This series of posts is based on a list of initiatory Vices and Virtues of the Left Hand Path found in Uncle Setnakt’s Essential Guide to the Left Hand Path by Don Webb. It is done with the permission of the publisher, Lodestar. If these posts pique your interest in the Left Hand Path, please look for the book at Lodestar’s site, http://www.seekthemystery.com , or at Amazon. I highly recommend it, along with many others.
Vice #5: Attachment to the Thoughts of Another
I wasn’t sure what this one meant when I first read the heading in the book—it could mean a few different things. I will let Don Webb’s words explain what is meant:
When you have had your eyes opened to the fact that the world is very different than society would have you believe, it is very tempting to embrace the first coherent thought system you encounter. People may pick Crowley, Gurdjieff, Plato, Sartre, Whitehead, or some nut on Access TV that channels kazillion-year-old Lemurians, but in each case, they have stopped thinking on their own, and replaced thought with a language game that requires memory and repetition.
Boy, have I seen a lot of this! It hasn’t been a typical pattern of mine, but I must confess that the years I spent in the Theosophical Society were really close. It seems very common.
This is tricky, because when you find “home,” you find home. I’m not faulting people who discover a new (to them) system or ideology and find that it fits them perfectly ever after. In a way, I think they’re blessed, as I have never been so satisfied. Sometimes I wish I could be. Life would be easier.
Ah, but we don’t walk the LHP to make life easier; we walk it to make life better. They aren’t the same thing.
I don’t know how to describe my time in the T.S. On the one hand, Theosophy was literally the most comprehensive system I had yet discovered that tied spirituality, science and philosophy together in a pursuit for deeper truth. On the other hand, that’s not what the organization ended up embodying in practice. Other members challenged my intellect, the writers affiliated with the Society routinely covered bases I hadn’t considered, and before long, I started to think someone there might have some corner on the truth after all. Unfortunately, as things stand now, there is an esoteric order (called the Esoteric Society) at the heart of the T.S., and its aims are not really the same as those of the T.S. They are contradictory in some ways. There are also legions of T.S. members who aspire to the E.S., and this means believing in certain things, like The Masters. When I started seeing this, I just couldn’t get on board. I was well-known in the Society, giving national lectures and managing their social network in addition to the duties of my actual job there, and I probably could have worked my way up if I’d wanted to—I was being groomed for leadership already–but the thought prison was too much. I still had questions Theosophists couldn’t answer. I had to move on.
This subject connects with Initiation itself in interesting ways. To me, the process of Initiation is kind of like a gradual “broadening.” At the crossing of each distinct “threshold” of Initiation, there is a sudden expansion—of possibility, of potential, of the world itself—it’s like unlocking a new level in a video game. Suddenly there are new environs to explore, with new eyes, and new tools that you didn’t have at your disposal before. Upon experiencing this for the first time, I suppose I can see why someone might not expect that there are other levels still to unlock. That first Initiatory quantum leap is a doozy, leaving you feeling on top of the world. If you found your way to it via some system, you’re very likely to equate the Initiatory experience with the system itself. An understandable mistake, but a mistake nonetheless.
The second initiatory leap is sometimes an accident, and the first inkling to the Initiate that this can happen more than once. Thing is, every time it happens, the next one requires all the more work. It’s almost like an exponential scale.
This vice warns us never to become passive, simply absorbing what someone else teaches. Many who walk the LHP won’t find such a state of being tasteful to begin with, and don’t need to be told this is a vice; eagerly seeking, assimilating and growing, pressing on to new vistas of thought through one’s own curiosity and effort is a natural trait of many drawn to the LHP. We keep a sense of adventure about life, and when our shoes no longer fit, we go find some snazzy new ones.
One considerable hitch here is in encountering the first LHP organization that has a coherent thought system. After seeking basically my entire life for someone, somewhere who understood things I was feeling and experiencing, but without looking at them as spiritual flaws, I eagerly lapped up everything I could find, and I have caught myself asking, “What would be the Setian thing to do?” This. Is. A. Mistake. Don’t do it! The Setian thing to do is never to first ask what the Setian thing to do is (full disclosure: The author is not a Setian, but this is the impression that he gets).
Join a group if it fits well enough, but one hard truth of the LHP is that ultimately, our path is ours to walk alone. That is part of its essence. Embrace it, cherish it, and grow ever stronger.