Most known for his non-fiction book The Outsider in which he writes about social alienation, English novelist and philosopher Colin Wilson also wrote several books about spirituality, chief among them The Occult: A History. His beliefs on modern man are capsulized in this quote by E.E. Rehmus in The Magician’s Dictionary under the entry for Magic:
Modern civilization induces an attitude of passivity. When a Stone Age hunter set out to trap wild animals, he was aware of his will as a living force. When the prehistoric farmer scored the surface of the earth with a crude plough, he knew that his family’s survival through the winter depended on his effort, and his will responded to the challenge. When a modern city dweller walks down a crowded throroughfare, he feels no sense of challenge or involvement. This city was built by other people; all these shops and offices are owned by other people. He can get through an ordinary’s day work in a state approximating sleep. Most of his routine tasks are carried out by the ‘robot.’ There is neither the need or the opportunity to use the will.
What is the will? Rehmus defines Will in The Magician’s Dictionary as:
Another word for persistence and maintained attention. Will is one of the two natural human powers for altering reality (the other is imagination). When faced with an insoluble problem or great odds against us, it is the Will alone that leads us through to solution and victory. As the imagination is the power of the mind through understanding and enlightenment, the Will is the way of material action. There is no will without physical effort of some kind exerted over physical phenomena.
We live in environmentally and spiritually toxic circumstances (especially those of us in urban locales), and yet these conditions are what spur us on to activate the innovative dynamism inherent in our culture. It is easy for our higher ideals to degenerate when we are not made to justify our selves in some form or another.
How do we wake up from our robot states and find the need and opportunity to use our will? We do this by creating more heroic conditions in our lives, by demonstrating courage in the face of challenges as we develop our tenacity of spirit. We remember that these tests of focused power are important due to the lessons we learn along the journey toward our goals, not in the achievement of them. We believe we must dare to fail and if or when we do err, then we look for a learning opportunity in the midst of failure. Then we summon the energy to try again while applying that knowledge as wisdom.
There are infinite paths to walk in order to develop and sustain the will. What individual methods work for you?