Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
NOTE: written originally on April 20, 2009
5) No Perfecting of the Soul
“The soul is, in its own nature, perfect purity, perfect calm, perfect silence… This soul can never be injured, never marred, never defiled”
– “The Soul of the Desert”
This idea is related strongly to the ideas in the last section of the Self as Redeemer. We assert there is no reliance on God, guru, priest, or any external authority, but it is a misnomer to say we “redeem” ourselves for there is nothing to redeem. Crowley writes, “Redemption is a bad word; it implies a debt. For every star possesses boundless wealth; the only proper way to deal with the ignorant is to bring them to the knowledge of their starry heritage” (The Book of Thoth). The “soul” does not need to be redeemed for it is perfect and pure in itself, it only is because of ignorance of our own Divine Birthright that we think ourselves imperfect and transient. This “soul” isn’t the personality of the individual – the ego-self which identifies with the mind and body – but rather the Self which is coterminous with All Things.
The True Self never dies as it is beyond all limitation, containing all things and relations within Itself. The body along with the mind surely will expire but it is only through the mysterious mechanisms of this mind and body that the Self, beyond all limits and opposites, may become self-aware and consciously experience the rapture of existence. This Self does not need to be redeemed or perfected: there is no Fall of Man to be rectified (Abrahamic religions) nor a Wheel of Suffering to be liberated from (Dharmic religions). There is even no sense of the soul incarnating to attain to higher and higher “spiritual states” or towards “enlightenment.” In the New Aeon, the “starting point” is not a fallen, suffering, and sinful state, but rather we are all Royal and Divine, Divinity-made-manifest, and “existence is pure joy” (Liber AL II:9) if it is seen with eyes that “Bind nothing!” (Liber AL I:22) i.e. eyes that see the unity underlying apparent dualities. As it is said, “Since all things are God, in all things thou seest just so much of God as thy capacity affordeth thee” (The Vision and the Voice, 17th Aethyr). The essential symbol-metaphor is that the Star of Unity is always shining, potentially conscious, but we identify with the ego-self and are therefore mired in duality and limitation (once you identify with the ego, you are immediately not the non-ego or the world and therefore the world becomes Two instead of One). Crowley writes on this imagery in The Law is For All:
“We are not to regard ourselves as base beings, without whose sphere is Light or ‘God.’ Our minds and bodies are veils of the Light within. The uninitiate is a ‘Dark Star,’ and the Great Work for him is to make his veils transparent by ‘purifying’ them. This ‘purification’ is really ‘simplification’; it is not that the veil is dirty, but that the complexity of its folds makes it opaque. The Great Work therefore consists principally in the solution of complexes. Everything in itself is perfect, but when things are muddled, they become ‘evil’.”
The important point is that “everything in itself is perfect” but our minds inevitably “muddle” the situation which ends with us identifying with the ego instead of the True Self. Because all things are perfect in themselves, we obviously do not need any kind of God or guru to bestow redemption, liberation, or initiation upon us: the aspirant need only clear away the cloud-veils of ignorance around her Star, and the True Self will leap up within her awareness and burn away all division and limitation. As Crowley explains in The Law is For All,
“This ‘star’ or ‘Inmost Light’ is the original, individual, eternal essence….we are warned against the idea of a Pleroma, a flame of which we are Sparks, and to which we return when we ‘attain’. That would indeed be to make the whole curse of separate existence ridiculous, a senseless and inexcusable folly. It would throw us back on the dilemma of Manichaeism. The idea of incarnations ‘perfecting’ a thing originally perfect by definition is imbecile. The only sane solution is as given previously, to suppose that the Perfect enjoys experience of (apparent) Imperfection.”
In the New Aeon we go even further than one might expect: the “ignorance” of duality is not inherently evil or bad at all either. In short, duality is “ignorance” for one who still identifies with the ego, but once one has dissolved the ego and identified with the True Self one recognizes duality as the necessary means for self-awareness. For the individual mired in duality and identification with the ego, “coition-dissolution” is her formula, but one who has dissolved the ego and identified with the True Self has the formula of “creation-parturition”… and “The All, thus interwoven of These, is Bliss” (The Book of Lies). The body and the mind, with its inherently dualistic conceptions, are a prison of ignorance for the uninitiate and a temple for performing the Sacrament of Life for the initiate.
It takes the experience of the dissolution of the ego to overcome the morbid fear of death and accept duality not as the condition of our suffering but as the opportunity for us to rejoice in the uniting of diverse elements (self and world in each experience, along with the Supreme Union of ego and non-ego/subject and object). The world is both “None… and two” (Liber AL I:28)… None, the continuous, is “divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union. This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all” (Liber AL I:29-30). In this conception, duality and the “creation of the world” as we know it (i.e. the normal dualistic world which we commonly inhabit) is actually the condition of “the chance of union.” Only if two things are separate can they unite and have the possibility of “the joy of dissolution” wherein the self becomes “all.” Crowley explains, “Nuit shews the object of creating the Illusion of Duality. She said: The world exists as two, for only so can there be known the Joy of Love, whereby are Two made One. Aught that is One is alone, and has little pain in making itself two, that it may know itself, and love itself, and rejoice therein” (“Djeridensis Working”). Thereby does one embrace both unity and multiplicity (duality) in a higher Unity.
This perception of “the consciousness of the continuity of existence” (Liber AL I:22) is not something given by a god or a guru but a natural birthright of each individual. It is, as described in the first part, a natural step of Growth towards psychological-spiritual Maturity. And this also leads us to the final point: even this is a step along the Path. It may be the “End” in one sense (the end of the dominance of the ego, for once thing) but it is also the beginning, for “death is life to come” (The Book of Lies). One still has to live one’s life. One might say, “Before initiation: work, live, and play; after initiation: work, live, and play,” for coming to identify with the True Self doesn’t mean the end of one’s mind and body along with their normal needs. In fact, the mind and body – the ego-self – are not destroyed permanently but rather they are reborn with renewed energy, the veils of ignorance (of duality as well as the falsity of the doctrines of the Fall of Man and the inherent Suffering of the world) having been torn away. One does not suddenly obtain the earthly power of a king or have the intellectual power of Einstein, but the change is something largely “internal” or psychological, for in initiation, “nothing is changed or can be changed; but all is trulier understood with every step” (Little Essays Toward Truth, “Mastery”). It is this understanding of our True Selves, beyond the veils of mind and body, which we each strive to attain so that we may more effectively and joyfully manifest our wills in the world. The task is then simple yet difficult: each individual must dissolve the ego and their identification with it to identify with the True Self, always shining though we are unaware, which is beyond dualities and all limitation. In the end, “All you have to do is to be yourself, to do your will, and to rejoice” (“The Law of Liberty”).
“No star can stray from its self-chosen course: for in the infinite soul of space all ways are endless, all-embracing: perfect.”
-The Heart of the Master
Love is the law, love under will.