Thoughts on Duty (part 3 of 5)
Our duty to others from Crowley's essay "Duty"
Your Duty to other individual men and women
“Love is the law, love under will.”
This quote from the Book of the Law speaks to the core tenet of Thelema. Love is the law because it is the native undercurrent to everything in the universe. Love is “under” will because love is essentially formless but takes shape and direction through the conduit or working of the will.
We have a duty to others to unite ourselves with others passionately, to engage with others energetically on as many levels as possible. Physically: through physical interaction, using the body and all of the senses. Mentally: through thoughtful, honest, meaningful exchanges and intellectual activity. Spiritually: through authentic magical, etheric and astral workings.
The goal of this duty is to break down the barriers that divide us. From an early age, we learn a feeling of separateness, a sense of division between ourselves and the other things around us as subject and object, me and you, self and other. Through our magical work there becomes a passionate union of opposites. Duality takes on a different meaning. We get a sense of Oneness, a glimpse of the unity behind the illusion of separateness. From that perspective we find ways to develop new criteria for our interactions in the world.
“As brothers fight ye”
This is an extension of the passionate union. Our duty to other individuals calls into play the ways we interact with other people when there is conflict. We have the duty to be a forceful messenger when the time calls for it. Differences of opinion, arguments, fights, are all normal ways that our conflicts manifest.
We should challenge each other to look at reality for what it is, to keep it real. That means presenting all the facts, to play devil’s advocate, entertain other perspectives, to prove or disprove their own opinions in light of all known facts and any alternate possibilities. Ultimately, this method will prove out the common truth, though it appears to take the form of a fight.
Crowley states that combat is a form of love because it stimulates “virility” and creative energy, and can excite the mind “to an orgasm which enables it to transcend its rational dullness.” This seems a bit slanted in gender, and Crowley often relates everything to a sexual act, but it could be his way of characterizing the qualities of the combatants as representatives of Chokmah expressed through Geburah, perhaps, or as lovers. In a passionate union of minds there should be creativity and force. When the outcome of the union of two differing opinions is a coherent single argument that reflects a larger truth, we see then that there is a possibility that such combat can take the form of love.
In all of this fighting and combat, Crowley denotes a sense of sportsmanship. We do not seek to actually harm, but rather to enlighten the other person and ourselves with a fuller vision of truth. In a sporting sense, there are rules of engagement and limits to how and when to engage the other team. While “in play” the game is conducted with utmost skill and a relentless pursuit of winning. Outside of that context, and even alongside it on a parallel track of interaction, people can interact with each other in completely harmonious ways. This is the spirit in which Thelemites should engage in such contests of thought and opinion.
Abstain from all interferences with other wills
The quote from the Book of the Law, “Beware, lest any force another, King against King!” is an apt one. It refers generally to the game of chess where the two players are represented on the board by their king piece as they compete, and more specifically to the chess rule that says two kings going face to face can push and influence each other, but they can never capture each other.
Our duty to other individuals is perfectly clear when it comes to their Will. We must not interfere with the Will of any other person. The reference to gamesmanship again makes it plain that when we come into conflict with others, the object is to not to force or dominate the other into something that goes against their will, but rather to act with openness and respect and a sense of good sportsmanship, even when the outcome is not what we would like it to be.
There is a natural law at work that says whenever we force another to do anything against their Will, we are negatively affecting our own Will. Other people are necessarily part of our universe, and as we are all part of that single phenomenon, thus they exist as a part of ourselves at the macrocosmic level. From that perspective, forcing or impeding anyone’s Will away from what it should be impacts the proper function of your own Will.
Seek, if you will, to enlighten another when need arises
We have the duty to “enlighten” others in the course of our interactions “when need arises” and “if you will” meaning it is your Will to do so. This gets at the heart of how we view Will, both ours and others’, and the part that we can or should play in influencing others, making change happen in accordance with Will, or just offering help.
When someone is in distress, it may be through a failure to understand themselves or their situation clearly. They might not ask for guidance, but we may feel the need to step in to help them. Someone in distress may ask us directly for help. Or, we may see one person interfering or restricting the Will of another. These are different types of situations that may call for us to choose whether or not to act.
There are several considerations to take into account. A lot of it comes down to how much detail we know about the situation and the people involved and whether there is true need. We must understand what the need is and where it is coming from. Even when we know the outward details, we still need to know where our Will fits into the puzzle and have some understanding of the other person’s Will. This can help us decide whether any action on our part is truly needed. This requires careful consideration, judgment, and experience because, simply put, while we have a duty to enlighten our fellow humans, we also have a duty to avoid violating anyone’s Will.
The form in which this “enlightenment” comes is too numerous to go into here, and the methods will certainly vary from person to person and from situation to situation. A few examples will perhaps illustrate the point: physical help for someone in a life-threatening crisis; providing food, clothing, or shelter to someone in serious need; clearing up confusion over some misunderstanding or lack of information. Taking no action at all could be considered enlightenment in some cases, as it would break any bonds of dependence that exist, and perhaps force the other person to act for themselves. The way we view others as independent stars, the way we show respect for their Will, and the way we view our own Will in relation to the whole, these are all duties which must control the shape of our interactions.
Ultimately, we must follow our Will wherever it leads. The duty we have to ourselves is paramount, but it should be balanced against the duty we have to others: to honor their Will and to enlighten them with passionate engagement when there is need. For any action we take, we must understand the impact that it will have on the person and accept the consequences that may result in our own lives as well as theirs. Whether we move forward to assist and enlighten, or not, it should be done always with the same sense of respect and sportsmanship that we would have in any such dealing with others.
The quotes from the Book of the Law point to why we should worship everyone. We are all stars in the company of stars. We are not to be pitied or granted anyone’s mercy. We are compassionate Kings who cannot die. We are the children of the Star and the Snake.
Each of us is unique, and the symbol of the star carries this same sense of meaning. It is our duty to recognize the individual Khabs in others, to worship them as we would a deity, since “there is no god but man.” We should seek value in the Khu which has been fashioned around their fiery core. We understand that everyone’s experience is different as they operate in their own orbit, with their own interpretation and a unique perspective of the universe.
We recognize that even though as individuals we are separate, we are still connected. The actions of others affect us, often on multiple levels of being, and this invites reaction. Worship is our way of paying respect to others. It empowers them and supports them in their journey towards finding and doing their True Will. We can watch and learn from others, see their successes and failures, measure their results against our own findings, all with the goal of being better able to deal with our own problems. Thus, our worship of others can lead to self empowerment and success.
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