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214. Dr. Suzanne Gordon Looks Deeply Into Near Death Experience Cases (Podcast)

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  • Originally posted by anonymous View Post
    As far as I can tell Crowley is fundamentally egoistic. This is the exact opposite the way NDEr's are changed by their experience. So I am skeptical that Crowley actually had any type of spiritual insight. I know Crowley has admirers to whom I would say that sometimes you need an extremist to get society to move away from the opposite extreme, but that is only saying there can be some small amount of good that comes from something that is fundamentally bad.
    I agree that I've heard a number of uncomplimentary stories about Crowley, and am sceptical that he was a spiritual person. That doesn't invalidate Vortex's insights and reflections, with which I tend to agree, but as you intimate, it could be that Vortex is speaking for himself.

    The only thing that I can think of that might vindicate Crowley is if he consciously cultivated opprobrium, something which is known in the Sufi tradition as malamati behaviour. The purpose of this can be (so it is held), to deter the unwanted attention of spiritual tourists so that a teacher can concentrate on serious disciples without distraction.

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    • Originally posted by anonymous View Post
      Different people can have different understanding of the same words so it is no criticism of Vortex if I say that I'm not sure I believe Crowley capable of the spiritual insights that Vortex has. I would judge someone like Crowley more by his actions than his words. If Crowley is a sociopath as some people think, he is likely to have said whatever would get him what he wanted.

      I'm not a Crowley expert so if anyone has information to contradict the following please post it...

      Occultist Aleister Crowley ? Sociopath, Schizophrenic or Both? | Suite101


      As far as I can tell Crowley is fundamentally egoistic. This is the exact opposite the way NDEr's are changed by their experience. So I am skeptical that Crowley actually had any type of spiritual insight. I know Crowley has admirers to whom I would say that sometimes you need an extremist to get society to move away from the opposite extreme, but that is only saying there can be some small amount of good that comes from something that is fundamentally bad.
      Doesn't this assume that a spiritual experience must always produce what you will recognise as a positive change? If the spirit that we're talking about is indeed universal and we're all a part of it, wouldn't we expect some spiritual experiences be negative, reflecting the negative side of the universal spirit?

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      • Originally posted by Arouet View Post
        Doesn't this assume that a spiritual experience must always produce what you will recognise as a positive change? If the spirit that we're talking about is indeed universal and we're all a part of it, wouldn't we expect some spiritual experiences be negative, reflecting the negative side of the universal spirit?
        I don't know a whole lot abut Crowley, but in regards to what Arouet said, Crowley always struck me as a Trickster figure, which always is an ambivalent mixture of positive/negative (in comparitive mythology)

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        • Originally posted by anonymous View Post
          Different people can have different understanding of the same words so it is no criticism of Vortex if I say that I'm not sure I believe Crowley capable of the spiritual insights that Vortex has. I would judge someone like Crowley more by his actions than his words. If Crowley is a sociopath as some people think, he is likely to have said whatever would get him what he wanted.

          I'm not a Crowley expert so if anyone has information to contradict the following please post it...

          Occultist Aleister Crowley ? Sociopath, Schizophrenic or Both? | Suite101


          As far as I can tell Crowley is fundamentally egoistic. This is the exact opposite the way NDEr's are changed by their experience. So I am skeptical that Crowley actually had any type of spiritual insight. I know Crowley has admirers to whom I would say that sometimes you need an extremist to get society to move away from the opposite extreme, but that is only saying there can be some small amount of good that comes from something that is fundamentally bad.
          Originally posted by Michael Larkin View Post
          I agree that I've heard a number of uncomplimentary stories about Crowley, and am sceptical that he was a spiritual person. That doesn't invalidate Vortex's insights and reflections, with which I tend to agree, but as you intimate, it could be that Vortex is speaking for himself.

          The only thing that I can think of that might vindicate Crowley is if he consciously cultivated opprobrium, something which is known in the Sufi tradition as malamati behaviour. The purpose of this can be (so it is held), to deter the unwanted attention of spiritual tourists so that a teacher can concentrate on serious disciples without distraction.
          Originally posted by Arouet View Post
          Doesn't this assume that a spiritual experience must always produce what you will recognise as a positive change? If the spirit that we're talking about is indeed universal and we're all a part of it, wouldn't we expect some spiritual experiences be negative, reflecting the negative side of the universal spirit?
          Originally posted by EthanT View Post
          I don't know a whole lot abut Crowley, but in regards to what Arouet said, Crowley always struck me as a Trickster figure, which always is an ambivalent mixture of positive/negative (in comparitive mythology)
          I think, Crowley was a genuinely spiritual person – he just had a rather unusual approach to spirituality. People sometimes tend to be either too dismissive or too enthusiastic towards their spiritual experiences: they either try to explain them away as “mere illusion”, or let themselves be swayed by them (almost) totally, understanding them as a literal truth. Such positions are common amongst spontaneous experiencers, who are deeply shocked and influenced by what they suddenly faced in the realms beyond consensus reality. “Professional” mystics and magicians, who learned to deliberately and repeatedly induce such experiences on themselves, and even control them to some degree, sometimes take more sceptical - in the original Pyrrhonean sense, not CSI(COP) sense - and scholarly approach to these experiences. Crowley’s approach to his own spirituality was especially sceptical and scholarly; he understood his magickal and mystical practices, and experiences achieved, as almost scientific experiments, results of which has to be analyzed as strictly as of any other experiment. That’s why his approach was much more relativistic and critical than the one of more “traditional” mystics. It also let him not to give too much ethically prescriptive sense to his experiences (as well as experiences of others). His personal ethic, although strongly influenced by the spiritual revelations, was much more secular and “earthly” than of most mystics. The understanding of higher, non-egoic states of consciousness does not meant to him the abandonment of ego-state; it meant learning to control, transform and develop this state intentionally, to achieve maximum individual efficacy. His path was the path of extreme individualism and the total personal freedom – one that can only be achieved by liberating one’s consciousness and volition from indoctrination. That include the strongest form of indoctrination, the moral one – a tendency to absolutize the particular set of values and notions (usually the one which is dominant in a place and time of one's view-formation), mistakenly assuming that these values and notions are “the objective morals”. Crowley’s own basic ethical principle was an honest following of one’s True Will – the will which is freed by hard work of spiritual self-liberation (while also not forgetting the rational analysis of one’s actions and their consequences) - even if such following will put one in conflict with the contemporary dominant morality of one's society.

          I need to say that my own personal ethic is much more altruistic and compassionate than the one of Crowley – but I’m also an individualist and libertarian. So, despite some differences of my value-set from Crowley’s one, I can’t but respect his will (not a mere wish, but a will) for freedom and self-dignity. It is sometimes easy to get too exalted with blissful spiritual experiences (and/or too frightened with the distressing ones) and, therefore, give too much to the love-light-and-unity line of thought (which is not bad in itself, it just should be approached critically), forget the social oppression and need for the personal independence, give up an active struggle against the former and for the latter. I do not think that this is a good choice; for me, one can be both a real spiritual seeker and a rebellious social critic – as much as Alistair Crowley (as well as Timothy Leary, Robert Anton Wilson, John Lilly, Terrence McKenna and others) were.

          As for the accusations of child abuse etc. are concerned, I think that they are mostly libels and defamations. Crowley, due to his highly rebellious and provocative stance, had a great number of enemies, among general public as well as more traditional magick practitioners. As any notable rebel, he was demonized and denigrated on a regular basis; in the end, his original personality was nearly buried under the cover of dirty myths. To be just, some of these myths were helped to perpetuate by Crowley himself, who, as I said already, was a provocateur; for example, he even liked to play a “Satanist”, enraging he Christian authorities, while he was not a real Satanist; he was a founder of his own integral and pluralistic spiritual path, known as Thelema.

          To be honest, I did not dig deep in the matters of Crowley’s personal life; I was more interested in him as a prominent scholar and practitioner of magick and mysticism, as well as a rebellious social philosopher and critic. But I do trust the defenses of Crowley, made by people like Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary, Lon Milo Duquette and Israel Regardie. All of them told that accusations against Crowley were either libelous and unfounded, or based on a puritan morality of his era (which Crowley openly offended); I can’t find a reason to mistrust them. I also know a lot of cases of notable rebels who were painted as a monsters in the eyes of the public; the good example is Timothy Leary, who was described in the media either as a reckless drug cultist who wanted anyone to become an addict, or a criminal mastermind who wished to create a black market of the illegal drugs (in fact, he was neither of these).

          So, for now I maintain a stance that most accusations against Crowley were probably wrong, and the ones which were not were a result of his open libertarianism, which were seen as “wicked” and "vicious" by moralists. Yes, he definitely was not a highly “moral” person; but he is also was not a monster from the stories told by his multiple opponents.

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