The Purpose of Ritual, Meditation, and Other Practices in Thelema

The Purpose of Ritual, Meditation, and Other Practices in Thelema

When doing some practice or ritual, if one is a Thelemite then one must always ask this question:

How does this help the fulfillment of my Will?

Too many times do Thelemites perform ceremonial rituals and yoga practices for some aim other than the fulfillment of their Wills.
Thelema often speaks of Initiation, the Great Work, Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, Nothing/ Naught/ None, union of opposites, etc. which represents the attainment of the “consciousness of the continuity of existence” wherein one becomes “chief of all,” insofar as one becomes identified with the All. The Universe and the Self are understood as one Thing, a state of non-duality. This unity is called “Nothing” because it is continuous (see Liber Al Vel Legis I:22-23, 26-30). This is the First Step or the Next Step. One’s Will is the dynamic nature of the Self: if you don’t fully know the nature of that Self, then one cannot fully express that nature.

Therefore, attainment of “the consciousness of continuity of existence” must be every aspirant’s First Aim. “There is a single main definition of the object of all magical Ritual. It is the uniting of the Microcosm with the Macrocosm. The Supreme and Complete Ritual is therefore the Invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel; or, in the language of Mysticism, Union with God. All other magical Rituals are particular cases of this general principle. . .” (Magick in Theory and Practice). If one seeks the Will of the True Self, one must attain to that True Self. “The True Self is the meaning of the True Will: know thyself through Thy Way” (“The Heart of the Master“). In this way, all Acts must be done “To me,” with the intention of the attainment of Infinity in one’s mind.

Once one has attained to “Naught” (Solve), then one’s task is the formulation of that Divinity in motion (Coagula). The True Self has been attained, now it must express itself in the world. “To me” now takes on a new meaning: All Acts must be done as an acknowledgment of that Infinity, as a fulfillment of one of its Possibilities. “To me” means treating all Acts as sacred. . . as participation in the Joyful Sacrament of Existence. Further, since the Higher (the attainment of unity of perception) has been attained and solidified, the Lower must be consolidated. The mind and body must be fortified and enhanced by all means. The Book of the Law says “Wisdom says: be strong! Then canst thou bear more joy.” The mind and body are the means of manifestation of Divinity in the world; they are the means by which the All may become self-aware of itself in the Many. Therefore just as a polished diamond may reflect light more clearly, so must the mind and body be “polished” to reflect the Supernal Light more purely. One must “Contemplate your own Nature,” “Explore the Nature and Powers of your own Being,” and “Develop in due harmony and proportion every faculty which you posses” (Duty). The body must be strong and healthy, and the mind must be elastic and ever-expanding in its limits & knowledge. Not only must one’s faculties be strong, but one must always “exceed! exceed!” You must “Go… unto the outermost places and subdue all things” (Liber LXV) and “Extend the dominion of your consciousness, and its control of all forces alien to it, to the utmost” (Duty). This must always be done with the fulfillment of one’s Will in mind as the impetus; whether one is attempting to attain to Unity or attempting to fortify the mind and body to fashion a suitable vehicle for Divinity to manifest is up to the individual.

We’ve seen that all ritual, yoga, or any workings must be towards the end of the fulfillment of the Will. First, “the consciousness of the continuity of existence” must be attained, and secondly one’s mind and body must be strengthened, fortified, explored, contemplated, and their dominion extended. The former might be called the Mystic Half of the Path, and the latter might be called the Magick Half of the Path. Either way, both the Higher and the Lower must be attained “For Perfection abideth not in the Pinnacles, or in the Foundations, but in the ordered Harmony of one with all” (“Liber Causae“). If an Act is not made “To me,” either as a desire of one’s spirit to unite with All Things or as a rapturous love-cry coming from the joy of participation in the World… “if the ritual be not ever unto me: then expect the direful judgments of Ra Hoor Khuit!”

“There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.”

©2009 by IAO131.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.

IAO131 is the creator and editor of the Journal of Thelemic Studies and author of many essays on Thelema, magick, and mysticism including a short treatise called “Naturalistic Occultism.” You can find his blog here.

The Great Work of the Holy Guardian Angel

The Great Work of the Holy Guardian Angel by Sheta Kaey

“Angel” is a word that carries even more baggage than “soulmate” — baggage that goes back thousands of years to the beginnings of Judeo-Christian theology. While the most common definition of the word tends to be “messenger of God,” that raises the further question of “what is God?” and that’s a question I’m not going to touch with your ten-foot pole. It’s clear, however, that the Judeo-Christian majority in the Western world assumes that God and angels are known quantities, and that no one else should have any claim to them.

A long time acquaintance of mine has a relationship with a being many believe to be an archangel. His name is Azrael. My friend once told me, “Azrael says that angels are simply those who came before.” Meridjet appreciates the broad scope of that definition, and goes on to say that there is no explicit spiritual hierarchy as is often believed. There are no “higher” or “lower” beings, only less evolved and more evolved — further, if you like, but not higher. While the classification of higher and lower worlds and beings is useful, particularly in study of the Tree of Life, it’s important to remember that the map is not the territory. We should not fall into the trap of taking any symbol as literal truth, including the illusions of separation or hierarchy.

Most humans in the West, regardless of religion, tend to label worlds, planes, and beings of a subtler nature as “higher,” and worlds, planes, and beings of a less subtle, denser nature as “lower.” This labeling, while indeed useful for comprehension and aspiration, unfortunately grew into a judgment call. In time, any denser being was assumed to be evil, while any subtler being was assumed to be fundamentally good. While the hierarchical label itself isn’t a problem, the assumptions it invites are problematic because the nature of any being is not reliant upon its vibrational level any more than a television station on the “higher” digital band is essentially more divine than a television station on the “lower” analog band.

Angels, when reduced to the bare bones of the concept, are mediators between the divine and humankind, providing guidance, instruction, and service for the betterment of individuals and the whole of the species. This does not mean, however, that they are the light to a demon’s darkness in some cosmic polarity dividing the universe into “good” and “evil.” All beings have light and darkness within them, and all beings are capable of comforting as well as brutalizing us, if given sufficient cause. In the name of growth, most actions are acceptable. This is a very frightening thought.

In Thelema, my favored philosophy, there is the concept of the Holy Guardian Angel. This is not the usual “guardian angel” that hopeful individuals invoke in difficult or stressful situations, but something more akin to Socrates’ higher genius, what he called his daemon. Yet it is more than that. The function of the Holy Guardian Angel (HGA) is part higher self and part autonomous spirit guide, with a healthy dollop of animus (or anima, as the case may be), all wrapped up in mysterious, powerful attraction. It’s never firmly defined in any text, including this one, as it’s a concept that cannot be grasped without the experience to provide the Eureka!, the epiphany of understanding that accompanies all great truths.

The purpose of the HGA is generally described as “revealing your True Will,” “revealing your Great Work,” or “leading you to your life’s purpose.” These concepts, then, are often assumed to be synonymous. But as with the concept of hierarchy, these should not be taken merely at face value. I’ll attempt to explain them, and then circle back to illustrate my point. The “life’s purpose” is, of course, the reason you are here. It’s what you are meant to do. But how do you know what that purpose is? How do you discover it? Everyone judges the raison d´êtres of those who’ve passed on: When I was younger, people said that John Lennon had lived to promote peace and was killed when he’d learned all he needed to. Mother Teresa lived a life of sacrifice and love, caring for the poor; she was meant to set an example for the rest of us. Princess Diana’s life was meant to renew the inspiration of British royalty, while eschewing the status quo and traveling the world, revealing horrible conditions that even today we still seek to assuage. And so on. We speculate endlessly about the life purposes of now dead public figures because we find them easier to pigeonhole, to define according to our limited views of what’s important. Our own purposes elude us, and even as we seek them out, we may suffer doubt or fear that we’ve missed the signposts and are careening out of control, toward a death that will bring no easy epitaph.

Thelemites and magicians like to believe that they’ve got the inside scoop on what they’re meant to do with their lives. They talk about their HGAs and their True Wills, how “Love is the Law” and “compassion is the vice of Kings” as if they were members of a secret club giving out magic decoder rings to the worthy. Magical fraternities and orders perpetuate this belief by keeping certain teachings for the inner orders, available only by petition and initiation. “Would you like to learn why you’re here? Step right up and we’ll show you your life’s purpose!” This “life’s purpose” is the blind, or false information that sets the ignorant upon a pointless path, often found in magical texts and especially in the writings of Aleister Crowley. Or, if you’d rather, not really false information, in this case, so much as divergent information.

The Great Work is the term used by Thelemites to refer to the life’s purpose, which is revealed to the individual who receives Knowledge and Conversation with his or her Holy Guardian Angel (KCHGA). The blind exists in the novice’s assumption that one’s Great Work is mundane: to become something within the span of this lifetime that gains recognition, contributes something to the world, or in some way leads to the usual definition of “success.” When a magician claims to have KCHGA and in the next sentence refers to his Great Work as a mundane, finite goal, he reveals himself to be a fraud.

In actuality, the Great Work refers to the true (and infinite) goal of everyone, everywhere, regardless of race, creed, intelligence, or any other factor. This goal is simple: to evolve. To become something better today than we were yesterday. To grow as individuals. To put it in New Age terms, it’s the raising of the consciousness of humanity, ushering us into that New Age, or New Aeon, when restriction falls away and freedom equals harmony. It’s a pipe dream, when applied to the world as a whole; there is never going to be a recognizable dawning of a New Aeon, and certainly not in some great cosmic shift as so many like to believe. Dawn is incremental; by its very nature it is impossible to gauge except in retrospect: By the time the light of humanity (or day) shines brightly enough to be recognized, the dawn will have passed.

Furthermore, a single day’s worth of encounters with random humanity is enough to illustrate the vast number of people who have no interest in evolving unless it serves their most immediate needs. If they can’t see the payoff, they’re not going to bother. Case in point: Who believes that the wife-beater down the street who spends his entire welfare check on beer and weed has any desire to become more? But when you consider the individuals who do have an interest in that becoming, it’s at the very least food for thought. The world is made up of individuals, and someday maybe the majority will make that choice — to become more — one at a time, and will tip the scales in favor of that New Aeon. (In my opinion, this mundane universe is a compressed, self-contained learning system — a classroom — and eventually, everyone will move on to those “higher” vibrations and pass to a more enlightened universe. Whether this one ever really dawns into something more hopeful is very nearly immaterial.) And this brings us to the True Will.

The True Will is completely the property of the HGA. People, magicians, Thelemites can harp all day about making conscious choices and about how acting like a buffoon during an important meeting is their “true will,” but that won’t make it so. The True Will transcends conscious awareness, and it manipulates us in spite of ourselves. Make that choice, decide just one time that you’re going to seriously, truly dedicate yourself to your personal growth, and your True Will steps up to the plate and takes over. You may have never heard of the concept, but (unlike missionaries converting the savages to the love of Christ) it’s not necessary to know of it, because your conscious involvement is of little concern. The True Will is set into gear by your dedication, your choice, taking over like a spiritual autopilot, bringing you into line time and again. You may not get there — to “more” — via the most direct route, and you may not get there painlessly (in fact, the odds are against it), but you will get there, because once you’ve made the commitment, the Universe responds to every move you make with either momentum (supporting your conscious choices) or a slap upside the head. Have you ever felt battered by circumstances, asking yourself what you did to deserve this? Try looking around — what are you being shown? What is the Universe, and your HGA (KCHGA or not), trying to show you? Stop playing the victim, and take responsibility for the lesson. If you don’t, those slaps will just keep getting harder.

As the governor of True Will, your HGA will lead you in whatever way is necessary to accomplish your evolution. You’re now on the fast track, and look out, because (as a friend once said to me), your HGA will rip your arm off and smack you with it if he thinks that’s what will get the point across. I strongly advise listening before things get to the arm-ripping point.

Not your mother’s guardian angel, is it?

This article is excerpted from the upcoming book, Infinite Possibility.

Sheta Kaey is Editor in Chief of Rending the Veil and is working on her first book, Infinite Possibility. You can read her blog here.

©2009 by Sheta Kaey
Edited by Sarenth

Personal Thoughts on the Ethical Implications of Thelema #5/13 – The Ethics of Consumerism and Global Will

Personal Thoughts on the Ethical Implications of Thelema #5/13 - The Ethics of Consumerism and Global Will

Theoretically, having more than one is intended means that someone else is forced to live with less than they are intended. This leads to suffering. One must ponder: How much is enough? Or, at the very least one must consider if that new house, car, or computer that one desires so much is worth having when one understands the effect that pursuing those things will have on oneself, as well as those who already have too little to eat. The goofs1 abhor this idea, for the entire economic well-being in modern times depends on people’s greed and the disregard of their humanity for the convenience of more things. In a way, it is painful for most people to admit that their consumerism may be indirectly responsible for the 20,000 people that die from hunger in this world every day.2

Keeping up with the Joneses and identifying with one’s possessions or income is the result of an illusion that corporate interests perpetuate. Presently, we can see the rewards of following such rotten advice, as the ever increasing number of unemployed in the U.S. find very little comfort in the fact that their jobs are being outsourced to overseas companies so that corporate interests can exploit workers by paying them less, or because the laws in those impoverished countries do not require American corporate giants to provide workers with medical benefits. How nice for them. We are expected to rejoice because now those exploited workers abroad can be consumers and buy Nikes. And when people abroad can buy Nikes, then that is good for America.

But what happens when Americans can’t afford to buy shoes, much less Nikes?

Greed is and always has been responsible for most of the world’s woes, and an ethical person will not perpetuate an evil that causes war, pestilence, hunger and misery to billions of his fellow humans. Instead, he or she will conceive a way to conduct business that is more inline with his or her beliefs, and will refuse to buy into that form of legalized theft and exploitation known as “capitalism.”

Consider how modern society seems to de-emphasize cooperation. Cooperation is dangerous, and the demiurge likes to perpetuate the myth of “rugged individualism” or the idea that every man is an island. Consider to what extent we have bought into this illusion — that we would warehouse our children, leaving them to be raised by total strangers in order to free ourselves to pursue some dream that seems more and more like a nightmare. How did it get this far — that two adults would consider having children in the first place, knowing that they wouldn’t have time to raise them because of the fixation with material things. Again, we must ask ourselves: How much is enough? How much of the violence, racial and religious hatred, and other increasing social ills could have been avoided by raising and educating our own children rather than putting them away like a book we intend to read later? The excuse has always been that we are working hard for their future so that they can have more of those material things we use as a measure of success (and doesn’t this seem to vindicate us?) when what they really need is the love and attention of a parent.

Our neighbors are subjected to human rights violations. Their doors are kicked in and we watch them from the illusory safety of our homes, thanking our gods it isn’t us. We must look out for number one. We mustn’t rock the boat by holding an unpopular thought, because that might interfere with our ability to collect more things. We stand by and do nothing because we are supposed to mind our own business.

We are worker bees, all of us. If we learned to cooperate, got to know our neighbors, and protested when injustices were committed against them, then we might come to realize that we control our own flow of honey, and that the demiurge cannot exist without its honey.

In the U.S., we like to think of ourselves as free. We like to think of Lady Liberty, in New York, as a symbol of that altruistic ideal. Yet, we seem to be collectively unable or unwilling to extend that benefit to others. China does not claim it was founded as a country of the free, but America does, and it resorts to hypocrisy of the worst kind by trading with countries like China. Many Americans don’t seem to give buying goods made by forced prison labor a second thought, since they individually benefit from the exploitation of those people. The less they pay for one toy, the more they have left to buy other toys.

On a very mundane level, we exploit others when we purchase items made by prison labor, occupied territories or the underprivileged because we expect to get these items at a much better price than we would if they were not being exploited. We benefit from their poverty. We even do it to our own countrymen when we patronize stores that exploit their workers by cheating them out of reasonable pay, hours, medical benefits, or when we employ businesses that promote, or pass up, individuals based on color, race, or religious beliefs rather than a good work ethic.

This planet has a Will. It is the Little Sister of Nuit. Should we patronize organizations, special interest groups, or individual wills when their actions violate global wellness? Of course, we could argue (and often have) that since we are all global creatures, any action we make, even actions that destroy our home, are in accordance with the global will. Crowley didn’t think so, and neither do I.

Apparent, and sometimes even real, conflict between interests will frequently arise. Such cases are to be decided by the general value of the contending parties in the scale of Nature. Thus, a tree has a right to its life; but a man being more than a tree, he may cut it down for fuel or shelter when need arises. Even so, let him remember that the Law never fails to avenge infractions: as when wanton deforestation has ruined a climate or a soil, or as when the importation of rabbits for a cheap supply of food has created a plague.

Observe that the violation of the Law of Thelema produces cumulative ills. The drain of the agricultural population to big cities, due chiefly to persuading them to abandon their natural ideals, has not only made the country less tolerable to the peasant, but debauched the town. And the error tends to increase in geometrical progression, until a remedy has become almost inconceivable and the whole structure of society is threatened with ruin.

The wise application based on observation and experience of the Law of Thelema is to work in conscious harmony with Evolution. Experiments in creation, involving variation from existing types, are lawful and necessary. Their value is to be judged by their fertility as bearing witness to their harmony with the course of nature towards perfection. — Duty

Remember: every dollar is a vote. Money is a talisman.

Footnotes:

  1. Noun. From the Hebrew Goph — a reference to the physical body. A derogatory term to explain humans that refuse to acknowledge their spiritual nature or humanity because doing so would mean they’d have to inconvenience themselves with the ethics such beliefs would imply.
  2. In the time it would have taken the average person to finish reading this book, 40,000 people will have died. Tomorrow, 20,000 more will die.

©2006-2013 Gerald del Campo. Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Gerald del Campo has authored three books on the subject of Thelema: A Heretic’s Guide to Thelema, New Aeon Magick: Thelema Without Tears, and New Aeon English Qabalah Revealed. He is a photographer, musician and CEO for the Order of Thelemic Knights, the first Thelemic charitable organization. You can visit his blog at http://solis93.livejournal.com and his websites at http://thelemicknights.org and http://egoandtheids.com. Gerald formerly served as Senior Managing Editor of Rending the Veil.

Personal Thoughts on the Ethical Implications of Thelema #4/13 – Ethics in Government and Business

Personal Thoughts on the Ethical Implications of Thelema #4/13 - Ethics in Government and Business

He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.
— Albert Einstein

Initially, the ethics of government and business were to be examined under separate sections. I found it impossible, however, to speak of one without mentioning the other, and for good reason: government and business, at least in the USA, are one and the same. It would not be unreasonable to think of U.S. government as a Corporate Democracy.

I wish I could have come up with another country to serve as a better example of capitalism gone awry. It saddens me to no end to see the country I love, a country founded with such lofty ideals by such great minds, and whose government has been the object of poetry as an example for all other governments and freedom loving individuals, hijacked by corporate giants and special interest groups.

In the last few years alone, we have witnessed American intervention in El Salvador, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Columbia, Panama, and South Africa. In Iran, our government overthrew a democratic government and replaced it with a dictatorship. The United States government funded Saddam Hussein for years, even before he came to power, and even stood by as he used chemical weapons against the Kurds, killing men, women and children alike. Panama did not exist as an independent country until the U.S. decided it wanted to build a canal there. Then there is the matter of Manuel Noriega’s ties to the CIA and the “Company’s” involvement in cocaine trafficking. In Chile, our government overthrew another popularly elected government, although it took two tries. And this doesn’t even touch on American economic policies.

Even though most American citizens would rather not know these things, they are not secrets. No form of self-imposed ignorance, such as blind patriotism or sentimentalism, will change the fact that the horrible events, and the senseless disaster that occurred on 9/11 are (at least in part) in some way the result of American foreign policy. Our leaders know this. Those poor people did not deserve what happened to them on that fateful day, and the individuals that caused it should be hunted down like the animals that they are. Instead, government leaders have seized upon this opportunity to launch huge military campaigns for corporate interest groups. This is precisely why we must learn and use critical thinking skills and ethics, choosing freedom to deliberate rather than swallowing propaganda, logical thinking rather than sentimentalism, and individual pride in doing the right thing instead of blind patriotism if we are going to prevent this from ever happening again.

For many people1, the United States is a failed experiment. Americans are deeply divided; even the propaganda fails to cast a believable illusion of unity, and there appears to be little hope for reconciliation in the near future. The very government that pretends to be a champion of freedom has used the fear generated by the attacks of that fateful September day to convince its subjects to voluntarily surrender what is left of their freedoms. What little culture there is appears to be quickly fading under the military boots of America’s so-called “Religious Right.”2 The liberals distrust the highest political practices and this will eventually erode whatever civility is holding this country together. Dialogue is useless because most people surrender like sheep to every lie fed to them by their religious leaders, such as the myth that America’s Forefathers were champions of a Christian government. It is similarly useless to recommend that they read the works penned by the architects of this country, because they prefer a lie of their own making to the truth.

Men that loved freedom and were willing to die for it built up this country: ethical men. Their voices can be heard while reading the founding documents, personal memoirs, and the letters they wrote to their family and compatriots. The United States has not seen its greatest day, and that day is only delayed by greed, lack of critical thinking and ethics, blind patriotism and sentimentality. We must be capable of thinking beyond our own needs to observe the impact that these lies are having on our families and friends, government, and ultimately the relationship and responsibility that you share with every other human on this planet. In corporate democracies, people vote with their money. Every dollar is a vote. Think of money as a talisman, and learn to use the power it affords you wisely.

So why apply ethics to business? The Libertarian will tell you that corporations are, by definition, designed solely to make money for their stockholders. In other words, a corporation’s “True Will” is to make money, and as such, it should not be subject to the same penalties or restrictions as regular people. The stockholders, lacking ethics, lobby to make a world where their corporations rule supreme. In such a world, they can do business without any mandatory compliance to environmental restrictions, workers’ rights or unions, without paying corporate taxes, and without shame for exploiting people at home and abroad. Consider the benefits afforded to HMOs, oil companies, energy brokers, and the like. The Food and Drug Administration, which was instituted to protect consumers from harm caused by snake oil salesmen, takes donations from the very pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the drugs it is supposed to regulate. This is a conflict of interest at best, and accepting bribes at worst. Is this ethical?

Was it ethical for the Fox Network to persuade the court that they were not obligated to report the truth in their news broadcasts? Fox thereby avoided paying damages in a lawsuit awarded to a former reporter wrongfully terminated for trying to report the truth. Where were the ethics of this company? Where were the ethics of the judge that ruled in their favor? Knowing this, what can be said of people that still tune in to get their news there?

Is a company that was fined for polluting in one country ethical when it relocates its plants to other countries too poor to demand environmental compliance? What of a rancher that introduces a cow displaying symptoms of mad cow disease into the food chain rather than lose a few bucks? Is the sole purpose of business to make money, without concerning itself with ethics? Can a business justify its disregard for public or ecological responsibility because their primary objective is to make money for their stockholders? If a business creates an environmental disaster affecting people everywhere, should that company be responsible for cleaning up its own messes, or should the taxpayers foot the bill? Is it ethical when government forces the taxpayer to pay for the logging roads that will be utilized exclusively by logging companies in harvesting our forests?3

Consider capitalism4 and how governments embracing this paradigm conduct their affairs as businesses. Capitalism, in its present form, is concerned with the accumulation of wealth to no particular end. When the few benefiting from the money-grab have milked their own country dry, capitalism must, by necessity, spread its domain to other cultures in order to continue feeding their addiction. This is why countries go to war. It isn’t for freedom or liberty. It isn’t for a love of justice, but a love for more and more things.

Reflect on the present conundrum in the Middle East. In recent memory, we can trace this problem to an Iranian “bad guy” that wouldn’t play ball with the U.S. government. The U.S. government replaced this leader with someone they could exploit. This led to the American hostage crisis, where the radical Iranians kidnapped American citizens. Back then, Saddam was a “good guy,”5 and Reagan armed him to fight against the Ayatollah, who was a “bad guy.” When Saddam wouldn’t play ball with the U.S., President Bush Sr. dubbed him a “bad guy” and carpet-bombed his country. Later, when now Vice President Cheney wanted to do business with him, he was once again a “good guy” — until, of course President Bush Jr. needed a diversion for not being able to find Bin Laden — who in turn was a “good guy” when we armed him to fight the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the ’70s and ’80s, but a “bad guy” for having the U.S. bombed in 2001. In short, people who do what we want are “good guys” — but they are “bad guys” when they resist exploitation. Government can get away with these things time and time again when citizens suffer from historical amnesia and intellectual laziness.

The simplest way to make this point is to compare capitalist or corporate governments to ancient Rome. Much like today, Roman soldiers were deployed to other countries in order to feed some emperor’s hunger for gold and other luxuries. There is an obvious difference between Rome and our present world: Roman citizens benefited from Rome’s conquests, and the Roman government only catered to the greed of the emperor rather than business interests. Like those of yesteryear, today’s emperors remind us to be “patriotic” and “support our troops” while they send our boys and girls to fight — not to liberate some country from an intolerable despot, but to capitalize the country and exploit its resources. It is surprising that more people don’t protest these maneuvers, but it is even more astounding that they can find people to fight these wars in the first place.

At the same time, well-meaning soldiers that enlisted for a love of their country, or because joining the military provides them the only opportunity to have an education,6 spill their blood and the blood of the occupied people so that the friends of the commander-in-chief can enlarge their coffers. Presently, concurrent with the call for patriotism and support, senators plot the end of military medical benefits for those very same soldiers they sent to the desert, in order to pass those savings on to the hungry corporations (HMOs and other medical insurance corporations). That’s some support.

It is typical to blame human nature for our own individual failures or our inability to exchange the things we want to do for the things we should do. Killing others over resources is often justified as human nature. It is romanticized by religion, portrayed as some lofty spiritual goal. We force ourselves into the social acceptance of war when we accept it as a form of “patriotism.” To posit that true human nature is driven by a desire for universal brotherhood is to invoke the wrath of individuals who find it easier to watch the atrocities of war than to stand against it. To categorize war as human nature without a second thought is to deny the possibility that we may one day evolve beyond our own self-destructive behavior. It denies the existence of the True Will, making all of us slaves unable to choose our own course.

It is a good scam, if you think about it. Taxpayers foot the bill for a military occupation to benefit their business interests. Soldiers are exploited and are stripped of their benefits so that they will either have to pay to for the emotional and physical injuries that they incurred while fighting for the same companies that are now discarding them like broken tools, or else join the thousands of mentally and physically handicapped vets — a large majority of whom are homeless.

Elsewhere, genocide and ethnic cleansing occurs on our little blue planet, but since there is no economic benefit to corporate interests there, “the powers that be” turn a blind eye to the slaughter. To prove this point, we must simply consider how the U.S. has imposed trade embargoes on Cuba and Vietnam because they are communist7 while China, which is also communist and is a country with a horrible record and long history of human rights violations, can be awarded “most favored trade status.” The answer is quite simple. Capitalism has spread to China, and its emperor is willing to play the capitalist game to cash in on its resources of slave labor so that huge corporate interests in the U.S. can benefit by the cheap manufacturing that slave labor provides. American government turns a blind eye to the fact that the Chinese government regularly harvests the organs of living prisoners against their will for profit, even when the overwhelming majority of Chinese prisoners have been imprisoned solely for having spoken against an oppressive government.

Again, this form of capitalism has to spread abroad, once all resources in the homeland are exhausted. The relationship between the U.S. and China is tenuous at best and dangerous at worst, since once each of these countries have exploited one another they will once again have to compete with one another for resources, and today is a much more dangerous world that it was during the Cold War. And all the while, people in Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba die every day from hunger and lack of medical supplies because they refuse to cave in to capitalist pressure. This is what we can expect to see from ethically bankrupt governments (and businesses).

Footnotes

  1. Many of them Native Americans.
  2. Must we wonder why religion is so repulsive to so many people?
  3. The same forest taxpayers pay to protect.
  4. Capitalism is not unethical in and of itself. There are ethical ways of doing business. It is what is been passed off as “capitalism” today which is without ethics.
  5. Even though he was using chemical agents to genocide the Kurds.
  6. How fortunate for the military.
  7. The “red threat” is still an effective boogieman for fear-based societies.

©2006-2013 Gerald del Campo. Edited by Naya.

Gerald del Campo has authored three books on the subject of Thelema: A Heretic’s Guide to Thelema, New Aeon Magick: Thelema Without Tears, and New Aeon English Qabalah Revealed. He is a photographer, musician and CEO for the Order of Thelemic Knights, the first Thelemic charitable organization. You can visit his blog at http://solis93.livejournal.com and his websites at http://thelemicknights.org and http://egoandtheids.com. Gerald formerly served as Senior Managing Editor of Rending the Veil.

Personal Thoughts on the Ethical Implications of Thelema #3/13 – What is an Ethical Person?

Personal Thoughts on the Ethical Implications of Thelema #3/13 - What is an Ethical Person?

Notice that in speaking of destruction of the intellect, nothing more is meant than recognition of the vanity of the intellect in relation to the absolute; so also for conscience. Twice two still makes four, and killing is still murder; but all this is relative, and relates to the individual in his limitations, not to the absolute. This very simple truth, that the planes are separate, is the greatest of all the discoveries of Fra. P. It is a complete key to life.
— Aleister Crowley, Equinox I:8, p. 23-4

Is a person that does the right thing due to fear of religious, judicial, or legislative repercussions ethical? What about people whose behavior is based on fear of losing societal standing? Can ethics be a part of a person’s genetic makeup? Does a person will ethics, or can ethics be forced upon a person by society? Can ethics be used as a means to discover one’s true nature?

Society can try teach ethics (via formal education), and enforce laws by exacting penalties for failure to act ethically — but doesn’t this type of society risk becoming a fear-based society because the motivation for right action will be based solely on self-interest instead of a love for Light, Life, Love and Liberty?1 Furthermore, some laws require unethical behavior. Law is concerned with what is legal rather than what is right. Wouldn’t you rather be a member of a society composed of ethical citizens? People who act ethically out of their own desire to be ethical, rather than motivated by fear? People acting out of fear are not inherently ethical. Ethics concerns itself with action.

We have seen what occurs when unethical people use fear in order to make laws in our own society. Consider how in recent days Americans have given up freedom of association, freedom of information, freedom of speech, the right to legal representation, freedom from unreasonable searches, the right to a speedy and public trial, or the right to liberty.2 The message those laws and regulations send is that it is okay to do the wrong thing, even when it violates the lofty ideals upon which this country is founded, provided that it is legal or lawful.

Right thought leads into right action. Words mean nothing. So if we are to make intelligent decisions about other people, then we must ignore what they say and pay attention to what they do. If a person complains, but makes no effort to correct a situation or condition, then it seems clear that the issue is not really serious in that person’s mind because it hasn’t driven them into action.

What shall we say of a person who is aware of corruption and injustice in government but who ignores political involvement, such as voting? Is a person who ignores their knowledge of unpleasant things, preferring instead to justify inaction by believing lies when the facts are in front of his face, being ethical?

“Nevertheless have the greatest self-respect, and to that end sin not against thyself. The sin which is unpardonable is knowingly and willfully to reject truth, to fear knowledge lest that knowledge pander not to thy prejudices.”3

“Despise also all cowards; professional soldiers who dare not fight, but play; all fools despise!”4

Ethics and laws are often opposed to one another. This is clearly the case when we see people who sacrifice their own freedom for their fellows, principles, ideals, or even ethics by breaking bad laws. Laws are not necessarily ethical, as when regulation and licensing prevent freedom of movement, freedom of speech, or making a living, when laws based purely on religious morality force non-adherents into compliance, or when government or big business (same thing, really) can make use of loopholes (not available to all) in order to avoid responsibility for wrongdoings. In fact, law is a bad model for ethics — unless, of course, Love happens to be the Law. What shall we say of a justice system that jails Martha Stewart, whose only crime was to sell her company’s stock when she heard that the market was about to crash, but lets off criminals like Tom DeLay, who committed perjury, smoked Cuban cigars during an embargo against Cuba, took bribes from casinos, and funneled corporate contributions to state campaigns during the 2002 election cycle? What pride can we have for our modernness with all of our medical breakthroughs if the best, most sophisticated bioethical solution for a woman on a feeding tube is to allow her to starve to death? Sometimes humans seem to get more excited by the possibility of cloning sheep than they are by advancing as an enlightened species.

The law should only be a marker for minimal standards for behavior necessary for a productive society. We must never forget the fact that laws are often created so as to have an unethical end, such as the laws justifying Apartheid in South Africa. Legislators that create and support laws like these also create a social disrespect for them. It is not unlike the disservice that a zealot does his religion when he uses it to justify his own means. Nor should a law’s popularity be a marker of ethical value, since an unethical law can placate the majority of people, as occurred in Hitler’s Germany. The absence of social agreement on many issues makes it impossible to link ethics with what is socially acceptable. The same is true of Thelema, but that shouldn’t stop us from discovering our own, personal ethical standards.

Ethics, on the other hand, are something more than forced compliance. One cannot be forced into ethics; they must be willingly embraced. But today, so-called “ethics” tend to focus on rules, and this is simply another form of control. Furthermore, ethical values should be in compliance with one’s True Will. This is not to say that it is impossible for groups of people to adhere to a unified code, or agree on a codified set of ethics in order to accomplish a task that would be impossible without the assistance of others.

Aristotle tells us that the focus of ethics is on character, not rules. In other words, how one tackles problems is a measure of a person’s self-worth. It reflects an idea of one’s value. According to Aristotle, the central question is what one should be, rather than what one should do, because if good character is in place then by necessity, good action will follow. Right thought leads into right action. Therefore, he tells us, we would do well by developing our character rather than trying to fit into some moral rule or law . . . unless, again, Love happens to be the Law.

Rabelais appears to have held similar beliefs. “Do as thou wilt” is the only rule of his Abbey of Thelema, for a person with good breeding will naturally do the right thing at the right time. Consequently, you won’t find any clocks in this monk’s Abbey, since according to him it seems ridiculous that man would regulate his life in accordance to a mechanical time-telling device, because the Thelemite (being possessed of the above mentioned good breeding) can only do things at the right time.

The Ego

The Ego is a topic of both metaphysical and psychological concern, and in many instances the line that separates these two fields of human study is quite blurred and becomes important to the topic of ethics. This is especially true in present times where pseudo-intellectuals have reduced the spiritual reflex and the domain of the soul to simple but comfortable well-known psychological impulses, without offering any real solutions to the problem of living a spiritual life in a world that demands selfishness and greed. God Is Dead. More on this later.

The following example is by no means all-inclusive. There are many paths that a person can travel to find spiritual freedom. The observation that follows is what I perceive as the ideal or best case scenario, and comes in part from watching people and reflecting on my own experiences on the path to self-discovery.

This piece necessitates an explanation of how the term “ego” is being used. For the religious creature, the ego signifies arrogance, self-importance, and unearned pride. For the psychologist, the ego is the function in the human psyche that organizes the different aspects of the Self5 in order to create a facade of wholeness and integration; it is a function of deception that serves to affect the individual and those around them. It is a necessary tool for survival in the world. Both schools of thought are correct, but again, neither offers a clue as to how to use this information to create a true method for gaining access to the Higher Self.

There is a false assumption in religious types that this ego must be destroyed. Individuals that have actually had some success in this area find themselves having to go through years of therapy to get it back. In fact, the religious insistence of defining the ego as an enemy that must be destroyed at all cost may be little more than a sinister strategy to control people. The ego questions everything and insists on individual freedom. It will not readily accept unjust or destructive demands of religious groups. It is an ally of the Will. Destroying the ego in order to achieve some resemblance of enlightenment is ludicrous because it is a component of the Self, created by the Self to interact with all other aspects of the physical universe.

For the purposes of this article, I choose to define “ego” as the narcissistic, automatic, habitual desire to see oneself as separate from the universe and from people within and without one’s sphere of influence. It isn’t anything evil, but it can be problematic when it is immature. In our present state of evolution, the ego is underdeveloped in most people. The ego can often be so successful in identifying the “I” from the “not I” that it can become self-centered and behave in ways detrimental to its own self-interest, as well as the interests of other individuals.6

The following stages have been oversimplified, but they serve to illustrate the point.

  1. The unrestrained articulation of the Ego. “I do whatever I want.” In the first stage, the individual has been duped into seeing his ego as the whole of the self. He enthusiastically surrenders to every whim promising exaltation or pleasure, often believing himself capable of indulging in destructive behavior without consequence. Here we may find people with unhealthy obsessions with drugs, alcohol, sex, or material and financial gain. They may have little regard for how their actions affect the lives of others. During this stage of development, there is little hope for progress in the area of true love or understanding toward others, much less for oneself.
     
  2. The awareness of the Ego in relation to others. “Doing what I want causes unhappiness for those around me, which may ultimately alienate me from others.” Here, the ego has come to realize others as intrinsic parts of its own existence and well-being. This realization usually comes as a result of trial and error and various failed attempts to act without consequence. This is the stage of most adults. The realization that they have hurt others frequently results in feelings of guilt, then backlash when the individual attempts to find redemption by immersing himself in religious or metaphysical practices. On the surface this appears to be a desirable step in the process of development, but in some cases an individual will develop a sort of psychopathology, because he may (as a result of all that spiritual practice) begin to see himself as better than his fellows. In reality, at this stage, this is nothing more than another mask the ego has spun out of arrogance. One vice has simply been replaced with another, much more palatable vice that pretends to espouse a higher, more lofty ideal. One may be capable of seeing the Holy City from this stage, but it is an illusion projected by the ego itself. Many religious people are inadvertently caught in this direful trap. Sometimes the use of drugs is employed to escape, or one may simply stop here, feel sorry for oneself, and blame problems on everyone else, rather than taking responsibility and moving on.
     
  3. The subjugation of the Ego to the True Self. “I am more.” After various attempts to achieve some relationship with the Higher Self, or to connect with something outside of its own delusions, the ego may actually be perceived at work, and the individual may become conscious of its capacity to deceive. Here, an individual may safely offer this false aspect of himself up to some higher cause or deity. The emotional attachment to the ego provides the necessary fuel. This sacrifice cannot be offered as an act of faith, but rather as a modest, cognizant, and intentional undertaking that adheres to the magical paradigm embraced by the individual. In our particular case, this must be a sincere and total sacrifice: an act of love under will.
     
    The ego experiences an inner struggle during this stage of development, as it is only concerned with its own survival and fears its own demise more than anything else. This is where our mettle is most severely tested. Courage and perseverance are the most useful keys. Some people have associated this struggle with “The Dark Night of The Soul.”7 To succeed is to embody the Law in the flesh, and achieve the inner peace during tribulation that so many mystics have written about throughout the ages. One becomes a Lover in the Sufi sense, as the absence of the ego8 makes it possible, for the first time, to see oneself in all things, and the way to the Higher Self is opened. The longer the individual continues to hold this position, the greater the reward, and the clearer the road to the Holy Land. Many have tried to write about this experience but have failed from a lack of a suitable language.
     
    This is important: The actual act of questioning something greater (as well as the actual act of sacrifice) does not originate with the Higher Self, or God, or whatever you choose to call it, because It already knows. The Ego itself is doing the questioning. Remember: The ego’s function is to question, and now we are seeing it exert itself in order to become self-aware. In this stage, we can observe the ego actively progressing toward enlightenment.
     
  4. Union with the Higher Self. In Western Hermeticism, “I who am most like himself” or “I am that I am” — in the Sufi tradition, “I am the Truth,” “I am Love,” or “I am the Law.”
     
    This may appear to be a contradiction, or even a similar condition to what is explained in Stage Two. The difference is that the Ego (having been completely united with the totality of the Self) is in fact an integral part of that Truth which is the Higher Self. The deluded ego described in Stage Two can only make these statements while thumping his chest like a frightened gorilla. At this stage, the individual makes these statements in humility, realizing that his Truth belongs to all.

    “Remember that this earth is but an atom in the universe, and that thou thyself art but an atom thereon, and that even couldst thou become the God of this earth whereon thou crawlest and grovellest, that thou wouldest, even then, be but an atom, and one amongst many.”9

    To explain the differences between the ego and the Ego, consider the following statements, as they serve to illustrate the two stages very well.

    • “I am God.” — One doesn’t become one, or come to full realization of this in the Gnostic sense, by simply saying it. It doesn’t matter how often one repeats it. Whether “God” is really in there or not, the host will never really know it because he or she is trying to assume something without knowledge. This is faith.
       
    • “I am not God.” — By beginning here, one is forced to separate those parts of his or her makeup which are made of “god stuff” in order to examine them objectively. After one has externalized the entire idea, one can go about assimilating it as one’s own attributes. When one finds himself indivisible from the Higher Self, the Ego sees no reason to cheapen the experience by broadcasting it.
       

    Here we approach the gates and stand before the two pillars flanking the door to the Temple: Love and Law.
     

  5. The Ego is assimilated by The Higher Self. “There is only Truth.”
     
    This stage marks Freedom in its ultimate sense. One is an agent of his own Divine Force and moves through the world confidently, without fear and completely trusting his newly found Divine guidance. The individual has been reborn10 into an existence where every experience is an encounter with the Divine. Here, and only here, can a person say of himself: “There is no God but Man.”

There is an idea that has become quite popular with pop-occultists, which espouses the concept of absolute happiness once one reaches this stage. I believe that there is a tremendous joy that comes from being able to view the universe beyond the veil of illusion and deception. Suffering and sorrow, however, are still there, but you may now appreciate them (and isn’t experience what Nuit calls us to do?) without the necessity of being emotionally involved with them, because you will know that these experiences only have meaning in the duality of the physical universe. Existence is Existence, and tears of joy are no less salty than tears of sorrow.

Only Eleven?

“The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot.” — Mark Twain

Consider the Eleven Virtues of Thelemic Knighthood and what they mean. Some of them have a more obscure, deeper meaning. See if you can get a sense of how these qualities are necessary to our own personal mission of gaining knowledge of our true nature, or our world mission of promulgating the Law of Thelema through acts of charity and service.

Valor — Right action in the face of any challenge

Valor means to be valiant, brave and strong, both mentally and physically. It is the ability to face danger with firmness11 and courage. It is the power to do the right thing, stand up against wrongdoings, and it is synonymous with courage, heroism, bravery, gallantry, boldness, and fearlessness. But its Latin root translates into “value” and “worth.”

Valor is the state one is in when one does what must be done, when one understands and accepts the consequences of one’s actions, even if those consequences are painful. It means doing something with the foreknowledge that one may be hurt, may lose, fail or not make any difference at all, and then doing it anyway because it is the right thing to do. It is the ability to accept fear, and it is possessing the inner strength necessary to undergo trial.

Valor is not recklessness, however; we must constantly consider the source of our courage to make sure it comes from a worthy place. Shakespeare once said of valor, “When valor preys on reason, it eats the sword it fights with.” He was right.

The Rose Cross is a worthy symbol to explain the idea of valor. The Rose simultaneously symbolizes a sacrifice of our desires and the blooming of our True Will.12

Nobility — Poise and elegance in both word and deed

This term is very misunderstood. Generally speaking, the word “nobility” describes a class of persons (the peerage of British society) distinguished by high birth or rank, such as dukes and duchesses, or barons and baronesses. The Order of Thelemic Knights prefers to reward members with titles for displaying a state of being possessed by superiority of mind or character, and commanding excellence, rather than acknowledging individuals simply on the notion that nobility can be inherited. Therefore, the Order of Thelemic Knights defines nobility as a quality belonging to all individuals that possess these following virtues:

Discernment — Piercing all glamour to see the Truth in oneself and in others

Synonymous with discrimination, it is the faculty of the mind that distinguishes one thing from another. It is the faculty of the mind which demonstrates keen, acute insight and good judgment. It is a skill that, when developed, enables us to view the differences in people and the relationship between us all. Discernment is the power of penetrative and discriminate mental vision, and is capable of seeing a multitude of things that escape others. A discerning person is not easily misled.

This shouldn’t be confused with the nonsense that so many blathering idiots on the internet try to pass off as “critical thinking.” In fact, discerning people will not waste their time educating individuals that already know everything.

Pride — Having a true sense of one’s worth

True pride is free of guilt and fear. It never second-guesses. Many good, deserving people are generally incapable of feeling pride. The insistence of humility over pride by misguided Christian leaders has created a social neurosis where people are afraid to exceed or take credit for their hard work.

“O be thou proud and mighty among men!”13 Pride is a wonderful thing. It is what one feels inside when one has triumphed in the face of adversity, created beauty, acted correctly and honorably, or faced his own illusions. Acting ethically leads to pride, and so we don’t view pride as a vice but a virtue. Pride is not humble, and is often confused with arrogance.14 (Arrogance is indeed a vice because it is an attempt to deceive others, but most importantly, it is a great source of willful self-delusion.) To say it another way, pride is the ability of deriving pleasure, self-respect and confidence for knowing and accepting oneself without indulging in some delusion of adequacy that does not exist. It is the willingness to reveal something within or about oneself to others as an example to one’s peers, and taking joy in personal honorable achievement or the achievements of one’s comrades.

The virtue of Pride leads to an accurate realization of one’s self-worth. Its vice is an over-inflated impression which relies on the comparison of oneself with some other person perceived to be less worthy. A good example of malformed pride is clearly visible in today’s so-called “intellectual Thelemites”15, who take great pride in pointing out the faults of others and insist on the need for dialectic and critical thinking, while they themselves are completely clueless with regard to the “scientific method” or the proper tools by which to measure a person’s worth. This is the problem with individuals that are Thelemites and intellectuals in name only — they fail because they spend more time looking for faults in others than trying to understand their own. They are therefore unable to develop the tools and social skills necessary to make the criticism philosophically valuable. Their approach only serves to placate their petty needs for external validation. These “misguided prophets” often congregate in small groups where there is always someone nearby to pat them on the back and tell them just how great they are, but are also always on the lookout for some poor unsuspecting soul to add to their collection of “followers.” They often quote the great philosophers to prove their own limited view of the universe, and are completely impotent when it comes to grasping more lofty meanings hidden in the writings of the philosophers they claim to know, or when it comes to creating something original.

When it materializes as a person’s truth, Pride is a source of ethics, an elevation of character and dignified bearing, and loathing for what is beneath or unworthy of oneself — a deep and uncompromising sense of self-respect and noble self-esteem. When a doctor puts his career16 on hold to help the poor, he or she often does so because of a deep belief that he has the knowledge, know how, and gumption to do a job no one else seems willing or able to do. It may be that the way a doctor is forced into conducting business is at odds with the Hippocratic Oath he or she has taken upon hir graduation from medical school. Perhaps pride prevents them from the hypocrisy inherent in capitalist medical practices or in the radical idea that sick people should be patients and not customers, or that hospitals should not be instituted for the generation of capital. Such actions and thoughts originate with pride.

Pride comes from a sense of purpose, and a love of accomplishing the impossible. The more difficult the obstacle, the more lofty and ethical the mission may be, the greater the sense of pride. Just ask any soldier that is willing to sacrifice his life defending his kin or countrymen if he is proud.

It is pride that pushes and gives us a sense of accomplishment, even when beginning a task that we can never hope to finish, because there will always be someone dying from hunger or a lack of medical attention. Liber Librae tells us to work for its own sake.

“Do good unto others for its own sake, not for reward, not for gratitude from them, not for sympathy. If thou art generous, thou wilt not long for thine ears to be tickled by expressions of gratitude.”17

We may become overwhelmed by this work, and we may often ask ourselves why we even bother when one person’s contribution is so small in the face of such huge problems. Support from a fellow soldier during those difficult times can provide light, encouragement and motivation in the darkest times. Working together, people can make a noticeable change in the world, and this is the position of the Order of Thelemic Knights.

A prideful person with a strong ego is not threatened by being a part of something larger than himself, because he is aware of the resources that they are able to provide for the greater good. A prideful person takes pleasure in the knowledge that while he is a necessary component to achieving a communal objective, he is no more or less important than anyone else lending their talents to the accomplishment of the goal. People have pride in something they value highly. Pride is confidence stemming from the projection of one’s personal values. Our communal values are the reason that members of the Order of Thelemic Knights are prideful.

Coincidentally, a pride is a gathering of lions. A consciousness of power (and hence, responsibility), fullness of spirit, lust and sexual desire. Interestingly, an excitement of sexual appetite in a female beast.

Compassion — The vice of Kings!

Have you ever had a deep awareness of the suffering of another living thing and wished to help for no other reason than wanting to relieve suffering? This is compassion; it is a human quality. Pity is not compassion. Compassion manifests as a sensation of sorrow provoked by the affliction or misfortunes of another. Pity, on the other hand, is the act of placing oneself above those less fortunate. Compassion is everywhere; it exists in nature, and therefore, we consider it a spiritual quality. It follows, then, that it should be integrated as a spiritual practice.

Fidelity — Loyalty to oneself, one’s comrades, and one’s word

It implies faithfulness. It is adherence to careful and exact observance of duty, truth, honesty, integrity or a discharge of one’s obligations.

You cannot have an army without fidelity. Spiritual warriors must be faithful to their obligations, duties, or observances, or they are little more than loose cannons or mercenaries. They must stand fast by their allegiance with the principles they have embraced, regardless of the circumstances.

Hamilton may have described our Order’s approach best: “The best security for the fidelity of men is to make interest coincide with duty.”

Passion — To do all with love under will

Passion comes with boundless enthusiasm, ardent love, conviction, and certainty. It is a powerful emotion. People who are unable to take a stand one way or another are not possessed of passion.

A passion can be one’s desire, such as the passion for one’s duties, art, or lover. It is the fervor and zeal with which we approach our missions, the fire that burns within us, and the driving force behind any pursuit and the enthusiastic partiality for anything.

Strength — The body is the Temple of God

In personal terms, strength is a source of mental, physical, and ethical power to resist strain or stress. It is a form of control necessary to hold firmly to one’s ethical or intellectual position firmly. It is an attribute or quality indicating worth or utility; it is an asset.

Organizationally, it is the embodiment of protective and supportive supremacy, the capacity to endure or resist attack — impregnability. It is the gumption to carry out a mission in the face of opposition, the ability to work effectively, efficiently, and to produce an effect and secure results. Or, as Rudyard Kipling puts it, “Enough work to do, and strength enough to do the work.”

Each of us is strong in our own areas, each according to his or her True Will. When we put all of our strengths to the service of Our Order; we become an army. Force19 is the application of strength.

Discipline — Perseverance, that the Work may be accomplished

Discipline is the organization of behavior subject to will. It is any exercise that is expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces ethical, physical, or mental improvement or self-control. It is indicative of a branch of knowledge, such as the discipline of martial arts, yoga, or psychology. It also alludes to the rules regulating the practice of a church or religious order. It is synonymous with education, instruction and training.

When a man submits himself to a certain lifestyle or ethical code in order to remove badly formed habits and substitute them with good ones, he is exercising discipline.

Self-Reliance — Only a free man may walk our path

Freedom begins with the recognition of a person’s sovereignty. The next step is to use that freedom to self-govern, to choose one’s course. Independence and freedom come from the reliance on one’s own capabilities, judgment, and resources. When a man or woman is self-reliant, he or she does not become a burden to his or her Brothers and Sisters. On the contrary, such a person is an asset that can be counted on to do his own share of the work and contribute to the best of his ability. . . each and everyone in compliance with his own True Will. A self-reliant person will never need anything because he is self-contained.

Hospitality — To share what one has with others, especially those far from home

Cordial and generous reception of, or disposition toward, guests is synonymous with Chivalry and Courtly Love. Hospitality is a lost art form. Few individuals really understand manners and a proper upbringing, preferring to lump it all in the rebellion of society and modern culture. It is a display of pride, generosity and respect toward one’s peers that is infectious. Unlike charity, hospitality is designed as a gesture of mutual recognition of one’s autonomy. It can be best described by the Sanskrit word namaste, which is to say, “I respectfully greet the divine spirit within you.”

Footnotes:

  1. Consider the motivation behind paying taxes in the absence of equal representation. Is it done as a sense of duty for one’s country or social responsibility, or out of a desire to stay out of prison? If it is the later, then is it unreasonable to think of taxation as something akin to extortion?
  2. If this seems fictional I would encourage the reader to examine the so-called “Patriot Act.”
  3. Liber Librae, Paragraph 15.
  4. The Book of the Law: Liber Al Vel Legis III:57
  5. The archetype of personal totality; the governing nucleus of the psyche, and that influence that surpasses the ego.
  6. In many ways, the Demiurge and the Ego are synonymous because both take credit for being they aren’t, or having done something they haven’t.
  7. Often encountered in magical work, this is a non-pathological condition marked by depression and a lack of mental and physical energy. The energy that is not available to the conscious is re-routed and used in other areas of the mind, usually the imaginative functions of the brain. It is symbolic of the decent into Hades, an immersion in the unconscious. The experiences of Osiris, Christ, and Dante are examples describing this state. This condition is normal and even desirable, since it often leads the individual to a break in neurosis.
  8. The use of the word “absence” is misleading, since the Ego hasn’t really gone anywhere, it has simply transcended its home in the lower places. Also, this stage is what the Sufi calls “mystical love.”
  9. Liber Librae, paragraph 14.
  10. A process usually experienced following The Dark Night of The Soul whereby an alteration of the personality has occurred. Examples of rebirth appear in the world’s mythology in the form of The Transmigration of the Soul, Resurrection, and Reincarnation.
  11. This can be done with little to no though when one knows his or her True Will.
  12. Liber Tzaddi, paragraph 16
  13. The Book of the Law: Liber Al Vel Legis II:77
  14. Unearned pride. Pride has no problems with humility, whereas vanity, on the other hand, avoids it at all cost.
  15. “Nietzschean Thelemite” might have been a better term, but it would have given Nietzsche a bad name.
  16. And financial goals.
  17. Paragraph 11.

©2006-2013 Gerald del Campo. Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Gerald del Campo has authored three books on the subject of Thelema: A Heretic’s Guide to Thelema, New Aeon Magick: Thelema Without Tears, and New Aeon English Qabalah Revealed. He is a photographer, musician and CEO for the Order of Thelemic Knights, the first Thelemic charitable organization. You can visit his blog at http://solis93.livejournal.com and his websites at http://thelemicknights.org and http://egoandtheids.com. Gerald formerly served as Senior Managing Editor of Rending the Veil.

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