The Western Mystery Tradition is a torch lighting the way to the True Will.
The True Will is a model of the world that isn’t yet fully manifest, and that we are an expression of. The aim of True Will type work is to learn to discern between our ego-self generated mental models, and the model that the Self behind our physical self holds. The most obvious way for that is to learn to still ourselves, so that mind stops shouting and we can hear our soul’s whispers. Aleister Crowley gives a Hindu image near the end of Chapter VI Dhyana in Part I: Mysticism of Liber ABA
That image is that of a lake into which five glaciers move.
These glaciers are the senses. While ice (the impressions)
is breaking off constantly into the lake, the waters are
troubled. If the glaciers are stopped the surface becomes
calm; and then, and only then, can it reflect unbroken the
disk of the sum. This sun is the “soul” or “God.”
When (if) you can perceive that model from the Self, and thus make it a mental model for yourself, you’re not just bringing your own emotional power to bear on the world, but that of the Self that is manifesting as the physical you. That’s a whole different kettle of fish. Things move fast when that clicks into place!
In terms of the levels often used in ceremonial magick, the ability to discern the Will of our Self from the will of our self comes when we are ready to cross the Abyss, at (7)= which is the 7th degree, at the 4th Sephira. I think of my consciousness as being aware of the physical realm through sensory experiences, and as being aware of the mental realm through intellect. I think of the other side of the Abyss as a realm outside physical (both space and time) and mental existence, in which the higher Selves play. We can make little forays into there, but we interpret these using lots of symbology from our realm when we do so. Crossing, however, is an extremely powerful opening up of ourselves in which we don’t interpret anymore but have direct experience of that way of being.
To clarify that a little, there is the interpreted reality that most people live in fully, which is an illusion when seen from a social perspective. It is the mental representation of the sensory experiences we have of the world. It’s the Maya from Hinduism. What other people around you construe is their interpreted reality, just as you live in your interpreted reality. We all live in our own, of course, and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it isn’t where 100% of our awareness is… This is a place where we can create a world that we want to live in, but preferably without falling into the trap of confusing it with the reality we do live in physically. We need to keep the balance between those two concepts.
Then there’s the physical reality that is formed around us. Materialists would say that it was formed from the big bang, follows some natural laws, and that’s that. Not a lot of room for magical practices in that world view.
Another body of thought is that physical reality is being constantly generated based on the blueprints held in the minds of the higher beings of which we are a manifestation, as alike to them as the characters in computer games are to the people playing those games. In that worldview, our models of the world are taken into account by the higher Selves in the ongoing process of creation, if a) we’re clearly heard, for which being focused in the now moment is crucial, and b) we’re consistent in our beliefs, i.e. not thinking “I’m going to win the lotto.” as well as “That’s just wishful thinking.” because to create a world where both of those thoughts are true means you don’t win…
From that perspective we create our own reality, and we do so as a global community. That’s a lot of power to those who can sway the mental models of other people! A challenge then is how we can get to perceiving those deeper realities, waking up from our illusions.
One way is regular meditation practice bringing your awareness to the right here, right now, moment. This builds up your concentration, i.e. the ability to stay awake, and your mindfulness, i.e. the ability to notice when you’ve fallen asleep again. Mindfulness is the really important one, although we need both of course, because it’s the one that is normally not talked about very much unfortunately.
Another way is with help from a magical current that works to bring people to their Light. The Golden Dawn tradition is one such, which is why I’ve been working in the Nu Ra group since it started in 2004. The first initiation is about acknowledging that we are wandering around in the darkness, meaning the world, without recognising that we have a true Will. The step taught in this ritual is one foot forward, as if you’re stepping into a dark room from the doorway, and the sign is of two hands reaching forward, as if you are grasping blindly in that darkness.
The effect it has on your life is to make your Self aware that you are reaching out for it, and it will reach back, shining a light onto the illusions in your life. The fine print of that initiation is that your life will become a mess as the blockages are loosened. We sometimes lose people before their next initiation, unfortunately, because they can’t keep things together enough or no longer think they can do this sort of work. It can be quite demoralising to see your life clearly…
After that first initiation, known as (0)=, comes the (1)= which is associated with Earth. You become grounded, you clear up the mess, you free yourself from the detritus. And then it’s up and away from there But I recommend a meditative practice to everyone, whether in a group such as the Golden Dawn, or not.