Simon E. wrote:That's what he said about Gurdjieff.
Personally, I think they were all a bunch of crashing bores who at best help to prepare the way for Buddhadharma, but who need dropping like hot shit if you want to understand Buddhadharma.
Definitely. But these early Western attempts to engage in Eastern Dharma should be saluted IMO, meanwhile Chesterton absolutely opposed them:
To the side of a mind concerned with idle merriment [sic!] there is certainly something a little funny in Mr. Crowley’s passionate devotion to deities who bear such names as Mout, and Nuit, and Ra, and Shu, and Hormakhou. They do not seem to the English mind to lend themselves to pious exhilaration. Mr. Crowley says in the same poem:
The burden is too hard to bear;
I took too adamant a cross ;
This sackcloth rends my soul to wear,
My self-denial is as dross.
O, Shu, that holdest up the sky,
Hold up thy servant, lest he die !
We have all possible respect for Mr. Crowley’s religious symbols and we do not object to his calling upon Shu at any hour of the night. Only it would be unreasonable of him to complain if his religious exercises were generally mistaken for an effort to drive away cats.
Moreover, the poets of Mr. Crowley’s school have, among all their merits, some genuine intellectual dangers from this tendency to import religious, this free-trade in Gods. That all creeds are significant and all Gods divine we willingly agree. But this is rather a reason for being content with our own than for attempting to steal other people’s. The affectation in many modern mystics of adopting an Oriental civilization and mode of thought must cause much harmless merriment among actual Orientals. The notion that a turban and a few vows will make an Englishman a Hindu is quite on a par with the idea that a black hat and an Oxford degree will make a Hindu an Englishman. We wonder whether our Buddhistic philosophers have ever read a florid letter in Baboo English. We suspect that the said type of document, is in reality exceedingly like the philosophic essays written by Englishmen about the splendours of Eastern thought. Sometimes European mystics deserve something worse than mere laughter at the hands of Orientals. If ever was a person whom honest Hindus would have been justified in tearing to pieces it was Madame Blavatsky.
That our world-worn men of art should believe for a moment that moral salvation is possible and supremely important is an unmixed benefit. If Mr. Crowley and the new mystics think for one moment that an Egyptian desert is more mystic than an English meadow, that a palm tree is more poetic than a Sussex beech, that a broken temple of Osiris is more supernatural than a Baptist Chapel in Brixton, then they are sectarians. . . . But Mr. Crowley is a strong and genuine poet, and we have little doubt that he will work up from his appreciation of the Temple of Osiris to that loftier and wider work of the human imagination, the appreciation of the Brixton Chapel.
He thought everything profound in Eastern thought was only read into it by Westerners, and displays a very parochial attitude in general to non-Christian ideas.
Incidentally Crowley was directly responsible for one of the first British monks to take his vows, Allan Bennett. He helped him find passage to Sri Lanka to ordain and study.