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The Soldier and the Humpback

Sep 26, 1994 09:13 PM
by Jerry Schueler

     We have been discussing the mind, and whether or
not the human mind can take us, step by step, up the
thorny Path of spirituality.  I want to share with you
(at least with those who are willing to read this.  No
shame, however, if choose to delete it) a particularly
good article by Aleister Crowley on the subject.  It
shows his sense of humor and demonstrates his intuitive
understanding.  I am not endorsing AC or his magic, nor
am I suggesting that some theosophists could do well to
read him.  But this one article is quite good insofaras
it addresses the logic and reason of the human mind.  I
downloaded it from Compuserve's New Age Forum.  Enjoy.

                          Jerry S.

                      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.'"
                              ARAB PROVERB


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 versa", 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
     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
     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
     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, ergo Sum."
     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 "Cogitatur" true?
     Yes; reply the sages; for to deny it implies
thought; "Negatur" is only a sub-section of
     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 "Cogitatur".
     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 --- AHYH AShR
     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
fullness 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
     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 things.
     "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 giving reasons.
     Oho! says somebody; is Aleister Crowley here? ---
Samson blinded and bound, grinding corn for the
     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
     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 true; and Faith is
     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 "many."
     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
     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
     But this argue I.
     All boots are illusions.
     All hats are illusions.
     "Therefore" (though it is not a syllogism), all
boots and hats are illusions.
     I add:
     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 hats.
     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
     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 Kether.
     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 the skin!
     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
     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
     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 Hume.
     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 Infinity
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 Degree 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 statics.
     What is to be done?  How shall such mysteries be
     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
     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
     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
     But 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 good exercise.
     True, the question, "Why become an Arahat?" 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

     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
adept?" as to ask God "Why do you pardon?"  "C'est son
     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 feels uncomfortable.
     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 elementary Message.

            "Man has two sides; one to face the world
             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 ---
             So ..."

     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.

                                    ALEISTER CROWLEY.

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