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Do What Thou Wilt: Split from Book of Law Study Group 1.5

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Always Wondering's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Similia
Just how is Thelema different to other religions whose doctrine is to give control of your life over to some higher power?

I have to admit your use of the word religion pushed a button and stirred me up a bit. I have been doing some goggling, "Is Thelema a religion?," and got, yes, no, maybe, if you want it to be, as in Do what thou wilt.

I have been a dabbler in such matters for a long time. I have turned the other check, let go and let God, honored my mother and father, turned my life over to a power greater than myself, stood in wait (for years), held conferences with sub personalities, followed spirit guides to the corners of the earth, done the bunny hop with all the cards of the tarot up the misty mountain, and on and on and on It's no wonder I am religion shy. I have so many messages swirling around in my head that I've had to start a list in my journal just to be aware of them, much less live up to them.


Do what thou wilt. Both a huge relief and an awesome responsibility. But one single focus, law, command, the only one I have found in my forty eight years, that I have any hope of living up to, in all practicality.

I have yet to understand all that this entails. But I have found an acceptance of myself and a effectiveness in life that has eluded me on other paths.
Religion or not, this makes all the difference to me.

AW
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I can't speak for the other two, but I disagree that the Chritian Bible is a rule book. The Old Testament is to a large extent, but the New Testament definitely not. "The kingdom of God is within you." -Jesus, Luke 17:21

Do what thou 'wilt' sounds different on the surface, but when you start to investigate what it's really saying it's no different from any other self-sacrificial dogma that teaches one to sacrifice their will to another supposedly more enlightened will.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Always Wondering
I have to admit your use of the word religion pushed a button and stirred me up a bit. I have been doing some goggling, "Is Thelema a religion?," and got, yes, no, maybe, if you want it to be, as in Do what thou wilt.
I guess it depends again how you read the BoL. I think its quite easy to read it as a religious text describing the pantheon of gods and their relationship to us; or as a philosophy based on natural principles that to some people may even be compatible and complementary to their religious practices/beliefs.

Personally I don't find the two different ways of looking at this conflicting. I think the difference between "religion" and "philosophy" or "theology" or any other label is really all semantics anyways, and the end result is much the same. At least at the level of my interest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrac
I can't speak for the other two, but I disagree that the Chritian Bible is a rule book. The Old Testament is to a large extent, but the New Testament definitely not. "The kingdom of God is within you." -Jesus, Luke 17:21
It would be interesting to see what Christianity could have evolved into if it were cut off from the rules of the Old Testament. If Christ has said, "the Torah is defunct, forget about it and this is the new convenant with God". Though that is not what happened, so we'll never know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrac
Do what thou 'wilt' sounds different on the surface, but when you start to investigate what it's really saying it's no different from any other self-sacrificial dogma that teaches one to sacrifice their will to another supposedly more enlightened will.
In part I would agree with that, the principle of surrender to a deity or greater force of some description is a part of every religion. I my understanding, the main difference is that Thelema requires you to develop a personal relationship with your deity (or whatever you want to call it) to discover what their/your will is before you do anything. That contrasts with other creeds, in which the will of deity is doctrine and universal. It seems that in Thelema, the idea that your will could be in conflict with the divine will is not considered possible. But maybe this is just more semantics.

What I'm left wondering though, is what about the flip side? What happens to people who never learn their Will and follow it? In another religion, if you don't follow the will of God (or accept them as a saviour at least) then you are cast into Hell, Pergatory, the Abyss, , another incarnation, or some form of punishment. What are Thelemites conception of the cost of failure to discover and live your Will?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by similia
In part I would agree with that, the principle of surrender to a deity or greater force of some description is a part of every religion. I my understanding, the main difference is that Thelema requires you to develop a personal relationship with your deity (or whatever you want to call it) to discover what their/your will is before you do anything. That contrasts with other creeds, in which the will of deity is doctrine and universal. It seems that in Thelema, the idea that your will could be in conflict with the divine will is not considered possible. But maybe this is just more semantics.
I agree that Thelema teaches a personal relationship, a "melding" of wills so to speak, to produce a state in which the two wills become one. But I don't believe this concept is unique to Thelema. All denominational doctrine aside, this is essentially the teaching of the New Testament as well as Buddhism, Hinduism and many others. My difficulty with Thelema is not so much its teachings per se, but in its claim to be something different.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrac
My difficulty with Thelema is not so much its teachings per se, but in its claim to be something different.
Maybe when its really broken down, its different is only structural, the removal of the "Priest"?
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I've got a bit of a puzzlement about this line of questions. I'm leaning toward the "sameness" between religious systems being due to the humans who use them. Other than the initial person who receives the revelation experience, each successive person is given a rule with a comment, so to speak. You could say that no religion on the planet today is what it's original founder had, or even intended. So, from the small bit I have seen, Crowley and Thelema would appear to be challenging us to be sure we do not settle for another man's interpretation of who/what we are to be.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cardlady22
So, from the small bit I have seen, Crowley and Thelema would appear to be challenging us to be sure we do not settle for another man's interpretation of who/what we are to be.
Beautifully put. That is a big part of what I was trying to say.

AW
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Quote:
Originally Posted by similia
Maybe when its really broken down, its different is only structural, the removal of the "Priest"?
Priests are relevant in some branches of Christianity so this would definitely apply there. The wole Protestant movement was founded on the idea that priests are irrelevant. They believed (correctly in my opinion) that the NT teaches direct experience and a personal relationship with God.
Top   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrac
Priests are relevant in some branches of Christianity so this would definitely apply there. The wole Protestant movement was founded on the idea that priests are irrelevant. They believed (correctly in my opinion) that the NT teaches direct experience and a personal relationship with God.
I agree Protestantism would seem closer to a Christian religion based on direct experience of Christ, though would point out that their bible still contains the Torah and so the interpretation of that experience is still bound by "the rules". What these rules ultimately result in is a series of social conventions (though granted many of these rules are now rejected by virtually all Christian's, not just Protestants). In contrast Thelema seems to be anathema to social conventions. Despite claiming the title of the Word of the new Aeon, Crowley specifically tells us to reject his thoughts where we find fault with them, unlike Christ who tells us that none shall enter the kingdom except by him. Of course most prophets are born into their role and speak with much more authority, unlike Crowley who had to sleep his way to the top

In part I see this as a strength of Thelema, it certainly makes it more interesting to me personally. But also it is a weakness and limitation, in that it discourages community and restricts the spread and practice of its "gospel". There is something isolationist about that I feel. But I s'pose its impossible to have the right mix of enough community to expand but not so much society that the message gets diluted by the accumulated structures.
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A random thought just popped into my head. I was thinking about the relative lack of social & priestly structure in Thelema, and how it could be seen as a reaction against conservative Christianity's more defined structure, in particular branches like Catholicism where the word of the Pope is seen as divine etc. And I realized that the Plymouth Brethen (the very conservative branch of Christianity that Crowley was born into) had no priests either. So there are two "religions" in Crowley's life (there are others as well of course) where the philosophy is based on interpretation of the primary text/s. In one, social conventions is the primary influence and that brings rules and doctrine and especially an awareness of sin; and in the other social conventions are rejected.
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