Tuesday, March 18, 2014

New Blog

A quick note to any readers here, that I've launched a new blog, called "Infinite Waves Of Beauty". Follow the link to catch up any new posts there.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


Just a quick note to say that I'm sorry if I haven't been able to follow up on the last series of posts, or on the new politics forum. I've been very busy moving, and will be mostly out of commission for another week or so. By the end of the month things should be settled down and I ought to be able to do more posting as intended, and to announce some new writing plans I have in mind for the future, using these blogs as ground zero for feedback. Thanks to those who check in every now and then to see if I'm active here, and to those who just seem to drop in out of nowhere. Ho'oponopono to you all.

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Blog

For no particular reason other than sheer silliness, I've created a new blog, Broken Yogi Politics, to post the kinds of thoughts and ideas I often have that don't have much place here, but which I end up thinking about anyway, and waste time posting about on other sites. Here at least I can keep my thoughts on these matters more contained and slightly disciplined, and waste my time more effectively. There will be some spiritual slant to the new blog, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. I may post there more than I do here, which isn't saying much of course. Feel welcome to join in and comment colorfully, or as you wish.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Notes From Underwater

That was fun, wasn't it?

I gather some questions remain. Did I just channel Da? Do I believe I just spoke to Da? Who is Da? And who is "Diane Jackson", and why does her voice change so dramatically in the course of a dialog?

I hope this last series of posts helps to demonstrate the impossibility of finding out who the "real Da" was, is, and will be. Likewise, the impossibility of knowing who our "real ego" is, or anyone else's for that matter, including Da's. Or even if there is such a thing, or if Da was such a thing, or any of us for that matter.

So, to answer the obvious, maybe, maybe not. What is the imagination but a way of constructing personhood and world-in-which-the-person-arises from the raw material of mind and life? Imagination is a powerful, powerful force in this world - perhaps the very force that creates this world. And from what? A snake created from a rope lying in the dark? Imagination works in the dark to create what wasn't there from not only our fears, but our hopes, our aspirations, our desires, and our aversions. We create the very thing we are most averse to, and then avoid it. Avoiding relationship?

Where would we be without our imaginations? Alone, perhaps? How unbearably miserable. Thanks God we can create Da and self from that dry wood, ignite a little fire, and have someone to talk to. It is said by some that God created the world and all the beings in it so as not to be lonely. Probably some ego said it, though. Others say we created God so as to have someone to listen to us. Just as likely.

I'm not really sure what we can say about Da from all this. I can give testimony to my version of Da, and Elias his, and each member of Adidam can speak to their own special Da, and the books have theirs - each quote creates its own Da, and each lila another Da, and soon the world is overrun with Da's of all kinds, each complementing or opposing one another, and soon there is a minor play in the Tabernacle vying for the respect of the congregation. Each congregant has his own play, his own story of Da to play out, and that's just among the tiny fraction of humanity that cares about Da. In other congregations they have their multitude of Jesus', and Buddhas, and Krishnas, and it never really ends. Each one is both affirming and doubting the stories they have constructed, and the person who is the hero of that story. But the hero always dies. And we follow him anyway, because we must. We don't know any other way.

It's so easy to construct a person from almost nothing. A few lines and we have a stick figure, and the mind fills in the rest. A person is born. Jesus is born of the same process, and so is Da. We seldom attribute this process to our own imaginations, because that might make it all seem suspect. So we tell ourselves we had nothing to do with it. It was all a grace, and we are so humbly honored to have been given this relationship, wrapped in swaddling clothes and scriptural blankets, that redeems the heart from its lonely predicament. But there's a little tag on the toe of each born savior, reminding us that it was made in our own mind's imagination by little elves working feverishly through the night so that Santa could leave us a Divine Present under the tree each morning. The world wakes up like a present unwrapped, and like lying parents we feign surprise at the wonder of it all. We don't want to tell ourselves that we made it and put it there. The children so love the ritual of it, even they don't want to know.

So who is Da? Who cares? He's whoever we want him to be now. He had his say for a while, and now we can define him however we wish. Sinner or saint, or bit of both, like a chocolate carmel with nuts inside. How harmless it all seems now that it's mere memory. Each present moment seems so real to us we forget it was just like this each time we took a little bite out of him. And he in turn took his little bites of us too. Should we send the meal back to the kitchen for a do-over? It didn't seem quite done, to tell the truth. Only our imaginations know for sure. They can conjure new life from dusty old memories, as they are doing right now before us. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespassings, just as we forgive those who trespass upon us.

Da changed every day of his life, and so did we, but we somehow imagined there was some kind of permanent truth to it all, some revelation being given, something that meant something else. There's not much in common between the boy with his drunken mother and the old man drinking with his own younger selves except the drinking. That's the one constant, the drunken dream of the imagination that holds its spell over the house we all grew up in. There's an unimaginable sadness at the heart of it all, which we wish would go away but never quite does. Even lovers leave one another and end up alone after a while, and the house seems empty and cold, like a body the life departed from. Where did it go?

We like to call that "communion", but it doesn't stop us from arguing over the meanings. The argument becomes our conversation with ourselves over the nature of the thing we created from ourselves. And wars are fought and blood spilled and more departures made, and more presents unwrapped with each new birth, each new day, each lover's spat. The hemorrhaging goes on and on. We only have ourselves to blame, but how do we do that without creating a whole world to play that game in? Each self seemingly born of a different thought, each perception born of a different self, and the puzzle made overly complicated by each layer as it unfolds from the box.

Inside, a little toy.

Will this toy make us forget? Will it entertain and occupy us? Can we talk to it, and will it talk back? Can it sing or make music?

Pull the string. See what happens.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Notes From Underground

As a follow-up to yesterday's post on The Fruitless Search for the Real Adi Da, I'd like to add a few more ordinary and extraordinary points about this whole matter of Da's "work".

First, it's important to recognize that just because we can't ever find a real "person" behind all our many masks and bodies and thoughts and qualities, doesn't mean we can't speak of people as having a personal history or a sense of authenticity which can be both warped and/or developed both humanly and spiritually. The Buddhist teaching on anatta, or "no-self", doesn't negate the human experience of being born and going through a self-ish process of growth, development, and finally death. Nor does it negate the experience of living in an after-life subtle body and having a greater view of earthly incarnation from a higher perspective. It merely says that there is no actual entity or thing that goes through this process. If we look for one, we are frustrated, and all we find are various patterns of karma, tendency, vasana, samskaras, etc., all without an actual entity or "ego" at its root. And none of that is exclusively personal, it is all completely interconnected with all our environments, bodies, worlds, seemingly other people, and so forth. One has to accept all of that as both "real" and at the same time utterly "unreal".

By which I simply mean that even at the ordinary level of human and spiritual life, we have to go by appearances. We have to examine what people actually did in their lives, what they said, who they related to and how, and accept all of that as the "real person". Even a spiritual perspective from the vantage point of the deeper personality doesn't change this approach, it merely expands it and adds more layers to the history of the character, the "pattern" so to speak that we like to think of as an entity we call "I". Everyone experiences this sense of "I", and everyone organizes their external life around this "I"-sense, and even their subjective life is a reflection of these patterns and sometimes a pursuit of a deeper knowledge of "I", using these patterns as a jumping off point.

So it's hardly surprising that when we want to know about other people, we also want to build up a larger sense of "I" around them. And so we pick through our knowledge of them to try to build a persona around that person. Much of that, unfortunately, is just projection, because we have a very hard time distinguishing between our own inner subjectivity and our outer perceptions, since they all come together in this subjective world of "I" that is, itself, largely an imaginary creation. Our own sense of "I" is created out of a hodgepodge of phenomena, some we cling to, some we reject or are adverse to, and there is a constant struggle to discover the "real self" in the midst of all that. Of course there is no such thing, the conditional self is really just all that crap thrown together in a heap of dirty laundry, and a central person inferred from the pile. Does a pile of dirty laundry actually have an "identity" to it? Of course not. So why do we think there's such a thing behind our own pile of vasanas? The only reason is that we are self-aware, and we assume awareness must be a form of identity, and so we go on with this endless confused struggle to figure ourselves out by picking through the dirty laundry and seeing what makes sense, what smells right, and what we don't want to be.

And that's what a lot of us do with Da also, as with everyone else. We look for a "real Da" behind all the masks, but there's not really anything there, just as there isn't with us either. The "true Self" isn't an identity, it's the absence of any such thing, the "emptiness" of the Buddhist viewpoint. That doesn't mean it's some nihilistic "nothing", it also utter fullness and utter relationship. A good comparison would be to Ramana's understanding of "silence". When criticized that silence seemed to be an empty phenomena and of no help in understanding the nature of reality, Ramana said exactly the opposite was the case, that silence was in reality utterly full and complete. He even said that in silence communication was made perfect, rather than corrupted as it is in speech. One of my favorite lines of his is: "Silence is the eternal flow of language, uninterrupted by words."

In the same way, the Self, though empty of all content, is not obstructed by content, and its fullness is thus infinite and contains all possible names and forms and is perfectly interconnected through the communicative language of infinity. And that is "who we are" and of course "who Da is". But both we and Da are also defined by the particulars of how we have appeared and lived and related to everyone else, and the consciousness in which we have done all of that. None of that has been perfect, unless understood in the Self.

So in that sense, Elias' attempt to distinguish between the early Da and the late Da is not going to find an easy resolution, in that all of that is "Da", and you can't really differentiate between any of it as real or unreal.

That said, let's take a short journey in another direction entirely, and entertain the notion that Da's human life doesn't fully represent him, any more than anyone's human life fully represents their spiritual nature. The whole idea of Da's "work" is that he incarnated through the body-mind of Franklin Jones to do some very "heavy lifting" in one of the darker parts of the cosmos. He used to joke about that early on, but let's assume for the moment that it wasn't just a joke. The question arises then, as to how successful this life of his really was in realizing that goal. As one of Da's critics, I'm of course quick to point out the many ways in which he failed or fell short of his ambitions, and Da's devotees of course are quick to explain everything as some sort of perfect Divine "theater" that all came out exactly as Da wished. This morning, I decided to ask Da himself what he thought about it.

I hope you laugh at that thought, because I certainly did. But let me remind everyone that I was once described by Da as one of his "psychics" who had a special psychic connection to him and that my role as his "court astrologer" was a part of that. In the years of my dissent and leaving the community, I declined more and more to take part in any of that, but I can't say it ever really went away. I've mentioned in previous posts that before Da's death, Da used to ask me now and then to come back to the community and help him with his work, and I always told him no way, that what he'd created was simply unworkable and pointless for me to get involved with again. I assume Da had similar requests out to other devotees who had left or become critical, and that few of them got answered positively either.

When he died, I did reach out to Da, and went to one of the sites he'd spent a lot of time at, and made an offering to him with other devotees present. I got a very hilarious message from him of deep laughter about it all, and this in rather stark contrast to the sad and even morbidly shocked state of most of his then-devotees. It was good to see that Da was quite humorous about his own death and the state of the community he had left behind. But it also confirmed to me that this wasn't a spiritual group I was going to want any involvement in again.

Anyway, after writing yesterday's posts, and getting those interesting messages from Da for my wife through this woman who once met her years ago, I thought that perhaps I should just break my code of silence with Da for a moment and have a short conversation with him about these things. And so I did.

The first thing that came through was a lot of laughter. He was obviously really finding this whole scene, and all this discussion of him, very funny stuff. And he made me laugh uproariously about it all too. One of the things he said, trying to explain his life and "work", was, essentially "it all got away from me". There was a bit of regret about that, but also the sense that there wasn't really any other way it could have worked out. If you are familiar with any of the psychic writings about reincarnation, afterlife experience, and the whole difficult process of human incarnation, you might know of this kind of phenomena that often happens when things get out of control, and the deeper personality loses its grip on the physical mechanism, and can't really control it anymore. Da was pointing to that as something of an explanation for a lot of what went on, not just in the later years, but throughout his life.

It's important to understand how much difficulty Da had incarnating through the physical body. He was never much "into" this body of his, and it showed in all the serious health and psychological problems he had all through his life, the panic attacks, the death experiences, the yogic phenomena, the depression, the intense pain and trouble he had with the body, and all the really weird things he did to alleviate those difficulties. So when he says "it all got away from me", he's admitting that he never quite had it under his command to begin with. He was never fully integrated with the body, despite his claims to the contrary. In fact, even those claims of completely incarnating down to the toes were a sign of his difficulty in integrating with the body. The narcissism and crazy behavior and cultic escalations that went on were part of that disturbed relationship with the body, and he could never quite get it together, despite some rather herculean efforts.

In part, Da explained that this was just part of what he was trying to do, which was a puja of purification that he really did hope would succeed, but which never actually did, not as he had intended at least. He laughs about that, but there's a tinge of the tragic in it as well, because he really wants to make it clear that he tried, and that he loved all the people he hurt, and didn't really want any of it to turn out as it did. He had expected things to be far more benign and positive, and the fault was very much his own, not anyone else's, that it was a huge gamble he took, and a necessary one he felt, and still feels that way, but he can't change what happened. His own bodily personality just took on too much "stuff" to get it all clear or make it work out right, and he was not able to make himself come through in the manner he wished. Spiritually, he was able to bring the Divine Force down into the body, and to do a fair amount with it, but on the human level it never quite achieved his purposes. So in a certain way you could say that none of that life was the "real Da". And yet, all of it was still part of the process of his real efforts and ambitions, like anyone else at a certain stage of their life, and there were certain moments and levels of it all that were very much real and true, and of course all the love was real, and the intention was real, even if the result fell short.

So, the other thing Da wanted to make clear about all this is that he's very likely to return once again and give this all another try. This is important and necessary in relation to another thing he mentioned, which has to do with the spiritual evolution of the earth plane, and the changes in the earth's psychic energy grid. I'm not sure how aware people out there are of the widespread talk in new age circles about 2012 and the transformation of the earth's energy grid, but it's rather widely accepted among such people that since the Harmonic Convergence of 1987, a massive re-ordering of the earth's energy grid has been taking place, particularly in the years of the first decade of the millenia. Da himself used to talk about this sometimes, and I had reported to him on the fact that the 2012 phenomena seemed to be real, even astrologically, and in relation to his own life.

One of the important implications of this transformation of the earth's energy grid is that the "old energy" of the world is no longer going to work in the new grid, and that all that old energy, and the people and patterns and even institutions around the world that are built upon it are all going to fall apart as we transition into this "new energy". The current collapse of totalitarian regimes in the Arab world, for example, (and the financial collapse also) is taken by these people as a sign of how the old energy patterns are collapsing all by themselves, simply because they can't survive in the new energy. One doesn't even have to do very much to make them collapse, they will do so all on their own.

In that sense, Da's death in 2008 was virtually inevitable, because his bodily incarnation had taken on so much of the "old energy" that it really couldn't survive any more in the new energy grid that has been evolving on the planet. In fact, one could almost say that Da's life and work and what he had built was a kind of last gasp of the "old energy" of the spiritual process. This is very much evident in the authoritarian structure of his community, his way of relating to devotees, all the exploitation and abuse, all the decrees and crazy-ass teachings, the endless shifting and remaking of himself in an attempt to make a change into the new energy, but simply unable to make the transition, and dying as a result. One thing Da said about this is that it isn't a bad thing at all, it's a good thing, and he's very glad to be done with it all. Even if it didn't work out the way he wanted, it at least worked as a kind of garbage bag body-mind to be thrown out at the end of the day, with all the oil stains and ink spots pointing to the past, and leaving room for something new to replace it.

And that's where Da really had a big laugh, and I laughed too, because he made it very clear that he's going to come back and do it differently in the new energy. This means another incarnation, of course, but this time one a lot more suited to his deeper nature, so to speak. It doesn't mean there will be no drama, but it does mean it will be a lot more benign. But here's the thing - he's not coming back to the Adidam community he left behind. He's not going to be born back into some Adidam household and get raised as the Adi Da tulku or some such nonsense. He doesn't find the Adidam he left behind to be suitable to his needs for the new incarnation. It doesn't really represent him, it represents the old Da, the old energy. It's not that he wants to forswear it or write it off, but he's very clear that it's not what he's about anymore, or what he will be about in the future, it's more like Vivekananda's Vedanta Society, a relic of the past that may or may not carry on into the future with its own spiritual mission and community doing its thing, but not really related to him in his present mode, and not suitable for that in any case. He doesn't mean by that that Adidam should just disband and sell off its properties. The people there have their own karmas to deal with and their own relationship to the Divine to work out, but he's not really a part of that anymore, at least not in the way they would like to think. He's moved on already to new things, with new plans and new ideas. Sound familiar?

As far as his next incarnation goes, that's not clear yet. I don't think even he's decided yet when or where it will be. I don't get the sense, however, that we're talking centuries, or even many decades. he seems just a little impatient to get back on the horse, so to speak. But anything's possible, including the possibility that he's just fucking with me and won't be coming back at all. I just don't get that impression however. I could be wrong, of course, and this is all just my own subjective impressioning process going on, so take it all with main grainfuls of salt.

But Da is even now telling me not to overqualify any of that. He's really serious about this shit and wants to return really soon and wants everyone to know that. If people in Adidam really do want him to have anything to do with him the next time around, they are really going to have to get their shit together and do some real sadhana, because he's not terribly happy with how they related to him this time around. And he doesn't mean by that going all institutional again and blowing smoke up his ass, he means really, deeply loving one another and him and God and just throwing away anything that gets in the way of that, including all the crap he left for them to work with. He's incredibly fierce about this, I have to say, and it's kind of burning me up just writing this out. He says to tell everyone that he loves them to death, he loves them eternally, he loves them more than they will ever know, and they are going to have to become something very different now, something that can work in the new world that's coming, and drop everything that doesn't. This is a message for everyone he ever knew, and he wants them to get it and respond directly, not institutionally or dogmatically or through any other channel than their own heart.

He also wants to make it clear that the world is changing every day, and we have to allow it to change us as well. We have to be receptive rather than creative. We are not making the world, it is making us. We have to let die what needs to die, and let grow what can thrive in the new environment. He's going to be part of the new environment. It just won't be the old "him", so don't look for him in that manner. Look for him in something new, something that thrives and grows, that isn't like what faded and died. Look for him in that lone flower in the wilderness. Look for the star that shines brightly and dies. Don't abandon what you have, but don't let it prevent you from seeing the new form that he's taking. It will surprise you. And offend as well, but not in the old way.

Which reminds me, Da's talk of reincarnation was responding in part to a post I had written a couple of years ago after Aid Da's death, when I looked at Da's astrological death chart, which seemed to clearly indicate that he would be reincarnating. He was confirming that this was basically correct. One of the things I saw in the charts at the time was that in his next incarnation he might even come back as a "dissident". I'm not sure exactly what that means, but Da is basically saying there's something correct in that. By which I thought it could even mean that he will come back in a family of former devotees, or people who are otherwise somewhat "turned off" by the old Adidam. He seems to find that idea really hilarious and therefore just the right way to do it, but I don't get the sense that it's quite nailed down, and it could mean many things. He may just be fucking with us there. The basic sense is just what was said earlier, that the new Da won't be much like the old one. So in that sense I think he's going to be a self-dissident, not a "devotee" of the old Da, and even generally critical of his ways. (Just as he was often critical of Vivekananda's ways).

Okay, enough playing around with subtle games for now. It's time to let go even of this form of entertainment. Da is, indeed, quite happy and laughing about all of this. Why shouldn't we?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Fruitless Search for the Real Adi Da

A lot of activity in the comments sections lately. A current devotee of Adi Da's is opening up about his thoughts and feelings about all manner of things: this blog, yours truly, other devotees, Adi Da in general, and giving good evidence of more people "speaking openly in Adidam" in the years following Adi Da's bodily demise. He's left so many comments its a little hard to respond to all of them, but I'll give it a general shot here.

But first I want to start with a comment by Elias over at his forum, regarding the last two posts I made in response to his Facebook conversations with another Da devotee (that didn't go quite so well).

The one thing he [Broken Yogi] doesn't get into is the apparent opposition between early and late Da. (I believe he has talked about that elsewhere.)
My view (after a good deal of intuitive mulling) is that the "two Das" are the same Da. And what you see in the last decade or so is actually a projection created by the cult, which he took on like one of those hats he used to wear.
The Da I know is still LHAO without the impediment of his overweight and rather sickly body.

This is what I really want to address, and maybe that will bleed into the devotee-commentator's many questions.

Asking "who is the real Adi Da?" is a bit like asking "who is the real ego?" One can search in vain for a "real person" behind any of our many personas, and wind up only confused and even heart-broken. (Which, incidentally, isn't a bad outcome). The ego is a slippery character precisely because there is no "real person" behind it, and in the search to find one we encounter nothing but frustration. This should tell us something very important about the nature of life, of people, even of Gurus. There's no "there" there. And looking for a "there" to hang our hats on is what drives us batty.

I mentioned before in my last post that real spiritual life pretty much begins and even ends with the First Noble Truth of Buddhism - that conditional life is simply unsatisfying (dukkha). This is a core reason why this feeling of dissatisfaction is so universal - it applies even to the very notion that we are a person, an entity, a being with an identity, and that others around us are also, including God and Guru. This is why the Buddhist doctrine of anatta (no-self) flows so directly from the fact of dukkha and points back at it. Being an apparent self is like being a hungry ghost who doesn't even know he's dead. There's simply no possible satisfaction given that situation. It doesn't matter what we try to "eat", or seek, the very core of what we presume ourselves to be - a "self" - isn't even there to feed, much less anything viable to feed upon. The heart of a hungry ghost isn't so much closed as simply dead and empty.

The problem with trying to figure out who the real Adi Da is, is that once we start looking behind the masks and attitudes and words and teachings and experiences, peeling back layer after layer to get closer to the truth, we find nothing there at all. Just a bag of wind. And maybe some devotees then go "yes!" and say this only proves what a Divine trickster he was, what a perfect Divine Incarnation he was and so on. But the same could (and should) be said for any of us, and the result will be the same as well.

Who is the real Broken Yogi, as the commentator seems to be asking? Am I the child growing up in a weird dysfunctional family in crazed suburbia? The teenager who called upon Ramana to come, and was overwhelmed in his Presence? The guy who left home at sixteen on his spiritual quest? The one who stumbled into Poonja Swami without knowing who he was and whose mind fall into the heart? The one who found Da and discovered in his living room that nothing ever happened? The one who fell through a hole in the universe a year later after falling in love with Da and came out on the other side in a transparent world of pure God? The one who left to go to college, who came back to give Da another shot, who left again to wander the world, who came back for still more, who got married, had kids, vascillated again a number of times, became Da's astrologer, defended Da on the internet, criticized Da on the internet, and then left Da? The one who returned to Ramana, who practiced self-enquiry, and now writes here today? Who the hell is that guy?

There really isn't a good answer to that question, except to say "none of the above". If you are in a series of dreams, wondering which dream is the real one, you are not going to find a satisfactory answer. There is no real dream. There is only awakening. And in awakening, all the dream identities fall away, leaving nothing to identify with at all. Whatever we think ourselves to be, we are not. Whatever we think Adi Da to be, he isn't. It's not that this applies only to really special mystical realizers, if that's what we think Adi Da is. It doesn't. It applies to everyone and everything. So I really don't have a lot of patience with the notion that there are some aspects of Adi Da's life that are "really him", and others that are not. As if only the latter years of his life are a reflection of other people's influence on him, whereas there was some earlier period where the "true" Adi Da shown through. This is just nonsensical thinking, hungry ghost thinking, I'm sorry to say. Imagine a hungry ghost trying to eat some "real food" after getting fooled by "fake food". This is just more comedy, and tragedy, waiting to happen.

And yes, that's what most of us are up to most of the time when we are trying to figure one another out, or figure Adi Da out. It's best to simply stop trying to look behind the mask for something "real", and instead simply accept the mask itself for what it is, and what it isn't.

That's pretty much what I went through as I was leaving Adidam. Yes, I had been deeply involved, and I'd "recognized" Adi Da very early on. I had what to me were transcendental recognition breakthroughs of an extreme kind the first two times I met Da at the age of seventeen and eighteen. It's no use trying to explain them or categorize them. I was thrown out of myself, and really, I never quite got back in. It wasn't the first time that had happened to me, but it was incredibly powerful and it cemented my relationship to him, even though no one else seemed to much notice or care. It was more powerful than anything that came along in the latter years, even when I served him directly and was more "mature".

And so when Da began talking about the central importance of "recognition" of him in the late 1990s, I knew very much what he was talking about. But a strange thing occurred over those years, in that by then I no longer felt that was my primary interest, even when it came to Adi Da. The more Da talked about recognition of him, the less and less I cared. I found that I just wasn't terribly concerned with who Da was, that it really didn't make any difference to me. I was more and more interested in who I was, not Da. I came to the recognition that the only thing that really mattered was my own understanding of myself, not of Da. And so the whole issue of what Da was, what his realization was, and what I should do on that basis just fell away like a childhood game. I just wasn't interested in playing that anymore.

So I began to drift away from Adidam in an odd sort of way. I wasn't really sure where I was going. I wasn't even yet an open critic, I was just trying to find my own way. I was more interested in the process I was going through than in what Da was going through. His whole dramatic theater didn't matter to me much anymore. When the whole Translation thing happened up in Seattle, I really couldn't care much. Da personally invited me to come visit and see him and spend time with him, and I just declined. I sent my wife instead, since she'd stayed home and cared for things many times when I'd taken off to be with Da before.

When I became an open critic of Da's, one of the issues people were constantly asking me about, and I was not able to answer, were things like "so do you still think Da is enlightened?" or "Did Da change over the years?" The simple answer was that I didn't really know. Maybe, maybe not, to both. The real answer is that I simply didn't care, and I don't see that the question even matters. To people in Adidam, this is the ultimate heresy. They think that if one concludes that Da is enlightened, one has to accept everything else about him as true and all of his teachings as Divine Revelation, and all is excused and even Divinized by this "recognition". I found this to be sheer bullshit, to put it bluntly. I didn't feel the need to excuse or recognize anything, because none of that was going to change my own experience, which was of "me", not "Him". What I was interested in was penetrating this "me", and not of endlessly trying to recognize "Him".

So I found myself drawn to Ramana, and to self-enquiry, to this basic question "Who am I?" I didn't really care who Adi Da was. Fine, maybe he's a realizer of unprecedented power and depth. Maybe he's a fraud, a con man, a hypnotic manipulator. I really didn't care. I still don't. To the degree that I was interested in those questions, I was interested in how I came to be involved with either aspect of that whole Da-phenomena. I was interested in understanding myself, my attraction and involvement in all that, and not what Da-in-himself was or is or will be. What he was to me wasn't necessarily even about him, it was about me, my life, my mind, my fears, my projections, my ego. I knew tons of devotees who claimed to recognize Da, but they were the same dumb shits they had always been, and no different from me. This applied even to the Kanyas, who I knew and could see were deeply delusional even about their own recognition of Da, because they didn't know who they were.

To me, recognizing Da doesn't really mean shit. What matters is recognizing who "I" am. And as far as I'm concerned, that applies to everyone else also. I don't really care about some devotee's recognition of Da, if they don't recognize themselves. That's pure cultism as far as I am concerned, and that's all Adidam seemed to be by the time I left. A parade of clowns miming their recognition of Da, with no clue as to who they were. And I was a bozo who desperately needed to get off that bus.

So when Elias asks if I think the latter Da is a projection, I'd say yes, definitely. But so was the early one. And by the way, so is "Elias", and "Tom", at every age and stage of his life. And yes, Da's a projection of the egos of devotees, because there is only projection, everywhere, on and through everything. It's a world of glass mirrors everywhere. No "real world" to be found. No "real people" either.

Okay, I don't want to confuse the issue by category jumping or mixing duality with non-duality. But this is the nature of duality and identity. Da as a human being had a lot of problems at every stage of his life, and he was constantly trying to solve this by creating a new identity. Did he know who he was in the ultimate sense? I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. Did Jesus? Did Buddha? Did Ramana? I don't know that either. The only thing I do know is that no one else knows either. Da devotees love to bring out all kinds of conceptual creations Da gave them to play with, and put people into little boxes of various identities and stages and how they all add up to Da being the greatest most infallible super-identity ever. And not an ego at all, of course. But how would they know if they still think of themselves as egos? As long as they keep thinking the thought "I,I,I"? And what good comes from any of that? It's just the blind leading the blind, because no one knows who they are, they are so busy trying to know and assert who Da is.

I first met Da in 1975, when he was Bubba, and I last saw him around 2003 when he was Adi Da Samraj. Was he the same guy? Of course not. But that didn't matter then or now. I was there because I needed something from Da, and by the time I left, I didn't need anything from him anymore. At the end, I made a conscious decision not to judge Da on the basis of whether I thought he was enlightened or seventh stage or anything like that, even on the basis of my own mystical experience of him. I simply asked myself what kind of way was he relating to me and to others and what had he created here as a vehicle for practice, and did that work for me or anyone else? And was any of that useful to me anymore? The answer increasingly came back that no, this wasn't useful to me, it was actually harmful and destructive and something to stay away from. It was rather easy to see that I'd excused Da earlier simply because he was useful to me for a time, and once he was no longer useful, I could see his activities in a clearer light.

Now, I'm not sure what that says about Da in any ultimate sense. Those who still need Da are of course going to see him in a certain light, and those who don't will see him differently. Leroy Stillwell I'm sure sees Da in the light of someone who desperately needs him and can't imagine anyone having anything negative to say about him at all, unless they were demented or resentful and so forth. It doesn't make Leroy a bad guy or a fool or an accessory to fraud that he thinks this way. It just makes him relatively blind to anything outside himself and his own needs. Having been in both places, I have a bit of distance on both views, and also a lot of sympathy for both views. I could no more ask Leroy to see things differently than I could ask my younger self to. I was at least as needy and in love with Da as he was and still is. But I'm not anymore. Is that a progression, a regression, or a just an impression (samskara)? God only knows. One thing I can say is that I'm free of the need to care either way.

Real freedom to me isn't about identifying with a particular view, and being free to indulge in that view and gain victory over all other views. I don't think it's possible to be free and to hold onto a particular view of Adi Da, any more than it's possible to be free and to hold onto a particular view of oneself. Who am I? Whatever I answer, it's not freedom. Who is Da? Whatever I answer, it's not freedom. So I don't answer. Self-enquiry isn't about getting an answer to the question "who am I?" It's about seeing that there really is no answer at all, because there is no ego at all. There is no separate self, no closed heart, no dead self, no hungry ghost, and no true self either. There's just freedom.

I've had arguments with devotees of Ramana about this even. Some of them are quite attached to the notion of the "Self" or the transcendental substratum underlying the self and world. I try to point out that these are not "real things", they are just verbal and conceptual pointers that are useful to some for guidance in their sadhana. They help point us in the right direction, and that's their only real purpose. Calling our true identity "the Self" is merely a directional pointer, in that by examining the subject, the ego- self, and following attention to its source rather than outward towards objects, we can penetrate the illusion of the ego. That's important and necessary and thus a good teaching tool. But to turn that into a reified "real thing" is to defeat the whole purpose of the inspection, which is to destroy the ego-mind and its concepts and ideas and projections and leave us free of them.

There are good and useful teaching tools in Adidam also. That most of them are taken from sanatana dharma or Buddhism is not such a bad thing, whether Da acknowledges that or not. It actually adds to their authenticity. But there are also delusions in Adidam and bad teaching tools and traps one can fall in. That is true of sanatana dharma also, of course. It's important to recognize that all spiritual teachings are dukkha. They are unsatisfying. They are frustrating and ultimately useless. Most of spiritual practice is just the down to earth process of finding this out. And unfortunately we really do have to find this out, we really do have to suffer our illusions, our projections, our relationships, and come to the point of knowing them as dukkha. That is how we gain liberation from them. That is why the First Noble Truth is the truly liberating principle of spiritual life. That is why we have to keep that truth in mind throughout the spiritual process, so that we don't become enamoured of whatever spiritual path or teaching or teacher is temporarily seeming to fulfill our needs. That too will pass, and we will be left with our dukkha.

Da is no different in that regard from anything else we have pinned our hopes on. One can claim till he is blue in the face that Da is different and this time it's really going to work, but no one has any evidence of this. None of Da's devotees demonstrate much of this in anything but the most ordinary ways, and even there not so much. I say this not out of disrespect or cynicism, but only because it's the tragic truth. And if there's any value in the whole Adidam experience, it's in coming to the point of accepting this, and feeling the full force of dukkha, of our dissatisfaction, even in the midst of whatever profound truth we think is going to save us.

Not that Da didn't bring anything true to the table. The Da commentator talks about the Atma shakti, or as he calls it the "Atma nadi Shakti", as if there's some kind of difference. This is just another example of the dualism that haunts so much of Da's teaching. As if there is any difference between the Heart (Atma) and its own Light (Atma Nadi, or Amrita Nadi). The whole point of non-dual teachings such as Ramana's is that the Heart is everything, and that all seeming forms and light and energy are simply the Heart. The idea that there is some form of separation between the two is a bizarre idea of Adi Da's, something he came up with to insist that he's the only genuine realizer of the Atma Nadi (despite borrowing the name and description from Ramana) and that all other realizers only got as far as the "exclusive heart". As if, again, there is such a thing.

And that's the problem with Adidam in a nutshell. There's no doubt that Da could feel and communicate to others this feeling for the Atma Shakti, this beauty that is at the heart of all experience and all beings. But then he has to always make a subtle differentiation in this Atma Shakti, as if what he is "giving" is actually separate from the Heart, because it's the "Amrita Nadi". That distinction runs through his whole teaching, and it creates subtle separation whenever his devotees try to put it into practice, which is where this whole cult phenomena comes from, the whole us vs. them mindset and all its attendent delusions and fantasies of victimized martyrdom.

This is funny to me, actually, because one of my latter experiences with Da was a vision in which Da gave me the full instruction on Amrita Nadi, in every possible yogic form, in an infinite dimension beyond all forms and limitations. (And don't ask, because there's literally nothing to say about that whatsoever). So in a strange sense I actually do know something about this, and I can say that there is no distinction whatsoever between the Heart and Its Light, and no distinction between Atma and Amrita Nadi, that any distinction is entirely conceptual in origin. So while there is some kind of value in Da's teaching about not developing an exclusive orientation around the Witness, and thus excluding phenomena strategically, it has virtually no bearing on the actual nature of the Divine Shakti, the Heart, or Its Light. There are not two or three or ten kinds of Shakti, there is only one. Or, One. The reality of the Shakti is the reality of the Heart. There is no need to differentiate it. The differences only come at the level of the mind of experience and its bifurcated madness.

One of the points I made careful note of when leaving Adidam was that discrimination wasn't just about making subtle distinctions. It was also about not making distinctions that don't actually exist. And the distinction between Atma Shakti and Amrita Nadi Shakti is a distinction without a difference. It's important not to introduce distinctions into the mind that have no basis in reality, especially about something so central.

Now, as for Elias' mention that Da is not the same character now that he has no physical body to worry about, well duh! I mean, the same is true for all of us. These physical bodies and brains are a huge drag, and they make us all seem so dumb and shallow. Every one of us, when we shuffle off this mortal coil, is going to know himself in a far better light. Much happier and less burdened by bullshit. Or at least seeming to be. That's the nature of the subtle worlds. So I'm sure that Da is feeling a helluva a lot better and is just laughing at those of us here who are taking what he left behind so damned seriously, both devotees and dissidents. But that's pretty much the reaction of most souls when they die. As Einstein said, when we die the first thing we probably ask ourselves is why we took this life so seriously.

But of course that's the whole point of incarnating in the first place. It's to be put into a relatively dreadful situation that we have to struggle with and deal with all kinds of really convincing forms of separation and terror and struggles to survive and fear and anger and so on. And somehow, even in the midst of all that, find some humor and happiness, and above all some love. Otherwise it's really just a waste of time, and we'd all be better off in some subtle world living it up. Coming here is a sacrifice for the sake of sadhana, so it's a real shame to waste time here doing anything less. Those of us who came here with the karmas to get involved with Adi Da were definitely signing on for some serious shit to transcend and find the humor and love in, regardless of how painful that might be. That doesn't mean becoming a brainwashed Da junkie or swallowing the Daist hook, line, and sinker, or defending the bullshit as if it were God's special revelation. Part of the challenge is to break through that form of dukkha as well. That doesn't come except by seeing it as dukkha, even the "spiritual stuff". After all, those higher subtle realms we go to after death, they are dukkha too. It's just harder to see that once you are there. Which is why we come here to these crazy-ass physical worlds where everything is so damned frustrating. That's the whole point. The physical realms carry the concentrated message of all the realms, and that message is dukkha. Being satisfied by Da is to miss the whole point of that experience. We are not here to be satisfied.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Doubtful Postscript

In relation to my last post on Transcending Language and Concepts in the Adidam Teachings, I've found some further discussion of the Facebook exchange between Elias and Greg Wells over at Elias' Lightmind Forum. From that forum I've found another link to a second Facebook exchange between Elias and Greg that seems to have preceded the previously posted one. It's not as juicy as the other exchange, but very, very preachy nonetheless on the part of Greg. [Update: I've found out that these discussions are in fact being posted by Elias in chronological order, the first being first, the second  being second, and apparently a third on its way.]

There's not as much to say about this second exchange, except when the subject of “doubt mind” is brought up by Greg to explain why Elias is not likely to be satisfied with the answers Greg gives to Elias' questions. Greg says:

Your question is you, as mind. Thus, it is about "you", not this Root Way of Reality Itself. You, as mind, will never be satisfied by any answer I give, because the root of mind is doubt. The mind can believe, but it cannot "see" Reality because it is itself the obstruction to noticing the Obviousness of Reality Itself. Thus, why not turn whole-bodily to the Avataric Human Revelation-Body of Adi Da Samraj, and "Fall Awake" in your Heart?

There are some fair points here, used rather dishonestly unfortunately. The fair point is that the mind is rooted in “doubt”. To be more accurate, the mind is rooted in separation. That's the “I”-thought, the ego, the sense of being separate from reality and thus trying to figure it out rather than simply being what we truly are. The mind thus includes the whole of the ego and its world, not just the verbal sense of mind and brain and so on. And true enough, the mind cannot know or see reality, because the mind is the result of separation. But this is also a narrow understanding of mind that does not account for the genuine basis for our awareness of mind, which is transcendental consciousness.

If mind is defined by thoughts and objects of thought, then true, mind is founded in ego, separation, and unconsciousness, and it cannot know reality. But by so defining “mind”, we run into the same problem I highlighted in the previous post about Da's use of the term “heart”. Namely, this defines mind by the very terms of separation that are the result of an illusion about our self-existence. Thus, it defines mind by the mind's own sense of illusion, rather than in reality. And it is in reality that the mind is understood to be transcendental divine awareness, and not the “I”-thought and the world the “I”-thought creates around itself.

If we think of “doubt” as the fundamental illusion of separation, then yes, the ego-mind is rooted in doubt, which is all the “I”-thought amounts to. But this only means that the illusion of separation is rooted in the illusion of separation, which is rather redundant, and actually points to the truth that separation has no actual basis in reality, but is merely a form of circular, self-defining illogic. What we call “mind” is not really what we think it to be at all. It is not, in reality, this mechanism of doubt and separation. It is transcendental awareness, free and open and continuous with all of existence. It is not defined by doubt, and it does not disappear when the illusion of separation and doubt is seen through. It is only ego-mind, or doubt-mind, that vanishes in realization, and our true mind is seen to have never been qualified by the ego's illusion of doubt.

So Greg is playing a bit of a trick on Elias here by saying “Your question is you, as mind.” He is defining Elias by this doubt-mind, rather than by affirming his real nature as transcendental awareness. This does not serve anyone. Telling someone they are “doubt-mind” does not liberate them. Telling them that they are transcendental awareness is what will liberate them. If Greg were to make clear that this sense of mind-identity is not who Elias really is, that would be one thing, but instead he is using this point as a pivot by which to gain power and authority in the conversation.

After all, isn't Greg using mind also here? If Elias' questions come from “mind”, then where do Greg's answers come from? Either Greg sees himself as coming from a place beyond mere doubt-mind, or he is just being doubt-mind also, and his answers are going to be unsatisfying regardless of Elias' receptivity. They are also going to be forms of subtle doubt, framed in the pseudo-religious language of faith, but actually only projections of inner doubt-mind. What seems to be happening in the conversation is that Greg is claiming some sort of special status for himself, as a devotee of Adi Da, who is able to transcend the limitations of “mind”, and bring to the conversation Adi Da's radical wisdom and teaching, which Elias ought to bow down to by surrendering his mind to this wisdom. But what Greg fails to notice is that his own grasp of Adi Da's teaching is itself largely a mental one, and Elias makes note of this at the end.

This is the kind of problem that often comes up when talking with fundamentalists, especially of the Daist variety. They don't seem terribly self-aware of their own ego-mind, and the tricks it plays on them. I'll be the first to acknowledge that the ordinary use of the mind tends to be filled with doubts. Da is right to point this out, and it's something we all need to be aware of. But being a devotee of Adi Da gives no one any special exemption status on this count. Being able to repeat the teachings of Adi Da by training the mind to remember his various catch phrases and capitalizations does not make the mind any less “doubtful” than before. In fact, it often merely adds another layer of self-delusion to the already difficult process of transcending the illusions of the mind.

In our ordinary state of egoic confusions, we of course have many doubts and questions. The First Noble Truth of Buddhism, which I think is pretty much the beginning and the end of all true spiritual teaching, is that conditional existence is “dukkha”, which means many things, but the primary meaning I get from it is “unsatisfying”. And the conditional mind is always unsatisfied and unsatisfiable. Likewise, all spiritual teachings which address the mind are unsatisfying, and there is no spiritual teaching which can ever satisfy the conditional mind. Fortunately, however, we are not the conditional mind, and thus, we are not limited to the language and concepts of spiritual teachings which describe and critique the conditional mind. We can stand beyond the doubt-mind, even as we critique it and let it voice its many doubts and questions, because in reality we are already beyond the doubt-mind. Thus, we can accept the conditional mind as it is, and not react to it or expect it to be satisfied. We even have to respect its need to understand itself, and to ask question and seek answers in the process. That is why spiritual teachings exist in the first place, to help those who are yet identified in one way or another with the conditional mind to find their way beyond it, and to know their real nature.

It is for this reason that spiritual teachers answer questions. Da himself spent much of his teaching years answering the questions of his students, over and over again. Yes, he pointed out that ego-mind is rooted in doubt and separation, but that didn't stop him from continuing to answer questions and writing dozens of books that were essentially answers to those questions.

The problem with pointing out that someone you are in conversation with is suffering from doubt-mind and trying to explain their lack of agreement with you on this phenomena is that it is essentially a form of projection. In other words, it's a way of shifting responsibility for one's own doubts and separative mind to one's debate opponent. It follows from the perception that the person one is having a discussion with isn't entirely agreeing with one's views, and taking that as a form of opposition and conflict that requires one to mount an attack on the other person. Subtly accusing them of being filled with doubt-mind is a way of doing that. It raises oneself higher and lowers the other person to an inferior plane of discourse. It's no longer a discussion among equals, of people who recognize their own limitations and their own dukkha, it's a discussion from a preacher's pulpit.

And that is what Greg tends to do as these discussions progress. He climbs to the preacher's pulpit, very much like Evelyn Disc, using the distance thus created as a form of protection for his own ideas and ideals. But what is really being protected through these methods is the preacher's own inner doubts about those ideas and ideals. In this discussion, Elias has some reasonable questions, and actually agrees with Greg quite a lot, but when he voices some dissent from Greg's views or asks questions that might possibly undermine something Greg says, or something he quoted from Adi Da, there is this reflexive resort to ascending to the pulpit and preaching.

Why, one might ask? I think it's a rather classic example of Da's saying, “those who despise me, love me in secret, while those who love me openly have hidden doubts”. Not that Elias here is showing any evidence of despising Da – quite to the contrary, he is openly praising many things Da says. But when he says anything remotely critical of Da, or asks difficult questions, this triggers Greg's own inner doubts, and he mounts an immediate and elaborate defense against them, filled with all the ringing language of the Adidam preacher. But rather than dealing with these doubts directly, as his own inner problem and conflict, he projects them onto Elias, and starts addressing Elias' “doubt-mind”.

This is a shame. People like Greg need to see their own doubts rising to the surface so they can deal with them. Not because I think Greg needs to embrace those doubts and leave Adidam, but because he needs to be free of them one way or another. Living in isolation on Naitauba, surrounded completely by other devotees of the most dedicated sort, is not going to expose Greg to much that will challenge his own inner doubts or help him to confront them. In fact, in a setting like that, there's usually a communal agreement never to do anything like that, and so people build up forms of consensus among themselves about the absolute truthfulness of their own path in order that none of them ever have to face up to their inner doubts about it. The basic method for dealing with such doubts is to call them “doubt-mind” and to suppress them and cast them out, and to think of that as something that “people in the world” are afflicted with, not themselves.

And of course, someone like Elias, a prominent critic of Adidam, is a convenient target for that kind of projection and trashing, which relieves the believer and makes his fellow believers feel better about themselves. They have made an easy scapegoat of Elias in order to not have to deal with the problem of their own inner doubts. And by affirming in their minds through deadening repetition the core precepts of their path, they can see themselves as the righteous upholders of truth and reality, rather than as ordinary folks with the same ordinary doubts and troubles that we all have about such great matters.

Da once defined cultism as “big talk about great matters without real practice”. Rather than apply that too broadly, trying to paint the whole of the alleged cultist's life with one brush, it's best to apply it to specific situations like these, where we can examine the participants and see whether they are actually practicing in the moment, or just making pretentious Big-Talk. I think we can see that Greg is not really practicing here. He's talking the talk, but not walking the walk. In fact, his inability to walk the walk in this situation leads him to talk bigger and bigger, until his words swallow the relationship entirely and leave nothing behind. What would it take for Greg to actually practice under these circumstances? Not much at all, really.

First, a simple acknowledgement (not necessarily even spoken) that he doesn't actually know all the answers to Elias's questions. That would be a good start.

Second, an acknowledgement that he has questions of his own that he doesn't know the full answers to.

Third, simply staying in human relationship with Elias and making honest observations about the matters under discussion.

Fourth, refraining from over-quoting Adi Da, or turning one's own language into paraphrases of Adi Da's teachings.

Fifth, refraining from putting any blame for one's inability to answer these question on the other person. Try the best you can, and if that isn't good enough, assume no blame on anyone's part.

Sixth, stop preaching or otherwise trying to get rid of any doubts one sees in either oneself or the other. Allow the doubts felt or expressed to rise up and be observed and openly felt without the reaction of suppression. Asserting the opposite of doubt does not undo doubt or overcome it, it only keeps it in the unconscious and makes it more powerful.

Seventh, abandon all dharmas and agendas. Just relate honestly to what is arising, without imposing a mental construct upon it, even one derived from the dharma. Use the present circumstance to illuminate the dharma, and vice-versa.

The key here is simply staying in relationship. That doesn't mean one can't be emotional or even react at times. But one must be able to climb back down from those emotions by feeling them and knowing them as one's own, rather than projecting them onto others. The biggest danger in all these kinds of discussions is the projection game. It's something we have all done. I've done it, Elias has done it, and here Greg is doing it. No big deal, really. I'm impressed that Elias is actually refraining fairly well from playing that out, because I know it's something Elias has had problems with in the past. It's good to see him showing some maturity here. Kudos.

But then again, Elias has had the advantage of years of engaging people in almost endless rounds of internet discussion and has experienced these kinds of conflicts over and over again. Him and I have done that with one another as much as anyone probably, and we've each been guilty of some of the most egregious offenses one can imagine. Greg has not had that kind of experience. I'm sure he's had lots of Adidam devotional groups, which sometimes allow for this sort of confrontation with one's own inner demons and doubts, and been through his fair share of purification in that regard. But this is quite a different animal, dealing with people outside the reference frame of the small religious world of Naitauba and having to talk with people who simply don't share that point of view.

There's a whole layer of doubt-mind rising up here in Greg that he's probably not had to deal with in a long time, since he himself was entering into the Adidam fold. And so it's perhaps understandable that he's intimidated and responding so aggressively. But it's also something that I hope he and other devotees can learn to handle responsibly, taking on the reactions that arise in them without projecting them onto others, and allow themselves to be unsettled by the experience rather than constantly trying to resolve it with affirmations of their own faith. That's not going to work. They have to see these encounters as forms not of missionary preaching, but of confrontation with their own doubts and difficulties, as a gracious opportunity to see things about themselves that their rather cloistered life in Naitauba is not helping them with.

Rather than seeing themselves as the beneficent vehicles of grace given to the lowly and doubt-filled Elias for his healing and enlightenment, they need to see Elias as the vehicle of grace given to them to help them deal with their own doubts, difficulties, and cultism. Yes, that's a humbling attitude, but a necessary one. Elias may have some prickly personal qualities at times, but even that's not much in evidence here. In fact, Elias seems very much motivated to understand these Adidam folks and the dharma of Adi Da, just without all the cultic baggage attached. That's not being served here. It's not furthered by preaching, but by honest discussion.

That means people like Greg need to get over the image of themselves they've created as some sort of wise and saintly vehicle of grace, and get down to real practice, which means really facing up to and transcending their own inner nonsense and doubt. They have to acknowledge that they have their own doubts about Adi Da and his teachings, and not feel that if they admit that to themselves or to others that they have “lost” the debate. Doing that is actually a sign of inner strength, not weakness, whereas these outer shows of faith and conviction are actually signs of weakness, not strength as they seem to presume. And people listening in on this conversation can't help but perceive it that way.

One has to be able to enter into conversations with our fellow human beings in an open-ended manner, without knowing how it's supposed to turn out for either of us. As mentioned in my previous post, Greg has an agenda here, a missionary agenda, and he sees himself as obligated to perform some priestly role here of bringing the dharma to those in darkness. This unfortunately is just a belief in Greg's mind, and he's trying to impose it on the conversation, and naturally it produces conflict – primarily in Greg's own mind, but by projecting it onto the conversation, it destroys the natural relationship there as well. Instead, Greg could just engage Elias without that agenda, and let his own natural relationship with the Guru guide him, and let what occurs unfold without his mind trying to control it. This would allow Greg to actually benefit from the encounter in ways he probably couldn't imagine beforehand, rather than see the only benefit coming from Elias being “turned around” by Greg's skill with the Adidam dharma.

In other words, these kinds of discussions have to be living, fluid and unpredictable, like life itself. Like God. Even, like Adi Da. Doing that would be genuine missionary work, regardless of how it seemed to turn out. Living satsang with an open-ended mind is the best way to overcome doubt-mind and the presumption of separation. Otherwise, things always turn out badly, even if one thinks one has succeeded in one's preaching. Gaining converts to the Tabernacle of Saint and Ear, where the repetition of high dharma is used to push one's inner doubts deep into one's unconscious, is not real missionary work. Real missionary work is no different than real life or real practice. It is open-ended, putting no limits on mind or speech, a constant encounter with one's own limitations and a constant practice of overcoming those limitations. It isn't about overcoming the limitations in others, ever.

The limitations one encounters in others are always and only opportunities to deal with one's own inner doubts and demons and limits, for we react to what we have in ourselves. If we find ourselves reacting to doubt-mind in someone else, and trying to remedy that by preaching the gospel of Adidam (or whatever one is into), one has to recognize that and simply stop it, turn on a dime, and deal instead with one's own doubts, until there is no more reaction left in us. That's what there is to learn from these kinds of encounters, by which I mean virtually all of human life. What relationships are not like this, not just ultimately, but in everyday practice? Life is series of confrontations with ourselves, played out in a drama of outer forms and circumstances, but always a means for us to deal with ourselves, rather than try to fix or cure or convert others to our point of view.

That is what I've learned at least from my time in Adidam and my time out of Adidam. It's not, I think, a point of view that is in conflict with basic Adidam dharma. I think it's a fairly universal lesson we all need to learn, and something I need to keep learning and practicing with. It would be good if people in Adidam could learn that from these sorts of encounters, and be willing to have genuinely open-ended discussions with public people and even critics of Adidam like Elias. It's one of the best ways to purify oneself of cultism and all its artifacts in the mind, which are essentially forms of “closed-mindedness”. This is to be done by resorting to that inner and transcendental aspect of mind that is not limited by doubt and separation, but which is always prior to these. This aspect of mind is the true “heart” of the mind, and it is always available to us, under any circumstances, and it isn't a form of preachy repetition of the right words and phrases, it's an open-ended and loving embrace of whatever crazy circumstance or relationship one is in.

So anyway, I hope that this little message of minds gets read by Greg or others in Adidam who have some honest interest in genuinely “making satsang available”. This is I hope at least a decent pointer to how to do that. Elias unfortunately mentions in his follow-up discussion on his forum that some of the Adidam people seem to have withdrawn from Facebook and suggests that this might be the result some inside decision to not engage the public in this way, but to stay away from such open encounters that can't be controlled or that might result in some kind of embarrassment to the organization. That's too bad.

The Adidam organization needs to get over its embarrassment phobia. That should have been done away with back in the Garbage and the Goddess days, but somehow it persists all the way up to the present. I mean honestly, Adi Da's public reputation was ruined way back then, there's really nothing left to lose. Which is actually a good thing, if those people have the courage to embrace that set of facts. It means they could, if they were insightful and secure enough in themselves, actually engage the public in an open-ended manner and simply allow what comes of that to flow naturally from their own faith in their Guru. One thing needs to be clear – that would be the sign of real faith, not this endless attempt to control all interactions with the public and ram the gospel of Adidam down their throats. Why not just live their faith without preaching it at all? It's the living, not the preaching, that is the real “missionary work”, after all. One can still talk dharma and make communcations about it and so forth, but it's no longer a form of preaching, it's just a way of engaging people in a way that's interesting and meaningful. Many people do like dharma discussions, and in Adidam there's a lot of dharma to discuss. None of it needs to be preached however. And everyone, including perhaps especially the most inner-circle devotees, has lots of doubts and questions about it. Most of those are quite reasonable and need to be addressed.

No one can actually quell or answer anyone else's doubts and questions, but one can at least be a sounding board for them. And by being a sounding board, one can also examine one's own doubts and questions, since all too often we share them with those who ask them. The process of actually and honestly looking into these matters is not easy, and we can't presume to have done that until we really are free of the illusions of doubt-mind ourselves. Until then, we have to be very honest about the presence in ourselves of these same doubts and questions, and not see ourselves as having the answers, but as engaging in a consideration in which we are really asking ourselves what we understand, and not merely mouthing the answers our minds have read. We can of course put forth the answers we have come up with, or have read about, but as something that is always worthy of crticism and critique, not deification. The problem with these kinds of discussion of Adidam dharma is that none of the Adidam devotees actually want to enter into a critique of the Adidam dharma, they want to make an icon out of it, which is actually a way of killing it, putting it in a coffin, and raising it above the dias of Saint and Ear, which is what happens to Quandra (the questioner) in the Mummery.

Adidam devotees really ought to examine the meaning of that teaching symbol and how it applies to their failure to actually critique the questions they have deep within themselves. Rather than killing them through religious cultism, they need to bring them to life and deal with them in life, in relationship, in the world of give and take and the struggle to understand ourselves.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Transcending Language and Concepts in the Adidam Teachings

I recently came across an interesting Facebook exchange between Elias Oz and several Daists that peeked my interest for a number of reasons. I'm not sure if this posting is the whole of their interaction or just an exert, but it's rather revealing about the current state of mind in Adidam. The conversation doesn't end well, in that the primary devotee involved, Greg Wells, decides that unless Elias wants to make use of the conversation "to be reconciled in your relationship with Adi Da Samraj", and to relate to Greg as "your friend and bridge to your True Heart", then Wells is going to end the conversation and de-friend Elias. To top it off, he then accuses Elias of "projecting".

This is all a little sad, especially in that Greg says he's been living on Naitauba for many years, and thus represents the dedicated core of Adidam devotees, and not some peripheral newcomer. It just goes to show how few people in Adidam can actually relate to outsiders in an ordinary human way, without an agenda. One can't fault Greg his devotion to Adi Da, but rather than letting it be free, he seems to tie it to an agenda, a missionary agenda it seems, and can't simply relate to Elias without that agenda guiding him. This is part of the problem with missionaries – like multi-level marketing salesmen, they only value their human exchanges to the degree that it fits their sales agenda, and people get cut off and discarded for the “crime” of not buying into that purpose. So once Greg realizes that Elias isn't conversing with him for the purpose of fulfilling this missionary agenda, he cuts him off and discards him, trashing him along the way as closed and adolescent. But what is more adolescent than seeing people only as objects of one's missionary agenda, and cutting off any relationship with outsiders that doesn't serve that agenda? The logic here is rather deadly and even sub-adolescent. It's a childish approach that ignores anyone who isn't there to feed them.

Elias for his part comes off quite well, all things considered. And I say this as someone who's had more than his share of conflicted run-ins with Elias, and knows his various debating games quite well. Not much of that seems in evidence here. Now, maybe there's something missing from the exert, but from what is visible it seems Elias is just having a polite disagreement or debate about some simple issues regarding Adidam teachings and his own point of view about all that. He doesn't seem to be creating any personal conflict over this, and he deals quite well with someone who is getting offended by the slightest issues. For example, Elias says that sometimes Da was sloppy in his use of the term “heart”, and this is regarded as an almost capital offense by Greg and other Daists, who not only mount a defense of Da, but quickly turn it into a direct personal attack on Elias. Whether Da was sloppy or not in this regard, it's hardly the most critical thing one could say about him, and there's really no need to be concerned about protecting some imaginary threat to Da's reputation here. Elias starts to run into the problem that so many Daists seem to have – it's simply inconceivable to them that anyone could ever criticize anything Da ever said or did, and when someone does, they get very defensive and then heavily offensive in rapid succession. Demands are made that Elias retract his statement, and soon there's a total collapse on the Daist end of the discussion.

Now, it is true that Elias makes some critical comments about the Daists in the discussion, their making an idol of Adi Da, their questioning of whether Elias even has the right to make criticisms of Adi Da, but these all seem very reasonable comments and not condemnations. From what I can see, Elias is genuinely trying to engage these folks in a conversation about Da without any particular agenda in mind, and he's basically just addressing the issues that get in the way of having an open conversation. Elias has his own point of view about Da to be sure, one that I don't always agree with, but all he seems to want to do is to have an exchange of views, whereas the Daists are really just wanting to impose their views on the conversation, and see no other point in having a conversation except to get Elias to see things their way and thus be “healed” of his disturbed relationship with Da. Elias, however, doesn't see a disturbance in his relationship with Da, and doesn't see any need to heal it therefore.

It's a case of the Daists playing the old “gom-boo” game on Elias, trying to convince him that he has a disease that needs to be healed, and then selling him the method to heal that disease so as to lock him into their fold once again. And if Elias doesn't buy that method, he's only making his disease worse, rejecting the help he needs and thus siding with darkness and evil. Da used to be quite adamant about how insidiously destructive this kind of religious message is, and how the teachings of Adidam should not be understood or communicated that way. The strange thing here of course is that the only person in this conversation who seems aware of this and is able to apply its intelligence is the critical ex-Daist, Elias, and not the devoted members of Adidam. Talk about irony.

The whole conversation reminds me of how problematic the language and concepts of spiritual teaching are. What we have here is a classic example of the failure to communicate due to incompatible concepts and language. It's interesting that the turning point of the conversation hinges on the topic of language itself, and Da's use of it. This issue of what is meant by the term “heart”, capitalized or not, only confirms that despite Da's intense scrutiny of the language he used in his teachings, a great many ambiguities remain. The Daists here make some good points about the difference between “heart” and “Heart”, but this only ends up confirming Elias' notion that Da's use of language is problematic, even in regards to this central aspect of his teaching. In fact, their inability to admit that such ambiguities remain in Da's teaching, and that they themselves have stumbled into a number of those problems, is what leads them to cut Elias off and refuse to converse further with them. An honest Daist would have to admit that even Da's teaching is not perfectly free of such conceptual difficulties and misunderstandings, but these are not honest people, and so their arguments degenerate from logical points to mere assertions of Da's ultimate status as the Perfect Realizer. The idea here is that Da is the ultimate spiritual source and authority, and thus there is no room for any discussion that is not resolved by accepting Da's Person as God and his Word as Truth, regardless of whether we actually understand what is being said or how to apply it, much less whether it's even true or in what sense it's true.

I'm reminded of a great Danny Devito-Kevin Spacey movie called “The Big Kahuna”, in which those actors play salesmen at a convention who are trying to land a big account. They bring along a young gung-ho salesman to help show him the ropes. They find out that he's a fundamentalist Christian, righteously pure and certain of his own honesty and goodness, who ends up totally undermining their efforts by finally gaining access to the “Big Kahuna” fellow, but spending the whole conversation evangelizing him about Christianity rather than just doing his job. There's a great speech at the end of the movie where Danny Devito explains to the kid that despite his ideas of himself as being a servant of God, he's a deeply dishonest and inhuman fellow, who really needs to change if he ever wants to become even a decent human being. And this is the same problem with many of these Daists, because in this sense Adidam is no different from many other forms of fundamentalist religion. Rather than just engaging in an honest conversation about ordinary “business” - in this case, a discussion of dharma – these folks somehow feel the need to evangelize and convert anyone they engage in a discussion of dharma.

In the Facebook discussion, a number of Daists talk about what an honest and good person Greg is, and this is precisely why I think the reference to “The Big Kahuna” applies. Many people in fundamentalist religions think that honesty and goodness is actually about trying to convert people to their point of view. I'm sure that Greg does seem like a good and honest fellow, but in this discussion he isn't. He's actually being dishonest and driven by an agenda, rather than merely having an honest exchange of views. He's not even listening to Elias. He's not considering the possibility that Elias is saying some things that are true, and honestly trying to understand what those are and how to take that into account. Instead, he just abandons any pretense of listening to Elias in any human way, and proceeds to preach the gospel of Adidam, and assert the perfect Divinity of Adi Da. Literally. This is not cultivating a relationship, it isn't being a friend to Elias, it isn't being honest, and it isn't even providing a bridge by which to heal Elias of any problems he might have with Adi Da, if he actually has any - if that is even Greg's purpose. Which it is not, really, because Greg doesn't seem to have any real idea of how to actually do that. Because he's not even learned the basic lessons of the gom-boo trap, how could he have any facility in the rest of the dharma, much less in anything resembling a living relationship to Adi Da?

What is Greg's real agenda? It would seem from this conversation that it is to create a cult around Adi Da and to justify that cult using all the concepts and language of Adidam. This is how religions operate, to be sure. We see Christians using the concepts and language of Jesus to create a cult around him as well. The result is that the concepts and language of a religion become the barriers to the actual realization of that very religion. Cultic Christians become loveless and righteous persecutors of heretics and those who disagree with them, and use Christian language and concepts to justify themselves. And Daists do something similar here, even raising the very concept of heresy in the process. They have lots and lots of Daist language to throw around, but none of it is actually used to further anyone's understanding or spiritual realization, it is used instead as protective armor to keep the religious ego intact. The more threatened they feel, the more this language comes out, until the whole conversation is smothered in it, and the life-blood of “consideration” is clogged with capitalizations. What becomes of the heart then? Is it not closed off and deadened by all these religious concepts?

The tragic fact of life in all spiritual teachings is that the very concepts and language that are used to communicate its truths are also the very means by which those same truths can be destroyed and covered over. I'm best known as a critic of Adidam, but even I will acknowledge that there are some good and valuable truths in the Adidam teachings. So it is a shame I think to see even those worthy truths destroyed by those wielding its teachings as a cultic club against heretics. Perhaps I am particularly sensitive to this given my personal history, but I don't think almost anyone outside of the Adidam cult, and even many inside it of more open minds, would disagree here. At least I hope they would not. And I say that in the sincere hope that Adidam will someday emerge from its internal cultic mentality and be able to actually engage the world, and even critics like Elias, in honest conversation. I'm not holding my breath, and I don't have any personal stake in it anymore one way or the other, but it would be a good sign at least that the world isn't going totally to shit.

If we examine the content of many of the Daist arguments in this discussion, we can see how deeply embedded in Adidam culture many of these misunderstandings are. In particular, we see this obsession with the ego as the defining reality of an individual's life. This is precisely the “gom-boo” problem that Da once addressed, but which doesn't seem to have been absorbed very deeply into Adidam culture. Perhaps because Da himself had only observed it, but not fully realized it himself in his own life and his subsequent teachings reflect that. So his devotees are likewise reflecting that inability to absorb this insight into the religious life. It's certainly common enough that many of us have brilliants insights into spirituality and realization, but are not able to fully incorporate that into are life and fully realize it. Da would not be the first to suffer that kind of incompleteness. We can all become guilty of our own forms of hypocrisy in the course of our human relationships without being much aware of it, so there's nothing special there. Even accomplished spiritual figures make these kinds of errors. So it's hardly unexpected that Da's devotees would also demonstrate a certain lack here. No harm in pointing it out, but if they won't even engage in a conversation about it, it's not likely to be remedied any time soon.

Elias' basic point about the heart remains. He says, “What I am saying is that the heart is always open. You don't have to open it. All you can do is realize it.” This is the real deal, the real “fundamental truth” that all good fundamentalists ought to know and affirm. Instead, however, the Daists get very reactive to this statement, and try to put it down, and put Elias down for making it. Some try to clarify the issue by pointing out that Da uses “heart” to refer to the “emotional heart”, and “Heart” to refer to the transcendental Being prior to the body-mind. However, this actually confuses the issue even further, as if there are really two hearts, one merely emotional, or conditional, and the other transcendental and unconditional.

These teachings on the “closed heart” refer, if I am not mistaken, to the notion of the “knots”, and particularly the “granthi bedha” knot in the right side of the heart. This causal center was pointed to by Ramana Maharshi as a reflection from the point of view of the body-mind of the ignorance at the core of all suffering. He spoke of how this knot opens in true Self-Realization, and how otherwise it appears to be closed, or only partially active, creating by reflection the “I”-thought that rises to the Sahasrar and then descends through the body, animating the mind and life with all the qualities of the separate “I”.

However, in Ramana's teaching this “heart knot” is actually an illusory appearance, born of ignorance. In reality, as Elias says, the heart is always open, always awake, always self-aware. In fact, one of Ramana's most famous teachings was that the only thing preventing realization was the thought that we are not realized. If that is done away with, then realization is obviously already the case for us and all beings. However, he also makes it clear that the thought he is speaking of is the “I”-thought, and not merely the superficial thoughts we have about whether we are realized or not. That is why the primary practice he recommended was to inspect this “I”-thought and to see that there was no “there” there, that it was essentially empty and non-existent, and that the actual truth was that we are, in reality, the very Truth that we are seeking. Seeing this truth demolishes the illusion that the ego is our true identity, and thus destroys this “I”-thought at its root. When that illusion is cut off at the heart, then the heart is said to “open”. But Ramana makes it clear that this is only a matter of speech based on the perspective of an outsider. The realizer himself sees that there was never any obstruction at all, no closed heart, and thus no opening of the heart. In reality, even the appearance of a closed heart was an illusion all along, and when that illusion is seen through, there is no need to open the heart because it is already open. So the heart never actually opens, only the illusion that it was ever closed is dissolved.

From the perspective of those still believing in illusions, however, it looks as if the realizer's heart is opened. And much effort is perhaps mistakenly made trying to emulate that and open one's own heart. But all such efforts are in vain, because the problem to be addressed is not the closed heart, but the illusion that the heart is closed. Elias seems at least sensitive to this issue, and remains adamant in affirming the nature of the heart as opened. He wisely does not accede to the point of view that the heart is closed and must be opened, but rather to the point of view that the heart is opened, and only the illusion that it is closed must be done away with.

Unfortunately, the Daists he is arguing with seem unaware of this flaw in the teachings that they follow. (Whether that flaw exists in Da's teaching, or is only inserted into it by ignorant devotees, is hard to say. What is clear is that they are following flawed teachings, and are not aware of it). There are severe consequences to following teachings like this, which assert the reality of the closed heart, and thus of the ego, and all its immensely complicated implications. For one, once the heart is assumed to be closed in us, the goal must be to open it, and spiritual practices are then conceived of as aimed at opening the heart, and actually engaged for that purpose, and in a manner that will somehow practically achieve this goal. However, all such practices are doomed to fail because they are not based in the understanding that the heart is already open, and the illusion that it is closed is just that. So such practices never work. They are always aiming at curing an imaginary disease. They do not realize that such efforts only perpetuate the imaginary disease, rather than relieve us of it. They in turn become very attached to their imaginary disease, and make much of it, and tell themselves over and over again that the most serious spiritual practitioners are those who take this disease very seriously, and make the most dedicated efforts to cure it, heal it, and open the heart to God. Even worse, they tell themselves and others that those who point out that the heart is open are not serious spiritual practitioners, are stuck in mental delusions, are not transcending the ego, and are not qualified to criticize them even.

So Elias gets accused of being an adolescent mind-case stuck in illusions, when that is clearly a projection from their own diseased imaginations. Not that Elias isn't adolescent or a mind case, like the rest of us, or not fully realized himself, but that's hardly the relevant point in this discussion. The relevant point is that he's perfectly right about the nature of the heart, and that has to be acknowledged, regardless of what one might think of him as a critic of Adidam. We all have our problems, but it's important to realize what our problems are. They are not the having of closed hearts, they are the complex belief in an imaginary disease called “closed-heartitis”. It is this imaginary belief system that has to be dealt with, not any kind of closed heart phenomena we need to take seriously. And that imaginary belief system is not something we should take seriously. It's a joke, literally. Taking it seriously merely feeds it. It needs to be laughed at and derided, not made the basis for a religion. Laughing at it might make us seem to “open the heart”, but this is never actually be the case. We are merely getting a glimpse of the open heart, by abandoning to some degree the stupid belief we have in the closed heart. It's an important distinction that can save much time and grief on everyone's part.

It's a shame the Daists Elias engaged don't even seem to have an intellectual understanding of this issue, much less a practicing grasp of it. It's a point of criticism for the whole of Da's teachings that this simple matter has not been properly addressed, as it has been in Ramana Maharshi's teachings, say. I suppose by reading this some Daists might see the value in this perspective, and even point to aspects of Da's teaching that make this same point, but it would appear that it's not been strongly emphasized enough either by Da himself or the community, otherwise we would not see these kinds of conversations break down over issues like this that ought to be well understood by everyone in Adidam, especially people as deeply involved as Greg.

And that is part of the problem with framing one's teaching in the way that Adi Da has done. A spiritual teacher must choose certain concepts and forms of language and arguments to frame his teachings and his realization, based on what will actually work to help devotees get beyond their limitations, even of mind and language. Ramana did a pretty good job of that, in that those who study his teachings acquire a fairly good grasp of this radical approach to the heart. In Adidam, however, this radical approach seems not terribly well understood, and part of the reason for that is the way in which Adi Da framed his arguments, what language and concepts he used, what he emphasized and what he did not emphasize.

For example, Adi Da famously centered his arguments on the criticism of all beings as narcissus, and pointed to the “self-contraction” as an activity we are all engaged in that was responsible for our closed hearts. The problem with this framing of the argument is that it reinforces a widespread sense of shame, guilt and responsibility for our suffering, as if we actually have committed a real crime of some sort against the heart, rather than merely mistakenly come to believe that we have committed a real crime. The result of that belief is a very complicated religion that is always trying to undo something we think we've actually done to ourselves, this “self-contraction”, rather than understanding that the very notion is an illusion, and not something that has ever actually been done by us. And not surprisingly, it's a religion which hardly ever seems to get anywhere, because it only ends up affirming the reality of the ego and the disease of “closed-heartitis”.

I can of course relate to that personally, in that the kinds of knee-jerk reactions we see in this conversation are something I myself experienced and personally enacted myself while in Adidam due to my long study and practice of the Adidam teachings. One could say I was responsible for that myself, and that's true enough, but it also reflects the simple fact that people with a certain kind of self-suppressed and shameful sense of ego and the consequent illusions about realization that it fosters are both attracted to Adidam and kept in those illusions by the teachings of Adidam, which subtly reinforce them by the very kinds of arguments we see in this Facebook conversation. Getting beyond those illusions is not terribly easy within the framework of the Adidam teachings and community, and many of those who try end up having to leave. That is a serious flaw in both those teachings and the way in which they have been put into practice.

Leaving Adidam was very helpful for me, in that it enabled me to more directly inspect and be done with all kinds of illusions about spiritual practice and realization that are reinforced within Adidam, particularly this matter of the “closed heart”. It's hard not to bring these issues up, like Elias has done here, when talking with Daists in any depth about the reasons why people like us left. However, instead of actually dealing with these issues directly, Daists tend to begin making personal attacks on people like Elias, and accuse them of various crimes against Adi Da and Truth and God, and shirking responsibility for the ego, which they continue to believe in contrary to all testimony from realizers. This ends up going nowhere, which is a shame, because some of these folks could really learn something important in the process, if they weren't so attached to a certain iconic belief not just in Da himself, but in their own grasp of what he was about.

Instead, they ramble on about contemplation of Da or satsang with the Guru being the means to realization. But they don't seem to understand what that even means. What is the whole point of contemplation of the Guru or the practice of satsang? It's to see that the heart is always open, and that we are never at any moment in the position we fear ourselves to be. We are afraid that our hearts are closed, that we are cut off from God, and that fear creates our world – a world of egos with closed hearts. The truth, however, demolishes that world, because it reveals that our heart has never been closed at all. And these Daists, instead of embracing that truth, are rejecting it and clinging to the notion that their hearts are closed and need to be opened first, before they can enjoy realization. And that is why they are stuck and in a self-perpetuating logic that descends into cultism whenever this is pointed out.

It would sure be nice if even at a superficial level this problem could be acknowledged and accepted within Adidam, and steps taken to correct it. You cannot get deep without starting at the surface. That's why the concepts and language of spiritual teaching are important and have to be addressed when they create errors of circular logic like this. We have to be very of what we actually think about these matters, because how we think about them determines our approach and our practice. Not that merely addressing these matters at the level of language and concept is enough, but it's a necessary start. One has to become relatively clear about these basic matters if one is going to make any real progress or achieve any meaningful maturity. It's possible to become so stuck in various self-destructive teaching memes that one can't ever get free of them, until one actually stops, looks at them, and has the courage to throw them away, even the ones we were most attached to. Especially those ones.

The whole “message” of the realizers is that all of us are exactly the same. As Ramana said, we are all jnanis, the only difference is that not all of us are aware of that. So the whole point of satsang with the realizer is to be in the company of someone who knows who we are in reality, that we are all the Divine Person. The genuine realizer helps you feel the reality of who you are merely by being with them. They are not there to emphasize some imaginary difference between themselves and their devotees, as if prior to realization you are not the Divine, only afterwards. No, they are they to show us and help us to understand that even now, however fucked up we may seem to be, we are the same Divine Being that the realizer knows himself to be. When we feel that Divinity in their company, we are not feeling them, we are feeling ourselves. We are relaxing enough to enjoy the bliss of our own real nature. Calling that “transmission” is very misleading, if one takes it literally. The realizer does not transmit anything, because we are not lacking anything that need to be given us. The only “gift” the realizer gives is the gift of direct knowledge into ourselves. To see the realizer and only proclaim his greatness, and to think of ourselves as little egos in his infinite Presence, is to miss the whole point the realizer is trying to make.

And that of course is the problem with Adidam in a nutshell. Adi Da emphasized to an extreme degree that egos are egos, realizers are realizers, and that until realization devotees are egos and he is the realizer, and that the only way to become a realizer is through him, and never you forget it. This is contrary to all the great and ancient teachings of the Gurus about realization. Their message is that right now, you are That. Right now. Not in the future, not only after realization, but right now. And by endlessly repeating that message, not just in language but in the silence of deepest feeling, we begin to awaken to this truth and know it. The whole point of satsang is to “listen” to that endless teaching of the Guru about the truth of the devotee, in this very moment, until we fully accept it and surrender to it. The heart is always open and present here, as our very Being. The ego is nothing more than the false belief that this is not so.