Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Wrong Way

The Wrong Way
by Scott Bradley

I call the path I follow the Simple Way. I would not have to inquire long among those more 'spiritually advanced' than I, however, to be told it is the Wrong Way. And I suppose it is. Of course it is. But is there a Right Way? If not, then every way is 'wrong' and thus no way is wrong.

In a sense, the Simple Way is a concession to my failings, a lack of discipline, and an inability to believe. For example, most all the paths I study declare that rendering the mind quiescent is the only way to attain the panoramic consciousness of enlightenment. This sounds easy enough, but it is not so. It requires a lifetime of disciplined practice, and even then, very few ever attain the goal. I've already spent a lifetime of run-away thought and am unable to buy into many of the presumed realities that motivate the endeavor to overcome it, and thus have little hope of ever beginning such an arduous campaign. So, I follow a left-handed path.

There is a tantric Buddhism, I believe, which follows a left-handed path, but I know very little about it. Its salacious aspect is what most appeals to me, of course. Sex becomes a means to enlightenment, and that beats sitting in a cave and staring at a wall for a decade all to hell. But the books I've perused that pertain to this 'method' seem very superficial — candles seem more important than understanding.

Hinduism is well known for its left-handed paths. One of the most celebrated is the way of the thugee from which we get our word 'thug'. These were devotees of the goddess Durga who, like her sweet sister Kali, represents the dark side of the force. Death and destruction. So these thugee would go about ritualistically strangling people so as to summon the presence of the goddess. Ah, such sweet communion.

More generally, the left-handed path within Hinduism seeks union with the Absolute, which includes all evil as well as good, by pursuing a path of evil. Most of this evil is rather mundane, like getting drunk, for instance. Some, like necrophilia, are not all that appealing, at least to me. But even the fun stuff is no fun, because if you do it for the fun, the intended union is not realized. You've got to render it ritualistic and mechanistic, like sex through a hole in a blanket. So, frankly, even if I were to pursue this way, I'm sure I'd make a mess of it and end up enjoying myself, and thus doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons.

There is, of course, something askew with these attempted expressions of the moral transcendence of Oneness. Harming others is not, I believe, an expression of our true humanity. That's my moral ground. In any case, society has the role of stopping those who do harm others.

Yet, there is a sense in which the Simple Way, by virtue of its concessions to my failings, is a left-handed path, a Wrong Way. I can live with that. And if I promise not to harm others (and not have sex with the dead), maybe you can, too.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.


  1. I feel the simple way either as well told as in your books or as demonstrated by the simplest of people I've come across in my life really is the way. Just simply getting on, low expectations, asking for nothing more than there already is and thereby being absolutely content with it all.

  2. daily life is the essence of spiritual practice


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