Thoughts on Duty (1 of 5)
Impressions and elaborations on Crowley's essay
Duty to yourself
Find yourself to be the center of your own Universe
“I am the flame that burns in every heart of man and in the core of every star.”
The quote is from the second chapter of Liber AL where Hadit is speaking as a reflection of the qualities that are in every person: the flame that fuels our individual physical incarnations, and our wills and our desires, just as it fuels the sun around which our planet circles, and all the other stars in the universe. When we say every man and every woman is a star, we are expressing the individual nature that is represented by Hadit. A single point located on a sphere will always appear to be at the center of the circle. From Hadit’s perspective at the center of the universe it is all about the self, all about the personal experience of a continuous eternal phenomenon.
The importance of the self is foundational to the duty we all have. It is ourselves on whom we can truly rely in both good and bad times. No one else is going to look out for us in the same way as we can do for ourselves – nor should they! This is not to discount the amazing relationships we have, our family, lovers, or friends who may always have our backs. However, this importance of the self recognizes the reality that in the end, we are each a single point of consciousness traveling forever alone in the universe. Regardless of whatever connections we may have with others, we must rely on ourselves to get through life.
I am important.
I matter. I come first.
We should not mistake the practice of putting oneself first as simply being selfish. To do so would be similar to mistaking “Do what thou wilt” to mean “do whatever you want.” Putting yourself first means that your needs are a priority for you, and you will do what it takes to see that those needs are met. Of course there is room for reasonable compromise in carrying out this duty as long as our Will is being honored. This is the duty we have to ourselves, and it becomes a critical way of thinking and acting when it comes to following True Will.
Explore the Nature and Powers of your own being
“Know thyself” is one of the oldest philosophical and esoteric maxims. We each have the duty to look unflinchingly at the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of ourselves with openness and honesty. Our state of being exists in the physical and more subtle realms, and all aspects must be explored. Each of these aspects of self make up the whole of who you are. This holistic view of yourself must be accepted for what it is. This also means understanding our limits. Only then can the true nature and powers of our being become apparent.
This openness of exploration must include not only what is, but also what can be. Our potential for growth cannot be ignored. With that, our duty to explore ourselves must be carried out with care for the reality of the situations in which we find ourselves. We must see things as they are, not as we wish them to be. Through this clear-eyed exploration we are able to view and accept situations for what they are. This acceptance comes with the knowledge that the self is constantly changing. It is dynamic, not static. Verse II:7 from of Liber AL expresses this dynamic quality of the self (Hadit):
“‘Come unto me’ is a foolish word: for it is I that go.”
Develop in true harmony and proportion every faculty which you possess
The duty we have to ourselves requires work. To accomplish our purpose, to find and do our true will, we must develop our natural skills whatever those may be. To assist in this growth we have are our inner and outer senses and our mental and physical abilities. All must be explored to the utmost without exception, and it must be done “in true harmony and proportion.”
The quotes from Liber AL focus on the virtues of strength and lust.
“Wisdom says: Be strong!” We are encouraged that there is wisdom in strength.
“But exceed! Exceed!” Pursue your skills and talents with enthusiasm, and take it as far as you can. Take it to the limit!
“Be strong, o man, lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture: fear not that any God shall deny thee for this.” There is no shame in finding enjoyment in the senses, in our thoughts and in our bodies, and no fear of punishment for anything you find there so long as it belongs in your true nature.
Strength refers to being physically strong, of course, but also the more subtle forms of inner strength, character, perseverance, determination. Lust is commonly and correctly thought of as being sexual, but can also be expressed as an inner drive, an enthusiasm or passion to experience everything without fear or hesitation.
When we develop these talents in “true harmony and proportion,” it means doing so with balance and control. We are told to exceed in all things and push to explore our limits. At the same time we must maintain a holistic awareness of the entirety of our being as we explore ourselves and the universe. Extremes in one trait or quality to the exclusion of all others can cause imbalance. Ignoring how one experience interacts with other parts of our lives can cause disharmony. When we are aware of the effects of this interaction, we can direct our efforts consciously to maintain forward momentum in a balanced way.
One can’t help but think of the passage in Liber Librae:
“Remember that unbalanced force is evil; that unbalanced severity is but cruelty and oppression; but that also unbalanced mercy is but weakness which would allow and abet Evil. Act passionately; think rationally; be Thyself.”
Contemplate your own Nature
The duty to self examination continues here as we contemplate our nature. Having honestly examined the nature and powers of our being and explored the faculties that make up our experience, we now become extremely familiar with our traits, tendencies and personal history.
Each of us has an origin story that contains the seeds of who we are today. We can consciously examine the people and events of our lives beginning from our earliest memories, see our own interaction with them throughout our personal history, and connect these things to our traits and tendencies. It is important to examine these traits as they are experienced both internally and externally. Within us, how we see ourselves, and how others perceive us from outside. Putting all these connections together creates a map of who we are today and how we got here.
These traits and tendencies make up the totality of your internal and external nature. From this perspective, you can see yourself in full, and you can pick out common threads that hint at the purpose of your being. This purpose is a veil under which you can begin to perceive the outlined shape of your Will.
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