Si Vales, Valeo
The idea that each one of us is an individual is a good philosophical exercise. Humans usually begin this quest at about age two. When we are first born, the child sees its mother as an extension of itself. It is usually during the stage called “the terrible two’s” that the child begins to test its own boundaries to understand how much control he or she has over their environment. In other words, they are trying to determine the “I” from the “not I.” We continue the exercise throughout our lives.
In my opinion, the purpose of Thelema is to discover that kernel of personal truth, and since the universe abhors a vacuum, the simultaneous understanding of its opposite: That we are all individual parts of a greater whole. There seems to be a lot of resistance to the idea that one relies upon the many, and that the many rely upon the one. Consider the magical practice of seeing the universe as infinitely large. The result is that the expansion of the student’s mind as he attempts to grasp the vastness of the observable universe will be matched by its contraction: the infinitely small. That is the lesson. It illustrates that no thought can present itself without the realization of its opposite.
Thelemic magicians have a lot of trouble with this. They imagine themselves as being the center on their own universe: The Sun, and yet fails to understand the contributions made by the planets orbiting the individual. Crowley wept. The failure to grasp this rudimentary idea is the source for the social disasters which seem to plague our organizations.
Get this: Nuit violates the notion of identity.
On a very personal level, the experience of Nuit is beyond the me, myself and I. It is dissolution in the sense that a drop of water is a drop of water, which loses any personal attributions it merges once again with the sea. And every drop of water must merge, eventually with the sea. The loss of identity, the transcendence of the ego into the all is ecstasy. The chance of union.
So, Nuit, as such, does not “exist” as we understand our own existence or the universe around us. Nuit is experience. Specifically, the experience of union. The union of every Star. That would be the us. It’s where the me becomes the ME. Or, if you like the old language better: The Royal WE.
Socially, it is an area where I hope we are headed. I have already written elsewhere about what I feel “pasting the sheets from right to left” might mean, and if so how the procession of Aeons is backwards. In fact, one cannot match those chapters with the observable universe at all. Neither for the order of the “three grades” mentioned in The Book of the Law. (See “What Are Centers of Pestilence Pt. 2)
What about True Will?
Can a person really know themselves entirely? The answer doesn’t matter, because the benefit comes from seeking. The degree to which one can discover their true self is irrelevant. You do the work, and you benefit from it in a life changing way. If you don’t do the work, you will not benefit. That is all there is to say about it.
The True Will shares some similarities with what people might refer to as destiny, but I don’t feel they are the same. Destiny implies something we can’t ever predict. True Will implies knowledge of one’s going.
Philosophically, it gets tricky when we start thinking whether True Will implies possibility and potential: a choice. Or if it is simply linear, pointed and unwavering.
My suspicions so far are that the True Will is limiting at the same time it is liberating. When in ignorance, there is a bliss of going with the flow and taking joy in the adventure as it unfolds. And if the journey isn’t pleasant, well, you can blame it on someone else, like some God or bad luck. When it comes to True Will, one has no choice but to do it because to go against it allegedly puts one against universal inertia. So, the burden of the True Will is lifted by uniting with it in an act of love.
But how do all these concepts and ideas play out in real life in our incestuous little fraternities?
The sort of peer pressure (anxiety/pleasure inducing reward/punishing mechanics) that is applied in so-called fraternal groups tends to be of the social kind which threatens the social currency of the individual. Taking advantage of a person’s desire “to belong” is a way to control people. A real mean way, when you consider that Thelemic groups are allegedly working toward the freedom of the individual to discover their True Wills.
In contrast, other groups, such as the Masons use a sort of self-imposed moral pressure as an anxiety/pleasure mechanism based on his or her understanding of what is right or wrong. This is much more psychologically effective, not to mention: kind. Our problem in Thelema is that people are discouraged from exploring Thelema in any meaningful way. How can a person build a workable model of Thelemic society if peer pressure is used to avoid dialogue?
Our obstacle we must overcome is the damage done to Thelema by those that make Thelema all about Crowley. Because they cannot control Thelema, but can only control Crowley, they have gone out of their way to make sure that people conflate one with the other. Much like Christians conflate Jesus with Christianity.
It should be very clear by now to anyone paying attention that freedom or the discovery of one’s True Will and what that means within the context of living in the real world is of a greater importance than where Crowley had breakfast. The study of what Thelema is and is not is limited only to what Crowley may have had to say about it. New discoveries in the sciences, to include psychology, anthropology, human nature or the study of the brain should not be ignored in favor of some Victorian era superstition. Thelemites have qualities, and yet most people abhor the idea of knowing what those qualities are because they might find out they have a lot more work to do, and that hanging out and reciting Crowley quotes does not a Thelemite make.
I am sorry to have gone, on and on, but your questions were profound, and everything I have said here is connected to what you asked about individuals surviving in groups.