The Occultist in Action
by Simon Court
No matter by which door you enter the Mysteries
exemplified by the Western Tradition, you will sooner or later
come to the rather devastating realisation that you are required
to actually do something with all your studies and training. You
find a build-up of pressure as the stimulated inner life tries
to find expression in the world.
In the early stages this tends
to appear as a cross between quiet confidence in a Messianic Mission
and an incessant urge to get everyone to adopt one's own particular
brand of occultism. It is normal to find this imbalance as barriers
are released. The gush that ensues, whether displayed or hidden,
is proportional to the size of the barrier which is removed.
Barriers, of course, are never
completely removed and there is no end to the surmounting of obstacles
on the Way. We do learn, however, to moderate this sudden release
and see things in a more sober perspective after each revelation.
In fact, it becomes less matter of something revealed to us and
more a matter of something we realise - which is to say, make
The true magicians are not such
by virtue of what they do but of what they are. It is, of course,
truly said that "by their works shall ye know them"
- but those works are never "done". The magician, like
the Taoist, achieves without acting, and like Eastern counterparts,
acts without lust of result.
The way that followers of the
Western Tradition must express themselves is in their everyday
life and every single occult principle can be used as a model
for some quite ordinary behaviour. By far the simplest example
is known as working out Karma.
Now everything we do generates
consequences. This may sound trite but a little indulgence here
might bring some new way of looking at things. Most early training
in the Western Tradition is designed to bring practitioners face
to face with the links between what they do and what happens in
consequence. Qabalistically this is the link between Yesod and
Malkuth. It is only when we realise the consequences of our actions
that we can begin to see things as they are. And only then does
it make sense to talk about changing ourselves.
Because we are responsbile for
all the rippling outcomes and by products of the things we do,
then sooner or later we will have to deal with them. Not everything
we do produces a "pure" effect well, not unless we are
already Adepts. By various distortions, 'in-adequacies', 'mistakes'
and 'imbalances' the result is not entirely what we expected.
Sometimes, too, there are natural by-products that we just failed
to take into account. Whatever the reasons, we find things occurring
in the world for which we are unexpectedly accountable.
As we become more aware of 'how
things are', so we notice these things more often and more accurately.
The longer unwanted consequences, inapproprate by-products, are
left the harder it is to deal with them. They can mount up, form
groupings, 'complexes', of inter-reactions until they becomes
further causes in their own right. We are absolutely responsible
at this level for every effect and subsequent effect.
What then can we do? Certainly
not sit back and attempt to take no action whatsoever. This is
just as much 'meddling' as constantly manipulating the life force
that flows in and around you. To fail to act when action is required
will itself bring consequences. Such is our errant nature that
we usually find ourselves at one or other of the extremes of involvement
and attached non-involvement.
To be a Master or Mistress of
the Art of Life we need to act exactly as required by the life
within us, forceful and assertive here, passive and responsive
there. A tall order and a difficult task to even begin to work
on without that initial consciousness of consequences.
So here is a little exercise
that is deceptively simple in the telliing but most effective
in the doing. Expressed simply it goes "Whatever you do,
tidy up as you go along". There, easy, isn't it?
Well, at the first level we have
those who reject it as a bit of nonsense and will not even try
For anyone still reading, we
have the second level where it seems to say that you should "tidy
up after you". We have most of us been told that at some
time or other and, naturally, rebelled against it. But remember,
after doing a certain task, after finishing it, the debris and
tools we used are left lying around and these represent the karmic
"side effects" of our action. So when we finish the
job we have this great task of clearing up to do. This is not
what is meant by "tidy up as you go along".
At the next level of understanding
we see that until the job is complete we are surrounded by its
side effects. This can be a problem when the job is a long one
or when other more important (or more pleasant!) tasks come,up.
And here we can get those "second order" effects. For
example, a spade left out in the weather will begin to rust and
its wooden handle will begin to crack. So there is now more work
to do, more tasks to deal with, than there was. And these occur
purely through side effects rather than direct action. Stop and
think for a moment how this might apply to your own life situation.
Now if you think that this means
you should keep putting things away after each time you use them,
then think again. For it might just be that you store things too
far away from where they are used. Otherwise, it is just as easy
to put something down in place as out of place. Now apply these
ideas to the way you live. Do not think that I am trying here
to put forward some sort of moralistic view about "being
tidy" in any sort-of sterile clinical or "fussy"
sense, I merely invite you to see how you yourself do tnings and
then realise that your life and its karma runs the same way. Change
these things and you change your karmic consequences. It is up
to you to see these connections and act on them if you wish.
So you may reach this stage where
no matter how many things you have "in progressU at a time,
there is very little evidence of the unwanted consequences. You
can stop at any stage and have everything where it should be.
Good grief, you might say, we'd
be for ever tidying up and not get anything done. Fine. But try
it and then prove it for yourself. Let's not be extreme though.
When making a chair, you might leave it half-finished and glueing
on the work bench. You might leave the dinner cooking on the stove.
Certainly the very thing that is happening would not be "tidied
away!". But the side effects, the unwanted consequences,
the hammer and drill, the olive oil and pepper, these would all
have been taken care of immediately as an on-going and integral
part of the process.
Not only can you see what your
karmic effects are like by watching your "tidying" habits,
but you can also change the one by changing the other. A discipline
like this spreads to your every act. You will learn to distinguish
between essential act and side effect, and error. Or, in everyday
terms these are cooking dinner (essential act), using a chopping
board (side effect), spilling flour (error). You will also learn
that sometimes the very way in which you approach something ties
you up in consequences, when it need not do so if tackled in a
different way. Again, this applies to life and karma too as when
you become apparently "trapped" in the day-to-day patterns
and feel that your creativity is stifled. You will also learn
which things are worth taking on and which not, and with this
knowledge comes the ability to take things on in full knowledge
and acceptance of all that they entail.
Finally, you learn to live with
a minimum of consequence, smoothly, effortlessly, taking up each
thing that comes along in quiet confidence. You will be as a boat
that though it cuts the water ahead, leaves it smooth and whole
behind. No longer will you approach life like an axe splintering
a wooden door. Like the Tao, you will achieve without acting.
Then, of course, you can start
to achieve in harmony with the rest of the universe. But that
is something else again...