Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Asshole Effect & The Left-Hand Path

Anyone who has involved in a left-hand path for a while and has incorporated it into his or her life will inevitably be called an "asshole" by someone comfortably operating in a more mainstream right-hand path. This is to be expected since someone on a left-hand path would not be as concerned about what others think and would not be ashamed to put his or her own needs above the needs of others when necessary. In the altruistic nature of western culture, where often we are expected to sacrifice our interests for that of others, words such as "self-centeredness" and "selfishness" carry a negative connotation. Sure selfishness can be a negative trait when taken to extremes, but there is nothing wrong with acknowledging one's own needs and desires even above those of others when reasonable.

In this clash of culture, the right-hand path, unable to accept blatant focus on the self, misinterprets confidence as arrogance, independence or pride as elitism; projecting their own inner selfish vs. altruist conflict onto others. (We all have selfish motivations whether or not we wish to accept them.)

But this is not the asshole effect.

The asshole effect is when individuals on a left-hand path get full of themselves to the point that they think they are more than they are; that their needs must always come first, regardless of what reason may show. Such people assume that to be on the left-hand path means to be an asshole, and since they do not care what others think, they continue down this road of illusion, assuming that they have mastered their path and themselves by the mere act of looking down on others.

In reality they have fallen on the wayside. What they have begun to foster is not their true self, but their illusion of what they think they are. There is a reason why Satanists consider false pride a "sin".

I find the analogy of a successful entrepreneur useful. Like someone on the left-hand path, the entrepreneur can seem by many to be cutthroat and selfish as he or she works his or her way to the top. Some will take the extreme path and cheat or use others as pawns for their own gain, not caring whose toes they step on in the process. However, in doing so such a person makes a fatal mistake; To be successful for the long term, one needs good networking contacts that share information, provide good references, etc. Without these contacts the road to success becomes burdensome and dangerous. Worse, still, one needs to keep a constant vigil against all those who were stepped on during the mad dash to the top. In short, a successful entrepreneur, though confident, self-motivated and not afraid to speak his or her mind, recognizes that the path to the top is a lot easier and more stable when you earn support and build alliances along the way. They can be quite harsh and cutthroat when needed, but they balance it out with people skills (at least with people they feel are worthy of the attention). Sure they still use people, but those they use don't feel used and thus are more supportive.

Just as the right-hand path has its share of "fluff bunnies" and fundamentalists who "just don't get it", the left-hand path has its share of "assholes". These are the trappings of their respective paths. In a left-hand path, where there is more emphasis on individuality and less concern for what others think, it is easy to loose perspective of our goals and slip into illusions of grander. Perhaps after getting our ass kicked a few times we figure out that the problem is not always with the rest of the world, but sadly many more take this hostility as a sign they are on the right track. Instead of seeking self-empowerment from within, they seek self-empowerment by the reactions they get from others.

So to those that say "who cares?" every time they step on people's toes, remember that when someone steps back harder or when you find yourself alone when life randomly presents a snag in your plans.

Being in a left-hand path is not about being a prick, it's about mastering the Self. Sure some may still think you are an asshole either way, but pissing off a few people who don't understand and pissing off everyone you encounter are very different things. The first is inevitable; the other is just pain stupid.

John J. Coughlin, author of 'Out of the Shadows: An Exploration of Dark Paganism and Magick.'

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