Critics of Liber E

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Critics of Liber E

Postby gerry456 » Tue Sep 29, 2015 2:17 pm

http://www.aypsite.org/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=6853

I was looking at a popular yoga site/forum and I noticed that someone asked a question about Crowley's yoga. The people there were generally negative about Crowley's views on yoga. The OP says "Reading his instructions on Yoga for instance his tone is typically maniacal and oppressive, taking the hardline on everything -the practice of Asana as he describes it involves choosing one posture and staying in it for hours at a time until it is completely "conquered

and , though the same tone prevails throughout with Mantrayoga and Pranayama)


Their query is about Crowley's apparent overly severe and harsh approach to yogic teaching;
How is it for instance that in AYP and many other approaches, the practice of Asana means going through many different postures holding each for a short time while 'keeping comfort well in hand', but then there's this other method of holding just one posture until the nervous system passes through 'hell' with it and comes out the other side in comfort?

The responses advise that such severity is not "the middle way" and is unwise. Buddha would never do this and so on.


Someone says that they find Crowley's approach "somewhat oppressive sounding." They even question Crowley's interpretation of Patanjali as being wrong i.e. he got it wrong about Asana as something like
"the yogic technique of holding one posture for long periods of time every day" and it differs greatly to what goes on in most ordinary Yoga classes.
,

Someone cites the Buddhist tradition called "surrender sitting" which seems to back up Crowley's methods but then we get the usual cr.ap about Crowley was a black magician and liked to oppress people and this was reflected in his yoga lectures.

Then we get "The will IS quite powerful, and magical things can be done, been there, but I think it doesn't lead to enlightenment directly. It can teach you a lot about the illusiveness of reality, but the will is bound so tightly with the ego that it leads you astray. This path is important for a lot of us to teach us that when yoga says God, it has nothing to do with what many western religions say.


and someone says about Crowley' "He's definitely *not* the guy to learn anything related to yoga from, though (unless you feel a super-strong inner draw to do so ... but it doesn't sound like you do).

He simply didn't have enough immersion in yogic systems to be an authority; it was tough for a European to, in those days, unless he or she lived in India, which I don't think Crowley did.

And, much of the time, it's hard to tell if he's joking, high on drugs, or both ... or being serious ........... and he did all of the above intentionally. Kind of a Zen Crazy approach ... one with very limited appeal to, or benefit for, most people.


So Crowley's yoga lectures, where they part of a sadistic prank? Is such pain and discomfort necessary?

This is my answer: (from Crowley's Eight Lectures)


18. The irritations develop into extreme agony. Any attempt to alleviate this simply destroys the value of the practice. I must particularly warn the aspirant against rationalising (I have known people who were so hopelessly bat-witted that they rationalised). They thought: 'Ah, well, this position is not suitable for me, as I thought it was. I have made a mess of the Ibis position; now I'll have a go at the Dragon position.' But the Ibis has kept his job, and attained his divinity, by standing on one leg throughout the centuries. If you go to the Dragon he will devour you.

19. It is through the perversity of human nature that the most acute agony seems to occur when you are within a finger's breadth of full success. Remember Gallipoli! I am inclined to think that it may be a sort of symptom that one is near the critical point when the anguish becomes intolerable.

You will probably ask what 'intolerable' means. I rudely answer: 'Find out!' But it may give you some idea of what is, after all, not too bad, when I say that in the last months of my own work it often used to take me ten minutes (at the conclusion of the practice) to straighten my left leg. I took the ankle in both hands, and eased it out a fraction of a millimetre at a time.

20. At this point the band begins to play. Quite suddenly the pain stops. An ineffable sense of relief sweeps over the Yogi-notice that I no longer call him 'student' or 'aspirant'-and he becomes aware of a very strange fact. Not only was that position giving him pain, but all other bodily sensations that he has ever experienced are in the nature of pain, and were only borne by him by the expedient of constant flitting from one to another.

He is at ease; because, for the first time in his life, he has become really unconscious of the body. Life has been one endless suffering; and now, so far as this particular Asana is concerned, the plague is abated.

I feel that I have failed to convey the full meaning of this.

The fact is that words are entirely unsuitable. The complete and joyous awakening from the lifelong and unbroken nightmare of physical discomfort is impossible to describe.

21. The results and mastery of Asana are of use not only in the course of attainment of Yoga, but in the most ordinary affairs of life. At any time when fatigued, you have only to assume your Asana, and you are completely rested. It is as if the attainment of the mastery has worn down all those possibilities of physical pain which are inherent in that particular position. The teachings of physiology are not contradictory to this hypothesis.

The conquest of Asana makes for endurance. If you keep in constant practice, you ought to find that about ten minutes in the posture will rest you as much as a good night's sleep
2.19 They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us.

2.21 We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world.
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Re: Critics of Liber E

Postby Jim Eshelman » Tue Sep 29, 2015 2:41 pm

Their query is about Crowley's apparent overly severe and harsh approach to yogic teaching

It does come across as unnecessarily severe quite often. It may be reflecting the tone of the teachers he had, or the fact that he was used to lazy people from his GD days, or the fact that he wrote it at the tail end of (what today we would call) his 6=5 stage, or some other quirk of his personality. Who knows, right?

Nonetheless, I can't think of anywhere that the tone affects his description of the necessary practices.

Remember, he wasn't trying to deliver a curriculum in yoga per se. He was seeking to acquire from yoga those exact things that would support the specific needs of the A.'.A.'. curriculum.

They even question Crowley's interpretation of Patanjali as being wrong i.e. he got it wrong about Asana as something like "the yogic technique of holding one posture for long periods of time every day" and it differs greatly to what goes on in most ordinary Yoga classes.

Yes, thank God! See my last remark above. Primarily, his goal was not their goal, it was to get people to be able to sit for very long periods unmoving for other purposes. It's quite pointedly not the classic hatha yoga rendering.
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Re: Critics of Liber E

Postby gerry456 » Tue Sep 29, 2015 2:54 pm

Crowley seems to be describing a necessary passage through pain and agony to reach total liberation from the physical body, as the goal of asana. I'm surprised these other yoga folk denigrate him. I mean what do they want from yoga if not that?

Having said that is it possible that someone could achieve success in asana a la Crolwey without doing a regular full hour? How would they know they have achieved success in asana according to Crowley? My answer would be a relief from pain, achieved via pain, as he describes in my quoted passages from his Lectures. I think I am achieving this as I seem to ache in pain throughout the day due to my nightly asana work..... but I like it. I'm not a masochist. I just feel like I'm getting closer to seeing the constraints of the physical body as Crowley describes.
2.19 They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us.

2.21 We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world.
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Re: Critics of Liber E

Postby Takamba » Tue Sep 29, 2015 3:52 pm

Before I acquired "Magick; Book Four: Parts I-IV" I bought the little version titled "Book Four." (If you know what I'm meaning, you know. IF you don't, travel on.) My teacher asked me "Did you find what you are looking for?" My answer was "yes." I'm not looking for fluffy bunny, "make yourself comfortable," clap trap. I want real work. Crowley's chapter on "Mysticism" is real work. Many want "the secret" and not real work.
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Re: Critics of Liber E

Postby gerry456 » Tue Sep 29, 2015 11:53 pm

Takamba wrote:Before I acquired "Magick; Book Four: Parts I-IV" I bought the little version titled "Book Four." (If you know what I'm meaning, you know. IF you don't, travel on.) My teacher asked me "Did you find what you are looking for?" My answer was "yes." I'm not looking for fluffy bunny, "make yourself comfortable," clap trap. I want real work. Crowley's chapter on "Mysticism" is real work. Many want "the secret" and not real work.


Crowley taught lengthy sessions of endurance in yoga but these folk who do poses for 10 minutes or even 3 minutes. What are they getting out of it?
2.19 They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us.

2.21 We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world.
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Re: Critics of Liber E

Postby Takamba » Wed Sep 30, 2015 2:00 am

gerry456 wrote:
Takamba wrote:Before I acquired "Magick; Book Four: Parts I-IV" I bought the little version titled "Book Four." (If you know what I'm meaning, you know. IF you don't, travel on.) My teacher asked me "Did you find what you are looking for?" My answer was "yes." I'm not looking for fluffy bunny, "make yourself comfortable," clap trap. I want real work. Crowley's chapter on "Mysticism" is real work. Many want "the secret" and not real work.


Crowley taught lengthy sessions of endurance in yoga but these folk who do poses for 10 minutes or even 3 minutes. What are they getting out of it?


Ask them. Don't ask me.
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Re: Critics of Liber E

Postby gurugeorge » Fri Oct 09, 2015 1:13 am

The "critics" have obviously never been to a Vipassana retreat. That's about as brutal and unforgiving as you can get.

Also traditional.

The "critics" are comparing their smattering of knowledge from the local New Age bookshelf and circle-jerk "spiritual" websites with authentic traditions that Crowley came into contact with. But as we now also have access to and information about authentic Eastern traditions of all sorts generally in the West, we can see that most of them utilize both "gentle" and "hardcore" approaches, and teachers tailor their approaches to individual students.

Tapas (not the Spanish meal, the "austerities", like holding up your hand permanently) are the ultimate "hardcore" yoga.

Also very, very traditional and authentic.

Maybe Crowley's yoga teacher was influenced by that sort of tradition. The advantage of the Liber E approach is that you kill two birds with one stone: you get your foot in the door with real meditation by getting the "body off" sensation (as the Zen teacher Katsuki Sekida called it) and you get some intense will training.

I do think the best approach to getting "body off" quickly is the gentle one, on the whole (simple breath counting, then just following the breath, sustained daily for at least half an hour a day over a month or so, is probably the fastest, actually), but some temperaments are undoubtedly more suited to going for it hell for leather. It's not a matter to get prissy, preachy or po-faced about. It's purely pragmatic: whatever gets you "body off" sensation is fine. If it's the gentle way, all it means is that you have to get your will training some other way.

Crowley can certainly be criticized in minor ways here and there, and he did have a tendency to bombast; but anyone who's done serious work in any of the authentic Eastern traditions will know that he's not all that wrong. For instance, "body off" is not mentioned in texts - but that's because it's so elementary, and it's also something you're supposed to bring to your teacher as evidence you've actually put some bloody effort in because it will only occur if you have. IOW it's part of oral tradition - so in fact Crowley is right, the "critics" are wrong.
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Re: Critics of Liber E

Postby gerry456 » Fri Oct 09, 2015 1:46 am

Body off? Is that the automatic rigidity feeling I.e the mild hallucination that one's body is moving during asana? I get that pretty quickly in.
2.19 They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us.

2.21 We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world.
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Re: Critics of Liber E

Postby gurugeorge » Fri Oct 09, 2015 6:20 am

gerry456 wrote:Body off? Is that the automatic rigidity feeling I.e the mild hallucination that one's body is moving during asana? I get that pretty quickly in.


No, it's the fading out of the sense that one has a body at all, or lack of signals from the body reaching consciousness. Rigidity or a feeling of being "gripped" and held in place by a tremendous force can be a precursor though.

If I were to hazard a guess at the mechanics of it, I'd say it's the abeyance of the proprioceptive sense. The body has its own internal monitoring system that tells the brain where parts of the body are and what they're doing, and also to some extent the internal condition - this is actually a literal sixth sense, called "proprioception". Interestingly, the body has many more than 5 senses (in the sense of various kinds of sensors that tell the brain what's going on in the world)- actually between 9 and 20-odd, depending on how you parse it.

An easy way to experience a visual analogue of "body off" is as follows:-

Sit in front of a blank white wall, quite close. Relax the eyes. Pretty quickly, you'll get a sort of "grey out" where you actually lose the sense of vision momentarily. Another way of doing it is to stare at something intently for a while (stick, pebble, etc.). In both cases, what's happening is that the normal "saccading" movement of the eyes either has no raison d'etre (in the case of the blank wall, because all parts of it look the same) or is forcefully stopped (in the case of staring at an object), so that the process of edge detection, whereby we normally actually perceive things, ceases, so we cease to see at all. It's quite a weird sensation - a bit scary the first time you experience it.

I think something analogous is going on with the body. Generally, sensory mechanisms work (and in fact the brain as a whole, science as a whole, and in fact nature as a whole) works on a principle of "generate-and-test" (generate possible things a thing can be, then test those hypotheses). Normally the brain is scanning, scanning (just like the eyes are constantly saccading), and that's how it gets a sense of how the body is comported. As Crowley says, you either "wear out" this process so it stops, or you distract yourself sufficiently (with attention to breathing, etc.) so that it loses force as a mode of perception, and your sense of having a body fades and disappears.

The "rigidity" is a "qi" phenomenon, which is like a level deeper than normal proprioception, but short of "body off". Hence the connection of rigidity to breath (prana = qi). What's actually happening there is that you're discovering a new layer of awareness of the body, specifically the body's holistic fascial web, which tenses and relaxes subtly with the breath, and has a solid-seeming phase when the breath is extremely subtle and there's very little, or only the most subtle, tension/relaxation of the web.

That's roughly how I look at it anyway, from what I've gleaned through experience and amateur study of physiology, etc.
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Re: Critics of Liber E

Postby gerry456 » Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:29 am

gurugeorge wrote:The "critics" have obviously never been to a Vipassana retreat. That's about as brutal and unforgiving as you can get.

Also traditional.
.


Yeah in one of his yoga books, there's a point where Crowley says, in relation to enduring yoga, "now his manhood is tested". That's like something a karate sensai would say, y'know macho or alpha-male. Of course, practitioners of yoga did invent martial arts. I've noticed myself, people who have treated me like a beta-male wuss in the past have "backed off" when they see me, a day after I've done some Crowleyan yoga. They've seen something in my eye i.e. noticed a change in testosterone, new strength.
2.19 They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us.

2.21 We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world.
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Re: Critics of Liber E

Postby gerry456 » Mon Dec 26, 2016 3:48 am

gurugeorge wrote:
gerry456 wrote:Body off? Is that the automatic rigidity feeling I.e the mild hallucination that one's body is moving during asana? I get that pretty quickly in.


No, it's the fading out of the sense that one has a body at all, or lack of signals from the body reaching consciousness. Rigidity or a feeling of being "gripped" and held in place by a tremendous force can be a precursor though.

If I were to hazard a guess at the mechanics of it, I'd say it's the abeyance of the proprioceptive sense. The body has its own internal monitoring system that tells the brain where parts of the body are and what they're doing, and also to some extent the internal condition - this is actually a literal sixth sense, called "proprioception". Interestingly, the body has many more than 5 senses (in the sense of various kinds of sensors that tell the brain what's going on in the world)- actually between 9 and 20-odd, depending on how you parse it.

An easy way to experience a visual analogue of "body off" is as follows:-

Sit in front of a blank white wall, quite close. Relax the eyes. Pretty quickly, you'll get a sort of "grey out" where you actually lose the sense of vision momentarily. Another way of doing it is to stare at something intently for a while (stick, pebble, etc.). In both cases, what's happening is that the normal "saccading" movement of the eyes either has no raison d'etre (in the case of the blank wall, because all parts of it look the same) or is forcefully stopped (in the case of staring at an object), so that the process of edge detection, whereby we normally actually perceive things, ceases, so we cease to see at all. It's quite a weird sensation - a bit scary the first time you experience it.

I think something analogous is going on with the body. Generally, sensory mechanisms work (and in fact the brain as a whole, science as a whole, and in fact nature as a whole) works on a principle of "generate-and-test" (generate possible things a thing can be, then test those hypotheses). Normally the brain is scanning, scanning (just like the eyes are constantly saccading), and that's how it gets a sense of how the body is comported. As Crowley says, you either "wear out" this process so it stops, or you distract yourself sufficiently (with attention to breathing, etc.) so that it loses force as a mode of perception, and your sense of having a body fades and disappears.

The "rigidity" is a "qi" phenomenon, which is like a level deeper than normal proprioception, but short of "body off". Hence the connection of rigidity to breath (prana = qi). What's actually happening there is that you're discovering a new layer of awareness of the body, specifically the body's holistic fascial web, which tenses and relaxes subtly with the breath, and has a solid-seeming phase when the breath is extremely subtle and there's very little, or only the most subtle, tension/relaxation of the web.

That's roughly how I look at it anyway, from what I've gleaned through experience and amateur study of physiology, etc.


Am reminded of 2:21. Now let it be understood: If the body of the King dissolve, he shall remain in pure ecstasy for ever. Nuit! Hadit! Ra-Hoor-Khuit! The Sun, Strength & Sight, Light; these are for the servants of the Star & the Snake.
2.19 They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us.

2.21 We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world.
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