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Aleister Crowley


The Beast in a top
hat Aleister Crowley (or The Great Beast 666 or To Mega Therion or Frater Perdurabo or Mahatma Guru Sri Paramahansa Shivaji or Khaled Khan or Ko Yuen or The Wickedest Man In The World or Vi Veri Universum Vivus Vici) was an occultist and magician, a chess master, a self-proclaimed sex and drug fiend, a poet and writer of great flexibility and skill, the founder of Thelema and a damn fine rock-climber. He was one of the first people to introduce meditation and drugs into mainstream Western culture. He popularized the Nietzschean morality of self-expression and personal freedom. He was probably one of the chief influences on the cultural revolution of the 20th century. (At least three of the most important musical acts of the 60s and 70s - David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles - all acknowledged his influence.)

Many of his works are available online, here, here, here and elsewhere. Here are some recommendations:

Theology

The theology of Crowley's religion, Thelema, is based on ancient Egyptian religion. The main deities are Nuit, the night sky, and her consort Hadit.

In the esoteric channelled text The Book of The Law, which Crowley considered his most important work, Nuit is described as extended, continuous, infinite, unmanifest aether, formless but buzzing with potential. Hadit is total contraxion, manifest but unextended, the crystallization of the body of Nuit to the perceptible universe. Hadit is an infinitesimal point at the centre of all things. ("I am the flame that burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star.") The union of Nuit and Hadit creates the universe.\ Chapter 2, verse 3 says, "In the sphere [the universe] I [Hadit] am everywhere the centre, as she [Nuit], the circumference, is nowhere found." Nuit is never found because she is unmanifest. Hadit is always the centre, because he is the point of view from which all things are seen.\ The next verse reads, "Yet she shall be known & I never." This is because Nuit is the object of consciousness, towards which we look. Hadit cannot be seen because the point of view always looks outwards. You cannot look directly into your own eyes.

We at The Ultimate Comment would not wish to offend the scientific sensibilities of our readers by daring to compare the mysticism of a heroin addict, writing in 1904, with the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum physics. We would not suggest that quantum physics, like The Book of The Law, sees the unobserved universe as pure potentiality, that manifests when it encounters a viewpoint. I'm sure that's all just a coincidence, isn't it?

93

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. The word of sin is Restriction."\ "Love is the law, love under will."

Crowley, following Nietzsche, believed that man should be free of all moral rules, all sanctimonious and guilt-ridden prescriptions to do this and not to do that. Such restrictions constitute immorality because they restrain and restrict the free growth of man and because "To obey a set of rules is to shift the whole responsibility of conduct on to some superannuated Bodhisattva." (By the way, Zen (especially Rinzai Zen) teaches the same thing.)

Doing whatever you will does not mean following every whim that comes to mind. You see, Will is rarely a simple matter. Human beings are psychologically complex and we can rarely simply state our Will, like "I want a job building robotic exoskeletons for 3rd world lepers". As soon as we say that, some part of us will chirp "That might be nice, but I'd really rather draw dole and play Playstation". Another part will say "I'm not good enough for that job". Yet another part will chime in "What if the exoskeletons turn evil?" or "What if I don't like that job?" or "What about a job flipping burgers instead?". Now, which one of these multiple Wills, existing within the same person, is the True Will? Crowley urges us to investigate our natures and the nature of the universe so that we can extinguish illusion and find our True Will. Having found that, we do that and do nothing else. So "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" is not an encouragement to mindless indulgence. It is, on the contrary, a very strict prescription.

Crowley has written, "While Will is the Law, the nature of that Will is Love". This is illustrated by the fact that the Greek word for Will - θέλημα - and the Greek word for Love - ἀγάπη - when assigned numerical values, both come to 93. Thelemites sometimes greet each other with "Ninety-three!", which means something like "the nature of the Will is Love".


"I have never grown out of the infantile belief that the universe was made for me to suck."


"The method of science - the aim of religion"


"It is immaterial whether they exist or not. By doing certain things certain results follow; students are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophical validity to any of them"


There is the story of the American in the train who saw another American carrying a basket of unusual shape. His curiosity mastered him, and he leant across and said: "Say, stranger, what you got in that bag?" The other, lantern-jawed and taciturn, replied: "Mongoose". The first man was rather baffled, as he had never heard of a mongoose. After a pause he pursued, at the risk of a rebuff: "But say, what is a Mongoose?" "Mongoose eats snakes", replied the other. This was another poser, but he pursued: "What in hell do you want a Mongoose for?" "Well, you see", said the second man (in a confidential whisper) "my brother sees snakes". The first man was more puzzled than ever; but after a long think, he continued rather pathetically: "But say, them ain't real snakes". "Sure", said the man with the basket, "but this Mongoose ain't real either".\ This is a perfect parable of Magick. There is no such thing as truth in the perceptible universe; every idea when analysed is found to contain a contradiction. It is quite useless (except as a temporary expedient) to set up one class of ideas against another as being "more real". The advance of man towards God is not necessarily an advance towards truth. All philosophical systems have crumbled. But each class of ideas possesses true relations within itself.

See also