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Aleister Crowley

Education and Mental (De) Programing

Enchant, Inspire

British occultist Aleister Crowley is the improbable mentor of an entire generation of children who seek their own individuality instead of conformism or submission.

We all ascribe education with great importance. So much that, when we list the problems (or solutions) for a developing country, we generally start by mentioning it. Unfortunately, when it comes to public policies, we have plenty to say about education in terms of quantitative criteria, but rarely does the discussion focus on its quality, and even less on its approach.

As a matter of fact, in most cases, education is concerned with boxing us into the dominant socioeconomic and cultural system. And while receiving an adequate education increases one’s possibilities of success within the aforementioned system, in many cases the educational structure ignores the individual development of a person —what Jung referred to as individuation.

With the rise of informational theory, nowadays we have at our disposal metaphors that describe learning processes bordering on indoctrination and mental programming, while simultaneously we understand that we are mimetic and memetic beings —we not only learn by imitating others, but also through the transmission of cultural genes (also known as memes). Additionally, we are aware that we are absorbed by cultural environments that transmit information which, in turn, transforms us.

John Lilly, a neuroscientist from Cal-Tech University, coined the term “human biocomputer,” which describes the human brain, an organ that, according to its experience, is constantly being programmed; therefore it must also be deprogrammed.

One of the things we have inherited from modern education —Aristotelian logic—dictates that things are a certain way, and not any other way. The word “is”, in its affirmation, implies an absolute identity or an ontological exclusivity —marginalizing the self from the world of paradoxes where, for example, Taoism, Zen and quantum physics reside.

In the words of Robert Anton Wilson:

“Is”, “is”, “is” —the idiocy of the word chases me. If it could be eradicated, human thought would start to make sense. I don’t know what anything “is”. I only know what something seems to me at that moment.

Another consequence of this excluding logic is that it results in should, an imperative, a map depicting how the world should be and how we should adjust ourselves to it. This evidently discourages doubt and self-knowledge: emanating a series of rules or a blueprint we must follow. Instead, we should have a guide that can teach us not to follow a specific path, but to learn how to move on our own through space.

In accordance with the latter, we find in Aleister Crowley an unexpected teacher. Few figures have been as controversial as this British occultist who, despite the many accusations of indecency, always maintained, through his individualism, coherence. The following could be a commitment to a self-renewing evolution, an inspiring guide on how children should be educated in the following decades.

Each child must develop its own Individuality, and Will, disregarding alien Ideals… Education is assisting a soul to express itself. Every child should be presented with all possible problems and allowed to register its own reactions; it should be made to face all contingencies in turn until it overcomes each successfully. Its mind must not be influenced, but only offered all kinds of nourishment. Its innate qualities will enable it to select the food proper to its nature. Respect its individuality! Submit all life for its inspection, without comment. From infancy children should face facts, unadulterated by explanations. Let them think and act for themselves; let their innate integrity initiate itself! Make them explore all life’s mysteries, overcome all its dangers. Falsity and fear are their only foe—men. Let them witness birth, marriage, death; let them hear poetry, philosophy, history; compel apprehension but not its articulate expression. Make them face cliffs, billows, animals, finding their own formula of conquest. Thrust Truth on them tirelessly, careful only to make its range all comprehensive; trust them to use it… Let children educate themselves to be themselves. Those who train them to standards cripple and deform them. Alien ideals impose parasitic perversions. Every child is a Sphinx; none knoweth its secret but itself.

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