Thelemic Thought-experiments

Thought-experiments in Thelema

Here are a couple of thought-experiments to ponder the intricacies of what many people take to be simple on the face of things… There is no “right” answer to any of these (although I definitely have my own answers) but are meant to bring some subtle complications to light

1) Addiction:
a) Suppose that someone is addicted to a substance or some behavior. Does this mean that they are
a priori NOT doing their Will?
b) If you answer yes: Suppose that this person conquers their addiction and therefore learns more about themselves – they learn about their limitations and the extent of their willpower. Now are they doing their Will?
c) Is the person doing their Will ‘better’ or ‘more completely’ because of this ordeal? If yes, then wouldn’t this imply that going through addiction is beneficial to the development of Will?

2) The problem of other Wills:
a) Suppose that person A does not enjoy what person B is doing. Does person A have a right to say that person B is not doing their Will?
b) Suppose that person A feels he is being infringed upon by what person B is doing, but person B feels she is doing their Will. Does person A have a right to say that person B is not doing their Will?
c) Suppose person A thinks person B is being irrational. Does person A have a right to say that person B is not doing their Will? Can person B point to the doctrines of Reason, Why, and Because being hindrances to assert her their position?
d) Is there any circumstance where person A can be sure about their right to tell person B that they are not doing their Will?
e) Is there any circumstance where person B can prove to person A that they are doing their Will?

3) Lust of result:
a) Suppose Person A wants circumstance X to come about (for example, getting an A on a test, retrieving groceries, getting a paycheck, wooing some person, etc.). Does this mean this person A suffers from ‘lust of result’? If so, should all desires for anything be destroyed?
b) Suppose Person A does not achieve circumstance X. Is Person A’s lamentation of this fact ‘lust of result’? Conversely: Suppose Person A does achieve circumstance X. Is Person A’s celebration of this fact ‘lust of result?’

4) Pure will & duality:
a) Suppose Person A has not attained to a Trance of Non-Duality/Unity. Is Person A
a priori not doing their Will? Not doing their Will to the full extent? Are there different extents of doing one’s Will or is it simply Doing your Will & Not doing your Will?
b) Suppose Person A has attained to a Trance of Non-Duality/Unity but has “come down” from it – back to duality. Is Person A not doing their Will while in duality? Does the Trance of Non-Duality/Unity help this person to do their Will ‘better’ or ‘more completely’?
c) Suppose Person A enjoys a constant Trance of Non-Duality/Unity. Is this person necessarily doing their Will?

5) Killing others:
a) Suppose Person A kills Person B. Was Person A
a priori not doing their Will?
b) Suppose Person A kills Person B out of self-defense. Was Person A not doing their Will?
c) Suppose Person A kills Person B because Person B is infringing on their rights (Liber OZ). Was Person A not doing their Will? Was Person B
a priori not doing their Will even if they think they are doing their Will?
d) Suppose Person A kills Person B because they BELIEVE Person B is infringing on their rights. Was Person A not doing their Will?
e) Suppose Person A kills Person B in a fit of ecstasy. Was Person A not doing their Will? Can Person A appeal to the ideas of Reason, Because, Why etc. being hindrances in justifying this act?
f) Suppose Person A decides to have an abortion. Was Person A not doing their Will? Suppose Person A knows that they do not have the means to support their baby. Was Person A not doing their Will in having an abortion?

6) A priori Will:
a) Is it possible to say
a priori that anyone else is not doing their Will in any circumstance? What circumstances?



  1. Thank you, IAO131, for this excellent post! These questions are so well-posed that I could write for days on them. However, for the sake of letting others join the conversation, I’ll confine myself to #1.

    1) Addiction

    There may be a distinction to be made between activities that develop the will and actually doing one’s will. Thus, just because going through an addiction experience developed the capacity to exercise will doesn’t imply that they were doing their true will at the time. (Or does it?)

    The background I bring to this is a recent philosophical investigation of Thelemic will by Koyote the Blind and friends. Over there, in the organic development of that discussion, a distinction emerged between lower will / will power (the ability to pursue a chosen end against inevitable obstacles) and Magickal Will. It seemed in the course of that discussion that willpower was a necessary but not sufficient capacity for exercising Magickal Will.

    But could the addicted person have been exercising their Will? [Here I’m rephrasing your question a] This breaks into two questions. a1) Is it logically possible that an addicted person can do their will? and a2) Is it practically possible in this world manifested around me now that an addicted person can do their will?

    The answer to a1) strikes me as “yes.” Whatever we mean by doing one’s Will, there doesn’t seem to be anything in the concept of it that precludes the fact that one spends a great deal of time and energy acquiring a substance that one is addicted to. For example, suppose we can say (I don’t know if we can properly speak in this manner) that J.P.’s Will is to paint pictures. Let’s say that J.P. is presently a heroin addict. Is is logically possible for him to paint in a certain way consonant with his Will? The addiction seems on par with a health condition, a bad marriage, unemployment, or any number of worldly inconveniences which can never be the reason a Magician does not accomplish the Will. The answer seems to be “yes, it is logically possible.”

    But is it practically possible for some addict somewhere to do their Will while addicted? Turning the question around, does addiction create practical conditions in which the Will cannot be achieved?

    I haven’t done the work to answer this. However, I find Crowley’s addiction diaries provide very interesting data. There we see a man taking an objective approach to his addiction–making hypotheses, testing them, and recording the results. He behaves toward his addiction, in other words, like a magician does toward any other phenomenon. He is capable of maintaining that stance despite the addiction, and is a master of his materials on that level.

    But suppose his True Will were to be a mountain climber. If that were true, he could not be doing his Will while addicted to heroin, since his physical condition was such that he would probably have died in the attempt, among other reasons.

    Of course we don’t know so far whether one’s Will can adequately be expressed in a phrase regarding how it is / must be manifested such as “paint pictures” or “climb mountains.” If one’s Will is that specific in its essence, then addiction could (but would not necessarily) make doing one’s Will impossible from a practical standpoint.

    But what if Will is not in its essence some identifiable worldly activity, even if it must be expressed that way in order to link the Above and the Below? What if “my Will is to paint” is a manner of speaking which, while true, is also misleading?

    Perhaps Will is an impulse of a higher kind such that when my Will is to paint, that really means that painting is a fitting vehicle for what flows through me as a result of my connection with my Angel?

    If something like this better captures the nature of Will, then my addiction might not be a barrier to my doing my Will.

    There have been stories about Masters who were drunks and street people, kings disguised as beggars. If a man can find himself falling down the right staircase at the right time, rolling out of the way at the right time, meeting just the right stranger on the right park bench; if things might flow just so with the force of intent, he might be doing his Will.

    Touching on your number 6, is it ever possible to know a priori that a person is not doing their Will? I really don’t see how, assuming Will is something very subtle. The “disguised king” could be sleeping in a pool of his own vomit, yet going about work on the Astral in that very moment.

    Knowledge that someone is not doing their will would be knowledge-about (intensional knowledge), a poor kind of knowledge in the grand scheme of things. It is not gnosis, self-generated and, in a way, self-referential knowledge. That guy in a pool of vomit is a feature of MY universe and his status is relative to my magickal intent at the time. To say that, a priori, he cannot be doing his Will, is to posit something outside of my own Magickal circle, setting myself up as a Knower and him as a Known. Except for very limited and odd purposes, this type of move is foolish.


    1. In the end it comes down too just two things Ive found people either choose to evolve or devolve acording too there true will my own life path as well as my experiments with others has taught me this.It in most cases is not a easy thing too except though deeper understanding can only be gained by removing your self from the picture.
      Hope which I don’t believe in gives you some incite anyhow best of luck too you .



  2. Life is all about the subtle complexities- I think anyway.
    As for judging what is or is not someone’s True Will- I would think that it would be impossible to know them well enough to make any such determination just as I would doubt whether anyone could determine what my true will would be. In many of the instances that you have given it could be that neither person A or B is doing their true wills.
    The question of a lust of a result is interesting too. I think that whenever we do something that is entirely focused on an outcome without consideration of the action itself that we act with the lust of a result. Having an objective to our actions doesn’t imply that we set out with a lust of a result, perhaps just the hope for a result, or a certainty of what will result. A good example might be doing something just for the money- it may produce that result but was the task done well, or well enough?
    Excellent post! I have subscribed to keep up with this blog.


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