The Laboratorian:

A great deal of blather about the practices of Raja Yoga exist, and a great way to fuck someone up at worst, or impede their progress at best, is to provide them a gate into a dangerous territory then give them a sloppy map. Much of it, sadly, can be traced back to Crowley’s histrionic rubies-in-the-shit approach to writing. Look at Robert Anton Wilson’s Prometheus Rising, and the confusion leaps out at anyone with experience. Wilson claims that counting the breath, a technique to aid concentration in novices, is a watered-down form of pranayama, which according to him is the real means to achieve these lofty states. He asserts that mantra, a form of concentration, is a device used for achieving pratyahara. While I respect some of Wilson’s acid-drenched project, and realize that he often claimed to have both provided disinformation and hidden messages in his texts to spurn further research (like any Joyce scholar would), I also believe that at times he simply hid his sloppiness (New Falcon was his publisher, for christ’s sake) behind these conceits. I also disagree intensely with publishing a mass-market book with disinformation-it is one thing to send a student on fool’s errands, it is another to knowingly deceive thousands with whom one has no relationship. To provide my personal example, after reading Prometheus Rising I began practicing pranayama with a mantra for ninety minutes a day, getting up at four thirty in the morning to get in the time, then hoping in the shower and going to work. I had no clue that focusing on a mantra would induce all manner of altered states, because I always assumed it was, per Wilson, the pranayama that did that. Likewise, reading a sloppy account of the actual territory of the altered states like the one Crowley offers in Book 4 helps little. The fact that a real madman, Austin Osman Spare, provides clearer instruction in doing this type of thing with his coded passages on the Death Posture-which is really just advice in what Daniel Ingram outlines as ‘Buddhist Magick 101’-should say something about just how clear the advice that the Post-Theosophist crew offer is.

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