reason

Psychology of Liber AL – pt.4: Curse against Reason

Psychology of Liber AL

Curse against Reason

Aside from the Will being beyond rest, purpose, attachment to results, and morality, it also transcends reason and the mind in general in an important sense. In the normal functioning of daily life, the mind and reason often play integral parts: Thelema does not deny the usefulness of the mind and reason but seeks to put it in its right place. In the West, reason has held a central position in philosophy at least since Socrates. Reason was thought to be the only way to ascertain truth, and at times reason was often equated with God himself.1 The first major check to the dominance of reason in the Western mind came from Kant when he published his Critique of Pure Reason and demonstrated its various limits. This sort of check to the dominance of reason over one’s actions is echoed in Liber AL vel Legis. Essentially, the dominance and control of the mind, especially the reason, over the individual’s Will is brought into question. Liber AL vel Legis itself says,

“There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason. Now a curse upon Because and his kin! May Because be accursed for ever! If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops & does nought. If Power asks why, then is Power weakness. Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite & unknown; & all their words are skew-wise.”2

Once again we must emphasize that Thelema is not denying the practical necessity of reason, but it attempts to delineate reason’s boundaries for the most effective functioning of the Will. On this Crowley writes, “We must not suppose for an instant that the Book of the Law is opposed to reason. On the contrary, its own claim to authority rests upon reason, and nothing else. It disdains the arts of the orator. It makes reason the autocrat of the mind. But that very fact emphasizes that the mind should attend to its own business. It should not transgress its limits. It should be a perfect machine, an apparatus for representing the universe accurately and impartially to its master. The Self, its Will, and its Apprehension, should be utterly beyond it.”3

First, “Because,” “Reason,” and “Why,” are all attacked under the form of a cursing by the speaker of the Book. If one asks “why” one should will something or if it is because of something, it cripples the Will and makes “Power weakness.” It was seen in an earlier segment of this essay that, if Will is considered to be “perfect in every way,” it must continue going or working without regard to purpose. In this way, the Will will be “unassuaged.” Crowley writes, “There is no ‘reason’ why a Star should continue in its orbit. Let her rip!”4 and also, “It is ridiculous to ask a dog why it barks. One must fulfill one’s true Nature, one must do one’s Will. To question this is to destroy confidence, and so to create an inhibition.”5 These considerations of purpose are understood now to cause the “Will to stop & do nought,” essentially making it impotent. Therefore, the very nature of our actions is not decided by conscious reason but is to be decided by the Will. “Reason is a lie” because of a “factor infinite & unknown,” which Crowley clearly states “is the subconscious Will.”6 The subconscious naturally cannot be completely understood by the conscious mind, the sphere of reason, so therefore reason’s “words are skew-wise.” It can never delineate the true Will in words because of the subconscious Will, a factor that is by definition “unknown” or below the conscious level of perception. The Will therefore can certainly not be coterminous with “will power” or “volition,” for the Will must encompass the subconscious aspect of one’s self as well as the conscious.

Crowley affirms this doctrine when he writes, “every time the conscious acts, it interferes with the Subconscious… It is the voice of Man, and not of a God. Any man who ‘listens to reason’ ceases to be a revolutionary.”7 Here Crowley makes the subconscious analogous to “the voice of… a God,” for the depths of the unconscious contents contain latent potencies that seem God-like when awakened and assimilated. Crowley explains Liber AL’s position on reason succinctly:

We now come to a challenge which is in some ways even more daring than any yet made. Before, the moral sense of men was outraged. He now turns to attack the Reason itself. He looks on reason as a soulless machine. Its proper function is to express the Will in terms of conscious thought, the will being the need of the inmost self to express itself by causing some Event.”8

This is the summary of Liber AL vel Legis’ point-of-view of the correct use of reason. Here we see that reason is “a soulless machine” in that the actual self or soul is not in reason, but the Will merely utilizes reason and the mind in general as a machine for expression. Essentially, the proper function of reason is to express the Will in terms of conscious thought but not dictate its actions, for that would cause the Will to “stop & do nought.” The idea behind this is that reason cannot fully comprehend and execute the demands of the Will because “This will (as such) is not conscious. We can only become aware of it, and thus enjoy and learn from the Event, by making an Image of it. Reason is the machine whose function it is to do this. When reason usurps the higher functions of the mind, when it presumes to dictate to the Will what its desires ought to be, it wrecks the entire structure of the star. The Self should set the Will in motion, that is, the Will should only take its orders from within and above.”9 Jung echoes this exact sentiment when he says, “The intellect does indeed do harm to the soul when it dares to possess itself of the heritage of the spirit. It is in no way fitted to do this, for spirit is something higher than intellect since it embraces the latter and includes the feelings as well.”10 The Self that Jung equates with “spirit” in this quotation includes both conscious and unconscious contents and therefore its actions should not be delineated by reason, a construct of merely the conscious aspect of his being.

The overuse of reason has caused a split in modern man’s psyche, detaching him/her from the subconscious sphere of the psyche. Carl Jung defines nervous disorders as “consist[ing] primarily in an alienation from one’s instincts, a splitting off of consciousness from certain basic facts of the psyche.” This over-extension of reason’s boundaries in our Western society has caused “a splitting off of consciousness” from the basic facts of the subconscious. Jung continues, “Rationalistic opinions come unexpectedly close to neurotic symptoms. Like these, they consist of distorted thinking, which takes the place of psychologically correct thinking. The latter kind of thinking always retains its connection with the heart, with the depths of the psyche, the tap-root.”11 Here he identifies “psychologically correct thinking” as that “kind of thinking [which] always retains its connection… with the depths of the psyche, tap-root.” This “psychologically correct thinking” is exactly the same notion that is implied in Liber AL’s curses against the intellect and reason. The thinking which takes its directives from the Will is “psychologically correct” whereas reason delineating boundaries itself will cause the Will to “fall into the pit called Because” and become impotent.

While commenting on one of Jung’s works, Stephan Hoeller writes, “Thinking, the function of reason, has many commendable uses and cannot be eliminated, but it also builds barriers between the personality and its unconscious matrix. In order to reach the necessary transformative self-knowledge, one needs to keep the thinking function subservient to the inspiration proceeding from the Self.”12 Once again the same doctrine is expounded. “The inspiration proceeding from the Self,” which contains both the conscious and unconscious, is the Will of the individual and therefore to this the thinking function must remain subservient. If it does not, it will “build barriers between the personality [conscious self] and its unconscious matrix,” to do so would create a conflict in the Will and it will “perish with the dogs of Reason.”

“If the Sun and Moon should ever doubt, they’d immediately go out.”
William Blake

>>PART 5>>

1 The logos of the Gospel of John ch.1 refers to the Word of God but is sometimes translated as “Reason.”

2 Crowley, Aleister. Liber AL vel Legis, II:27-32.

3 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:28.

4 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:30.

5 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:31.

6 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:30.

7 Crowley, Aleister. The Law is For All, II:30.

8 Crowley, Aleister. “Djeridensis Working,” II:28-31.

9 Crowley, Aleister. “Djeridensis Working,” II:28-31.

10 Jung, Carl. “Psychological Commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower” par.7.

11 Jung, Carl. “The Soul and Death” from Collected Works of C.G. Jung, volume 8: The Struture and Dynamics of the Psyche, par. 808.

12 Hoeller, Stephan. The Gnostic Jung, p.76.

>>PART 5>>

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Liber LXV parables

The Parables and Lessons of Liber LXV (part 5)

Liber LXV: The Heart Girt with a Serpent

The Parable of the White Swan of Ecstasy and the Little Crazy Boy of Reason

Also the Holy One came upon me, and I beheld a white swan floating in the blue. Between its wings I sate, and the æons fled away. Then the swan flew and dived and soared, yet no whither we went. A little crazy boy that rode with me spake unto the swan, and said: Who art thou that dost float and fly and dive and soar in the inane? Behold, these many æons have passed; whence camest thou? Whither wilt thou go? And laughing I chid him, saying: No whence! No whither! The swan being silent, he answered: Then, if with no goal, why this eternal journey? And I laid my head against the Head of the Swan, and laughed, saying: Is there not joy ineffable in this aimless winging? Is there not weariness and impatience for who would attain to some goal? And the swan was ever silent. Ah! but we floated in the infinite Abyss. Joy! Joy! White swan, bear thou ever me up between thy wings!

Liber LXV, II:17-25

This Parable of the White Swan of Ecstasy and the Little Crazy Boy of Reason is one of my personal favorite passages from the Holy Books of Thelema. Crowley refers to this passage in several places including his commentary on Blavatsky’s “The Voice of the Silence” and his commentary on The Book of the Law. There is also a chapter in The Book of Lies entitled “The Swan” (chapter 17) that is expands the symbolism of this passage, which I encourage you to read if this Parable particularly interests you.

Also the Holy One came upon me, and I beheld a white swan floating in the blue. Between its wings I sate, and the æons fled away.” The phrase “the Holy One came upon me” is a way to say that the Adept has entered into an ecstatic state of consciousness, similar to saying that the Holy Spirit has entered one’s heart or descended upon oneself. The Adept sees a “white swan,” which represents Ecstasy. This symbolism is developed in The Book of Lies where Crowley writes, “There is a Swan whose name is Ecstasy: it wingeth from the Deserts of the North; it wingeth through the blue; it wingeth over the fields of rice; at its coming they push forth the green.”1 Crowley comments further that “This Swan is Aum,”2 which is both the name of the swan and its nature, i.e. it is the Holy Mantra of the Hindus and whose symbolism is too deep and complex for this basic essay. Crowley comments, “The swan is the ecstatic Consciousness of the Adept.”3

This white swan “floats,” meaning it moves effortlessly. The swan floats “in the blue,” which represents infinite space (i.e. Nuit). This parallels the line from The Book of Lies where the swan “wingeth through the blue.” Crowley comments, “It is poised in infinite space.”4 The Adept sits between the wings of the swan, carried by its effortless floating of ecstasy. “The æons fled away” means that the Adept, through Ecstasy, has transcended Time. Entire aeons go past without any care or worry. Crowley comments, “In Ecstasy time does not count.”5

“Then the swan flew and dived and soared, yet no whither we went.” Despite the swan’s movements of flying, diving, and soaring, it remains essentially motionless. The aeons having fled away means Ecstasy transcends Time and now we see that this Ecstasy also transcends Space. Each movement of the Swan of Ecstasy is Joy even though there is no real movement or progress. From the perspective of the infinite, there is no goal to be attained, yet each movement through time and space is joy. From this point-of-view, one can truly say, “Existence is pure joy.”6 Crowley comments, “The Ecstasy moves from one sublimity of Joy to another; but there is no progress possible in perfection, therefore no aim to be attained by such movements.”7

“A little crazy boy that rode with me spake unto the swan, and said: Who art thou that dost float and fly and dive and soar in the inane? Behold, these many æons have passed; whence camest thou? Whither wilt thou go?” We are now introduced to a new character, the “little crazy boy” who represents the mind or Ruach, especially insofar as it is the realm of Reason. This boy of Reason questions the Swan and essentially asks, “Who are you? All this time has passed but where did you come from and where are you going?” Reason cannot understand the initiated point-of-view, just as – esoterically – the Ruach of Knowledge can never reach above the Abyss to the Supernal Triad of Understanding. The mind is embedded in space and time: it cannot comprehend That which transcends both. Crowley comments, “The boy is the human reason, which demands measurement as the first condition of intelligible consciousness. Aware of time, he cannot understand why all this motion has not brought the swan nearer to some fixed point, or how the relation of the point of origin to its present position is not an ever-present anxiety. He cannot conceive of motion without reference to fixed axes.”8

“And laughing I chid him, saying: No whence! No whither!” The Adept replies for the swan and “chids him,” which means that he rebukes or scoffs at Reason. The Adept says that He and the swan did not come from anywhere in particular nor are they going anywhere in particular, for they are beyond past and future insofar as they transcend Time itself. In being carried by spiritual Ecstasy, one does not strive to attain certain goals but partakes in each action and moment with Joy. Crowley comments, “I reply that, apprehending the continuum (Nuit) as such, no ‘space-marks’ exist.”9 Crowley is referencing The Book of the Law where it is written, “If this be not aright; if ye confound the space-marks, saying: They are one; or saying, They are many; if the ritual be not ever unto me: then expect the direful judgments of Ra Hoor Khuit!”10 The Adept and the swan are beyond the multiciplity of space, time, and causality so there are no “space-marks” to separate any one thing from any other thing. As it says in The Book of the Law, “Bind nothing! Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing & any other thing; for thereby there cometh hurt.”11

“The swan being silent, he answered: Then, if with no goal, why this eternal journey?” The swan is always silent for it is caught up in Ecstasy that transcends the duality of thought and speech. Silence represents None or non-duality as Speech represents Two or duality/multiplicity. The little crazy boy of Reason then asks why go through these motions if there is no goal or end intended? Crowley comments, “The swan is of course silent: Ecstasy transcends expression. Reason asks the motive of motion, in the absence of all destination.”12

“And I laid my head against the Head of the Swan, and laughed, saying: Is there not joy ineffable in this aimless winging? Is there not weariness and impatience for who would attain to some goal?” The Adept puts his head against that of the swan, implying that he is one with the transcendent Ecstasy represented thereby. The Adept laughs because the nature of Ecstasy is Joy, and laughing a natural response of the illuminated or enlightened consciousness in response to the questioning of the ego/mind/Ruach. The Adept asks a rhetorical question, implying that there is no aim to the “winging” or motion of existence, yet there is Joy in each motion. This is the pure will where one is “unassuaged of purpose.”13 Crowley comments, “The Adept bringing this thought closes to Ecstasy, laughs, both for pure joy, and as amused by the incongruous absurdities of ‘rational’ arguments from which he is now for ever free, expresses his idea thus: Thus free exercise of some object thereby, it would imply the pain of desire, the strain of effort, and the fear of failure.”14 One might say that if there is no target, there is no possibility of missing the mark. The mind is always caught up in worrying about goals and aims and purposes, thereby leading to anxiety over the possibility of not attaining these aims, strain over attempting to attain them, and sorrow over having not achieved them. This ecstatic consciousness to which the Adept has attained does not worry itself with these things, but – instead – takes Joy in all instances of motion and existence no matter whether they are considered “success” or “failure” by the rational mind. This line is the true core or “moral” of this Parable: one should strive to attain that ecstatic consciousness whereby the fretting over finding and finishing goals falls away.

“And the swan was ever silent. Ah! but we floated in the infinite Abyss. Joy! Joy! White swan, bear thou ever me up between thy wings!The swan, as mentioned before, is always silent, for it abides in its Ecstasy that transcends all illusion, all multiplicity, and therefore all worry. The Adept then gets absorbed into the Ecstasy of the swan, calling to the swan to always bear the mind of the Adept in its Ecstasy. Crowley comments, “Ecstasy remains undisturbed. But the dialogue has caused the Adept to reflect more deeply on his state of bliss, so that the Ecstasy becomes motionless, realising its perfect relation to the Infinity of the continuum. The Adept demands that ecstasy shall be constant.”15

SUMMARY: The Adept, being carried on the Ecstasy that transcends space and time, is not focused on the past or future, especially attaining specific goals, but instead takes Joy in every experience. While Reason is always worrying about specific aims or goals, the ecstatic consciousness of the Adept rejoices in the “aimless winging” of existence. This Parable counsels us to attain that intoxicated spiritual Ecstasy whereby we transcend our rational anxieties, strains, and sorrows so that we might take Joy in every moment. While this is a certainly lofty attainment, the Parable also has a more mundane and practical import: We must strive to see the Joy of experience in itself no matter what its character may be, which comes from not being overly absorbed in and worrying over attaining specific goals. We all have many notions about what we “should be” doing or achieving, and it is not inherently wrong to have certain aims or purposes to guide behavior. Despite this, it is easy to become entirely engrossed in these notions of what should or should not be happening, and we then get caught up in the “lust of result” whereby we become attached to a certain outcome. The Parable therefore counsels us to be on guard against the constant questioning and criticism of the mind, which always seeks as “why” or “wherefore” or “because” to justify action, yet to become caught up in this is to lead into stagnation and sorrow where the inherent Joy of all instances of experience – both comedic and tragic – is forgotten.

Crowley – in an unusual bout of clarity – explains this idea which I will quote to end this particular section:

There is no ‘reason’ why a Star should continue in its orbit. Let her rip! Every time the conscious acts, it interferes with the Subconscious, which is Hadit. It is the voice of Man, and not of a God. Any man who ‘listens to reason’ ceases to be a revolutionary… It is ridiculous to ask a dog why it barks. One must fulfil one’s true Nature, one must do one’s Will. To question this is to destroy confidence, and so to create an inhibition… We are not to calculate, to argue, to criticise; these things lead to division of will and to stagnation. They are shackles of our Going. They hamstring our Pegasus. We are to rise up — to Go — to Love — we are to be awake, alert… This is the ready test of a Star, that it whirls flaming through the sky. You cannot mistake it for an Old Maid objecting to Everything. This Universe is a wild revel of atoms, men, and stars, each one a Soul of Light and Mirth, horsed on Eternity.” 16

1The Book of Lies, chapter 17.

2The Book of Lies, commentary to chapter 17.

3Commentary to Liber LXV, II:17.

4Commentary to Liber LXV, II:17.

5Commentary to Liber LXV, II:18.

6Liber AL vel Legis, II:9.

7Commentary to Liber LXV, II:19.

8Commentary to Liber LXV, II:20.

9Commentary to Liber LXV, II:22.

10Liber AL vel Legis, I:52.

11Liber AL vel Legis, I:22.

12Commentary to Liber LXV, II:23.

13The reference is to Liber AL, I:44, “For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.”

14Commentary to Liber LXV, II:24.

15Commentary to Liber LXV, II:25.

16New Comment to Liber AL, II:30-34.

The Will is Supra-Rational

The Will is Supra-rational

“Our own Silent Self, helpless and witless, hidden within us, will spring forth, if we have craft to loose him to the Light, spring lustily forward with his cry of Battle, the Word of our True Wills.”
-Aleister Crowley, The Law is for All, commentary to I:7

The first question one might ask when embarking upon the quest to understand the philosophy of Thelema is “What is my Will?” or “How do I know what my Will is?” The answer to this questions might initially be presumed to be answerable in the form of a sentence such as “my Will is to be a doctor” or “my Will is to eat this sandwich,” but this is not so, for this is to restrict the Will to the trappings of language and reason. The Will is the innermost Motion of one’s being, an individual expression of the Eternal Energy of the cosmos.

“The Way that can be named is not the Eternal Way.” [1]

To confine the Will to logical expression is to inherently assert a limit. Further, it assumes that one must have a logical reason for acting such-and-such way, but to do so would make one “fall down into the pit called Because” to “perish with the dogs of Reason.” [2] As the Beast remarked, “It is ridiculous to ask a dog why it barks,” [3] for this is simply an expression of its nature, not determined by any kind of rational process.

“One must fulfil one’s true Nature, one must do one’s Will. To question this is to destroy confidence, and so to create an inhibition… There is no ‘reason’ why a Star should continue in its orbit. Let her rip! Every time the conscious acts, it interferes with the Subconscious, which is Hadit. It is the voice of Man, and not of a God. Any man who ‘listens to reason’ ceases to be a revolutionary.” [4]

Again, to express one’s Will in terms of reason is to assert a limit. This is because of the inherently dualistic nature of not only logic & reason but language & thought themselves. To do this would be to drive a cleft into one’s being, fracturing it into multiplicity.

“Thoughts are false.” [5]

To experience and manifest one’s pure Will, one must not act out of notions of purpose nor out of desire for some pre-formed result or outcome. [6] Both of these things are manifestations of the dualistic mind and restrict one unnecessarily to the trappings of logic. The Will can only be the genuine and spontaneous manifestation of one’s inmost nature, the united whole of one’s being.

Since “the word of Sin is Restriction,” [7] the Will is certainly not deduced from the workings of the mind which, by its very nature, asserts division & separation and therefore restriction. When we clear away the morass of morality and the over-contemplated categories of metaphysics, the Will may more easily spring forward uninhibited.

“In logic there is a trace of effort and pain; logic is self-conscious. So is ethics, which is the application of logic to the facts of life… Life is an art, and like perfect art it should be self-forgetting; there ought not to be any trace of effort or painful feeling. Life… ought to be lived as a bird flies through the air or as a fish swims in the water. As soon as there are signs of elaboration, a man is doomed, he is no more a free being. You are not living as you ought to live, you are suffering under the tyranny of circumstances; you are feeling a constract of some sort, and you lose your independence… Not to be bound by rules, but to be creating one’s own rules…”[8]

And this last point is important because Thelema is not illogical in that it wishes reason to be entirely abolished, but rather it wishes that it be put in its rightful place, under the governance of the Will. The mind is a harsh master and a good mistress, for once one realizes that one’s Will is not amenable to the dualisms of thought, once freed from one’s earlier bonds of logic, one may again employ reason to one’s benefit in those circumstances that call for it.

“It is not the object… to look illogical for its own sake, but to make people know that logical consistency is not final, and that there is a certain transcendental statement that cannot be attained by mere intellectual cleverness… When we say ‘yes,’ we assert, and by asserting we limit ourselves. When we say ‘no,’ we deny, and to deny is exclusion. Exclusion and limitation, which after all are the same thing, murder the soul; for is it not the life of the soul that lives in perfect freedom and in perfect unity? There is no freedom or unity… in exclusion or in limitation.” [9]

Fresh Fever From the Skies: The Collected Writings of IAO131Here – outside logical dualisms, outside notions of ethics, purpose, and metaphysics – the Will can be known. This knowledge is not that of the mind which asserts duality – a knower and a thing known – but the experiential knowledge, the gnosis, of immersion in the flow of the world. Here the Eternal Will runs through oneself, is oneself, for “…mind, never at ease, creaketh “I”. / This I persisteth not, posteth not through generations, changeth momently, finally is dead. / Therefore is man only himself when lost to himself in The Charioting.” [10] Therefore, one ‘knows’ one’s Will in doing one’s Will. The Will that is not restricted by mental formulations springs freely from one’s innermost Self, crowned & conquering.

“Life is fact and no explanation is necessary or pertinent. To explain is to apologize, and why should we apologize for living? To live – is that not enough? Let us then live!” [11]

References

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[1] Lao Tsu, Tao Teh Ching, ch.1
[2] Liber AL vel Legis, II:27
[3] Aleister Crowley, The Law is For All, commentary to II:31
[4] Aleister Crowley, The Law is For All, commentary to II:30-31
[5] Aleister Crowley, The Book of Lies, ch.5
[6] A reference to Liber AL vel Legis, I:44, “For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.”
[7] Liber AL vel Legis, I:41
[8] D.T. Suzuki, Intro to Zen Buddhism, p.34
[9] D.T. Suzuki, Intro to Zen Buddhism, p.37
[10] Aleister Crowley, The Book of Lies, ch.8
[11] D.T. Suzuki, Intro to Zen Buddhism, p.41

The Philosophy of Thelema, pt.2: Epistemology

Philosophy of Thelema

There are two stances on reason that are expounded in Liber AL vel Legis. The first stance is that reason must be subservient to Will and the second stance is the importance of direct experience over reason. These ideas about reason intertwine and support one another.

First, the Will is ‘supra-rational’ or beyond reason. The section in Liber AL vel Legis that deals with this comes from chapter 2,

“There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason. Now a curse upon Because and his kin! May Because be accursed for ever! If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops & does nought. If Power asks why, then is Power weakness. Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite & unknown; & all their words are skew-wise. Enough of Because! Be he damned for a dog! But ye, o my people, rise up & awake!” (lines 27-34)

Here we have a curse upon “Because,” “Reason,” and “Why.” There is no “Why” or “Because” to Will: it simply GOES, it simply IS. Because we inhabit a world of Infinite Space and since reason can only work with finite ideas and quantities, then reason cannot express the Infinite purely and accurately. It is a “lie” because of this “factor infinite & unknown.” Crowley writes, “There is no ‘reason’ why a Star should continue in its orbit. Let her rip! …It is ridiculous to ask a dog why it barks. One must fulfil one’s true Nature, one must do one’s Will. To question this is to destroy confidence, and so to create an inhibition.” (The Law is For All, II:30-31) Therefore, reason should attend to its own business (solving problems of rationality) and allow the Will to flow uninhibited; otherwise, “One risks falling form the world of Will (‘freed from the lust of result’) to that of Reason” (Djeridensis Working, Liber AL II:30). Crowley continues, “We must not suppose for an instant that the Book of the Law is opposed to reason. On the contrary, its own claim to authority rests upon reason, and nothing else. It disdains the arts of the orator. It makes reason the autocrat of the mind. But that very fact emphasizes that the mind should attend to its own business. It should not transgress its limits. It should be a perfect machine, an apparatus for representing the universe accurately and impartially to its master. The Self, its Will, and its Apprehension, should be utterly beyond it.” (The Law is For All, II:27). Also, “When reason usurps the higher functions of the mind, when it presumes to dictate to the Will what its desires ought to be, it wrecks the entire structure of the star. The Self should set the Will in motion, that is, the Will should only take its orders from within and above” (“Djeridensis Working,” II:31).

Another claim is made in Liber AL vel Legis I:58, “I give unimaginable joys on earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in sacrifice.” The Will does not require articles of faith to be accepted but rather asks that the individual rely on their experiences. It is the faith conferred by the direct experience of the”consciousness of the continuity of existence” (Liber AL vel Legis I:26) that is offered. Rational precepts are not proposed, debated over, accepted, and rejected but rather one attains various Trances and learn from one’s experiences. When one attains the “consciousness of the continuity of existence” (Liber AL vel Legis I:26) and becomes “chief of all” (Liber AL vel Legis I:23), the unity of this perception is not explainable by the duality of reason. In relation to this experience we find “there could be no reality in any intellectual concept of any kind, that the only reality must lie in direct experience of such a kind that it is beyond the scope of the critical apparatus of our minds. It cannot be subject to the laws of Reason; it cannot be found in the fetters of elementary mathematics; only transfinite and irrational conceptions in that subject can possibly shadow forth the truth in some such paradox as the identity of contradictories.” (Eight Lectures on Yoga) Crowley also says, “To have any sensible meaning at all, faith must mean experience… Nothing is any use to us unless it be a certainty unshakeable by criticism of any kind, and there is only one thing in the universe which complies with these conditions: the direct experience of spiritual truth. Here, and here only, do we find a position in which the great religious minds of all times and all climes coincide. It is necessarily above dogma, because dogma consists of a collection of intellectual statements, each of which, and also its contradictory, can easily be disputed and overthrown.” (Eight Lectures on Yoga) This perception of the world as continuous and unitary is not offered on faith but can be achieved and recognized as a certainty by those who attain thereto.

One other doctrine relating to reason that appears in Crowley’s writings but not explicitly in Liber AL vel Legis is the idea of the circularity of reason. Reason can only manipulate and work with articles of reason; this relates to what was said above because the problems in the sphere of reason should not usurp the power of or dictate actions to the sphere of Will. We have an example of this doctrine of the circularity of reason in “The Antecedents of Thelema” where Crowley writes, “All proofs turn out on examination to be definitions. All definitions are circular. (For a = bc, b = de … w = xy, and y = za.)” In this sense, reason deals with relations between illusion. This is certainly useful – science is a good example of this – but it doesn’t give us any powerful facts of the way things are. In a deeper sense, reason works within the realms of duality while the Will must remain one-pointed and therefore not mired in the relations of reason. Crowley writes further on this idea in the essay “Knowledge” in Little Essays Toward Truth, “All knowledge may be expressed in the form S=P. But if so, the idea P is really implicit in S; thus we have learnt nothing… S=P (unless identical, and therefore senseless) is an affirmation of duality; or, we may say, intellectual perception is a denial of Samadhic truth. It is therefore essentially false in the depths of its nature.” Reason is understood as simply the relation of words which point to other words, ad infinitum. Further, as mentioned above, because reason works with relations between ideas (the relation between ‘S’ and ‘P’ above), it affirms duality in the world. Two things can only be related in reason if they are distinct and therefore separate.

Again, all of these ideas about reason intertwine to give us a general picture of Thelema’s approach to the place of knowledge and reason. Essentially, the Will of the individual is beyond reason, or supra-rational, so one cannot ask “Why” of it or justify it with “Because.” Fresh Fever From the Skies: The Collected Writings of IAO131The individual must then constantly go forward and experience new and various things, not depending on articles of faith. Reason is a human faculty that allows us to manipulate & find the relations between finite facts and ideas. Because of this it must work within its own sphere (i.e. deal with problems of rationality like mathematics, science, etc.) while leaving the Will to act uninhibited. With this understanding, one can be guarded against reason when it asks “whence camest thou? Whither wilt thou go?” with the response “No whence! No whither! …Is there not joy ineffable in this aimless winging? Is there not weariness and impatience for who would attain to some goal?” (Liber LXV, II:21-22, 24)