By Aleister Crowley
YOGA FOR YELLOWBELLIES. FIRST LECTURE
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
let us begin this evening by going briefly over the ground covered by my first four lectures. I told you that Yoga meant union, and that this union was the cause of all phenomena. Consciousness results from the conjunction of a mysterious stimulus with a mysterious sensorium. The kind of Yoga which is the subject of these remarks is merely an expansion of this, the union of self-consciousness with the universe.
We spoke of the eight limbs of Yoga, and dealt with the four which refer to physical training and experiences. The remaining four deal with mental training and experiences, and these form the subject of the ensuing remarks.
2. Before we deal with these in detail, I think it would be helpful to consider the formula of Yoga from what may be called the mathematical, or magical standpoint. This formula has been described in my text-book on Magick, Chapter III., the formula of Tetragrammaton. This formula covers the entire universe of magical operations. The word usually pronounced Jehovah is called the Ineffable Name; it is alleged that when pronounced accurately its vibrations would destroy the universe; and this is indeed quite true, when we take the deeper interpretation.
Tetragrammaton is so called from the four letters in the word: Yod, He, Vau, and He'. This is compared with the relations of a family -- Yod, the Father, He, the Mother; Vau, the Son; and the final He', the Daughter. (In writing she is sometimes distinguished from her mother by inserting a small point in the letter.) This is also a reference to the elements, fire, water, air, earth. I may go further, and say that all possible existing things are to be classed as related to one or more of these elements for convenience in certain operations. But these four letters, though in one sense they represent the eternal framework, are not, so to speak, original. For instance, when we place Tetragrammaton on the Tree of Life, the Ten Sephiroth or numbers, we do not include the first Sephira. Yod is referred to the second, He to the third, Vau to the group from 4 to 9, and He' final to the tenth. No. 1 is said to be symbolised by the top point of the Yod. It is only in No. 10 that we get the manifested universe, which is thus shown as the result of the Yoga of the other forces, the first three letters of the name, the active elements, fire, water and air. (These are the three 'mother letters' in the Hebrew alphabet.) The last element, earth, is usually considered a sort of consolidation of the three; but that is rather an unsatisfactory way of regarding it, because if we admit the reality of the universe at all we are in philosophical chaos. However, this does not concern us for the moment.
3. When we apply these symbols to Yoga, we find that fire represents the Yogi, and water the object of his meditation. ((You can, if you like, reverse these attributions. It makes no difference except to the metaphysician. And precious little to him!) The Yod and the He combine, the Father and Mother unite, to produce a son, Vau. This son is the exalted state of mind produced by the union of the subject and the object. This state of mind is called Samadhi in the Hindu terminology. It has many varieties, of constantly increasing sublimity; but it is the generic term which implies this union which is the subject of Yoga. At this point we ought to remember poor little He' final, who represents the ecstasy -- shall I say the orgasm? -- and the absorption thereof: the compensation which cancels it. I find it excessively difficult to express myself. It is one of these ideas which is very deeply seated in my mind as a result of constant meditation, and I feel that I am being entirely feeble when I say that the best translation of the letter He' final would be 'ecstasy rising into Silence.' Moral: meditate yourselves, and work it out! Finally, there is no other way.
4. I think it is very important, since we are studying Yoga from a strictly scientific point of view, to emphasise the exactness of the analogy that exists between the Yogic and the sexual process. If you look at the Tree of Life, you see that the Number One at the top divides itself into Numbers Two and Three, the equal and opposite Father and Mother, and their union results in the complexity of the Son, the Vau Group, while the whole figure recovers its simplicity in the single Sephira of He' final, of the Daughter.
It is exactly the same in biology. The spermatozoon and the ovum are biologically the separation of an unmanifested single cell, which is in its function simple, though it contains in itself, in a latent form, all the possibilitiies of the original single cell. Their union results in the manifestatiion of these qualities in the child. Their potentialities are expressed and developed in terms of time and space, while also, accompanying the act of union, is the ecstasy which is the natural result of the consciousness of their annihilation, the necessary condition of the production of their offspring.
5. It would be easy to develop this thesis by analogies drawn from ordinary human experiences of the growth of passion, the hunger accompanying it, the intense relief and joy afforded by satisfaction. I like rather to think of the fact that all true religion has been the artistic, the dramatic, representation of the sexual process, not merely because of the usefulness of this cult in tribal life, but as the veil of this truer meaning which I am explaining to you tonight. I think that every experience in life should be regarded as a symbol of the truer experience of the deeper life. In the Oath of a Master of the Temple occurs the clause: 'I will interpret every phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with my soul.'
It is not for us to criticise the Great Order for expressing its idea in terms readily understandable by the ordinary intelligent person. We are to wave aside the metaphysical implications of the phrase, and grasp its obvious meaning. So every act should be an act of Yoga. And this leads us directly to the question which we have postponed until now -- Concentration.
6. Concentration! The sexual analogy still serves us. Do you remember the Abbe in Browning? Asked to preside at the Court of Love, he gave the prize to the woman the object of whose passion was utterly worthless, in this admirable judgment:
'The love which to one, and one only, has reference Seems terribly like what perhaps gains God's preference.' It is a commonplace, and in some circumstances (such as con- stantly are found among foul-minded Anglo-Saxons) a sort of joke, that lovers are lunatics. Everything at their command is pressed into the service of their passion; every kind of sacrifice, every kind of humiliation, every kind of discomfort -- these all count for nothing. Every energy is strained and twisted, every energy is directed to the single object of its end. The pain of a momentary separation seems intolerable; the joy of consummation impossible to describe: indeed, almost impossible to bear!
7. Now this is exactly what the Yogi has to do. All the books -- they disagree on every other point, but they agree on this stupid- ity -- tell him that he has to give up this and give up that, some- times on sensible grounds, more often on grounds of prejudice and superstition. In the advanced stages one has to give up the very virtues which have brought one to that state! Every idea, considered as an idea, is lumber, dead weight, poison; but it is all wrong to represent these acts as acts of sacrifice. There is no question of depriving oneself of anything one wants. The process is rather that of learning to discard what one thought one wanted in the darkness before the dawn of the discovery of the real object of one's passion. Hence, note well! concentration has reduced our moral obligations to their simplest terms: there is a single standard to which everything is to be referred. To hell with the Pope! If Lobster Newburg upsets your digestion -- and good digestion is necessary to your practice -- then you do not eat Lobster Newburg. Unless this is clearly under- stood, the Yogi will constantly be side-tracked by the sophistica- tions of religious and moral fanatics. To hell with the Archbishops! 8. You will readily appreciate that to undertake a course of this kind requires careful planning. You have got to map out your life in advance for a considerable period so far as it is humanly possible to do so. If you have failed in this original strategical disposition, you are simply not going to carry through the campaign. Unforeseen contingencies are certain to arise, and therefore one of our precautions is to have some sort of reserve of resource to fling against unexpected attacks.
This is, of course, merely concentration in daily life, and it is the habit of such concentration that prepares one for the much severer task of the deeper concentration of the Yoga practices. For those who are undertaking a preliminary course there is nothing better, while they are still living more or less ordinary lives, than the practices recommended in 'The Equinox'. There should be -- there must be -- a definite routine of acts calculated to remind the student of the Great Work.
9. The classic of the subject is 'Liber Astarte vel Berylli', the Book of Devotion to a Particular Deity. This book is admirable beyond praise, reviewing the whole subject in every detail with flawless brilliancy of phrase. Its practice is enough in itself to bring the devotee to high attainment. This is only for the few. But every student should make a point of saluting the Sun (in the manner recommended in Liber Resh) four times daily, and he shall salute the Moon on her appearance with the Mantra Gayatri. The best way is to say the Mantra instantly one sees the Moon, to note whether the attention wavers, and to repeat the Mantra until it does not waver at all.
He should also practise assiduously Liber III. vel Jugorum. The essence of this practice is that you select a familiar thought, word or gesture, one which automatically recurs fairly often during the day, and every time you are betrayed into using it, cut yourself sharply upon the wrist or forearm with a convenient instrument. There is also a practice which I find very useful when walking in a christian city -- that of exorcising (with the prescribed outward and downward sweep of the arm and the words 'Apo pantos kakodaimonos') any person in religious garb.
All these practices assist concentration, and also serve to keep one on the alert. They form an invaluable preliminary training for the colossal Work of genuine concentration when it comes to be a question of the fine, growing constantly finer, movements of the mind.
10. We may now turn to the consideration of Yoga practices themselves. I assume that in the fortnight which has elapsed since my last lecture you have all perfected yourselves in Asana and Pranayama; that you daily balance a saucer brimming with sulphuric acid on your heads for twelve hours without accident, that you all jump about busily like frogs when not seriously levitated; and that your Mantra is as regular as the beating of your heart. The remaining four limbs of Yoga are Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
I will give you the definition of all four at a single stroke, as each one to some extent explains the one following. Pratyahara may be roughly described as introspection, but it also means a certain type of psychological experience. For instance, you may suddenly acquire a conviction, as did Sir Humphry Davy, that the universe is composed exclusively of ideas; or you may have the direct experience that you do not possess a nose, as may happen to the best of us, if we concentrate upon the tip of it.
11. Dharana is meditation proper, not the kind of meditation which consists of profound consideration of the subject with the idea of clarifying it or gaining a more comprehensive grasp of it, but the actual restraint of the consciousness to a single imaginery object chosen for the purpose.
These two limbs of Yoga are therefore in a sense the two methods employed mentally by the Yogi. For, long after success in Samadhi has been attained, one has to conduct the most extensive explorations into the recesses of the mind.
12. The word Dhyana is difficult to define; it is used by many writers in quite contrary senses. The question is discussed at some length in Part I. of my Book IV. I will quote what I have written about it in conclusion --
'Let us try a final definition. Dhyana resembles Samadhi in many respects. There is a union of the ego and the non-ego, and a loss of the sense of time and space and causality. Duality in any form is abolished. The idea of time involves that of two consecutive things, that of space two non-coincident things, that of causality two connected things.'
13. Samadhi, on the contrary, is in a way very easy to define. Etymology, aided by the persistence of the religious tradition, helps us here. "Sam is a prefix in Sanskrit which developed into the prefix 'syn' in Greek without changing the meaning -- 'syn' in 'synopsis,' 'synthesis,' 'syndrome.' It means 'together with.' 'Adhi' has also come down through many centuries and many tongues. It is one of the oldest words in human language; it dates from the time when each sound had a definite meaning proper to it, a meaning suggested by the muscular movement made in producing the sound. Thus, the letter D originally means 'father'; so the original father, dead and made into a 'God,' was called Ad. This name came down unchanged to Egypt, as you see in the Book of the Law. The word 'Adhi' in Sanskrit was usually translated 'Lord.' In the Syrian form we get it duplicated Hadad. You remember Ben Hadad, King of Syria. The Hebrew word for 'Lord' is Adon or Adonai. Adonai, *my* Lord, is constantly used in the Bible to replace the name Jehovah where that was too sacred to be mentioned, or for other reasons improper to write down. Adonai has also come to mean, through the Rosicrucian tradition, the Holy Guardian Angel, and thus the object of worship or concentration. It is the same thing; worship is worth-ship, means worthiness; and anything but the chosen object is necessarily an unworthy object.
14. As Dhyana also represents the condition of annihilation of dividuality, it is a little difficult to distinguish between it and Samadhi. I wrote in Part I., Book IV. -- 'These Dhyanic conditions contradict those of normal thought, but in Samadhi they are very much more marked than in Dhyana. And while in the latter it seems like a simple union of two things, in the former it appears as if all things rush together and unite. One might say this, that in Dhyana there was still this quality latent, that the one existing was opposed to the many non-existing; in Samadhi the many and the one are united in a union of existence with non-existence. This definition is not made from reflection, but from memory.'
15. But that was written in 1911, and since then I have had an immense harvest of experience. I am inclined to say at this moment that Dhyana stands to Samadhi rather as the jumping about like a frog, described in a previous lecture, does to Levitation. In other words, Dhyana is an unbalanced or an impure approximation to Samadhi. Subject and object unite and disappear with ecstasy mounting to indifference, and so forth, but there is still a presentation of some kind in the new genus of consciousness. In this view Dhyana would be rather like an explosion of gunpowder carelessly mixed; most of it goes off with a bang, but there is some debris of the original components.
These discussions are not of very great importance in them- selves, because the entire series of the three states of meditation proper is summed up in the word Samyama; you can translate it quite well for yourselves, since you already know that 'sam' means 'togeth- er,' and that 'Yama' means 'control.' It represents the merging of minor individual acts of control into a single gesture, very much as all the separate cells, bones, veins, arteries, nerves, muscles and so forth, of the arm combine in unconscious unanimity to make a single stroke.
16. Now the practice of Pratyahara, properly speaking, is introspection, and the practice of Dharana, properly speaking, is the restraint of the thought to a single imaginary object. The former is a movement of the mind, the latter a cessation of all movement. And you are not likely to get much success in Pratyahara until you have made considerable advance in Dhyana, because by introspection we mean the exploration of the sub-strata of the consciousness which are only revealed when we have progressed a certain distance, and become aware of conditions which are utterly foreign to normal intellectual conception. The first law of normal thought is *A is A*: the law of identity, it is called. So we can divide the universe into A and not-A; there is no third thing possible.
Now, quite early in the meditation practices, the Yogi is likely to get as a direct experience the consciousness that these laws are not true in any ultimate way. He has reached a world where intel- lectual conceptions are no longer valid; they remain true for the ordinary affairs of life, but the normal laws of thought are seen to be no more than a mere mechanism. A code of conventions. The students of higher mathematics and metaphysics have often a certain glimmering of these facts. They are compelled to use irra- tional conceptions for greater convenience in conducting their rational investigations. for example, the square root of 2, or the square root of minus 1, is not in itself capable of comprehension as such; it pertains to an order of thinking beyond the primitive man's invention of counting on his fingers.
17. It will be just as well then for the student to begin with the practices of Dharana. If he does so he will obtain as a by- product some of the results of Pratyahara, and he will also acquire considerable insight into the methods of practising Pratyahara. It sounds perhaps, at first, as if Pratyahara were off the main line of attainment in Yoga. This is not so, because it enables one to deal with the new conditions which are established in the mind by realisa- tion of Dhyana and Samadhi.
I can now describe the elementary practices. You should begin with very short periods; it is most important not to overstrain the apparatus which you are using; the mind must be trained very slowly. In my early days I was often satisfied with a minute or two at a time; three or four such periods twice or three times a day. In the earliest stages of all it is not necessary to have got very far with Asana, because all you can get out of the early practices is really a foreshadowing of the difficulties of doing it.
18. I began by taking a simple geometrical object in one colour, such as a yellow square. I will quote the official instruc- tions in 'The Equinox'.
'Dharana -- Control of thought.'
'1. Constrain the mind to concentrate itself upon a single simple object imagined. The five tatwas are useful for this purpose; they are: a black oval; a blue disk; a silver crescent; a yellow square; a red triangle.
'2. Proceed to combinations of single objects; e.g., a black oval within a yellow square, and so on.
'3. Proceed to simple moving objects, such as a pendulum swing- ing; a wheel revolving, etc. Avoid living objects.
'4. Proceed to combinations of moving objects, e.g., a piston rising and falling while a pendulum is swinging. The relation between the two movements should be varied in different experiements. '(Or even a system of flywheels, eccentrics and governor.) '5. During these practices the mind must be absolutely confined to the object determined on; no other thought must be allowed to intrude upon the consciousness. The moving systems must be regular and harmonious.
'6. Note carefully the duration of the experiment, the number and nature of the intruding thoughts; the tendency of the object itself to depart from the course laid out for it, and any other phenomena which may present themselves. Avoid overstrain; this is very important.
'7. Proceed to imagine living objects; as a man, preferably some man known to, and respected by, you.
'8. In the intervals of these experiments you might try to imagine the objects of the other senses, and to concentrate upon them. For example, try to imagine the taste of chocolate, the smell or roses, the feeling of velvet, the sound of a waterfall, or the ticking of a watch.
'9. Endeavour finally to shut out all objects of any of the senses, and prevent all thoughts arising in your mind. When you feel you have attained some success in these practices, apply for examina- tion, and should you pass, more complex and difficult practices will be prescribed for you.'
19. Now one of the most interesting and irritating features of your early experiments is: interfering thoughts. There is, first of all, the misbehaviour of the object which you are contemplating; it changes its colour and size; moves its position; gets out of shape. And one of the essential difficulties in practice is that it takes a great deal of skill and experience to become really alert to what is happening. You can go on day-dreaming for quite long periods before realising that your thoughts have wandered at all. This is why I insist so strongly on the practices described above as producing alertness and watchfulness, and you will obviously realise that it is quite evident that one has to be in the pink of condition and in the most favourable mental state in order to make any headway at all. But when you have had a little practice in detecting and counting the breaks in your concentration, you will find that they themselves are useful, because their character is symptomatic of your state of progress.
20. Breaks are classed as follows: -- Firstly, physical sensations; these should have been overcome by Asana.
Secondly, breaks that seem to be indicated by events immediately preceding the meditation: their activity becomes tremendous. Only by this practice does one understand how much is really observed by the senses without the mind becoming conscious of it. Thirdly, there is a class of break partaking of the nature of reverie or 'day-dreaming.' These are very insidious -- one may go on for a long time without realising that one has wandered at all. Fourthly, we get a very high class of break, which is a sort of abberation of the control itself. You think, 'How well I am doing it!' or perhaps that it would be rather a good idea if you were on a desert island, or if you were in a sound-proof house, or if you were sitting by a waterfall. But these are only trifling variations from the vigilance itself.
A fifth class of break seems to have no discoverable source in the mind. such might even take the form of actual hallucination, usually auditory. Of course, such hallucinations are infrequent, and are recognised for what they are. Otherwise the student had better see a doctor. The usual kind consists of odd sentences, or fragments of sentences, which are quite distinctly heard in a recognisable human voice, not the student's own voice, or that of anyone he knows. A similar phenomenon is observed by wireless operators, who call such messages 'atmospherics.'
*There is a further kind of break, which is the desired result itself.*
21. I have already indicated how tedious these practices become; how great the bewilderment; how constant the disappointment. Long before the occurrence of Dhyana, there are quite a number of minor results which indicate the breaking up of intellectual limita- tion. You must not be disturbed if these results make you feel that the very foundations of your mind are being knocked from under you. The real lesson is that, just as you learn in Asana, the normal body is in itself nothing but a vehicle of pain, so is the normal itself insane; by its own standards it *is* insane. You have only got to read a quite simple and elementary work like Professor Joad's 'Guide to Philosophy' to find that any argument carried far enough leads to a contradiction in terms. There are dozens of ways of showing that if you begin 'A is A,' you end 'A is not A.' The mind reacts against this conclusion; it anaesthetises itself against the self-inflicted wound, and it regulates philosophy to the category of paradoxial tricks. But that is a cowardly and disgraceful attitude. The Yogi has got to face the fact that we are all raving lunatics; that sanity exists -- if it exists at all -- in a mental state free from dame's school rules of intellect.
With an earnest personal appeal, therefore, to come up frankly to the mourners' bench and gibber, I will take my leave of you for this evening.
Love is the law, love under will.
YOGA FOR YELLOWBELLIES.
Mr. Chairman, Your Royal Highness, Your Grace, my lords, ladies and gentlemen.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. In my last lecture I led you into the quag of delusion; I smothered you in the mire of delusion; I brought you to thirst in the desert of delusion; I left you wandering in the jungle of delusion, a prey to all the monsters which are thoughts. It came into my mind that it was up to me to do something about it.
We have constantly been discussing mysterious entities as if we knew something about them, and this (on examination) always turned out not to be the case.
2. Knowledge itself is impossible, because if we take the simplest proposition of knowledge, S is P, we must attach some meaning to S and P, if our statement is to be intelligible. (I say nothing as to whether it is true!) And this involves definition. Now the original proposition of identity, A = A, tells us nothing at all, unless the second A gives us further information about the first A. We shall therefore say that A is BC. Instead of one unknown we have two unknowns; we have to define B as DE, C as FG. Now we have four unknowns, and very soon we have used up the alphabet. When we come to define Z, we have to go back and use one of the other let ters, so that all our arguments are arguments in a circle.
3. Any statement which we make is demonstrably meaningless. And yet we do mean something when we say that a cat has four legs. And we all know what we mean when we say so. We give our assent to, or withhold it from, the proposition on the grounds of our experience. But that experience is not intellectual, as above demonstra- ted. It is a matter of immediate intuition. We cannot have any warrant for that intuition, but at the same time any intellectual argument which upsets it does not in the faintest degree shake our conviction.
4. The conclusion to be drawn from this is that the instrument of mind is not intellectual, not rational. Logic is merely destruc- tive, a self-destructive toy. The toy, however, is in some ways also instructive, even though the results of its use will not bear exami- nation. So we make a bylaw that the particular sorites which annihilate logic are out of bounds, and we go on reasoning within arbitrarily appointed limits. It is subject to these conditions that we may proceed to examine the nature of our fundamental ideas; and this is necessary, because since we began to consider the nature of the results of meditation, our conceptions of the backgrounds of thought are decided in quite a different manner; not by intellectual analysis, which, as we have seen, carries no conviction, but by illumination, which does carry conviction. Let us, therefore, proceed to examine the elements of our normal thinking.
5. I need hardly recapitulate the mathematical theorem which you all doubtless laid to heart when you were criticising Einstein's theory of relatively. I only want to recall to your minds the simplest element of that theorem; the fact that in order to describe anything at all, you must have four measurements. It must be so far east or west, so far north or south, so far up or down, from a standard point, and it must be after or before a standard moment. There are three dimensions of space and one of time.
6. Now what do we mean by space? Henri Poincare, one of the greatest mathematicians of the last generation, thought that the idea of space was invented by a lunatic, in a fantastic (and evidently senseless and aimless) endeavour to explain to himself his experience of his muscular movements. Long before that, Kant had told us that space was subjective, a necessary condition of thinking; and while every one must agree with this, it is obvious that it does not tell us much about it.
7. Now let us look into our minds and see what idea, if any, we can form about space. Space is evidently a continuum. There cannot be any difference between any parts of it because it is wholly *where*. It is pure background, the area of possibilities, a condi- tion of quality and so of all consciousness. It is therefore in itself completely void. Is that right, sir?
8. Now suppose we want to fulfil one of these possibilities. The simplest thing we can take is a point, and we are told that a point has neither parts nor magnitude, but only position. But, as long as there is only one point, position means nothing. No possibility has yet been created of any positive statement. We will therefore take two points, and from these we get the idea of a line. Our Euclid tells us that a line has length but no breadth. But, as long as there are only two points, length itself means nothing; or, at the most, it means separateness. All we can say about two points is that there are two of them.
9. Now we take a third point, and at last we come to a more positive idea. In the first place, we have a plane surface, though that in itself still means nothing, in the same way as length means nothing when there are only two points there. But the introduction of the third point has given a meaning to our idea of length. We can say that the line AB is longer than the line BC, and we can also introduce the idea of an angle.
10. A fourth point, provided that it is not in the original plane, gives us the idea of a solid body. But, as before, it tells us nothing about the solid body as such, because there is no other solid body with which to compare it. We find also that it is not really a solid body at all as it stands, because it is merely an instantaneous kind of illusion. We cannot observe, or even imagine, anything, unless we have time for the purpose.
11. What, then is time? It is a phantasm, exactly as tenuous as space, but the possibilities of differentiation between one thing and another can only occur in one way instead of in three different ways. We compare two phenomena in time by the idea of sequence.
13. It is only after we have endowed the object with these dozen imaginary properties, each of which, besides being a complete illusion, is an absurd, irrational, and self-contradictory notion, that we arrive at even the simplest object of experience. And this object must, of course, be constantly multiplied. Otherwise our experience would be confined to a single object incapable of description.
14. We have also got to attribute to ourselves a sort of divine power over our nightmare creation, so that we can compare the differ- ent objects of our experience in all sorts of different manners. Incidentally, this last operation of multiplying the objects stands evidently invalid, because (after all) what we began with was absol- utely Nothingness. Out of this we have somehow managed to obtain, not merely one, but many; but, for all that, our process has followed the necessary operation of our intellectual machine. Since that machine is the only machine that we possess, our arguments must be valid in some sense or other conformable with the nature of this machine. What machine? That is a perfectly real object. It con- tains innumerable parts, powers and faculties. And they are as much a nightmare as the external universe which it has created. Gad, sir, Patanjali is right!
15. Now how do we get over this difficulty of something coming from Nothing? Only by enquiring what we mean by Nothing. We shall find that this idea is totally inconceivable to the normal mind. For if Nothing is to be Nothing, it must be Nothing in every possible way. (Of course, each of these ways is itself an imaginary some- thing, and there are Aleph-Zero -- a transfinite number -- of them.) If, for example, we say that Nothing is a square triangle, we have had to invent a square triangle in order to say it. But take a more homely instance. We know what we mean by saying 'There are cats in the room.' We know what we mean when we say 'No cats are in the room.' But if we say '*No* cats are *not* in the room,' we evidently mean that *some* cats *are* in the room. This remark is not intended to be a reflection upon this distinguished audience.
16. So then, if Nothing is to be really the absolute Nothing, we mean that Nothing does not enter into the category of existence. To say that absolute Nothing exists is equivalent to saying that everything exists which exists, and the great Hebrew sages of old time noted this fact by giving it the title of the supreme idea of reality (behind their tribal God, Jehovah, who, as we have previously shown, is merely the Yoga of the 4 Elements, even at his highest, -- the Demiourgos) Eheieh-Asher-Eheieh, -- I am that I am.
17. If there is any sense in any of this at all, we may expect to find an almost identical system of thought all over the world. There is nothing exclusively Hebrew about this theogony. We find, for example, in the teachings of Zoroaster and the neo-Platonists very similar ideas. We have a Pleroma, the void, a background of all possibilities, and this is filled by a supreme Light-God, from whom drive in turn the seven Archons, who correspond closely to the seven planetary deities, Aratron, Bethor, Phaleg and the rest. These in their turn constitute a Demiurge in order to crate matter; and this Demiurge is Jehovah. Not far different are the ideas both of the classical Greeks and the neo-Platonists. The differences in the terminology, when examined, appear as not much more than the differ- ences of local convenience in thinking. But all these go back to the still older cosmogony of the ancient Egyptians, where we have Nuit, Space, Hadit, the point of view; these experience congress, and so produce Heru-Ra-Ha, who combines the ideas of Ra-Hoor-Khuit and Hoor- paar-Kraat. These are the same twin Vau and He' final which we know. Here is evidently the origin of the system of the Tree of Life.
18. We have arrived at this system by purely intellectual examination, and it is open to criticism; but the point I wish to bring to your notice tonight is that it corresponds closely to one of the great states of mind which reflect the experience of Samadhi. There is a vision of peculiar character which has been of cardinal importance in my interior life, and to which constant reference is made in my Magical Diaries. So far as I know, there is no extant description of this vision anywhere, and I was surprised on looking through my records to find that I had given no clear account of it myself. The reason apparently is that it is so necessary a part of myself that I unconsciously assume it to be a matter of common knowledge, just as one assumes that everyone knows that one possesses a pair of lungs, and therefore abstains from mentioning the fact directly, although perhaps alluding to the matter often enough. It appears very essential to describe this vision as well as possible, considering the difficulty of langauge, and the fact that the phenomena involved logical contradictions, the conditions of consciousness being other than those obtaining normally. The vision developed gradually. It was repeated on so many occasions that I am unable to say at what period it may be called complete. The beginning, however, is clear enough in my memory.
19. I was on a Great Magical Retirement in a cottage overlook- ing Lake Pasquaney in New Hampshire. I lost consciousness of every- thing but an universal space in which were innumerable bright points, and I realised that this was a physical representation of the uni- verse, in what I may call its essential structure. I exclaimed: 'Nothingness, with twinkles!' I concentrated upon this vision, with the result that the void space which had been the principal element of it diminished in importance. Space appeared to be ablaze, yet the radiant points were not confused, and I thereupon completed my sentence with the exclamation: 'But *what* Twinkles!'
20. The next stage of this vision led to an identification of the blazing points with the stars of the firmament, with ideas, souls, etc. I perceived also that each star was connected by a ray of light with each other star. In the world of ideas, each thought possessed a necessary relation with each other thought; each such relation is of course a thought in itself; each such ray is itself a star. It is here that logical difficulty first presents itself. The seer has a direct perception of infinite series. Logically, there- fore, it would appear as if the entire space must be filled up with a homogeneous blaze of light. This is not, however, the case. The space is completely full, yet the monads which fill it are perfectly distinct. The ordinary reader might well exclaim that such state- ments exhibit symptoms of mental confusion. The subject demands more than cursory examination. I can do no more than refer the critic to Bertrand Russell's 'Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy', where the above position is thoroughly justified, as also certain positions which follow.
I want you to note in particular the astonishing final identifi- cation of this cosmic experience with the nervous system as described by the anatomist.
21. At this point we may well be led to consider once more what we call the objective universe, and what we call our subjective experience. What is Nature? Immanuel Kant, who founded an epoch- making system of subjective idealism, is perhaps the first philoso- pher to demonstrate clearly that space, time, causality (in short, all conditions of existence) are really no more than conditions of thought. I have tried to put it more simply by defining all possible predicates as so many dimensions. To describe an object properly it is not sufficient to determine its position in the space-time con- tinuum of four dimensions, but we must enquire how it stands in all the categories and scales, its values in all 'kinds' of possibility. What do we know about it in respect of its greenness, its hardness, its mobility, and so on? And then we find out that what we imagine to be the description of the object is in reality nothing of the sort.
22. All that we recorded is the behaviour of our instruments. What did our telescopes, spectroscopes, and balances tell us? And these again are dependent upon the behaviour of our senses; for the reality of our instruments, of our organs of sense, is just as much in need of description and demonstration as are the most remote phenomena. And we find ourselves forced to the conclusion that anything we perceive is only perceived by us as such 'because of our tendency so to perceive it.' And we shall find that in the fourth stage of the great Buddhist practice, Mahasatipatthana, we become directly and immediately aware of this fact instead of digging it out of the holts of these interminable sorites which badger us! Kant himself put it, after his fashion: 'The laws of nature are the laws of our own minds.' Why? It is not the contents of the mind itself that we can cognise, but only its structure. But Kant has not gone to this length. He would have been extremely shocked if it had ever struck him that the final term in his sorites was 'Reason itself is the only reality.' On further examination, even this ultimate truth turns out to be meaningless. It is like the well known circular definition of an obscene book, which is: one that arouses certain ideas in the mind of the kind of person in whom such ideas are excited by that kind of book.
23. I notice that my excellent chairman is endeavouring to stifle a yawn and to convert it into a smile, and he will forgive me for saying that I find the effect somewhat sinister. But he has every right to be supercilious about it. These are indeed 'old, fond paradoxes to amuse wives in ale-houses.' Since philosophy began, it has always been a favourite game to prove your axioms absurd. You will all naturally be very annoyed with me for indulging in these fatuous pastimes, especially as I started out with a pledge that I would deal with these subjcts from the hard-headed scientific point of view. Forgive me if I have toyed with these shining gos- samers of the thought-web! I have only been trying to break it to you gently. I proceed to brush away with a sweep of my lily-white hand all this tenuous, filmy stuff, 'such stuff as dreams are made of.' We will get down to modern science.
24. For general reading there is no better introduction than 'The Bases of Modern Science', by my old and valued friend the late J. W. N. Sullivan. I do not want to detain you too long with quota- tions from this admirable book. I would much rather you got it and read it yourself; you could hardly make better use of your time. But let us spend a few moments on his remarks about the question of geometry.
Our conceptions of space as a subjective entity has been com- pletely upset by the discovery that the equations of Newton based on Euclidean Geometry are inadequate to explain the phenomena of gravi- tation. It is instinctive to us to think of a straight line; it is somehow axiomatic. But we learn that this does not exist in the objective universe. We have to use another geometry, Riemann's Geometry, which is one of the curved geometries. (There are, of course, as many systems of geometry as there are absurd axioms to build them on. Three lines make one ellipse: any nonsense you like: you can proceed to construct a geometry which is correct so long as it is coherent. And there is nothing right or wrong about the result: the only question is: which is the most convenient system for the purpose of describing phenomena? We found the idea of Gravitation awkward: we went to Riemann.)
This means that the phenomena are not taking place against a background of a flat surface; the surface itself is curved. What we have thought of as a straight line does not exist at all. And this is almost impossible to conceive; at least it is quite impossible for myself to visualise. The nearest one gets to it is by trying to imagine that you are a reflection on a polished door-knob.
26. Now for a spot of Sullivan! 'The geometry is so general that it admits of different degrees of curvature in different parts of space-time. It is to this curvature that gravitational effects are due. The curvature of space-time is most prominent, therefore, around large masses, for here the gravitational effects are most marked. If we take matter as fundamental, we may say that it is the presence of matter that causes the curvature of space-time. But there is a different school of thought that regards matter as due to the curvature of space-time. That is, we assume as fundamental a space-time continuum manifest to our senses as what we call matter. Both points of view have strong arguments to recommend them. But, whether or not matter may be derived from the geometrical peculiari- ties of the space-time continuum, we may take it as an established scientific fact that gravitation has been so derived. This is obviously a very great achievement, but it leaves quite untouched another great class of phenomena, namely, electro-magnetic phenomena. In this space-time continuum of Einstein's the electro-magnetic forces appear as entirely alien. Gravitation has been absorbed, as it were, into Riemannian geometry, and the notion of force, so far as gravitational phenomena are concerned, has been abolished. But the electro-magnetic forces still flourish undisturbed. There is no hint that they are manifestations of the geometrical peculiarities of the space-time continuum. And it can be shown to be impossible to relate them to anything in Riemann's Geometry. Gravitation can be shown to correspond to certain geometrical peculiarities of a Riemannian space-time. But the electro-magnetic forces lie completely outside this scheme.'
27. Here is the great quag into which mathematical physics has led its addicts. Here we have two classes of phenomena, all part of a unity of physics. Yet the equations which describe and explain the one class are incompatible with those of the other class! This is not a question of philosophy at all, but a question of fact. It does not do to consider that the universe is composed of particles. Such a hypothesis underlies one class of phenomena, but it is nonsense when applied to the electro-magnetic equations, which insist upon our abandoning the idea of particles for that of waves.
Here is another Welsh rabbit for supper!
'Einstein's finite universe is such that its radius is dependent upon the amount of matter in it. Were more matter to be created, the volume of the universe would increase. Were matter to be annihilat ed, the volume of space would decrease. Without matter, space would not exist. Thus the mere existence of space, besides its metrical properties, depends upon the existence of matter. With this concep tion it becomes possible to regard all motion, including rotation, as purely relative.' Where do we go from here, boys? 28. 'The present tendency of physics is towards describing the universe in terms of mathematical relations between unimaginable entities.'
We have got a long way from Lord Kelvin's too-often and too- unfairly quoted statement that he could not imagine anything of which he could not construct a mechanical model. The Victorians were really a little inclined to echo Dr. Johnson's gross imbecile stamp on the ground when the ideas of Bishop Berkeley penetrated to the superficial strata of the drink-sodden grey cells of that beef-witted brute.
29. Now, look you, I ask you to reflect upon the trouble we have taken to calculate the distance of the fixed stars, and hear Professor G. N. Lewis, who 'suggests that two atoms connected by a light ray may be regarded as in actual physical contact. The *interval* between two ends of a light-ray is, on the theory of relativity, zero, and Professor Lewis suggests that this fact should be taken seriously. On this theory, light is not propagated at all. This idea is in conformity with the principle that none but observ- able factors should be used in constructing a scientific theory, for we can certainly never observe the passage of light in empty space. We are only aware of light when it encouters matter. Light which never encounters matter is purely hypothetical. If we do not make that hypothesis, then there is no empty space. On Professor Lewis's theory, when we observe a distant star, our eye as truly makes physical contact with that star as our finger makes contact with a table when we press it.'
30. And did not all of you think that my arguments were argu- ments in a circle? I certainly hope you did, for I was at the greatest pains to tell you so. But it is not a question of argument in Mr. Sullivan's book; it is a question of facts. He was talking about human values. He was asking whether science could possibly be cognizant of them. Here he comes, the great commander! Cheer, my comrades, cheer!
'But although consistent materialists were probably always rare, the humanistically important fact remained that science did not find it necessary to include values in its description of the universe. For it appeared that science, in spite of this omission, formed a closed system. If values form an integral part of reality, it seems strange that science should be able to give a consistent description of phenomena which ignores them.
'At the present time, this difficulty is being met in two ways. On the one hand, it is pointed out that science remains within its own domain by the device of cyclic definition, that is to say, the abstractions with which it begins are all it ever talks about. It makes no fresh contacts with reality, and therefore never encounters any possibly disturbing factors. This point of view is derived from the theory of relativity, particularly from the form of presentation adopted by Eddington. This theory forms a closed circle. The primary terms of the theory, *point-events*, *potentials*, *matter* (etc. -- there are ten of them), lie at various points on the circum- ference of the circle. We may start at any point and go round the circle, that is, from any one of these terms we can deduce the others. The primary entities of the theory are defined in terms of one another. In the course of this exercise we derive the laws of Nature studied in physics. At a certain point in the cahin of deductions, at *matter*, for example, we judge that we are talking about something which is an objective concrete embodiment of our abstractions. But matter, as it occurs in physics, is no more than a particular set of abstractions, and our subsequent reasoning is concerned only with these abstractions. Such other characteristics as the objective reality may possess never enter our scheme. But the set of abstractions called matter in relativity theory do not seem to be adequate to the whole of our scientific knowledge of matter. There remain quantum phenomena.'
'So we leave her, so we leave her,
far from where her swarthy kindred roam -- kindred roam
In the Scarlet Fever, Scarlet Fever,
Scarlet Fever Convalescent Home.'
31. So now, no less than that chivalrous gentleman, His Grace, the Most Reverend the Archbishop of Canterbury, who in a recent broadcast confounded for ever all those infidels who had presumed to doubt the possibility of devils entering into swine, we have met the dragon science and conquered. We have seen that, however we attack the problem of mind, whether from the customary spiritual standpoint, or from the opposite corner of materialism, the result is just the same.
One last quotation from Mr. Sullivan. 'The universe may ulti- mately prove to be irrational. The scientific adventure may have to be given up.'
But that is all *he* knows about science, bless his little heart! We do not give up. 'You lied, d'Ormea, I do not repent!' The results of experiment are still valid for experience, and the fact that the universe turns out on enquiry to be unintelligible only serves to fortify our ingrained conviction that experience itself is reality.
32. We may then ask ourselves whether it is not possible to obtain experience of a higher order, to discover and develop the faculty of mind which can transcend analysis, stable against all thought by virtue of its own self-evident assurance. In the language of the Great White Brotherhood (whom I am here to represent) you cross the abyss. 'Leave the poor old stranded wreck' -- Ruach -- 'and pull for the shore' of Neschamah. For above the abyss, it is said, as you will see if you study the Supplement of the fifth number of the First Volume of 'The Equinox', an idea is only true in so far as it contains its contradictory in itself.
33. It is such states of mind as this which constitute the really important results of Samyama, and these results are not to be destroyed by philosophical speculation, because they are not suscep- tible of analysis, because they have no component parts, because they exist by virtue of their very Unreason -- 'certum est quia ineptum!' They cannot be expressed, for they are above knowledge. To some extent we can convey our experience to others familiar with that experience to a less degree by the aesthetic method. And this explains why all the good work on Yoga -- alchemy, magick and the rest -- not doctrinal but symbolic -- the word of God to man, is given in Poetry and Art.
In my next lecture I shall endeavour to go a little deeper into the technique of obtaining these results, and also give a more detailed account of the sort of thing that is likely to occur in the course of the preliminary practices.
Love is the law, love under will.
*TANNHAUSER, written in Mexico, O.F., August, 1900. See also my BERASHITH, written in Delhi, April, 1901.
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