Duty

by

Aleister Crowley

A note on the chief rules of practical conduct to be observed by those who accept the Law of Thelema.


“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” AL I:40
“There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.” AL III:60
“[...] thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.” AL I:42-44
“Love is the law, love under will.” AL I:57
“Every man and every woman is a star.” AL I:3

A. YOUR DUTY TO YOURSELF

1. Find yourself to be the centre of your own Universe.
“I am the flame that burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star.” AL II:6

2. Explore the Nature and Powers of your own Being.
This includes everything which is, or can be, for you: and you must accept everything exactly as it is in itself, as one of the factors which go to make up your True Self. This True Self thus ultimately includes all things soever; its discovery is Initiation (the travelling inwards) and as its Nature is to move continually, it must be understood not as static, but as dynamic, not as a Noun but as a Verb.

3. Develop in due harmony and proportion every faculty which you possess.
“Wisdom says: be strong!” AL II:70
“But exceed! exceed!” AL II:71
“Be strong, o man! lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture: fear not that any God shall deny thee for this.” AL II:22

4. Contemplate your own Nature.
Consider every element thereof both separately and in relation to all the rest as to judge accurately the true purpose of the totality of your Being.

5. Find the formula of this purpose, or “True Will,” in an expression as simple as possible.
Learn to understand clearly how best to manipulate the energies which you control to obtain the results most favourable to it from its relations with the part of the Universe which you do not yet control.

6. Extend the dominion of your consciousness, and its control of all forces alien to it, to the utmost.
Do this by the ever stronger and more skillful application of your faculties to the finer, clearer, fuller, and more accurate perception, the better understanding, and the more wisely ordered government, of that external Universe.

7. Never permit the thought or will of any other Being to interfere with your own.
Be constantly vigilant to resent, and on the alert to resist, with unvanquishable ardour and vehemence of passion unquenchable, every attempt of any other Being to influence you otherwise than by contributing new facts to your experience of the Universe, or by assisting you to reach a higher synthesis of Truth by the mode of passionate fusion.

8. Do not repress or restrict any true instinct of your Nature; but devote all in perfection to the sole service of your one True Will.
“Be goodly therefore…” AL I:51

“The word of Sin is Restriction. O man! refuse not thy wife, if she will! O lover, if thou wilt, depart! There is no bond that can unite the divided but love: all else is a curse. Accursed! Accursed be it to the aeons! Hell.” AL I:41

“So with thy all; thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.” AL I:42-44

“Ye shall gather goods and store of women and spices; ye shall wear rich jewels; ye shall exceed the nations of the earth in splendour & pride; but always in the love of me, and so shall ye come to my joy.” AL I:61 “Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains.” AL II:9

“But ye, o my people, rise up & awake! Let the rituals be rightly performed with joy & beauty! [...] A feast for fire and a feast for water; a feast for life and a greater feast for death! A feast every day in your hearts in the joy of my rapture! A feast every night unto Nu, and the pleasure of uttermost delight! Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is the dissolution, and eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu.” AL II:34-36…41-44

“Now rejoice! now come in our splendour & rapture! Come in our passionate peace, & write sweet words for the Kings!” AL II:64

“Thrill with the joy of life & death! Ah! thy death shall be lovely: whoso seeth it shall be glad. Thy death shall be the seal of the promise of our agelong love. Come! lift up thine heart & rejoice!” AL II:66

“Is a God to live in a dog? No! but the highest are of us. They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us. Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor, force and fire, are of us.” AL II:19-20

B. YOUR DUTY TO OTHER INDIVIDUAL MEN AND WOMEN

1. Unite yourself passionately with every other form of consciousness,
Thus destroying the sense of separateness from the Whole, and creating a new baseline in the Universe from which to measure it.
“Love is the law, love under will.” AL I:57
“Come forth, o children, under the stars, & take your fill of love!” AL I:12

2. “As brothers fight ye!” AL III:59
“If he be a King, thou canst not hurt him.” AL II:59

To bring out saliently the differences between two points-of-view is useful to both in measuring the position of each in the whole. Combat stimulates the virile or creative energy; and, like love, of which it is one form, excites the mind to an orgasm which enables it to transcend its rational dullness.

3. Abstain from all interferences with other wills.
“Beware lest any force another, King against King!” AL II:24

The love and war in the previous injunctions are of the nature of sport, where one respects, and learns from the opponent, but never interferes with him, outside the actual game. To seek to dominate or influence another is to seek to deform or destroy him; and he is a necessary part of one’s own Universe, that is, of one’s self.

4. Seek, if you so will, to enlighten another when need arises.
This may be done, always with the strict respect for the attitude of the good sportsman, when he is in distress through failure to understand himself clearly, especially when he specifically demands help; for his darkness may hinder one’s perception of his perfection. (Yet also his darkness may serve as a warning, or excite one’s interest.) It is also lawful when his ignorance has lead him to interfere with one’s will. All interference is in any case dangerous, and demands the exercise of extreme skill and good judgement, fortified by experience. To influence another is to leave one’s citadel unguarded; and the attempt commonly ends in losing one’s own self-supremacy.

5. Worship all!

“Every man and every woman is a star.” AL I:3

“Mercy let be off; damn them who pity!” AL III:18

“We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world. Think not, o king, upon that lie: That Thou Must Die: verily thou shalt not die, but live. Now let it be understood: if the body of the King dissolve, he shall remain in pure ecstasy for ever. Nuit! Hadit! Ra-Hoor-Khuit! The Sun, Strength & Sight, Light; these are for the servants of the Star & the Snake.” AL II:21

Each being is, exactly as you are, the sole centre of a Universe in no wise identical with, or even assimilable to, your own. The impersonal Universe of “Nature” is only an abstraction, approximately true, of the factors which it is convenient to regard as common to all. The Universe of another is therefore necessarily unknown to, and unknowable by, you; but it induces currents of energy in yours by determining in part your reactions. Use men and women, therefore, with the absolute respect due to inviolable standards of measurement; verify your own observations by comparison with similar judgements made by them; and, studying the methods which determine their failure or success, acquire for yourself the wit and skill required to cope with your own problems.

Pity, sympathy and like emotions are fundamentally insults to the Godhead of the person exciting them, and therefore also to your own. The distress of another may be relieved; but always with the positive and noble idea of making manifest the perfection of the Universe. Pity is the source of every mean, ignoble, cowardly vice; and the essential blasphemy against Truth.

“To Me do ye reverence! to me come ye through tribulation of ordeal, which is bliss.” AL III:62

C. YOUR DUTY TO MANKIND

1. Establish the Law of Thelema as the sole basis of conduct.
The general welfare of the race being necessary in many respects to your own, that well-being, like your own, principally a function of the intelligent and wise observance of the Law of Thelema, it is of the very first importance to you that every individual should accept frankly that Law, and strictly govern himself in full accordance therewith.

You may regard the establishment of the Law of Thelema as an essential element of your True Will, since, whatever the ultimate nature of that Will, the evident condition of putting it into execution is freedom from external interference.

Governments too often exhibit the most deplorable stupidity, however enlightened may be the men who compose and constitute them, or the people whose destinies they direct. It is therefore incumbent on every man and woman to take the proper steps to cause the revisions of all existing statutes on the basis of the Law of Thelema. This Law being a Law of Liberty, the aim of the legislature must be to secure the amplest freedom for each individual in the state, eschewing the presumptuous assumption that any given positive ideal is worthy to be obtained.

“The word of Sin is Restriction.” AL I:41

The essence of crime is that it restricts the freedom of the individual outraged. (Thus, murder restricts his right to live; robbery, his right to enjoy the fruits of his labour; coining, his right to the guarantee of the state that he shall barter in security; etc.) It is then the common duty to prevent crime by segregating the criminal, and by the threat of reprisals; also, to teach the criminal that his acts, being analyzed, are contrary to his own True Will. (This may often be accomplished by taking from him the right which he has denied to others; as by outlawing the thief, so that he feels constant anxiety for the safety of his own possessions, removed from the ward of the State.) The rule is quite simple. He who violated any right declares magically that it does not exist; therefore it no longer does so, for him.

Crime being a direct spiritual violation of the Law of Thelema, it should not be tolerated in the community. Those who possess the instinct should be segregated in a settlement to build up a state of their own, so to learn the necessity of themselves imposing and maintaining rules of justice. All artificial crimes should be abolished. When fantastic restrictions disappear, the greater freedom of the individual will itself teach him to avoid acts which really restrict natural rights. Thus real crime will diminish automatically.

The administration of the Law should be simplified by training men of uprightness and discretion whose will is to fulfill this function in the community to decide all complaints by the abstract principle of the Law of Thelema, and to award judgement on the basis of the actual restriction caused by the offense.

The ultimate aim is thus to reintegrate Conscience, on true scientific principles, as the warden of conduct, the monitor of the people, and the guarantee of their governors.

D. YOUR DUTY TO ALL OTHER BEINGS AND THINGS

1. Apply the Law of Thelema to all problems of fitness, use, and development.
It is a violation of the Law of Thelema to abuse the natural qualities of any animal or object by diverting it from its proper function, as determined by consideration of its history and structure. Thus, to train children to perform mental operations, or to practice tasks, for which they are unfitted, is a crime against nature. Similarly, to build houses of rotten material, to adulterate food, to destroy forests, etc., etc., is to offend.

The Law of Thelema is to be applied unflinchingly to decide every question of conduct. The inherent fitness of any thing for any proposed use should be the sole criterion.

Apparent, and sometimes even real, conflict between interests will frequently arise. Such cases are to be decided by the general value of the contending parties in the scale of Nature. Thus, a tree has a right to its life; but a man being more than a tree, he may cut it down for fuel or shelter when need arises. Even so, let him remember that the Law never fails to avenge infraction: as when wanton deforestation has ruined a climate or a soil, or as when the importation of rabbits for a cheap supply of food has created a plague.

Observe that the violation of the Law of Thelema produces cumulative ills. The drain of the agricultural population to big cities, due chiefly to persuading them to abandon their natural ideals, has not only made the country less tolerable to the peasant, but debauched the town. And the error tends to increase in geometrical progression, until a remedy has become almost inconceivable and the whole structure of society is threatened with ruin.

The wise application based on observation and experience of the Law of Thelema is to work in conscious harmony with Evolution. Experiments in creation, involving variation from existing types, are lawful and necessary. Their value is to be judged by their fertility as bearing witness to their harmony with the course of nature towards perfection.

 

The Law of Liberty or Liber DCCCXXXVII

A Tract of TO MEGA ΘΗΡΙΟΝ 666

That is a Magus 9°=2  A∴A∴

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

I

I AM OFTEN ASKED why I begin my letters in this way. No matter whether I am writing to my lady or to my butcher, always I begin with these eleven words. Why, how else should I begin? What other greeting could be so glad? Look, brother, we are free! Rejoice with me, sister, there is no law beyond Do what thou wilt!

II

I WRITE this for those who have not read our Sacred book, The Book of the Law, or for those who, reading it, have somehow failed to understand its perfection. For there are many matters in this Book, and the Glad Tidings are now here, now there, scattered throughout the Book as the Stars are scattered through the field of Night. Rejoice with me, all ye people! At the very head of the Book stands the great charter of our godhead: “Every man and every woman is a star.” We are all free, all independent, all shining gloriously, each one a radiant world. Is not that good tidings?

Then comes the first call of the Great Goddess Nuit, Lady of the Starry Heaven, who is also Matter in its deepest metaphysical sense, who is the infinite in whom all we live and move and have our being. Hear Her first summons to us men and women: “Come forth, o children, under the stars, & take your fill of love! I am above you and in you. My ecstasy is in yours. My joy is to see your joy.” Later She explains the mystery of sorrow: “For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union.”

“This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.”

It is shown later how this can be, how death itself is an ecstasy like love, but more intense, the reunion of the soul with its true self.

And what are the conditions of this joy, and peace, and glory? Is ours the gloomy asceticism of the Christian, and the Buddhist, and the Hindu? Are we walking in eternal fear lest some “sin” should cut us off from “grace”? By no means.

“Be goodly therefore: dress ye all in fine apparel; eat rich foods and drink sweet wines and wines that foam! Also, take your fill and will of love as ye will, when, where, and with whom ye will! But always unto me.”

This is the only point to bear in mind, that every act must be a ritual, an act of worship, a sacrament. Live as the kings and princes, crowned and uncrowned, of this world, have always lived, as masters always live; but let it not be self-indulgence; make your self- indulgence your religion.

When you drink and dance and take delight, you are not being “immoral,” you are not “risking your immortal soul”; you are fulfilling the precepts of our holy religion—provided only that you remember to regard your actions in this light. Do not lower yourself and destroy and cheapen your pleasure by leaving out the supreme joy, the consciousness of the Peace that passeth understanding. Do not embrace mere Marian or Melusine; she is Nuit Herself, specially concentrated and incarnated in a human form to give you infinite love, to bid you taste even on earth the Elixir of Immortality. “But ecstasy be thine and joy of earth: ever To me! To me!”

Again She speaks: “Love is the law, love under will.” Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever toward it without allowing aught to stop you or turn you aside, even as a star sweeps upon its incalculable and infinite course of glory, and all is Love. The Law of your being becomes Light, Life, Love and Liberty. All is peace, all is harmony and beauty, all is joy.

For hear, how gracious is the Goddess; “I give unimaginable joys on earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in sacrifice.”

Is this not better than the death-in-life of the slaves of the Slave- Gods, as they go oppressed by consciousness of “sin,” wearily seeking or simulating wearisome and tedious “virtues”?

With such, we who have accepted the Law of Thelema have nothing to do. We have heard the Voice of the Star-Goddess: “I love you! I yearn to you! Pale or purple, veiled or voluptuous, I who am all pleasure and purple, and drunkenness of the innermost sense, desire you. Put on the wings, and arouse the coiled splendour within you: come unto me!” And thus She ends:

“Sing the rapturous love-song unto me! Burn to me perfumes! Wear to me jewels! Drink to me, for I love you! I love you! I am the blue- lidded daughter of Sunset; I am the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night-sky. To me! To me!” And with these words “The Manifestation of Nuit is at an end.”

III

IN THE NEXT CHAPTER of our book is given the word of Hadit, who is the complement of Nuit. He is eternal energy, the Infinite Motion of Things, the central core of all being. The manifested Universe comes from the marriage of Nuit and Hadit; without this could no thing be. This eternal, this perpetual marriage-feast is then the nature of things themselves; and therefore everything that is, is a crystallization of divine ecstasy.

Hadit tells us of Himiself: “I am the flame that burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star.” He is then your own inmost divine self; it is you, and not another, who are lost in the constant rapture of the embraces of Infinite Beauty. A little further on He speaks of us:

“We are not for the poor and the sad: the lords of the earth are our kinsfolk.”

“Is a God to live in a dog? No! but the highest are of us. They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us.”

“Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor, force and fire, are of us.” Later, concerning death, He says: “Think not, o king, upon that lie: That Thou Must Die: verily thou shalt not die, but live. Now let it be understood: If the body of the King dissolve, he shall remain in pure ecstasy for ever.” When you know that, what is left but delight? And how are we to live meanwhile?

“It is a lie, this folly against self.” {…} “Be strong, o man! lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture: fear not that any God shall deny thee for this.”

Again and again, in words like these, He sees the expansion and the development of the soul through joy.

Here is the Calendar of our Church: “But ye, o my people, rise up & awake! Let the rituals be rightly performed with joy & beauty!” Remember that all acts of love and pleasure are rituals, must be rituals. “There are rituals of the elements and feasts of the times. A feast for the first night of the Prophet and his Bride! A feast for the three days of the writing of the Book of the Law. A feast for Tahuti and the child of the Prophet—secret, o Prophet! A feast for the Supreme Ritual, and a feast for the Equinox of the Gods. A feast for fire and a feast for water; a feast for life and a greater feast for death! A feast every day in your hearts in the joy of my rapture! A feast every night unto Nu, and the pleasure of uttermost delight! Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is the dissolution, and eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu.” It all depends on your own acceptance of this new law, and you are not asked to believe anything, to accept a string of foolish fables beneath the intellectual level of a Bushman and the moral level of a drug-fiend. All you have to do is to be yourself, to do your will, and to rejoice.

“Dost thou fail? Art thou sorry? Is fear in thine heart?” He says again: “Where I am, these are not.” There is much more of the same kind; enough has been quoted already to make all clear. But there is a further injunction. “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! But exceed! exceed! 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.”

Lift yourselves up, my brothers and sisters of the earth! Put beneath your feet all fears, all qualms, all hesitancies! Lift yourselves up! Come forth, free and joyous, by night and day, to do your will; for “There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.” Lift yourselves up! Walk forth with us in Light and Life and Love and Liberty, taking our pleasure as Kings and Queens in Heaven and on Earth.

The sun is arisen; the spectre of the ages has been put to flight. “The word of Sin is Restriction,” or as it has been otherwise said on this text: That is Sin, to hold thine holy spirit in!

Go on, go on in thy might; and let no man make thee afraid.

Love is the law, love under will.

A Commentary to Liber Librae 

Liber Librae is Liber XXX, or Liber 30. 30 is the number of the Hebrew letter Lamed, which relates to the Tarot card "Adjustment" and the astrological sign of "Libra." Both of these refer to equilibrium, with Libra's symbol being the scales of balance. The number attributed to the Tarot card "Adjustment" is both 8 and 11, both symbols of equilibrium. The text itself is 22 lines long (line 0 - line 21), the number of keys in the Tarot, and is 11 x 2.

The text is described as "Karma Yoga. An elementary course of morality suitable for the average man." It is actually an adumbration of an earlier Golden Dawn text. The fact that it is said to be 'suitable for the average man' will show us that the the language of the text is intended for the more normal comprehension, so, for example, references to non-duality and other difficult concepts will be a minimum. As another example, one may say the initiated view of dualities is given in the Tao Teh Ching (ch.2): "All men know that beauty and ugliness are correlatives, as are skill and clumsiness; one implies and suggests the other. / So also existence and non-existence pose the one the other; so also is it with ease and difficulty, length and shortness; height and lowness. Also Musick exists through harmony of opposites; time and space depend upon contraposition." In such 'an elementary course' as this, we may expect not this attitude but that of using dualisms to help the 'average man' understand this perspective of morality. 

Further, terms such as "self-respect" contain many presuppositions, the most uncertain of which is the nature of the "self" itself. Obviously we must understand these terms in relation to the context and "take them with a grain of salt" - that is, we must try to understand what is trying to be told to us without descending into intellectual sophistry and obscurity.

* * *

0. Learn first --- Oh thou who aspirest unto our ancient Order! --- that Equilibrium is the basis of the Work. If thou thyself hast not a sure foundation, whereon wilt thou stand to direct the forces of Nature?

It was mentioned above that since this is a course for the average man, dualisms will be apparent. To counter this, we have as the very first injunction to learn 'that Equilibrium is the basis of the Work,' it is 'a sure foundation' where 'thou stand to direct the forces of Nature.' This doctrine is stately overtly and subtly in probably every religion and many philosophies. Buddha announced the doctrine of "The Middle Path" when, according to legend, he saw that a string on an instrument does not produce a proper sound if it is tuned either too loose or too tight. Taoism, mentioned above, has the Tao and its expression in the complementary opposites of yin and yang (which originally come from words describing two faces of one mountain). Also the two pillars of Freemasonry and the Qabalistic Tree of Life (which are united in the balanced Middle Pillar) echo this idea.

Since this document is adapted from an earlier text that came from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, we may expect a doctrine that espoused the perspective or morality that is adopted by the Magician. The Magician is one who uses "the Science & Art of causing Change in conformity with Will." This active approach appears to be in stark contrast to many of the attitudes adopted in the East. This may be true for some, but it also has a subtle harmony with many doctrines of the East - "all paths lead to Rome," essentially. From this perspective of magick, we are told to maintain equilibrium so we may "direct the forces of Nature."

1. Know then, that as man is born into this world amidst the Darkness of Matter, and the strife of contending forces; so must his first endeavour be to seek the Light through their reconciliation.

This line starts "know then" implying that it is a direct continuation of the last line, so we must keep this notion that "equilibrium is the basis of the work" to "direct the forces of Nature" in mind. It asserts that man is born into a world of "the strife of contending forces," harkening back to agon of Heraclitus. This doctrine of dualities is apparent in all religions, and in this particular tradition, duality is seen as "Darkness (of Matter)" and the unity is "the Light" which are to seek "through [the] reconciliation" of the "contending forces." 

The doctrine of attaining "Light through reconciliation of contending forces" is mirrored on many planes: "Thus Light and Heat result from the Marriage of Hydrogen and Oxygen; Love from that of Man and Woman, Dhyana or Ecstasy from that of the Ego and the non-Ego." -Crowley, Liber Aleph, "De Motu Vitae"

2. Thou then, who hast trials and troubles, rejoice because of them, for in them is Strength, and by their means is a pathway opened unto that Light.

Friedrich Nietzsche famously wrote, "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." Each trial, each overcoming of some conflict, gives us some experience and some strength. Further, 'a pathway opened unto that Light' by the reconciliation of conflict, especially duality itself.

3. How should it be otherwise, O man, whose life is but a day in Eternity, a drop in the Ocean of time; how, were thy trials not many, couldst thou purge thy soul from the dross of earth?

Is it but now that the Higher Life is beset with dangers and difficulties; hath it not ever been so with the Sages and Hierophants of the past? They have been persecuted and reviled, they have been tormented of men; yet through this also has their Glory increased.


There are three distinct parts to this line. The first is a contemplation on our relative minuteness in the scale of time. We are like 'a day in Eternity,' 'a drop in the Ocean.'

Secondly, its asserted that one purgues one's soul from 'the dross of earth' (related to the "Darkness of Matter" spoken of earlier) through the many trials. Therefore, the more trials, the more dross is burnt off. An analogous process is found in gem-cutting in that a rough diamond is cut out of the ground by the process of extreme amounts of friction it gets shaped into its multi-faceted glistening form.

Thirdly, our plight is put into the perspective of the many who have come before us. We are given an ego-boost by calling our situation "the Higher Life. Here is a good example of dualisms we should not get caught up in. "The Higher Life" implies that someone is living "the Lower Life." This kind of attitude only leads to a false sense of superiority. The way we must take it is that we were once ourselves living "the Lower Life" and now we see the necessity of striving toward what we perceive to be "the Higher Life." To get back on track, our striving towards this "Higher Life" is shown as part of a long string of strivings by "Sages and Hierophants of the past." This is important for two reasons. Firstly, we consider ourselves as part of a long-standing tradition. Secondly, we are reminded of the incredible sacrifices that many have made in the past for this same noble quest. Innumerable people, especially in the last millenium, have been burned at the stake (and innumerable other forms of torture and death) for their beliefs. 

4. Rejoice therefore, O Initiate, for the greater thy trial the greater thy Triumph. When men shall revile thee, and speak against thee falsely, hath not the Master said, "Blessed art thou!"?

A tone of affirmation runs through this work. The conclusion from these contemplations of our minuteness and our many troubles may lead one melancholy but this jumps to the conclusion, "Rejoice thereof, O Initiate." An important statement is made that "the greater thy trial the greater thy Triumph." This truth is echoed in many different planes. "the greater this Antinomy [between two conflicting things], the more fierce the Puissance of the Magnetism, and the Quality of Energy disengaged by the Coition. Thus in the Union of Similars, as of Halogens with each other, is no strong Passion of explosive Force, and the Love between two Persons of the like Character and Taste is placid and without Transmutation to higher Planes." -Crowley, Liber Aleph, "De Cursu Amoris"

Another common theme is to hold up one's head and continue in one's way even in the face of great persecution, reviling, etc. We are given another ego-boost in thinking that we are somehow "blessed" for being reviled or being spoken against falsely, but really the virtue lies in our indifference to either blame or praise. This same doctrine of indifference in the face of praise or blame was espoused specifically by the Buddha. 

5. Yet, oh aspirant, let thy victories bring thee not Vanity, for with increase of Knowledge should come increase of Wisdom. He who knoweth little, thinketh he knoweth much; but he who knoweth much hath learned his own ignorance. Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool, than of him.

Here is the necessary check to the whimsical language of "the Higher Life" and "Blessed art thou:" "let thy victories bring thee not Vanity." An important axiom is espoused: that he who knows, truly knows the limits to his own knowledge, his own ignorance. We are now to view Knowledge simply as a means to "increase of Wisdom," not simply to be a master of intellectual sophistry. We must humble ourselves before our own obvious ignorance - there will always be "a factore infinite & unknown." (AL II:32) This line in Liber Librae parallels the famous saying of Lao Tzu in the Tao Teh Ching, "He who knows, does not speak. He who speaks, does not know."

6. Be not hasty to condemn others; how knowest thou that in their place, thou couldest have resisted the temptation? And even were it so, why shouldst thou despise one who is weaker than thyself?

We are cautioned against judging others and told to "put ourselves in another's shoes," you might say. If this contemplation fails to dissipate our sense of condemnation then we are to remember that "why shouldst thou depise one who is weaker than thyself?" This echoes the famous lines of Jesus in Matthew 7:1-5, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."

7. Thou therefore who desirest Magical Gifts, be sure that thy soul is firm and steadfast; for it is by flattering thy weaknesses that the Weak Ones will gain power over thee. Humble thyself before thy Self, yet fear neither man not spirit. Fear is failure, and the forerunner of failure: and courage is the beginning of virtue.

We are cautioned against those who will flatter our weaknesses - another reason to be indifferent in the face of both praise and blame. To guard against this we are told to "be sure that thy soul is firm and steadfast," i.e. we are to be resolute and not be distracted from our way by either praise or blame.

Next we are given the powerful words, "Humble thyself before thy Self." The capitalization here is obviously important. Psychologically, we can understand the lower-case "thyself" to be the conscious ego, and we can understand the upper-case "thy Self" to be the archetype of the "Self" as delineated by Carl Jung - that archetype which contains the totality of the psyche, both conscious and unconscious. Further, we should remember the immortal Greek injunction of "Know Thyself," and the injunction of Pindar (and Nietzsche) to "Become who you are." All of these phrases are coterminous with this struggle towards Light - i.e. a realization/awakening/understand that dispels the 'darkness' of ignorance.

Finally, we have an injunction against fear in any form: "fear neither man nor spirit" because "fear is failure and the forerunner of failure." Fear can cause failure in many forms - what is here implied most likely failure in one's striving towards that "Higher Life." Fear causes one to become defensive, shut up, and repressive. Psychologically this naturally leads to neurosis and suffering. Therefore if fear is failure, "courage is the beginning of virtue." 

8. Therefore fear not the Spirits, but be firm and courteous with them; for thou hast no right to despise or revile them; and this too may lead thee astray. Command and banish them, curse them by the Great Names if need be; but neither mock nor revile them, for so assuredly wilt thou be lead into error.

We are not to fear the spirits but neither are we to look down upon them, "despise or revile them." We must "be firm and courteous" and act accordingly with spirits just as we would do with humans. 

9. A man is what he maketh himself within the limits fixed by his inherited destiny; he is a part of mankind; his actions affect not only what he calleth himself, but also the whole universe.

A sort of free will is presupposed here insofar as it is needed for man to be able to 'make himself' at all. Although free will can be easily explained away theoretically/philosophically, the practical necessity of acting as if we had free will should be apparent to anyone. All of us are born into a world of conditions: they appear to be space, time, causality and such but also we are born on a certain planet in a certain solar system in a certain galaxy in a certain part (in relation to other galaxies) of the universe. We are born into a certain family in a certain town in a certain country all with their own peculiar beliefs & customs. We are endowed with the genes of two specific people and receive many of their qualities thereby. The list can go on forever until it seems we have no choice at all of what we do, but we must maintain this practical view of free will. Within these conditions, 'the limits fixed by his inherited destiny,' we must make ourselves. Nietzsche wrote in "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" of the Overman, "I teach you the Overman. Man is something that is to be surpassed. What have ye done to surpass man? All beings hitherto have created something beyond themselves: and ye want to be the ebb of that great tide, and would rather go back to the beast than surpass man?"

Secondly, this making of ourselves is understood to affect not just what we perceive to be "ourselves" but it, in fact, has an effect upon the whole universe like a ripple extending infinitely outwards. It is analogous to the fact that our bodies have a certain mass which exerts a certain gravitational force extending indefinately outwards - its effect is so small comparatively, though, that we dont necessary see the effect on Sirius or even in something beside us. That does not mean it doesn't exist, though.

10. Worship and neglect not, the physical body which is thy temporary connection with the outer and material world. Therefore let thy mental Equilibrium be above disturbance by material events; strengthen and control the animal passions, discipline the emotions and the reason, nourish the Higher Aspirations.

Here is an injunction that flies in the face not only of many Eastern religious traditions but of the large ascetic tendency in the West. Many early Christians and Christians viewed the body as a sort of cage for the soul, something to be detested and transcended. Here we are told not only to "neglect not the physical body" but we are to to worship it. It is our "temporary connection with the outer and material world" - the doctrine being implied is that the soul occupies a mind and body which immerse it in the "Darkness of Matter," the outer and material world (and thereby the apparent conditions of time, space, causality, etc.)

11. Do good unto others for its own sake, not for reward, not for gratitude from them, not for sympathy. If thou art generous, thou wilt not long for thine ears to be tickled by expressions of gratitude.

Whether it is possible to 'do good unto others for its own sake' at all is debatable but the point is that we are not to act in anticipation of 'reward,' 'gratitude,' or 'sympathy.' Further, what I perceive to be good for myself may be a poison if imposed on my neighbor. Hence why its been said that "One Law for the Liox & Ox is Oppression."

12. Remember that unbalanced force is evil; that unbalanced severity is but cruelty and oppression; but that also unbalanced mercy is but weakness which would allow and abet Evil. Act passionately; think rationally; be Thyself.

Here is an interesting conception of evil: "unbalanced force," both "unbalanced severity," and "unbalanced mercy" - a direct reference to the two balanced & opposing pillars of the Qabalistic Pillar of Life.

Next we are given a sort of mantram: Our actions should be passionate, our thinking should be rational, but overall we must "by Thyself." This same injunction was seen above where it is said "Humble thyself before thy Self." Again we are reminded of Pindar's (and Nietzsche's!) statement that one must, "Become who you are." What this means will certainly differ between each person

13. True ritual is as much action as word; it is Will.

Here is a concise re-understanding of ritual. Ritual is both action and word; these two this are both manifestations of "Will." The will behind the action and word is what is most important.

14. Remember that this earth is but an atom in the universe, and that thou thyself art but an atom thereon, and that even couldst thou become the God of this earth whereon thou crawlest and grovellest, that thou wouldest, even then, be but an atom, and one amongst many.

Before our minuteness in time was considered, and now our minuteness in space is considered. We are an atom of an atom of an atom amongst innumerable other similar atoms. A contemplation to humble ourselves before our own relative insignificance (one should note that this could easily be carried in the exact opposite direction - that is, to our body, the cell is insignificant, the the atom is insignificant compared to the cell, the nucleus is insignificant compared to the atom, etc. This is antithetical to the point, though, in that we are to understand our relative insignificance in the span of both time and space, but...)

15. Nevertheless have the greatest self-respect, and to that end sin not against thyself. The sin which is unpardonable is knowingly and wilfully to reject truth, to fear knowledge lest that knowledge pander not to thy prejudices.

Although we now have contemplated our relative insignificance we are told "nevertheless have the greatest self-respect, and to that end sin not against thyself." Within our normal sphere of operations we must maintain an amount of self-respect insofar as we are assured both of our relative insignificance and our relative importance. We are told not to sin against ourselves, which could mean innumerable things. Psychologically, this means we must not repress our true feelings, passions, thoughts, and such. Our unconscious must be able to 'speak its mind' without conscious interference (like defense mechanisms). Again, as was said above, "be Thyself." 

An important injunction is given that "the sin which is unpardonable" is to reject some kind of truth or knowledge because it doesnt "pander... to thy prejudices." Anyone can see that nearly everyone does this to an extent - what is known as 'selective perception' to an extent. Each person naturally has a frame-of-reference and an orientation that they fit the facts into. Instead of fitting the facts to theories, we are told to fit our theories to the facts, essentially.

16. To obtain Magical Power, learn to control thought; admit only those ideas that are in harmony with the end desired, and not every stray and contradictory Idea that presents itself.

Magical Power is essentially the ability to "cause Change in conformity with Will." The amount of Power is proportional to amount one is able to "control thought." This controlling of thought is essentially the confining of the mind to one idea or group of ideas to the exclusion of all others. This is exactly analogous to the meditation methods of yoga, especially of Patanjali's Yogasutras.

17. Fixed thought is a means to an end. Therefore pay attention to the power of silent thought and meditation. The material act is but the outward expression of thy thought, and therefore hath it been said that "the thought of foolishness is sin." Thought is the commencement of action, and if a chance thought can produce much effect, what cannot fixed thought do?

Fixed thought gives us power, and now silent thought is shown to have power. We are told to contemplate how chance thoughts produce wide ranging physical effects - in this perspective, controlled, persistent, fixed thought can obviously cause much more effect "Change" because it is "in conformity with Will" that has been honed by the controlling of thought.

The thoughts of the mind are often made analogous to the beam of a flashlight. Normally the many thoughts are diffuse, just as the beam of light is more diffuse if it is spread out over a wide area. If we focus the beam into a point the light becomes extremely more intense and powerful just as if thought is concentrated a much more powerful force is available.

18. Therefore, as hath already been said, Establish thyself firmly in the equilibrium of forces, in the centre of the Cross of the Elements, that Cross from whose centre the Creative Word issued in the birth of the Dawning Universe.

Firmness in thought is shown to have great power as so "therefore" we are told again to "establish thyself firmly in the equilibrium of forces." A Hermetic sort of symbol is now brought up to illustrate this concept, "the Cross of the Elements," which represents the four elements of fire, water, air, and earth. At the center of this cross where the two lines intersect is traditionally the place of the fifth "quintessence" known as "Spirit." It is from this center of spirit that "the Creative Word issued in the birth of the Dawning Universe." This is a very Hermetic view insofar as they view man as a microcosm of the greater macrocosm. Just as the Creative Word (the Logos from ch.1 of Gospel of John) issued from this sort of center, our "Word" or Will issues from this center.

19. Be thou therefore prompt and active as the Sylphs, but avoid frivolity and caprice; be energetic and strong like the Salamanders, but avoid irritability and ferocity; be flexible and attentive to images like the Undines, but avoid idleness and changeability; be laborious and patient like the Gnomes, but avoid grossness and avarice.

We are now told to have the positive aspects of each element and cautioned against the negative aspects. We are to be "prompt and active" (air), "energetic and strong" (fire), "be flexible and attentive to images" (water), "laborious and patient" (earth). We are told to "avoid frivolity and caprice" (air), "irritability and ferocity" (fire), "idleness and changeability" (water), "grossness and avarice" (earth). Theoretically, if one abides by these injuncitons, one is balanced in 'the Cross of the Elements,' mentioned before.

20. So shalt thou gradually develop the powers of thy soul, and fit thyself to command the Spirits of the elements. For wert thou to summon the Gnomes to pander to thine avarice, thou wouldst no longer command them, but they would command thee. Wouldst thou abuse the pure beings of the woods and mountains to fill thy coffers and satisfy thy hunger of Gold? Wouldst thou debase the Spirits of Living Fire to serve thy wrath and hatred? Wouldst thou violate the purity of the Souls of the Waters to pander to thy lust of debauchery? Wouldst thou force the Spirits of the Evening Breeze to minister to thy folly and caprice? Know that with such desires thou canst but attract the Weak, not the Strong, and in that case the Weak will have power over thee.

We are told that by indulging in the negative side of these elements, we allow their control and power over us. 

21. In the true religion there is no sect, therefore take heed that thou blaspheme not the name by which another knoweth his God; for if thou do this thing in Jupiter thou wilt blaspheme YHVH and in Osiris YHShVH. Ask and ye shall have! Seek, and ye shall find! Knock, and it shall be opened unto you!

We are enjoined to view religion as universal (the real meaning of the word "catholic," ironically). The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn employed a diverse and intricate set of correspondence of symbolism all based on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. In this system, both the Greco-Roman Jupiter and the Jewish YHVH are attributed to the fourth Sephira of Chesed ("Mercy"), and both the Egyptian Osiris and the pseudo-Jewish YHShVH are attributed to the sixth Sephira of Tiphareth ("Beauty"). They therefore saw all these diverse manifestations as different expressions of the same "energy" of that particular "Sephira," and they also understood that all ten Sephiroth were really just one (in the Lightning Flash which flashes down and in the Serpent of Wisdom which reaches up). 

The epistle ends with a paraphrase of Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9, etc. The essential idea is to go outwards and continue always in the quest - only by asking will we have anything, only by seeking will we find anything and only by knocking will any door be opened for us.

Liber DCCCXXXVII 
{Book 837} 
The Law of Liberty

A Tract of ΤΟ ΜΕΓΑ ΘΗΡΙΟΝ 666 

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

 

I

 

I AM OFTEN ASKED why I begin my letters in this way. No matter whether I am writing to my lady or to my butcher, always I begin with these eleven words. Why, how else should I begin? What other greeting could be so glad? Look, brother, we are free! Rejoice with me, sister, there is no law beyond Do what thou wilt!

 

II

 

I WRITE this for those who have not read our Sacred book, The Book of the Law, or for those who, reading it, have somehow failed to understand its perfection. For there are many matters in this Book, and the Glad Tidings are now here, now there, scattered throughout the Book as the Stars are scattered through the field of Night. Rejoice with me, all ye people! At the very head of the Book stands the great charter of our godhead: “Every man and every woman is a star.” We are all free, all independent, all shining gloriously, each one a radiant world. Is not that good tidings?

 

Then comes the first call of the Great Goddess Nuit, Lady of the Starry Heaven, who is also Matter in its deepest metaphysical sense, who is the infinite in whom all we live and move and have our being. Hear Her first summons to us men and women: “Come forth, o children, under the stars, & take your fill of love! I am above you and in you. My ecstasy is in yours. My joy is to see your joy.” Later She explains the mystery of sorrow: “For I am divided for love's sake, for the chance of union.”

 

“This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.”

 

It is shown later how this can be, how death itself is an ecstasy like love, but more intense, the reunion of the soul with its true self.

 

And what are the conditions of this joy, and peace, and glory? Is ours the gloomy asceticism of the Christian, and the Buddhist, and the Hindu? Are we walking in eternal fear lest some “sin” should cut us off from “grace”? By no means.

 

“Be goodly therefore: dress ye all in fine apparel; eat rich foods and drink sweet wines and wines that foam! Also, take your fill and will of love as ye will, when, where, and with whom ye will! But always unto me.”

 

This is the only point to bear in mind, that every act must be a ritual, an act of worship, a sacrament. Live as the kings and princes, crowned and uncrowned, of this world, have always lived, as masters always live; but let it not be self-indulgence; make your self-indulgence your religion.

 

When you drink and dance and take delight, you are not being “immoral,” you are not “risking your immortal soul”; you are fulfilling the precepts of our holy religion—provided only that you remember to regard your actions in this light. Do not lower yourself and destroy and cheapen your pleasure by leaving out the supreme joy, the consciousness of the Peace that passeth understanding. Do not embrace mere Marian or Melusine; she is Nuit Herself, specially concentrated and incarnated in a human form to give you infinite love, to bid you taste even on earth the Elixir of Immortality. “But ecstasy be thine and joy of earth: ever To me! To me!”

 

Again She speaks: “Love is the law, love under will.” Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever toward it without allowing aught to stop you or turn you aside, even as a star sweeps upon its incalculable and infinite course of glory, and all is Love. The Law of your being becomes Light, Life, Love and Liberty. All is peace, all is harmony and beauty, all is joy.

 

For hear, how gracious is the Goddess; “I give unimaginable joys on earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in sacrifice.”

 

Is this not better than the death-in-life of the slaves of the Slave-Gods, as they go oppressed by consciousness of “sin,” wearily seeking or simulating wearisome and tedious “virtues”?

 

With such, we who have accepted the Law of Thelema have nothing to do. We have heard the Voice of the Star-Goddess: “I love you! I yearn to you! Pale or purple, veiled or voluptuous, I who am all pleasure and purple, and drunkenness of the innermost sense, desire you. Put on the wings, and arouse the coiled splendour within you: come unto me!” And thus She ends:

 

“Sing the rapturous love-song unto me! Burn to me perfumes! Wear to me jewels! Drink to me, for I love you! I love you! I am the blue-lidded daughter of Sunset; I am the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night-sky. To me! To me!” And with these words “The Manifestation of Nuit is at an end.”

 

III

 

IN THE NEXT CHAPTER of our book is given the word of Hadit, who is the complement of Nuit. He is eternal energy, the Infinite Motion of Things, the central core of all being. The manifested Universe comes from the marriage of Nuit and Hadit; without this could no thing be. This eternal, this perpetual marriage-feast is then the nature of things themselves; and therefore everything that is, is a crystallization of divine ecstasy.

 

Hadit tells us of Himself: “I am the flame that burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star.” He is then your own inmost divine self; it is you, and not another, who are lost in the constant rapture of the embraces of Infinite Beauty. A little further on He speaks of us:

 

“We are not for the poor and the sad: the lords of the earth are our kinsfolk.”

 

“Is a God to live in a dog? No! but the highest are of us. They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us.”

 

“Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor, force and fire, are of us.” Later, concerning death, He says: “Think not, o king, upon that lie: That Thou Must Die: verily thou shalt not die, but live. Now let it be understood: If the body of the King dissolve, he shall remain in pure ecstasy for ever.” When you know that, what is left but delight? And how are we to live meanwhile?

 

“It is a lie, this folly against self—Be strong, o man! lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture: fear not that any God shall deny thee for this.”

 

Again and again, in words like these, He sees the expansion and the development of the soul through joy.

 

Here is the Calendar of our Church: “But ye, o my people, rise up & awake! Let the rituals be rightly performed with joy & beauty!” Remember that all acts of love and pleasure are rituals, must be rituals. “There are rituals of the elements and feasts of the times. A feast for the first night of the Prophet and his Bride! A feast for the three days of the writing of the Book of the Law. A feast for Tahuti and the child of the Prophet—secret, o Prophet! A feast for the Supreme Ritual, and a feast for the Equinox of the Gods. A feast for fire and a feast for water; a feast for life and a greater feast for death! A feast every day in your hearts in the joy of my rapture! A feast every night unto Nu, and the pleasure of uttermost delight! Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is the dissolution, and eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu.” It all depends on your own acceptance of this new law, and you are not asked to believe anything, to accept a string of foolish fables beneath the intellectual level of a Bushman and the moral level of a drug-fiend. All you have to do is to be yourself, to do your will, and to rejoice.

 

“Dost thou fail? Art thou sorry? Is fear in thine heart?” He says again: “Where I am, these are not.” There is much more of the same kind; enough has been quoted already to make all clear. But there is a further injunction. “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! But exceed! exceed! 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.”

 

Lift yourselves up, my brothers and sisters of the earth! Put beneath your feet all fears, all qualms, all hesitancies! Lift yourselves up! Come forth, free and joyous, by night and day, to do your will; for “There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.” Lift yourselves up! Walk forth with us in Light and Life and Love and Liberty, taking our pleasure as Kings and Queens in Heaven and on Earth.

 

The sun is arisen; the spectre of the ages has been put to flight. “The word of Sin is Restriction,” or as it has been otherwise said on this text: That is Sin, to hold thine holy spirit in!

 

Go on, go on in thy might; and let no man make thee afraid.

 

Love is the law, love under will.