Chapter XVI: On Concentration

Magick Without Tears

By Aleister Crowley

Chapter XVI: On Concentration

Cara Soror,

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

You wisely ask me for a special letter on Concentration; you point out that I have implied it constantly, but never given plain instruction.

It hope I have not been so vague as to allow you to suppose that Concentration Camps are evidence that benevolent and enlightened governments are at last seriously concerned to educate the world to Yoga; but I do agree that it cannot do great harm if I take a dose of my own medicine, and gather into one golden sheaf all the ripe corn of my wisdom on this subject.

For concentration does indeed unlock all doors; it lies at the heart of every practice as it is of the essence of all theory; and almost all the various rules and regulations are aimed at securing adeptship in this matter. All the subsidiary work—awareness, one-pointedness, mind- fullness and the rest—is intended to train you to this.

All the greetings, salutations, “Saying Will,” periodical adorations, even saying “apo pantos kakodaimonos” with a downward and outward sweep of the arm, the eyes averted, when one sees a person dressed in a religious (Christian) uniform: all these come under “Don't stroke the cat the wrong way!” or, in the modern pseudo-scientific journalese jargon “streamlining life.”

Let us see if Frater Perdurabo has anything to the point! Of course, Part I of Book 4 is devoted to it; but there is too much, and not enough, to be useful to us just now.

What your really need is the official Instruction in The Equinox, and the very fullest and deepest understanding of Eight Lectures on Yoga; but these lectures are so infernally interesting that when I look into the book for something to quote, it carries me away with it. I can't put it down, I forget all about this letter. Rather a back-handed advertisement for Concentration!

The best way is the hardest; to forget all this and start from the beginning as if there had never been anything on the subject written before.

I must keep always in mind that you are assumed to know nothing whatever about Yoga and Magick, or anything else beyond what the average educated person may be assumed to have been taught.

What is the problem? There are two.

β: To train the mind to move with the maximum speed and energy, with the utmost possible accuracy in the chosen direction, and with the minimum of disturbance or friction. That is Magick.

α: To stop the mind altogether. That is Yoga.

The rules, strangely enough, are identical in both cases; at least, until your “Magick” is perfect; Yoga merely goes on a step further. In Beta you have reduced all movements from many to One; in Alpha you reduce that One to Zero.

Now then, with a sigh of relief, know you this: that every possible incident in the Beta training is mutatis mutandis, perfectly familiar to the engineer.

The material must be chosen and prepared in the kind and in the manner, best suited to the design of the intended machine; the various parts must be put together with the utmost precision; every obstacle to the function must be removed, and every source of error eliminated. Now cheer up, child! In the case of a machine that he has devised and constructed himself with every condition in his favour, he thinks he is doing not too badly if he gets some fifteen or twenty per cent of the calculated efficiency out of the instrument; and even Nature, with millions of years to adjust and improve, very often cannot boast of having done much better.  So you have no reason to be discouraged if success does not smile upon you in the first week or so of your Work, starting as you do with material of whose properties you are miserably ignorant, with means pitifully limited, with Laws of Nature which you do not understand; in fact, with almost everything against you but indomitable Will and unconquerable courage.

(I know I'm a poor contemptible Lowbrow; but I refuse to be ashamed for finding Kipling's If and Henley's Don't remember-the title; they may not be poetry—but they are honest food and damned good beer for the plebeian wayfarer. It was such manhood, not the left-wing high-brow Bloomsbury sissies, that kept London through the blitz. Pray forgive the digression!)

There is only one method to adopt in such circumstances as those of the Aspirant to Magick and Yoga: the method of Science. Trial and error.  You must observe. That implies, first of all, that you must learn to observe. And you must record your observations. No circumstance of life is, or can be irrelevant. “He that is not with me is against me.” In all these letters you will find only two things: either I tell you what is bad for you, or what is good for you. But I am not you; I don't know every detail of your life, every trick of your thought. You must do ninety percent of the work for yourself. Whether it is love, or your daily avocation, or diet, or friends, or amusement, or anything else, you must find out what helps you to your True Will and what hinders; cherish the one and eschew the other.

I want to insist most earnestly that concentration is not, as we nearly all of us think, a matter of getting things right in the practices; you must make every breath you draw subservient to the True Will, to fertilize the soil for the practices. When you sit down in your Asana to quiet your mind, it is much easier for you if your whole life has tended to relative quietude; when you knock with your Wand to announce the opening of an Invocation, it is better if the purpose of that ceremony has been simmering in the background of your thought since childhood!

Yes indeed: background!

Deep down, on the very brink of the subconscious, are all those facts which have determined you to choose this your Great Work.

Then, the ambition, conscious, which arranges the general order and disposition of your life.

Lastly, the practices themselves. And my belief is that the immense majority of failures have their neglect to brush up their drill to thank for it.

For technical advice on all these subjects, I shall refer you to those official works mentioned in the early part of this letter; I shall be happy if you will take to heart what I am now so violently thrusting at you, this Middle Work of Concentration.

Love is the law, love under will.



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