In one of the Left Hand Path online groups I’m involved with, this issue of right vs. left-hand path approaches was brought up. Specifically someone posted the article linked below. The article in question calls into question the idea of a Left vs. Right hand path, seeing more of a unity of it all (i.e. “using both hands.”):
I have issues with the above article, as I think it misses some major points with the idea of the Left Hand Path. Before getting into my complaints however, I’d like to give the author some credit when he confronts the confusion about religions often cast as “Right Hand Path.”
Union with God
The author of the article linked above (Jason Miller) critiques a sacred cow of some LHP groups. Namely Dr. Stephen Flowers and others of the Temple of Set contest that right hand path religions (like Christianity, Buddhism and such) are defined as right-hand path in part, due to their idea of finding unity with something (be it God, or existence itself.)
Richard Miller attacks that notion with, “For my money, no-one has ever dissolved their individuality nor crystallized their personal ego into eternity.”
On this point, I think he’s right. No orthodox Christian is going to espouse they are willing to merge into God, or “become one with God.” That sounds more like the teachings of the Christian mystic, which is a far cry from the orthodoxy.
Buddhism, likewise, has no teachings on the matter of lost consciousness, ego or the merging into oblivion. This is a misunderstanding of the nature of Nirvana… I discuss that a bit in a different article of mine called Buddhism Misunderstood.
The closest identifier of “union” in many of these religions of the RHP, is in the use of collectivism. Often they operate as a single organism. While there are individuals who will differ from the main creed, those individuals tend to weed themselves out of the collective.
What’s left is a body that believes in the orthodoxy over the religion principals – case in point is the modern evangelical that was led to vote a specific way, even for a candidate that is 90% opposite of their own faith’s goals.
In this way there is a unity, but no more than in the present moment. There is no full dissolution of self, that the LHP often decries of the RHP.
The Left-Hand Path
Mr. Miller also brings up a valuable point that there’s a difference in Easter and Western views of the so-called Left-Hand-Path. In the East the idea of LHP is over the rituals and actions, and in the west it is over the goal.
I came to this in a rather dodgy conversation once with a Hindu who know of the LHP… and from his perspective it meant those who eat human flesh, have wild sex, consume drugs and anything else that’s taboo.
This, of course, is not the LHP in the West. The West uses the same terminology to reference the goal, not the methods to get there. The goal of the LHP in the West is individual identity that persists after death – and for many people on the LHP it involves apotheosis.
Where I disagree with Jason Miller, is in his dismissal of the ideas of Left and Right. Miller contends that there really is no difference in the west here, and it’s simply play. Rather that divide magic, he embraces both sides, i.e. he uses “both his hands.”
Part of my response to this article is the following:
My goal is to become an individual, exist beyond the body after death, and ascend into self-deification. I will bow to no Deity, but am humbled (respectful) by spiritual force during this process of growth. I would operate under personal gnosis to this gain (not following the dogma or the path of another’s attainment.) Taking advice, teachings, etc from others, I carve out the path to these goals, but it is my path to self attainment.Me (Skotadi)
With those goals outlined, what religion would agree? What mystic would agree? While I’m not into tantra LHP (pleasure seeking, alcohol based ritual, sex magic, etc.) my goals are still about individual gnosis and self-deification. I know of know other category of myself than LHP.
the idea of holding hands with the RHP feels horrible to me. Because I equate RHP with the slavish obedience to some creed.
As we can quickly see, there is a significant difference in left and right hand approaches. The right-hand paths works as a collective, and while they may not melt into a sea of nothingness (as some sort of goal), the Right-hand path would also find it horrid to consider apotheosis.
Standing and Kneeling
As someone responded to the article, “you can not stand and kneel at the same time.” To which Miller himself responded saying that devotion was part of the LHP, but now modernists decry the act of devotion in favor of a stark separation of Left vs. Right.
The truth however is that devotion doesn’t require one to bend the knee to a master. Nor does it require one to bow to a god. Devotion can be accomplished (in the LHP) without the need being a servant to a guru, god, or holy being.