I’d highly recommend that you read the Ipsissimus Knows Nothing article to get a bit of an understanding of the highest grade in Crowley’s AA, and to read up some of the previous posts tagged with the Zen or Buddhism tag to get a brief overview of samadhi and non-duality. While not necessary as this post should be easily digestible, it may give it some added nuance.
Gaofeng Yuanmiao (1238-1295) taught: “Of those past and present spiritual mentors in India [Western Heaven] and China [This Land] who promoted these teachings, there were none who did anything more than just resolve this one doubt. A thousand doubts or a myriad doubts are just this one doubt. One who resolves this doubt will doubt nothing more. And once one has no further doubts, one will be neither more nor less than Śākyamuni, Maitreya, Vimalakīrti, and Elder Pang, non-dual and undifferentiated.”
This non-duality is the attainment of the Buddha, is enlightenment, and is represented Qabalistically by the Middle Pillar, with the Supernal Triad being the “intuitive-heart-mind” (the Neschemah). The Supernal Triad (the top three sephiroths on the Tree of Life) being the “Philosopher’s Stone” when obtained (being “crowned in heavenly alchemy”) which is to say that one attains non-dual mind, moves above the “abyss” (which is the division between the Supernal Triad and the Ruach beneath, and when held can be considered moving consciousness into non-duality from the world of duality). In Zen there are several terms used for this in place of the Philosopher’s Stone such as the Pearl of Great Price, the Mani Jewel, the White Pearl, etc. What it essentially means is that one has moved beyond the confines of the intellectual mind and are in communication with the “intuitive” mind which brings with it spontaneity and present-mindedness, the ability to deal with circumstances as they appear. (In Zen it’s often referred to as “Playful Samadhi”). In Thelema and Zen, to access this intuitive heart-mind, one turns themselves “into a negative”, they become “Nothing” (but not in a nihilistic sense), one moves beyond the world of duality and transcends the trappings of the duality of language. (Read Crowley’s Liber B Vel Magi for a good understanding of this: “By a Magus is this writing made known through the mind of a Magister. The one uttereth clearly, and the other understandeth; yet the Word is falsehood, and the Understanding darkness. And this saying is Of All Truth.”) When one is made a negative, it can be said that they “die”, which obviously doesn’t mean to die literally, but is a colloquial way of saying that one “enters Samadhi”. (This can be seen in Crowley’s Book of Lies chapter The Stag Beetle where he writes “Die Daily.” and in his notes puts “…the Master urges his pupils to practise Samadhi every day”, and this can be seen in the sayings of Zen Master Bankei who says “Die! Then live day and night within the world”.)
The Supernal Triad represents Union (which is non-duality), Yoga meaning Union! This too is Samadhi. D.T. Suzuki says of Samadhi in his book Zen and Japanese Culture, “What he wanted was to realize a state of mind in which there was perfect unification of Inye: himself and his spear, of man and instrument, subject and object, actor and action, thought and deed. This unification is called Samādhi”.
Most poignantly, Crowley wrote in a Thomas Lake Harris book review, “We need not be surprised if the Unity of Subject and Object in Consciousness which is Samadhi, the uniting of the Bride and Lamb which is Heaven, the uniting of the Magus and the god which is Evocation, the uniting of the Man and his Holy Guardian Angel which is the seal upon the work of the Adeptus Minor, is symbolized by the geometrical unity of the circle and the square, the arithmetical unity of the 5 and the 6, and (for more universality of comprehension) the uniting of the Lingam and the Yoni, the Cross and the Rose. For as in earth-life the sexual ecstasy is the loss of self in the Beloved, the creation of a third consciousness transcending its parents, which is again reflected into matter as a child; so, immeasurably higher, upon the Plane of Spirit, Subject and Object join to disappear, leaving a transcendent unity. This third is ecstasy and death; as below, so above.” (We looked at the ecstasy or “Bliss Body” and its relation to Thelema in the post ‘Stars in the Buddha Field‘ and how this related to doing Pure Will.)
Crowley’s Thelema is all about this non-dual attainment, this Samadhi state, we can see this clearly in the Book of the Law: “None, breathed the light, faint & faery, of the stars, and two. For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union. This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.” Again, “The Perfect and the Perfect are one Perfect and not two; nay, are none!” As these are not so apparent references for those unaware of non-duality, Crowley safeguarded misinterpretation with his New and Old Commentaries upon the Book of the Law. For example, AL I,23: “But whoso availeth in this, let him be the chief of all!” – Crowley provides us in the old commentary, “The chief, then, is he who has destroyed this sense of duality.” and in the new, “This chief is of course no more or less than others. The limitations of our dualistic language obscure the meaning of these loftier Words. Chieftainship is to be understood as one of the illusions; but, in respect of that plane, a fact. The facts of Nature are perfectly true in so far as their mutual relation is concerned; their invalidity refers only to their total relation with the philosophical canon of Truth.”
And again, Crowley commenting upon the line I quoted above (For I am divided for love’s sake…) and upon the term ‘Samadhi’, he wrote: “As to “the joy of dissolution” the reference is to Samadhi, the trance in which Subject and Object become one. In this orgiastic ecstasy is experienced at first; later, the character of the consciousness changes to continuously calm delight, and later still, the delight deepens in a manner wholly indescribable. The technical terms used by Oriental Initiates to denote these conditions are untranslatable; in any case, they serve rather to darken counsel.”
The word “trance” appearing in reference to Samadhi is off-putting to some, quoting Wikipedia’s definition of Samadhi, “It is a meditative absorption or trance, attained by the practice of dhyāna. In samādhi the mind becomes still.” (The word Zen means ‘Dhyana’ and Samadhi is the aim within it as well). I’ll be writing the next article in this series on Hypnosis, and Magnetism where we’ll look at this use of the word ‘trance’ further. I’ll provide however here this quote from Arthur Waley’s Zen Buddhism and its Relation to Art, “Something resembling the mystic belief which Zen embraces is found in many countries and under many names. But Zen differs from other religions of the same kind in that it admits only one means by which the perception of Truth can be attained. Prayer, fasting, asceticism—all are dismissed as useless, giving place to one single resource, the method of self-hypnosis which I have here described.”
Understanding non-duality rapidly clears up misconceptions about the infamous Third Chapter of the Book of the Law, where shocked and awed readers believe the text is to be taken literally (for some reason) when Crowley insisted that one would be mad to take the Bible literally – yet the style of writing could be compared to in the Zen tradition where “Kyōgen” (mad words, or embellished language) is utilized. These prevent the book from being taken literal, and serve as an important part of the package of the whole book, reminding its reader not to fall into the “dualistic trappings of language”, which is then reinforced by the end instructions implying for the reader to read the book numerous times in the Colophon with it refining itself on each reading, as well as asking them to destroy the book after reading a in dire warning.