Ambiguity & Wisdom

reason

 

Liber AL III:2. There is division hither homeward; there is a word not known. Spelling is defunct; all is not aught. Beware! Hold! Raise the spell of Ra-Hoor-Khuit!

“A commonly-held trope about occultism is that it is ‘scientific’ in the same way that physics or biology or engineering is ‘scientific’, and a consequence of that is the tendency to assume that when one writes about a specific occult term – be it egregore, aeon or chakra, that anyone who encounters the term is going to understand it in the same way that the writer does. In my experience at least, that’s usually not the case. Scientists go to great lengths to define precisely their terms of reference. Occultists tend not to. Yet there is the common assumption that a term, when it appears, has the same meaning for everyone. Worse yet, to my mind, there’s a tendency to reduce words to a single meaning. This becomes particularly apparent when words are lifted from other languages, and placed in a different context.” Phil Hine, 2005.

 

Language is limited by the rules which construct it, the forms which comprise it, the connotations that accrete it, its presentation or tone, and by the spirit of any individual’s intention to relay the message in question.
The beauty of ambiguity therefore lies in its ability to mirror that which perceives the message and attempts to interpret it. It forces the observer to reproduce the deduction by themselves. If the recipient is unable to interpret it (due to an inhibition from the ego), it is dismissed as nonsense. This inhibition is not a “bad thing.” This function prevents us from slipping into the chaos (LAW/LOGOS) of the unconscious mind. However, it is not always a good thing either, because it portrays a fear from the individual to avoid knowing that chaotic part of himself.

 

I:54. Change not as much as the style of a letter; for behold! thou, o prophet, shall not behold all these mysteries hidden therein.

 

 

There are three types of definitions when it comes to language (taken from philosophypages.com/lg/e05.htm) –

 

  1. Lexical: A Lexical definition simply reports the way in which a term is already used within a language community. The goal here is to inform someone else of the accepted meaning of the term, so the definition is more or less correct depending upon the accuracy with which it captures that usage.
  2. Stipulative: Freely assigns meaning to a completely new term, creating a usage that had never previously existed. The goal in this case is to propose the adoption of shared use of a novel term, and by virtue of there being no existing standards against which to compare it, the definition is always correct.
  3. Theoretical: Special cases of stipulative definition, distinguished by their attempt to establish the use of this term within the context of a broader intellectual framework. The adoption of any theoretical definition commits us to the acceptance of the theory of which it is an integral part.

In logic, mathematics and science, the use of ambiguity is disadvantageous due to the objective of avoiding contradiction, changes of assigned meaning, and overall aspects of unpredictability which all threaten their foundation  – but art, philosophy, and occultism all have the potential to function in the realms beyond contradiction; where any given contradiction is a set in itself, encompassed by a larger set where both sets provide answers to one another. Evolution in language by the use of theoretical definitions make for extensive understandings but challenges in communication. Similarly, the use of stipulative definitions requires elaboration in meaning, either in context or directly. Even lexicon definitions face the threat of being misunderstood if two people of different fields of study have a conversation using the same terms. Occultists often argue due to a difference in the usage of terms and not necessarily of meaning.
It is the analysis and assimilation of meanings (and of nonsense), underneath the fabric of language which interest me and influence my perception, practice, and life. I recognize that communication is a challenge all on its own to overcome. I sympathize with my acquaintances who have spent years of dedication into specific intellectual fields, but also with the friends I have made over the years that are still searching for the words to express the wisdom of their life experience. The inability or even the intentional use of ambiguity in one’s writing does not mean that person is lacking in knowledge. Similarly, the use of jargon does not mean that person is highly intelligent. We have a duty to seek understanding from others and train ourselves to share our own understandings too.
One of the greatest things I’ve ever felt grateful for, were the times I felt myself struggling to communicate a thought, and the person who listens, not only hears my incoherent phrases and mismatched words, but the frustration that stems from the depths of the mind attempting to fit itself into a small mold in order to be beheld by another – and then gives me more time to explain, with whatever ridiculous examples I find, all without judgement.
“Mitochondria of electric creation of cosmogenesis as it was in megalomaniac gethsemanias of crucifixions of which crucificional definitives is a composition of elements of a rainbow connection of what Creationism was definitely defined with definition … is to a design of architectural tabernacularism made creation in all its concept of creation … e.g. regeneration omni-presences of an ingredient electric re-creating spirit  … and thereby, all this creation is to Tabernacle of what a womb of metempsychoses is to an element in all its purest morphology and that of which is of thou silent transparency of vibrancy is of a name of a nameless purity … God is to Tetragrammaton …”
Hector Paul Navasero

Karma & the Ethics of Thelema

Confucius

 
KARMA & THE ETHICS OF THELEMA

“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.”

Wayne W. Dyer

Not all popular wisdom is wisdom; and in my life I seek to question everything until experience speaks for itself (to the best of my ability to remain neutral), not bound by the expectation of fulfilling a cognitively biased truth. Wisdom for me is an extraction from many different singular sources, rearranged into oneself hand in hand with experience. This essay is not going to be a long analysis comparing and contrasting Buddhist and Hindu doctrines and ethics with every line of Crowley’s writings – Frater IAO131 has done a thorough job with ethical themes in Thelema, and Erwin Hessle has written a solid composition on what it means to Do what thou wilt. The purpose of this essay is to share what I’ve learned about ethics and Karma AS a Thelemite who has had to face my own faults. My hope to anyone reading this blog is that they can relate and find some insights to apply in their Work.

 
Here is what my experience has shown me in matters Karma:

 

  1.  No negativity “comes back to bite me” if I act for the sake of the act, i.e. honestly without guilt.
  2.  Others may treat you as they’d like to be treated, but that is not always how you wish to be treated, no matter how far you go out of your way to understand them.
  3.  Some don’t treat you the way they’d like to be treated at all no matter how well you treat them.

 
Here are my understandings of the points above:

 
1. Ethics, as mainstream society understands them to be, are constructs in order to imbue us with a sense of “shoulds” and “should nots” to keep our acts aligned with the relative harmony of any given society.

 
I posit that the nature of ethics lies firstly in the differentiation between acts and intentions, secondly in the evaluation of whether an act aligns with a society or culture, thirdly whether an act aligns with intent, and lastly whether an intention aligns with one’s Great Work.

 
The benefit/damage of any intention depends on the Sephirotic/Qliphotic balance of the individual, and therefore an intention with the least amount of inner conflict is a better one. Hence, the transcendence of ethics into aesthetics. Thelema is very much a system that focuses on the purification of intentions in order to keep an individual from restricting his potential and higher self. We then act (or not act) based upon our intent. In this way, living ethically becomes self-liberating, without promise of “negativity coming to those who do you harm” or “positivity coming to you” because you think you’re doing God’s work by giving some money to a hobo. This is how savior complexes begin. What you are really receiving is a lesson from yourself to yourself in generosity and gratitude. That although you can not know for sure whether he will use the money to help himself, or kill himself, you have done your work in letting go, and planted a seed that will blossom when you are shown the same generosity one day.

 
On a more abstract note, the Crowley quote “It is necessary that we stop, once and for all, this ignorant meddling with other people’s business. Each individual must be.” applies not only to obvious interference but subtle ones.

 
I was sitting outside on the steps having a cigarette break with my husband, and saw a limping crow amongst a murder, all searching for food individually. The others did not help the injured crow, nor was the injured crow crying out for attention and pity. We humans unlike animals, with our variety of hoarded resources have the capacity to help one another, but only in ways we can (and as our balance allows) – when we cannot, but still try to “treat others the way we wish to be treated,” we are actually acquiring negative Karma. We begin to resent the world and frustratingly ask, “why do they not help me when I have given everything to help others?” This problem in our society today has even evolved into “Why are they not helping [insert arbitrary group here] when I have worked so hard to help [said group]?”

 
2. This brings us to a neat transition into the next observation. Negative Karma has a way of reinforcing ideals which cannot be met, sending one spiraling into more negative Karma. The first step “off the path” has a lot of potential to disorientate, especially when it happens quickly from lack of mindfulness.

 
The problem occurs when we have expectations of the actions of others. These expectations arise when we are not acting from balanced intention, and project our discontent with ourselves externally to other people.

 
When we do NOT “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” we are attempting to rebalance our past acts made from imbalanced intentions. Unfortunately, this never works because we need to console ourselves internally, not project them externally.

 
Ethics only exist in context of a goal – in this case, the Great Work, which relies on individual rectification, i.e. the “orbit of each star.” One must remember that “There are no ‘standards of Right’. Ethics is balderdash. Each Star must go on its own orbit. To hell with ‘moral principle’; there is no such thing.” A.C. As humans, unpredictability unnerves us – it is a glimpse of a truth we all know but hide to ourselves; that ultimately we have no control over anything. We would like for people to fit our ideals, and we would like to pretend that somehow the universe is on our side, rewarding the “good” and punishing the “bad.” Karma in popular wisdom, and even in Thelemic circles has devolved as a concept, placing the priority to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes instead of promoting Each Star finding and going with its own orbit. The argument I hear most often is that Thelemites “need the liberty” of having their toes not stepped on in order to find their orbit – but it is from the Law that Liberty shines through, and I daresay it will be their first task as a Thelemite to protect their own feet.

 
It would be nice if everyone avoided stepping on anyone’s toes, you say. But would it? This may be positive Karma for some and negative Karma for others.

 

 

57. DE NECESSITATE VOLUNTATIS. (On the Necessity of the Will)

And how then (sayest thou) shall I reconcile this Art Magick with that Way of the Tao which achieveth all Things by doing nothing? But this have I already declared to thee in Part, showing that thou canst do no Magick save it be thy Nature to do Magick and so the true Nothing for thee. For to do nothing signifieth to interfere with nothing so that for a Magician to do no Magick is to commit Violence on himself. Yet learn also that all Action is in some sense Magick, being an essential Part of that Great Magical Work which we call Nature. Then thou hast no free Will? Verily, thou hast said. Yet nevertheless it is thy necessary Destiny to act with that free Will. Thou canst do nothing save in accordance with that true Nature of thine and of all Things, and every Phenomenon is the Resultant of the Totality of Forces; Amen. Then thou needest take no Thought and make no Effort? Thou sayest sooth; yet, art thou not compelled to Thought and Effort in the Way of Nature? Yea, I, thy Father, work for thee solicitously, and also I laugh at thy Perplexities; for so was it foreordained that I should do, by Me, from the Beginning.

3. By following one’s orbit, one avoids negative Karma anyway. But before we know our Wills, we can only escape Karma by means of a strict regimen like this system, or that of the Noble 8-Fold Path. This helps us not step off the path and spiral down into negativity. You can only beat the system if you can master it.

We create our heavens and our hells, and I’m inclined to believe the existence of an afterlife is absolutely irrelevant to my existence. Depending on the definition of reincarnation, I either believe in it or don’t – I believe parts of us are reborn all the time, and we are constantly changing. This is the view from “below.” However, I believe in this one lifetime of mine, that the present is all that exists, and if we look at the timeline of history from “above”, we will not see linear reincarnations, but everybody and everything in manifestation all at once. Magickal memory is therefore not tapping into the past, but tapping into the planes above. Similarly, divination and premonitions are also getting a glimpse from above. Synchronicities become a sign of alignment with the above; a sign that one is manifesting these things by means of magick, with all things being under Will.

So woe is he, who feels the world treats him unfairly – but once we learn to be grateful for the pain and disillusionment that has triggered our transcendence, we are forced to understand suffering in a multi-faceted way. Sometimes we have no choice but to bring others pain. The same pain that we face can either weaken us or strengthen us and it is up to the responsibility of the individual star to decide that. All else is out of our hands.

The Link Between Philosophy and Magick

“…First, the original form (huperousia) as the originator of all forms; secondly, the physical world, which impresses the traces of the Ideas on the surface matter, and multiplies the original nature in countless mirrors set face to face; thirdly, the form of the rational world, which individualizes numerically for the senses the shadows of Ideas, brings them into one, and raises them to general conceptions for the understanding. The moments of the original form itself are termed Being, goodness (nature or life), and unity.”

There are two states of philosophy; one being the active discourse of the mind, linking together (through imagination) the unconscious/subconscious symbolic ideas of culture, history, and one’s own personal discourses from the past; the other being the passive (but never truly static) memory of the collective unconscious’s discourses, by which we utilize in the active state of philosophizing. The active and the passive states of philosophy always influence one another through discourse itself, and the discourse is reliant upon both states in order to occur.

 
Magick is discourse through action, whereas philosophy is discourse through thought. The passive state of philosophy, (which includes the idea of magick) is brought forth through imagination and expressed in ritual; rituals then serve as the concretization of this process of unconscious expression. This changes the magician’s self-concept as he becomes conscious of his unconscious expressions, and as his memory is subtly altered and his idea of magick becomes more stable, he receives a foundation for more transmutation.
Discourse through thought begins with the same process; active imagination which is then expressed. Instead of direct action however, philosophy expresses its discourse through language, reinventing the ideas/unconscious memory of the world for the philosopher.

 
Neither are complete without one another; the magician requires his symbolism to be communicable to himself through the discourse of the philosopher, and similarly the philosopher must be able to let his language affect the world he lives in.

Categories

NUIT: METAPHYSICS (Being) and regarding the ontology of metaphysics. Monism; everything is One, and there being no metaphysical difference in any one thing or another results in None. 

Ontologically, matter and motion/spirit are divided as complements to one another.
Nuit (the anthropomorphic manifestation of Being/matter)’s commentary on epistemology states that there is a limitation to what we can know about her (objective truth) just by nature of being individual “stars” (subjective truth). This can be overcome “in the clear light” of Ain Soph Aur through Kether, shining down the Tree, given one has surpassed the ordeals. These ordeals will appear differently to different “stars” and so will the “systems” utilized to overcome these ordeals, including choosing either the “serpent” or the “dove” (which are just two different forms of Love; specifically the Will to Die vs. the Will to Live). 

Each “star” is to mold his pragmatism/ways and means in alignment with True Will while keeping in mind the metaphysics and ontology of the world, and not confusing these different fields. 

The (objective) truth, as she states, includes “every number” being infinite, “all words” sacred and “all prophets” true.

4. Every number is infinite; there is no difference.
22. …Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing & any other thing…

Comments on EPISTEMOLOGY and PRAGMATISM:
50. There is a word to say about the Hierophantic tast. Behold! there are three ordeals in one, and it may be given in three ways. The gross must pass through fire; let the fine be tried in intellect, and the lofty chosen ones in the highest. Thus ye have star & star, system & system; let not one know well the other!
56. …All words are sacred and all prophets true; save only that they understand a little; solve the first half of the equation, leave the second unattacked. But thou hast all in the clear light, and some, though, not all, in the dark.
57. …There is the dove, and there is the serpent. Choose ye well! …

 

HADIT: EPISTEMOLOGY (Knowledge) and ETHICS (Delight): Hadit, being the anthropomorphic manifestation of motion/spirit/knowing/etc., backs up Nuit’s point that the nature of individual “stars” usually prohibits them to know and understand the nature of the world/themselves fully. There is always “a factor infinite & unknown.” His advice is to avoid placing too much faith in Reason and to explore all things (as Nuit is All Things, and Hadit is the Will/Motion to explore) without guilt, fear, and modesty, (essentially, the philosophy of ethics) while also maintaining the appearance of subtlety and refinement (replacing ethics with aesthetics).

27-31. 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.
32. Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite & unknown; & all their words skew-wise.
33. Enough of Because! Be he damned for a dog!
44. Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is the dissolution, and eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu.
48. Pity not the fallen! I never knew them. I am not for them. I console not: I hate the consoled & the consoler.
52. There is a veil: that veil is black. It is the veil of the modest woman; it is the veil of sorrow, & the pall of death: this is none of me. Tear down that lying sceptre of the centuries: veil not your vices in virtuous words: these vices are my service; ye do well, & I will reward you here and hereafter.
70. …refine thy rapture! If thou drink, drink by the eight and ninety rules of art: if thou love, exceed by delicacy; and if thou do aught joyous, let there be subtlety therein!
71. But exceed! exceed!

 

On the Nature of Free Will


By assimilation of the internal of the external; the result is that these results are fluid and modify each other. Free will and determinism are also not opposites, but functions of mind; we utilize free will to change the course (the course itself is limited by determinism), and we utilize determinism to know that the course will go as it ought – part of Thelema is figuring out what phenomena applies to free will, and what phenomena applies to determinism. 

On a macrocosmic scale, all is determined (as all is as it ought, TAO, Our Lady Babalon, the unconscious mind, etc.) but on the microcosmic scale, we make decisions every moment by constricting this flow. This, being the relationship of the Beast and of Babalon.

Liber Aleph. 57. DE NECESSITATE VOLUNTATIS. (On the Necessity of the Will)

And how then (sayest thou) shall I reconcile this Art Magick with that Way of the Tao which achieveth all Things by doing nothing? But this have I already declared to thee in Part, showing that thou canst do no Magick save it be thy Nature to do Magick and so the true Nothing for thee. For to do nothing signifieth to interfere with nothing so that for a Magician to do no Magick is to commit Violence on himself. Yet learn also that all Action is in some sense Magick, being an essential Part of that Great Magical Work which we call Nature. Then thou hast no free Will? Verily, thou hast said. Yet nevertheless it is thy necessary Destiny to act with that free Will. Thou canst do nothing save in accordance with that true Nature of thine and of all Things, and every Phenomenon is the Resultant of the Totality of Forces; Amen. Then thou needest take no Thought and make no Effort? Thou sayest sooth; yet, art thou not compelled to Thought and Effort in the Way of Nature? Yea, I, thy Father, work for thee solicitously, and also I laugh at thy Perplexities; for so was it foreordained that I should do, by Me, from the Beginning.

Turtles All the Way Down:
If billiard ball A strikes billiard ball B with a certain velocity, mass, and angle of impact, and the frictional characteristics of the surface they are both supported by are specified, then certain things are knowable:

  1. The final resting places of A and B.
  2.  Independent of the particular values of A and B with respect to mass, speed, and angle of impact, one may state with confidence that the second law of thermodynamics will be respected, i.e., the physical energy embodied in the original moving billiard ball, prior to impact, will be preserved (accounted for) in the ensuing collision.

In other words, in non-living systems, there is a conservation of energy—a pattern apparently universally present. Contrast this with an analogous interaction in living systems. If I specify for you the starting position, velocity, mass, and angle and point of contact of my foot and my dog. Spirit, you will not be able to predict much. It’s not even obvious that my foot will end up on the end of my leg as opposed to ending up in Spirit’s mouth some distance away from the rest of my leg. To distinguish this non-conservative interaction—the typical one in living systems—from its counterpart in the physical world, Bateson referred to this as collateral energy.

Or again, his brilliant insight that both Darwin and Lamark were correct—Darwin’s evolutionary contracts fit adequately the presently known world of biological forms and Lamark’s evolutionary constructs are the drivers in the cultural world of ideas—is another example of his steadfast insistence that different patterns were operating in the physical world and the world of mind. While Bateson was unwavering in his perception that the patterns and laws which specify the structure of the world of mind and the physical were distinct, he never proposed a mechanism to explain how this difference came about. Bateson’s thesis itself is strongly supported by a contemporary of his—the man usually considered the leading physicist of the 20th century.

John: There are profound differences between the living and nonliving systems. One of the differences is given by the fact that the second law of thermodynamics—conservation of energy—applies absolutely unequivocally, no exceptions known at this moment, in the world of mechanical nonliving systems. So the basic unit in which you can inventory a mechanical system is energy, in the physical sense of energy—not the Santa Cruzian sense of energy . . .
Judy; . . . that’s cosmic energy; that’s something else . . .

John: It’s definitely something else. But in the case of living systems… So if I kick my dog two things occur. At the level of the physical body John and the physical body Spirit, my dog, when I kick my dog she will actually physically move and the first part other movement, unless she sees me coming, will be absolutely predictable by the laws of physics. That is, there is a certain amount of energy I put into the kick, a certain amount is received, there’s friction at the interface and her body moves a certain distance . . .

Judy: I have to disagree with that. John: Oh, do you?
Judy; I’m sorry, I really have to disagree with that. If you kick a ball I would say that the law of physics would apply. But because Spirit is a living system in herself there’s a degree of unpredictability.

John; . . . and where does the unpredictability come from?
Judy: From the fact that you don’t know which way Spirit’s going to run. And not only that, the conservation of energy is violated. Dogs always move further that the kick would move them. (Laughter)

John; Too true. If I kick the ball there’s a deterministic system. If I kick another living organism the system becomes nonde-terministic. Take the famous croquet game that Alice got involved in. The rules of the game of croquet are known And in so far as the humans who entered the frame of interaction called croquet agree to abide by these rules we have a deterministic system—that is, for any situation which can legitimately arise within the game there are specified procedures which determine the next move. There are different logical levels of rules. At the elementary level, certain elements of the game are identified as mobile—the croquet balls, the mallets, the players. Other elements are fixed—the stakes and hoops, the surface on which the entire game occurs … And, of course, more complex rules… If player A’s ball passes through hoop n prior to player B’s ball then a penalty pass is awarded to … But what was poor Alice to do when she found herself gripping a flamingo with which she was to strike a hedgehog? Energy in living systems has a different function and it’s called collateral energy. The distance the hedgehog rolls is simply not predictable from a measurement of the direction and energy with which Alice swings the flamingo!

Liber Aleph. 142. DE HARMONIA VOLUNTATIS CUM DESTINIA. (On the Harmony of Will and Fate)

This is the evident and final Solvent of the Knot Philosophical concerning Fate and Freewill, that it is thine own Self, omniscient and omnipotent, sublime in eternity, that first didst order the Course of thine own Orbit, so that the which befalleth thee by Fate is indeed the necessary Effect of thine own Will. These two, then, that like Gladiators have made War in Philosophy through these many Centuries, are One by the Love under Will which is the Law of Thelema. O my son, there is no Doubt that resolveth not in certainty and rapture at the touch of the Wand of our Law, an thou apply it with Wit. Do thou grow constantly in the Assimilation of the Law, and thou shalt be made perfect. Behold, there is a Pageant of Triumph as each star, free from Confusion, sweepeth free in his right Orbit; all Heaven acclaimeth thee as thou goest, transcendental in Joy and in Splendour; and thy Light is as a Beacon to them that wander afar, strayed in the Night.
Amoun.

Objective vs Subjective


The answers lie in the reformation of one’s questions and the challenge is perseverance in actively assimilating opposites.

The Work never ends, and stagnation in any aspect is detrimental to the whole. Balance is key, and true balance is harmony. The tao is forever in flux; the equilibrium and unification of the pentagram and hexagram being the goal of the magickian. 

What is considered the “objective reality” or that which can be known a priori, the universal, self-evident, consistent and singular truths are objective insofar as we can conceive of them; and “subjective reality” or that which is known a posteriori, including every construct made from experience, be it social accretions, religious systems, ethics, etc. exists insofar as we can perceive them– but the concepts of objectivity and subjectivity are merely distinctions made within the mind.

 The harmonious unification of the microcosm and macrocosm can be symbolized as the integration of the only-conceivable with the only-perceptible. The only way to preserve Truth is to not claim to Know it; thus Qabalah is a diagram of the universe at scales which man can know and utilize. 

Man is neither above the universe nor trapped within it, but is part of the system–the Magickian utilizing the elements to do the Great Work.

“Kether is in Malkuth and Malkuth is in Kether, but after another manner, Malkuth reflects Kether, for that which is above is like that which is below, and that which is below is like that which is above.”