Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Way of the Bone: The Addict's Revision of Adidam vs. the True Way

One of the most remarkable signs of Adi Da's human lifetime was His role as Da: the great Giver of Gifts to His devotees and the world. Adi Da spent many hours of each day creating extraordinarily potent spiritual Gifts: His books, His Image-Art, His essays and talks, the Hermitage Sanctuaries and Sacred Places, His daily "notes", His Darshan. From the beginning of His work with devotees in 1972 to the time of His passing in 2008, His Gifts to us were a ceaseless torrent, even overwhelming in a sense. For instance, we hardly had time to "digest" or "assimilate" His Wisdom on one topic, before He gifted us with another essay or talk on a different topic.

With our Beloved Master's passing, that stream of humanly manifested gifts has ceased, even as (at the same time) we are assured of the eternally available Gift of His Divine Presence — which is sufficient for Divine Realization. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the stream has slowed rather than ceased, insofar as there is an immense backlog of His humanly manifested gifts. It will take years before all that He gave His devotees and the world is released in an accessible form. Even in the next few years alone, we will see the publication of The Aletheon, The Gnosticon, The Pneumaton, and (at long last! for those of us who have been waiting for it for years) The Basket of Tolerance. But this is not to mention the thousands of works of Image-Art yet to be released or fabricated, the tens of thousands of hours of unreleased recordings in the Adidam Archives, etc.

Even so, in the relative quiet after Adi Da's passing, His devotees may finally have the space to feel a fundamental error that many of us may have been making in our practice of the Way of Adidam, that is keeping us from growing in the practice. The purpose of this article is to identify that error, so that those of us who are making it can correct it immediately. (For non-devotee readers, consider this a glimpse into the extraordinary challenges that must be surmounted in creating a new and enduring spiritual tradition in general, and Adidam in particular. Prospective devotees are being invited not only to a personal Spiritual practice, but to a collective "house-raising".)

Since 1986, Adi Da has criticized us for continuing the "Teaching Years" disposition in relation to Him. Fundamentally, His criticism has been a reference to our not "making the switch" (after the initiation of His Divine Emergence, on January 11, 1986) to a practice based on submitting to Him, rather than on Him submitting to us. During the Teaching Years, the forms of His submission to us were extraordinary: from uninhibited, Crazy Wise play and consideration with us in every area of human life; to miraculous displays of higher-stage phenomena and transport into higher states. But there were three key lessons Adi Da drew for us during that period:

  1. No matter how incredible a particular experience, it was not God-Realization.

  2. Any state He gifted us with (by virtue of His Spiritual Realization) was temporary, because it was His Gift, not our Realization, and no such state could possibly last without our taking responsibility for realizing it. It was like the scene in one of Christopher Reeve's Superman movies, where Superman is flying with Lois Lane, and is holding her only by a single finger — to the point where she gets the (mistaken) sense that she is flying: until he (accidentally) lets go, and she instantly plummets downward. (He catches her, of course.)

  3. The actual principle for Realization — the one at the core of the ancient Guru-devotee relationship — is the one Adi Da introduced at the beginning of His Teaching Work: You become what you meditate on. Hence the practice is to contemplate the Master's State, in order to Realize it. This process of our submitting to our Guru rather than Him submitting to us is what leads to permanent Realization, rather than temporary shifts of state that are essentially just "riding on the Master's coattails".

Over the years, Adi Da criticised us repeatedly for creating revisions of the Way of Adidam. In some sense, one of the easiest (and therefore, most common) revisions to fall into during Adi Da's human lifetime — given His prolific, non-stop, Gift-Giving — was to equate "the practice of Adidam" with showing up to receive the next Gift: the next essay, the next set of Notes from Him, the next Image-Art presentation, the next Internet Darshan, or the next retreat to Naitauba to see Adi Da in person and be "rejuiced" in one's practice. It certainly was easy to mistake all this for "the practice", since it occupied all of us to such a degree: the Gifts were so frequent, so potent, and (to the unsubmitted ego) so addictive. We could call this alternative version of the Way of Adidam the "addict's revision", since it was all about receiving the next spiritually (or intellectually, or emotionally) stimulating "hit" from our Beloved Guru.

The ego is an addict. Ego is itself addiction to the body-mind. So the transcending of the body-mind point of view is the transcending of addiction. Everything that leads up to the Perfect Practice is a process whereby modes of addiction are transcended — in some cases, are transcended in a process of outgrowing, and in other cases, it requires a rather immediate, early understanding of certain things, particularly the grossest kinds of addictive behaviors, and you drop it. That's it. It's right there at the beginning.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, April 24, 2005

Many devotees are aware (in some general sense) of our Master's Teaching about the ego-"I" as an addict, but we may not have considered how that applies even to our relationship with Him: how we revise the Way of Adidam itself into an addiction, by taking His Spiritual Transmission to body or mind, as an egoically self-fulfilling experience. In contrast, true "Divine Distraction" is about transcending self by submitting whole bodily to our Master.

So the important thing to notice about all of this "Gift reception" — including the retreats to Naitauba to get "rejuiced" — is that the "flow" is all one way: from Adi Da to us. For any of us for whom this receiving of Gifts has been the sum total of our "practice", we most definitely have been continuing the "Teaching Years" error, making our Master submit to us, without doing much submission to Him in return. We have been using Him to satisfy, rather than transcend, ourselves.

For example, Adi Da has always said that we should return to see Him on Naitauba only after we had made much good use of the last retreat with Him, and showed the signs of further growth — that, in fact, it was spiritually unlawful to be given access to Him otherwise. But the whole notion of going on retreat to get "rejuiced" typically reflected the fact that we had largely squandered the Gifts He gave us the last time, and had gone back to square one.

We may find the same thing in our daily practice: going to the meditation hall each morning to get "rejuiced", but then dissipating that reinvigorating Communion with Adi Da throughout the rest of the day by our failure to engage moment-to-moment practice in all the various circumstances of life, work, relationship, and so on — hence, back to square one again, the next morning. (As our Master has put it, we tend to think we are giving Him a gift when we "require" ourselves to go and sit in the meditation hall, where we are quickly sublimed by His Transmission.)

Meditation is the "easy street" of the daily practice, where Adi Da's Transmission is most readily connected with. It is a "tithing" of our total day, a mere fraction of it. It is in the rest of the moments of the day — where we spend the bulk of our time — that the real sacrifice of self in practice is enacted (or not). It is when there is competition for our attention that we get to see how fiercely our attention and energy are bound by the longterm habits we have indulged. Money, food, and sex have been our very fixed "center of gravity" for many lifetimes, and that is why we have incarnated here again in this lifetime.

Understanding this engenders a certain humility about what Realization is really going to require of us, and deflates fantasies of our Master serving as a kind of "Pied Piper" who easily distracts us from all of this, as we are led, dancing ecstatically, into another Dimension. There is certainly an aspect of practice that is like that (and which grants us the humor to endure the real heat of practice) — but it's not all "easy street"! The principle of our Way is indeed Divine Distraction; but the ego is a five-hundred pound person, the doorway into the Divine Domain is very narrow, and a whole lot of "weight loss" has to occur first before we can follow our Master through the hole in the universe.

Practiced rightly, Adidam is both "a hard school and a happy Way of life." Thus, as Adi Da puts it, the practice of Adidam must be even "muscularly" engaged in the beginning (responsively, but with a real will), when one's egoic "flabbiness" is at its greatest, and one's "center of gravity" is still (by karma, i.e., force of habit) very much "money, food, and sex", not God. As He has said, we must "live to God" for a significant length of time before the heat of practice turns to Light, the joy of God-Communion exceeds the pleasure of sex, and the Godward orientation becomes second nature.

A man went to his Master and said, "Master, I feel like there are two dogs fighting inside me, a good dog and a bad dog. Which one is going to win?" The Master said, "The one that you feed the most."

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

The Realization associated with this Way . . . is a great Siddhi, a profound Realization. It is not something you can enter into based on mere reading and superficial attention to the possibility. You must enter into the exercise most profoundly, even muscularly and bodily. You must really do this Work and provide a vehicle for the Living Current, provide a Domain for It. Then the shell cracks and the heart awakens and the Bliss-Being expands to Infinity, but only when this Work is done, when all the knots are undone. And that is a literal, practical Work. It can occupy you for lifetimes, but you have been given the intelligence for It directly, completely. You are given all Help for It, so that the Process can be fulfilled in one lifetime, if you are devoted to It completely.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj
"The Great Bird That Flies to the Heart", in The Dreaded Gom-Boo

Because of a personal practice that is always tending to go back to "square one" (contrasting with a practice focused on continuity and "strength training"), we have remained largely a "student-beginner" culture.

What exactly is missing from this "addict's revision" of the Way of Adidam? What does the true Way of Adidam look like, in contrast?

Many so-called "Spiritual" seekers are just "Narcissus" in drag! They do not have enough gut for Spiritual life. They are not interested in the demand that is the True Guru. They are "dogs" who come to their master only for a "bone". A dog whose mind is set on the bone his master has will do any ridiculous thing to acquire it. The dog rolls on the ground and whines and barks and jumps through hoops. He does whatever he must, until his master gives him the bone. Then the dog runs away with the bone. He does not want to see anybody. He does not want anybody around him when he is chewing his bone. He does not want to be touched. He does not want to be approached. He makes a vital circle around himself, and he just works on his bone. And if it is a good, big bone, such that he cannot eat it all in one sitting, he usually hides it somewhere, to protect it, after he has finished his chew.

The dog does not go back to his master again until he is out of bone. He does not go to his master in order to be with the master, to delight in the master, to be mastered by the master. He only goes for another bone. Such is the ordinary "Spiritual seeker". "Give me Initiation into your Yoga. Give me the secret mantra. Give me the breathing exercise. Teach me the 'Kriya Yoga'. Give me Shaktipat. Give me the Divine Vision." The guy always asks for the "bone"!

Should he actually be granted one of those things (any one of the traditional forms of Initiation will do — mantras, energies, beliefs, and so on), the guy goes. He leaves to play his game with that technique or consolation. He consumes it in solitude. He does not want to be touched. He does not want to be interrupted. He does not want to be reminded of what is "outside" himself, that would require him to be in relationship.

I wait for My true devotee to come and surrender to Me. Satsang with Me is the relationship between My devotee and Me — not between the "dog" and His "bone". The relationship to Me is Satsang. That is the discovery. That is the process. That relationship is the Yoga.

The relationship between Guru and devotee is the Secret pointed to by the Great Siddhas. It is the esoteric Universal Process. It is the Single Means. It is Very Truth. Everything else — all "bone"-chewing — is only a ritual re-enactment of the process that occurs spontaneously and is alive only in relationship to the Guru. At best, it is a ritual re-enactment. Therefore, True Spiritual life is not the activity of Spiritual seekers. It is the activity of those who discover their Spiritual search is false, fruitless, founded in dilemma — a manifestation of the same suffering that other human beings are suffering. True Spiritual life begins when the Spiritual search is abandoned and Satsang with Me is begun. . . .

When you live that Condition, the relationship to Me, when you actually live Satsang with Me, it becomes pleasurable. It becomes easy, spontaneous. But as long as you resist that Condition, My Company and its implicit demand will make you darker, heavier, more obsessed with self-enclosure and the strategies of "Narcissus". . . .

I will never give the seeker a "bone". Those who have come to Me for "bones" are waiting in vain, because what they are hoping for is not going to happen. All of that drama of seeking has nothing whatsoever to do with Truth. . . . I have not come to satisfy My devotees. A satisfied devotee is still the same one he or she was to begin with. I am only interested in the utter dissolution of the entire limitation that appears as My devotee.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj
from "Walking the Dog" in My "Bright" Word

The Way of Adidam is each devotee's relationship with Adi Da. True relationships are two-way, "give and take" affairs. In essence, what has been largely missing is our response (and, altogether, the responsive disposition that is a natural part of a loving relationship). What has been lacking (or insufficient) is the "giving back" part of that relationship, our gifts back to Adi Da: responsibility for the moment-to-moment practice of submission to Him (through Ruchira Avatara Bhakti Yoga) throughout the day; responsibility for closing all our personal "loopholes" in that practice; endurance of the associated tapas to the point of growth; and serving His Great Calling to the point where the survival (and flourishing) of Adidam and our Master's Work here for the liberation all beings has been ensured for centuries to come.

So this is what we must all correct now. Not fully playing our part in the relationship with our Guru is certainly the primary reason why we have remained largely a student-beginner culture. But most importantly, our self-understanding about this is urgently needed if we are to ensure the survival of Adidam in perpetuity. Even as our Master gave His lifetime to us, it is now our turn to give back to our Beloved Guru in a big way, with the rest of our human lifetimes, if we are to ensure that this first generation of Adidam is not also to be its last.

The worst mistake we could make now — in this "quiet" period that has opened up after our Master's passing — is to continue playing out the "addict's revision" of the Way of Adidam: by being childishly disappointed (or even angry) that the "hits" from Him have stopped (or slowed) or that our Guru's activities are no longer keeping us constantly "busy" or "contented". And then, in reaction: dropping out; or trying to find our "hits" somewhere else in typical "addict" fashion (whether with another Guru or through some "lesser samadhi" of food, money, and sex); or just retreating into a kind of longterm "sulk". It's important to distinguish the disappointment or anger of the frustrated addict in ourselves from our natural mourning at the passing of the human form of our Divine Guru — these are two very different things! (The former is self-possessed; the latter, relational.)

This "addict's revision" of the Way of Adidam has consequences beyond those of mere human immaturity, in that practice of the Way of Adidam is subject to spiritual laws, including the Sacrament of Universal Sacrifice (to which Adi Da is referring in the following passage):

If you enter into spiritual relationship with an Adept [a Spiritual Master], you must enter into His service. When the great gift of Spiritual Transmission is what you are receiving [twenty-four hours a day], your obligation for service is effective twenty-four hours a day. It is a lifelong obligation, a total obligation even as the Spiritual Master lives His entire life in obligation to devotees. People who do not express that consciousness cannot use [My Transmission]. They become guilty and build up too much residual self-energy through their non-service and non-surrender. Eventually they stop practicing because they can no longer justify taking the Gift of Spiritual Help. Then they just sit around with glazed looks on their faces.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, “I” is the Body of Life

If we are not growing in practice, the fault lies not in the Way of Adidam, but in ourselves. The Horse will take us to God Knows Where, but only if we grasp His Tail responsively (in response to recognizing Him as the Divine Person) in every moment of every day. This time after our Master's passing is a wonderful opportunity for feeling how much our Beloved Guru has given all of us (and each of us) altogether over the years; how much we owe Him in return (not out of mere obligation — although that is certainly true too — but out of love, and resonance with His great Work of liberating all beings); how much we'd really like to engage this Way to the point of real growth and Realization; and how much we want to make sure Adidam is always available to all future generations (including our reincarnated selves).

A few years ago, Adi Da made a useful analogy between His dog, M (then new, untrained, and not yet living with Him on Naitauba), and devotees at the "student-beginner" level, who are playing out the "addict's revision" of the Way of Adidam, which (drawing on Adi Da's imagery of the dog with his bone) we might also refer to as "The Way of the Bone":

M is not ready to live in My House yet, altogether. She's not prepared to just be there. It's the same with devotees. They can't come into My House yet. They're "wild" [like M]. They haven't been disciplined. They haven't embraced Me altogether and My Instruction, the practice, the collective responsibilities. They have no gifts. . .

So, it's something like with M. She'll go to school for a while. Hopefully, it will just be a few months, and she'll come over to Fiji. That's the way the gathering [of devotees] should be. But you've all been wasting My time, just repeating your error on Me over and over again, and trying to deceive Me by making minimal gestures and so forth. That's not going to school. That's not getting the training. That's not changing your act. And all of that is required...

The traditional sages would just make that measure of people. Various qualifications were looked for that essentially had to do with: you've gone through the school of the culture, the larger culture, and you're prepared with the necessary prerequisites for the great, Transcendental Divine Process. And if you don't have those characteristics, you shouldn't come. You would be dismissed from the sage's company. You wouldn't even get close to a sage personally. The measure would be made in advance. . .

Hearing [the first major milestone in the practice of the Way of Adidam] is not a mountain for those who are truly prepared for 1.1 approach [the level of practice just beyond the beginner's practice] to Me. It's right there on the tip of your tongue, so to speak. It is further established through Spiritual Communion with Me, but it's right there, because you've already established all the discipline and the practice, and so forth. True Hearing is right there to be confirmed in your life. . .

People who move beyond student-beginner have dealt with themselves in those terms. That's why it's like M, you see. She's got to deal with some real "behavior" things. She's been a puppy, that's good; now, she's got to start to grow up, and she needs schooling to do that.

The same with the whole gathering [of devotees]: You've got to grow up. You've got to deal with your aberrations and incorporate your relationship to Me — in other words, incarnate it, bring it into your life and grow up. Get out of your dramatizations, your adolescent disposition, not wanting discipline — your not wanting [the obligation of] devotion, your not wanting obligation [altogether]. You don't want to be accountable. . .

Nothing about this Way is about taking huge time [to advance in practice], unless people make it so.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, February 12, 2006

Those who have advanced in the practice of this Way (including the milestone of "Hearing" to which Adi Da refers in the above passage) can confirm that, central to that growth, is the understanding that Spiritual Realization requires genuine self-transcendence:

The Life-Force that is felt within the presumed-to-be-personal body-mind-complex is moved by willful or desiring acts to create circumstances of would-be ego-fulfillment. However, in Reality, That Life-Force Is Truly Universal (or Indivisible and all-and-All-Pervading) — not “inward” and personal (or ego-bound, or “point-of-view”-bound). Therefore, if That Life-Force is manipulated by “inward” motives to satisfy personal desires of all kinds, not only will the resulting satisfaction be only occasional and at most partial, but the Life-Force will Itself be always frustrated, since It cannot, by becoming subordinate to any patterns of personal desires, Fulfill Its Universal (or Indivisible and all-and-All-Pervading) Function As Prior Unity and (Thus and Thereby) Realize Its Intrinsic Divine Freedom in the conditionally arising world.

The human individual is immature — and always dissatisfied — until he or she out-grows mere personal desire (or even any search for ego-based “self”-indulgence), and, instead, lives on the basis of ego-transcending love (or the moment to moment transcending of ego-based desirepatterning), and thereby constantly demonstrates the Universal Moral Disposition of Prior Unity and the responsible intrinsic (or “root”) management of all functional and relational conditions of experience and action.

The truly mature human individual is, characteristically, free of all the intrinsically and inevitably frustrating limitations of conditional reality and the personal and collective relationship-politics of social egoity.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj
"The ego-Culture of Desire and The ego-Transcending Culture of Love"
from Not-Two Is Peace

Self-transcendence necessarily takes the form of the surrender of one's "personal" preferences; the relinquishment of concern about (or fixation with) one's "own" state (emotional, physical, mental, etc.) through practice of Ruchira Avatara Bhakti Yoga; and the giving over of one's "own" life to one's True Self: to the Viewpoint of the Divine and to serving Adi Da's Work of liberating all beings. One cannot realize God (or Prior Unity) without animating God's Viewpoint, without acting as though God's Needs were "one's own", and without ceasing to animate (or "be") the "limited self" or ego (by ceasing to indulge all its needs, preferences, and addictions).

In the following passage, Ruchiradama Quandra Sukhapur Rani (one of Adi Da's devotees who has advanced in the practice of Adidam) makes these points in the context of her own process of realizing the "hearing" capability. The key to her growth was her shift in focus: to Adi Da's Work and Instructions, and away from her "own" preferences.

Ruchiradama Quandra Sukhapur Rani serving Avatar Adi Da Samraj as He Blesses a Holy Site at The Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary. Now in direct relationship to my Beloved Guru, I went through a profound and extended reinvestigation and direct testing of the entire egoic structure of my life and consciousness. . . .

Beloved Adi Da asked me to begin to serve Him by passing on His Communications to His devotees. Beloved Adi Da's Instructions to His devotees encompass every aspect of human existence and everything required for the establishment of His Work in the world. And so, in this new service, I had to begin to do profound sadhana [spiritual practice] for the sake of others in a manner I had never done before. I had to relinquish my self-based concentration on my "own" relationship to Beloved Adi Da and in the simpler forms of service — such as cleaning, cooking, and caring for [Adi Da's children] — that, until then, I had been used to doing in His Intimate Sphere. Now I had to devote my life to His Work. This marked a profound turning point in me, a surrender of all personal preference.

Apart from passing on Beloved Adi Da's Instructions, He expected me to serve others in the right devotional understanding and reception of the Instructions given. This service obliged me to move out of self-meditation and obsession with my own emotion, and that is how the intensive listening-hearing process began for me.

During this time, I saw that, no matter how positive or negative or easeful or difficult any moment was, I was always doing the same thing. Through my Beloved Guru's Divine Siddhi [Blessing-Power], I saw that my body-mind was only self-contraction and that it was my own activity. I also saw that my Divine Heart-Master Stands eternally Prior to that activity of mine. And I felt a profound Liberation in being able to effectively resort to Him beyond the mechanism of self-contraction. This was not a mental process — it was a Revelation, a Gift, an Initiation into Communion with Him.

Thus, the Grace of hearing was awakened in me.

Ruchiradama Quandra Sukhapur Rani
in Carolyn Lee, The Promised God-Man Is Here

* * *

In one sense, Adi Da's passing represents an opportunity: it is much harder for us to engage "the Way of the Bone", now that our Beloved Guru is no longer showering us with physically tangible gifts that we can turn into "bones". In some sense, it is easier to practice the Way of Adidam in its true form now that He is no longer alive, because circumstances require us to learn how to "cultivate a sheerly spiritual relationship" with Him (as Adi Da once put it):

Grief is good — it is a way of being attentive. But you must allow yourself to be transformed, by my apparent absence, into a community of devotees most fully far beyond any realization of your common life that existed during the lifetime of [My] appearance. That is what I am telling you. And I expect you to remember this when this one finally goes.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj
The Death and Birth Of the God-Man

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1 comment:

yeshuaherenow said...

Thank you!


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