On Pure Will
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
AL:I.44 “For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.”
Over and over again, we find Thelemites saying: “it is my will to [do this or that]” and they list something specific, such as it is my will to write this paragraph. But if we understand will in its purity to be that which produces acts, the acts themselves are but the products and not the will itself. Will is action; therefore, what one does is an expression of will, yet it is even difficult to recognize specific acts as representations of that will; unless the Will be nothing but the delineator of a specific act or acts that one must undertake in this life.
Liber AL speaks of pure will…but not ‘true will;’ the latter being a phrase I’ve found myself to be less than enamored of in recent years. But then there’s this idea of ‘true will’ being generally described as one adhering to one’s orbit about the Earth; deduced from Crowley’s statement on inertia in Magick in Theory & Practice:
(6) “Every man and every woman is a star.” That is to say, every human being is intrinsically an independent individual with his own proper character and proper motion.
(7) Every man and every woman has a course, depending partly on the self, and partly on the environment which is natural and necessary for each. Anyone who is forced from his own course, either through not understanding himself, or through external opposition, comes into conflict with the order of the Universe, and suffers accordingly.
(Illustration: A man may think it his duty to act in a certain way, through having made a fancy picture of himself, instead of investigating his actual nature. For example, a woman may make herself miserable for life by thinking that she prefers love to social consideration, or “vice versa”. One woman may stay with an unsympathetic husband when she would really be happy in an attic with a lover, while another may fool herself into a romantic elopement when her only true pleasures are those of presiding at fashionable functions. Again, a boy’s instinct may tell him to go to sea, while his parents insists on his becoming a doctor. In such a case, he will be both unsuccessful and unhappy in medicine.)
(8) A Man whose conscious will is at odds with his True Will is wasting his strength. He cannot hope to influence his environment efficiently.
(Illustration: When Civil War rages in a nation, it is in no condition to undertake the invasion of other countries. A man with cancer employs his nourishment alike to his own use and to that of the enemy which is part of himself. He soon fails to resist the pressure of his environment. In practical life, a man who is doing what his conscience tells him to be wrong will do it very clumsily. At first!)
(9) A man who is doing this True Will has the inertia of the Universe to assist him.
(Illustration: The first principle of success in evolution is that the individual should be true to his own nature, and at the same time adapt himself to his environment.)
This is really another way of arguing the Calvinist doctrine of ‘Predestination.’ However it was that Crowley ignored Liber AL’s dictum and conflated the words ‘pure’ and ‘true’ seems to show more his Calvinist upbringing than an exposition on the nature of Will. If we are born with a destiny, then bringing meaning to our lives would be effortless; simply discover what one’s true will is (as if waiting for some sort of divine revelation) and have all the angels in the Universe at one’s disposal (the inertia); as if they were sitting around waiting for one to come up with this knowledge before they decided to step in and help. It’s all terribly mechanistic and one who has this knowledge would have succeeded only in becoming an automaton.
Yes, in being a star, as Crowley says, one then is endowed with a “proper character” and “proper motion.” But how does a destiny of necessity follow? His suggestion that this is an a priori quality implies that we each are born with a destiny; as if some preceding cause has bestowed this upon the individual. Should we then recognize personality of a godhead that says to one upon birth, “you are destined to be a great painter”? But what of the great wave of humanity that languishes in the third world; only to live, starve, suffer horrendous illnesses and die? Circumstance has left them without any choice at all. Hence, is it that the inertia in the Universe is not directing their lives in a proper manner? And how does the godhead determine who gets what destiny?
This certainly doesn’t seem the way that the Will manifests in one’s life. In such light, we may next then argue that perhaps at birth, one is not yet a star; but takes on this quality with the strides that produce Adepthood and the Augoeides that then comes to manifest within the self. We have speculated in other essays that this is a luminous experience as empirically evidenced, which shows a flash of light as the Kundalini Serpent lights the cells of one’s being with its fire; even the Mitochondria activating its phosphorylation. This then bestows and reveals a destiny to the new attained soul, as an angel foretelling events to come in the New Testament; as that soul gains a ‘higher’ or stellar view and manufactures for itself, this destiny.
True will and all that it implies regarding Calvinism gets disguised as some individualist’s doctrine, but I would say it is not. Pure will is spontaneous; the dance of life that we all partake in. Wil is action and the succession of spontaneous acts in an ontological relationship with the Universe starts with one’s first breath. Though some of us are less pure in our spontaneity (we call that neurosis, psychosis, trauma, et al), we all automatically manifest Will in every moment. The issue is whether or not we can integrate all the parts of our being to bring to come to a wholesome understanding of the totality of that essence that has generated this ongoing relationship in praxis.
Pure will points to a mystical center in ourselves that can be identified with our higher nature. And there is something of a transcendent intuition in its contemplation. Ryan Higgins makes an excellent point on this, though he uses the colloquial misnomer; True Will.
I have recently associated the true will with the spontaneous inclination of one’s sense of self that is ineffable and unconditioned. That is the true will is not motivated by the petty ego concerns of the socially constructed personage. No If an action is motivated out of fear, hatred, anxeity etc. it is artificial and ‘un-natural’ as the Taoists would put it. When inclination is motivated by the sense of joy that accompanies the knowledge of one’s own divine and unlimited nature it will not be directed to any ‘self destructive’ behaviours and thus is the true will. When we mistakenly identify with our constructed personage we become drunk with anxiety and fear and are driven toward destructive behaviour, this is not the true will. Thus the principle of love offers a great clue. The true will is the expression of a persons love for life which naturally arises when aware of their own god or goddess hood. **Obviously intuition is important here but awareness of infinity, joy, and love are definatly landmarks of the true will.
It would even be better to term it ‘pure will’ rather than true will…our truth is the spontaneous nature of our being in its pure expression. The true will propagandists build the slave mind as they make it seem so difficult to discover this ‘true will.’ It is not difficult at all, simply follow your heart (or follow your bliss); even from childhood you were expressing pure will. Whether that’s to play the piano or succeed at business, it is no matter. Consider this from the A.M.H.R. Editorial page (Ayn Rand):
The creator’s concern is the conquest of nature. The parasite’s concern is the conquest of men. The creator lives for his work. He needs no other men. His primary goal is within himself. The parasite lives second-hand. He needs others. Others become his prime motive. The basic need of the creator is independence. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion. It cannot be curbed, sacrificed or subordinated to any consideration whatsoever. It demands total independence in function and in motive. To a creator, all relations with men are secondary.
The basic need of the second-hander is to secure his ties with men in order to be fed. He places relations first. He declares that man exists in order to serve others. He preaches altruism. Altruism is the doctrine which demands that man live for others and place others above self.
No man can live for another. He cannot share his spirit just as he cannot share his body. But the second-hander has used altruism as a weapon of exploitation and reversed the base of mankind’s moral principles. Men have been taught every precept that destroys the creator. Men have been taught dependence as a virtue.
No creator was prompted by a desire to serve his brothers, for his brothers rejected the gift he offered and that gift destroyed the slothful routine of their lives. His truth was his only motive. His own truth, and his own work to achieve it in his own motive. His own truth, and his own work to achieve it in his own way. A symphony, a book, an engine, a philosophy, an airplane, or a building–that was his goal and his life. Not those who heard, read, operated, believed, flew or inhabited the thing he had created. The creation, not its users. The creation, not the benefits others derived from it. The creation which gave form to his truth. He held his truth above all things and against all men. His vision, his strength, his courage cam from his own spirit. A man’s spirit, however, is his self. That entity which is his consciousness. To think, to feel, to judge, to act are functions of the ego. The creators were not selfless. It is the whole secret of their power– that it was self-sufficient, self-motivated, self-generated. A first cause, a fount of energy, a life force, a Prime Mover. The creator served nothing and no one. He had lived for himself. And only by living for himself was he able to achieve the things which are the glory of mankind. Such is the nature of achievement.
Finally, Ryan Higgins sums it all up eloquently:
…the pure is truly simple because it is not conscious of a hidden motive, there is no focus on the result, just the passion of the act itself. Ironically the best results seem to come from acts that are performed single-mindedly without thought of result, art and music especially, even science. I would equate pure will with simplicity on the grounds that it is one pointed and thoughtless as opposed to scheming. Yet such simple states of mind can produce the most mind boggling intricacies. Legalism, rationalization, self justification are the road signs of the black brother and are good indicators when one has strayed. Thus most fraud requires the criminal to present their proposal in a complicated matter. Governments are famous for this, when things are overcomplicated someone is usually hiding something.
Love is the law, love under will.