middle path

The Path of Excess in Thelema

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

sun_over_pyramid

The notion of the Middle Path is a view passed down to us most notably by Buddha and Aristotle. Buddha emphasized the Middle Way in the context of attainment, saying that the path of moderation lies between the extremes of austerity and indulgence. Aristotle emphasized what he called the Doctrine of the Mean, where ‘virtue’ lies precisely in the middle between the two extremes of any moral action: virtue is the ‘mean’ between two vices.

Thelema, on the other hand, is the Path of Excess. In this New Aeon, we venture to encounter both extremes in whatever case: indulgence & austerity, pride & humility, good & evil, heights & depths. The Book of the Law gives this formula clearly: “But exceed! exceed! Strive ever to more! and if thou art truly mine — and doubt it not, an if thou art ever joyous! — death is the crown of all” (II:71-72). The formula is given in even more detail in our Holy Book “Liber Tzaddi vel Hamus Hermeticus:”

33. I reveal unto you a great mystery. Ye stand between the abyss of height and the abyss of depth.
34. In either awaits you a Companion; and that Companion is Yourself.
35. Ye can have no other Companion.
36. Many have arisen, being wise. They have said “Seek out the glittering Image in the place ever golden, and unite yourselves with It.”
37. Many have arisen, being foolish. They have said, “Stoop down unto the darkly splendid world, and be wedded to that Blind Creature of the Slime.”
38. I who am beyond Wisdom and Folly, arise and say unto you: achieve both weddings! Unite yourselves with both!
39. Beware, beware, I say, lest ye seek after the one and lose the other!
40. My adepts stand upright; their head above the heavens, their feet below the hells.

Only in climbing towards the heights and plunging into the depths do we come to understand these Companions – that is, we come to know our own heights and depths instead of merely our average or middle-ground.

One could imagine the Middle Way or the Doctrine of the Mean as a tower or stick with a small base, easily blown over by the winds. The Path of Excess is opposite to this: we make our base as wide as possible so as to build the sturdiest foundations for our Pyramid. For every growth our plant makes upwards, we drive our roots deeper into the ground.

We now pass to Satyr-Saint Nietzsche who uncovered the insidious psychology behind these paths of the Middle and Mean… that what they call ‘moderation’ is actually ‘mediocrity:’

I pass through this people and keep mine eyes open; they have become smaller, and ever become smaller: the reason thereof is their doctrine of happiness and virtue.

For they are moderate also in virtue, because they want comfort. With comfort, however, moderate virtue only is compatible…

Some of them will, but most of them are willed. Some of them are genuine, but most of them are bad actors…

Virtue for them is what maketh modest and tame: therewith have they made the wolf a dog, and man himself man’s best domestic animal.

“We set our chair in the midst” – so saith their smirking unto me – “and as far from dying gladiators as from satisfied swine.” That, however, is mediocrity, though it be called moderation. (Thus Spake Zarathustra, “The Bedwarfing Virtue”)

This is the fact: the ‘moderate’ man is the ‘average’ man and therefore the mediocre man. He is nothing special, nothing important, nothing overly radiant or unique. These doctrines don’t breed lions & wolves but domesticated animals. At the back of of these virtues are the desire for tameness, comfort, and security. Not only do these people fear the extremes in themselves, setting up a division and therefore a restriction of their very Being, but they consequently fear the Extreme and Excessive being expressed in others. Fear and the desire for secure comfort are antithetical to the strong spirit of Will that is self-asserted, love-driven, strong, beautiful, and leaps with laughter. Our Prophet explains in his commentary to The Book of the Law this exact idea:

“Progress, as its very etymology declares, means A Step Ahead. It is the Genius, the Eccentric, the Man Who Goes One Better than his fellows, that is the Saviour of the Race. And while it is unwise possibly (in some senses) to exceed in certain respects, we may be sure that he who exceeds in no respect is a mediocrity.

And therefore we close with a line from William Blake that To Mega Therion himself quoted as commentary to “Exceed! Exceed!” from Liber AL:

“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.”

Love is the law, love under will.

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