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.