The most powerful weapon in the hand of the student is the Vow of Holy Obedience1; and many will wish that they had the opportunity of putting themselves under a holy guru. Let them take heart —for any being capable of giving commands is an efficient guru for the purpose of this Vow, provided that he is not too amiable and lazy.
The only reason for choosing a guru who has himself attained is that he will aid the vigilance of the sleepy chela2, and, while tempering the Wind to that shorn lamb, will carefully harden him, and at the same time gladden his ears with holy discourse. But if such a person is inaccessible, let him choose any one with whom he has constant intercourse, explain the circumstances, and ask him to act.
The person should if possible be trustworthy; and let the chela remember that if he should be ordered to jump over a cliff it is very much better to do it than to give up the practice.
And it is of the very greatest importance not to limit the vow in any way. You must buy the egg without haggling.
In a certain Society56 the members were bound to do certain things, being assured that there was “nothing in the vow contrary to their civil, moral, or religious obligations.” So when anyone wanted to break his vow he had no difficulty in discovering a very good reason for it. The vow lost all its force.
When Buddha took his seat under the blessed Bo-Tree, he took an oath that none of the inhabitants of the 10,000 worlds should cause him to rise until he had attained; so that when even Mara the great Arch-Devil, with his three daughters the arch-temptresses appeared, he remained still.
Now it is useless for the beginner to take so formidable a vow; he has not yet attained the strength which can defy Mara. Let him estimate his strength, and take a vow which is within it, but only just within it. Thus Milo began by carrying a new-born calf; and day by day as it grew into a bull, his strength was found sufficient.
56 Page 69. The Society referred to was the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
Publication: Magick Liber Aba Book Four (Second revised edition) (pp. 68, 69)