"In Wonders We Sail, Questing for the Answers in Veil"

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

THE LEFT-HAND AND RIGHT-HAND PATHS OF KAULA

Kaula tantrics approach the four primitive urges in one of two ways. Followers of the right-hand path believe that the less active these urges are, the less distraction they will create. Their sadhana, therefore, is to practice self-restraint and subdue the basic-urges until these urges have no power to distract them from their spiritual focus. Followers of the left-hand path maintain that these urges are intrinsic and that restraining them cripples our body, mind, and senses.They believe that it is better to follow the law of nature and let the biological urges express themselves in a healthy manner, but without indulging them. According to these tantrics the key is learning to channel these powerful drives in a spiritual direction.


The right-hand kaula tantrics have developed a complex system of rituals to create a bridge between themselves and the Divine. They follow the principles of asceticism.The observances that go along with their rituals (such as fasting or eating very little, observing silence, and refraining from thinking and speaking in a way that stimulates the desire for pleasure and bodily comforts) are designed to subdue the primitive urges through imposing a high degree of self-restraint. They draw a clear distinction between "pure" and "impure" ritual objects and observe this distinction in their daily lives. Their ascetic observances may make them physically weak for a time, but the observances are spiritually strengthening.

Left-hand kaula tantrics are not ascetics. On the contrary.Their rituals do not suppress the biological needs, because to consider anything impure or inauspicious, they feel, is to condemn the Divine Mother. And because She is the only reality, any sense of duality, including all aspects of body consciousness, is Her manifestation. The Divine Mother is the embodiment of supreme beauty, bliss, auspiciousness, and goodness, and so it follows that these characteristics are inherent in everything that exists. The body is Her manifestation, as are the senses, the primitive urges, and all of our thoughts and feelings. The perceptual world evolving from the Most Auspicious One cannot be inauspicious. According to the lefthand kaula tantrics, repressing the biological urges and imposing restraints that weaken the body and senses means that we are condemning them as well as the life-force that animates them.This is the hallmark not of spirituality but of ignorance. It is this group of left-hand kaula tantrics that employs liquor,meat, fish, mudras, and physical union in their rituals.

Scholars tell us that right- and left-hand tantra are mutually exclusive. They are not. In actual practice, initiation into left-hand disciplines constitutes the final stage of sadhana within the kaula school. Left-hand techniques are far more advanced than right-hand techniques, and only those who have first disciplined themselves by practicing right-hand kaula tantra are qualified to follow the left-hand path. In short, right- and left-hand disciplines do not constitute two distinct traditions; they are two different sets of discipline within the same school.

It is relatively easy to learn the practices of right-hand tantra and get initiated, but it is very difficult to find a master who will initiate you into the practices of left-hand tantra.The scriptures speak with one voice: "Kaula - especially the left-hand aspect - is an impenetrable mystery. The slightest carelessness on this path can lead to indulgence. It is easy for the mind to justify acts of sense gratification." I have observed that the adepts of this path rarely reveal themselves. They may practice left-hand tantra in private, but they generally teach only the techniques of the right-hand path. And before they do reveal themselves they lead their students through a series of arduous tests while they are still involved in the practices of right-hand tantra. The masters want to make sure the aspirant has no craving for sense gratification and will uphold the sacredness of this path.

To summarize: the complete knowledge and practice pertaining to the kaula school is traditionally imparted in three stages. Each consists of a specific kind of practice, and to get that practice directly from a master a student goes through a formal process of initiation. There are three levels of initiation.The first two help the aspirant unveil the mystery of the right-hand path of the kaula school. The third and final initiation allows the aspirant to gain access to left-hand kaula tantra. And it is only after going through these three levels of initiation and doing the practices that accompany them that we can systematically unveil the dynamics of matter and spirit, attain mastery over the forces governing life within and without, and take charge of our destiny.

1 comment:

  1. For me, a large Element of Awakening is in the Power-Pleasure Centre of what would be considered the 'left' side... It is easy to be nice, I think -for me -fairly easy to follow precepts (.when there is determination), but very challenging and scary to expose all of yourself, the impulses etc - for awareness to awaken to all, and feel them i.e. our being exactly as it is, but therein -for me - lies the Path to Going Beyond (but also including) our Self-Nature... Apollo AND Dionysus... and their integration Beyond... :)

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