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?