Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
For Thelema Quotes installment number 6, we deal with the “omnipresent blackguard” of people taking “Do what thou wilt” to mean “Do whatever you want.” All quotations are from Aleister Crowley or The Book of the Law.
“The word of the Law is THELEMA… Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law… So with thy all; thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.”
–The Book of the Law I:39-40, 42-44
“St. Augustine’s ‘Ama, et fac quod vis’ [roughly ‘Love, and do what thou wilt’] puts the cart before the horse, begs the question, and is moreover liable to the most serious misunderstandings. As if the fact of ‘loving’ were sufficient excuse for all and sundry acts, or lines of conduct.
Safer, ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law’ with ‘love’ relegated to its scientifically correct position as the means of carrying out all plans soever: Hungry man ‘loves’ food and drink, i.e. unites chemically therewith, assimilates it to his own nature, and so becomes man refreshed i.e. capable of continuing to pursue his true will. Hence, ‘Love is the law, love under will.’ It will not help him to ‘love’ anything but food and drink on such occasions; and it must be the food suited to his nature and his powers of digestion. Hay will not restore or nourish him; and food too gross, or too plentiful, drink too cold or too intoxicating, may disturb the perfection of the process.
Of course you [Karl Germer] know all this well enough; but I thought that you might find it useful to quote St. August to the common blatant guffaw of the omnipresent blackguard ‘Do wot yer loike, eh? What ho!’”
– Letter from Aleister Crowley to Karl Germer, March 1942
“…If every man and every woman did his and her will—the true will—there would be no clashing. ‘Every man and every woman is a star,’ and each star moves in an appointed path without interference. There is plenty of room for all; it is only disorder that creates confusion. From these considerations it should be clear that ‘Do what thou wilt’ does not mean ‘Do what you like.’ It is the apotheosis of Freedom; but it is also the strictest possible bond.
Do what thou wilt—then do nothing else. Let nothing deflect thee from that austere and holy task. Liberty is absolute to do thy will; but seek to do any other thing whatever, and instantly obstacles must arise. Every act that is not in definite course of that one orbit is erratic, an hindrance. Will must not be two, but one.”
– Liber II: The Message of the Master Therion
“At the exact moment when the futility of the formalized faiths of the world has been recognized, despite the stoutest denials; when the first principles of religion and ethics have been subconsciously rejected, so that a kind of spiritual neurasthenia broke loose in the hysteria of the world-war, there appeared a mysterious figure who is generally known as the Master Therion. Instructed by chiefs who have hitherto preferred to remain in the background, he brings to free and enlightened men a law by virtue of which mankind may arrive at a new and higher stage of advancement on every plane, from the biological to the spiritual. It is a law of liberty and of love, but also of discipline and of force. This law is already in operation under the name of the Law of Thelema.
The formula of this law is: Do what thou wilt. Its moral aspect is simple enough in theory. Do what thou wilt does not mean Do as you please, although it implies this degree of emancipation, that it is no longer possible to say à priori that a given action is “wrong.” Each man has the right—and an absolute right—to accomplish his True Will.
The more one examines the deepest implications of the Law of Thelema, the more one understands that it constitutes a sublime synthesis, and the only one possible, of the teachings of every science, from embryology to history.”
-The Method of Thelema
“It will be seen that the formula – ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law’ has nothing to do with ‘Do as you please.’ It is much more difficult to comply with the Law of Thelema than to follow out slavishly a set of dead regulations.”
–Eight Lectures on Yoga, “Yama”
For more information on these topics check out these links:
- The Book of the Law
- Liber II: The Message of the Master Therion
- The Method of Thelema
- Eight Lectures on Yoga, “Yama”
Love is the law, love under will.