Sunday, October 4, 2009

More on RHP and LHP

Wow. What i thought was basically a junk post generated a lot of commentary. Most of that commentary travels far from the original post though and into areas that just don't interest me much.

I do have a few points though.

  • By defining LHP and RHP as how one relates to the passions in practice - I am not giving my opinion. That is what it is in Tantra, which is where, as far as I am aware, the terms come from. Its not about socizal acceptability because sex for instance is perfectly socially acceptable - its just not often thought of a sacred in the way that Chastity is. Chastity and sex Magick are both valid paths, but one is RHP and another is LHP. Any thoughts of LHP/RHP being self serving vs other serving, or socially acceptable vs. acceptable, or ego deifying vs seeking ego destruction stray very far from the real meaning.
  • The fact that some people have issues with sex and alcohol are excellent reasons not to engage in LHP practices. Those practices were never meant for the mainstream and they are dangerous for a reason. However, the fact that some have problems, doesnt invalidate the LHP for those of us who don't. Leave me my sacred substances and sex. I dont need to push them on you, please dont push the opposite on me.
  • As far as the up-coming class goes, the there will be a couple units devoted to sex magick. No homework however will be drawn from those lessons, so whether you actually put them to practice or not is up to you.
  • Ultimately the dichotomy is abandoned when the adept is ready to deal with reality as such, neither renouncing nor transforming the passions, but this is an even more difficult route than LHP itself. It is like walking the razors edge - which is probably why I dig it.


Apuleius Platonicus said...

"By defining LHP and RHP as how one relates to the passions in practice - I am not giving my opinion. That is what it is in Tantra, which is where, as far as I am aware, the terms come from. Its not about socizal acceptability because sex for instance is perfectly socially acceptable - its just not often thought of a sacred in the way that Chastity is."

Wellllll. Many Tantric practices are based quite explicitly on violation of taboo/social convention.

David Frawley (a westerner, but one who has extensive traditional training in Hinduism, including Saktism and Tantrism) writes in his Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses that certain tantric practices, such as the consumption of "forbidden" substances, "are used in order to break through attachments, particularly the attachment to purity." [p. 41]

Frawley has a whole section (10 pages) in that book on "Right and Left-Handed Tantra" where he also writes:

"The right-handed path can be called the orthodox path, or that of those who follow the prescribed rules of conduct, whether for the Hindu social dharma or for yogic practice. The left-handed path allows unorthodox practices which may be outside both the Hindu social dharma and the usual rules of yogic practice."
[pp. 38-39]

One problem is that LHP and RHP are distinction within the tantric tradition, but in fact all Tantrikas make use of at least certain amount of LHP practices. This is the reason why I call the whole LHP vs. RHP thing a "cover story".

Also, since Tantra is a truly Esoteric tradition, the use of "cover stories" is perfectly legitimate. Tantric teachings are sometimes called "the whispered tradition", and those who receive any kind of genuinely Tantric teaching are explicitly told not to reveal those teachings to others -- or at least they should be!!

Frawley also points out that the range of meanings for LHP and RHP is so wide that "the left-handed path may merely refer to an emphasis on the Goddess"!

The section of Frawley's book on LHP and RHP is viewable online:


Jason Miller, said...

You made all my points for me.

You state "Many Tantric practices are based quite explicitly on violation of taboo/social convention."

True. Many Tantric practices are, some are not. All Tantra is LHP. Therefore what defines LHP or tantra for that matter is not the violation of social taboos. Certain Tantras such as that practiced by Aghori Babas and so on, are substreams defines by breaking taboos.

I am familiar with Frawleys work, but he too does not refute the point.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

"All Tantra is LHP."

Hmmm. I'm not sure where you got that from, but you might want to double check whatever sources you rely on for your knowledge about Tantra. In the case of Frawley, he explicitly refutes the claim that "All Tantra is LHP."

The terms LHP and RHP are used (by Frawley and everyone else) within Tantra, to distinguish different types of Tantra. Obviously such a distinction is meaningless if "All Tantra is LHP." No?

This distinction is found in both Buddhist and Hindu Tantra by the way. For example, so-called "Tantric Buddhism" is actually called Mantrayana by it's practitioners (or Vajrayana, but not Tantrayana). The term "Mantrayana" reflects the centrality of mantras to Tantric Buddhism -- but would anyone claim that mantra recitation is a left-handed practice? It is, most certainly, a Tantric practice. There definitely are LHP practices in Buddhist Tantra, but "all" Buddhist Tantra is obviously not LHP.


Jason Miller, said...

Actually I am a practitioner of Vajrayana Buddhism. I have lived in Nepal taken many empowerments and been on retreat.

The case of Tibet there is a distinction between Sutrayana and Vajrayana in that the passions aof the mind in Sutrayana are dealt with through renunciation and in Vajrayana they are dealt with through transformation. This is the primary difference.

In the case of Tibet, there is overlap: you have monks for instance chanting Tantric Sadhanas and so on, but the primary distinction is still there between how a Monk and Ngakpa differentiate .

In Hindusim, dakshinacharya or RHP simply isn't Tantra except by the most broad definitions at which point the distinction between Tantra and any other practice becomes moot

Apuleius Platonicus said...

If it were true that "all Tantra is LHP" then it would be a simple matter to cite a reliable, traditional source that states that. Your saying so does not make it so.

It is also not true that including RHP within Tantra makes Tantra so broad that it is no longer a meaningful category. The RHP versus LHP distinction within Tantra comes from Tantrikas themselves, so obviously it is a meaningful distinction within Tantrism.

In fact, what is arguably meaningless is to refer to any non-Tatric practice or tradition as RHP.

Jason Miller, said...

In India there was a distinction between the Vedas and the Tantras. While in later years some Tantric practitioners wanted to present the Tantras as based on the Vedas, orthodox Vedic practitioners used the word Tantra derogatorily to refer to those practices that did not follow the rules of Veduic purity regarding women, fish, caste, etc.

I don't have time to dig for quotes these days, but you can check History of the Tantric Religion by NN Battacharya who covers the difference.

The term LHP is not used in Buddhist Tantra at all, because the distinction is covered by the distinction between Sutra and Tantra similar to the distinction between Veda and Tantra.

BTW, just for the record, the term Tantrayana is sometimes used in Tibetan Buddhism. Penor Rinpoche, Chagdud Tulku, and Namkhai Norbu have all used it in teachings.

Furthermore the term Mantrayana, which is more common, ONLY refers to Tantra. If one is meditating on the Prajnaparamita Mantra (Om gate gate etc) or some other mantra in the context of Sutra (either Hina or Mahayana) that does not make it Mantrayana. Mantra or Ngak in Tibetan has multiple meanings, and in the case of Mantrayana the indication is "Special Means" or even "Spell" not simply the recitation of Mantra.

Since apparently you do have access and time to traditional sources, at least one author anyway, please give an example of a RHP Tantra.

Jason Miller, said...

We are not so far off from one another. You are correct that certain Tantrikas adopted the idea of RHP Tantra or at least called what they were doing that. However, the basis of what makes it Tantra is in fact teh LHP elements. So you are right about it being a "cover story" as you put it.

All I am saying is that the main distinction between Tantra and non Tantra in Buddhism and Hindusim is the interaction with the passions by skilled indulgence and transformation. Period.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

It is very true that we are not at all far from each other on this! I think we agree on the basic nature of Tantra itself, and that the disagreement over the terms LHP and RHP is secondary, but not completely irrelevant or unimportant.

Frater Resurgere said...

I just wanted to make the satement, referring to your point about substances that I don't believe anyone pushed anything on you. And I also believe that in my statements about drugs, I repeated that though I don't consider drug use equivalent in practice to other methods, I do however *consider it valid*.

And also said, "If you don't have issues with drugs, then *more power to you*, I wish I could too."

I don't really think that's too pushy, man. Anyway, I know this topic is like beating a dead horse, but it just bugged me and I wanted to clear that up.

Jason Miller, said...

Noted. I thought someone had made a comment along the lines of "have trouble seeing it as a valid path" but I could be wrong.

Too much going on.

Rufus Opus said...

Hee hee! Love that Mercury Retro.

Regarding the razor's edge of the no-hand path (NHP), it's challenging to do magic without any hands. Especially for chaos magicians, poor handless bastards.

I think the confusion among Western practitioners such as myself when it comes to R-LHP terms and definitions comes from it entering our magical practices through the gate of Theosophy and the Golden Dawn/OTO. They meant well, the bastards.

Jason Miller, said...

Mercury retro has actually been great for me. No confusion or problems. If anything my mercury flow has been running like clockwork given the 25 some odd people signed up for the course and some other little victories.

This is the good "not enough time" not the bad "not enough time".