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Liber LXV: The Light and the Colours
The parables of the Holy Books of Thelema
The Light and the Colours
“Adonai spake unto V.V.V.V.V., saying: There must ever be division in the word. For the colours are many, but the light is one. Therefore thou writest that which is of mother of emerald, and of lapis-lazuli, and of turquoise, and of alexandrite. Another writeth the words of topaz, and of deep amethyst, and of gray sapphire, and of deep sapphire with a tinge as of blood. Therefore do ye fret yourselves because of this. Be not contented with the image. I who am the Image of an Image say this. Debate not of the image, saying Beyond! Beyond! One mounteth unto the Crown by the moon and by the Sun, and by the arrow, and by the Foundation, and by the dark home of the stars from the black earth. Not otherwise may ye reach unto the Smooth Point.”
–Liber LXV, I:2-10
This parable, like many in Liber LXV, is a conversation between the Lord Adonai and the Adept V.V.V.V.V. Adonai spelled out in full in Hebrew is Aleph, Daleth, Nun, Yod (ADNI). Their values in gematria add up to 65, which is the subfigure of this Holy Book, and 65 has other hidden meanings that are worth study.
The main theme of this parable revolves around the illusion of duality that surrounds us in the world. How we perceive that duality of existence, and what we can do about it as initiates is the main point. Let’s dive right in and take it line by line.
“Adonai spake unto V.V.V.V.V., saying: There must ever be division in the word.”
When Adonai speaks of the division in the word, it is a reference to the metaphorical Word or divine sound that was “spoken” in the still silence before the beginning of the universe. That word or vibration is what caused everything we know to come into being, and that vibration still continues today. The Word is the energetic source of everything around us. The hermetic treatise that “Everything is vibration” is an acknowledgement of this constantly oscillating energy field of on/off signals in which we are surrounded.
In The Book: on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Alan Watts explains this on/off phenomenon as “the game of black and white.” Everything around us is essentially an extension of a binary condition. Everything has something else that can stand as its opposite. Up/down, in/out, black/white, sound/silence, hot/cold, light/darkness, life/death, and on and on. Computers have a binary language that is composed of a series of 0/1 switches that forms its operating system.
Our senses are trained to focus on the “up beat” of this on/off vibration, but the presence of the “down beat” makes the other possible. This on/off dynamic is built into the light and color we see, the music we listen to, the senses of touch, smell, and taste. It is literally everywhere.
The “division of the word” is also the cause of the apparent duality that exists in our everyday existence below the Abyss. It is what creates the illusion of there being separation between one thing and another.
“For the colours are many, but the light is one.”
The image of the rainbow beautifully illustrates that the light of the Sun can be divided up into many different colors, and yet it continues to be one light at its source. This concept alludes to the single ineffable truth behind existence that hides behind the different systems that humans have come up with in their search for truth.
On the surface, all the religions of the world throughout history have different methods, different gods, different prophets, different practices and customs. These apparent differences have led to war and all kinds of suffering when there is no understanding of the common threads that lie below the surface of each. There is a common divine spark of truth in each belief system that can be seen throughout. This is the one light.
Chapter I:56 of the Book of the Law echoes this idea.
“All words are sacred, and all prophets true, save only that they understand a little.”
One is also reminded of this quote from Liber Librae.
“In the true religion there is no sect, therefore take heed that thou blaspheme not the name by which another knoweth his God.”
“Therefore thou writest that which is of mother of emerald, and of lapis-lazuli, and of turquoise, and of alexandrite. Another writeth the words of topaz, and of deep amethyst, and of gray sapphire, and of deep sapphire with a tinge as of blood. Therefore do ye fret yourselves because of this.”
The way we perceive the world around us is going to shape the way we describe it, and each of us has a unique perspective because of the division built into the universe and the fact that we are each a single point of consciousness in the Body of Nuit. Thus, when one writes of topaz, amethyst, and sapphire, while another writes of emerald, lapis-lazuli, and turquoise, it illustrates the different viewpoints that arise from this division. Two people may take part in the same event but each comes away with a different experience.
Again, from “The Book”, Alan Watts says it is the focus on the differences that contributes to many of the conflicts we face.
“Thus for thousands of years human history has been a magnificently futile conflict, a wonderfully staged panorama of triumphs and tragedies based on the resolute taboo against admitting that black goes with white. Nothing, perhaps, ever got nowhere with so much fascinating ado. As when Tweedleum and Tweedledee agreed to have a battle, the essential trick of the Game of Black-and-White is a most tacit conspiracy for the partners to conceal their unity, and to look as different as possible.
Chapter I:22 of the Book of the Law says something similar about such division:
“Bind nothing! Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing & any other thing; for thereby there cometh hurt.”
This difference in perception is the cause of much strife and discord because we fret over the differences and focus so much on being right about our views rather than see the similarities as coming from a unified origin of truth.
“Be not contented with the image. I who am the Image of an Image say this. Debate not of the image, saying Beyond! Beyond!”
Adonai advises to ignore the image, or at least not to make it the focus of your attention. It is easy to get caught up in the superficial, but don’t be satisfied with surface level appearances. They are founded in duality, abstracted from the real, and often focus on things that divide us.
Always look for meaning beyond the obvious and the literal. So much of what passes for facts is predigested knowledge that has been simplified for lazy mainstream public consumption. Adonai acknowledges that even a god like Himself is only an image of something greater and ineffable.
“One mounteth unto the Crown by the moon and by the Sun, and by the arrow, and by the Foundation, and by the dark home of the stars from the black earth. Not otherwise may ye reach unto the Smooth Point.”
To prove this point about image, we are given an example of something that cannot be fully understood literally. This is a veiled description of traveling up the central pillar of the Tree of Life from Malkuth to Kether.
Malkuth (the dark home of the stars from the black earth) to Yesod (the Foundation) to Tiphereth (the Sun) by the arrow (the path of Samekh between Yesod and Tiphereth corresponds to Sagittarius the Archer) and on to Kether (the Crown) by way of the moon (the path of Gimel between Tiphereth and Kether is associated to the moon).
This path is the shortest way from the material world of Malkuth up to the top of the Tree of Life, to the Smooth Point by which we merge with the Highest. The path of return, as it is called, is a less direct route, has the initiate moving back and forth up from Malkuth through each of the lower Sephiroth to Tiphereth, then through the remaining two Sephiroth below the Abyss before crossing over to the final Sephiroth and completing the journey in the Supernal Triad.
What is described here is the shortest path between two points, always the quickest way (though perhaps not always the easiest). We are advised to develop discipline of mind and body, and work with single-pointed attention. This is the quickest way to achieve unto the Smooth Point.
The parable of “The Light and the Colours” shows that we should not take what we see on the surface as the final end of the story. Division is the natural state below the Abyss. The universe is naturally divided into subject and object, foreground and background. We are individual units of consciousness of Hadit concentrated at the center of the universe in the Body of Nuit. As such we are limited to a single viewpoint, and yet, with wisdom of feeling and deep understanding, we can perceive the unity that bridges all divisions.
When we acknowledge this, and aim the arrow of our aspiration towards Beauty with discipline and single-minded focus, even beyond it to the Crown, we have set course on a path to freedom.
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