THE DANGERS OF MYSTICISM
By Aleister Crowley
Publication in Class C
With comments by
Affectionately inscribed to Arthur Edward Waite
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
In its splintering, the original Order of the Golden Dawn had produced several groups that turned the group more deeply into a mystical Christianity. All the bickering the brought on the splintering was brought to a height when Crowley was given an inner order initiation by Mathers and a host of self-righteous members rebuked Mathers for accepting a bi- sexual man amongst their rank. The work of the lodge itself had devolved into mere pageantry with a group politic that had members buying Grades for prestige. A.E. Waite was one of the leaders in this revolt; seen by Crowley as the most pompous of the lot, with the possible exception of W.B. Yeats.
A CURIOUS IDEA is being sedulously disseminated, and appears to be gaining ground, that mysticism is the “Safe” Path to the Highest, and magic the dangerous Path to the Lowest.
There is an important point being made here; Many who take the path of Magick, end up completely insane as many others who take the path start out that way. The dangers of this path are potent and really should’ve have been brought out here. But more importantly, there really is no safe path. One of the reasons why the Western Mystery Tradition has been so secretive is that its teachings and techniques are not fullproof. The danger of failing can be worse than not having tried to begin with. So the ‘safe’ path is exoteric religion; but of course, there, you’ll also find certain failure in attainment. So is this really safe? That is, assuming there is some vital need for attainment. And if there isn’t, what value beyond vanity can attainment have?
There are several comments to be made on this assertion. One may doubt whether anything worth doing at all is free from danger, and one may wonder what danger can threaten the man whose object is his own utter ruin. One may also smile a little grimly at the integrity of those who try to include all Magic under Black Magic, as is the present trick of the Mystic Militant here on earth.
Do not underestimate the militancy of the Mystic. This one relies on a sometimes overt and sometimes covert philosophy of intolerant morality. Either you are in agreement with these ideals and their overall ideology or you are evil and/or seduced by evil; the charge may also address your intellectual competence. In comparison, the Magickian’s philosophy seems a-moral at best, though a virtuous moral code of ethical behavior is pursued beyond the Mystic’s ability to recognize. Any attempt to overcome the Mystic’s cognitive dissonance will usually prove futile.
Now, as one who may claim to a slight acquaintance with the literature of both paths, and to have been honoured by personal exposition from the adepts of both paths, I believe that I may be able to bring them fairly into the balance.
This is the magical theory, that the first departure from the Infinite must be equilibrated and so corrected. So the “great magician,” Mayan, the maker of Illusion, the Creator, must be met in combat. Then “if Satan be divided against Satan, how shall his kingdom stand?” Both vanish: the illusion is no more. Mathematically, 1 + (–1) = 0. And this path is symbolised in the Taro under the figure of the Magus, the card numbered 1, the first departure from 0, but referred to Beth, 2, Mercury, the god of Wisdom, Magic and Truth.
The Mystic interprets this “combat” motif in a denotative manner; readily pre-disposed to the exoteric approach to religion. For him or her, the Demiurge must be defeated and manifestation should be returned to the Infinite. But really, do we need to go back to unmanifested existence?! The error was in non-manifested existence to become existent?! The unmanifest (IT) becoming existent is an illusion?! Yes, this is the ego-loser philosophy; their literal and fundamentalist interpretation perfectly expressed.
The 1-1=0 formula is the formula of the ego-loser, who seeks to view oneself as infinitessimal (“I am a bug” –The Dalai Lama) and in his or her condescension, pretends that there is no hierarchy of life forms. For the Mystic, dissolution is desireable and sought after; not so for the Magickian. For the Magickian, the “shock of worlds” and all the myriad possibilities of manifestation are sacraments and manifestation is seen as the fullest expression of the divine. It is not to be eschewed, but embraced and adored.
It may be true, as Crowley clearly wrote, that some may prefer this Mystic dissolution. Indeed, for some, there is no interest in Magick and evolution. So as per the Gnostic Mass, one may Will one’s dissolution into the infinite. But the equilibration inherently implies a duality that then must be established in order for there to be a balance and a manifestation that can maintain itself outside the infinite in a finite and individualized form.
The correction should not be seen as a response to error, but as an adjustment to the first emerging imbalance; the momentum pushing forwards in an involutionary direction. This is presented in the myths of falling angels and guardian angels; Nephilim and the Daughters of Men. The subtlety of the myths has been compromised by the Manichaean predisposition of the Monotheists, which really in presenting an omnipotent evil, is not really Monotheistic at all.
Let’s consider the following excerpt from Liber Aleph:
Tahuti, or Thoth, confirmed the Word of Dionysus by continuing it; for He shewed how by the Mind it was possible to direct the Operations of the Will. By Criticism and by recorded Memory Man avoideth Error, and the Repetition of Error. But the true Word of Tahuti was A M O U N, whereby He made Men to understand their secret Nature, that is, their unity with their True Selves, or, as they then phrased it, with God. And he discovered unto them the Way of this Attainment, and its relation with the Formula of INRI. Also by his Mystery of Number he made plain the Path for His Successor to declare the Nature of the whole Universe in its Form and in its Structure, as it were an Analysis thereof, doing for Matter what the Buddha was decreed to do for Mind.
“Spirit and matter” readily implies their equivalence, which means to me that the idea of ‘illusion’ is not to be taken literally or denotatively. Rather its connotation refers more to the idea of ignorance; consistent with the philosophy of the Supramental Yoga of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. The maya is not the actual nature of the Universe, but our limited apprehension of this Universe. Per the Supramentalists, when ‘the life of the cells’ are brought to full consciousness, one can then fully apprehend materiality and they further claim, accidents and injury become impossibilities; implying a certain command over one’s physical structure. This is also a part of the congelation of the soul; evolution involves the continual reorganization of complexity in an integral structure. This means the Soul is an aggregate of individual beings (mitochondria on the physical level) that all connect with the Aethyr; the Logos.
Tahuti is then said to have done “for matter what the Buddha has been decreed to do for the mind.” Indeed, Tahuti is the god of truth and illusion; connected with the Trickster archetype, which should tell us to not make such a delimited and simplified doctrine (the ego-loser doctrine) of the maya (as certain sects of Hinduism have done). We cannot take this literally at all, but must recognize the very subtle nature of this idea. And I don’t know that the idea in its subtle nature is even comprehensible for anyone who has not championed the Abyss. So for us to make this over- simplified doctrine that all is illusion and the only truth is in annihilation; absorption in the infinite, and that all manifestation is but a deceit is a gross error that with the upholding of such a doctrine, one cannot see the worlds of possibilities and the ‘Great Work’ of human evolution. Indeed, work is labor and the effect of desire, which the Buddha and the ego-loser schools should be eschewed.
And this Magus has the twofold aspect of the Magician himself and also of the “Great Magician” described in Liber 418 (Equinox, No. V., Special Supplement, p. 144).1
The ‘Great Magician” is a metaphor for each of us, creating our own delusionary worlds wherein we do not see the divinity in ourselves. This demiurge is for each of us, ourselves. We are not trapped in our bodies and at any time, we can click our heels three times and say “there’s no place like home”…another metaphor. I don’t want this to be confused with the idea of returning to godhead and escaping this world. We simply need to bring this aggregate mind, first to unity; a complete perfecting of its integral structure brought on by the rousing to consciousness of every cell in the body, and then to the greater vision of Not-I or (-1) in the formula of the Mage.
Here is the passage from Liber 418:
And this is the mystery that I declare unto thee: that from the Crown itself spring the three great delusions; Aleph is madness, and Beth is falsehood, and Gimel is glamour. (Aleph is incapacity to apprehend — the absence of any steady truth. A = ∆, the volatile; Beth is the assertion of false relations, even in the illusion of the dyad. B = s; And Gimel is the clouding of aspiration by the marsh miasma of desire G = r. Such are the evil and averse counterparts of the three highest faculties of the Soul: Aleph, the inspiration of the soul in ecstasy; Beth, the virtue of Truthfulness without care of other issues; and Gimel, the direct link of the human with the divine Consciousness.) And these three be greater than all, for they are beyond the words that I speak unto thee; how much more therefore are they beyond the words that thou transmittest unto men. Behold! the Veil of the Æthyr sundereth, and is torn, like a sail by the breath of the tempest, and thou shalt see him as from afar off. This is that which is written, “Confound her understanding with darkness,” for thou canst not speak this thing (The Seer was being warned all the time that he was seeing only a Guard.). It is the figure of the Magus of the Taro (Atu I. This is Mayan, the Great Magician, he who has created the Dyad B = 2 and thus made possible the conception of Opposition, and hence of “Evil”. He is to be distinguished from Chokma, the creative Mercury who transmits the Essence of Kether as a Logos, that Kether may become intelligible to Himself through Binah. This lower Mercury asserts the Dyad as Reality, and denies alike Kether and the Ain. Hence its issue is in Materialism.);
The material and the spiritual are two ends of the same coin. That one should be divided against the other would be utter ruin. But the Manichaean-natured Mystic eschews the material as illusion; a trap that must be overcome that the human being identify only with the spiritual. Indeed, this is the true and rabit materialist.
and in his right arm the torch of the flames blazing upwards; in his left the cup of poison, a cataract into Hell. And upon his head the evil talisman, blasphemy and blasphemy and blasphemy, in the form of a circle. That is the greatest blasphemy of all.* On his feet hath he the scythes and swords and sickles; daggers; knives; every sharp thing,—a millionfold, and all in one. And before him is the Table that is a Table of wickedness, the 42- fold Table. This Table is connected with the 42 Assessors of the Dead, for they are the Accursers, whom the soul must baffle; and with the 42-fold name of God, for this is the Mystery of Iniquity, that there was ever a beginning at all. And this Magus casteth forth, by the might of his four weapons, veil after veil; a thousand shining colours, ripping and tearing the Æthyr, so that it is like jagged saws, or like broken teeth in the face of a young girl, or like disruption, or madness. There is a horrible grinding sound, maddening. This is the mill in which the Universal Substance, which is ether, was ground down into matter.
* I.e., that the circle should be thus profaned. This evil circle is of three concentric rings.
Now the formula of the mystic is much simpler. Mathematically, is is 1 – 1 = 0. He is like a grain of salt cast into the sea; the process of dissolution is obviously easier than the shock of worlds which the magician contemplates. “Sit down, and feel yourself as dust in the presence of God; nay, as less than dust, as nothing,” is the all-sufficient simplicity of his method. Unfortunately, many people cannot do this. And when you urge your inability, the mystic is only too likely to shrug his shoulders and be done with you.
Yes, once one violates the applied sanctity of the Mystic’s way and fails to recognize its viability for oneself, the Mystic loses respect and either may angrily turn aside, or become condescending towards. The 1-1=0 formula is the formula of the ego-loser, who seeks to view oneself as infinitessimal (“I am a bug” –The Dalai Lama) and in his or her condescension, pretends that there is no hierarchy of life forms. For the Mystic, dissolution is desirable and sought after; not so for the Magickian. For the Magickian, the “shock of worlds” and all the myriad possibilities of manifestation are sacraments and manifestation is seen as the fullest expression of the divine. It is not to be eschewed, but embraced and adored.
The equation that involves subtraction is the equation of the ego-loser seeking to lose him or herself to gain dissolution into the infinite. The equation of the Magickian is an equation of addition or of the law of attraction; the two ends of the magnetic pole coming together to create a strong structure. This is seeing manifested life as the sacrament of the divine. It opens the door to the “sea of possibilities” (to quote my personal goddess and savior <smirk> Patti Smith). “Spare the child and spoil the rod; I have not sold myself to god.”
Crowley notes that the method of the Mystic is “all-sufficient” and it is an effective means for a certain attainment. For those who naturally eschew this world and life in general, the Buddha’s instructions are 100% perfect. For those who see this world as a stepping stone to a greater set of worlds and possibilities, the adding equation will do much better. And really, one must make a choice.
AL: I.57 Invoke me under my stars! Love is the law, love under will. Nor let the fools mistake love; for there are love and love. There is the dove, and there is the serpent. Choose ye well! He, my prophet, hath chosen, knowing the law of the fortress, and the great mystery of the House of God. All these old letters of my Book are aright; but * is not the Star. This also is secret: my prophet shall reveal it to the wise.
Crowley’s comment on this verse from AL is interesting:
Nuit commands mankind to invoke Her, that is, to fulfill their utmost Selfhood, under Her stars, that is, by the study of all other Points of View beside one’s own. The method of Magick: Love the mode in which Will operates. The method of Magick in this – and in all – Work is: “love under will.” The word love (Agaph in Greek) has the value of 93, like that of Qelhma, will. This implies that love and will are in truth one and the same, two phases of one theme. Love is thus shown as the means by which will may be brought to success. Men are warned against error in this matter of love. There are two main modes of love, the symbol of one being the dove, of the other the serpent. These symbols and their meanings in ethics, with their bearing on “the law of the fortress, and the great mystery of the House of God” are explained by me fully elsewhere.
The problem is the ego-loser mentality is what has infected all the exoteric religions and they have become masochistic and enslaving in nature. They feed today, upon ignorance and superstition; destroying even educated minds. Many people cannot choose the ascetic life of self-denial and abstinence from worldly cares. There are those few who prefer their solitude and want to remain ‘shut-up’ (cf. chapter 89; Liber 333) from the world. They are those who: ‘drop out’ from life and simply tune into themselves and lose the interconnectivity that is the field of love. This gets hyped up into being some sort of high virtue that attempts to leave everyone else feeling that they have not virtue for their wordly cares.
But the artist and athlete (amongst others) knows this to be arrogant and misleading. There is great virtue in reaching for the world and grabbing life with both hands. The passions lead to the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and the great works of art and science. The ascetic cowers from life and hides in ignomy; there is no virtue there. He or she is just waiting to die to ferment the final death of the ego; having died a thousand times before.
AL:III.57 Despise also all cowards; professional soldiers who dare not fight, but play; all fools despise!
Crowley’s comment on this verse from AL is interesting:
We do not want “professional soldiers,” hired bravos sworn to have no souls of their own. They “dare not fight;” for how should a man dare to fight unless his cause be a love mightier than his love of life? Therefore they “play;” they have sold themselves; their Will is no more theirs; life is no longer a serious thing to them; therefore they wander wastrel in clubs and boudoirs and greenrooms; bridge, billiards, polo, pettie coats puff out their emptiness; scratched for the Great Race of Life, they watch the Derby instead. Brave such may be; they may well be (in a sense) classed with the rat; but brainless and idle they must be, who have no goal beyond the grave, where, at the best, chance flings fast-withering flowers of false and garish glory. They serve to defend things vital to their country; they are the skull that keeps the brain from harm? Oh foolish brain! Wet thou not wiser to defend thyself, rather than trust to brittle bone that hinders thee from growth? Let every man bear arms, swift to resent oppression, generous and ardent to draw sword in any cause, if justice or freedom summon him! “All fools despise.” In this last phrase the word “fools” is evidently not to be taken in its deeper mystical sense, the context plainly bearing reference to ordinary life. But the “fool” is still as described in the Tarot Trump. He is an epicene creature, soft and sottish, with an imbecile laugh and a pretty taste in fancy waistcoats. He lacks virility, like the ox which is the meaning of the letter Aleph which describes the Trump, and his value is Zero, its number. He is air, formless and incapable of resistance, carrier of sounds which mean nothing to it, swept up into destructive rages of senseless violence from its idleness, incalculably moved by every pressure or pull. One-fifth is the fuel of fire, the corruption of rust; the rest is inert, the soul of explosives, with a trace of that stifling and suffocating gas which is yet food for vegetable, as it is poison to animal, life. We have here a picture of the average man, of a fool; he has no will of his own, is all things to all men, is void, a repeater of words of whose sense he knows nought, a drifter, both idle and violent, compact partly of fierce passions that burn up both himself and the other, but mostly of inert and characterless nonentity, with a little heaviness, dullness, and stupefaction for his only positive qualities. Such are the ‘fools’ whom we despise. The man of Thelema is vertebrate, organized, purposeful, steady, self-controlled, virile; he uses the air as the food of his blood; so also, were he deprived of fools he could no live. We need our atmosphere, after all; it is only when the fools become violent madmen that we need our cloak of silence to wrap us, and our staff to stay us as we ascend our mountain-ridge; and it is only if we go down into the darkness of mines to dig us treasure of earth that we need fear to choke on their poisonous breath.
This path is symbolised by the “Fool” of the Tarot, who is alike the Mystic and the Infinite.
But apart from this question, it is by no means certain that the formula is as simple as it seems. How is the mystic to assure himself that “God” is really “God” and not some demon masquerading in His image?
How is it that the ego would want to destroy itself or become ‘lost’. The Paratman becomes idolized and anthrompomorphosized, as well as objectified; the Mystic’s god has to become everyone’s god. In his or her Bhakti delusion this god becomes the only god, the very description of failure in the Abyss.
We find Gerson sacrificing Huss to his “God”; we find a modern journalist who has done more than dabble in mysticism writing, “This mystic life at its highest is undeniably selfish”; we find another writing like the old lady who ended her criticism of the Universe, “There’s only Jock an’ me’ll be saved; an’ I’m no that sure o’ Jock”; we find another who at the age of ninety-nine foams at the mouth over an alleged breach of her alleged copyright; we find another so sensitive that the mention of his name by the present writer induces an attack of epileptic mania; if such are really “united with” or “absorbed in” God, what of God?
Though the mystical method is clearly dangerous and deceiving, we should note that on the other hand, mysticism is still a necessary component of Magick. However, we know from history that Jean Charlier de Gerson and John Huss were theological opponents during the “great schism” of the Roman church, and Huss was executed for heresy by order of the Council of Constance in 1415. Upon reading the history of this schism, we see human nature at work and in this case, showing through one of the chief dangers of mysticism, they mistook their own individual suns for the Sun that lords over the sky. And it seems to me that most mytics do this as its the natural tendency of the art; they mistake Paratman for the “one God” in their monotheistic and Manichaean reflex.
There is also a reference to A.E. Waite’s A Book of Mystery and Vision, which was reviewed by Crowley in the Equinox. In this, Crowley quite eloquently reveals the very nature of the superstitious thinking process of the mystic; the inherent cognitive dissonance that allows for contradictory thinking processes…as it’s all rather solipsistic.
We are told in Galations that the fruits of the Spirit are peace, love, joy, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperence; and somewhere else, “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
Of these evil-doers then we must either think that they are dishonest, and have never attained at all, or that they have united themselves with a devil.
Evil is objectified by the Mystic as it is but the half of the one coin that is their objectified image of God. Anyone that cannot see what to them is so obvious, must be evil.
Such are “Brethren of the Left Hand Path,” described so thoroughly in Liber 418 (Equinox, No. V., Special Supplement, pp. 119 sqq.).2
The notated excerpt from Liber 418 is as follows:
And now the peacock’s head is again changed into a woman’s head sparkling and coruscating with its own light of gems. But I look upwards, seeing that she is called the footstool of the Holy One, even as Binah is called His throne. And the whole Æthyr is full of the most wonderful bands of light,—a thousand different curves and whorls, even as it was before, when I spake mysteries of the Holy Qabalah, and so could not describe it.
The Holy One is the Great Magickian (Paratman). And his feet are below the hells; that is the manifestation on Earth is the Magickian engaged in life and with the world he creates in manifested actuality (not seduced by Maya).
Oh, I see vast plains beneath her feet, enormous deserts studded with great rocks; and I see little lonely souls, running helplessly about, minute black creatures like men (Again the Black Brothers.). And they keep up a very curious howling, that I can compare to nothing that I have ever heard; yet it is strangely human. And the voice says: These are they that grasped love and clung thereto, praying ever at the knees of the great goddess. These are they that have shut themselves up in fortresses of Love. Each plume of the peacock is full of eyes, that are at the same time 4 7. And for this is the number 28 reflected down into Netzach; and that 28 is Kaph Cheth (Kach), power. For she is Sakti, the eternal energy of the Concealed One. And it is her eternal energy that hath made this eternal change. And this explaineth the call of the Æthyrs, the curse that was pronounced in the beginning being but the creation of Sakti. And this mystery is reflected in the legend of the Creation, where Adam represents the Concealed One, for Adam is Temurah of MAD, the Enochian word for God, and Eve, whom he created for love, is tempted by the snake, Nechesh, who is Messiah her child. And the snake is the magical power, which hath destroyed the primordial equilibrium.
* The fourth of the mystic numbers of Jupiter is 136.
The Mystic will take exception from the Black Brothers, not recognizing himself in them. He is too well consoled by the love of his own vision in the mirror. These are the mystics, the Shut Ups of cap. 89 of Liber 333. They have sought love and eschewed its opposite in their Manichean moralization. Their worship of Paratman and the negation of they themselves (ego-losers) have brought them to the lonely towers of the Abyss. They have cut themselves off from humanity, yet serve it despite their Wills; but as slaves to their do-gooder vanities. And in these vanities they find righteousness; self-righteousness, the most arrogant and condescending of vices.
The Mystic mistakes the lack of outward manifestation of spirit in the Mage as an indicator of evil in his Manichaean heresy. But this is too simplistic; there are those Adepts that Liber LXV quite appropriately shows, who shroud their light with the darkness, but are not cut off from the world; the world is the darkness they shroud themselves with, and why he may be called a “materialist”…indeed he or she loves and honors the world as his or her teacher.
LXV:I.18. So also the light that is absorbed. One absorbs little, and is called white and glistening; one absorbs all and is called black.
LXV:I.19. Therefore, O my darling, art thou black.
LXV:I.20. O my beautiful, I have likened thee to a jet Nubian slave, a boy of melancholy eyes.
LXV:I.21. O the filthy one! the dog! they cry against thee. Because thou art my beloved.
Of these the most characteristic sign is their exclusiveness. “We are the men.” “Ours is the only Way.” “All Buddhists are wicked,” the insanity of spiritual pride.
In today’s society, most of these exotericists conform their rhetoric to their PC mentality; thinking they have risen above this sectarian bigotry. But really, they have merely sublimated their arrogance in a condescending attitude of self-righteousness.
The Magician is not nearly so liable to fall into this fearful mire of pride as the mystic; he is occupied with things outside himself, and can correct his pride. Indeed, he is constantly being corrected by Nature. He, the Great One, cannot run a mile in four minutes! The mystic is solitary and shut up, lacks wholesome combat.
The Mystic fails to recognize that love and war are two sides of the same coin. The Mystic has made a false virtue of peace and a false scapegoat of war. How can the Mystic understand war when the Mystic has not even been able to understand the nature of human interaction?
We are all schoolboys, and the football field is a perfect prophylactic of swelled head. When the mystic meets an obstacle, he “makes believe” about it. He says it is “only illusion.”
This is the ego-loser failing to recognize even one’s own humility. Manifestation will remain an illusion for the Mystic, until he or she holds one’s hand in the fire. (pun intended)
He has the morphino-maniac’s feeling of bien-être, the delusions of the general paralytic.
This “bien-etre’ is the do-gooder insulating his or her condescension while dishing out pity for those he or she feels is truly inferior; always afraid to meet life head on and find one’s superior.
He loses the power of looking any fact in the face; he feeds himself on his own imagination; he persuades himself of his own attainment. If contradicted on the subject, he is cross and spiteful and cattish. If I criticise Mr X, he screams, and tries to injure me behind my back; if I say that Madame Y is not exactly St Teresa, she writes a book to prove that she is.
His scientific proofs are wrapped in poetic distraction and his poetry reads like a scientific formula.
Such persons “swollen with wind, and the rank mist they draw, Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread,” as Milton wrote of a less dangerous set of spiritual guides.
For their unhappy followers and imitators, no words of pity suffice. The whole universe is for thembut ”theglassoftheirfool’sface”; only, unlike Sir Palamedes,theyadmireit. Moraland spiritual Narcissi, they perish in the waters of illusion. A friend of mine, a solicitor in Naples, has told me strange tales of where such self-adoration ends.
And the subtlety of the devil is shown particularly in the method by which neophytes are caught by the Black Brothers. There is an exaggerated awe, a solemnity of diction, a vanity of archaic phrases, a false veil of holiness upon the unclean shrine. Stilted affectation masquerades as dignity; a rag-bag of mediævalism apes profundity; jargon passes for literature; phylacteries increase about the hem of the perfect prig, prude, and Pharisee.
Some may proclaim that this essay was written to do nothing more than exacerbate Crowley’s rivalry with Waite. But to reduce this to being simply Crowley’s disguised ranting against Waite is a mistake. Crowley is taking what he’s learned from Waite and others (his connections with many mystics and mages are many) and writing an articulate and generalized conclusion based on what he has learned.
Corollary to this attitude is the lack of all human virtue. The greatest magician, when he acts in his human capacity, acts as a man should. In paraticular, he has learnt kind-heartedness and sympathy. Unselfishness is very often his long suit. Just this the mystic lacks. Trying to absorb the lower planes into the higher, he neglects the lower, a mistake no magician could make.
The Mystic is quite competent at speaking of virtue, but rarely do his feet go where his mouth would have you believe. He or she may call these virtues, “fruits of the spirit” with a self-righteous demeanor, but his or her separation from the world takes one away from the conflicts where such virtues would actually be brought into practice. No virtue is ever manifested.
The Nun Gertrude, when it came to her turn to wash up the dishes, used to explain that she was very sorry, but at that particular moment she was being married, with full choral service, to the Saviour.
Hundreds of mystics shut themselves up completely and for ever. Not only is their wealth- producing capacity lost to society, but so is their love and good-will, and worst of all, so is their example and precept. Christ, at the height of his career, found time to wash the feet of his disciples; any Master who does not do this on every plane is a Black Brother. The Hindus honour no man who becomes “Sannyasi” (nearly our “hermit”) until he has faithfuly fulfilled all his duties as a man and a citizen. Celibacy is immoral, and the celibate shirks one of the greatest difficulties of the Path.
The point really is that if you can’t live in this world of contending forces and master this plane; understanding its ways, how can you possibly expect to master the higher planes? There is a difference between servitude (slavery) and servantry (love under will). Some say though, that what is right for one may not be so for another; but this lends itself very readily to a solipsistic paradigm. Rather, Crowley is saying that those who shut themselves up from the world,shirkfromthegreatestdifficulty;dealingwithothers,whichrequiresinterconnectivity. EvenonCrowley’s ‘Magickal Retirements’, he would often hold up in a hotel and go downstairs to the cafe for his meals and meet with friends.
Beware of all those who shirk the lower difficulties: it’s a good bet that they shirk the higher difficulties too.
Of the special dangers of the path there is here no space to write; each student finds at each step temptations reflecting his own special weakness. I have therefore dealt solely with the dangersinseparablefromthepathitself,dangersinherentinitsnature. Notforonemoment would I ask the weakest to turn back or turn aside from that path, but I would ask even the strongest to apply these correctives: first, the sceptical or scientific attitude, both in outlook and method; second, a healthy life, meaning by that what the athlete and the explorer mean; third, hearty human companionship, and devotion to life, work, and duty.
Let him remember that an ounce of honest pride is better than a ton of false humility, although an ounce of true humility is worth an ounce of honest pride; the man who works has no time to bother with either. And let him remember Christ’s statement of the Law “to love God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself.”
Know that thy neighbor is as much a God as you are and only then can you love him as yourself.
Love is the law, love under will.