Esoteric vs. Exoteric Analysis of Liber OZ

THE ESOTERIC AND EXOTERIC ANALYSIS OF LIBER OZ

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From a previous post titled “Karma & the Ethics of Thelema” – “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.”

 
Using the Five Precepts/Virtues of Buddhism: No killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and the taking of intoxicants – Crowley’s essay, Pansil explains the invalidity and impossibility of avoiding these acts, and how the 5 Precepts are “sarcastic and biting criticisms on existence, illustrations of the First Noble Truth; reasons, as it were, for the apotheosis of annihilation.” I would add that although they are just that, the Law of Thelema, being Do What Thou Wilt – adds the perfect “ethical” intention to the degrees of doing these things.

 
Compare the 5 Precepts with the 5 Points in Liber OZ, which would mean the same thing, if not for Liber OZ’s emphasis on Will:

 
– No killing vs (5). “Man has the right to kill those who would thwart these rights.”
– No stealing vs (1). “Man has the right to live by his own law.”
– No sexual misconduct vs (4). “Man has the right to love as he will.”
– No lying vs (3). “Man has the right to think what he will.”
– No taking of intoxicants vs (2). “Man has the right to eat what he will.”

The intentions, that one might have for performing any of these acts, however, must always be in accordance with one’s True Will. Therefore,

(1) “Man has the right to live by his own law,” allows him to take what he needs according to his Will, since there are no such things as “thieves” to the universe.

THE SECOND PRECEPT

The Second Precept is directed against theft. Theft is the appropriation to one’s own use of that to which another has a right. Let us see therefore whether or no the Buddha was a thief. The answer is of course in the affirmative. For to issue a command is to attempt to deprive another of his most precious possession—the right to do as he will; that is, unless, with the predestinarians, we hold that action is determined absolutely, in which case, of course, a command is as absurd as it is unavoidable. Excluding this folly, therefore, we may conclude that if the command be obeyed—and those of Buddha have gained a far larger share of obedience that those of any other teacher—the Enlightened One was not only a potential but an actual thief. Further, all voluntary action limits in some degree, however minute, the volition of others. If I breathe, I diminish the stock of oxygen available on the planet. In those far distant ages when Earth shall be as dead as the moon is to-day, my breathing now will have robbed some being then living of the dearest necessity of life.

That the theft is minute, incalculably trifling, is no answer to the moralist, to whom degree is not known; nor to the scientist, who sees the chain of nature miss no link.

   If, on the other hand, the store of energy in the universe be indeed constant (whether infinite or no), if personality be indeed delusion, then theft becomes impossible, and to forbid it is absurd. We may argue that even so temporary theft may exist; and that this is so is to my mind no doubt the case. All theft is temporary, since even a millionaire must die; also it is universal, since even a Buddha must breathe.

 

 

(2) “Man has the right to eat what he will,” allows him to be intoxicated according to his Will, since there is no such thing as not being affected by the universe.

THE FIFTH PRECEPT

At last we arrive at the end of our weary journey—surely in this weather we may have a drink! East of Suez,† Trombone Macaulay (as I may surely say, when Browning writes Banjo-Byron‡) tells us, a man may raise a Thirst. No, shrieks the Blessed One, the Perfected One, the Enlightened One, do not drink! It is like the streets of Paris when they were placarded with rival posters—

Ne buvez pas de l’Alcool !
L’Alcool est un poison !
and
Buvez de l’Alcool !
L’Alcool est un aliment !

We know now that alcohol is a food up to a certain amount; the precept, good enough for a rough rule as it stands, will not bear close inspection. What Buddha really commands with that grim humour of his, is: Avoid Intoxication.

But what is intoxication? unless it be the loss of power to use perfectly a truth-telling set of faculties. If I walk unsteadily it is owing to nervous lies—and so for all the phenomena of drunkenness. But a lie involves the assumption of some true standard, and this can nowhere be found. A doctor would tell you, moreover, that all food intoxicates: all, here as in all the universe, of every subject and in every predicate, is a matter of degree.

Our faculties never tell us true; our eyes say flat when our fingers say round; our tongue sends a set of impressions to our brain which our hearing declares non-existent—and so on.

What is this delusion of personality but a profound and centrally-seating intoxication of
the consciousness ? I am intoxicated as I address these words; you are drunk—beastly drunk !—as you read them; Buddha was as drunk as a British officer when he uttered his besotted command. There, my dear children, is the conclusion to which we are brought if you insist that he was serious!

I answer No ! Alone among men then living, the Buddha was sober, and saw Truth. He, who was freed from the coils of the reat serpent Theli coiled round the universe, he knew how deep the slaver of that snake had entered into us, infecting us, rotting our very bones with poisonous drunkenness. And so his cutting irony—drink no intoxicating drinks!
———-
* Quoted in “Science and Buddhism”, s. IV., note.
† “Ship me somewhere East of Suez, where a man can raise a thirst.”—R. KIPLING.
‡ “While as for Quilp Hop o’ my Thumb there Banjo-Byron that twangs the strum-strum there.” —BROWNING, Pachiarotto (said of A. Austin)

 

 

(3) “Man has the right to think what he will,” allows him to express his thoughts according to his Will, since the very construct from which he thinks with, is a lie of the ego to his ego, to begin with.

THE FOURTH PRECEPT

Here we come to what in a way is the fundamental joke of these precepts. A command is not a lie, of course; possibly cannot be; yet surely an allegorical order is one in essence, and I have no longer a shadow of a doubt that these so-called “precepts” are a species of savage practical joke.

Apart from this there can hardly be much doubt, when critical exegesis has done its damnedest on the Logia of our Lord, that Buddha did at some time commit himself to some statement. “(Something called) Consciousness exists” is, said Huxley, the irreducible minimum of the pseudo-syllogism, false even for an enthymeme, “Cogito, ergo sum !” This proposition he bolsters up by stating that whoso should pretend to doubt it, would thereby but confirm it. Yet might it not be said “(Something called) Consciousness appears to itself to exist,” since Consciousness is itself the only witness to that confirmation?

Not that even now we can deny some kind of existence to consciousness, but that it should be a more real existence than that of a reflection is doubtful, incredible, even inconceivable. If by consciousness we mean the normal consciousness,
it is definitely untrue, since the Dhyanic consciousness includes it and denies it. No doubt “something called” acts as a kind of caveat to the would-be sceptic, though the phrase is bad, implying a “calling.” But we can guess what Huxley means.

No doubt Buddha’s scepticism does not openly go quite so far as mine—it must be remembered that “scepticism” is merely the indication of a possible attitude, not a belief, as so many good fool folk thing; but Buddha not only denies “Cogito, ergo sum”; but “Cogito, ergo non sum.” See Sabbasava Sutta, par. 10.*

At any rate, Sakkyaditthi, the delusion of personality, is in the very forefront of his doctrines; and it is this delusion that is constantly and inevitably affirmed in all normal consciousness. That Dhyanic thought avoids it is doubtful; even so, Buddha is here represented as giving precepts to ordinary people. And if personality be delusion, a lie is involved in the command of one to another. In short, we all lie all the time; we are compelled to it by the nature of things themselves—paradoxical as that seems—and the Buddha knew it!
———-
* Quoted in “Science and Buddhism”, s. IV., note.

 

(4) “Man has the right to love as he will,” allows him to give his love freely according to his Will, since love has no restrictions, all being one – to violate oneself is not love, but the withholding of.

THE THIRD PRECEPT

This precept, against adultery, I shall touch but lightly. Not that I consider the subject unpleasant—far from it!—but since the English section of my readers, having unclean minds, will otherwise find a fulcrum therein for their favourite game of slander. Let it suffice if I say that the Buddha—in spite of the ridiculous membrane legend (Membrum virile illius in membrana inclusum esse aiunt, ne copulare posset) one of those foul follies which idiot devotees invent only too freely— was a confirmed and habitual adulterer. It would be easy to argue with Hegel-Huxley that he who thinks of an act commits it (cf. Jesus also in this connection, though he only knows the creative value of desire), and that since A and not-A are mutually limiting, therefore interdependent, therefore identical,
he who forbids an act commits it; but I feel that this is no place for metaphysical hairsplitting; let us prove what we have to prove in the plainest way.

I would premise in the first place that to commit adultery in the Divorce Court sense is not here in question.

It assumes too much proprietary right of a man over a woman, that root of all abomination!—the whole machinery of inheritance, property, and all the labyrinth of law. We may more readily assume that the Buddha was (apparently at least) condemning incontinence.

We know that Buddha had abandoned his home ; true, but Nature has to be reckoned with. Volition is no necessary condition of offence. “I didn’t mean to” is a poor excuse for an officer failing to obey an order.

Enough of this—in any case a minor question; since even on the lowest moral grounds— and we, I trust, soar higher!—the error in question may be resolved into a mixture of murder, theft and intoxication. (We consider the last under the Fifth Precept.)

 

and lastly,

 

(5) “Man has the right to kill those who would thwart these rights,” allows him to sever the efforts according to his Will, which no longer serve his Will; or in fact seek to disrupt it.

THE FIRST PRECEPT

This forbids the taking of life in any form.* What we have to note is the impossibility of performing this; if we can prove it to be so, either Buddha was a fool, or his command was rhetorical, like those of Yahweh to Job, or of Tannhäuser to himself—

“ Go! seek the stars and count them and explore!
Go! sift the sands beyond a starless sea!”

Let us consider what the words can mean. The “taking of life” can only mean the reduction of living protoplasm to dead matter: or, in a truer and more psychological sense, the destruction of personality.

Now, in the chemical changes involved in Buddha’s speaking this command, living protoplasm was changed into dead matter. Or, on the other horn, the fact (insisted upon most strongly by the Buddha himself, the central and cardinal point of his doctrine, the shrine of that Metaphysic which isolates it absolutely from all other religious metaphysic, which allies it with Agnostic Metaphysis) that the Buddha who had spoken this command was not the same as the Buddha before he had spoken it, lies the proof that the Buddha, by speaking this command, violated it. More, not only did he slay himself; he breathed in millions of living organisms and slew them. He could nor eat nor drink nor breathe without murder implicit in each act. Huxley cites the “pitiless microsco-pist” who showed a drop of water to the Brahmin who boasted himself “Ahimsa” harmless. So among the “rights” of a Bhikkhu is medicine. He who takes quinine does so with the deliber-ate intention of destroying innumerable living beings; whether this is done by stimulating the phagocytes, or directly, is morally indifferent.

How such a fiend incarnate, my dear brother Ananda Maitriya, can call him “cruel and cowardly” who only kills a tiger, is a study in the philosophy of the mote and the beam!†

 Far be it from me to suggest that this is a defence of breathing, eating and drinking. By no means; in all these ways we bring suffering and death to others, as to ourselves. But since these are inevitable acts, since suicide would be a still more cruel alternative (especially in case something should subsist below mere Rupa), the command is not to achieve the impossible, the already violated in the act of commanding, but a bitter commentary on the foul evil of this aimless, hopeless universe, this compact of misery, meanness, and cruelty. Let us pass on.
———-
* Fielding, in “The Soul of a People,” has reluctantly to confess that he can find no trace of this idea in Buddha’s own work, and called the superstition the “echo of an older Faith.”—A.C.
† The argument that the “animals are our brothers” is merely intended to mislead one who has never been in a Buddhist country. The average Buddhist would, of course, kill his brother for five rupees, or less.— A. C.

 

The exoteric analysis of the tenets in Liber OZ is simpler, and aims to avoid the acquisition of negative Karma for all that follow the 5 Precepts simply, at face value. “[…] 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.”

 

EXCERPT FROM THE THREE CHARACTERISTICS.

“But, Lord,” said the Five Hundred Thousand and One Arahats in a breath, “thou art then guilty of six violent deaths !

 
Nay, thou hast hounded one soul from death to death through all these incarnations ! What of this First Precept2 of yours ?”

 
“Children,” answered the Glorious One, “do not be so foolish as to think that death is necessarily an evil. I have not come to found a Hundred Years Club, and to include mosquitoes in the membership. In this case to have kept Perdu’ R Abu alive was to have played into the hands of his enemies. My First Precept is merely a general rule.3 In the bulk of cases one should certainly abstain from destroying life, that is, wantonly and wilfully: but I cannot drink a glass of water without killing countless myriads of living beings. If you knew as I do, the conditions of existence: struggle deadly and inevitable, every form of life the inherent and immitigable foe of every other form, with few, few exceptions, you would not only cease to talk of the wickedness of causing death, but you would perceive the First Noble Truth, that no existence can be free from sorrow ; the second, that the desire for existence only leads to sorrow ; that the ceasing from existence is the ceasing of sorrow (the third) ; and you would seek in the fourth the Way, the Noble Eightfold Path.

 
“I know, O Arahats, that you do not need this instruction : but my words will not stay here : they will go forth and illuminate the whole system of ten thousand worlds, where Arahats do not grow on every tree. Little brothers, the night is fallen : it were well to sleep.”
———-
2 Here is the little rift within the lute which alienated Crowley from active work on Buddhist lines; the orthodox failing to see his attitude.
3 A more likely idea that the brilliantly logical nonsense of “Pansil,” supra.

 
By following the Noble 8-fold Path, we avoid the desire for existence, and therefore sorrow. But keep in mind, Liber AL II:

 
70. There is help & hope in other spells. Wisdom says: be strong! Then canst thou bear more joy. Be not animal; 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!

 
72. 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.

 
73. ah! ah! Death! Death! thou shalt long for death. Death is forbidden, o man, unto thee.

 

74. The length of thy longing shall be the strength of its glory. He that lives long & desires death much is ever the King among the Kings.

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.

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!