April 6, 2020

Pure Selfishness, with foresight

Magick without tears, ch. Selfishness

Selfishness? I am glad to find you worrying that bone, for it has plenty of meat on it; fine juicy meat, none of your Chilled Argentine or Canterbury lamb. It is a pelvis, what's more; for in a way the whole structure of the ethics of Thelema is founded upon it.
There is some danger here; for the question is a booby trap for the noble, the generous, the high-minded.

'Selflessness', the great characteristic of the Master of the Temple, the very quintessence of his attainment, is not its contradictory, or even its contrary; it is perfectly compatible (nay, shall we say friendly?) with it.

The Book of the Law has plenty to say on this subject, and it does not mince its words. AL,11: 18, 19, 20, 21:

These are dead, these fellows; they feel not. We are not fo r the poor and the sad: the lords of the earth are our kinsfolk.
Is a God to live in a dog? No! but the highest are of us. They shall rejoice, our chosen; who sorroweth is not of us.
Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious /anguour, fo rce and fire, are of us.
We  have  nothing  with  the  outcast  and  the  unfit:  let them  die  in  their  misery.  For  they  feel  not. Compassion  is  the  vice  of  Kings:  stamp  down  the wretched  and  the  weak;  this  is  the  law  of  the  strong: this  is  our  law  and  the  joy  of the  world.

That  sets  up  a  standard,  with  a  vengeance! (Note  "they  feel  not,"  twice  repeated.  There  should  be something  important  to  the  thesis herein  concealed.)

The  passage  becomes  exalted,  but  a  verse  later  resumes  the theme,  setting  forth  the  philosophical  basis  of  these apparently  violent  and  arrogant  remarks. "It  is  a  lie,  this  folly  against  self."  (A L.  II:  22)

This  is  the  central  doctrine  of  Thelema  in  this  matter. What  are  we  to  understand  by  it?  That  this  imbecile  and nauseating  cult  of  weakness-democracy  some  call  it-is utterly  false  and  vile.

Let  us  look  into  the  matter.  (First  consult  AL.  II:  24,  25, 48,  49,  58,  59,  and  III:  18,  58,  59.  It  might  be  confusing  to quote  these  texts  in  full;  but  they  throw  much  further  light on  the  subject.)
The  word  "compassion"  in  its  accepted sense-which  is  bad  etymology-implies  that  you  are  a  fine fellow,  and  the  other  so  much  dirt;  that  is,  you  insult  him  by pity  for  his  misfortunes.  But  "Every  man  and  every  woman  is a  star";  so  don't  you  do  it!  You  should  treat  everybody  as  a King  of  the  same  order  as  yourself.

Of  course,  nine  people out  of  ten  won't  stand  for  it,  not  for  a  minute;  the  mere  fact of  your  treating  them  decently  frightens  them;  their  sense  of inferiority  is  exacerbated  and  intensified;  they  insist  on grovelling.  That  places  them.  They  force  you  to  treat  them  as the  mongrel  curs  they  are;  and  so  everybody  is  happy!

The  Book  of  the  Law  is  at  pains  to  indicate  the  proper attitude  of  one  "King"  to  another.  When  you  fight  him,  "As brothers,  fight  ye!"  Here  we  have  the  old  chivalrous  type  of warfare,  which  the  introduction  of  reason  into  the  business has  made  at  the  moment  impossible.  Reason  and  Emotion; these  are  the  two  great  enemies  of  the  Ethic  of  Thelema. They  are  the  traditional  obstacles  to  success  in  Yoga  as  well a s  in  Magick.

Now  in  practice,  in  everyday  life,  this  unselfishness  is always  cropping  up.  Not  only  do  you  insult  your  brother King  by  your  "noble  self-sacrifice,"  but  you  are  almost bound  to  interfere  with  his  True  Will.  "Charity"  always means  that  the  lofty  soul  who  bestows  it  is  really,  deep down,  trying  to  enslave  the  recipient  of  his  beastly  bounty!

In  practice,  I  begin  afresh,  it  is  almost  entirely  a  matter  of the  point  of  view.  "That  poor  chap  looks  as  if a  square  meal wouldn't  hurt  him";  and  you  chuck  him  a  half-crown.  You offend  his  pride,  you  pauperize  him,  you  make  a  perfect  cad of  yourself,  and  you  go  off  with  a  glow  of having  done  your good  deed  for  the  day.  It's  all  wrong.  In  such  a  case,  you should  make  it  the  request  for  a  favour.  Say  you're  "dying for  someone  to  talk  to,  and  would  he  care  to  join  you  in  a spot  of  lunch"  at  the  Ritz,  or  wherever  you  feel  that  he  will be  the happiest.

When  you  can  do  this  sort  of  thing  as  it  should  be  done, without  embarrassment,  false  shame,  with  your  whole  heart in  your  words-do  it  simply,  to  sum  up-you  will  find yourself  way  up  on  the  road  to  that  royal  republic  which  is the  ideal  of  human  society.


P.P.P.S.  An  amusing  coincidence.  Just  as  I  was  polishing  up this  letter  the  lady  whom  I  had just  engaged  to  help  me  with some  of  my  work  irritated  me  to  the  point  when  my  screams became  so  heartrending  that  the  village  will  never  sleep  again as  smoothly  as  its  wont.  They  split  the  welkin  in  several places;  and  although  invisible  menders  were  immediately  put on  the  job  it  is  generally  felt  that  it  will  never  more  be  its own  original  wholeness. And  why?  Just  because  of her  anxiety  to  please!  She  asked me  if  she  might  do  somefhing;  I  said  "Yes";  she  then  went  on begging  for  my  consent,  explaining  why  she  had  made  the request,  apologizing  for  her  existence! She  could  not  understand  that  all  she  had  to  do  was  to  try and  please  herself-the  highest  part  of  herself-to  be  assured of  my  full  satisfaction.

P.P.P.P.S.  "But the A:. A:. oath;  aren't  you - we - all out to improve the race, not counting the cost to ourselves?" Pure selfishness, child, with foresight! I want a decent place to live in next time I come back. And a longer choice of first rate vehicles for my Work.

- Magick without tears, ch. Selfishness