Note: As a former very dedicated member of the Golden Dawn tradition, I am not bad mouthing the Order or any lodge. I merely have a criticism regarding a statement and its impacts on that tradition.
The famed Israel Regardie once wrote, "“I further promise and swear that with the Divine Permission, I will from this day forward, apply myself to the Great Work, which is: to purify and exalt my Spiritual Nature so that with the Divine Aid I may at length attain to be more than human, and thus gradually raise and unite to my Higher and Divine Genius, and that in this event I will not abuse the great power entrusted to me.”
When I first aspired to be a member of an order this quote appealed to me be more than human. Wow! I worked laboriously toward that goal, even when I didn't realize I was doing so. Somehow spirituality came to mean more than human.
Having now been provided a glimpse of my own spirituality I find the quote not only absurd but harmful. More than human implies 'better than' other humans. More than human sets a goal of arrogance. A goal met far too often within the tradition. I have participated in and seen far less humility in all forms forms of occult traditions and occult work in general than I care to admit. Given so many of traditions or ways of working in the West can trace roots back to the Golden Dawn, I am beginning to wonder if quotes like this have played a part in creating such a scene.
With my first tiny inroad into anything approaching 'attainment', whatever that is, it has become obviously apparent that one cannot be more than human. The highest levels of the soul are human. The only thing we can do is divest ourselves of the dust and dirt that make us appear less so. All we can do is remove the blockages that prevent full manifestation of our higher selves. This isn't being more than human it is being human in a fuller sense of the word.
That fuller sense has nothing to do with power whatsoever.
Spirituality has everything to do with being whole. Wholey? It means that our souls align in such a way that they can talk to each other. It means that our personalities can hear our pure spirit and live within what they hear.
The magickal hierarchies of the Golden Dawn is a metaphor to our own soul work. For instance, in GD work it is said that one calls the divine name of a sephiroth and then calls the archangel of the sphere and finally the associated choir of angels. In planetary magick, there is a hierarchy of spirits to call as well.
It is said this is done because if you only call the lowest spirit associated with the energies you want, it becomes a 'blind force'. This is like invoking lightening. It will get to the ground but it doesn't care if you're in the way or not. You can get fried. By calling controlling forces first, you can direct your magick to benevolent ends.
So to is it with the soul. When you listen to your higher self, it sets limits upon your personality which limits the animal soul which limits ones actions toward benevolent purpose. This isn't being more than human it is allowing all the facets of one's humanness to work together to express one's soul purpose.
There is no arrogance in this for one quickly learns that all humans are ever so close to the divine. We are but a step, maybe two, away. The sameness of our lot makes these ever so slight measures of 'progress' meaningless.
To seek to be more than human is arrogance. To live as if you have no higher soul folly. To live wholly is our natural state and such oaths as mentioned above merely get in our way.