can only see a certain distance. Just so with our first telescopes we discovered many new stars, and with each improvement in the instrument we have discovered more. The second and more obvious meaning in the verse preaches the practice of yama, niyama, before serious practice is started, and this in actual life means, map out your career as well as you can. Decide to do so many hours’ work a day in such conditions as may be possible. It does not mean that you should set up neuroses and hysteria by suppressing your natural instincts, which are perfectly right on their own plane, and only wrong when they invade other planes, and set up alien tyrannies.
61. Kill thy desires, Lanoo, make thy vices impotent, ere the first step is taken on the solemn journey.
By “desires” and “vices” are meant those things which you your self think to be inimical to the work; for each man they will be quite different, and any attempt to lay down a general rule leads to worse than confusion.
62. Strangle thy sins, and make them dumb for ever, before thou dost lift one foot to mount the ladder.
This is merely a repetition of verse 61 in different language. But remember: “The word of Sin is Restriction.” “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”
63. Silence thy thoughts and fix thy whole attention on thy Master whom yet thou dost not see, but whom thou feelest.
This again commands the stilling of thoughts. The previous verses referred rather to emotions, which are the great stagnant pools on which the mosquito thought breeds. Emotions are objectionable, as they represent an invasion of the mental plane by sensory or moral impressions.
64. Merge into one sense thy senses, if thou would’st be secure against the foe. ‘Tis by that sense alone which lies concealed within the hollow of thy brain, that the steep path which leadeth to thy Master may be disclosed before thy Soul’s dim eyes.
65. Long and weary is the way before thee, O Disciple. One single thought about the past that thou hast left behind, will drag thee down and thou wilt have to start the climb anew.
Remember Lot’s wife.
66. Kill in thyself all memory of past experiences. Look not behind or thou art lost.
Remember Lot’s wife.
It is a division of Will to dwell in the past. But one’s past experiences must be built into one’s Pyramid, as one advances, layer by layer. One must also remark that this verse only applies to those who have not yet come co reconcile past, present, and future. Every incarnation is a Veil of Isis.
67. Do not believe that lust can ever be killed out if gratified or satiated, for this is an abomination inspired by Māra. It is by feeding vice that it expands and waxes strong, like to the worm that fattens on the blossom’s heart.
This verse must not be taken in its literal sense. Hunger is not conquered by starvation. One’s attitude to all the necessities which the traditions of earthly life involve should be to rule them, neither by mortification nor by indulgence. In order co do the work you must keep in proper physical and mental condition. Be sane. Asceticism always excites the mind, and the object of the Disciple is to calm it. However, ascetic originally meant athletic, and it has only acquired its modern meaning on account of the corruptions that crept into the practices used by those in “training.” The prohibitions, relatively valuable, were exalted into general rules. To “break training” is not a sin for anyone who is not in training. Incidentally, it takes all sorts to make a world. Imagine the stupidity of a universe full of Arhans! All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
68. The rose must re-become the bud born of its parent stem, before the parasite has eaten through its heart and drunk its life-sap.
The English is here ambiguous and obscure, but the meaning is that it is important to achieve the Great Work while you have youth and energy.
69. The golden tree puts forth its jewel-buds before its trunk is withered by the storm.
Repeats this in clearer language.
70. The Pupil must regain THE CHILD-STATE HE HAS LOST ere the first sound can fall upon his ear.
Compare the remark of “Christ,” “Except ye become as little children ye shall in no wise enter into the Kingdom of Heaven,” and also, “Ye must be born again.” It also refers to the over coming of shame and of the sense of sin. If you think the Temple of the Holy Ghost to be a pig-stye, it is certainly improper to perform therein the Mass of the Graal. Therefore purify and consecrate yourselves; and then, Kings and Priests unto God, perform ye the Miracle of the One Substance.
Here is written also the Mystery of Harpocrates. One must become the “Unconscious” (of Jung), the Phallic or Divine Child or Dwarf-Self.
71. The light from the ONE MASTER, the one unfading golden light of Spirit, shoots its effulgent beams on the disciple from the very first. its rays thread through the thick, dark clouds of Matter.
The Holy Guardian Angel is already aspiring to union with the Disciple, even before his aspiration is formulated in the latter.
72. Now here, now there, these rays illumine it, like sun sparks light the earth through the thick foliage of jungle growth. But, O Disciple, unless the flesh is passive, head cool, the soul as firm and pure as flaming diamond, the radiance will not reach the chamber, its sunlight will not warm the heart, nor will the mystic sounds of Ākāsic heights reach the ear, however eager, at the initial stage.
The uniting of the Disciple with his Angel depends upon the former. The Latter is always at hand. “Akashic heights”—the dwelling-place of Nuit.
73. Unless thou hearest, thou canst not see. Unless thou seest, thou canst not hear. To hear and see this is the second stage.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
This is an obscure verse. It implies that the qualities of fire and Spirit commingle to reach the second stage. There is evidently a verse missing, or rather omitted, as may be understood by the row of dots; this presumably refers to the third stage. This third stage may be found by the discerning in Liber 831.
74. When the disciple sees and hears, and when he smells and tastes, eyes closed, ears shut, with mouth and nostrils stopped; when the four senses blend and ready are to pass into the fifth, that of the inner touch—then into stage the fourth he hath passed on.
The practice indicated in verse 74 is described in most books upon the Tatwas. The orifices of the face being covered with the fingers, the senses take on a new shape.
75. And in the fifth, O slayer of thy thoughts, all these again have to be killed beyond reanimation.
It is not sufficient to get rid temporarily of one’s obstacles. One must seek out their roots and destroy them, so that they can never rise again. This involves a very deep psychological investigation, as a preliminary. But the whole matter is one between the Self and its modifications, not at all between the Instrument and its gates. To kill out the sense of sight is nor achieved by removing the eyes. This mistake has done more to obscure the Path than any other, and has been responsible for endless misery.
76. Withhold thy mind from ah external objects, all external sights. Withhold internal images, lest on thy Soul-light a dark shadow they should cast.
This is the usual instruction once more, but, going further, it intimates that the internal image or reality of the object must be destroyed as well as the outer image and the ideal image.
77. Thou art now in dhāranā, the sixth stage.
DHARANA has been explained thoroughly in Book 4, q.v.
78. When thou hast passed into the seventh, O happy one, thou shall perceive no more the sacred three, for thou shalt have become that three thyself. Thyself and mind, like twins upon a line, the star which is thy goal, burns overhead. The three that dwell in glory and in bliss ineffable, now in the world of māyā have host their names. They have become one star, the fire that burns but scorches not, that fire which is the upādhi of the Flame.
It would be a mistake to attach more than a poetic meaning to these remarks upon the sacred Three; but Ego, non-Ego, and That which is formed from their wedding, are here referred to. There are two Triangles of especial importance to mystics; one is the equilateral, the other that familiar to the Past Master in Craft Masonry. The last sentence in the text refers to the “Seed” of Fire, the “Ace of Wands,” the “Lion-Serpent,” the “Dwarf-Self,” the “Winged Egg,” etc., etc., etc.
79. And this, O yogin of success, is what men call dhyāna, the right precursor of samādhi.
These states have been sufficiently, and much better, described in Book 4, q.v.
80. And now thy Self is lost in SELF, thyself unto THYSELF, merged in THAT SELF from which thou first didst radiate.
81. Where is thy individuality, Lanoo, where the Lanoo himself? It is the spark lost in the fire, the drop within the ocean, the ever-present Ray become the ALL and the eternal radiance.
Again principally poetical. The man is conceived as a mere accretion about his “Dwarf-Self,” and he is now wholly absorbed therein. For IT is also ALL, being of the Body of Nuit.
82. And now, Lanoo, thou art the doer and the witness, the radiator and the radiation, Light in the Sound, and the Sound in the Light.
Important, as indicating the attainment of a mystical state, in which you are not only involved in an action, but apart from it. There is a higher state described in the Bhagavad-gita. “I who am all, and made it all, abide its separate Lord.”
83. Thou art acquainted with the five impediments, O blessed one. Thou art their conqueror, the Master of the sixth, deliverer of the four modes of Truth. The Light that falls upon them shines from thyself, O thou who wast Disciple but art Teacher now.
The five impediments are usually taken to be the five senses. In this case the term “Master of the sixth” becomes of profound significance. The “sixth sense” is the race-instinct, whose common manifestation is in sex; this sense is then the birth of the Individual or Conscious Self with the “Dwarf-Self,” the Silent Babe, Harpocrates. The “four modes of Truth” (noble Truths) are adequately described in “Science and Buddhism.” (See Crowley, Collected Works.)
84. And of these modes of Truth:—
Hast thou not passed through knowledge of all misery—Truth the first?
85. Hast thou not conquered the Māras’ King at Tsi, the portal of assembling—truth the second?
86. Hast thou not sin at the third gate destroyed and truth the third attained?
87. Hast thou not entered Tau, “the Path” that leads to knowledge—the fourth truth?
The reference to the “Māras’ King” confuses the second truth with the third. The third Truth is a mere corollary of the Second, and the Fourth a Grammar of the Third.
88. And now, rest ‘neath the bodhi tree, which is perfection of all knowledge, for, know, thou art the Master of samādhi—the state of faultless vision.
This account of Samadhi is very incongruous. Throughout the whole treatise Hindu ideas are painfully mixed with Buddhist, and the introduction of the “four noble truths” comes very strangely as the precursor of verses 88 and 89.
89. Behold! thou hast become the light, thou hast become the Sound, thou art thy Master and thy God. Thou art THYSELF the object of thy search: the VOICE unbroken, that resounds throughout eternities, exempt from change, from sin exempt, the seven sounds in one,
THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE
Om Tat Sat.
This is a pure peroration, and clearly involves an egocentric metaphysic.
The style of the whole treatise is characteristically occidental.