By Aleister Crowley

Chapter XLII: This "Self" Introversion

Cara Soror,

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

"...It is a lie, this folly against self...." (AL II, 22)

The English is very un-English, and the context hardly helpful.  But the meaning is clear enough; the idea is to dismiss, curtly and rudely, the entire body of doctrine which insists on altruism as a condition of spiritual progress.

Why do I jump in with this text without warning.  Because at the end of my letter on Sammasati the Dweller of the Threshold popped up, and that brings us to the Black Brothers, and the Left-hand path, all of which subjects are very generally supposed to depend for origin upon "Selfishness."

This question is one of the most critical in the whole of Magical Theory; for in one sense it is certainly true that every error without exception is due to exacerbation of the Ego.

Yet The Book of the Law flings at us disdainfully: "It is a lie, this folly against self."

How then?

I fear there is nothing for it but to go thoroughly into the whole matter of the "self."  This may involve some recapitulation; but then didn't the Buddha repeat three times every one of those extravagantly verbose paragraphs which give the luckless Bhikku—timens, not tumens, as Catullus says—permission to have (a) walls (b) roof (c) window (d) door (e) hinge to door (f) fastening to door (g) h, and c.1—no, he didn't! anyhow, all those ancient conveniences?

"Self" is one of the trickiest words afloat.  Skeat gives merely the equivalents, all practically the same in sound, in various Nordic languages; he doesn't say where it comes from, or what it means.  I don't know either, bless your heart!

Latin and Greek don't help us at all; and when we try Eastern languages, it seems, dimly, to give the idea of the Ego, whatever that may be.  Or perhaps "that combination which is unified by Ahamkara, the "Ego-making faculty."

Decidedly not illuminating!

One can't use the word as an ordinary noun.  Skeat doesn't even label it as such.  One can hardly say: Mr. Blenkinsop's self is good, or rheumatic, or gone for a walk.  It makes nonsense.  Yet Philosophy has picked out this hapless Tetragrammaton, and made endless mud pies with it!

When one says: "I fell and hurt myself", it's only a conventional abbreviation.  One means "my nose," or "my elbow," as the case may be!  No, I can't conscientiously admit it as a noun.  More accurately: "my body fell, and I am suffering from the injury thereby caused to my whatever it was."

And so what?

(Oh dear, I am tying ourselves into knots!)

So what? Ah me, nothing for it but to plunge head foremost into the hybrid abyss of Babu-Blavatsky bak-abak!

Brahman—don't confuse with the Brahma of the Trimurti, so so many Nippies and Clippies are but too liable to do—is the macrocosmic Negative Absolute, when cross-examined; its microcosm is Purusha or Atma. Very near our own Qabalistic Zero—Nought in no dimensions—equals Infinity (air connu).  Then comes Buddhi, which curates, bookmakers' clerks, miners and Privy Councillors so often mistake for Buddha (Ha! Ha!), the faculty of discrimination.  Pretty much like the 0 = 2 equation in our system.

Next, the Higher Manas, which is our Neschamah, as near as a toucher; and the Lower Manas, which, as every Lovely and Cutie well Knows, is our Ruach.  The rest of the Hindu system can easily be fitted in.

Note, however, the Ahamkara, usually translated "Ego-making faculty," which collects what it can from this dump, and labels it "I."

There seems not much point in elaborating all this.  The Hindu Pandit is a whale for swallowing numberless oceans, all swarming with Jonahs; he duplicates and discriminates and invents at his own sweet will, in order to get a pretty pattern with 84 or 108 crores of asankyas of lakhs of anythings.

We have done enough for honour.

Enough if we see that the system is in its essence identical with our own.

Well, then, what is this "Higher Self" that you roll out upon me?

Actually, we are very far from being out of the wood.  This Ut, of Udgitha, who looms so large in the Upanishads; the God peculiar to yourself, who appears in one of the Darshanas; some Individual constructed from the material listed above; are these all one?  If not, is the difference between them more than a quibble?

Really, all these speculations are based on à priori considerations; we had better drop the whole argument as little better than a waste of time; nay, as worse, for it encourages one in loose thinking, and especially in clinging to names which have no counterpart in things.

There is only one point of theory which matters to our practice.  We may readily concur that the Augoeides, the "Genius" of Socrates, and the "Holy Guardian Angel" of Abramelin the Mage, are identical.  But we cannot include this "Higher Self"; for the Angel is an actual Individual with his own Universe, exactly as man is; or, for the matter of that, a bluebottle.  He is not a mere abstraction, a selection from, and exaltation of, one's own favorite qualities, as the "Higher Self" seems to be.  The trouble is (I think) that the Hindu passion for analysis makes them philosophize any limited being out of existence.

This matter is of importance, because it influences one's attitude to invocation.  I can, for instance, work myself up to a "Divine Consciousness," in which I can understand, and act, as I cannot in my normal state.  I become "inspired;" I feel, and I express, ideas of almost illimitable exaltation.  But this is totally different from the "Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel," which is the special aim of the Adeptus Minor.  It is ruin to that Work if one deceives oneself by mistaking one's own "energized enthusiasm" for external communication.  The parallel on the physical plane is the difference between Onanism and Sexual Intercourse.

Probably, my reason for insistence on this point is my antipathy to introversion in any form.  The "mystic path" itself is packed with dangers.  Unless the strongest counter-irritants are exhibited, the process is almost certain to become morbid.  It is only one step from the Invocation of Zeus, or Apollo, or Dionysus, which does demand identification of oneself with the object of one's worship, to a form of self-worship which soon develops into a maniacal exacerbation of the Ego; and if one persists in this involuted curve, one becomes a "Black Brother," or departs for the local loony-bin.

Invocations of even the most positive Gods are dangerous, unless care can be taken to keep the personality of the god distinct from one's own.  Athene is a superb deity; but one does not want to be nothing but Athene, except in that supreme moment of Samadhi with Her which is the climax of the invocation.

Do you remember one of Barbey d'Aurevilly's Contes Cruels about a Spanish nobleman who anticipated one of the privileges of marriage instead of waiting for ecclesiastical licence?  The Inquisitor simply had him tied to his betrothed for 48 hours.

It is really rather like that! One of my mathematically-minded disciples—J.W.N. Sullivan, I think—told me that his sinister science had one peculiarly devilish pitfall; one is so satisfactorily equipped for work if one had but a bit of paper and a pencil—and a comfortable bed!  He had to make a point of severe physical exercise to escape becoming bed-ridden in his early twenties!

So, even in divine invocation, one should insist on definite communication of knowledge (or what not) which is incontestably not one's own.  The fact that the self-begotten feelings and ideas are so eminently satisfactory—naturally, since there is nobody to oppose them—is damnably seductive.

Once started on that road, one can easily develop self-deception to a fine art.  One can imagine that one has undergone, or achieved, all sorts of experiences "as described in the books," when all that one has actually done is to work the results of one's reading into a bubble inflated by imagination.

It should be obvious to you that the habit grows on one; every bad quality, from vanity to laziness, lends most willing aid.  One replaces reality more and more continuously by these exciting and flattering reveries, which by this time have no longer any shadow of a claim to be called mystic experiences at all.

It is desperately difficult to cure such conditions; the patient resents bitterly every touch of truth, for he feels it, accurately enough, as a thrust to the very core of his being.

Parallel with this, in my psychoanalytic practice I have had excellent success with all forms of sexual aberration, with the one exception of masturbation.

In these cases, even though I have often been successful in "curing" the condition, so that the man has been able to carry on with satisfaction to himself and his family the normal functions of a husband, I have never really got rid of the peculiar mental and moral characteristics which have been, if not implanted, at least encouraged and fostered, by this devastating habit.

Now do remember this; it is the guarantee of wholesomeness in any Invocation that there should be contact with another.  It is better to conjure up the most obnoxious demons from the most noisome pit of Hell than to take one's own exhilarations for Divine benediction; if only because there was never a demon yet so atrocious as that same old Ego.

You will discover the truth of these remarks when you approach the Frontier of the Abyss.  Well, now, if that isn't too funny!  The text of this stupendous sermon was AL II, 22.  I take this verse in its most obvious and ordinary sense; for instance, the following sentence: "... The exposure of innocence is a lie. ..."; for that means clearly enough Hypocrisy.  So "... It is a lie, this folly against self. ..." only means, "To hell with sentimental altruism, with false modesty, with all those most insidious fiends, the sense of guilt, of shame—in a word, the 'inferiority complex' or something very like it."  The whole tenor of The Book of the Law, is to this effect.  The very test of worth is that one should be aware of it and not afraid to sock the next man on the jaw if he disputes it!

Love is the law, love under will.



P.S.  But what do I mean when I say "myself" in normal speech?  I mean Tiphareth, the human self as determining the identity of the Supreme Triad plus as much Ruach as I have succeeded in organising as extensions of it.

Though your Supernal Triad is in essence identical with mine, your Tiphareth is quite definitely not mine. It is like mine in its nature and many of its sympathies, but your Ruach is altogether different from mine in (at a guess) 80% of its components.

We must add Malkuth as the medium which crystallizes the characters of our respective "Selves."

This is all horribly, hatefully difficult to put into words; there is bound to be misunderstanding, however cleverly I concoct the potion. But we understand pretty well for all that, at least so far as is necessary for most practical purposes.

Note: The original key-entry also contained a transcription of a handwritten note which was made completely unintelligible by a number of omissions, either of illegible words or of symbols which could not be rendered in ASCII.  It ran thusly:

    {The following note in handwriting may be a proper element of the text. This
    will be cross-check from available materials:}

    *  0 = 2  Because 2 comes from 0 --- itself is .... ---
    2 High ... issue from Kether the Crown
    under .....                .......      the  Book of Thoth.
    thus Nuit ...          ...     Hadit --- and as you
    said yourself, ...     she ....  --- never

There may be a reference to AL II, 4 in the last few words..

1: Probably "heroin and cocaine" – T.S.

© Ordo Templi Orientis.  Original key entry by W.E. Heidrick for O.T.O.  HTML coding by Frater T.S. for Nu Isis Working Group.

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