The True Will
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The True Will is the most central and fundamental idea of Thelema. The entire philosophy of Thelema is directed toward the individual discovering and accomplishing their Will. There is no one absolute definition, but the True Will is generally understood as the individual’s purpose in life, the fulfillment of their Nature, the actualization of their potential, the attainment of their true Motion, or the realization of their destiny.
- Will is not want: The Will is primarily distinguished from “want” or “wish.” The Will is essentially “the dynamic aspect of the self”– Liber II and so encompasses the entirety of one’s Being. One’s conscious wishes or desires are simply one small part of one’s Being, and they may or may not be in harmony with one’s Will. The task of the Thelemite is therefore, to engage in the process of self-knowledge and self-discovery to find one’s true needs and to then fulfill them. As Crowley wrote in Magick Without Tears: “What is necessary is not to seek after some fantastic ideal, utterly unsuited to our real needs, but to discover the true nature of those needs, to fulfill them, and rejoice therein.”– MWT, Ch. 8
- Self-discipline: While the Law means that each individual has great liberty as to the nature of what their Will may be, Thelema also enjoins each individual to only do that Will and do nothing else. This inherently requires great self-discipline as the ideal of a Thelemite is for them to “Do what thou wilt— then do nothing else”– Liber II. The task therefore involves a systematic and continual process of getting rid of all parts of one’s life, both inner and outer, that impede or thwart the fulfillment of the Will and the cultivation of those parts that aid in its fulfillment. As Crowley wrote: “What is true for every School is equally true for every individual. Success in life, on the basis of the Law of Thelema, implies severe self-discipline.”– MWT, Ch. 8
- Freedom of self-expression: The Law of Thelema implies that each individual has “the right to live by his own law— to live in the way that he wills to do”– Liber OZ. This means that each individual has the right to think, speak, and act in accordance with their Will. Thelemites therefore inherently support freedom of speech. In addition, Thelemites uphold the right of every individual to love as they will: this means that all forms of gender identity and sexuality are acceptable within Thelema insofar as they are true expressions of one’s Will.
The duty of each individual is, therefore, to discover what their True Will is in terms of its expression in thought, word, and deed and then to adhere to it.
Next article: The Thelemic Universe
Love is the law, love under will.