Eight Lectures On Yoga

Eight Lectures On Yoga Cover

Book: Eight Lectures On Yoga by Aleister Crowley

Crowley has a unique approach, a refreshing departure from most of the literature I've read on yoga. He is free of the empty bubbly optimism so often found associated with the subject, and yet he also manages to steer clear of the opposite extreme: being overly obsessed with the grave importance of the subject matter, and focusing on details (language, etc.) that are hard for beginners to absorb, thus obscuring the meaning behind those details. I think he clearly presents the basic tenets of yoga in a clear, modern voice. I enjoyed his insight, his humor, his practicality, and his human voice.

I don't think Crowley was at all condescending. I think the lectures are successfully aimed at a general audience. Remember that these are transcripts of lectures given to a small, private group. Although the audience was assumed to be unfamiliar with yoga (which makes the lectures good for someone new to the subject), they also shared some knowledge, and some of the references in the lectures are lost to readers who don't share that knowledge. I don't think this obscures any of the content, I don't think you're missing any vital information because you don't know what the "Equinox" is, and I don't think Crowley was doing it to "show off" or to appear superior. He was just addressing his audience. Any lectures that are truly "lectures" will have this drawback: they were meant for a specific group, most likely not the group that will be reading those same lectures in book form. If this is a major drawback for you, consider another text on yoga. I didn't think that it detracted from the book.

Gsibbery seems to have little understanding of Crowley and the law of Thelema--"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." Yogaic Union and the Thelema are not contradictory in the slightest. "Do what thou wilt" does not mean do whatever your foolish human body desires; it means strive to discover and achieve your True Will, which can be likened to the "voice of god" within you (in religious terms). Yogaic Union with your body and with reality is essential for discovering your True Will and your holy purpose on this planet. No contradiction there.

This book is an excellent example of Crowley's two main strengtss as a writer: to get to the heart of an apparently obscure subject, and the use of humor to disarm the audience and provoke insight. The latter of these can, if the reader takes it too seriously, detract from the former. The first half of the book, "Yoga for Yahoos", is the strongest by far. Here crowley explains the practical "limbs" of yoga that are nessecary preperations for practice. The exposition is lucid. The second, "Yoga for Yellowbellies", suffers from the inability of language to describe anything which is super rational. "Yellowbellies" tends to ramble a bit, especially when the Beast begins weaving in modern physics. You have to get to the end to come to the realization that, for the most part, this synthesis is a literary joke. Yoga is beyond science and reason. Again, for those with little sense of humor, this can be frustrating. However, the final stroke, the proof that Yoga dovetails with, and perfectly justifies, the Law of Thelema, is an ecstatic literary experince you shouldn't miss. The technique of progressive visualization is very useful as well.

Crowley does introduce a lot of other subjects, such as astrology and physics. This is unusual, but I think it can lead to new insights. People approach yoga from many different backgrounds, and some analogies and connections work for some people, and won't work for other people. I was able to skim over the parts that didn't have meaning for me, and still take away the new aspects he revealed by other means.

I would not recommend this book to anyone seeking an introduction to yoga. The way to learn yoga is to do it. Once you get comfortable doing it and youve read a few introductory books & would like to think more deeply about the philosophy behind yoga, then go ahead & read this book. But you might not enjoy it unless you are familiar with Crowley's works. I'd recommend "Cosmic Trigger" by Robert Anton Wilson as a good introduction to mad Uncle Aleister.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. However, I bought it used, for a few dollar. It was definitely worth that.

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Aleister Crowley - The Equinox Vol Iii No Iv Eight Lectures On Yoga
Aleister Crowley - Eight Lectures On Yoga

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