The Secret Door
Thoughts on Thelema

Short Commentary on Chapter II of the Book of the Law


Spiritual experiences invariably frame themselves in terms of the experiencer. Christians have Christian visions, Moslems have Moslem visions, Hindus have Hindu visions and Buddhists have Buddhist visions. And Aleister Crowley had Crowleyan visions! Nevertheless, there is “that which remains” within all spiritual experiences that seems to refer to something ultimate that transcends sectarianism, the dharma if you like. If spiritual experiences were purely arbitrary and individual then one would expect esoteric traditions to diverge, not converge as they do (the philosophia perennis, etc.). The search for the dharma then becomes a question of diction and praxis.

We must I think accept that every spiritual seeker realizes the dharma in their own fashion and to their own degree, thus positing verticality and the transcendental object itself. Although every system claims this realization for itself, the truth transcends systems. Reality is not a system.

The Comment seeks to solve this problem by declaring that each one must solve the equation for themselves individually, to the exclusion of all others, since anyone who seeks to frame a solution is automatically excluded. Absolute transcendent individualism = the way of the pratyekabuddha. However, the equation itself remains unsolved. Anyone can make anything out of anything, and do, but unless we do the making, it is unsatisfactory. Unfortunately, the absolute individual is a cypher. Therefore, the Book of the Law, as a system of runes, means everything and nothing. Yet it seems to mean something. The hermeneutical problem remains.

What is not well-known or well-understood is that prior to the Cairo Working (March–April 1904) Aleister Crowley was a convinced Buddhist; his first spiritual teacher, Allan Bennett, was a Buddhist, and his last major disciple, Gerald Yorke, became the Personal Representative to the West and publisher of the Great Thirteenth Dalai Lama.  Crowley claimed to have some of the Buddhist marks of a great man on his body, and later in life experienced several Buddhist trances. Crowley included the Buddha in his list of Magi, and the grade of Adeptus Exemptus in Crowley’s A∴A∴ is essentially a Buddhist grade. The A∴A∴’s system of preceptorship is directly based on the Buddhist sangha. The preceptor’s vow to serve their inferiors is essentially identical with the bodhicitta of a bodhisattva. Even the rejection of money is Buddhist, despite the Book of the Law’s celebration of wealth. Crowley’s motto as a Master of the Temple of the A∴A∴, V.V.V.V.V. (Vi Veri Universus Vivus Vici, “By the Power of Truth, I, While Living, Have Conquered the Universe”) is implicitly Buddhist. Crowley also produced a picture of a “lama” (Lam) that Crowley referred to as his guru. Crowley also spoke highly of the Buddhist scriptures, and himself wrote about Buddhism, most notably in The Sword of Song, which was published in 1904, the same year as the Cairo Working. Therefore we should not be surprised to discover Buddhist diction and ideas in the text of the Book of the Law, including references to the trans-dual, non-extension, non-differentiation or detachment, the spheres or planes of existence, the eons, direct knowledge (gnosis), vitality (viriya), the star-devas, extinction (nirvana), the wheel of dharma, karma, the tathagatagarbha, samsara, dukkha, emptiness, the puthujjana, the bodhisattva, conscious dying, awakening or enlightenment, amrita (oja), not-self, no-god, the sangha, the sword-interval, trans-rationalism, twilight language, volition or will, mantra, transmission (transfer of merit), the guru, jhana, etc. Of course, these ideas are not found only in Buddhism but are universal themes of dharma.

I do not claim for this work that it is the last word on the exegesis of the Book of the Law, or that the truths that it aspires to articulate are unique, exclusive, or complete. I offer it to others to incorporate into their armamentarium or not as they will, and in all humility and joy submit myself to the destiny of ultimate exclusion.[1]

Witness mine hand:

ቸነፈር ማዕከል 8, 80, 418

Sol in 20° 14′ Gemini, An CXII

NOTE: This short commentary on the Book of the Law completes the trilogy of commentaries on the three chapters of the Book of Law, the commentaries on chapters 1 and 3 being originally published in The Secret Wisdom of 666. A revised first edition became available June 14, 2016 including all three chapters of the Book of the Law.


Chapter II – the Book of AL[2]

1. Nu! the hiding of Hadit.

NU = space, matter, extension, stasis. HADIT = time, consciousness, intention (“in-tension”), will, kinesis. HADIT inheres in NU as her potential. Hiding = OE hydan, “to bury a corpse.” The male/female polarity is fundamental. Cf. quantum physicist David Bohm’s theory of the implicate and explicate orders (NUIT and HADIT respectively).

2. Come! all ye, and learn the secret that hath not yet been revealed. I Hadit am the complement of Nu my bride. I am not extended, and Khabs is the name of my House.

NU is nirvana. HADIT is samsara. The secret that has not been revealed is the transdual nature of the binary. HADIT is potential manifest in energy, consciousness realized in time. Egyptian khabs = “star, light.” The star is the deva, light or energy their immaterial form.

3. In the sphere I am everywhere, the centre, as she, the circumference, is nowhere found.

The whole is empty, limitless, and uncharacterizable. Therefore, everything is equally all (paticcasamuppada). Sphere = Skt. loka, “universe,” and mandala. “circle.”

4. Yet she shall be known & I never.

One only knows one’s self in relation to not-self. Therefore, self is not-self. That ANATTA is not a negation, but an affirmation is the great revelation of the Book of the Law.

5. Behold! the rituals of the old time are black. Let the evil ones be cast away; let the good ones be purged by the prophet! Then shall this Knowledge go aright.

Time itself is negentropic. Hence, all phenomena inherently degenerate. Although dharma is transcendent, and therefore the one permanent and ineffable object (although it is not an “object”), its multiplex manifestations in samsara as the transcendent object enters into 4D experiential existence and “passes through,” as it were, become subject to time in their manifestation. Thus, the dharma endlessly perpetuates and renews itself in new forms. As long as memory persists wisdom (information) accumulates and so there is evolution and progress toward universality. Then dharma (Knowledge, direct knowledge, gnosis, wisdom) “goes aright.”

6. I am the flame that burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star. I am Life, and the giver of Life; yet therefore is the knowledge of me the knowledge of death.

HADIT is the kinetic. The kinetic is only realized in impermanence = death. Heart = centre of metta.

7. I am the Magician and the Exorcist. I am the axle of the wheel, and the cube in the circle. “Come unto me” is a foolish word; for it is I that go.

The perfectly spontaneous and uncharacterizable activity of HADIT generates the phantasmagoria of existence that is experience and thus “calls out” the inherent potentials into manifestation. The essence of the kinetic is stillness. The Magician = Atu I. in the Tarot, “at-one-ment” manifest in beth, duality. The wheel of dharma. Squaring the circle involves constructing a square of equal area to a circle. Cubing the circle is squaring the circle in 3D, i.e., the three-dimensional samsaric world of existence. Thus, samsara seeks but ever fails to manifest the infinite circle or zero, void or emptiness in endless differentiation.

8. Who worshipped Heru-pa-kraath have worshipped me; ill, for I am the worshipper.

Through the kinetic the unrealized child-self (Gk. Harpokrates) realizes the not-self.

9. Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains.

Suffering is joy.

10. O prophet! thou hast ill will to learn this writing.

Emotion is falsehood.

11. I see thee hate the hand & the pen; but I am stronger.

Not-self is self.

12. Because of me in Thee which thou knewest not.

Not-self is will.

13. for why? Because thou wast the knower, and me.

Reason is madness.

14. Now let there be a veiling of this shrine: now let the light devour men and eat them up with blindness.

The shrine of the God is veiled and revealed in endless recurrence. Enlightenment and ignorance inhere in each other as the complementary antithetical potentials of transdual reality itself. The veiling is the devouring and the blindness of enlightenment itself.

15. For I am perfect, being Not; and my number is nine by the fools; but with the just I am eight, and one in eight: Which is vital, for I am none indeed. The Empress and the King are not of me; for there is a further secret.

HADIT is supermundane and absolute. He is the one in the eight, which is none – the axle of the eight-spoked wheel of dharma (vide supra, v. 7). The axle is not merely the central zero point. It is also the vector, which also is one.

16. I am The Empress & the Hierophant. Thus eleven, as my bride is eleven.

The path of initiation. The yabyum. Eleven = II, the gate (expansion of 2).

17. Hear me, ye people of sighing!
  The sorrows of pain and regret
Are left to the dead and the dying,
  The folk that not know me as yet.

The raft itself is destroyed in the act of “going across.” But to go across, one must build the raft. Suffering is itself samsaric. Enlightenment is the ultimate apostasy: “Let them who hear renounce their faith” (ye sotavanto pamuncantu saddham)” (Mahavagga, 1.5).

18. These are dead, these fellows; they feel not. We are not for the poor and sad: the lords of the earth are our kinsfolk.

Feel = Late OE “have a mental perception”; early 13th cent. “understanding.” Mid-15th cent. “action of feeling.” PIE, “to touch.” Almost “sentience” itself. The men of earth, made of insentient matter, are immersed in suffering and ignorance. They are “out of touch.” The living are the dead, while the dead live.

Ignorance is death.

19. Is a God to live in a dog? No! but the highest are of us. They shall rejoice, our chosen: who sorroweth is not of us.

God does not live in a dog, but a dog lives in God. The method of reversal.

20. Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor, force and fire, are of us.

Enlightenment is Wisdom, (Em)Power(ment), and Bliss.

21. We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world. Think not, o king, upon that lie: That Thou Must Die: verily thou shalt not die, but live! Now let it be understood: If the body of the King dissolve, he shall remain in pure ecstasy for ever. Nuit! Hadit! Ra-Hoor-Khuit! The Sun, Strength & Sight, Light; these are for the servants of the Star & the Snake.

The path of initiation is to die to suffering through the method of austerity (tapas). The experience of death is rebirth through the dissolution of attachment to the body. Those who realize the supermundane transdual binary reality  are enlightened, empowered, and “envisioned.” KIng = king-like bodhisattva. Also: the kshatriya, spiritual warrior, as was the Buddha. Snake = naga.

22. I am the Snake that giveth Knowledge & Delight and bright glory, and stir the hearts of men with drunkenness. To worship me take wine and strange drugs whereof I will tell my prophet, & be drunk thereof! They shall not harm ye at all. It is a lie, this folly against self. The exposure of innocence is a lie. Be strong, o man, lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture: fear not that any God shall deny thee for this.

The naga snake carries the amrita kumbha. The realization of the naga self connotes the ultimate emancipation, wisdom, and transmission that is the perfect bliss of self-realization. Snake = SNEG, “creeping thing,” alluding perhaps to the rising HADIT. “Strange drugs,” lit. “foreign or unknown.” Psychedelics?

23. I am alone: there is no God where I am.

The delusion of God as the creator (and therefore the deification of the creation) has led to philosophical materialism and ethical and political authoritarianism. The Buddhist view of theism is liberation from all authority.

24. Behold! these be grave mysteries; for there are also of my friends who be hermits. Now think not to find them in the forest or on the mountain; but in beds of purple, caressed by magnificent beasts of women with large limbs, and fire and light in their eyes, and masses of flaming hair about them; there shall ye find them. Ye shall see them at rule, at victorious armies, at all the joy; and there shall be in them a joy a million times greater than this. Beware lest any force another, King against King! Love one another with burning hearts; on the low men trample in the fierce lust of your pride in the day of your wrath.

The mahasiddha tramples convention through renunciation of the base nature, empowering themselves through extravagant and excessive behaviour. The Hermit = Atu IX of the Tarot. Hermit = Gk. eremos, “uninhabited, empty, desolate, bereft.” The wanderer of the waste. Cf. forest dweller, pratyekabuddha.

“One evening I was wandering in the forest when I saw a naked woman with many different bones tied to her body. By following her I arrived at a cave. By hiding myself, I could watch. Male and female yogins sat face to face and practiced samadhi. I saw them kiss and embrace and perform many rites. It is said that at times they laugh so loudly, “Ha ha,” that the rocks in the cave might fall. They are apparently yogins who practice the path of desire. They said that they were Buddhists, because in that region there actually is an unbroken tradition of instruction in Buddhist mantra.” (Gendun Chopel, 1903–1951)

25. Ye are against the people, O my chosen!

Renounce the common life. People = puthujjana.

26. I am the secret Serpent coiled about to spring: in my coiling there is joy. If I lift up my head, I and my Nuit are one. If I droop down mine head, and shoot forth venom, then is rapture of the earth, and I and the earth are one.

The kinetic kundalini potential is binary and vertical, but its essence is ecstatic. It is both elusive and active, potential and actual. The phallic vector.

27. There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason.

Reason, being dual, cannot penetrate the divine transdual. The map is not the territory (Korzybski). Reality is not a system (Tseten Thokmey).

28. Now a curse upon Because and his kin!

The transcendence of the egological mind…

29. May Because be accursèd for ever!

Opens the door of the deathless.

30. If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops & does nought.

Will = the volitional factor is kinetic. True will is ontological. Also: A method of initiation.

31. If Power asks why, then is Power weakness.

Realization empowers. Cf. Tao Te Ching, the sagacious ruler (cf. Plato’s philosopher king).

32. Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite & unknown; & all their words are skew-wise.

Science continuously reforms itself. Therefore, scientism is false. Language distorts reality. Language even distorts experience. Even experience distorts experience. Veils of ignorance.

33. Enough of Because! Be he damned for a dog!

Just as a dog inheres in a god, and a god inheres in a dog, so reason inheres in enlightenment, and enlightenment inheres in reason. The fools reject reason. The wise transcend reason. Yet both the fools and the wise damn reason. And so the wisdom of the wise is folly to the fools.

34. But ye, o my people, rise up & awake!

The transcendence of reason is mental clarity.

35. Let the rituals be rightly performed with joy & beauty!

Rituals are programs.

36. There are rituals of the elements and feasts of the times.

37. A feast for the first night of the Prophet and his Bride!

38. A feast for the three days of the writing of the Book of the Law.

39. A feast for Tahuti and the child of the Prophet—secret, O Prophet!

40. A feast for the Supreme Ritual, and a feast for the Equinox of the Gods.

41. A feast for fire and a feast for water; a feast for life and a greater feast for death.

42. A feast every day in your hearts in the joy of my rapture.

43. A feast every night unto Nu, and the pleasure of uttermost delight.

By ritual energy is generated, through feasts it is expended. The generation and expenditure of energy is the ritual life. The ritual life creates the context, framework or matrix of the mind. It both modifies and is the operating system.

44. Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is the dissolution, and eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu.

The middle or central verse of the Book of the Law declares deathlessness in the death of the ego-logical self. Dis + solvere = apart + loosen. Cf. Zoroaster: “Loosen the girders of the soul.” Also, dissolution = frivolity, moral laxness. By overcoming restriction one enters into the endless experience of the infinite, which is self beyond self and bliss beyond bliss.

45. There is death for the dogs.

The nature of the transitory is impermanence.

46. Dost thou fail? Art thou sorry? Is fear in thine heart?

47. Where I am these are not.

48. Pity not the fallen! I never knew them. I am not for them. I console not: I hate the consoled & the consoler.

49. I am unique & conqueror. I am not of the slaves that perish. Be they damned & dead! Amen. [This is of the 4: there is a fifth who is invisible & therein am I as a babe in an egg. ]

Detachment perfects dispassion. Amen has been related to Egyptian Amen and Indian Aum. The fifth principle is the alchemical quintessence, the kinetic principle, HADIT. The babe in the egg is the unborn self, the Tathagatagarbha. This self is not static (anatta). Its nature is “to go” (santana).

50. Blue am I and gold in the light of my bride: but the red gleam is in my eyes & my spangles are purple & green.

In the black light or energy of NU HADIT is blue like the sky and gold like the sun. The vision is energic and spacious and essentially empty, yet with the potential for vitality.

51. Purple beyond purple: it is the light higher than eyesight.

Purple is the least common colour in nature.

52. There is a veil: that veil is black. It is the veil of the modest woman; it is the veil of sorrow, & the pall of death: this is none of me. Tear down that lying spectre of the centuries: veil not your vices in virtuous words: these vices are my service; ye do well, & I will reward you here and hereafter.

Nirvana is samsara. Samsara is nirvana. The ground of the dual is the transdual. The transdual posits the dual.

53. Fear not, o prophet, when these words are said, thou shalt not be sorry. Thou art emphatically my chosen; and blessed are the eyes that thou shalt look upon with gladness. But I will hide thee in a mask of sorrow: they that see thee shall fear thou art fallen: but I lift thee up.

The beggar who conceals a king is the mahasiddha/samana.

54. Nor shall they who cry aloud their folly that thou meanest nought avail; thou shall reveal it: thou availest: they are the slaves of because: They are not of me. The stops as thou wilt; the letters change them not in style or value!

Transcendentalism overcomes rationalism through the power of truth.

55. Thou shalt obtain the order & value of the English Alphabet; thou shalt find new symbols to attribute them unto.

The dharma will be translated into English through a new transmission.

56. Begone! ye mockers; even though ye laugh in my honour ye shall laugh not long: then when ye are sad know that I have forsaken you.

Suffering is the sign of sin.

57. He that is righteous shall be righteous still; he that is filthy shall be filthy still.

58. Yea! deem not of change: ye shall be as ye are, & not other. Therefore the kings of the earth shall be Kings for ever: the slaves shall serve. There is none that shall be cast down or lifted up: all is ever as it was. Yet there are masked ones my servants: it may be that yonder beggar is a King. A King may choose his garment as he will: there is no certain test: but a beggar cannot hide his poverty.

The law of karma.

59. Beware therefore! Love all, lest perchance is a King concealed! Say you so? Fool! If he be a King, thou canst not hurt him.

60. Therefore strike hard & low, and to hell with them, master!

Altruistic versus ecstatic love.

61. There is a light before thine eyes, o prophet, a light undesired, most desirable.

The experience of enlightenment is simultaneously blissful and awful.

62. I am uplifted in thine heart; and the kisses of the stars rain hard upon thy body.

HADIT is the ATMAN that dwells in the heart, the centre of bliss. In the Indian tradition, the kundalini snake that arises in the abdomen rises to the heart in the experience of enlightenment, just as the phallus rises in tumescence. The meditation on the body is a distinguishing feature of the Buddhadharma (Buddhaghosa). Realization is physical.

63. Thou art exhaust in the voluptuous fullness of the inspiration: the expiration is sweeter than death, more rapid and laughterful than a caress of Hell’s own worm.

In Indian tradition, breath is the life of the soul. The Buddha called the meditation on the breathing “the Tathagata’s dwelling.” Of it he said that it could carry the aspirant all the way to emancipation. This verse refers to hyperventilation, subsequently popularized by Dr. Stanislav Grof as “holotropic breathwork.” Hatha yoga involves the induction of ecstatic states through he modification of breathing patterns. “Hell’s own worm” = kundalini. Lit. “possessed by the snake in the concealed place” (KEL AIK WER). Hell = the unconscious libido (psychic energy).

64. Oh! thou art overcome: we are upon thee; our delight is all over thee: hail! hail! prophet of Nu! prophet of Had! prophet of Ra-Hoor-Khu! Now rejoice! now come in our splendour & rapture! Come in our passionate peace, & write sweet words for the Kings!

“Come,” Skt. gamati, “he goes,” refers to the bindu oja, the essential ecstatic vitality of life and consciousness itself. In Cabala it is yod, in Tarot the Hermit. Cf. Lithuanian gemu, “to be born.” Puns of this sort are common in Crowley’s writings. “Oh!” is ayin, the Devil.

65. I am the Master: thou art the Holy Chosen One.

The channel of the divine transmission.

66. Write, & find ecstasy in writing! Work, & be our bed in working! Thrill with the joy of life & death! Ah! thy death shall be lovely: whoso seeth it shall be glad. Thy death shall be the seal of the promise of our agelong love. Come! lift up thine heart & rejoice! We are one; we are none.

All traditions agree that in death one encounters the infinite, at least momentarily.

67. Hold! Hold! Bear up in thy rapture; fall not in swoon of the excellent kisses!


68. Harder! Hold up thyself! Lift thine head! breathe not so deep—die!

Both yoga and Buddhist traditions state that in samadhi the breathing stops. A technique of breath control is implied. The phallic principle. Cf. Liber CCCLXX.

69. Ah! Ah! What do I feel? Is the word exhausted?

The scribe was entranced.

70. There is help & hope in other spells. Wisdom says: be strong! Then canst thou bear more joy. Be not animal; refine thy rapture! If thou drink, drink by the eight and ninety rules of art: if thou love, exceed by delicacy; and if thou do aught joyous, let there be subtlety therein!

71. But exceed! exceed!

72. Strive ever to more! and if thou art truly mine—and doubt it not, an if thou art ever joyous!—death is the crown of all.

73. Ah! Ah! Death! Death! thou shalt long for death. Death is forbidden, o man, unto thee.

The way is death, but death itself is only an appearance. The mind stream is inherently immortal.

74. The length of thy longing shall be the strength of its glory. He that lives long & desires death much is ever the King among the Kings.

The bodhisattva, transdual, seeks death in life and life in death and thus transcends both.

75. Aye! listen to the numbers & the words:

76. 4 6 3 8 A B K 2 4 A L G M O R 3 Y X 24 89 R P S T O V A L. What meaneth this, o prophet? Thou knowest not; nor shalt thou know ever. There cometh one to follow thee: he shall expound it. But remember, o chosen one, to be me; to follow the love of Nu in the star-lit heaven; to look forth upon men, to tell them this glad word.

Realize the infinite in the finite. “To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wildflower.” (Blake)

77. O be thou proud and mighty among men!

Gaze within and discover the true self in action = the true will.  Proud = Lat. prodesse, pro + esse, “for being.” Mighty = OE magen, “to be able.” Cf. Shakya, “able.” The Buddha denominated his followers as the able ones.

78. Lift up thyself! for there is none like unto thee among men or among Gods! Lift up thyself, o my prophet, thy stature shall surpass the stars. They shall worship thy name, foursquare, mystic, wonderful, the number of the man; and the name of thy house 418.

Aspire to the true individuality that is beyond devas and humans and leads to the realization of the infinite reality that lies beyond all of the categories of rational thought, through the realization of which humans realize their divine nature and become greater than gods. DEUS EST HOMO.

79. The end of the hiding of Hadit; and blessing & worship to the prophet of the lovely Star.

Chapter II of the Book of the Law begins with HADIT non-manifest, and ends with HADIT manifest. II = the gate or portal. Enlightenment is transmitted through the channel of the divine nature.

The essential significance of the second chapter of the Book of the Law concerns the manifestation of HADIT, the universal kinetic principle that is identified with the Tathagatagarbha, the “Buddha-embryo” or mind stream yet simultaneously the ontological root of samsaric differentiation. The bliss of universal love and compassion descends upon the automatic reflex nature or “unconscious. It is dynamic, empowering, and ecstatic.


Chakrasamvara Yabyum

References to the Tarot Trumps in Chapter II of the Book  of the Law

Fool: 15, 59

Magician: 7

Empress: 15, 16

King: 15, 21, 24, 58, 59, 74

Hierophant: 16

Strength 20, 21, 74

Hermit: 24

Wheel: 7

Just: 15

Death: 6, 41, 45, 52, 63, 66, 72,  73, 74

Star: 6, 21, 62, 76, 78, 79

Sun: 21

World: 21


1. Although that conclusion might be premature. The Comment advises against studying the Book but only says that those who “discuss” the Book are to be shunned, meaning “to investigate by argument,” discuss = KEWT, “to shake.” This work is a direct intuitive symbolic discovery of the Book of the Law, makes no claims or arguments, and enters into discussion with no one. Thus IMHO it falls under the permission implicit in the sentence, “Whoever disregards this does so as his own risk and peril. These are most dire.” Indeed.

2. Lit. “upon, above, over.”

Copyright © 2016 Bethelkhem. All rights reserved.

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