Original key entry Bill Heidrick, T.G. of O.T.O. Extracted from EQ-I-1.AS1 by Fr. Nachash
Original key entry Bill Heidrick, T.G. of O.T.O.
Extracted from EQ-I-1.AS1 by Fr. Nachash
This format (c) O.T.O.
Fairfax, CA 94930
(415) 454-5176 ---- Messages only.
THE SOLDIER AND THE
! AND ?
"Expect seven misfortunes from the cripple, and forty-two
from the one-eyed man; but when the hunchback comes, say
'Allah our aid.'"
INQUIRY. Let us inquire in the first place: What is Scepticism? The word
means looking, questioning, investigating. One must pass by contemptuously
the Christian liar's gloss which interprets "sceptic" as "mocker"; though
in a sense it is true for him, since to inquire into Christianity is
assuredly to mock at it; but I am concerned to intensify the etymological
connotation in several respects. First, I do not regard mere incredulity
as necessary to the idea, though credulity is incompatible with it.
Incredulity implies a prejudice in favour of a negative conclusion; and the
true sceptic should be perfectly unbiassed.
Second, I exclude "vital scepticism." What's the good of anyfink?
expects (as we used to learn about "nonne?") the answer, "Why nuffink!" and
again is prejudiced. Indolence is no virtue in a questioner. Eagerness,
intentness, concentration, vigilance --- all these I include in the
connotation of "sceptic." Such questioning as has been called "vital
scepticism" is but a device to avoid true questioning, and therefore its
very antithesis, the devil disguised as an angel of light.
[Or "vice versâ", friend, if you are a Satanist; 'tis a matter of words
--- words --- words. You may write "x" for "y" in your equations, so long as
you consistently write "y" for "x". They remain unchanged --- and unsolved.
Is not all our "knowledge" an example of this fallacy of writing one
unknown for another, and then crowing like Peter's cock?]
I picture the true sceptic as a man eager and alert, his deep eyes
glittering like sharp swords, his hands tense with effort as he asks, "What
does it matter?"
I picture the false sceptic as a dude or popinjay, yawning, with dull
eyes, his muscles limp, his purpose in asking the question but the
expression of his slackness and stupidity.
This true sceptic is indeed the man of science; as Wells' "Moreau"
tells us. He has devised some means of answering his first question, and
its answer is another question. It is difficult to conceive of any
question, indeed, whose answer does not imply a thousand further questions.
So simple an inquiry as "Why is sugar sweet?" involves an infinity of
chemical researches, each leading ultimately to the blank wall --- what is
matter? and an infinity of physiological researches, each (similarly)
leading to the blank wall --- what is mind?
Even so, the relation between the two ideas is unthinkable; causality
is itself unthinkable; it depends, for one thing, upon experience --- and
what, in God's name, is experience? Experience is impossible without
memory. What is memory? The mortar of the temple of the ego, whose bricks
are the impressions. And the ego? The sum of our experience, may be. (I
doubt it!) Anyhow, we have got values of "y" and "z" for "x", and the values
of "x" and "z" for "y" --- all our equations are indeterminate; all our
knowledge is relative, even in a narrower sense than is usually implied by the
statement. Under the whip of the clown God, our performing donkeys the
philosophers and men of science run round and round in the ring; they have
amusing tricks: they are cleverly trained; but they get nowhere.
I don't seem to be getting anywhere myself.
A fresh attempt. Let us look into the simplest and most certain of
all possible statements. "Thought exists", or if you will, "Cogitatur".
Descartes supposed himself to have touched bed-rock with his "Cogito,"
Huxley pointed out the complex nature of this proposition, and that it
was an enthymeme with the premiss "Omnes sunt, qui cogitant" suppressed. He
reduced it to "Cogito;" or, to avoid the assumption of an ego, "Cogitatur."
Examining more closely this statement, we may still cavil at its form.
We cannot translate it into English without the use of the verb to be, so,
that, after all, existence is implied. Nor do we readily conceive that
contemptuous silence is sufficient answer of the further query, "By whom is
it thought?" The Buddhist may find it easy to image an act without
an agent; I am not so clever. It may be possible for a sane man; but I
should like to know more about his mind before I gave a final opinion.
But apart from purely formal objections, we may still inquire: Is this
Yes; reply the sages; for to deny it implies thought; "Negatur" is only
a sub-section of "Cogitatur".
This involves, however, an axiom that the part is of the same nature
as the whole; or (at the very least) an axiom that "A" is "A".
Now, I do not wish to deny that "A" is "A", or may occasionally be "A".
But certainly "A is A" is a very different statement to our original
The proof of "Cogitatur", in short, rests not upon itself but upon the
validity of our logic; and if by logic we mean (as we should mean) the Code
of the Laws of Thought, the irritating sceptic will have many more remarks
to make: for it now appears that the proof that "thought exists" depends upon
the truth of that which is thought, to say no more.
We have taken "Cogitatur", to try and avoid the use of "esse;" but "A is
A" involves that very idea, and the proof is fatally flawed.
"Cogitatur" depends on "Est;" and there's no avoiding it.
Shall we get on any better if we investigate this "Est" --- Something is
--- Existence is --- HB:Heh HB:Yod HB:Heh HB:Aleph HB:Resh HB:Shin HB:Aleph
HB:Heh HB:Yod HB:Heh HB:Aleph ?
What is Existence? The question is so fundamental that it finds no
answer. The most profound meditation only leads to an exasperating sense
of impotence. There is, it seems, no simple rational idea in the mind
which corresponds to the word.
It is easy of course to drown the question in definitions, leading us
to further complexity --- but
"Existence is the gift of Divine Providence,"
"Existence is the opposite of Non-Existence,"
do not help us much!
The plain "Existence is Existence" of the Hebrews goes farther. It is
the most sceptical of statements, in spite of its form. Existence is just
existence, and there's no more to be said about it; don't worry! Ah, but
there is more to be said about it! Though we search ourselves for a
thought to match the word, and fail, yet we have Berkeley's perfectly
convincing argument that (so far as we know it) existence must mean
"thinking existence" or "spiritual existence".
Here then we find our "Est" to imply "Cogitatur;" and Berkeley's arguments
are "irrefragable, yet fail to produce conviction" (Hume) because the
"Cogitatur;" as we have shown, implies "Est".
Neither of these ideas is simple; each involves the other. Is the
division between them in our brain a proof of the total incapacity of that
organ, or is there some flaw in our logic? For all depends upon our logic;
not upon the simple identity "A is A" only, but upon its whole structure from
the question of simple propositions, enormously difficult from the moment
when it occurred to the detestable genius that invented "existential
import" to consider the matter, to that further complexity and
contradiction, the syllogism.
"Thought is" appears then (in the worst case possible, denial) as the
conclusion of the premisses:
There is denial of thought.
(All) Denial of thought is thought.
Even formally, 'tis a clumsy monster. Essentially, it seems to
involve a great deal beyond our original statement. We compass heaven and
earth to make one syllogism; and when we have made it, it is tenfold more
the child of mystery than ourselves.
We cannot here discuss the whole problem of the validity (the surface-
question of the logical validity) of the syllogism; though one may throw
out the hint that the doctrine of distributed middle seems to assume a
knowledge of a Calculus of Infinites which is certainly beyond my own poor
attainments, and hardly impregnable to the simple reflection that all
mathematics is conventional, and not essential; relative, and not absolute.
We go deeper and deeper, then, it seems, from the One into the Many.
Our primary proposition depends no longer upon itself, but upon the whole
complex being of man, poor, disputing, muddle-headed man! Man with all his
limitations and ignorance; man --- man!
We are of course no happier when we examine the Many, separately or
together. They converge and diverge, each fresh hill-top of knowledge
disclosing a vast land unexplored; each gain of power in our telescopes
opening out new galaxies; each improvement in our microscopes showing us
life minuter and more incomprehensible. A mystery of the mighty spaces
between molecules; a mystery of the ether-cushions that fend off the stars
from collision! A mystery of the fulness of things; a mystery of the
emptiness of things! Yet, as we go, there grows a sense, an instinct, a
premonition --- what shall I call it? --- that Being is One, and Thought is
One, and Law is One --- until we ask What is that One?
Then again we spin words --- words --- words. And we have got no
single question answered in any ultimate sense.
What is the moon made of?
Science replies "Green Cheese."
For our one moon we have now two ideas:
"Greenness," and "Cheese."
"Greenness" depends on the sunlight, and the eye, and a thousand other
"Cheese" depends on bacteria and fermentation and the nature of the cow.
"Deeper, even deeper, into the mire of things!"
Shall we cut the Gordian knot? shall we say "There is God"?
What, in the devil's name, is God?
If (with Moses) we picture Him as an old man showing us His back
parts, who shall blame us? The great Question --- "any" question is
the great question --- does indeed treat us thus cavalierly, the
disenchanted Sceptic is too prone to think!
Well, shall we define Him as a loving Father, as a jealous priest, as
a gleam of light upon the holy Ark? What does it matter? All these images
are of wood and stone, the wood and stone of our own stupid brains! The
Fatherhood of God is but a human type; the idea of a human father conjoined
with the idea of immensity. Two for One again!
No combination of thoughts can be greater than the thinking brain
itself; all we can think of God or say of Him, so long as our words really
represent thoughts, is less than the whole brain which thinks, and orders
Very good; shall we proceed by denying Him all thinkable qualities, as
do the heathen? All we obtain is mere negation of thought.
Either He is unknowable, or He is less than we are. Then, too, that
which is unknowable is unknown; and "God" or "There is God" as an answer to
our question becomes as meaningless as any other.
Who are we, then?
We are Spencerian Agnostics, poor silly, damned Spencerian Agnostics!
And there is an end of the matter.
It is surely time that we began to question the validity of some of
our data. So far our scepticism has not only knocked to pieces our
tower of thought, but rooted up the foundation-stone and ground it into
finer and more poisonous powder than that into which Moses ground the calf.
These golden Elohim! Our calf-heads that brought us not out of Egypt, but
into a darkness deeper and more tangible than any darkness of the double
Empire of Asar.
Hume put his little ? to Berkeley's God-!; Buddha his ? to the Vedic
Atman-! --- and neither Hume nor Buddha was baulked of his reward.
Ourselves may put ? to our own ? since we have found no ! to put it to; and
wouldn't it be jolly if our own second ? suddenly straightened its back and
threw its chest out and marched off as !?
Suppose then we accept our scepticism as having destroyed our
knowledge root and branch --- is there no limit to its action? Does it not
in a sense stultify itself? Having destroyed logic by logic --- if Satan
cast out Satan, how shall his kingdom stand?
Let us stand on the Mount, Saviours of the World that we are, and
answer "Get thee behind me Satan!" though refraining from quoting texts or
Oho! says somebody; is Aleister Crowley here? --- Samson blinded and
bound, grinding corn for the Philistines!
Not at all, dear boy!
We shall put all the questions that we can put --- but we may find a
tower built upon a rock, against which the winds beat in vain.
Not what Christians call faith, be sure! But what (possibly) the
forgers of the Epistles --- those eminent mystics! --- meant by faith.
What I call Samadhi --- and as "faith without works is dead," so,
good friends, Samadhi is all humbug unless the practitioner shows the glint
of its gold in his work in the world. If your mystic becomes Dante, well;
if Tennyson, a fig for his trances!
But how does this tower of Samadhi stand the assault of Question-time?
Is not the idea of Samadhi just as dependent on all the other ideas
--- man, time, being, thought, logic? If I seek to explain Samadhi by
analogy, am I not often found talking as if we knew all about Evolution,
and Mathematics, and History? Complex and unscientific studies, mere
straws before the blast of our hunchback friend!
Well, one of the buttresses is just the small matter of common sense.
The other day I was with Dorothy, and, as I foolishly imagined, very
cosy: for her sandwiches are celebrated. It was surely bad taste on the
part of Father Bernard Vaughan, and Dr. Torrey, and Ananda Metteyya, and
Mr. G. W. Foote, and Captain Fuller, and the ghost of Immanuel Kant, and
Mr. Bernard Shaw, and young Neuburg, to intrude. But intrude they did; and
talk! I never heard anything like it. Every one with his own point of
view; but all agreed that Dorothy was non-existent, or if existent, a most
awful specimen, that her buns were stale, and her tea stewed; "ergo," that I
was having a very poor time of it. Talk! Good God! But Dorothy kept on
quietly and took no notice; and in the end I forgot about them.
Thinking it over soberly, I see now that very likely they were quite
right: I can't prove it either way. But as a mere practical man, I intend
taking the steamer --- for my sins I am in Gibraltar --- back to
Dorothy at the earliest possible moment. Sandwiches of bun and German
sausage may be vulgar and even imaginary --- it's the taste I like. And
the more I munch, the more complacent I feel, until I go so far as to offer
my critics a bite.
This sounds in a way like the "Interior Certainly" of the common or
garden Christian; but there are differences.
The Christian insists on notorious lies being accepted as an essential
part of his (more usually her) system; I, on the contrary, ask for facts,
for observation. Under Scepticism, true, one is just as much a house of
cards as the other; but only in the philosophical sense.
Practically, Science is is true; and Faith is foolish.
Practically, 3 x 1 = 3 is the truth; and 3 x 1 = 1 is a lie; though,
sceptically, both statements may be false or unintelligible.
Practically, Franklin's method of obtaining fire from heaven is better
than that of Prometheus or Elijah. I am now writing by the light that
Franklin's discovery enabled men to use.
Practically, "I concentrated my mind upon a white radiant triangle in
whose centre was a shining eye, for 22 minutes and 10 seconds, my attention
wandering 45 times" is a scientific and valuable statement. "I prayed
fervently to the Lord for the space of many days" means anything or
nothing. Anybody who cares to do so may imitate my experiment and compare
his result with mine. In the latter case one would always be wondering
what "fervently" meant and who "the Lord" was, and how many days made
My claim, too, is more modest than the Christian's. He (usually
she) knows more about my future than is altogether pleasant; I claim
nothing absolute from my Samadhi --- I know only too well the worthlessness
of single-handed observations, even on so simple a matter as a boiling-
point determination! --- and as for his (usually her) future, I content
myself with mere common sense about the probable end of a fool.
So that after all I keep my scepticism intact --- and I keep my
Samadhi intact. The one balances the other; I care nothing for the vulgar
brawling of these two varlets of my mind!
If, however, you would really like to know what might be said on the
soldierly side of the question, I shall endeavour to oblige.
It is necessary if a question is to be intelligibly put that the
querent should be on the same plane as the quesited.
Answer is impossible if you ask: Are round squares triangular? or Is
butter virtuous? or How many ounces go to the shilling? for the "questions"
are not really questions at all.
So if you ask me Is Samadhi real? I reply: First, I pray you,
establish a connection between the terms. What do you mean by Samadhi?
There is a physiological (or pathological; never mind now!) state
which I call Samadhi; and that state is as real --- in relation to man ---
as sleep, or intoxication, or death.
Philosophically, we may doubt the existence of all of these; but we
have no grounds for discriminating between them --- the Academic
Scepticism is a wholesale firm, I hope! --- and practically, I challenge
you to draw valid distinctions.
All these are states of the consciousness of man; and if you seek to
destroy one, all fall together.
I must, at the risk of appearing to digress, insist upon this
distinction between philosophical and practical points of view, or (in
Qabalistic language) between Kether and Malkuth.
In private conversation I find it hard --- almost impossible --- to
get people to understand what seems to me so very simple a point. I shall
try to make it exceptionally clear.
A boot is an Illusion.
A hat is an illusion.
"Therefore," a boot is a hat.
So argue my friends, not distributing the middle term.
But this argue I.
All boots are illusions.
All hats are illusions.
"Therefore" (though it is not a syllogism), all boots and hats are
To the man in Kether no illusions matter.
"Therefore:" To the man in Kether neither boots nor hats matter.
In fact, the man in Kether is out of all relation to these boots and
You, they say, claim to be a man in Kether (I don't). Why then, do
you not wear boots on your head and hats on your feet?
I can only answer that I the man in Kether ('tis but an argument) am
out of all relation as much with feet and heads as with boots and hats.
But why should I (from my exalted pinnacle) stoop down and worry the headed
and footed gentleman in Malkuth, who after all doesn't exist for me, by
these drastic alterations in his toilet? There is no distinction whatever;
I might easily put the boots on his shoulders, with his head on one foot
and the hat on the other.
In short, why not be a clean-living Irish gentleman, even if you do
have insane ideas about the universe?
Very good, say my friends, unabashed, then why not stick to that? Why
glorify Spanish gipsies when you have married a clergyman's daughter?
Why go about proclaiming that you can get as good fun for
eighteenpence as usually costs men a career?
Ah! let me introduce you to the man in Tiphereth; that is, the man who
is trying to raise his consciousness from Malkuth to Kether.
This Tiphereth man is in a devil of a hole! He knows theoretically
all about the Kether point of view (or thinks he does) and practically all
about the Malkuth point of view. Consequently he goes about contradicting
Malkuth; he refuses to allow Malkuth to obsess his thought. He keeps on
crying out that there is no difference between a goat and a God, in the
hope of hypnotising himself (as it were) into that perception of their
identity, which is his (partial and incorrect) idea of how things look from
This man performs great magic; very strong medicine. He does really
find gold on the midden and skeletons in pretty girls.
In Abiegnus the Sacred Mountain of the Rosicrucians the Postulant
finds but a coffin in the central shrine; yet that coffin contains
Christian Rosencreutz who is dead and is alive for evermore and hath the
keys of Hell and of Death.
Ay! your Tiphereth man, child of Mercy and Justice, looks deeper than
But he seems a ridiculous object enough both to the Malkuth man and to
the Kether man.
Still, he's the most interesting man there is; and we all must pass
through that stage before we get our heads really clear, the Kether-vision
above the Clouds that encircle the mountain Abiegnus.
Running and returning, like the Cherubim, we may now resume our
attempt to drill our hunchback friend into a presentable soldier. The
digression will not have been all digression, either; for it will have
thrown a deal of light on the question of the limitations of scepticism.
We have questioned the Malkuth point of view; it appears absurd, be it
agreed. But the Tiphereth position is unshaken; Tiphereth needs no telling
that Malkuth is absurd. When we turn our artillery against Tiphereth, that
too crumbles; but Kether frowns above us.
Attack Kether, and it falls; but the Yetziratic Malkuth is still
there .... until we reach Kether of Atziluth and the Infinite Light, and
Space, and Nothing.
So then we retire up the path, fighting rear-guard actions; at every
moment a soldier is slain by a hunchback; but as we retire there is always
a soldier just by us.
Until the end. The end? Buddha thought the supply of hunchbacks
infinite; but why should not the soldiers themselves be infinite in number?
However that may be, here is the point; it takes a moment for a
hunchback to kill his man, and the farther we get from our base the longer
it takes. You may crumble to ashes the dream-world of a boy, as it were,
between your fingers; but before you can bring the physical universe
tumbling about a man's ears he requires to drill his hunchbacks so devilish
well that they are terribly like soldiers themselves. And a question
capable of shaking the consciousness of Samadhi could, I imagine, give long
odds to one of Frederick's grenadiers.
It is useless to attack the mystic by asking him if he is quite sure
Samadhi is good for his poor health; 'tis like asking the huntsman to be
very careful, please, not to hurt the fox.
The ultimate Question, the one that really knocks Samadhi to pieces,
is such a stupendous Idea that it is far more of a ! than all previous !'s
whatever, for all its ? form.
And the name of that Question is Nibbana.
Take this matter of the soul.
When Mr. Judas McCabbage asks the Man in the Street why he believes in
a soul, the Man stammers out that he has always heard so; naturally
McCabbage has no difficulty in proving to him by biological methods that he
has no soul; and with a sunny smile each passes on his way.
But McCabbage is wasted on the philosopher whose belief in a soul
rests on introspection; we must have heavier metal; Hume will serve our
turn, may be.
But Hume in his turn becomes perfectly futile, pitted against the
Hindu mystic, who is in constant intense enjoyment of his new-found Atman.
It takes a Buddha-gun to knock "his" castle down.
Now the ideas of McCabbage are banal and dull; those of Hume are live
and virile; there is a joy in them greater than the joy of the Man in the
Street. So too the Buddha-thought, Anatta, is a more splendid conception
than the philosopher's Dutch-doll-like Ego, or the rational artillery of
This weapon, too, that has destroyed our lesser, our illusionary
universes, ever revealing one more real, shall we not wield it with divine
ecstasy? Shall we not, too, perceive the inter-dependence of the Questions
and the Answers, the necessary connection of the one with the other, so
that (just as 0 x ý is an indefinite) we destroy the absolutism of either ?
or ! by their alternation and balance, until in our series ? ! ? ! ? ! ?
... ! ? ! ? ... we care nothing as to which may prove the final term, any
single term being so negligible a quantity in relation to the vastness of
the series? Is it not a series of geometrical progression, with a factor
positive and incalculably vast?
In the light of the whole process, then, we perceive that there is no
absolute value in the swing of the pendulum, thought its shaft lengthen,
its rate grow slower, and its sweep wider at every swing.
What should interest us is the consideration of the Point from which
it hangs, motionless at the height of things! We are unfavourably
placed to observe this, desperately clinging as we are to the bob of the
pendulum, sick with our senseless swinging to and fro in the abyss!
We must climb up the shaft to reach that point --- but --- wait one
moment! How obscure and subtle has our simile become! Can we attach any
true meaning to the phrase? I doubt it, seeing what we have taken for the
limits of the swing. True, it may be that at the end the swing is always
360° so that the !-point and the ?-point coincide; but that is not the same
thing as having no swing at all, unless we make kinematics identical with
What is to be done? How shall such mysteries be uttered?
Is this how it is that the true Path of the Wise is said to lie in a
totally different plane from all his advance in the path of Knowledge, and
of Trance? We have already been obliged to take the Fourth Dimension to
illustrate (if not explain) the nature of Samadhi.
Ah, say the adepts, Samadhi is not the end
, but the beginning. You
must regard Samadhi as the normal state of mind which enables you to begin
your researches, just as waking is the state from which you rise to
Samadhi, sleep the state from which you rose to waking. And only from
Sammasamadhi --- continuous trance of the right kind --- can you rise up as
it were on tiptoe and peer through the clouds unto the mountains.
Now of course it is really awfully decent of the adepts to take all
that trouble over us, and to put it so nicely and clearly. All we have to
do, you see, is to acquire Sammasamadhi, and then rise on tiptoe. Just so!
But there there are the other adepts. Hard at him! Little
brother, he says, let us rather consider that as the pendulum swings more
and more slowly every time, it must ultimately stop, as soon as the shaft
is of infinite length. Good! then it isn't a pendulum at all but a
Mahalingam --- The Mahalingam of Shiva ("Namo Shivaya namaha Aum!") which is
all I ever thought it was; all you have to do is to keep swinging hard ---
I know it's hook-swinging! --- and you get there in the End. Why trouble
to swing? First, because you are bound to swing, whether you like it or
not; second, because your attention is thereby distracted from those lumbar
muscles in which the hook is so very firmly fixed; third, because after all
it's a ripping good game; fourth, because you want to get on, and even to
seem to progress is better than standing still. A treadmill is admittedly
True, the question, "Why become an Aarhat?" should precede, "How
become an Arahat?" but an unbiassed man will easily cancel the first
question with "Why not?" --- the How is not so easy to get rid of. Then,
from the standpoint of the Arahat himself, perhaps this "Why did I become
an Arahat?" and "How did I become an Arahat?" have but a single solution!
In any case, we are wasting our time --- we are as ridiculous with our
Arahats as Herod the Tetrarch with his peacocks! We pose Life with the
question Why? and the first answer is: To obtain the Knowledge and
Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.
To attach meaning to this statement we must obtain that Knowledge and
Conversation: and when we have done that, we may proceed to the next
Question. It is no good asking it now.
"There are purse-proud, penniless ones who stand at the door of the
tavern, and revile the guests."
We attach little importance to the Reverend Out-at-Elbows, thundering
in Bareboards Chapel that the rich man gets no enjoyment from his wealth.
Good, then. Let us obtain the volume entitled "The Book of the Sacred
Magick of Abramelin the Mage"; or the magical writings of that holy
illuminated Man of God, Captain Fuller, and carry out fully their
And only when we have succeeded, when we have put a colossal ! against
our vital ? need we inquire whether after all the soldier is not going to
develop spinal curvature.
Let us take the first step; let us sing:
"I do not ask to see
The distant path; one step's enough for me."
But (you will doubtless say) I pith your ? itself with another ?: Why
question life at all? Why not remain "a clean-living Irish gentleman"
content with his handicap, and contemptuous of card and pencil? Is not the
Buddha's goad "Everything is sorrow" little better than a currish whine?
What do I care for old age, disease, and death? I'm a man, and a Celt at
that. I spit on your snivelling Hindu prince, emasculate with debauchery
in the first place, and asceticism in the second. A weak, dirty, paltry
cur, sir, your Gautama!
Yes, I think I have no answer to that. The sudden apprehension of
some vital catastrophe may have been the exciting cause of my conscious
devotion to the attainment of Adeptship --- but surely the capacity was
there, inborn. Mere despair and desire can do little; anyway, the first
impulse of fear was the passing spasm of an hour; the magnetism of
the path itself was the true lure. It is as foolish to ask me "Why do you
adep?" as to ask God "Why do you pardon?" "C'est son métier."
I am not so foolish as to think that my doctrine can ever gain the ear
of the world. I expect that ten centuries hence the "nominal Crowleians"
will be as pestilent and numerous a body as the "nominal Christians" are
to-day; for (at present) I have been able to devise no mechanism for
excluding them. Rather, perhaps, should I seek to find them a niche in the
shrine, just as Hinduism provides alike for those capable of the Upanishads
and those whose intelligence hardly reaches to the Tantras. In short, one
must abandon the reality of religion for a sham, so that the religion may
be universal enough for those few who are capable of its reality to nestle
to its breast, and nurse their nature on its starry milk. But we
My message is then twofold; to the greasy "bourgeois" I preach
discontent; I shock him, I stagger him, I cut away earth from under his
feet, I turn him upside down, I give him hashish and make him run amok, I
twitch his buttocks with the red-hot tongs of my Sadistic fancy -- until he
But to the man who is already as uneasy as St. Lawrence on his silver
grill, who feels the spirit stir in him, even as a woman feels, and sickens
at, the first leap of the babe in her womb, to him I bring the splendid
vision, the perfume and the glory, the Knowledge and Conversation of the
Holy Guardian Angel. And to whosoever hath attained that height will I put
a further Question, announce a further Glory.
It is my misfortune and not my fault that I am bound to deliver this
"Man has two sides; one to face the world with,
One to show a woman when he loves her."
We must pardon Browning his bawdy jest; for his truth is ower true!
But it is your own fault if you are the world instead of the beloved; and
only see of me what Moses saw of God!
It is disgusting to have to spend one's life jetting dirt in the face
of the British public in the hope that in washing it they may wash off the
acrid grease of their commercialism, the saline streaks of their
hypocritical tears, the putrid perspiration of their morality, the
dribbling slobber of their sentimentality and their religion. And they
don't wash it! ...
But let us take a less unpleasing metaphor, the whip! As some
schoolboy poet repeatedly wrote, his rimes as poor as Edwin Arnold, his
metre as erratic and as good as Francis Thompson, his good sense and frank
indecency a match for Browning!
"Can't be helped; must be done ---
Nay! 'tis a bad, bad rime.
And only after the scourge that smites shall come the rod that
consoles, if I may borrow a somewhat daring simile from Abdullah Haji of
Shiraz and the twenty-third Psalm.
Well, I would much prefer to spend my life at the rod; it is wearisome
and loathsome to be constantly flogging the tough hide of Britons, whom
after all I love. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth
every son that He receiveth." I shall really be glad if a few of you will
get it over, and come and sit on daddy's knee!
The first step is the hardest; make a start, and I will soon set the
hunchback lion and the soldier unicorn fighting for your crown. And they
shall lie down together at the end, equally glad, equally weary; while sole
and sublime that crown of thine (brother!) shall glitter in the frosty Void
of the abyss, its twelve stars filling that silence and solitude with a
music and a motion that are more silent and more still than they; thou
shalt sit throned on the Invisible, thine eyes fixed upon That which we
call Nothing, because it is beyond Everything attainable by thought, or
trance, thy right hand gripping the azure rod of Light, thy left hand
clasped upon the scarlet scourge of Death; thy body girdled with a snake
more brilliant than the sun, its name Eternity; thy mouth curved moonlike
in a smile, in the invisible kiss of Nuit, our Lady of the Starry Abodes;
thy body's electric flesh stilled by sheer might to a movement closed upon
itself in the controlled fury of Her love --- nay, beyond all these Images
art thou (little brother!) who art passed from I and Thou, and He unto That
which hath no Name, no Image. ...
Little brother, give me thy hand; for the first step is hard.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank