The Thursday Thesis - 31/08/2017
I am a huge fan of self-help books – I’ve read or listened to hundreds of them since I gave up my glittering career as a teenage drunk – and I’ve noticed that they all have two big ideas in common. Since both ideas are super-important and interesting, I’m going to cover one this week and one next week.
Firstly, there’s the theme of our will and the power to choose the changes we make in our lives: as Gandhi put it, to “be the change you wish to see in the world”.
Call it self-mastery, success, or the secret – call it what you will – it all comes down to "The Science
and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will".
That’s the thrust of what almost every self-help writer and guru preaches.
But hold on a minute - that definition didn’t come from Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn or Napoleon Hill - it came from the English writer and occultist Aleister Crowley, as he explained what Magick is.
By the way, Magick is the archaic spelling of the word – it’s not a typo – and since this is my blog, I’m going to flit from one spelling to another, so there!
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the self-help field who would disagree with that definition as a recipe for success.
So, who was Aleister Crowley?
Born in Leamington Spa in 1875, Crowley was the son of a successful brewing family who held Christian Fundamentalist beliefs. At Cambridge he captained the university chess team before dropping out to spend his fortune pursuing esoteric and occult knowledge, sex, drugs and adventures of every kind. In time, his infamous lifestyle earned him the title “The wickedest man in the World”, according to the British press, though he preferred to style himself The Beast 666.
But he wasn’t just a sex-mad, drug-taking, bisexual, eccentric genius – though that would be enough for many of us. Crowley was also a journalist, novelist, poet, painter, ceremonial magician, mountaineer, and – quite possibly - a spy for the British government.
Yet this libertine defined Magick in terms that closely resemble most modern day definitions of success - as extolled in thousands of self-help books, DVDs, online courses and 3-day “Ra-Ra” guru events in arenas all over the World.
It’s interesting, isn't it?
Every time you see someone who is exceptional at what they do you’ll notice the same thing: they make it look easy, effortless and completely natural...
Almost like magic.
Non-experts, like you and me, wonder how they do what they do, what their secret is, and how they make it look so easy.
There is something magical and spellbinding about mastery and expertise, but it isn’t magic – it’s just technique and technology.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” wrote Arthur C. Clarke, the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, many science fiction books and the inventor of the communication satellite.
Our experts don’t have magic on their side – they have advanced technologies and techniques which we don’t have, yet.
And the most important word in that sentence is “yet”.
“Yet” tells us that we can acquire the skills and habits of experts, adopt their practices and become experts ourselves – “yet” implies that the skills are learnable and that we can learn them, sometime.
Follow your “yet” with “but” and you’re really opening the door to change: say aloud “I don’t know how to do it, yet, but...”
What else do you want to add to complete the sentence?
If you said “I’m gonna” or “I will”, you’re going to learn how to do it, aren’t you?
Words are powerful – perhaps even Magical.
But there’s no magick to excellence: I ask you, is effective time management magic, weight loss mystical, or success in business esoteric?
I don’t think so.
And there's no Magic involved when you are learning to play guitar or any other musical instrument, either. Just find an expert guitar teacher, find out how they do it and do what they do. Not what they appear to do, but how they really do it, because if you learn how it’s really done, you know it’s not magic and you can do it, too.
Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) tells us to model very specifically what experts do and how they think in order to perform just like they do.
That sounds like learning to perform a ritual, doesn’t it?
Next week we’ll look at the practical implementation of Magick into your everyday life and how to harness the power of Rituals.
© Neil Cowmeadow 2017
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