Knowledge is amoral. That is to say, it is neither good nor evil. It simply is. Mathematics is a form of knowledge. You can use mathematics to build a bomb or you can use mathematics to calculate the proportions of a painting. Knowledge is truly neutral; it is the definition of grey.
Knowledge is discovered through the experience of Law. To give an example: once the territories are defined, the land can be mapped out. Law defines the territory, makes the boundaries. Then you can make a map.
However, the map doesn’t tell you if the territory is cold or warm, or whether the people are friendly or not; it tells you where things are. The map provides useful information, but is not the sum total of information about the territory.
If you want to know more about the territory, you have to go there and experience the territory. You have to put the knowledge to use.In doing this, more knowledge is acquired. Hopefully, the combination of knowledge and experience will lead us toward Wisdom, which we will talk about later in this series.
However, if experience just leads to the collection of more knowledge, there is the danger of just becoming a collector. Someone who has a collection of knowledge, in the same way that there are butterfly collectors. (And the two are much alike in that they both end up killing that which was best left to itself.) The obsessive need to collect knowledge is one of the reasons why it is said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing – and why, sometimes, more can make it worse.
But, as we said earlier, knowledge is a tool. Like any tool, its use can be positive or negative. It all depends on the Will behind the operation and the intent and strength of the operator. Love should be the motivation, its expansiveness defined by law. Experience gained from the process of the interaction between Love and Law creates Knowledge as the process goes forward. Knowledge is to be valued and kept, but never collected for its own sake.
In some schools of Chaos Magic and Thelemic Qabalah, the demon Choronzon rules the Abyss, preventing the aspirant from advancing by entangling the aspirant in endless discussion and argument on obscure points of knowledge and doctrine. Aleister Crowley seems to imply that the demon Choronzon is the ego of the aspirant, making one last stand for itself, for the Ego’s unreality is the last realization before the big breakthrough.
It is a little unsettling to compare the work of the demon Choronzon, in this scenario, to what goes on in any Internet message board or chat room.
In any case, it makes an interesting point: knowledge needs to be acquired and used, but knowledge should not be allowed to gain mastery.
It is said in many witchcraft traditions that “the witch who cannot harm, cannot heal.” This is directly related to knowledge and its use. A physician, for example, learns many things that would make him an efficient and quite deadly murderer, but the physician’s oath directs him to use that knowledge toward healing and relieving distress.
In the study of magick, much knowledge can be acquired. Some of it, to be honest, may not be of much use. Some of it is harmful, and some of it is helpful. It is, however, important to be able to recognize the negative, just as a doctor recognizes the symptoms of illness in order to treat that illness.
In the discussion on Law we spoke on the importance of balance and how the universe seems to work toward keeping that balance. Knowing the difference between balance and imbalance – having and using that knowledge – helps us to maintain balance, both within ourselves and, by extension, in the world around us.