☉ in 4° ♎ : ☽ in 18° ♎ : Anno IVxix a.n. (Thoughts on the True Will)

Posted: September 28, 2011 in Confessions of a New Aeon, Uncategorized

So the phase I am in right now is about trying to understand the True Will.

I guess if I intend to remain a Thelemite, thats always going to be what phase I am in.

I am totally sold on the idea of the True Will. I have a moving goal post about what it actually is but I will submit a True Will continuum.

At one end the True Will is at least the best aspects of you being manifest in a tremendous task which reflects your best aspects and has the highest ethical payoff for your personality and disposition. The other end is that it is the destiny, the will of God, the real pre-incarnate purpose of your life.

The True Will is a great purpose of life.

One’s understanding and revelation of the True Will should be in progress, it should be at some level an understanding that is constantly blooming and being refined. With certain major magickal pay offs along the way. After all, learning one’s True Will  and accomplishment of it is the real purpose of the Great Work of Thelema.

Even if one is not a Thelemite, I truly expect one to have a sense of this to be of any positive element in my life.

I despise the human inertia and its tendency to be the default mode for so many.

I have become convinced, since this seems to be so prevalent, that most people just blunder through life waiting for something to happen to them or for them. No goals. No real goals. No need to make a major contribution. No hunger.

I am particularly grieved when I find this kind of purposeless inertia, this muffled Will, in those who I find intelligent and attractive (not just good looking). I see there so much waste,  it really gives me cause for mourning.

The True Will lives in the unconscious.

This means it goes beyond just setting goals. Its the thing that will ultimately tie your best goals together.

It is the thesis of your whole life if you live it correctly.

One is always in a holy maze, on a quest, over coming obstacles to find greater and deeper revelations from the unconscious about your True Will.

I have so little of my own True Will mapped out. But I feel like I have enough to act. I also end up being a quite typical Thelemite in the sense that most of my Magick is geared towards deeper revelation of my True Will through invocations of my Holy Guardian Angel in a progressive journey towards knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel for deeper revelation of the True Will.

Just to explain the Holy Guardian Angel, many Thelemites believe this is a being which lives in true independence and represents another realm and has a bond with you towards a greater purpose. At a minimum it can be understood to be an imaginary friend which represents the voice of those unconscious aspects which are so benevolent you are trying to bring them out. Your HGA (Holy Guardian Angel) gives voice and guidance to these aspects. My own beliefs lie somewhere in between, and I am still experimenting.

I just mention this to explain for those who didn’t know and so that if I discuss my HGA people will know what the hell I am talking about.

I envision a sort of blend of Kali (the Hindu goddess of death), Santa Muerte (a Mexican Santeria goddess of death and probably the universe), Nuit, the Whore of Babylon, Aphrodite, Mictecacihuatl (the Aztec goddess of the underworld), Hathor,  essentially a goddess who is totally sexy, totally irresistible. But in the end she represents your death. Your end.

When I see her as male, I see her as the archangel Uriel, who is the angel of Art, among other things.

I envision her when I jog in the morning. I have an imaginary place I speak with her, envision her, reflect on my life as it is and seek guidance. She mostly provides good questions.

I also think of her in my Resh, my Santeria, my chaos magick. She is always invoked if I am trying to do something Magickal.

It is also important to understand that on a certain level, your HGA represents your self. Your highest self. You incarnating your True Will.

I see this technique, as I am currently using it,  as very fallible, when I was a Christian I thought I heard the voice of God in my internal dialogue and stumbled my way into many bad ideas in the name of the guidance of God. One should always refrain from excessive faith in things that you do without necessary preparation in the mind. The human brain is prone to deceptions for its own purposes, which have been programmed into it by evolution.

But I believe my techniques of imagining these interactions and shaping my actions through them, albeit with restraint and skepticism, I am slowly building up the lattice work, the base of the pyramid, that will eventually allow me to have good techniques for using my HGA.

In traditional Thelema this is called Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. It usually involves years of preparation, and extremely long and arduous ritual work. It is not hard to imagine how this might allow one to build a truly useful HGA.

Though I can’t stress enough, most Thelemites would recoil at the idea that you are building your HGA, it is building you.

I am just providing a naturalistic framework for how this could work. I am still experimenting.

I am using this technique as a way to distill, to start to get the faintest of grips, on what I really, really, really want to be doing right now. Every day. Manifesting my True Will.

We talk about art. Writing.

I believe one aspect of my True Will I have discovered is that I want to publish my comics, continue to record my podcast, write these blogs, work on my books. To speak. To get my messages and stories out there.

They all have a theme, the themes of what I call radical education, personal development as political revolt, universal freethought. I believe it is my True Will in some small aspect to pursue spreading these memes via my art and writing.

I also believe as I pursue a deeper understanding of the True Will that I will refine and see which aspects of these things are more important than others. My steps on the path will get more precise, a run towards the horizon becomes a graceful tightrope walk beyond the horizon.

Specificity, grace, maximum pay off with each step, I believe that these things will flow into my actions as I gain a deeper understanding of the True Will.

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Comments
  1. Los says:

    I just stumbled across this post, and I felt compelled to comment on it, since I run a blog called “Thelema and Skepticism” and since I frequently write about the True Will.

    There’s merit to some of what you say, but you seem a little mixed up on the subject, which, given your admirable admission that you’re still trying to figure this stuff out, is very understandable.

    For example, you describe the Will as involving “the best aspects of you being manifest in a tremendous task which reflects your best aspects and has the highest ethical payoff for your personality and disposition.”

    This description is filled with value-judgments: your “best” aspects, the “highest ethical payoff.”

    The True Will, as described by Crowley, does not arise from mental judgments comparing the inherent “goodness” or “ethical-ness” of your qualities. The Book of the Law is clear on this point: “Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing & any other thing”. The Thelemite is told not to “make a difference” between things – that is to say, it is a mistake to declare one characteristic of yourself inherently “better” than another characteristic (or even the “best”).

    Discovering the True Will – to simplify things a bit – is about dropping all of those mental value judgments. The Will isn’t about “being your best”: it’s about dropping ideas about “good,” “bad,” and “best,” and just acknowledging your actual inclinations in the moment. It’s categorically not some kind of grand purpose, plan, or narrative for your life. There may be a pattern to the things you are inclined to do, and you may be able to detect this pattern, but it’s not some sort of mapped out path that you’re supposed to “figure out” – it just happens, all on its own. Your goal is to help it manifest.

    Your description of the HGA – a term that Crowley explicitly says he chose “because the theory implied in these words is so patently absurd that only simpletons would waste much time in analysing it. It would be accepted as a convention, and no one would incur the grave danger of building a philosophical system upon it” – strikes me as odd. In one breath, you admit that “The human brain is prone to deceptions for its own purposes, which have been programmed into it by evolution” and that you used to delude yourself into thinking that you were talking to “God.” But in the very next breath, you say that talking to a different imaginary friend is going to help you get closer to your True Will.

    Since the True Will doesn’t arise in the mind, paying attention to words generated by your mind isn’t going to get you any closer to it, by definition.

    It might help to note that the Latin root of the word “conversation” – conversatio – doesn’t mean to dialogue or talk to: it means a “way of life,” specifically in a monastic, sacred context. The word also means “to change” or “to convert.”

    Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel – since Crowley obviously didn’t expect people to take the phrase literally, at face value – is better understood as “directly perceiving the True Self and living one’s entire life from that dynamic depth.” It has nothing to do with talking to imaginary spooks for advice about trivial matters.

    As to the things that you are surmising are part of your Will – producing art, stories, comics, things you enjoy doing – that sounds like you’re on the right track. The point is just to do things that you authentically and genuinely enjoy, rather than doing things because they strike you as “meaningful” or “inherently good” or whatnot. You obviously don’t need to talk to imaginary friends to figure that out.

    Anyway, I’ve probably rambled on for too long. Best of luck to you, wherever your studies take you.

    –Los

  2. mindcore says:

    Los

    Do What thou Wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

    I use the term “imaginary friend” as a way to describe how I am using constructs within my mind to penetrate deeper into the unconscious. What I believe I am describing is solid astral work, done in the body of light. Which Crowley did discuss. I try to use terms that might be funny or lacking in pretention so novices and hardcore skeptics can feel free to experiment.

    However I am not a Crowley dogmatist. So if I disagree with Crowley on anything, so be it. I will lose no sleep over it.

    I think the man was a genius and he mapped out great techniques and goals. I think his body of writing is phenomenal. I think he was a historical force for freedom. But I will never deify him above myself, or anyone else for that matter.

    Second if you can describe any experience whatsoever of either your HGA or your True Will, any experience, any awareness, your neurons are involved. Therefore your mind.

    Go ahead try it out, tell me how one attains any level of awareness of the HGA or True Will, any kind of progress. See if I fail to describe accurately what the brain (and therefore the mind) is doing. You will be providing me with a mighty stride if you can. Because if there is some way to do the Great Work without using your nervous system I will be totally shocked and need to start doing it that way.

    I may be a novice in Thelema, but my B.S. in neuroscience makes me pretty fucking good at knowing what the brain is like.

    Though, I submit… if you are able to provide me with a neuron free experience of either the HGA or the True Will, I will be very impressed and submit to your correction.

    My writing of both these phenomena: the True Will and the HGA, place them both in the unconscious or beyond the conscious mind. If I was unclear about that, I will fix that happily. But the unconscious is still “mind” hell the autonomic nervous system (though one would have to do some reading in neuroscience to understand why) is “mind.”

    Also regarding my terms like “good” or “ethics” to even believe in Liber Oz is an ethical position. If you felt that it wasn’t I could recommend some basic texts on ethics.

    If you think something should be done, as opposed to just floating around in inertia, you have taken an ethical stance. Sorry no Crowley quotes to back that up, just standard definitions of academic ethics.

    Any Crowley rejection of such concepts, I believe, comes from what Nietzsche (a great ethicist) called the “Slave Morality” which was so prevalent in both their lifetimes.

    I use these terms to provide an “optimum convenience,” (as Crowley said should be our maxim,), optimum convenience, results, even doing Resh or an Abremelin working are all ethical in nature, they are all towards some end. They all suggest a course of action for reasons, and can be described as ethics.

    I await your neuron-free description of experiences of the HGA and the True Will.

    • Los says:

      I think we’re having a bit of a communication problem because we’re each using the same words to mean different things. I’ll illustrate:

      You write: “if you can describe any experience whatsoever of either your HGA or your True Will, any experience, any awareness, your neurons are involved. Therefore your mind.”

      I use “mind” in a specific way to refer to the thoughts, emotions, feelings, intuition, imagination, and unconscious neuroses and tendencies (compare the “Khu” of AL I:8). This “mind” – in the sense that I’m using the term – is a veil over what I call the “true self,” the dynamic aspect of which is the true will (compare the “Khabs”).

      If you meditate, you can pretty easily “turn off” that which I’m calling the mind, and what’s left over is that which I’m calling the “true self.”

      Now, you can, of course, argue that “self” is just an illusion produced by neurons, or you can argue that, from a neurological perspective, it’s impossible to draw a strict line between what I’m calling “mind” and what I’m calling the “true self,” and that may all be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that, in practice, you can sit down to meditate and shut off what I’m calling “mind” and still be able to perceive what I’m calling “true self.” [In the same way that you can argue that an apple is “really” just a collection of atoms and therefore not a solid, single “thing,” but no matter how true that may be, it doesn’t change the fact that, practically speaking, you can pluck the apple off a tree and eat it]

      “Go ahead try it out, tell me how one attains any level of awareness of the HGA or True Will, any kind of progress.”

      Discovering the True Will is, to boil it down to basics, a process of learning to observe your true self in real time situations – as free as possible from the distorting influence of what I call the mind – drawing tentative conclusions about what your true self enjoys, and testing out those tentative conclusions. Rinse and repeat.

      You write: “Also regarding my terms like “good” or “ethics” to even believe in Liber Oz is an ethical position. If you felt that it wasn’t I could recommend some basic texts on ethics.”

      Again, this is just a difference of language. Of course you can claim that Thelema’s advocation of moral nihilism – which Crowley summarized with the phrase “Ethics is balderdash” – is itself an ethical position. Crowley himself plays word games like that at times, too. But the game gets a little tortuous here because it’s sort of like describing someone who is against religion as having a “religious point of view.” In one sense, it’s right, in that this person has a position *about* religion, but in another sense it’s misleading because his actual view itself isn’t at all what nearly anyone would call “religious.”

      But in practice, what we mean when we say that discovering the true will is about “dropping all those mental value judgments,” we mean preventing the self from acting on its ideas about what is “good” or “bad.” Whether you want to describe that as an “ethical position” or not is just an issue of labeling that is not relevant to the practice.

      So, as a practical example, let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you don’t actually enjoy doing activity X, but you decide that you should keep doing it because it’s “using your talents to the best” – and implicitly, there’s another value judgment here, that “it’s good to use your talents to the best.” In this situation, you would be, essentially, forcing yourself to do something that your self does not want to do, purely because your mind (i.e. your thoughts, emotions, etc.) has talked you into thinking that you “should” do it because there’s something inherently “good” about it. As a result, according to Thelema, this would frustrate your true self.

      The practice of Thelema entails realizing that you do not, in fact, enjoy this activity and allowing your true self to go do things it actually does want to do.

      [As an aside, I don’t regard Liber Oz as something to believe in, in the same way someone might “believe in the ten commandments” or “believe in the power of positive thinking.” The way I read the text, it’s a statement of fact: that the strong *have* certain rights, given to them by nature, by virtue of their being strong enough to claim them. For this reason, I find it difficult to consider it an “ethical text,” just as I would find it difficult to consider a history book or a biology textbook an “ethical text”]

      You write: “I use the term “imaginary friend” as a way to describe how I am using constructs within my mind to penetrate deeper into the unconscious.”

      Well, you’re of course free to do whatever you like, but I was just pointing out that I find it curious that you’re so aware of the mind’s ability to fool itself yet so quick to entertain the idea that consciously talking to yourself will give you insight into your True Will.

      Look at the tentative conclusions you’ve drawn about your will already: that it involves creating stories, producing art, communicating with others. These are the kinds of things, I would be very willing to bet, that you could figure out without having imaginary conversations in your mind.

      –Los

      P.S. While we’re at it, it’s “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” (only one capital letter besides the first) and “Love is the law, love under will.” (Only one capital letter, the first one) I realize that that seems silly and nitpicking – and hey, as a skeptic, you already know that capitalizing words doesn’t have any ooky-spooky “power” – but it’s a question of accurate quotation and appearances.

  3. mindcore says:

    Oh yeah….
    Love is the Law. Love under Will.

  4. mindcore says:

    93

    Fair enough. On all your statements. Ultimately, with the clarification you provided, I find them helpful and worth considering as I move forward. Your clarification on capitalization is also helpful, I started out not capitalizing, and then got some grief for that, and am trying to adhere to Thelemic tradition.

    The only thing that I want to assert from my argument, or at least postulate as a credible hypothesis, is the idea that the the symbols that one has in “astral work” or in imagination, can be seen as a communication between the conscious and unconscious mind. I also DON’T believe
    I am attaining “knowledge and conversation” when I do this. I believe I am invoking at all times, and being enflamed in prayer. I have definitely seen things while doing this stuff that I did not anticipate, that appeared much as it would in a dream.

    Most recently an hourglass which had coins in it instead of sand. I will then spend a ton of time researching these images, pondering on them, and trying to decipher their deeper meanings.

    In this sense I believe I am attaining some level of insight through these symbols into what you are referring to as the “true self.”

    I also practice traditional zen and mindfulness meditation, so I am not a total novice on these matters. In fact I don’t use the term novice as license for patronizing. My status as a novice includes 8 years of ritual magick in my adolescence, five years of meditation practice in the last few years, and two years of Thelemic occult study.

    I say it because I know there are people out there who have memorized all the tables in Liber 777, who do hardcore yoga every day, who have truly attained impressive levels on this stuff.

    Crowley’s comments on ethics, again, come from the climate of ethical studies when he was alive. Nietzsche, who I consider to be the source of my personal ethics, also referred to them as a waste of time.

    They failed to predict that as things like consequentialism, and post-modernism, and other more advanced and recent developments in philosophy took hold, that the discussion of ethics would broaden beyond what could be seen as the weaknesses of the Aeon of Osiris.

    Thank you for your comments. I will bear them in mind.
    And again thank you for the help with the capitalization.

  5. Los says:

    You write: “I say it because I know there are people out there who have memorized all the tables in Liber 777, who do hardcore yoga every day, who have truly attained impressive levels on this stuff.”

    Well, I think we have to be careful not to fall into a trap that I see a lot of Thelemties fall into: thinking that every conceivable practice, especially those recommended by Crowley, will help them attain, in the sense of attaining the true will. [Incidentally, I’m not writing this as a criticism of you: I applaud your skeptical approach…my gripe here is with the rather unskeptical approach of other Thelemites]

    We have to distinguish between actual spiritual attainment and artificial tasks that are unrelated to attainment and just serve the function of attaching the individual to Crowley’s system. Memorizing tables out of 777 or memorizing chapters of the Thelemic holy books will indeed make you better at memorizing stuff, but it won’t get you a bit closer to discovering your natural inclinations (i.e. true will). Similarly, sitting in asana for a few hours a day will make you better at asana, but it won’t bring you even a tad closer to attaining the true will.

    Again, please understand that what I’m writing here isn’t a criticism of you. I’m talking, in general, about sentiments I hear from other Thelemites, who tend not to approach this subject from a skeptical point of view, from a perspective of questioning Crowley’s system. Let’s be honest: Crowley had some brilliant ideas, but he also had some ideas that were totally bonkers and nothing more than a manifestation of his personal psychological problems: things like cutting your forearm with razor blades and eating cakes baked with menstrual blood and semen have pretty much zilch to do with learning about the nature of your being. Similarly, performing elaborate freemason-inspired rituals or swearing “oaths” and joining orders might be fun activities to some people, but they’re really wholly separate from the task of learning about your nature and really aren’t going to get anybody any closer to it.

    You write: “The only thing that I want to assert from my argument, or at least postulate as a credible hypothesis, is the idea that the the symbols that one has in “astral work” or in imagination, can be seen as a communication between the conscious and unconscious mind.”

    Here’s an example of a kind of practice that I think might be fun or interesting in a number of different ways (it might, for example, help you come up with inspiration for creating art or give you an insight into the kinds of things that are bubbling beneath the surface of your mind or allow you to produce some interesting insights about symbolism by analyzing the visions you get) but that we have good reason to be skeptical about, in terms of its utility for revealing the true will.

    As you probably know from your years of experience with cermemonial magick, generating visions is downright easy. However, while these visions might be “meaningful” to the person experiencing them, they don’t really mean that much in the big picture. It’s probably the case that they come from the “unconscious mind,” but I’d be hesitant to identify that with the true will. After all, unconscious neuroses could lead you astray from the will, and who’s to say that the images you generate from these visions don’t stem from neuroses? Again, they might be interesting to analyze — in the same way that analyzing dreams might be interesting — but I think it’s good to be skeptical about how well they reveal things about the nature of your being, untainted by the hangups of your psyche.

    I say all of this because there are some Thelemites out there — believe it or not — who actually do think that “attainment” is nothing more than generating increasingly trippy visions or memorizing and quoting passages that they barely understand or just dressing up in robes and feeling oh-so-spiritual.

    Thelemites, as a group (or at least the ones you tend to encounter online), appear to be quite the opposite of skeptical, which is ironic, given Crowley’s emphasis on it. For that reason, Thelema needs more reasonable, skeptical people, people who approach the world from a naturalist perspective. I applaud you for taking a skeptical stance on the occult and on Thelema, and I hope you continue down this path. I’d be interested in reading your thoughts as they develop.

  6. mindcore says:

    Right now I hear you Los. It makes me think of transcending from Ruach to Neshamah in the Qabalah. Are you familiar with these concepts?

    I have been pondering your points, and some stuff I am doing in my study of the Tarot and Qabalah are synchronistically (take that with a grain of salt) backing up your arguments. I am studying the Swords as they correspond to Sephiroth in the Qabalah. The Swords are all about using them against your own mind.

    • Los says:

      I am familiar with these concepts, and yes, you’re absolutely on the right track. The Sword (i.e. the intellect) needs to be a finely-honed tool (that is, trained to use reason and skepticism and all the rest), for its job is to evaluate the world around you (after all, how could you accomplish your true will if you are working from a false understanding of the world around you?).

      But for Thelemites, the intellect is absolutely *not* supposed to tell the self what to do. As soon as your intellect starts generating ideas like, “You should do X” or “It’s good to do X” or “Good, spiritual people do Y…so you should do Y!” your intellect is overstepping its sphere of authority.

      For a Thelemite, it’s the will — which is not rational, in the sense that it’s not generated by consciously thinking about it — that directs action. The function of the intellect is to *assist* the will in manifesting, not to tell the will what it is or to tell the self what it’s supposed to be doing.

      Obviously, in order to assist your will in manifesting, your intellect needs to be very well-trained, very skeptical, and very capable of reporting facts about the world to you accurately. If, for example, your will is to produce comic books, you’ll always be hampered if you’re not aware that there are comic books, if you’re not aware of the methods by which people produce and publish comic books, if you’re not aware of the kinds of narrative strategies comic books employ, etc.

      In this situation, the intellect’s function is to learn all about the subject and report it back to you. But that initial impulse to produce comic books didn’t come from the intellect (or, at least it doesn’t if it’s really your will). And, in fact, when you detect your intellect making value judgments (“Oh, comic books are so childish. You should devote your time to studying medicine instead. Then you’ll have money and be important”), that’s your mind trying to substitute its values for the true will (your natural preferences).

      Obviously, “mindfulness” exercises are incredibly, incredibly useful in this context, as are any kinds of exercises that help you develop your ability to perceive. That, incidentally, is the real value of the “occult” practices and meditation…they sharpen your observation skills so that you can better observe your will in real time. Better observing your will in real time means that you can better do those things that are actually fulfilling to your nature (as opposed to those things that your mind tells you that you “should” be doing because they are so great and “good”).

      To put it in different terms, for most people, the relationship between intellect and true self is one in which the intellect runs the show and leads the self along on a leash. The task of a Thelemite is, basically, to reverse this relationship: to regain control over the intellect and make it a *servant* of the True Will, rather than the master. That’s what it means to “transcend” the intellect.

      You’ll find that a lot of Thelemites misunderstand this and think that “transcending” the intellect provides them with a new means for evaluating claims — they tell themselves things like, “Well, once you’ve transcended the intellect, you’ll see that reincarnation is true” or something like that. But in fact, just the opposite is true: claims about the world can only be evaluated by the reason on the basis of evidence: that’s one of the main functions of the reason. You “transcend” the reason not by blindly accepting supernatural claims but by detecting reason’s attempts to substitute its preferences for your true preferences and defeating it.

      This is what is meant by using the intellect to defeat itself and “transcending” the reason.

      If you get a chance, I’ve got a whole blog devoted to this subject (“Thelema and Skepticism”) — since you’re on the right track here, you might be interested in reading the introductory post, which is linked on the first page. There are also links to the “Enchiridion of Thelema,” another blog on a skeptical approach to Thelema and to Erwin Hessle’s blog, which is so filled with insights on the practice of Thelema that you’ll hardly know what to do with yourself.

  7. mindcore says:

    Will you please link your blog, I had a false memory I had already asked you to. You might also like IAO131’s blog if you have never read it. And his book for that matter, he is self publishing on LuLu, but its one of my favorite books. It gives me great joy to say that about a self published piece.

    I totally agree with you, and its something I am working on. I appreciate your patience in this dialogue.

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