By Aleister Crowley
YOGA FOR YELLOWBELLIES. THIRD LECTURE.
. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
. 1. You will remember that last week our study of Yoga had led us to the Fathers of the Church. We saw that their philosophy and science, in following an independent route, had brought us to the famous exclamation of Tertullian: 'certum est quia ineptum!' How right the Church has been to deny the authority of Reason!
. 2. We are almost tempted to enquire for a moment what the Church means by 'faith.' St. Paul tells us that faith is 'the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things unseen.' I do not think, then, that we are to imagine this word faith to mean what that lecherous gross-bellied boor, Martin Luther, maintained. The faith of which he speaks is anything but a substance, and as for evidence, it is nothing but the power, as the schoolboy said, of believing that which we know to be untrue. To have any sensible meaning at all, faith must mean experience, and that view is in exact accord with the conclusion to which we were led in my last lecture. Nothing is any use to us unless it be a certainty unshakeable by criticism of any kind, and there is only one thing in the universe which complies with these conditions: the direct experience of spiritual truth. Here, and here only, do we find a position in which the great religious minds of all times and all climes coincide. It is necessarily above dogma, because dogma consists of a collection of intellectual statements, each of which, and also its contradictory, can easily be disputed and overthrown.
. 3. You are probably aware that in the Society of Jesus the postulants are trained to debate on all these highly controversial subjects. They put up a young man to prove any startling blasphemy that happens to occur to them. And the more shocked the young man is, the better the training for his mind, and the better service will he give to the Society in the end; but only if his mind has been completely disabused of its confidence in its own rightness, or even in the possibility of being right.
. 4. The rationalist, in his shallow fashion, always contends that this training is the abnegation of mental freedom. On the contrary, it is the only way to obtain that freedom. In the same Society the training in obedience is based on a similar principle. The priest has to do what his Superior orders him -- 'perinde ac cadaver.' Protestants always represent that this is the most outra- geous and indefensible tyranny. "The poor devil,' they say, 'is bludgeoned into having no will of his own.' That is pure nonsense. By abnegating his will through the practice of holy obedience his will has become enormously strong, so strong that none of his natural instincts, desires, or habits can intrude. He has freed his will of all these inhibitions. He is a perfect function of the machinery of the Order. In the General of the Society is concentrated the power of all those separate wills, just as in the human body every cell should be completely devoted in its particular quality to the concentrated will of the organism.
. 5. In other words, the Society of Jesus has created a perfect imitation of the skeleton of the original creation, living man. It has complied with the divinely instituted order of things, and that is why we see that the body, which was never numerically important, has yet been one of the greatest influences in the development of Europe. It has not always worked perfectly, but that has not been the fault of the system; and, even as it is, its record has been extraordinary. And one of the most remarkable things about it is that its greatest and most important achievements have been in the domain of science and philosophy. It has done nothing in religion; or, rather, where it has meddled with religion it has only done harm. What a mistake! And why? For the simple reason that it was in a position to take no notice of religion; all these matters were decided for it by the Pope, or by the Councils of the Church, and the Society was therefore able to free itself from the perplexities of religion, in exactly the same way as the novice obtains complete freedom from his moral responsibilities by sinking his personal phantasies in the will of the Superior.
. 6. I should like to mention here that the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are in their essence really admirable Yoga practices. They have, it is true, a tinge of magical technique, and they have been devised to serve a dogmatic end. That was, however, necessary, and it was good magic too, at that, because the original will of the Founder was to produce a war engine as a counterblast to the Reforma- tion. He was very wise to devise a plan, irrespective of its ab- stract merits as philosophy, which would most efficiently serve that single purpose. The only trouble has been that this purpose was not sufficiently cosmic in scope to resist internal forces. Having attained the higher planes by practice of these exercises, they found that the original purpose of the Society was not really adequate to their powers; they were, so to speak, over-engined. They stupidly invaded the spiritual sphere of the other authorities whom they were founded to support, and thus we see them actually quarrelling with the Pope, while failing signally to obtain possession of the Papacy. Being thus thwarted in their endeavours, and confused in their purpose, they redoubled the ardour of their exercises; and it is one of the characteristics of all spiritual exercises, if honestly and efficiently performed, that they constantly lead you on to higher planes, where all dogmatic considerations, all intellectual concepts, are invalid. Hence, we found that it is not altogether surprising that the General of the Order and his immediate circle have been supposed to be atheists. If that were true, it would only show that they have been corrupted by their preoccupation with the practical politics of the world, which it is impossible to conduct on any but an atheistic basis; it is brainless hypocrisy to pretend otherwise, and should be restricted to the exclusive use of the Foreign Office.
. It would, perhaps, be more sensible to suppose that the heads of the Order have really attained the greatest heights of spiritual knowledge and freedom, and it is quite possible that the best term to describe their attitude would be either Pantheistic or Gnostic.
. 7. These considerations should be of the greatest use to us now that we come to discuss in more detail the results of the Yoga practices. There is, it is true, a general similarity between the ecstatic outbursts of the great mystics all over the world. Compari- sons have often been drawn by students of the subject. I will only detain you with one example: 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.' What is this injunction? It is a generalisation of St. Augustine's 'Love, and do what thou wilt.' But in 'The Book of the Law', lest the hearer should be deluded into a spasm of antinomi- anism, there is a further explanation: 'Love is the law, love under will.'
. 8. However, the point is that it is no use discussing the results of Yoga, whether that Yoga be the type recommended by Lao- Tze, or Patanjali, or St. Ignatius Loyola, because for our first postulate we have: that these subjects are incapable of discussion. To argue about them only causes us to fall into the pit of Because, and there to perish with the dogs of Reason. The only use, there- fore, of describing our experiences is to enable students to get some sort of idea of the sort of thing that is going to happen to them when they attain success in the practices of Yoga. We have David saying in the Psalms: 'I hate thoughts, but Thy law do I love.' We have St. Paul saying: 'The carnal mind is enmity against God.' One might almost say that the essence of St. Paul's Epistles is a strug- gle against mind: 'We war not against flesh and blood' -- you know
. the rest -- I can't be bothered to quote it all -- Eph. vi. 12. 9. It is St. Paul, I think, who describes Satan, which is his name for the enemy, owing to his ignorance of the history of the world, as the Prince of the Power of the Air; that is, of the Ruach, of the intellect; and we must never forget that what operated the conversion of St. Paul was the Vision on the road to Damascus. It is particularly significant that he disappeared into the Desert of Arabia for three years before coming forward as the Apostle to the Gentiles. St. Paul was a learned Rabbi; he was the favourite pupil of the best expositor of the Hebrew Law, and in the single moment of his Vision all his arguments were shattered at a single stroke!
. 10. We are not told that St. Paul said anything at the time, but went quietly on his journey. That is the great lesson: not to discuss the results. Those of you who possess a copy of 'The Equinox of the Gods' may have been very much surprised at the extraordinary injunction in the Comment: the prohibition of all discussion of the Book. I myself did not fully understand that injunction; I do so now.
. 11. Let us now deal with a few of the phenomena which occur during the practices of Pratyahara.
. Very early during my retirement in Kandy, I had been trying to concentrate by slanting my eyes towards the tip of my nose. This, by the way, is not a good practice; one is liable to strain the eyes. But what happened was that I woke up in the night; my hand touched a nose; I immediately concluded that some one was in the room. Not at all; I only thought so because my nose had passed away from the region of my observation by the practice of concentrating upon it.
. 12. The same sort of thing occurs with adequate concentration on any object. It is connected, curiously enough, with the phenomena of invisibility. When your mind has gone so deeply into itself that it is unconscious of itself and its surroundings, one of the most ordinary results is that the body becomes invisible to other people. I do not think that it would make any difference for a photograph, though I have no evidence for saying this; but it has happened to me on innumerable occasions. It was an almost daily occurrence when I was in Sicily.
. 13. A party of us used to go down to a very beautiful bay of sand, whence jutted fantastically-shaped islets of rock; it is rimmed by cliffs encrusted with jewels of marine life. The way was over a bare hillside; except for a few hundred yards of vineyard there was no cover -- nay, not for a rabbit. But it often happened that one of the party would turn to speak to me, and fail to see me. I have often known this to happen when I was dictating; my chair was apparently empty.
. Incidentally, this faculty, which I think is exercised, as a rule, unconsciously, may become an actual magical power.
. 14. It happened to me on one occasion that a very large number of excited people were looking for me with no friendly intentions; but I had a feeling of lightness, of ghostliness, as if I were a shadow moving soundlessly about the street; and in actual fact none of the people who were looking for me gave the slightest indication that they were aware of my presence.
. There is a curious parallel to this incident in one of the Gospels where we read that 'they picked up stones to stone him, but he, passing through the midst of them, went his way.'
. 15. There is another side to this business of Pratyahara, one that may be described as completely contradictory against what we have been talking about.
. If you concentrate your attention upon one portion of the body with the idea of investigating it, that is, I suppose, allowing the mind to move within very small limits, the whole of your conscious- ness becomes concentrated in that small part. I used to practise this a good deal in my retirement by Lake Pasquaney. I would usually take a finger or a toe, and identify my whole consciousness with the small movements which I allowed it to make. It would be futile to go into much detail about this experience. I can only say that until you acquire the power you have no idea of the sheer wonder and delight of that endlessly quivering orgasm.
. 16. If I remember rightly, this practice and its result were one of the principal factors which enabled me afterwards to attain what is called the Trance of Wonder, which pertains to the Grade of a Master of the Temple, and is a sort of complete understanding of the organism of the universe, and an ecstatic adoration of its marvel.
. This Trance is very much higher than the Beatific Vision, for always in the latter it is the heart -- the Phren -- which is in- volved; in the former it is the Nous, the divine intelligence of man, whereas the heart is only the centre of the intellectual and moral faculties.
. 17. But, so long as you are occupying yourself with the physi- cal, your results will only be on that plane; and the principal effect of these concentrations on small parts of the body is the understanding, or rather the appreciation, of sensuous pleasure. This, however, is infinitely refined, exquisitely intense. It is often possible to acquire a technique by which the skilled artist can produce this pleasure in another person. Map out, say, three square inches of skin anywhere, and it is possible by extreme gentle touches to excite in the patient all the possible sensations of pleasure of which that person is capable. I know that this is a very extraordi- nary claim, but it is a very easy one to substantiate. The only thing I am afraid of is that experts may be carried away by the rewards, instead of getting the real value of the lesson, which is that the gross pleasures of the senses are absolutely worthless.
. This practice, so far as it is useful to all, should be regarded as the first step towards emancipation from the thrall of the bodily desires, of the sensations self-destructive, of the thirst for pleasure.
. 18. I think this is a good opportunity to make a little digres- sion in favour of Mahasatipatthana. This practice was recommended by the Buddha in very special terms, and it is the only one of which he speaks so highly. He told his disciples that if they only stuck to it, sooner or later they would reach full attainment. The practice consists of an analysis of the universe in terms of consciousness. You begin by taking some very simple and regular bodily exercise, such as the movement of the body in walking, or the movements of the lungs in breathing. You keep on noting what happens: 'I am breath- ing out; I am breathing in; I am holding my breath,' as the case may be. Quite without warning, one is appalled by the shock of the discovery that what you have been thinking is not true. You have no right to say: 'I am breathing in.' All that you really know is that there is a breathing in.
. 19. You therefore change your note, and you say: 'There is a breathing in; there is a breathing out,' and so on. And very soon, if you practise assiduously, you get another shock. You have no right to say that there is a breathing. All you know is that there is a sensation of that kind. Again you change your conception of your observation, and one day make the discovery that the sensation has disappeared. All you know is that there is perception of a sensation of breathing in or breathing out. Continue, and that is once more discovered to be an illusion. What you find is that there is a tendency to perceive a sensation of the natural phenomena.
. 20. The former stages are easy to assimilate intellectually; one assents to them immediately that one discovers them, but with regard to the 'tendency,' this is not the case, at least it was not so for my own part. It took me a long while before I understood what was meant by 'tendency.' To help you to realise this I should like to find a good illustration. For instance, a clock does nothing at all but offer indications of the time. It is so constructed that this is all we can know about it. We can argue about whether the time is correct, and that means nothing at all, unless, for example, we know whether the clock is controlled electrically from an astro- nomical station where the astronomer happens to be sane, and in what part of the world the clock is, and so on.
. 21. I remember once when I was in Teng-Yueh, just inside the Chinese frontier in Yunnan. The hour of noon was always telegraphed to the Consulate from Pekin. This was a splendid idea, because electricity is practically instantaneous. The unfortunate thing was, if it *was* unfortunate, which I doubt, that the messages had to be relayed at a place called Yung Chang. The operators there had the good sense to smoke opium most of the time, so occasionally a batch of telegrams would arrive, a dozen or so in a bunch, stating that it was noon at Pekin on various dates! So all the gross phenomena, all these sensations and perceptions, are illusion. All that one could really say was that there was a tendency on the part of some lunatic in Pekin to tell the people at Teng-Yueh what o'clock it was.
. 22. But even this Fourth Skandha is not final. With practice, it also appears as an illusion, and one remains with nothing but the bare consciousness of the existence of such a tendency. I cannot tell you very much about this, because I have not worked it out very thoroughly myself, but I very much doubt whether 'consciousness' has any meaning at all, as a translation of the word Vinnanam. I think that a better translation would be 'experience,' used in the sense in which we have been using it hitherto, as the direct reality behind and beyond all remark.
. 23. I hope you will appreciate how difficult it is to give a reasoned description, however tentative, of these phenomena, still less to classify them properly. They have a curious trick of running one into the other. This, I believe, is one of the reasons why it has been impossible to find any really satisfactory literature about Yoga at all. The more advanced one's progress, the less one knows, and the more one understands. The effect is simply additional evidence of what I have been saying all this time: that it is very little use discussing things; what is needed is continuous devotion to the practice.
. Love is the law, love under will.
YOGA FOR YELLOWBELLIES. FOURTH LECTURE.
Salutation to the Sons of the Morning!
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
1. I should like to begin this evening by recapitulating very briefly what has been said in the previous three lectures, and this would be easier if I had not completely forgotten everything I said. But there is a sort of faint glimmering to the effect that the general subject of the series was the mental exercises of the Yogi; and the really remarkable feature was that I found it impossible to discuss them at all thoroughly without touching upon, first of all, ontology; secondly, ordinary science; and thirdly, the high Magick of the true initiates of the light.
2. We found that both Ontology and Science, approaching the question of reality from entirely different standpoints, and pursuing their researches by entirely different methods, had yet arrived at an identical 'impasse.' And the general conclusion was that there could be no reality in any intellectual concept of any kind, that the only reality must lie in direct experience of such a kind that it is beyond the scope of the critical apparatus of our minds. It cannot be subject to the laws of Reason; it cannot be found in the fetters of elementary mathematics; only transfinite and irrational concep- tions in that subject can possibly shadow forth the truth in some such paradox as the identity of contradictories. We found further that those states of mind which result from the practice of Yoga are properly called trances, because they actually transcend the conditions of normal thought.
3. At this point we begin to see an almost insensible drawing together of the path of Yoga which is straight (and in a sense arid) with that of Magick, which may be compared with the Bacchic dance or the orgies of Pan. It suggests that Yoga is ultimately a sublimation of philosophy, even as Magick is a sublimation of science. The way is open for a reconciliation between these lower elements of thought by virtue of their tendency to flower into these higher states beyond thought, in which the two have become one. And that, of course, is Magick; and that, of course, is Yoga.
4. We may now consider whether, in view of the final identifi- cation of these two elements in their highest, there may not be something more practical than sympathy in their lower elements -- I mean mutual assistance.
I am glad to think that the Path of the Wise has become much smoother and shorter than it was when I first trod it; for this very reason that the old antinomies of Magick and Yoga have been completely resolved.
You all know what Yoga is. Yoga means union. And you all know how to do it by shutting off the din of the intellectual boiler factory, and allowing the silence of starlight to reach the ear. It is the emancipation of the exalted from the thrall of the commonplace expression of Nature.
5. Now what is Magick? Magick is the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the Will. How do we achieve this? By exalting the will to the point where it is master of circumstance. And how do we do this? By so ordering every thought, word and act, in such a way that the attention is constantly recalled to the chosen object.
6. Suppose I want to evoke the 'Intelligence' of Jupiter. I base my work upon the correspondences of Jupiter. I base my mathema- tics on the number 4 and its subservient numbers 16, 34, 136. I employ the square or rhombus. For my sacred animal I choose the eagle, or some other sacred to Jupiter. For my perfume, saffron -- for my libation some preparation of opium or a generous yet sweet and powerful wine such as port. For my magical weapon I take the scep- tre; in fact, I continue choosing instruments for every act in such a way that I am constantly reminded of my will to evoke Jupiter. I even constrain *every* object. I extract the Jupiterian elements from all the complex phenomena which surround me. If I look at my carpet, the blues and purples are the colours which stand out as Light against an obsolescent and indeterminate background. And thus I carry on my daily life, using every moment of time in constant self-admonition to attend to Jupiter. The mind quickly responds to this training; it very soon automatically rejects as unreal anything which is not Jupiter. Everything else escapes notice. And when the time comes for the ceremony of invocation which I have been consis- tently preparing with all devotion and assiduity, I am quickly inflamed. I am attuned to Jupiter, I am pervaded by Jupiter, I am absorbed by Jupiter, I am caught up into the heaven of Jupiter and wield his thunderbolts. Hebe and Ganymedes bring me wine; the Queen of the Gods is throned at my side, and for my playmates are the fairest maidens of the earth.
7. Now what is all this but to do in a partial (and if I may say so, romantic) way what the Yogi does in his more scientifically complete yet more austerely difficult methods? And here the advan- tage of Magick is that the process of initiation is spontaneous and, so to speak, automatic. You may begin in the most modest way with the evocation of some simple elemental spirit; but in the course of the operation you are compelled, in order to attain success, to deal with higher entities. Your ambition grows, like every other organ- ism, by what it feeds on. You are very soon led to the Great Work itself; you are led to aspire to the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, and this ambition in turn arouses automati- cally further difficulties the conquest of which confers new powers. In the Book of the Thirty Aethyrs, commonly called 'The Vision and the Voice', it becomes progressively difficult to penetrate each Aethyr. In fact, the penetration was only attained by the initia- tions which were conferred by the Angel of each Aethyr in its turn. There was this further identification with Yoga practices recorded in this book. At times the concentration necessary to dwell in the Aethyr became so intense that definitely Samadhic results were obtained. We see then that the exaltation of the mind by means of magical practices leads (as one may say, in spite of itself) to the same results as occur in straightforward Yoga.
I think I ought to tell you a little more about these visions. The method of obtaining them was to take a large topaz beautifully engraved with the Rose and Cross of forty-nine petals, and this topaz was set in a wooden cross of oak painted red. I called this the shew-stone in memory of Dr. Dee's famous shew-stone. I took this in my hand and proceeded to recite in the Enochian or Angelic language the Call of the Thirty Aethyrs, using in each case the special name appropriate to the Aethyr. Now all this went very well until about the 17th, I think it was, and then the Angel, foreseeing difficulty in the higher or remoter Aethyrs, gave me this instruction. I was to recite a chapter from the Q'uran: what the Mohammedans call the 'Chapter of the Unity.' 'Qol: Hua Allahu achad; Allahu assamad: lam yalid walam yulad; walam yakun lahu kufwan achad.' I was to say this, bowing myself to the earth after each chapter, a thousand and one times a day, as I walked behind my camel in the Great Eastern Erg of the Sahara. I do not think that anyone will dispute that this was pretty good exercise; but my point is that it was certainly very good Yoga.
From what I have said in previous lectures you will all recog- nise that this practice fulfils all the conditions of the earlier stages of Yoga, and it is therefore not surprising that it put my mind in such a state that I was able to use the Call of the Thirty Aethyrs with much greater efficacy than before.
8. Am I then supposed to be saying that Yoga is merely the hand-maiden of Magick, or that Magick has no higher function than to supplement Yoga? By no means. it is the co-operation of lovers; which is here a symbol of the fact. The practices of Yoga are almost essential to success in Magick -- at least I may say from my own experience that it made all the difference in the world to my magical success, when I had been thoroughly grounded in the hard drill of Yoga. But -- I feel absolutely certain that I should never have obtained success in Yoga in so short a time as I did had I not spent the previous three years in the daily practice of magical methods. 9. I may go so far as to say that just before I began Yoga
seriously, I had almost invented a Yogic method of practising Magick in the stress of circumstances. I had been accustomed to work with full magical apparatus in an admirably devised temple of my own. Now I found myself on shipboard, or in some obscure bedroom of Mexico City, or camped beside my horse among the sugar canes in lonely tropical valleys, or couched with my rucksack for all pillow on bare volcanic heights. I had to replace my magical apparatus. I would take the table by my bed, or stones roughly piled, for my altar. My candle or my Alpine Lantern was my light. My ice-axe for the wand, my drinking flask for the chalice, my machete for the sword, and a chapati or a sachet of salt for the pantacle of art! Habit soon familiarised these rough and ready succedanea. But I suspect that it may have been the isolation and the physical hardship itself that helped, that more and more my magical operation became implicit in my own body and mind, when a few months later I found myself performing *in full* operations involving the Formula of the Neophyte (for which see my treatise 'Magick') without any external apparatus at all.
10. A pox on all these formalistic Aryan sages! Unless one wants to be very pedantic, it is rather absurd to contend that this form of ritual forced upon me, first by external and next by internal circumstances, was anything else but a new form of Asana, Pranayama, Mantra-Yoga, and Pratyahara in something very near perfection; and it is therefore not surprising that the Magical exaltation resulting from such ceremonies was in all essential respects the equivalent of Samyama.
On the other hand, the Yoga training was an admirable aid to that final concentration of the Will which operates the magical ecstasy.
11. This then is reality: direct experience. How does it differ from the commonplace every-day experience of sensory impres- sions which are so readily shaken by the first breath of the wind of intellectual analysis?
Well, to answer first of all in a common-sense way, the differ- ence is simply that the impression is deeper, is less to be shaken. Men of sense and education are always ready to admit that they may have been mistaken in the quality of their observation of any pheno- menon, and men a little more advanced are almost certain to attain to a placid kind of speculation as to whether the objects of sense are not mere shadows on a screen.
I take off my glasses. Now I cannot read my manuscript. I had two sets of lenses, one natural, one artificial. If I had been looking through a telescope of the old pattern I should have had three sets of lenses, two artificial. If I go and put on somebody else's glasses I shall get another kind of blur. As the lenses of my eyes change in the course of my life, what my sight tells me is different. The point is that we are quite unable to judge what is the truth of the vision. Why then do I put on my glasses to read? Only because the particular type of illusion produced by wearing them is one which enables me to interpret a pre-arranged system of hiero- glyphics in a particular sense which I happen to imagine I want. It tells me nothing whatever about the object of my vision -- what I call the paper and the ink. Which is the dream? The clear legible type or the indecipherable blur?
12. But in any case any man who is sane at all does make a distinction between the experience of daily life and the experience of dream. It is true that sometimes dreams are so vivid, and their character so persistently uniform that men are actully deceived into believing that places they have seen in dreams repeatedly are places that they have known in a waking life. But they are quite capable of criticising this illusion by memory, and they admit the deception. Well, in the same way the phenomena of high Magick and Samadhi have an authenticity, and confer an interior certainty, which is to the experience of waking life as that is to a dream.
But, apart from all this, experience is experience; and the real guarantee that we have of the attainment of reality is its rank in the hierarchy of the mind.
13. Let us ask ourselves for a moment what is the characteris- tic of dream impressions as judged by the waking mind. Some dreams are so powerful tht they convince us, even when awake, of their reality. Why then do we criticise and dismiss them? Because their contents are incoherent, because the order of nature to which they belong does not properly conform with the kind of experience which does hang together -- after a fashion. Why do we criticise the reality of waking experience? On precisely similar grounds. Because in certain respects it fails to conform with our deep instinctive consciousness of the structure of the mind. *Tendency!* We *happen* to be that kind of animal.
14. The result is that we accept waking experience for what it is within certain limits. At least we do so to this extent, that we base our action upon the belief that, even if it is not philoso- phically real, it is real enough to base a course of action upon it. What is the ultimate prctical test of conviction? Just this, that it is our standard of conduct. I put on these glasses in order to read. I am quite certain that the blurred surface will become clear when I do so. Of course, I may be wrong. I may have picked up some other body's glasses by mistake. I might go blind before I could get them into position. Even such confidence has limits; but it is a real confidence, and this is the explanation of why we go ahead with the business of life. When we think it over, we know that there are all sorts of snags, that it is impossible to formulate any proposition which is philosophically unassailable, or even one which is so from a practical standpoint. We admit to ourselves that there are all sorts of snags; but we take our chance of that, and go ahead in the general principles inculcated by our experience of nature. It is, of course, quite easy to prove that experience is impossible. To begin with, our consciousness of any phenomenon is never the thing itself, but only a hieroglyphic symbol of it.
Our position is rather that of a man with a temperamental motor- car; he has a vague theory that it ought to go, on general princi- ples; but he is not quite sure how it will perform in any given circumstances. Now the experience of Magick and Yoga is quite above all this. The possibility of criticising the other types of experi- ence is based upon the possibility of expressing our impressions in adequate terms; and this is not at all the case with the results of Magick and Yoga. As we have already seen, every attempt at expres- sion in ordinary language is futile. Where the hero of the adventure is tied up with a religious theory, we get the vapid and unctuous bilgewater of people like St. John of the Cross. All Christian Mystics are tarred with the same brush. Their abominable religion compels them to every kind of sentimentality; and the theory of original sin vitiates their whole position, because instead of the noble and inspiring Trance of Sorrow they have nothing but the miserable, cowardly, and selfish sense of guilt to urge them to undertake the Work.
15. I think we may dismiss altogether from our minds every claim to experience made by any Christian of whatever breed of spiritual virus as a mere morbid reflection, the apish imitation of the true ecstasies and trances. All expressions of the real thing must partake of the character of that thing, and therefore only that language is permissible which is itself released from the canon of ordinary speech, exactly as the trance is unfettered by the laws of ordinary consciousness. In other words, the only proper translation is in poetry, art and music.
16. If you examine the highest poetry in the light of common sense, you can only say that it is rubbish; and in actual fact you cannot so examine it at all, because there is something in poetry which is not in the words themselves, which is not in the images suggested by the words 'O windy star blown sideways up the sky!' True poetry is itself a magic spell which is a key to the ineffable. With music this thesis is so obvious as hardly to need stating. Music has no expressed intellectual content whatever, and the sole test of music is its power to exalt the soul. It is then evident that the composer is himself attempting to express in sensible form some such sublimities as are attained by those who practise Magick and Yoga as they should.
17. The same is true of plastic art, but evidently in much less degree; and all those who really know and love art are well aware that classical painting and sculpture are rarely capable of producing these transcendent orgasms of ecstasy, as in the case of the higher arts. One is bound to the impressions of the eye; one is drawn back to the contemplation of a static object. And this fact has been so well understood in modern times by painters that they have endea- voured to create an art within an art; and this is the true explana- tion of such movements as 'surrealisme.' I want to impress upon you that the artist is in truth a very much superior being to the Yogi or the Magician. He can reply as St. Paul replied to the centurion who boasted of his Roman citizenship 'With a great sum obtained I this freedom'; and Paul, fingering the Old School Tie, sneered: "But I was free born.'
18. It is not for us here to enquire as to how it should happen that certain human beings possess from birth this right of intimacy with the highest reality, but Blavatsky was of this same opinion that the natural gift marks the acquisition of the rank in the spiritual hierarchy to which the student of Magick and Yoga aspires. He is, so to speak, an artist in the making; and it is perhaps not likely that his gifts will have become sufficiently automatic in his present incarntion to produce the fruits of his attainment. Yet, undoubted- ly, there have been such cases, and that within my own experience. 19. I could quote you the case of a man -- a very inferior and wishy-washy poet -- who undertook for a time very strenuously the prescribed magical practices. He was very fortunate, and attained
admirable results. No sooner had he done so that his poetry itself became flooded with supernal light and energy. He produced master- pieces. And then he gave up his Magick because the task of further progress appalled him. The result was that his poetry fell completely away to the standard of wet blotting paper.
20. Let me tell you also of one man almost illiterate, a Lancashire man who had worked in a mill from the age of nine years. He had studied for years with the Toshophists with no results. Then he corresponded with me for some time; he had still no results. He came to stay with me in Sicily. One day as we went down to bathe we stood for a moment on the brink of the cliff which led down to the little rocky cove with its beach of marvellous smooth sand. I said something quite casually -- I have never been able to remember what it was -- nor could he ever remember -- but he suddenly dashed down the steep little path like a mountain goat, threw off his cloak and plunged into the sea. When he came back, his very body had become luminous. I saw that he needed to be alone for a week to complete his experience, so I fixed him up in an Alpine tent in a quiet dell under broad-spreading trees at the edge of a stream. From time to time he sent me his magical record, vision after vision of amazing depth and splendour. I was so gratified with his attainment that I showed these records to a distinguished literary critic who was staying with me at the time. A couple of hours later, when I returned to the Abbey, he burst out upon me a flame of excitement. 'Do you know what this is?' he cried. I answered casually that it was a lot of very good visions. 'Bother your visions,' he exclaimed, 'didn't you notice the style? It's pure John Bunyan!' It was.
21. But all this is neither here nor there. There is only one thing for anybody to do on a path, and that is to make sure of the next step. And the fact which we all have to comfort us is this: that all human beings have capacities for attainment, each according to his or her present position. For instance, with regard to the power of vision on the astral plane, I have been privileged to train many hundreds of people in the course of my life, and only about a dozen of them were incapable of success. In one case this was because the man had already got beyond all such preliminary exercise; his mind immediately took on the formless condition which transcends all images, all thought. Other failures were stupid people who were incapable of making an experi- ment of any sort. They were a mass of intellectual pride and preju- dice, and I sent them away with an injunction to go to Jane Austen. But the ordinary man and woman get on very well, and by this I do not mean only the educated. It is, in fact, notorious that, among many of the primitive races of mankind, strange powers of all kinds develop with amazing florescence.
22. The question for each one of us is then: first of all, to acertain our present positions; secondly, to determine our proper directions; and, thirdly, to govern ourselves accordingly. The question for me is also to describe a method of procedure which will be sufficiently elastic to be useful to every human being. I have tried to do this by combining the two paths of Magick and Yoga. If we perform the preliminary practices, each according to his capacity, the result will surely be the acquisition of a certain technique. And this will become much easier as we advance, especial- ly if we bear it well in mind not to attempt to discriminate between the two methods as if they were opposing schools, but to use the one to help out the other in an emergency.
23. Of course, nobody understands better than I do that, although nobody can do your work for you, it is possible to make use -- to a certain very limited extent -- of other people's experience, and the Great Order which I have the honour to serve has appointed what I think you will agree is a very satisfactory and practical curriculum.
24. You are expected to spend three months at least on the study of some of the classics on the subject. The chief object of this is not to instruct you, but to familiarise you with the ground work, and in particular to prevent you getting the idea that there is any right or wrong in matters of opinion. You pass an examination intended to make sure that your mind is well grounded in this matter, and you become a Probationer. Your reading will have given you some indication as to the sort of thing you are likely to be good at, and you select such practices as seem to you to promise well. You go ahead with these, and keep a careful record of what you do, and what results occur. After eleven months you submit a record to your superior; it is his duty to put you right where you have gone wrong, and particularly to encourage you where you think you have failed.
25. I say this because one of the most frequent troubles is that people who are doing excellent work throw it up because they find that Nature is not what they thought it was going to be. But this is the best test of the reality of any experience. All those which conform with your idea, which flatter you, are likely to be illusions. So you become a Neophyte; and attack the Task of a Zelator.
There are further grades in this system, but the general prin- ciples are always the same -- the principles of scientific study and research.
26. We end where we began. 'The wheel has come full circle.' We are to use the experience of the past to determine the experience of the future, and as that experience increases in quantity it also improves in quality. And the Path is sure. And the End is sure. For the End is the Path.
Love is the law, love under will.
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