Dialogue Between Adept and Novice
PUPIL: There has been a lot of reaction to those two paragraphs on the last page of DL2, when you said that the only gods are within your own head, there are no external powers to be invoked. In others words, we are on our own. Most of the responses fell within four categories. There was fear (“there’s nothing out there looking after me!”) Relief (“so I don’t need to bother any more with all those gods and goddesses and demons with their unearthly names and very earthly failings”). Disbelief (“every other Occultist and Occult books says there are gods, they can’t all be out of step”). Neutrality (“sounds odd, but what reason does he have for saying this?”) I think the fourth response is the most aware; is this correct?
MASTER: You should not accept what I have told you simply because I say that it is true. But you have done it before: you have accepted as true the things that other people have told you. We all do it, many times in our lives, and often it is necessary. You cannot test for yourself and prove the validity of every item of knowledge that you need to possess. If a doctor tells you that it is dangerous to exceed the stated dose of a certain medicine, you do not take an overdose to prove that he is telling the truth, because you believe that he knows what he is talking about and has no reason to lie to you. If an astronomer tells you that, way out in space, beyond Neptune (or within the orbit of Neptune for the next few years) there exists a comparatively small planet called Pluto and its attendant moon, Chiron, you probably believe him. If, then, another astronomer tells you that there is some doubt that little Pluto is, in fact, a planet, do you believe him? Or perhaps you decide to suspend belief because, unless you are an astronomer or an astrologer, it is of no real importance to you whether Pluto is a planet or not. If an acquaintance tells you he saw a ghost last night, you, because you are interested in the Unexplained, might believe that he saw something though he may have misinterpreted it. Other people would write it off as imagination, nightmare, the effects of alcohol, or other rationalisation.
We accept some statement, defer judgement on some and reject others, depending on our individual scale of credulity and our need to deal with the item of knowledge concerned in the assertion. If a statement refers to ideologies or opinions, then, for most people, emotionalism clouds the judgement. What you think is not so important as why you think it.
PUPIL: I think this refers to taking stances and you say how important it is to avoid such an action.
MASTER: To an Adept, “all is one”. This mean that he does not take a stance. You must not only learn to avoid taking stances, you must reach the stage where taking a stance simply does not happen. Start by avoiding stances and it will eventually (like driving) become automatic.
Lean not to take stances and you are on the way to achieving control of your subconscious and thus being able to utilise all the power that is within it.
You take a stance when anything matters to you, when you react to anything. If it pleases or excites you, annoys or depresses you, you are taking a stance. If you believe in a political ideal, you are taking a stance.
It is normal behaviour to take a stance, to be affected by outside influences and to give a reaction to each one. Your subconscious likes to have you constantly buffeted by external forces because, in that situation, you have neither the time nor the energy to think for yourself and take the first steps towards supplanting your subconscious and taking control of your own life.
PUPIL: It seems strange that you have just told people how to become Adepts, yet the majority of readers will skim through those paragraphs like any other light reading and never realise what it’s all about.
MASTER: That is how it should be. There are not enough health warnings in the Occult, and those that exist are usually introduced for an ulterior motive, such as convincing readers of the great power of a particular path or ritual.
PUPIL: Now that I am aware of the problem, I can see how many stances I have taken, especially since you pointed out an occasion when I was not aware of doing it. Quite often now I avoid it; but there’s another problem, taking a stance by being annoyed that occasionally I can’t avoid it.
MASTER: Even in this endeavour, you must work without lust of result.
PUPIL: I’ve heard that phrase before, but it is rather more complicated than it sounds.
MASTER: Any instruction for a ritual will contain the advice that, when the working is completed, you must put out of your mind all thoughts of the aim. This is a good example of the truth being preserved even when understanding of the reason behind it has been lost. The explanation generally given is that your working has released forces which have been sent out to achieve the stated aim. Retaining that aim in your thoughts would mean anchoring the forces to you and impeding them. The real reason is that continuing to dwell on the purpose of your working would mean that you had taken a stance.
PUPIL: But why would you undertake the work unless its outcome was important to you?
MASTER: I did not say that it did not matter. Whether it worked out not would not make any difference to me and what I am about.
PUPIL: What criteria do you use for deciding that something should be done?
MASTER: I usually employ criteria to make sure that something should not be done. Occult means can only be used to solve Occult problems and you do not yet know how to define an Occult problem. It cannot be seen by most people and they could not grasp what I was saying if I explained. You can buy books which purport to tell you how to achieve everything by magickal means. The authors are saying buy this book and every law of physics and humanity can be changed to suit you. What they do not know is that the only thing that needs to be changed is the bit that is the real you, and only Adepts can recognise that. To solve a problem, change yourself instead of trying to change the world. If you want to go to London at ten o’clock in the morning but the only train from your local station leaves at eleven-thirty, it is no use asking British Rail to change its timetable or put on an extra train for you. You can’t re-route the 11.30 Euston, still less can you alter the 11.30 Universe.
PUPIL: I have a problem – a trivial one, but I don’t see how it can be solved except by Occult means. Every Saturday, there is a crossword competition in the newspaper. Most Saturdays I manage to solve the crossword, but my entry has never yet been among the winners. It must be a matter of luck that causes a certain entry to be one of the first three pulled out of the box, and I can’t harness that luck, though I have tried.
MASTER: Your last entry smelt so strongly of incense that I’m not surprised it was avoided! Why do you want to win? You don’t need the book token prize.
PUPIL: No, I know it’s simply vanity. It’s a very prestigious crossword.
MASTER: You can either never enter the competition so that you can never win it, or ensure that no-one else enters so that you are certain to win.
PUPIL: That doesn’t help! Of course, it’s not intended to. Yes, I suppose I can see why it is pointless. All that matters is that you know and I know – and so do all the readers of DL now, but these paragraphs will have to stay in because they’re illustrating something much more important. I still don’t see why the matter of a chance selection is not a problem that can be solved by Occult means.
MASTER: That is something that you will eventually come to understand. The hardest thing in the world is to watch someone doing something wrong and keep your mouth shut.
PUPIL: Is that always necessary?
MASTER: Intervention could only be justified if someone was doing something so wrongly that he put himself in danger. This refers to Occult and to mundane matters.
PUPIL: Would you intervene in a mundane matter – supposing you saw a total stranger wiring an electrical appliance wrongly. Someone whom you have never seen before, who is of no importance to you.
MASTER: In such a circumstance, I would tell him what he was doing wrong. Whether or not he chose to take my advice is not my concern.
PUPIL: Nevertheless, isn’t such intervention taking a stance?
MASTER: No, because I know that I am superior. His living would not help nor hinder me, but neither would his death. If I do not warn him, I am taking a stance, but if he disregards my warning, that is his problem.
PUPIL: So you would only be taking a stance, if, after having had your advice rejected, you physically restrained him from plugging in the dangerous appliance?
MASTER: Yes. The same applies in an Occult context. You have heard me mention the woman who wished to specialise in healing. I advised her that this was not her particular strength, but she decided not to heed my advice.
PUPIL: If she had been one of your pupils, would you have stopped her from going a way that caused her decline?
MASTER: If she had been my pupil, that would have been my responsibility. If I had not taken responsibility for a person, I may still advise them, but they must choose whether to listen or not. It does not matter to me whether they agree with me. They have got to agree with themselves that they are doing it wrong. It is up to them to put the damage right.
PUPIL: In what ways could one go so badly wrong in Occult work?
MASTER: If you go into specifics, you will get people looking at what you are writing about instead of what I am saying. They will look at the plug instead of the problem. But most people do not need to know what can go wrong at the higher levels because they will never reach them.
PUPIL: That’s something I want to clarify. A couple of years ago, you stopped someone because he was preventing people from reaching their true potential. But there are others who are, for instance, producing magazines which deal only with Occult trivia. Aren’t they also holding people back?
MASTER: The crime that does matter is interfering with other people’s progress. No-one compels people to buy magazines which tell them what way to dance around the circle, which colour candles to light. They buy those magazines because they find such things amusing. The people who produce those magazines are not deliberately misleading them, because they, too, do not know any better. They are chasing their own tails, but that is quite safe and they could not handle it another way. Can you imagine those people with the mentality that responds to such trivia coming to terms with total loss of peace of mind?
PUPIL: But you said that everyone has the potential to achieve as much.
MASTER: Everyone has the potential for everything, but that does not say that they can make use of it. Anyone can get into a Formula I racing car and start the engine, but not many people can drive it fast enough and still be in one piece at the end of the race. Magickal ceremonies have their uses because there will always be people who feel the need to belong and to express their commitment, but those ceremonies only satisfy those who have a limitation on how far they can go. Those capable of becoming Adepts recognise the emptiness and know that sooner or later they must stand alone.
PUPIL: Is it always necessary for an Adept to be alone?
MASTER: Standing alone in any respect is a cold and unfriendly prospect. There is a well-known and true phrase: “the loneliness of command”, which applies also in the mundane world. Not many people are capable of running a business or a ship or becoming an Adept. Most people need someone else to turn to, to say ‘am I right?’ or ‘it’s not my job to do that’ or ‘it’s not my fault’. Re-writing or re-interpreting any religion is futile because the one thing that they do not get away from is that they still have someone else to blame.
PUPIL: But you know who will make it and who will not.
MASTER: I can see a long way past this world’s ending. The future is a matter of what options are taken up today. Things today are because of decisions made in the past. Wrong things said, wrong things done, nearly all of it done in too much of a hurry. This approaches the point where I am in danger of taking a stance, over things you cannot see yet. Other Adepts can see it and are in the same danger. If I take a stance in the future, I will be responsible for a part of it.
PUPIL: But surely you would do the right thing.
MASTER: Is it a responsibility that I need? This is not like running a business. I see events on a universal scale. There are certain things instigated long before I was born which I can interfere with; I have not yet decided whether I should do so or not.
PUPIL: What would make you decide that they needed your intervention?
MASTER: I have no idea until it happens,
PUPIL: How will you know when it happens?
MASTER: This is the origin of the legend about looking at a monster’s reflection in a burnished shield rather than gazing directly into the creatures face. One is too close to observe directly.
PUPIL: How do you know that a reflection has not been distorted?
MASTER: A reflection does not know that it is being observed. The things that I know I shall still know, long after this physical life has ceased; the things that I can alter I will alter, the things that I have to wait for I will still wait for, no matter how many millennia it takes.
From the Dark Lily Journal No 4, Society of Dark Lily (London 1987).