For some time now I have been musing on the ideas of Left Hand and Right Hand Paths. If you look it up on wikipedia (NOT a great source by the way but one EVERYONE goes to first it seems) It gives you a glossy basic description. In short it comes down to this:
- Advancement of self vs. advancement of spirituality
- Seeking material or “terrestrial” goals vs. observance of strict moral codes of deprivation
- Becoming “akin” to Gods vs. blind faith and obedience to a higher power
- Exoteric- leading to flexible moral codes vs. Esoteric beliefs in divine retribution, karma, 3-fold law
- You are your salvation, here and now vs. belief in divine salvation for the worthy and damnation for others
The history given of the use of the terms is basic and incomplete and although mentions the Hindu Tantric history, doesn’t go deep enough into the concept of “Varma-Marga” (Left-Path) where there is a clear definition and not the watery connotation “Left-Hand Path” has developed in Western practice. It is an approach to and liberating force of spiritual awakening that dates back for over 2000 years.
Stephen Flowers in his book entitled “Lords of the Left Hand Path” describes the “criteria for becoming one of those Lords:
This first criterion will be seen to have four distinct elements: 1) Self-deification—attainment of an enlightened (or awakened), independently existing intellect and its relative immortality. 2) Individualism—the enlightened intellect is that of a given individual, not a collective body 3) Initiation—the enlightenment and strength of essence necessary for the desired state of evolution of self are attained by means of stages created by the will of the magician, not because he or she was “divine” to begin with. 4) Magic- practitioners of the left-hand path see themselves as using their own wills in a rationally intuited system or spiritual technology designed to cause the universe around them to conform to their self-willed patterns.
Initiation is through the deliberate violation of social and internal taboos to separate one from normal values and extend one’s experiences and expand one’s inner power and strength. It is about BECOMING. Becoming you to your full ability, awakening the unconscious within yourself and understanding what drives you. It is going against the orthodoxy which in itself is that heard mentality and not needing to think. I love the statement by the Schrecks in their book “Demons of the Flesh” :
“In this sense, the left hand path represents deliberate heresy against the dominant culture of the practitioner.”
It is seen as dangerous to social control and religious dogma and so has been frowned upon because it leads you to question, to explore, to reach into and beyond yourself and everything around you. Yes, it even is seen as “Evil” for these same reasons. I’m not saying that there aren’t other reasons that lead the left to be seen as the bad side. The classical world has long considered the left side as unlucky. In fact, there is a linguistic connection between the “left” and “sinister”. Long in the Arab world, the left hand would be used to wipe after deficating (since the right hand was the primarily dominant hand) and it would be discusting to eat or shake hands with that hand. The right hand was considered the “clean” and therefor more Godly hand.
As for the ultimate goal of the follower of a left hand path religion and how it differs from right hand followers, it is a matter of being or blending. The right hand follower believes that each individual will merge within the cosmic whole and become part of it. “All is one”. The Left hand believer however seeks to seperate themselves from the universal mish mash and stand above.
One of the control mechanisms which has been used on thetans is that when they rise in potential they are led to believe themselves one with the universe. This is distinctly untrue. Thetans are individuals. They do not, as they rise up the scale, merge with other individualities. They have the power of becoming anything they wish while still retaining their own individuality. They are first and foremost themselves. There is evidently no Nirvana. It is the feeling that one will merge and lose his own individuality that restrains the thetan from attempting to remedy his lot. His merging with the rest of the universe would be his becoming matter. This is the ultimate in cohesiveness and the ultimate in affinity, and is at the lowest point of the Tone Scale. One declines into a brotherhood with the universe. When he goes up scale, he becomes more and more an individual capable of creating and maintaining his own universe.
-L Ron Hubbard, Scientology 8-8008 ©1989
This “sinister current” as it is sometimes referred to seeks to evolve humanity to the next level and the next. Because of the individualistic nature, this path is not suited for everyone. It does not work well for those weak in character or fearful of confrontation in most cases. Everyone has a different disposition and nature. Then, of course, you have to be brave enough to break out of that heard animal mentality and question everything and confront it. Embrace life, your body, your environment, the world as the means to illumination.
Here is my own personal stumbling stone with the left hand path. I’m not sure I have the fortitude to persist and break those taboos that chain me to the ground and keep me from rising above. I’m not a confrontational person. Not that I’m not dangerous in my own right if angered, don’t think for a second that I’m a puff ball, but I know I will have roadblocks that will be difficult for me to pass through. I suppose if it were easy then the path would suit any namby pamby that wanted to come off as a “Baddy” to others. I know of many methods I want to try and actually have thought about crossing those lines many times before, just haven’t had the availability of assistance. I’ve long known that the only way to progress personally is to experience and push boundaries. Maybe I will fit in just fine.