I do not believe in sin as typically described by the various sects of the world’s major religions. In my heart, there are two kinds of sin: sins against humanity (abuses of human rights) and sins against yourself. It is with the latter that the following missive is primarily concerned, heavily informed by Thelema, New Age philosophies and Modern Satanism.
A sin against yourself is something that only you can judge. You sin against yourself every time you do something that goes directly against your True Will. When you do not live up to your honest potential, when what you do holds you back instead of propelling you forth, even if that thing is refusing to forgive yourself for past mishaps, I believe you are sinning against yourself. (It should be noted that I do not feel this applies to normal, natural, healthy periods of stagnation, contemplation and plateau states.)
I used to think that the concept of True Will was malarkey. No one I spoke with could tell me what True Will was or how to discover it. I kept asking and wondering what kind of person doesn’t know what he or she really wants in life? But then I took a good look at the society around me, and I saw that we tie ourselves into secret knots all the time, constantly confusing ourselves about what we want and what is best.
Not to fear. Clarity of vision is possible and, eventually, one must realize, ideal.
Life is something grand and sublime, even if difficult and traumatic. It is not to be muddled through forever. A certain peace with what is must eventually transpire or a kind of self-implosion occurs and that individual life seems to become a moot point or a lost cause, doomed to loop in desperation. What’s the point of living if you aren’t even going to do yourself justice?
This is not the life for you.
I can think of few things worse than deathbed regrets. Glorify yourself and live the life you know you mean for yourself. Do not waste this grand process on confusion or self-delusion or illusory struggling for things that fail to satisfy even the most basic urges. Everyone deserves to eventually get what they most deeply crave (and I don’t believe that is ever something that must infringe on the rights of other humans.) Even the murderer, the rapist, the pedophile and the abuser are seeking something beyond the vile acts they are committing: some measure of justice for past wrongs, acceptance and understanding, love. Their methods of achievement are warped by illness, usually stemming from the same kinds of abuse and a deprivation of the things everyone needs most: love, acceptance, purpose, but also basic physical necessities like shelter and vital nutrients.
Love is the Law.
True Love or Philios, as discussed here, is unconditional compassion. It is not possessive. It is devoid of fears and insecurities. It is heart chakra wide open, and it acknowledges that suffering exists, that suffering must exist, even while attempting to soothe suffering because too much suffering leads to the kinds of dysfunctions mentioned above. And Love does not abide. Love strives for right thinking and right action.
It is okay to have compassion for such dysfunctional people as described above, acknowledging the human condition, even while feeling disgust and anger at their methods. To feel compassion is not to say that atrocities such as rape or murder are okay, but to acknowledge the suffering and the illness that have led up to the acts committed. Philios, True Love for humankind, insists that one must consider and when possible, attend to, these aspects of suffering. Motions towards healing are the natural inclination of the proponent of Philios, and healing is a vital part of the Great Work.
I have yet to experience anything greater than love in its various manifestations, but especially Philios, compassionate love for self and one’s fellow humans. Love is a fire at the centre of human existence. A few years ago, I would have scoffed at such a statement, but now it seems perfectly clear, albeit full of a certain New Age charm.
Self-philios is a prime motivator in the quest for purpose in life. Even in the deepest depression or the coldest rage, love for the self is the hidden seed, often obscured by the most immediate emotions. Depression and anger stem from the same source: proper conditions for love of the self to exist peacefully are not being met. Depression occurs when we are uncomfortable with existence for any reason, when we know deep down that we deserve a better life experience, better conditions and when we feel incapable of serving our needs for any reason. Anger is a secondary emotion that arises from pain. When we are confronted with pain, the ego, deriving from love of self, answers with anger at the source of that pain. We are each figuratively the centre of the subjective universe.
Anger and depression are natural things; they are not meant to be eradicated, even in the face of love. They are motivators to great change and progress, a pole of two opposites, gears that come together to grind out the story of human existence. They represent the conflict in the story that must arise to be overcome for the sake of peace and love and joy to reign. But it is an unending process, as long as humanity exists. This is why we have time and history and war.
The trick is to refuse to wallow in either of these emotions, but instead, to actively seek a resolution whenever possible. Some situations seem impossible, but most are limited only by what we deem acceptable or not acceptable in terms of life experiences. Sometimes we have to break our own rules to get ahead.
Philios can inform and expand True Love for the self and vice versa, Philios pointed inwardly informs and expands True Will, which in turn, informs and expands the Great Work, which necessarily flows back into Love and Will. In this cosmology, Love, True Will and the Great Work are all tied in together, flow into one another, expand and strengthen one another. (The symbol for recycling comes to mind here.)
So what is True Will and how does one discover this deepest of motivations? I believe that the answer lies in the subconscious mind, the background signal of the soul, so to speak. Instinct or what we often call intuition is at the very heart of this knowing. Intuition is that little voice in your gut that tells you whether something feels right or wrong at a basic level. If you use it as you would a pendulum to gage your feelings about situations and people and courses of action, I believe it will never steer you in the wrong direction. I believe that the human instinct is infinitely more advanced and elegant than we would usually care to imagine. It seems like an animal thing and we like to forget that we too are animals with keen senses.
“Its inherent Strength is perfected, if it is turned into Earth.”
This line from the Emerald Tablet, that most treasured code of alchemists, effectively sums up how I feel about the natural progression of intuition. As you use intuition, it grows in strength exponentially. You come to understand it, trust it and rely on it. I believe that when you continue in this direction, the intuition becomes tempered with logic, experience and resolve. If and when this enlightened intuition becomes personified, one attains Knowledge of and Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel. The HGA is your deepest need and motivation given voice and utilized as a guiding force and motivator, broadcasting the True Will. This voice can be so powerful that it may seem alien and external, and it has been known by many other names: Higher Self, Spirit Guide, Gwo Bon Anj, even God. And it can be fierce, it can be terrifying. I fully understand why magi of the past have referred to this voice as angelic, as I view angels as similarly great and terrible. Knowledge and Conversation has been associated with a complete opening of the heart chakra. This love flows back into itself, and the voice of the HGA is tempered with love and ferocity as much as with reason.
As you follow the mandates of your True Will more and more, there will be fewer and fewer doubts about the veracity of this voice, and you will probably notice a lot of interesting synchronicities cropping up in your life because so much of who you are will feed into this Work. Your resolve will be strong and you will understand what it is you must do with your existence. The discovery of that purpose is what leads to the Great Work.
The question of life’s purpose comes up repeatedly in the conversations and writings of mystical seekers. No matter how atheistic the mood or attitude of the individual in question, there seems to be an underlying feeling that each life is potentially valuable; that there is some destined purpose in store and that one must strive to discover it at any cost. Some of us even like to speculate that this is a role chosen before birth. I do not know whether there is a before life and an afterlife, but I can say with certainty that purpose is not something that hunts you down and hands you a script. Purpose is something that arises from your passions, something that is up to you to define.
“God helps those who help themselves.”
As I struggled with depression in my teens and early twenties, I wished desperately for purpose to reveal itself to me. It was only later when I realized how unreasonable this wish was that I made any progress in defining my life’s work. “God helps those who help themselves” was a line that was continuously going through my head. I’m agnostic, but I believe God is, among other things, a model for our grandest visions of ourselves and a word that describes the intense human emotion of Agape. We don’t just stumble upon purpose; we flesh it out with great intent.
The Great Work, as the natural conclusion to the purpose revealed by the True Will through the voice of the Holy Guardian Angel, is more than a single act or project, but a layered process. To do this work is to heal, to become highly functional, to utilize your greatest potential and to manifest your deepest needs and desires.
The Great Work is you, how you live your life and what you produce, how you shape and create yourself, the legacy you leave when you die. The Great Work is to turn the common, poisonous lead of the base self into the malleable, reflective, highly prized gold of the Adept. An apt symbol for the Adept, gold has long been associated with the most powerful source known to humanity: the Sun.
Everyone wants to be remembered for something. In an existence of uncertain mortality, this slight measure of immortality is a deeply gratifying thought. Death is something best approached with wonder and a sense that one has done right in the world. Knowing that you have enacted meaning for your existence is the difference between a peaceful death and a death that is marred by painful regrets.
Start thinking about what is most satisfying and sacred to you. It may be something like a broad appreciation for music; in which case, your underlying deepest motivation may be a need to inspire or to be understood. Whatever the outward expressions of your deepest passions are, remember that there is an internal emotional motivation to be sought out. Take this basic motivation, consider your favorite mediums and figure out what you can put out into the world to satisfy your purpose. Write a general mission statement that you can refer back to when you need to refocus. Write longer missions statements for each project, and most importantly, manifest what you envision with the strongest resolve. There will follow an ongoing process of refinement leading up to an impressive body of work or to one unifying project that sums up everything you want to communicate to the world.
Your Great Work is waiting. Do not fear, but become the roaring visionary fire you know you must be.
Image credit: Lorant Szabo