On the Nature of the True Will

by Frater Y.V

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

Question: Is one’s True Will the same as one’s “purpose” in life? Can one “discover one’s True Will” and summarize it in a brief statement?

Crowley seemed to think so, sometimes, and the idea has become characteristic of orthodox Thelemology and ingrained in some Thelemic institutions. For example, in the Constitutions of the Order of Thelemites, those Zelatores of that Order who have submitted proof of the discovery of their True Wills to the examining officer were supposed to get a special certificate.

In his essay titled “Duty,” Crowley defines “True Will” as “the true purpose of the totality of one’s Being”; and states that one – the acceptee of the Law of Thelema – should find the formula of one’s True Will in an expression as simple as possible.

Earlier in the same essay, however, Crowley states the following: “This True Self thus ultimately includes all things soever; its discovery is Initiation (the travelling inwards) and as its Nature is to move continually, it must be understood not as static, but as dynamic, not as a Noun but as a Verb.” We evidently need further clarification.

Liber AL, Ch.I, v. 44 reads as follows: “For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.”

In Crowley’s “D” Commentary on this verse, we find this: “Purpose takes the edge off pure will, for it implies conscious thought, which should not replace what nature intends. Work is done best when the mind does not know of it, either to urge or check its course.”

In Crowley’s New Comment on the same verse, he states:

This verse is best interpreted by defining `pure will’ as the true expression of the Nature, the proper or inherent motion of the matter, concerned. It is unnatural to aim at any goal. The student is referred to Liber LXV, Cap. II, v. 24 [“And I laid my head against the Head of the Swan, and laughed, saying: Is there not joy ineffable in this aimless winging? Is there not weariness and impatience for who would attain to some goal?”], and to the Tao Teh King. This becomes particularly important in high grades. One is not to do Yoga, etc., in order to get Samadhi, like a schoolboy or a shopkeeper; but for its own sake, like an artist.

From Liber XXI:

Lao Kun the Master said:
The Adept in skill of soul
Hath never an aim; the bungler’s shame
Is that he gropes a goal.

We may conclude that one’s “True Will” is a very similar concept to one’s “True Self.” One should not try to force some static purpose upon one’s being, but to allow one’s being to fulfill its dynamic nature.

Many people think that making a statement about one’s True Will is a very important thing to do relatively early on in one’s Magical career. However, this should be done only after considerable introspection; and then with considerable circumspection. The tendency would be to choose some very romantic, flattering goal which has little to do with the real nature of one’s being; one which begins “It is my True Will to (fill in the blank).” One may feel a great sense of achievement at first, only to experience later a sense of stagnation and confusion.

One reason that such problems arise is that a lot of us have an Old Aeon sort of notion that the discovery of the True Will is a point event, a sort of Cataclysmic Flash of Illumination which Reveals the Eternal Truth Once and For All; after which we may consider ourselves Enlightened and begin taking on disciples.

A viewpoint more consistent with the energies of the New Aeon would be that the discovery of the True Will or True Self is a gradual process, analogous to that of growing up. Recall that the phrase in “Duty” is not “Summarize one’s True Will in a written statement of 11 words or less” but “Find the formula of this purpose, or `True Will,’ in an expression as simple as possible.” One can never fully know one’s True Will to the point of concise, specific, one-time expression, because it is dynamic and encompasses the totality of our experience; and the sum of our experience evolves as long as we remain alive. One can, however, know something about its formula, that is, how it tends to manifest, dynamically, in one’s life. Crowley never said that this cannot be done more than once.

Question: If True Will is really the core of one’s being, how can one ever NOT do it?

If one doesn’t know oneself, one can’t know anything about one’s True Will. Self knowledge requires initiation, introspection and experience. It takes time to find out who one is – in fact, it takes a lifetime. As one come to know oneself more and more, one’s actions will come more and more into conscious alignment with one’s True Will. [See the essay An Approach to Magick.]

This is not to say that if one has not discovered one’s True Self one must necessarily be acting contrary to one’s True Will. One’s True Will can be considered as the Resultant of all the vectors that comprise one’s nature. Even if one doesn’t realize it, the True Will will, on the average, dominates one’s actions and one’s responses to external stimuli. Once one has become intimately familiar with all the vectors, and therefore with their Resultant, one may begin to strengthen the Resultant by consciously adjusting the alignment of the vectors.

Question: What about Duty and Obligations?

The question of duty has been addressed admirably in a generalized fashion in Crowley’s essay “Duty.” No action or policy can be really in accordance with one’s True Will if it is not also in alignment with the principles set forth in this work.

As for obligations, it is a given that one’s True Self includes all elements of one’s universe, including the situations one has gotten oneself into. Accordingly, the requirements of these situations are vectors contributing to the Resultant of one’s True Will. However, these requirements may not always be what they seem. It is not always necessary to accept them at face value, but they must be dealt with and resolved; not ignored.

Love is the law, love under will.

Original Publication Date: 1997
Updated: April 2001 e.v.