The Land of No Desire


1. Verily and Amen! I passed through the deep sea, and by the rivers of running water that abound therein, and I came unto the Land of No Desire.

2. Wherein was a white unicorn with a silver collar, whereon was graven the aphorism Linea viridis gyrat universa. (LXV ch. 4)

Do what thou Wilt shall be the whole of the Law. 
In many mystical traditions there is often a reference to an ideal state of desirelessness.  Christian Theology and Monastic teachings aim chiefly at overcoming carnal and earthly desire with the express goal of serving God.  Buddhism, whose teachings are atheistic at the core are concerned with the eradication of human suffering, which they attribute to human desire ‘trsna’ in the Pali, which more or less means craving.   And the whole world view and way of life in Buddhism revolves around developing physical, spiritual, and mental habits that facilitate the cessation of Desire.  Many Hindu Ascetic traditions do the same thing, and historically much of Buddhist practice and terminology parallels the ascetic practices of the Upanisads, which in their own right were probably the synthesis resulting from a dialectic between local traditions and the elite Vedic traditions over the course of time.  
But the goal of this little discussion isn’t to go into a comparative analysis of ascetic traditions, or the idea of desirelessness, but to look at what desirelessness actually means in the context of what I take to be an honest and sustained reflection on want and desire.  Those of us who consciously endeavour to undergo spiritual transformation as intimated in the law of Thelema, may find such reflections fruitful and arguably an indispensable part of the path, considering the fact that ‘Thelema’ is the Greek word for will, and we are instructed to do our will.  
Crowly often refers to the ‘true will’, and Liber Al ch. 2 states that:

                 “... pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, 

                    is in every way perfect.” 

This suggests an experience of the will which transcends desires, at least in the usual sense, and is more akin to a natural force emanating from the core of one’s being, and having cosmic and ontological significance.  Yet, I would also add that is not the removal of desire, but desire is in one sense included in it. 

The universal flow of will in this sense may be likened to an eternal blossoming, the inextricable expression of being and becomming, an perpetual continuity of process...
Now already this discussion has become a bit too abstract, and technical.  My purpose here is to be direct and practical.  After all, when I got into magick, my interest was to know and do my will, not to merely pontificate about abstract representations and compare different schools of thought and their histories, though, this does have it’s own merits.  No, we need to go through a process of introspection and open an internal dialectic with ourselves, the best place is to start with ‘what do I want?’  This is a good starting point because we often associate ‘want’ with ‘will’, and yet we are often warned that the ‘true will/pure will’ and what we ‘want’ or better what we think we ‘want’ are not necessarily the same thing.
So what do I want?

Really sit on this question and don’t stop digging.  I often treat it as a Zen Koan, I find the longer I dwell on this question, I eventually arrive at a point where I don’t know what I want.  When you reach this point in the dialogue your’ve genuinely reached a state of desirelessness.
We see here that here's a beginning stage of not knowing and there's an ending stage of not knowing. In the beginning stage we don't know what we want because we haven't thought about it or we’ve only thought about it superficially.  Then once we’re forced to think about it, we go through and say ‘yeah I think I'd like this, I think I'd like that, I think I'd like the other’ etc.   Well  that's the middle stage, then we get beyond that when we say ‘hmm, perhaps that is not what I really want in the end’, one might say ‘no I don't think that's it. I might be satisfied with it for a while and I wouldn’t refuse it,  but it's not really IT.’  

So assuming this process has some merit, and that this stage can be applied universally to everyone, I have a new question: ‘Why don't we really know what we want?’  There are two reasons that we don't really know what we want.   The first reason for not really knowing what we want is that we already have it.   The second is that we don't truly know ourselves because we never can.  This is true at least in the usual sense of the word, since the Godhead, the divine, or as we say in Liber Al: ‘the Khabs’  is never an object of its own knowledge much like  a knife which cannot cut itself and a lamp cannot illumine itself: it must always be an endless mystery to itself.
‘I don't know’ and this ‘I don't know’ is the utterance of the internal Spirit, and  this ‘I don't know’ is the same thing as I love, I let go, I don't try to force or control it's ‘the pure will’ which is commensurate with being in itself.  It’s a will that is not conscious of itself, it just is, and ironically is the most powerful form of will since it is a silent force of nature, and yet, it is the same thing as humility, and it is also the opposite of humility in it’s fullest sense, since it is boundless and transcends our usual categories.  
So it is in this spirit that the Upanishads say if you think that you understand, then  you do not understand and you have yet to be instructed further.  Whereas, if you know that you do not understand then you truly understand, for the Brahman is unknown to those who suppose themselves to  know it. 
There is a another principle at play in this process of experiencing the self:  the principle here is that anytime you  voluntarily give up some control, meaning when you cease to cling to yourself you are granted access to real power.  This occurs because ordinarily you're wasting energy all the time in self-defense: trying to manage things, trying to force things to conform to what you think you want.  Yet, the moment you stop doing this, that wasted energy suddenly becomes a surplus of power that is now available; therefore, you are in that sense accessing this new source of energy while you are one with the Divine Principle.   

On the other hand you no longer have the energy when you're trying however to act as if you were God (in the Western autocratic sense of the word), that is to say you don't trust anybody and  you have to keep everybody in line, you lose the divine energy, your own potency, because what you're doing is simply defending yourself; as if you are in a car pushing the gas and the brake at the same time.   So then the principle in all this  is, that the more you give power away the more it comes back.   
Now you may be thinking, ‘I don't have the courage to give it away I'm afraid’.  Well, you can only overcome this by realising that you’d  better give it away.  This is hinted at in Liber Al which says ‘Fear not’ and the probationer is instructed that ‘fear is failure’.  Furthermore, this is explicitly spelled out in Liber Cheth:
11. For if thou dost not this with thy will, then shall We do this despite thy will. So that thou attain to the Sacrament of the Graal in the Chapel of Abominations.
12. And behold! if by stealth thou keep unto thyself one thought of thine, then shalt thou be cast out into the abyss for ever; and thou shalt be the lonely one, the eater of dung, the afflicted in the Day of Be-with-Us.
These warnings are deep revelations into the nature of the human experience, because in real life when you look at it,  there is no way to truly hold on to our power, which is the universal lifeforce.  As far as the ego is concerned we can only borrow it and, if we are conscientious and diligent, perhaps make some good use of it.   
This becomes especially clear once you see that everything is dissolving constantly, that we're all falling apart and we're all in a process of constant death, thus in the words of Omar Khayyam:
‘The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon Turns Ashes - or it prospers; and anon, Like Snow upon the Desert's dusty Face, Lighting a little hour or two - is gone.’
That's the great assistance of the inertia of the universe, it’s inherent entropy,  to our initiation, to  see, truly see that the fact that everything is in decay, is indeed our helper.  A guide allowing us to be as we are.  So we don't have to let go because there's nothing to hold onto, it's achieved for us in other words, by the process of nature so once we see that we just don't have a prayer and that our numbers’ up,  that we will vanish and leave nothing behind and we really understand that, the emphasis here being on ‘understanding,’, suddenly we find that we have the power, this enormous access of energy but it's not power that comes to us because we chased after it and grabbed it; rather, it came in entirely the opposite way.  Keep in mind that power which comes to us in such an opposite way is power with which we can be trusted.  It is precisely this understanding of how this different kind of power flows and how to apply it that we can call ‘wisdom,’ and so we now have another way of view the triad of understanding, wisdom, and self. 
What I think makes Thelema and perhaps some Tantric schools different in this regard, as opposed to Buddhism and Christianity, is that we are not encouraged to actively give anything up and the truth of the matter is that we can’t give anything up, even if we wanted to, and once we come to the conclusions, to the understanding: that we already have what we want and we don’t know what we want we realise that we already are in the land of no desire, and we’ve just forgotten it.  For we are stars, gods and goddesses in infinite space unfurling in a perpetual flow of pure will, unassuaged of purpose and delivered from the lust of result. 
Love is the law, love under will.
R.H.  Orshalev