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Liber CLXI

Concerning the Law of Thelema

The following epistle first appeared in The Equinox III(1)(Detroit: Universal, 1919), and offers specific instances of the applicationof the various programs and policies outlined in other papers such as TheOpen Letter. As remarked elsewhere in this issue, certain programs haveyet to be implemented, and some will require modification in order to conformwith the laws governing non-profit religious
organizations in various countries.--H.B.


AN EPISTLE WRITTEN TO PROFESSOR L-- B-- K-- who also himselfwaited
for the New Aeon, concerning the O.T.O. and its solutionof divers problems of Human Society, particularly those concerning Property,and now reprinted for General Circulation.

My Dear Sir,--

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

I was glad to receive your letter of inquiry with regardto the Message of the Master Therion.

It struck you naturally enough that on the surface thereis little distinction between the New Law and the canon of Anarchy; andyou ask, ``How is the Law to be fulfilled in the case of two boys who wantto eat the same orange?'' But since only one boy (at most) can eat theorange, it is evident that one of them is mistaken in supposing that itis essential to his Will to eat it. The question is to be decided
in the good old way by fighting for it. All that we askis that the fighting should be done chivalrously, with respect to the courageof the vanquished. ``As brothers fight ye!'' In other words, there is onlythis difference from our present state of society, that manners are improved.There are many persons who are naturally slaves, who have no stomach tofight, who tamely yield all to any one strong
enough to take it. These persons cannot accept the Law.This also is understood and provided for in The Book of the Law: ``Theslaves shall serve.'' But it is possible for any apparent slave to provehis mastery by fighting his oppressors, even as now; but he has this additionalchance in our system, that his conduct will be watched with kindly eyeby our authorities, and his prowess rewarded by admission to the ranksof the master-class. Also, he will be given fair play.

You may now ask how such arrangements are possible. Thereis only one
solution to this great problem. It has always been admittedthat the ideal form of government is that of a ``benevolent despot,'' anddespotisms have only fallen because it is impossible in practice to assurethe goodwill of those in power. The rules of chivalry, and those of Bushidoin the East, gave the best chance to develop rulers of the desired type.Chivalry failed principally because it was confronted with new problems;to-day we know perfectly what those problems were, and are able to solvethem. It is generally understood by all men of education that the generalwelfare is necessary to thehighest development of the particular; and thetroubles of America arein great part due to the fact that the men in powerare often utterly
devoid of all general education.

I would call your attention to the fact that many monasticorders,both in Asia and in Europe, have succeeded in surviving all changesof government, and in securing pleasant and useful lives for their members.But this has been possible only because restricted life was enjoined. However,there were orders of military monks, like the
Templars, who grew and prospered exceedingly. You recallthat the Order of the Temple was only overthrown by a treacherous coupd'tat on the part of a King and of a Pope who saw their reactionary, obscurantist,and tyrannical programme menaced by those knights who did not scruple toadd the wisdom of the East to their own large interpretation of Christianity,and who represented in that time a
movement towards the light of learning and of science,which has been brought to fruition in our own times by the labours of theOrientalists from Von Hammer-Purgstall and Sir William Jones to ProfessorRhys Davids and Madame Blavatsky, to say nothing of such philosophers asSchopenhauer, on the one hand; and by the heroic efforts of Darwin, Huxley,Tyndall, and Spencer, on the other.
I have no sympathy with those who cry out against property,as if what all men desire were of necessity evil; the natural instinctof every man is to own, and while man remains in this mood, attempts todestroy property must not only be nugatory, but deleterious to the community.There is no outcry against the rights of property where wisdom and kindnessadminister it. The average man is not so unreasonable as the demagogue,for his selfish ends, pretends to be. The great nobles of all time haveusually been able to create a happy family of their dependents, and unflinchingloyalty and devotion have been their reward. The secret has been principallythis, that they considered themselves noble as well in nature as in name,and thought it foul shame to themselves if any retainer met unneccessarymisfortune. The upstart of to-day lacks this feeling; he must try constantlyto prove his superiority by exhibiting his power; and harshness is hisonly weapon. In any society where each person has his allotted place, andthat a place with its own special honour, mutual respect and self-respectare born. Every man is in his own way a king, or at least heir to somekingdom. We have many examples of such society to-day, notably
universities and all associations of sport. No. 5 inthe Harvard crew does not turn round in the middle of the race and reproachNo. 4 for being merely No. 4; nor do the pitcher and catcher of a crackbaseball nine revile each other because their tasks are different. It isto be noted that wherever team-work is necessary social tolerance is anessential. The common soldier is invested with a uniform as well as hisofficer, and in any properly trained army he is taught his own canons ofhonour and self-respect. This feeling, more than mere discipline or thepossession of weapons, makes the soldier more than a match morally fora man not so clothed in proper reverence for himself and his profession.

University men who have passed through some crisis ofhardship or temptation have often told me that the backbone of their endurancewas the ``old shop.'' Much of this is evidently felt by those who talkof re-establishing the old trade guilds. But I fear I digress.

I have, however, now placed before you the main pointsof my thesis. We need to extend to the whole of society the peculiar feelingwhich obtains in our most successful institutions, such as the services,the universities, the clubs. Heaven and hell are states of mind; and ifthe devil be really proud, his hell can hurt him little.

It is this, then, that I desire to emphasize: those whoaccept the New Law, the Law of the Aeon of Horus, the crowned and conqueringchild who replaces in our theogony the suffering and despairing victimof destiny, the Law of Thelema, which is Do What Thou Wilt, those who acceptit (I say) feel themselves immediately to be kings and queens. ``Everyman and every woman is a star'' is the first statement of The Book of theLaw. In the pamphlet, The Law of Liberty, this theme is
embroidered with considerable care, and I will not troubleyou with further quotation.

You will say swiftly that the heavenly state of mind thusinduced will be hard put to it to endure hunger and cold. The thought occurredalsoto our founder, and I will endeavour to put before you the skeletonof his plan to avert such misfortune (or at least such ordeal) from hisadherents.

In the first place he availed himself of a certain organizationof which he was offered the control, namely, the O.T.O. This great Orderaccepted the Law immediately, and was justified by the sudden and greatrevival of its activities. The Law was given to our founder twelve yearsago; the O.T.O. came into his hands eight years later, in the vulgar year1912. It must not be supposed that he was idle during the former period;but he was very young, and had no idea of taking
practical measures to extend the Dominion of the Law:he pursued his studies.

However, with the sudden growth of the O.T.O. from 1912E.V. onward, he began to perceive a method of putting the Law into generalpractice, of making it possible for men and women to live in accordancewith the precepts laid down in The Book of the Law, and to accomplish theirwills; I do not say to gratify their passing fancies, but to do that forwhich they were intended by their own high destiny.
For in this universe, since it is in equilibrium andthe sum total of its energies is therefore zero, every force therein isequal and opposite to the resultant of all the other forces combined. TheEgo is therefore always exactly equal to the Non-Ego, and the destructionof an atom of helium would be as catastrophic to the conservation of matterand energy as if a million spheres were blotted into
annihilation by the will of God. I am well aware thatfrom this point you could draw me subtly over the tiger-trap of the FreewillControversy; you would make it difficult for me even to say that it isbetter to fulfil one's destiny consciously and joyously than like a stone;but I am on my guard. I will return to plain politics and
common sense.

Our Founder, then, when he thought over this matter froma purely practical standpoint, remembered those institutions with whichhe was familiar, which flourished. He bethought himself of monasterieslike Monsalvat, of universities like Cambridge, of golf clubs like Hoylake,of social clubs like the Cocoa-Tree, of co-operative societies, and, havingsojourned in America, of Trusts. In his mind he expanded each of theseto its n power, he blended them like the skilled chemist that
he was, he considered their excellences and their limitations;in a word, he meditated profoundly upon the whole subject, and he concludedwith the vision of a perfect society.

He saw all men free, all men wealthy, all men respected;and he planted the seed of his Utopia by handing over his own house tothe O.T.O., the organization which should operate his plan, under certainconditions. What he had foreseen occurred; he had possessed one house;by surrendering it he became owner of a thousand houses. He gave up theworld, and found it at his feet.

Eliphaz Levi, the great magician of the middle of thelast century, whose philosophy made possible the extraordinary outburstof literature in France in the fifties and sixties by its doctrine of theself-sufficiency of Art (``A fine style is an aureole of holiness'' isone phrase of his), prophesies of the Messiah in a remarkable passage.
It will be seen that our founder, born as he was to thepurple, has fulfilled it.

I have not the volume at my side, living as I am thishermit life in New Hampshire, but its gist is that Kings and Popes havenot power to redeem the world because they surround themselves with splendourand dignity. They possess all that other men desire, and therefore theirmotives are suspect. If any person of position, says Levi, insists uponliving a life of hardship and inconvenience when he could do
otherwise, then men will trust him, and he will be ableto execute his projects for the general good of the commonwealth. But hemust naturally be careful not to relax his austerities as his power increases.Make power and splendour incompatible, and the social problem is solved.

``Who is that ragged man gnawing a dry crust by yondercabin?'' ``That is the President of the Republic.'' Where honour is theonly possible good to be gained by the exercise of power, the man in powerwill strive only for honour.

The above is an extreme case; no one need go so far nowadays;and it is important that the President should have been used to terrapinand bcasse flamb before he went into politics.

You will ask how this operated, and how the system inauguratedby him works. It is simple. Authority and prestige in the Order are absolute,but while the lower grades give increase of privilege, the higher giveincrease of service. Power in the Order depends, therefore, directly onthe willingness to aid others. Tolerance also is taught in the higher grades;so that no man can be even an Inspector of the Order
unless he be equally well disposed to all classes ofopinion. You may have six wives or none; but if you have six, you are requirednot to let them talk all at once, and if you have none, you are requiredto refrain from boring other people with dithyrambs upon your own virtue.This tolerance is taught by a peculiar course of instruction whose natureit would be imprudent as well as impertinent to disclose; I
will ask you to accept my word that it is efficient.

With this provision, it is easy to see that intoleranceand snobbery are impossible; for the example set by members of the universallyrespected higher grades is against this. I may add that members are boundtogether by participation in certain mysteries, which lead to a syntheticclimax in which a single secret is communicated whose nature is such asto set at rest for ever all division on those fertile causes of quarrel,sex and religion. The possession of this secret gives the members entitledto it such calm of authority that the perfect respect which is their duenever fails them.

Thus, then, you see brethren dwelling together in unity;and you wonder whether the lust of possession may not cause division. Onthe contrary, this matter has been the excellent cause of general prosperity.

In the majority of cases property is wasted. One has sixhouses; three remain unlet. One has 20 percent of the stock of a certaincompany; and is frozen out by the person with 51 percent.

There are a thousand dangers and drawbacks to the possessionof this world's goods which thin the hairs of those who cling to them.

In the O.T.O. all this trouble is avoided. Such propertyas any member of the Order wills is handed over to the Great Officers eitheras a gift, or in trust. In the latter case it is administered in the interestof the donor. Property being thus pooled, immense economies are effected.One lawyer does the work of fifty; house agents let houses instead of merelywriting misleading entries in books; the O.T.O. controls the company insteadof half-a-dozen isolated and impotent stockholders. Whatever the O.T.O.findeth to do, it does with all its might; none dare oppose the power ofa corporation thus centralised, thus ramified. To become a member of theO.T.O. is to hitch your wagon to a star.

But if you are poor? If you have no property? The O.T.O.still helps you. There will always be unoccupied houses which you can tendrent-free; there is certainty of employment, if you desire it, from othermembers. If you keep a shop, you may be sure that O.T.O. members will beyour customers; if you are a doctor or a lawyer, they will be your clients.Are you sick? The other members hasten to your bed to ask of what you arein need. Do you need company? The Profess-House of the
O.T.O. is open to you. Do you require a loan? The Treasurer-Generalof the O.T.O. is empowered to advance to you, without interest, up to thetotal amount of your fees and subscriptions. Are you on a journey? Youhave the right to the hospitality of the Master of a Lodge of the O.T.O.for three days in any one place. Are you anxious to educate your children?The O.T.O. will fit them for the battle. Are you at odds with a brother?The Grand Tribunal of the O.T.O. will arbitrate,
free of charge, between you. Are you moribund? You havethe power to leave the total amount that you have paid into the Treasuryof the O.T.O. to whom you will. Will your children be orphan? No; for theywill be adopted if you wish by the Master of your Lodge, or by the GrandMaster of the O.T.O.

In short, there is no circumstance of life in which theO.T.O. is not both sword and shield.

You wonder? You reply that this can only be by generosity,by divine charity of the high toward the low, of the rich toward the poor,of the great toward the small? You are a thousand times right; you haveunderstood the secret of the O.T.O.

That such qualities can flourish in an extended communitymay surprise so eminent and so profound a student of humanity as yourself;yet examples abound of practices the most unnatural and repugnant to mankindwhich have continued through centuries. I need not remind you of Jaganathand of the priests of Attis, for extreme cases.

A fortiori, then, it must be possible to train men toindependence, to tolerance, to nobility of character, and to good manners,and this is done in the O.T.O. by certain very efficacious methods which(for I will not risk further wearying you) I will not describe. Besides,they are secret. But beyond them is the supreme incentive; advancementin the Order depends almost entirely on the possession of such qualities,and is impossible without it. Power being the main desire of man, it
is only necessary so to condition its possession thatit be not abused.

Wealth is of no account in the O.T.O. Above a certaingrade all realisable property, with certain obvious exceptions--thingsin daily use, and the like--must be vested in the O.T.O. Property may beenjoyed in accordance with the dignity of the adept of such grade, buthe cannot leave it idle or sequestrate it from the common good. He maytravel, for instance, as a railway magnate travels; but he cannot injurethe commonwealth by setting his private car athwart the four main lines.

Even intellectual eminence and executive ability are ata certain discount in the Order. Work is invariably found for persons possessingthese qualifications, and they attain high status and renown for theirreward; but not advancement in the Order, unless they exhibit a talentfor government, and this will be exhibited far more by nobility of character,firmness and suavity, tact and dignity, high honour and good manners, thosequalities (in short) which are, in the best minds, natural predicates ofthe word gentleman. The knowledge of this fact not only inspires confidencein the younger members, but induces them to emulate their seniors.

In order to appreciate the actual working of the system,it is necessary to visit our Profess-Houses. (It is hoped that some willshortly be established in the United States of America.) Some are likethe castles of mediaeval barons, some are simple cottages; the same spiritrules in all. It is that of perfect hospitality. Each one is
free to do as he will; and the luxury of this enjoymentis such that he becomes careful to avoid disturbance of the equal rightof others. Yet, the authority of the Abbot of the House being supreme,any failure to observe this rule is met with appropriate energy. The casecannot really arise, unless circumstances are quite beyond the ordinary;for the period of hospitality is strictly limited, and extensions dependupon the goodwill of the Abbot. Naturally, as it takes all sorts to makea world--and we rejoice in that diversity which makes our unity so exquisitea miracle--some Profess-Houses will suit one person, some another. Andbirds of a feather will learn to flock together. However, the well-beingof the Order and the study of its mysteries being at the heart of everymember of the Order, there is inevitably one common ground on which allmay meet.

I fear that I have exhausted your patience with this letter,and I beg you to excuse me. But as you know, out of the abundance of theheart the mouth are perfectly right to retort that it neednot speak so much!

I add no more, but our glad greeting to all men:

Love is the law, love under will.

I am, dear sir,

Yours in the Bonds of the Order,


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