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.
Virtue #4: Openness – Continued
I wanted to add to what I had already written on the Virtue of Openness. In the first post on this Virtue, I zeroed in on magic and the importance of allowing for unpredictable pathways for the manifestation of the intentions that we set. This is only one aspect of openness, and it’s not even the most important part.
The preceding post works well enough if you take the broadest possible view of what magic really is–pure manifestation of events or circumstances in accordance with the Will, as opposed to the explicit ritual techniques we usually describe by the name “magic.” Still, if that be the case, then it’s worth fleshing out this virtue in terms other than that.
The “main course” in the book Uncle Setnakt’s Essential Guide to the Left Hand Path is a set of instructions for carrying out a rite called The Grand Initiation. This can be viewed as a Left Hand Path analog to The Sacred Magic of Abremalin the Mage, a time-honored rite for achieving the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the rite itself, because it’s a long process and I’d want to do it justice. However, one important part of this rite is called “The Rule of the New:” In short, the practitioner vows to take up any new opportunities that present themselves throughout the long rite if those opportunities are things they otherwise wouldn’t do. The example given by Webb is that if you aren’t normally into bowling and your colleagues invite you out to bowl, then you’ve got to bowl.
This same attitude of openness to new experiences and new perspectives is what is really important when it comes to this Virtue. This is basically about growing, a process that should not always be comfortable. Point blank, if we’re always comfortable, then we definitely aren’t growing.
To reach or approach mastery in any domain is a laudable achievement for the simple reason that so few people ever make this a goal at all. If we master anything in life, it is likely to be a thing that we enjoy, or in some area in which we possess an inborn talent. Notable as this may be, it is dwarfed by any person who masters something they don’t particularly enjoy, or something that gave them serious grief along the way. This latter person will have learned more, undergone more growth, and achieved more than in the former example.
There’s a lot of value in taking a path one would never have imagined for oneself. It can open doors you didn’t even know existed, sending you down hallways you never guessed you’d enjoy so much.
My entire secular career up to this point came about in just that way. I’d been volunteering at the Theosophical Society in America when a temporary position running their mail room opened up. Just as that gig was ending, the Society’s Member Services Coordinator resigned unexpectedly, and everyone who worked there was telling me I should apply for that job. The thought would never have occurred to me if no one had said anything, because I simply didn’t see myself as qualifying for a job on such a professional level–before my mailroom gig, my biggest on-the-job responsibility had been counting the inventory of popcorn tubs as supervisor of the concession stand at a movie theater. Simply because so many people were encouraging me to give it a shot, I applied. I got the job. I found myself responsible for the membership and donation database and all membership recordkeeping and processing for a nonprofit organization. Since then, I’ve gone on to do the same thing for a prominent women’s foundation and a world-class museum. Now I am in school to become a counselor, but in the meantime, I have pretty nice job security given my unique professional skill set–and it is all something I never would have imagined myself doing. The opportunity was there, I did the opposite of cowering from it, and I’m much happier and more well-rounded an individual for the trouble.
Beyond taking unexpected opportunities, another important aspect of openness is being open-minded; we should work against settling into a comfortable-but-stagnant worldview that allows us to eventually slog through life on autopilot. We should question what we believe and what we think we know by entertaining ideas and philosophies outside of those we’ve already adopted. Bonus points are awarded for genuinely engaging and exploring ideas that we are actively resistant to. Even if we don’t change our minds, we’ll have broadened them, and our original position should actually be strengthened for having entertained the opposite possibilities.
There’s such a thing as being too open, and this Virtue is not asking us to suspend critical thinking. It is simply asking that we work to remain fluid and flexible, so that we remain firmly engaged in the process of Becoming, rather than simply abiding in the state of Being.