Monday, January 30, 2006

Crazy Jesus, Yogic Jesus

Goldeneye posted a comment below on our Jesus thread:

The long and short of it is that Goldeneye thinks the idea that Jesus was a yogi is a new age assertion with little foundation. Of course this is not true. It's a Hindu and Buddhist interpretation, and has been for as long as those cultures have had contact with Christianity. Because "new age" spirituality has brought eastern ideas to the west, this idea gets associated with new agers alot, but it doesn't originate with them. The reality is that those traditions which have a long-standing yogic tradition, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, readily see someone like Jesus as an accomplished yogi. The stories about him are virtuallyidentical to the stories about yogis in those traditions, and when they first heard about Jesus, they simply assumed that he was a yogi also.

The idea that Jesus could have been the son of God and not a yogi would seem preposterous to easterners. From their point of view, the whole notion of being a Divine Incarnation, much less having magical abilities like walking on water, raising the dead, and healing the sick, without having yogic ability would seem as ridiculous as building a rocketship without knowing advanced physics would seem to a scientist. The modern Christian view of Jesus, however, is that he was not a yogi, but was able to work miracles simply because he was the son of God, and if he asked for it to be done, God would do it. Otherwise, he was just an ordinary guy who also happened to know he was the son of God, and was thus free of sin. But the very idea that one could be free of sin and not be yogically awake would seem absurd to an easterner. It would be like having eyes and yet not being able to see.

Christians have the same problem with yogic ability that they have with science itself. They simply imagine that God works without any mechanism at all, that when Jesus heals the sick it's just like waving a magic wand and done. They don't understand that there has to be a mechanism of some kind to cause an effect. It's the same problem they have with evolution. They like to propose the idea that God created man and all creatures, or guides evolution in some miraculous way, but they don't propose any such mechanism. They are simply unaware of how the universe works, either physically or subtly, and are even aggressive about not wanting to understand how it works. They defend the idea that God somehow does things in a manner we can't possibly comprehend, when in fact we can comprehend both science and yoga, at least to some degree.

Calling Jesus a yogi doesn't make his actions any less Divine or miraculous. Nor does saying that we evolved from lifeless matter make evolution any less miraculous or Divine. In fact, it's hard to imagine how Jesus could have been what he claimed to be or did what he is supposed to have done without being an accomplished yogi. Realization often manifests spontaneous siddhis, even in those who do not seek them out. There are incidents reported in which both Ramana and Papaji are said to have raised the dead spontaneously. People without realization supposedly can develop yogic siddhis simply by playing with the "technology" of the body's subtle energies, but this is not the same thing, even if the mechanism is similar. In one case the mechanism is activated by an egoic "doer", in the other it is spontaneously activated by someone who is surrendered to God.

The other idea, that Jesus was mentally ill, has been advanced by many of Christianity's critics. It's certainly a credible idea in the abstract, but hard to prove, unless you simply diagnose anyone who claims to talk with God as mentally ill. Mentally ill people do at times appear to have some kind of strange yogic opening of energy that they simply can't handle or conduct, but that may simply be a result of chemical imbalances in their nervous system. Yogis are said to be flirting with insanity if they open their energy circuits prematurely, but that doesn't make all crazy people yogis out of control.

One thing that Goldeneye keeps saying that I have to quarrel with is that Jesus was able to stay under control because he was the son of God. What Jesus said is that we are all sons of God. Meaning that we all have the capacity to realize God, to be made sane by God-Realization, and to spontaneously manifest the powers and siddhis of God, as he did. That means not only becoming sinless by social acts of kindness and refraining from breaking the commandments, but by turning one's heart, mind, body, and breath over to the worship of God, and thus becoming yogically surrendered to the Divine Power which is life and consciousness itself. If Jesus was able to do that, he's deserving of being called a son of God. If not, he's not deserving of the name. So when Christians say Jesus was not a yogi, to me they are saying that he's not a legitimate son of God. Most Hindus and Buddhists would think similarly.

The sad thing about this is that there is a yogic tradition in Christianity that simply isn't openly acknowledged. Christianity is full of yogically alive saints who demonstrated a yogic capacity conduct spiritual force and even enact miracles of various kinds. Not that every saint in the canon was yogically active, many were just good hearted people who did nice things. But some were, and yet they can't really describe the process or make it part of the tradition because it goes against the tradition idea of how God works. Unfortunately it makes Christianity into a backwards religion that simply can't compete on a spiritual level with esoteric Hindusim and Buddhism. Would that this would change, but no present Christian ministry seems to be getting the idea, not that I know of at least (though I'm sure that some people here will undoubtedly correct my misimpression).

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Revisiting Jesus and non-dualism

A couple of posters, "anonymous" and James Butler, have taken me to the whipping post in the comments section of my last post on the historical teachings of Jesus, link as follows:

I have only a Clintonian defense to mount on the specific charge that I am guilty of imposing a non-dual interpretation upon the scanty "rorschach inkblot" that is the historical Jesus, which puts me in the same boat as Paul and so many others who project their own particular wishes and desires onto "Jesus", usually without much evidentiary basis. To parse what I said, let's look at what I wrote:

I'd suggest you're not going to understand the kind of process Jesus in all probability actually taught by studying the Bible carefully, or accepting it on faith. Nor will one find it by doing biblical scholarship. The best thing to do is study the great non-dual traditions of spirituality, east and west, to get a sense for what the true threads of Christian spirituality actually are. There's a tremendous amount of literature, Christian and non-Christian, which can help you out.

Okay, I'm guilty as charged. But at least I've qualified my statement by saying that I am simplying trying to identify the threads of Christian spirituality that are actually true. I use the word "true" not in the scholarly sense, but in the spiritual sense. In other words, there are threads of Christian teachings, found even in the Bible, which to me are true, which represent something that is true about religion, God, etc. These threads of truth are also found in various other religious traditions, including the non-dual traditions of India.

It's a non-scholarly leap, I grant you, to suggest that these true threads are genuinely linked to the historical Jesus, when we don't know for certain that they are. People do tend to read into Jesus whatever they feel is "true" about Christianity, and look upon the "false" elements of Christian teaching as an outside interposition, such as Paul's contributions. And yet I am far from being the first to point out that several threads of Christian mysticism, including aspects of both the Bible and the unofficial and suppressed books of early Christianity, have a decidedly non-dual flavor to them.

I think it would be absurd to make the kind of specific claims that Yogananda does, that Jesus taught a specific yogic path similar to his kriya yoga, but it's really not very far-fetched at all to suggest, as many have, that Jesus was actually an esoteric realizer with a decidely non-dual slant whose esoteric teachings were last to a significant degree and replaced by the Pauline teaching of salvation. I don't want to go into a detailed analysis of the texts, but it's not hard to find the non-dual thread that runs through the Gospels, even if it doesn't dominate them in a manner which could sustain an wide tradition. But there is a tradition of non-dual mysticism in Christianity which goes back to the earliest times, and which is tied closely to the neoplatonic mystical tradition as well, which is itself derived in large part from the contacts the Greeks had with the eastern traditions of religion, both before and after Alexander's conquests. While knowledge of the historical Jesus is impossible to confirm, the presence of these elements in early Christianity is undeniable. How they got there is the question.

Were they the result of Jesus himself being exposed to these eastern teachings? This is not unlikely, if Jesus was as cosmopolitan and eager to engage in spiritual discussion as the biblical account suggests, where it mentions that at age 12 Jesus was already debating the priests in Jerusalem. Whether that story is apochryphal or not, it is certainly true that Palestine was the gateway to the east for the entire Greek empire, and the religious teachings of India had travelled many times over through that part of the world, and vice-versa for Greek teachings travelling to India. Alexander's conquests ran all the way to India, and his soldiers not only brought back eastern teachings, they opened trade routes to India which remained active in Jesus' day and age. Not only were Indian teachings well known and influential, but so were Egyptian, Persian, Zoroastrian, and Babylonian religious ideas. Philosophically minded individuals such as Jesus could have become aware of these ideas and made use of them. Whether Jesus did or not is speculative, but some of these ideas clearly made their appearance in teachings ascribed to him.

Which brings up the other possibility: that non-dual eastern teachings infiltrated the Christian tradition after Jesus' death, in the same manner that the Pauline teachings did, by Christian proponents who had strong leanings in that direction themselves, and who imposed such ideas on the historical Jesus after he died. In this scenario, the non-dual threads of mysticism we find in the Bible, in the non-biblical gnostic and other early teachings, were attached to Christianity by followers who wished to promote their particular religious bent using the symbol of Jesus as their vehicle. This is entirely possible, even probable. It simply doesn't exclude Jesus himself from being of that religious bent himself.

The other theory, that Jesus simply travelled to India himself, received these non-dual teachings directly, and came back teaching a popularized version for the public, and a secret esoteric version in private, is also possible, but highly speculative.

For my part, what I was recommending to Goldeneye is that at the level of religious practice, it's better to go for spiritual truth rather than trying to be true to the historical Jesus. I think analysis of the historical Jesus is necessary only to deflate the Pauline delusions about Jesus, which have been conflated with historical accuracy only by tradition, not by real evidence. Once the Pauline Christian tradition is set at the same level of credibiltiy as any other interpretation, one can simply examine the various threads of Christian tradition on their spiritual merits, rather than they historical authenticity. In evaluating spiritual teachings, historical authenticity is almost irrelevent. If the teaching is true, it's not that important how it came about, whether it really originated from Jesus, or was gloamed onto it from some interloping source. The important point is that the teaching be true. What if Jesus wasn't a realizer at all, and his original teachings were bullshit? It's much better to follow the neoplatonic mystical thread of Christianity from Plotinus on through Dionysius the Areopagite to Meister Eckhardt. It would even be better to follow the ACIM book, even if it was just made up out of nowhere, since it contains many good and true teachings.

The truth is that the Christian tradition has many, many threads in it, and not many of them probably originated with Jesus, but many do have truth to them. Some are better than others. The non-dual thread in these teachings can certainly be found and emphasized if one is liberal with the sources and traditions, and one is probably very safe saying that's the "true" Jesus. One just can't be certain from a historical point of view. But what is Jesus at this point anyway other than a symbol for God in a human context? The historical Jesus is lost to us, what we have is the spiritual Jesus, and that spiritual Jesus is up for grabs. Those who claim to have the historical Jesus on their side have to face the historical evidence, and that is one of the biggest problems with Pauline Christianity, which has wedded itself to the historical Jesus, and now faces huge gaps it can't explain. Better to simply align oneself to the best in the Christian tradition, such as this non-dualist thread I'm talking about. I think it's not just a fair guess, but probably the best guess at where the historical Jesus actually stood in the scheme of things. But we'll never really know. And I'm fine with that. It's just that Christians seem to care alot about it.

The ACIM view is a bit strange to me, all things considered, in that most of the people who are heavily involved in it really feel its important to them to believe that the source of the text literally is Jesus himself, who dictated the book to this irascible Jewish psychologist in New York. The voice of the book makes that claim quite directly, and leaves it open to people to care if it's true or not, and believe it or not. As voices go, I have to say I find it far more believable than the voices of the apostles in the New Testament, but that's not saying a lot. The point is that for Christians, like Daists, there is a strong compulsion to have an historical vehicle for the Divine, and to have one vehicle who is the central and most important vehicle of the Divine, and that they be involved with that guy, rather than some other guy of lesser importance. Nevertheless, I don't find the ACIM to be any less legitimately a reflection of the historical Jesus than the Bible is, and like I say, probably even more so all things considered. But then, I'm not opposed to using Jesus as a rorschach, as long as one does so consciously and with good intentions. The problem with most Christians is they do so unconsciously, and with unconscious intentions.

Christian Faith

In reply to a post a wrote a little while back on early Christian history, Goldeneye wrote the following:

I have read critical accounts that put to question things like the virgin birth of Christ, his crucifixion and resurrection. I have also read accounts that purport to confirm these essentials of the Christian faith as historically accurate (see What it comes down to is whether you can say this with conviction: "I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart he was raised from the dead." This is what the Bible says is the criteria for salvation. I ask you, BY, do you believe this?It is simply this matter of faith. And when you accept this, you will also accept Christ's principal teachings in the New Testament

To answer Goldeneye directly, no, I do not believe this. But Goldeneye should be aware that I do not believe that the Bible accurately understands or portrays what Jesus' actual teachings probably were. I don't believe that Jesus' primary teaching was that people should believe in him or accept that he rose from the dead. I think that was an imposition on his true teachings developed by people who had not actually been around him when he taught. That is primarily Paul's teaching, not Jesus' own teaching. It is based on Paul's own mystical experiences, not on Jesus' direct instruction. Paul had a vision of Jesus that he claims clarified Jesus' true teachings in ways that the message being given byhis actual followers did not. Paul was at odds with the teachings being promoted by Jesus' brother James, who of course knew Jesus intimately and knew what Jesus thought. Paul's teaching gained greater popularity by appealing to non-Jews and spreading through the gentile world, far away from Israel, and anyone who actually knew what Jesus had actually taught. So what the Christian Bible contains is essentially Paul's teachings superimposed on Jesus.

And what is Paul's teaching about Jesus? It is essentially a form of pagan sacrificial drama, as I described in my earlier post. It's about identifying/believing in the crucified Christ and his ressurrection, and proclaiming the "good news" of this dramatic event. Why would Paul be so drawn to this interpretation of Jesus' teachings? Paul was a violent man, a persecutor of Christians who had killed many of them. He was ridden with guilt and revenge, and his "conversion" was a solution to his own violent nature. However, his solution contains the very violence that he struggled with throughout his life. He incorporated that violent struggle into the very fabric of Christianity, turning the teachings of Jesus into a dramatic purgation of his own violent internal urges. He created Jesus as a God in his own image, as a means to bring peace to his own violent nature. Yet in doing so, he made Christianity itself into a dramatic "therapy" for his own troubled soul, which it was not orginally meant to be. Yet because Paul was such a powerful personality, and so used to imposing his will on others, he imposed his own experience and his own interpretation onto the whole of Christianity, to the point where it has simply been assumed by Christians that this is what Jesus taught.

I simply don't think so. I think Paul's version of Christianity is a deluded mess, just as he was. It really doesn't take scholarship to point this out. Simply look at Christians proclaiming this message, and one can see how deluded it is. Could Jesus really have taught something so delusional? If so, then why take him seriously? If not, then find out what the true teachings really are. I'd suggest you're not going to understand the kind of process Jesus in all probability actually taught by studying the Bible carefully, or accepting it on faith. Nor will one find it by doing biblical scholarship. The best thing to do is study the great non-dual traditions of spirituality, east and west, to get a sense for what the true threads of Christian spirituality actually are. There's a tremendous amount of literature, Christian and non-Christian, which can help you out. But you are not going to find it at propagandistic websites such as the one you referred me to.

One source I'd recommend is A Course In Miracles. I've recommended this to you before, but I don't think you've tried reading it. It seems to me to contain the best expression of what Jesus' teachings probably were really all about. True, it's a rather "new age" book that really has no roots in the historical Christian tradition, and it's source is unsubstantiated, and not even possible to substantiate objectively, yet I'd highly recommend it to anyone of a Christian bent of mind who is looking for an alternative, non-dual view of the teachings of Jesus. You would get a better sense of what Jesus probably taught through this book than anything else you might ever read. But if you are happy with your present Christian teachings, I don't want to unnecessarily upset that applecart.

As for the criteria for salvation, no, I don't believe that accepting Jesus and his ressurrection brings about salvation. Salvation means rejecting the illusions of sin and damnation. Salvation means rejecting the need for salvation. One who is always in need of salvation is one who is bound by damnation. So one cannot be saved unless one rejects the need for salvation. One must reject the very notion of damnation, and all the illusions built upon that. Jesus' teaching is not only about forgiveness from sin, but about the rejection of the very notion that sin occurred. Paul's teaching is that Jesus' death and ressurrection were necessary to deliver us from our original sin. Jesus' teaching is that no such sacrificde is necessary, because we are all sons of God, and have never been damned or sinned at all. We have never been separate from God, but only imagine ourselves to be. Jesus' teaching penetrates that illusion, and restores us to God not by some sacrificial ritual, but by the revelation of our own nature as sons of God. None of that involves belief, but insight and true faith not only in Jesus, but in ourselves.

But Christian faith as it is commonly taught cannot achieve this salvation, because it is always looking for that moment of release from sin, and it looks for it through some dramatic moment of cathartic purgation. But no such drama can take away what was never there in the first place. Illusions don't need to die, they simply fall away. Jesus did not need to die for our illusions to fall away, he simply needed to point to the present truth, in which we are free of sin by our own nature, and not by any magical act of cosmic sacrifice. Faith means faith in the purity and love of the present moment, not in some magical act of the past, or some promised second coming of the future. Nothing needs to happen for this to be so, neither your belief or Jesus' blessing. The blessings of God are already given, and you are already restored to God when you receive them. If Christianity approached Jesus in this manner, there would be no need for a second coming. Why come again when he never left?

Self-Enquiry as Faith

I've been too busy to post all week. Will try to make up for it today.

One thing I want to start getting into, and spend a fair amount of time on, is the practice of Advaitic non-dualism. Specifically, the practice of Ramana's Self-enquiry and all the supports for it recommended by Ramana and his lineage devotees, as well as others like Nisargadatta who teach very similarly.

One of the more interesting things going on with me has been a month-long email correspondence with a long-time resident of Ramanashram on the subject of Self-enquiry and its practice. The fellow has been extremely patient and helpful with me, and yet also firmly one-pointed on Ramana's actual instructions on Self-enquiry. I, on the other hand, have tried to introduce interpretations of Self-enquiry based on my own readings and beginner's practice of it that appear not to be what Ramana actually taught. My friend has been slowly wearing me down, and yet I continue to stubbornly hold onto a number of notions that seem true to me, regardless of what others say. This does not make me right and him wrong, or vice-versa, but it does mean that I have to understand all this more deeply than I do.

One of the primary points of contention is whether Self-enquiry involves an active inspection of the conditional self in any way at all, from the practice of niddidyasana's "not this, not this", to a simple noticing and rejection of the illusions of conditional selfhood. My friend insists, and after examining the evidence I'd have to agree with him, that Ramana's description of Self-enquiry does not admit any such forms of practice as being actual Self-enquiry. However, my fallback position has been that while true Self-enquiry may not involve any attention to the conditional self, or any process of inspecting the conditional self, the beginner who is taking on the practice of Self-enquiry will and even needs to make such inspections as a matter of course - except of course in the cases of individuals who have incredible clarity and single-mindedness, such that they realize with great speed and effectiveness - people like Ramana himself and Lakshmana Swami. For most everyone else, even Ramana recommended supplemental practices and approaches that were not so pure.

The central point my friend keeps bringing up is that Self-enquiry is purely a matter of attention to consciousness itself, that it has nothing to do with attention to objects at all, that any practice that puts attention on objects of any kind, whether they be thoughts or objective experience, the body-mind itself, or any process of thinking and observing, simply reinforces thought, mind, and objects. So to examine any object, any aspect of the conditional self, and say to oneself, no, this isn't true, this isn't real, this isn't me, this isn't consciousness, itself reinforces the mind and the very illusions it wishes to be free of. This is a radical position on the subject of Self-enquiry, and while it appears to be true, it also perhaps accounts for why so few people, even at Ramanashram, actually practice Self-enquiry. To actually practice Self-enquiry in this manner seems virtually impossible for beginners such as myself, and yet when I say this to my friend he insists that I am wrong, that it is possible, and that it is only my mind which tells me it can't be done, and that I shouldn't listen to my mind. In a discussion of the necessity of the Guru he brought up a wonderful quote from the Guru Vachaka Kovai:

An external Guru is needed because the desire-filled,infatuated mind rushes out lithout listening with love to the truth unceasingly proclaimed in the Heart by the self, being-consciousness

The point here is that the purpose of the external Guru is to help steer the devotee's atention back to this voice that is constantly speaking the truth in the Heart of the devotee, but which we do not listen to because our minds are distracted with the world of objects and thoughts. This internal voice of the Heart does not speak the mind's language and can only be "heard" in silence. Self-enquiry, acccording to Ramana, is the direct path of attending to the Guru's true teaching in silence, rather than attending to the mind's thoughts and objects, which constantly steer one away from this teaching in silence. Self-enquiry destroys the mind and its thoughts, and all its objects, not by putting any attention on them at all, but by not giving them attention, and instead by putting attention on its source, on consciousness itself, on awareness, by simply being the witness. When this is done, the power of the Self destroys the mind naturally, without any effort on the devotee's part. So Self-enquiry is not a method of the mind, but from the beginning moves beyond the realm of mind. As my friend says

No answer you give yourself is the correct answer, and any answer you supply yourself just keeps the mind busy.

So far so good. But in practice, mind is not so easy to transcend. It does seem to require a "dirty" approach of attention to objects and mind, to some extent at least, in order to grasp that they are not the point, even that they don't lead anywhere except to more mind. Simply accepting these truths as true is itself merely a form of mind, and doesn't actually produce any greater depth of understanding. So there seems to me to be a need for something like this, described by Nisargadatta

M: Before you can accept God, you must accept yourself, which is even more frightening. The first steps in self-acceptance are not at all pleasant, for what one sees is not a happy sight. One needs all the courage to go further. What helps is silence. Look at yourself in total silence, do not describe yourself. Look at the being you believe you are and remember - you are not what you see. 'This I am not - what am I?' is the movement of self-enquiry. There are no other means to liberation, all means delay. Resolutely reject what you are not, till the real Self emerges in its glorious nothingness, its 'not-a-thing-ness.'

Here Nisargadatta seems to be describing an approach to Self-enquiry which acknowledges the need for a basic inspection of the conditional self. It's not that he's trying to turn Self-enquiry into that, but he's using this approach as a means of strengthening and deepening the practice of Self-enquiry, by alternating it with an inspection of the conditional self. In other words, he's actually recommending alternating practices. First, one inspects the conditional self in silence, seeing that this is not who we really are. Second, one practices direct Self-enquiry, in the manner similar to Ramana, without attention to the conditional Self. Then wash and repeat as needed. The whole point of first inspecting the conditional self is to set it aside as an illusion, so that one can practice Self-enquiry in its true form. It seems to me, therefore, that something like this is simply a natural part of how the beginner approaches the pure practice of Self-enquiry. In theory it may not require attention to objects, and Self-enquiry itself never actually involves this, but it does seem to be helpful to make this simple inspection/rejection of the illusion of the conditional self that most of us simply assume ourselves to be

There is another dimension to this, which is faith. Even Nisargadatta often said that in his case the most important element of his practice was simply faith in his Guru. When he met his Guru, his Guru told him that he was the Supreme Self, and he said that this was the driving force behind his own practice. In the beginning, he practiced a meditation on the "I am" which resembles the pure form of Self-enquiry, but soon all he did was meditate on his Guru's assertion that he, Nisargadatta, was the Supreme Self. He had such faith in his Guru's words that simply abiding in that bare proclamation led him into realization. This also seems to me to be an essential element in the practice of Self-enquiry. That even if it may seem impossible, or too pure to practice, the simple assertion of the Guru's instruction on the actual practice of it can be sufficient to overcome all the obstacles of the mind, After all, what Self-enquiry is directed towards is not the mind's answers, but the voice of the Guru given in silence, in the heart, pointing to itself, and not towards anything else. So Self-enquiry is the same as listening to the Guru's core instruction on Self-Realization: you are that. Rejecting that core instruction and thinking of oneself as the conditional self who must work out his problems and karmas and get his mind free leads to endless circular traps of mind and life. So Self-enquiry is always directed back at the core truth which transcends the mind and its circular illusion-reinforcing nature. It is incredibly simple, and yet comprehensive. It is a gesture of faith, at its core.

Monday, January 23, 2006

And now for something completely different!

Bob has an interesting quote from UFO-nut/prophet Whitley Streiber in the comments section of the ID debate thread below, regarding Ray Kurweil's predictions:

As far as the close encounter experience is concerned, science is absolutely nowhere. Fantastically, the intellectuals, who so distrust the government in every other regard, swallow its lies about this without the least complaint. Perhaps it’s because the visitors completely shatter the secular view of the world. Or maybe they threaten the fragile ego of the educated human being, whose soul knows that all his fine knowledge is but an engine of forgetting. You cannot be with them without also being with your own truth. Then you see what you really are, a little fragment in a vastness so great, so various and so shockingly, unimaginably conscious that it completely swallows you. To enter the universe as it really is, you’ve got to leave your self-pride far behind, and that is a hard, hard thing to do.

Other worlds have faced these same problems. Understand, there are not all that many worlds with intelligent species on them that have survived very long. Often, they come to tragic ends, undone by chance or, more often, by aggression even more excessive than our own. In some places, though, there have been very remarkable solutions to the survival problem.

Some intelligent species have been able to see that their intelligence was a precious asset that could actually intensify itself. They have learned to increase the quantity of this valuable commodity by altering themselves, by creating machine intelligence, and by conferring it on other species on their planets. As if we'd hit upon the idea of genetically engineering brains to greater intelligence, and included not only ourselves but the animal world as well. In such places, life becomes very, very rich.

But mostly it doesn't happen that way. There are people who worry about the fate of consciousness across the universes. (And there is more than one, as we will soon discover.) They worry because so often intelligence--which is the single most important way station on the road to consciousness--fails. It's incredibly rare, and it fails. Thus the journey toward ecstasy is compromised.

The more consciousness, the more ecstasy, and consciousness cannot come about without intelligence. What is worse, until a species is conscious, intervention is very, very difficult. That's the problem that the visitors are having here. If they intervene openly, our culture totally refocuses itself toward them and all human innovation stops. We end up locked in a state of profound disempowerment that will take many generations to recover, and that will leave a permanent scar.

The visitors cannot reveal themselves to us. We must reveal ourselves to them.

Normally, I don't take much stock in Whitley Streiber's rantings, a mixture of psychism and science-fiction that is hard to take seriously. But in light of Kurzweil's analysis, these kinds of ideas are becoming less fiction and more reality. It sounds like a bad episode of Star Trek, but so has a lot of the last century. There's certainly plenty of reason to believe that we, as a species, are engaged in a battle with our own intelligence. We have developed the intelligence to create a fully conscious life, but we've also developed the intelligence to destroy ourselves many times over by all kinds of means: nuclear, environmental, biological weapons, war and terrorism, the list goes on. The new technologies we are developing that have such promise for creating a paradaisical world also have the potential to utterly destroy us. And at the forefront of our destructive impulse is our religious nature, which seems bent on forcing an armageddon showdown.

KurZweil's book also reminded me of that wonderful old drug-addled crackpot, Dolphin researcher and sensory-deprivation tank explorer of the universe John Lilly, who in the course of his many out-of-the-body experiences on Ketamine repeatedly reported coming across "silicone-based civilizations" floating through outer space in interstellar craft, whose entire populations had uploaded themselves onto computers and lived within virtual worlds onboard. Is that one possible future for us all?

Another poster, Mark Miller, brings up the news from Iran, where the new President is intent on both developing nuclear weapons and forcing a conflict with Israel that he believes will bring the Mahdi, the promised God-Man of his sect of Islam, onto the scene. He's Pat Robertson with nukes and oil. All of this makes Adidam seem like very small potatoes in the scheme of things.

And then of course there's this:

Fortunately, these are a minority of the world's people. One has to continue to have faith that they will not have their way with the rest of us.

I'm also reminded of a wonderfully titled book "Mass Dreams of the Future", in which a group of psychologists studying breathwork-induced past-life memories began asking their subjects to project into the future for the next century or so. The "dreams" or reveries they came up with seemed to fit into three major camps. One was a post-apocalyptic world of dreary survivalism. Another was a new-agey world of touchy-feely paradise. Another was a high-tech world of deadening sterility. The funny thing was that this was about it: no other possibilities seemed to be hidden in anyone's unconscious. And all three of these themes are found in popular fiction and movies. Are people just that unimaginative, or is the future just that boring? One longs for a Monty Python future: and now for something completely different!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Rejoining the River of Life

I received a lengthy reply from a long-term devotee of Adi Da to my post In the Kali Yuga, Everyone Gets the Guru They Deserve:

His reply is found in full at:

I'll indulge myself in a lengthy reply and try to answer MJ's points without condemnation of either him or Adi Da. If he has gotten the impression that I am making “complaints” about Adidam, or trying to condemn Adi Da for his actions, let's put that aside. My primary interest is simply in getting at the truth.

Truth has three aspects to it: 1) the truthful facts, and 2) the truthful understanding of those facts, and 3) the truth that transcends all facts. MJ does not dispute the facts I and other critics of Adidam have spoken out about. He does dispute whether I or other critics have a right understanding of those facts.

What MJ must also concede, however, is that Adidam has made a concerted effort to suppress, conceal, distort, and fraudulently lie about the truthful facts of Adi Da's life, and Adidam's own history. MJ should also concede that merely by admitting that the facts presented about Adi Da are most likely very close to the truth – albeit absent the contextual understanding he feels is necessary to understand them – MJ is already violating Adidam's strict rules about all such open admissions. I understand quite well MJ's position. When I began posting on the old Ken Wilber forum, defending Adi Da against attacks, I too conceded that in many cases the facts about Adi Da's behavior were not being seriously distorted, only the interpretation of his behavior. In so doing, I incurred a great deal of hostility from within Adidam, and for years was banned from Darshan for doing so. So I appreciate MJ's bravery in posting a reply here. He has my respect.

But what does that say about Adidam itself? What does it say about Adi Da himself that he would try to keep virtually anything that could be construed as negative about himself or Adidam out of the public eye? What does it say that he would set in place policies that hide, conceal, distort, and lie about what he actually says and does, if what he says and does is actually a Divine Work that is aimed solely at restoring humanity to Divine Communion?

MJ brings up stories about other Adepts who have been drinkers and womanizers, abusers and hard-asses. Leaving aside the issue of whether we can really rely on mythologized accounts from many centuries ago as a guideline, one of the striking characteristics of these stories is that the Adept in question doesn't try to hide or conceal his behavior. He is open about it, unashamed, unapologetic – in a word, truthful. We don't hear stories of these crazy wisdom Adepts concealing their debaucheries from the public. They sit on piles of shit in the open square. They may be deliberately unconventional, but they do not put up a false front of respectable, conventional hypocrisy in order to advance their standing and gain followers. Why does Adi Da do that? Why does he order his devotees to keep his personal life a total secret, and punish anyone who actually speaks out about it, even his own supporters and defenders? In what way could this possibly serve the process of drawing people into Divine Communion with him? As the saying goes, the biggest crime is usually the coverup.

As MJ says and I will readily admit, Adi Da's behavior may often be self-indulgent and abusive, but in comparison to the crimes committed every day in this world it's no great shakes. Plenty of people are or at least aspire to be as self-indulgent and egocentric as Da has, and plenty of people who do so are even admired for their achievements. One thinks of rock stars, movie stars, wealthy moguls, etc. That Adi Da aspires to their lifestyle and fame is not the worst crime anyone could be guilty of. That he wants that lifestyle and wishes to be admired in spite of it is also no great crime. Gangster rappers have similar aspirations, and I for one often enjoy their music and am amused by their personae. So let's not be prudes about this, or overstate the case against Adi Da. He's not a monster. Monsters are Saddam Hussein, Stalin, Hitler, Ted Bundy, etc. But he's no angel either. Although he tries to hide behind the admonition that the worst sin anyone can commit is to see the Guru as a mere man, Adi Da is human through and through, and he suffers and enjoys in an all-too-human manner. Not only does he betray human desiring and human fears of rejection and frustration, he also betrays the human failing of wishing to hide his faults and laud his virtues. In other words, he's a narcissist, concerned as much with his image as with his reality.

The problem with this is that spiritual realization is supposed to be about the transcendence of narcissism. Spiritual realizers may often behave in unconventional ways, but they don't appear to care what people think of them. Adi Da does, to such an extent that he tries to keep every aspect of his life and work under total control, with no information leaked out that is not fully authorized and approved. How is this consistent with the transcendence of narcissism? It seems like the epitome of narcissism, rather than its transcendence.

So the big problem with defending Adi Da is that one can't even refer to the facts of his life honestly while doing so, because that would violate Adi Da's “privacy”, and the strongest precepts of life in Adidam. The most powerful people in Adidam are the guardians of his privacy and, consequently, the creators of his mythos. These are the security people, the inner-circle devotees, the legal department. These are the people who rigorously approve all communications and suppress all unapproved information. If MJ were to start telling us actual, unfiltered stories about Adi Da, he would be violating these precepts. And don't imagine that these people are acting on their own. They are simply carrying out Adi Da's own explicit instructions as best they can. That doesn't make them innocent, but it does make them mere instruments of Adi Da's own character. So the question is, what kind of character does Adi Da have?

The information we have suggests that he does not have a very good or trustworthy character. As Quandra Sukha Mai, his closest and most loyal devotee once said, “Beloved is completely corrupt about money”. Similar statements could probably be said about his relationship to food and sex. For example, a good friend of mine was present at Lopez Island serving Adi Da on the evening of his famous “translation event”, in which he supposedly went through a mystic death event that transformed his work, and the universe. My friend says “I saw the meal that was prepared for him, and if I'd eaten all that, I'd have died also.” In other words, Adi Da's gluttonous behavior is well known (where does anyone think all that fat comes from?). Likewise his sexual appetites are enormous as well. He does not appear to have much of a conscience about fulfilling them, regardless of the cost to others. None of this speaks very well of Adi Da, and that is why his personal life has always been kept top secret in Adidam. Even so, the stories are so prolific that word can't help but get around.

I understand MJ's problem. When I was defending Adi Da on the internet, I too was unable to actually resort to the facts without getting into trouble. I resorted instead to rather vague defenses based on the notion that people were not understanding the higher principles involved in Adi Da's behavior. But such defenses only go so far. At some point one has to look at the facts and see whether they are consistent with the explanations. It's no different than the controversy between evolution and creationism, or intelligent design theory. One can become very attached to a certain view of things, such as that God created the earth and guides the evolution of humanity, and try one's best to make the evidence fit that view, but at a certain point one must simply look at the evidence and let it speak for itself. One may have to let go of cherished ideas, views that have been the bedrock support and foundation of one's life, views that one has identified with all that is good and true. Creationists have to let go of such views, and so do long-time Daists.

MJ says he's been around even longer than I have, but it couldn't be by much. I first came in July of 1975, at age 17. Yet I know how ingrained notions of Adi Da's Divinity become, and also notions about Adi Da's actions all being purposed towards Divine Communion. That interpretation is made to supercede any possible evidence, just like a creationist can use the rubric of “god's law” to supercede any natural process like evolution. The argument only begins to fail when one sees one's own attachment to it, and that the only thing holding it in place is one's attachment.

The great dilemma faced by Daists is the seeming nihilism of a world that is bereft of Adi Da's Grace and God-Communion. Because they have come to identify God so single-mindedly with Adi Da, and Communion with God as solely a matter of Communing with Adi Da, their whole relationship with God seems to be threatened by criticism of Adi Da, and they naturally see the critic of Adi Da as someone who has “failed” to remain in communion with God. I know exactly how this feels, and why he feels that way. I don't condemn MJ for feeling as he does. He only needs to examine his feelings more closely to see where he has failed to understand himself. As MJ says:

...the point is not the event itself but whether the individual actually can resort to God Communion in their darkest moments, or any moment, via heart surrender, and thereby transcend by Grace of the Guru, their usual karmic destiny.
This is of course the crux of any moment of life, but MJ makes many assumptions about God-Communion and the transcendence of karmic destiny that he has not examined closely enough, but clings instead to a narrow Daist interpretation which does not strengthen the capacity for God-Communion, but actually weakens it. And hear we see that weakening:

I don’t know about anyone else, but Adi Da Samraj has clearly given me the means to do that, when I choose to. And not in 10 millennium would I have ever, ever found but how to resort to, or find that Place of God Contemplation on my own. No way. I ould not even have imagined how to do it. Or even had the slightest notion of how uch a Divine Resource could, exist or be contacted apart from my own head trip notions of it, which fall light years short of what is actually the case.

Is it possible to read this and not feel some sense of sadness at how Adidam has beaten down the hearts of those who might have been its strongest practitioners? Yes, it's good that MJ has learned to commune with God, but why would he assume that he couldn't possibly have learned this except through Adi Da? Well, obviously Adiam has fed him that line over and over again. It's not the traditional teaching about Divine Communion, certainly, not by those who are free. God-Communion is practiced throughout the world in thousands of different paths, by millions of different people, and they all somehow succeeded in doing so without the benefit of Adi Da, and have been doing so for milennia. And yet MJ thinks there is something uniquely wrong with him that he couldn't possibly have learned Divine Communion anywhere else, not in 10,000 years of practice. Why?

Nothing in the history of religion supports this idea. But something in the psychology of cultism does, and that's the only plausible explanation for this attitude. Not that MJ probably didn't have some poor self-image problems prior to joining Adi Da – so may of us did – but that Adidam exploited and reinforced his poor self-image, to the point that he sincerely believes that only Adidam could have saved him. What he seems not to notice is that while helping him to some degree, Adidam has also bound him with delusions and false notions about religion that reinforce his attachment to Adidam, and actually prevent him from growing in practice.

That is the problem with the cultic tendency in religion. It uses the positive aspect of religion to achieve a negative result of bondage and self-abasement, which are actually the enemies of freedom and liberation, not their friends. It convinces the cultist that all this is for their benefit, such that they actually praise the process that has bound them, rather than free themselves from it. This of course happens in many, many religions. Christians achieve a relationship with Jesus that they believe is their salvation, but all too often it becomes the obstacle to their spiritual growth rather than the means of their liberation. Daists likewise believe that the spiritual benefits they have discovered in the course of their time in Adidam are solely the result of that relationship, and hence they become more and more bound to it, regardless of the negative aspects encountered.

All negative aspects of that relationship are made into an “ordeal” that is necessary for them to achieve full liberation, rather than simply being discarded. The relationship itself is made the core of spiritual practice and realization, rather than truth itself, such that the relationship supercedes truth. This is why Daists are able to rationalize suppressing, distorting, hiding, and lying about the truth. If doing so is seen to further their relationship with Adi Da, then it is perfectly justified. And then anything Adi Da does is justified, because the relationship to him supercedes all else, even truth. Truth and God itself become redefined as “the relationship to Adi Da”, and all morality and ethics are subverted to that cause. The relationship to Adi Da becomes a higher morality that supercedes all lesser forms of morality. And the justification for doing so seems to be right there, in the relationship itself, which has given the devotee the ability to commune with God that he never had before.

The problem here is that everyone has the natural, God-Given ability to commune with God. This ability is not conferred on anyone by Adi Da, or Jesus, or Krishna, or Ramana, or anyone else. It's an innate capacity that exists in everyone's heart and mind and body and breath. I don't doubt that MJ has learned to commune with God. Millions have done so before and millions will do so after we leave this earth.

That Adidam has taught MJ something about how to commune with God is a good thing. But to presume something unique about this process in Adidam is to indulge in a narcissistic fantasy. That too is common to many religions. Christians fantasize that their communion with God is special, Muslims do, Hindus do, all kinds of sects engage this fantasy. Some even emphasize what wretches they were before they found the true path, and what a miracle their path is that it helped even a hopeless case like them. But this is not the truth about any of these people or their religion. God-communion is for everyone, it is a natural capacity that every conscious being has simply by the inherent fact of being conscious. One can create all kinds of “paths” to God-Communion, but they all simply rest on exercising our own natural capacity for God-Communion. There is no special path that is the one and only answer, not for anyone, and certainly not for all of humanity. If MJ had not found God-Communion through Adidam, he could easily have found it in a thousand other paths. That his particular karmas led him to a long involvement in Adidam does not speak of the specialness of Adidam, but only of his own particular karmic destiny.

What MJ doesn't understand is that the “gift of God Communion” he has received was not given by Adi Da, but by his own consciousness, his own being, his own true Self. There is no other giver. Spiritual teachers and paths and teachings can serve that gift, but none of them literally give it. It is always only the gift of Self to Self. To imagine that God-Communion was the gift of someone else, and that he would otherwise be bereft of God, is to believe in a dangerous illusion that robs him of his own greatest strength – the power of the Self. Attributing the power of the Self to another, and ascribing to oneself all the weaknesses of the ego, is the epitome of unenlightenment, using religion to reinforce its self-deluded state rather than to become liberated from it. And that too is all-too-common throughout the history of religion. That Adidam makes this same error does not make it uniquely cultic or deluded, just commonly so. But who comes to Adidam looking to make the same common errors that so many other religions have made? Unfortunately the answer seems to be most of us who joined Adidam. The problem is that Adi Da reinforces rather than criticizes this tendency. He is himself an example of the fallen idealist.

One of the sadder quotes in the history of Adidam, considering what has become of Adidam since, is contained in the original Knee of Listening, in a discussion of the two great traditional errors made spiritual practice (the first being to turn the path into a form of seeking):

The second primary fault in the traditional communication of the means of purification is that they are chronically identified with some particular historical, cultural, or personal experience. All of the various religions and spiritual regimes, from the theological and ritual experience of forgiveness and justification to the sophisticated methods of occultism and the various Yogas, are separate, historical manifestations founded in various kinds of exclusive phenomena. They stand in relation to one another in a grand pattern of conflict and separateness. Thus, the seeker comes to one or another of these sources in ignorance and pursues the separate cycle of experience the particular form asserts and guarantees. (1992 KOL p.298)

Adidam has fallen directly into this error over the years, making of itself an exclusive path identified with the historical person and teachings of Adi Da, rather than with a universal process of God-Communion and Heart-Awakening. Many of those, like myself, who first came were attracted to the possibility of a truly universal “Avatar” who would open religion and spirituality up to its true and universal nature. Instead, what we have gotten is an extremely closed, parochial path, a teacher who hides himself from all criticism and responsibility, and a betrayal of its own highest principles, not to mention a perversion of the best aspirations of those who came. Even God-Communion has been perverted within Adidam into a narrow-minded service to the person of Adi Da and his interests, rather than to the practice of heart-openness and truly transcendental Divine Communion. Not that those who were open to the truth couldn't have seen the signs of this from the beginning, but most kept their eyes closed, or loyally interpreted all that occurred in keeping with the logic of the cult.

The hostility inherent in the exclusive approach that Adidam has evolved into is evident in this passage of MJ's:

But I think that you give the appearance, by reading your words, that you have forgotten, or lost what was at the core of all of it-- which is this liberating
aspect of God Communion which has been freely given to all.

Not that MJ is a hostile person, I'm sure, not did he mean to be hostile here, but the assumptions he makes about me, and by extension anyone who has left Adidam and made critical comments about it, are based on an innate hostility to those who are “outside” of the fold, who are “different”, who are “other” to himself. The truth is, I did not reject God-Communion. I simply rejected the assumption that God-Communion was identified with Adi Da, and vice-versa. I still practice God-Communion, I simply don't identify the God I commune with with Adi Da. Like millions of other people now and throughout human history.

But I think I know what MJ is referring to. He means to say that Adi Da's behavior was something that he was doing in the midst of Divine Communion in order to get us past various egoic obstacles in ourselves that prevented God-Communion from maturing into God-Realization; that I somehow forgot that this was the point of the process, and that by “dropping out” of God-Communion with Adi Da at some point, I lost touch with the Divine Nature of what he was doing with me and with others, and was left with merely the gross material behavior itself, and began criticizing it as such. That is the basic Adidam explanation for such people as myself. But is it true?

In the first place, who really knows whether I “dropped out of God-Communion” or not? What criteria is MJ using to judge my God-Communion, other than that I criticize Adi Da? It seems MJ is using his conclusion to justify his argument – that I could only be critical of Adi Da if I had abandoned God-Communion, and that since I was criticizing Adi Da I had ipso-facto abandoned God-Communion. In other words, there isn't any argument there at all, just a naked assertion of Adi Da's infallibility. Second, if someone is in Divine Communion, regardless of their religious orientation, wouldn't they still be able to recognize Adi Da's behavior as right and true? In other words, wouldn't I, if I was still practicing Divine Communion, just not in relation to Adi Da, still see his actions as righteous?

So MJ's argument requires him to assert that not only did I fall away from Adi Da, but I fell away from God altogether. But what about others of far greater spiritual practice than me who are critical of Adi Da? What about Adi Da's own Guru, Muktananda, who was very critical of Adi Da, who didn't buy his claims of highest realization, who even alluded to him as a “pretender”? Did Muktananda abandon God also when he was critical of Adi Da? And what about Ammachi, who when asked has made a few critical references to Adi Da? Did she abandon Divine Communion when doing so?

These kinds of arguments simplu collapse on closer examination. The simple fact is that what I “fell out of” was not Divine Communion, but the fundamentalist mindset. Unfortunately, the fundamentalist mindset is what many people identify as “Divine Communion” in their particular path. Fundamentalist Christians see Divine Communion with Jesus as thinking and believing in a certain way about the events of their life, the events of the Bible, God's Plan, and all kinds of things, such as creationism, so much of which is easily falsifiable if they will only examine it more closely. And much of these ideas about Adi Da and his behavior and claims of spiritual greatness are also falsifiable if examined dispassionately. But they are never falsifiable if examined by the fundamentalist mindset, which more and more is how “Divine Communion” is being defined in Adidam. It has come to the point where unless you are a fundamentalist in Adidamer, you are not considered to be practicing true Divine Communion. For me, that was a large part of what helped drive me out of Adidam. There is little room left for anyone but fundamentalists in Adidam. MJ is, I gather, one of the more liberal-leaning fundamentalists in Adidam, just as I was at one time, but he's a fundamentalist none the less, just as I was. So I know the drill.

I also know what MJ is referring to on an “esoteric level”. I know the experience of being up against Adi Da's demands, and feeling that tension between one's tendencies and Divine Communion, and feeling that there is a conflict there which has to be resolved on the side of “Divine Communion” rather than the side of giving in to one's tendencies. I know the inner “heat” that arises in that process, and the transmission of Adi Da's spiritual force in the midst of that. And I know that the devotee is supposed to allow this purification to take place by staying in the heat, and letting it burn away all impurities. This is also something I saw through. I realized at a certain point that all that conflict and tension was a pointless waste of time and energy. It was simply an illusion generated to maintain a relationship of bondage. The energy itself being transmitted in that conflict was not liberating energy at all, but a form of bondage. Not that it didn't also feel very good at times, but good feelings are just as binding as conflict. What I began to see is that Divine Communion didn't require this whole process at all, it was something that Adi Da generated, and we cooperated with, for purely egoic purposes. It was the very ego we were supposed to be transcending, being reinforced rather than dissolved. None of it was necessary, none of it was beneficial, it was just a meaningless game being played by us and on us. It was a distraction from the truly meaningful issues of spiritual life and practice, issues that are really never addressed in Adidam because everyone is so obsessed with their relationship to Adi Da that they never pay attention to them.

And so I found myself more drawn to these more serious issues than responding to the latest notes cycle from Adi Da. At a certain point I just didn't care about him anymore, or what he said, or what he wanted done. This was not, in my experience at least, a result of falling away from Divine Communion, but of becoming much more interested in it. It simply felt like I was growing out of my cultism, and out of my cultic illusions about Divine Communion, as I think everyone needs to do at some point, regardless of their religious background. It's just that some religions, like Adidam, are far more cultic than others in their illusions about God-Communion. Coming out of that may seem like a huge transformation to someone who has been inside it for so long, but it's really not that big a deal at all. It's just joining the rest of the world, and seeing how many people simply haven't had such heavy delusions to deal with.

I find it to be the one thing which keeps me sane, in a world which is just one insane display of egoic tribal dominance after another, mostly bereft of any gesture resembling love except in little moments here and there. Look around for a few seconds and you see that humanity is committing suicide in multiple ways. And most of it is based in greed and dominance for power, all lovely examples of the finest that the ego has to offer.Do you really think there is going to be all that much left of human life on this globe in 100 years? 50 years? 30 years?In that light your tales of woe here are much like rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic.

I honestly don't know what the future holds, but I do know that thinking like this is a sign of a distressed personality who is projecting his inner tensions on the world around him. The world has always had its horrors, and I assume it always will. I just find it odd that someone who claims to be practicing Divine Communion would be dwelling on those horrors. I'm quite aware of the problems in the world, but I simply don't see the world as some loveless place torn by insane displays of dominance and strife. Is MJ sure he isn't just talking about Adidam? Honestly, I see wonderful people all around me when I walk down the street. Nobody's perfect, certainly, but I see the world as full of great people with lots of love and lots to offer. Maybe that's because I practice communion with God. I have a hard time understanding how anyone communing with God could see the world as a fundamentally negative place. But I can understand why someone in Adidam would think that way, considering how crazed the worldview in Adidam is.

One of the delusions prevalent in Adidam is that Adi Da is creating a Vehicle for peace on earth and a “New Age for Mankind” through his community. There's a famous essay he once wrote about that. I too was once hopefully idealistic about this role for Adidam, and felt that working to help Adidam grow was working for the betterment of humanity. Over the years, however, I couldn't help noticing that Adidam was hardly a model of morality and ethics itself, but was instead pervaded by what I saw as rather insane displays of greed, dominance, deception, and lusting after power. Over time, I began to see Adidam not only as just as bad as the world itself, but even worse. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that what Adi Da was creating was not a community of enlightened devotees, but just another fundamentalist religion that would be just as destructive as any of the others, and possibly even worse. The model Adi Da created is a totalitarian monarchy ruled by absolutist dogmas and a high-school junta mentality. The only thing that softens it is that past a certain point hardly anyone takes it seriously. Adidam is basically a joke, and it's only on a sentimental level that even most of its members sympathize with it. MJ himself probably doesn't take it all that seriously, but he also probably beats himself up for not taking it more seriously, which is part of the whole fundamentalist mind-cycle.
None of that is about Divine Communion, however. Nor is this:

...if one looses the connection to God Communion which is freely being given in Adi Da's company in the midst of these occasions and at all other times, then that is all ne is left with-- the "uncontestable facts"and then of course, it is all a terrible trick being played to "pick our collective pockets". But I have found that when I rely upon that core matter of my association with Adi Da, then a profound means of Heart feeling arises in the midst of an event which shows me a whole new way to be in the midst of it, whether that moment is the most pleasant little incident, or the most uncomfortable and seemingly monsterous moment. Because ITS ALL THE SAME, whether good moment or bad. Its the same egoic response-- the games and travesty and horror of the ego, its all staring at yourself, its all self fascination to death.

Notice the miraculous solution to the problem of nihilism here: the “core matter of my association with Adi Da”. Thus, MJ's only defense against "self-fascination to death" is an association with a God outside himself, namely, Adi Da. In himself, MJ sees no capacity for Divine Communion, only a monstrous ego; it is only by association with Adi Da that he is able to “connect” with God. As if this God were inherently apart from MJ, from all of us, and only could be connected with through Adi Da! MJ does not seem to see the terrible box he has created for himself. It's only while sitting in the “Adi Da box” that he can commune with God. If he steps outside the box, he faces a world of horrors and death. He's trapped, and can't leave, because he actually believes that a terrifying hell awaits him if he does. This is the mindset that cultic religions foster in their followers. It's sad that MJ believes this after 30 years, but apparently he does.

Of course, there are Christians and Muslims who believe something similar about their religion also, and they too are in a horrible trap. If the “tribal wars” MJ refers to have any basis, it's in this same fundamentalist mindset that MJ is himself stuck in. But it's all simply an illusion. MJ could step out of the “Adi Da box” at any time, and discover that there are no monsters out there. The monsters are all in his mind. The box is all in his mind. God-communion knows no boundaries, no walls, no boxes, no true and false religions, no Avatars, no hopeless wretches, no salvation. God-communion is boundless. Grace is for everyone. Adi Da is just a man behind a curtain belching fire and brimstone to keep people like MJ under his thumb.

If those events that you seem to spend much or your waking moments dwelling on, are factually true, the part you leave out is that Adi Da is working those events from the standpoint of his Divine Siddhi, that he is not just, or even at all using mere "psychology" to effect change, and that he works on much more profound levels than that. That the Divine in the form of Incarnate Spiritual Masters has not yet had a breakthrough in the world of egos, which will prevent humanity from destroying itself. So, philosophically speaking, just what the hell is God, or Godman Incarnate, going to do to Wake us up before it is too late? And whose else but God has a ghost of chance of succedding? You? Me? Forget it!

The basic problem MJ is trying to communicate is that he is taking for granted that Adi Da is in fact working some kind of miraculous Divine Process through all these bizarre behaviors of his, when the evidence doesn't actually support this theory. In other words, he is confusing facts with interpretation; He is acting as if Adi Da's interpretation, which he has for some reason accepted, is a factual truth. But is it? Has he actually verified it? Interpretations can be verified, they are not merely subjective opinions. In other words, any interpretation has to be consistent with the facts we do know. That's how we evaluate which interpretations are true, and which are false. Evolution, for example, is an interpretation of facts, not a fact itself. It is considered true because it is consistent with the facts. If evidence comes up which contradicts it, it will be considered untrue, or superceded by a greater truth.

In Adi Da's case, the evidence for some great Divine Process being behind all his seemingly selfish and pathological behavior is pretty thin. Sure, we do have evidence that “siddhi” is involved. No need to be in denial of that experience, of both myself and many others. But siddhi is not itself a sign that what Aid Da claims about his siddhi and his behavior and the process itself is true. It is results that count, and in the results department Adidam is seriously lacking. Not only is there a lack of fully realized devotees in Adidam, there is a lack of even marginally mature devotees. In fact, there is a serious lack of even humanly mature people in Adidam. Rather, what one finds in Adidam are all the typical signs of people who have been in a fundamentalist cult for many years. People have all kinds of serious problems, emotionally, sexually, mentally, healthwise, financially, ethically, morally, you name it, and most of them don't get addressed. Not that people all over the world don't have similar problems, but it doesn't appear that life in Adidam is some kind of great incubator of human or spiritual maturity.

Likewise, if one examines these particular abusive “incidents” for signs of benefits, one doesn't see a very good track record. Clearly there are a large number of devotees who simply haven't responded well at all to these things. They haven't been “helped” by it, and have left or kept their distance. Even people who claim to have benefited often don't look at all that much better for it. I've had devotees tell me their stories, and make the usual claims that it all came out well for them, but they appear to be covering up, making false faces about it all, lying both to themselves and others. At a certain level who really knows, but if one doesn't really know, one can't make any great claims about Adi Da's skill as a teacher. Certainly he seems to fail a very large percentage of the time. He even admits and loudly proclaims that he has failed. One can't be all that strong an advocate of his skills as a teacher when even Da himself sees failure in all his devotees, and complains about it on an almost daily basis. Certainly that, too, can't be easily seen as a sign of his teaching skills.

Crazy Wisdom in the Vajrayana tradition allows for realized Adepts to employ unconventional methods in the service of awakening others. But Crazy Wisdom is judged by results. In other words, if the teacher employs an unconventional method, and the student doesn't respond well or use it beneficially, they don't blame the student for the failure, they blame the teacher. The teacher is supposed to be skillful enough to know what to do to help the student, and know what the student will be able to use. If the teacher uses a method that is beyond the student's ability to use, it is considered an unskillful act on the part of the teacher. In other words, such a teacher would be admonished for their incompetence, and told to develop themselves and their teaching skills more fully. They have accountability for teachers, and a means to address teachers who employ unskillful means.

In Adidam, however, there is no means to address Adi Da's own incompetence as a teacher, or to address his own unskillful methods. Adi Da himself has admitted that his methods have not been successful, and yet he puts all blame for that on his students, and accepts no responsibility for himself. Before I left Adidam, at one of the first internet Question and Answer sessions, I submitted a a very simple question that did not make its way to Adi Da himself. The question was: “Do you accept any responsibility for the failure of your Work?” Quandramai Elizabeth, a good friend of mine, intercepted the question, and a few days later addressed the whole community, not mentioning me by name, but saying that there were some people in the community who were implying that Adi Da himself was in some way responsible for the failure of his own Work. She made it clear that this attitude was sheer heresy, and had to be completely suppressed. It would be blasphemously injurious to even submit such a question to Adi Da, because it betrayed such a wrong understanding of how Adepts work.

I'd suggest that the Adidam attitude betrays a wrong understanding of how Adepts work. It uses an operational definition of “how Adepts work” as “whatever Adi Da does”. So whatever Adi Da does, right or wrong, whether it works or not, is defined as Divine, as how Adepts do things, no matter how ridiculous, senseless, or inconsistent with the evidence. At a certain point, just to save one's spiritual sanity, people have to step back from that and face reality. One has to actually verify the claims Adi Da makes, and act only on the basis of what one has verified. That means not doing very much of what Adi Da tells people to do. Which, in a way, is what actually goes on in Adidam. A lot of people don't do very much of what Adi Da asks them to do, but they go around paying lip service to various ideas. They may even continue to believe in various things Adi Da says, and justify in their mind their continuing involvement simply out of habit and attachment.

Huge religions are filled with millions of people with similar attachments to their particular sect. So it's not surprising that Adidam is no different. But for some people that simply isn't good enough. It wasn't good enough a reason for me to stay in Adidam. I wouldn't do well in Christianity or Islam, I'm sure, either. But Adidam aspires to be more than just another deluded collection of fundamentalist believers. And yet it doesn't actually succeed in doing so, because it would have to leave so much of what is sacred to Adidam behind. Instead it becomes exactly the same by trying so hard to be different and special and unique, which is precisely what all the rest of them do. Tragic, isn't it?

To put it another way, what makes you think that it has been any different in the "back room" situations, or even front room situations of any Great Realizer that has lived throughout history? These beings are not coming from the same standpoint of you or me. Not even a little bit!Niyandanda threw rocks, the Zen Roshi's beat for no apart reason with sticks, Jesus pounded the financial officers of that church, Krishna is glorified for having broken up tens of thousands of marriages, Durkpal Kunley was a serial rapist, Marpa was a public drunkard and had at least one of his devotees repeatedly beaten, and consigned to hard labor to endlessly build one temple after another, only to have him tear it down again, Tilopa had Naropa jump into a pool of leaches with the sole purpose of "breaking" him. Master, after Master, after Master screamed and beat and yes, even raped their devotees.

I'm not aware of any actual rapes in the traditions, but who knows? What seems missing from this list is the Crazy Wisdom Adepts who created a cult like Adidam. Wild and crazy Adepts don't seem in the habit of creating stiflingly bureaucratic cults like Adidam that engage in the crazed, hypocritical pretenses that Adidam does. They may use unconventional means, but they don't accumulate offshore back accounts with tens of millions of dollars in them while starving their own devotees.

The more mundane problem with your list is that it doesn't include much historically verifiable information. Yes, Nityananda threw rocks when he was a young fellow wandering around, but just to get people to leave him alone. He didn't take some sadistic pleasure in it. He didn't throw rocks at his actual devotees, and then tell them it was for their own good. They didn't have “rock therapy sessions” where Nityananda would pelt them with rocks to purify them of their sins. In fact, Nityananda didn't have a “back room” closed off to the public. He hung out with people around the ashram and was a fairly normal guy a lot of the time. There were no scandals about his secret behavior in private that I ever heard about. Similarly with Ramana. He didn't have a private room. Literally, he kept the doors to his room open at all times. Devotees could and did wander in at any time to see him. During the day he spent most of his time sitting in an open hall which anyone cold walk in on. He worked every morning in the ashram kitchen preparing the day's meals. There were no scandals at the ashram precisely because he hid nothing, and anyone could see him at almost any time.

So yes, it was different in the back rooms of others who were regarded as Adepts before. I'm sure there were a few scandals, but for the most part Adepts just aren't into the kinds of things Adi Da is into, and pretending they are is just a way of manufacturing a justification for Adi Da's behavior out of vague myths and old stories, like Krishna's, as if they actually happened. Even the stories of Naropa and Tilopa, Marpa and Milarepa,and Drukpa Kunley, are largely mythical, we have no real idea what they actually were like or what they did. In the historically verifiable era we have no real evidence of anyone behaving like Adi Da, period, and there's been a lot of realizers over the last 150 years to look at as examples of the breed. Adi Da simply doesn't fit in, behaviorally speaking, with that crowd.

So what is it you are complaining about exactly? Is it Adi Da's reported behavior? Rather, doesn’t your complaint go to the heart breaking "discovery" of the appearances of the "incontestablly horrific facts" regarding the behavior of just about every Great Master whom was ever lived?

No, it really doesn't apply to most Adepts. They do not appear by means of “horrific facts”. That is mostly in the imagination of people like MJ, and other devotees of Adi Da, who are taught over and over again by propagandistic “experts” in Adidam, like James Steinberg and Bill Stranger, who distort and confuse the traditions on a daily basis in order to prop of the Adidam ship of state. But the traditions simply do not support Adi Da on this and many other points. Even Adi Da admits this from time to time, because otherwise he would be subjecting himself to the traditional tests that Adepts have to pass to be considered genuine, and Adi Da knows he would never pass those tests. But in Adidam these same stories are told over and over again, like Nityananda throwing rocks, or Marpa and Milraepa, to justify the latest round of nonsense. Never does one hear a critical word from these sources pointing out how absurd these analogies are.

In a world where everything and everyone is felt, more or less, in terms of betrayal, it is particularly heart breaking and devastating to have God, or one who would be a direct conduit to God, (which is basically the same thing to the human psyche)seem to enact the very heart of betrayal? Is it not?I suspect that is why a number of people who leave Adi Da's teaching, never having allowed themselves to notice or resort to the Gift of Grace of God Communion freely given, spend the rest of their lives, apparently, making a big stink about it, instead of just taking stock of themselves and after a few months or years moving on.

Well, them's fightin' words, ain't they? Betrayal is of course a strong human emotion, and those who leave Adidam are definitely felt, by those who have stayed, to have betrayed not only them, but God and Truth. This, I think, is the emotion MJ is really speaking about – his own sense of being betrayed by people like me, who once were strong devotees, and who have since left, and “turned” on Adidam. This is why MJ feels such hostility towards me and others, and speaks of us as having failed to make use of the Grace of Divine Communion, as being “sinners” in other words, people who have “missed the mark”. He can't see me as someone who sincerely desires truth, who communes with God, who wants truth, who would like to leave falsehood behind. He has identified truth and God with Adidam, and thus leaving Adidam is a betrayal of the truth, and of God.

The truth is that Adidam is not the conduit of God in this world. God is already here. The “promised God-Man” is already here, has always been here, cannot leave. The “Promised God-Man” is in the heart of every being, and can be found there by turning to the heart, not by turning to some historical religious figure who claims to be the One and Only. We are each the promised God-Man. When Adi Da says that the greatest sin is to see the Guru as a mere man, he is simply wrong. The greatest sin is to see yourself as a mere man. The spiritual path begins not when you see the Guru as God, but when you begin to see your own heart as God, your own Self as God. That is the great "breakthrough" that begins the spiritual process. Everything before that is a confusing the cart with the horse.

It's true enough, however, that I felt betrayed by Adi Da, and by Adidam, for a while before, during, and after leaving. It's only natural after realizing the mistake I'd made with so much of my life in trying to commune with God through Adidam. What I came to realize is that there had been no betrayal of God, either by Adi Da or by myself - that God simply cannot be betrayed. God is present. The betrayal is only in our minds. My sense of being betrayed by Adi Da was the natural consequence of believing that he was the conduit of God in the first place. Once I was past that illusion, that notion that he had betrayed me simply evaporated. If I am writing about him now, it's not out of any emotion of betrayal. One, I am simply sorting out my past and putting it in its place, and two, I am simply making available to others what I understand about this process, in the hope of getting feedback and their help, and of being of help to them as well. There's no agenda of retribution in my mind, just of setting a few things straight.

Or those people may notice what in Adi Da's company they percieve of merely as displays of energy, of Shakti, instead of feeling deeper, and noticing how Adi Da is providing the Means which liberates on the level of Consciousness, and Communion.

If this were so, wouldn't we be seeing signs of this liberation in their lives, in their spiritual practice? Wouldn't the people who stay be examples of this great process of liberation? Where are these examples? The fact is, people in Adidam are perpetually stuck in the same problem, over and over again, and don't seem to have any insight into what it is. Reading the insights of people who have left may help them to understand what they have missed. The process of the liberation of consciousness has been alive for millenia, and it simply doesn't operate in the way Adi Da has taught it. He's taken the wisdom of such traditions as Vedanta and Buddhism and unskillfully wedded it to his own eclectic methods and siddhi, and it just doesn't work. That should be obvious by now. It's not that he doesn't have great yogic abilities, and it's not even that he has no heart or love for God, it's that he's tried to combine his own egoity with the transcendence of egoity, and that just doesn't work. He's Evelyn Disk and Raymond Darling fighting it out on the same stage, and that's a battle that can't be won, because they are the same person. But Adi Da continues to be in conflict with himself, and he uses the people around him to act out his own internal conflicts, and that is the source of his “theater”. It's a dangerous indulgence, usually the province of mad kings and dictators with absolute power over their subjects, and that is pretty much the state of affairs in Adidam, written comedically at least.

I make my own confession that Adi Da has given me the Resource of God Communion,which I can resort to any moment in which I am smart enough to choose it, rather then dwell in the fascination of my own projections. That Gift of Communion with God, which has saved my life countless numbers of times, and continues to save it every day-- I would not want to imagine my life without that ultimately Precious Gift of Divine Grace. And I wish you peace.

Yes, I wish MJ peace also. But peace is the very nature of all beings. I am not wishing him, or anyone else, anything they don't already have. God-Communion does not save anyone's life, it is simply the very nature of life. It is freely given by life itself, not by Adi Da. Pretending that it was given by Adi Da is like taking water from the river and putting it in a bottle with Adi Da's name on it. Why pay for what is freely available at all times? Bottled water is inferior to that which flows freely and wildly though the streams of the universe. Take that water and pour it back into the river. That is my advice. Let it rejoin the river of life, and not be bottled up any longer.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Adi Da: Raging Alcoholic or Out of Control Alcoholic?

Just when I said I'd post something positive about Adi Da, a controversy breaks out about whether or not Adi Da is or has been an alcoholic, and if so what kind, and if not whether this is slander. Mr. Happy is accusing a forum poster, "friend" of slandering Da without proof by calling him "an out of control alcoholic". Friend objects to Mr. Happy mischaracterizing this charge by saying friend called Da "a raging alcoholic". This is the level of the debate on Adi Da these days.

Do facts count for anything? As friend says, everyone in Adidam knows that Adi Da dranks extensively for many, many years. Having proof of that is like having proof that somone in your own family has an alcohol problem. People try to keep it quiet with outsiders, but within the family everyone knows about it. Maybe not the distant cousins, but most people who are around know. With Adi Da, his drinking was legendary, and even a matter of boasting for some. One insider I knew told me back in about 1985 that at least 80% of the "sacred teaching" was delivered drunk. Others told me that he commonly drank two fifths of bourban a day. This was not considered scandalous, but a sign of his nearly superhuman powers to keep functioning with that much alcohol in his system. Da's wild "partying" was legendary, and the constant runs for huge amounts of liquor to the local stores was widely known of. Also, devotees themselves were invited to party with Da, drinking and using other inebriants along with him. This was not considered scandalous within the community either, but was kept from outsiders who wouldn't "understand" Da's teaching methods. Da often said that drinking was actually necessary, not just for himself, but for devotees, to overcome the "resistance" in themselves and the world to the Divine Process Da was bringing through his own body, and into their bodies. It was proposed by Da and others in the community that inebriants like alcohol were an important and even sacred part of the spiritual process, and had to be understood in that context.

Adi Da's drinking continued all the way up until he began suffering from serious health problems in the mid and late 90's. In 1995 he had a sudden onset of glaucoma which permanently took away about 80% of his peripheral vision. Naturally, he blamed this on devotee's lack of devotion to him rather than his own unhealthy lifestyle, which included not only large amounts of alcohol but using drugs such as amyl nitrate which constrict blood vessels and which are thus very dangerous for those who have a genetic susceptibility to glaucoma (his father suffered from it also). It's not a suprise that Da suffered from glaucoma, and had to undergo surgery to prevent it from resulting in total blindness, but it is odd that he tried to turn this whole event into some kind of spiritual "crisis" of universal importance. In any case, after this Da's general health began to suffer greatly. His doctors and close intimates had tried for years to get him to cut down on his alcohol and drug consumption, because they could see what a terrible toll it was taking on his health. Da, however, insisted that to do so would compromise his spiritual "work" with the world, and that he was willing to "sacrifice" his body for the sake of that work by continuing to drink heavily and indulge in other unhealthy habits of eating and consuming "accessories" as they were called, including heavy smoking of tobacco. In fact, that line of criticism of the community was a nearly constant theme for many years: that our spiritual immaturity was forcing Adi Da to consume all these unhealthy "accessories" that were destroying his health, including alcohol. This was not hidden, it was a regular part of the "notes" cycle read to the general community. Details of his life habits weren't read out, but it wasn't necessary, it was just assumed.

I can't remember exactly when Da quit drinking, it was somewhere around the turn of the century. I can't recall if it was before or after the Lopez Island "translation event" in 2000. But it was around that time that Da was finally convinced by his doctors, friends, and family to stop drinking. He had some serious heart problems, arteriosclerosis, and general declining health that made it a medical necessity. Still, it took something like a formal "intervention" to get him to agree to stop drinking. By then he had already begun switching over to marijuana, due to his glaucoma, and seemed very happy with that. He of course had a perfectly legitimate medical reason to use marijuana, and it was all perfectly legal under California law, and that seemed to make him more comfortable. And marijuana is of course very safe and healthy, non-toxic and with no serious side effects, especially if used with an inhaler. So my impression is that Da pretty much quit drinking then, and probably has not gone back to it since.

Does any of this make Da an alcoholic? By the standard definition, yes. Even now, having been dry for several years, most people would continue to call him an alcoholic, though a recovering one. It's not slander to say such things about anyone. Alcoholism is a serious problem, both in terms of mental and physical health, but most people recognize how widespread it is in the world and have some sympathy for those who suffer from it. Even if one accepts Da's explanation for the spiritual necessity of his alcohol consumption, it's still fair to call him an alcoholic. Was he a raging or out-of-control alcoholic? I think alcoholism by its very definition is something out of the alcoholic's control. They simply can't help themselves, can't stop on their own, and may not even want to. Da's own justification for using alcohol suggests that it wasn't something he could control, that he was "forced" to drink for the sake of his spiritual work. Was it "raging" alcoholism? That depends on one's definition. It certainly would be fair to say that anyone consuming two fifths of bourban a day for any period of time was "raging". It would also be fair to say that anyone who is an alcoholic is probably going to do and say things that one could rightly call "out of control", including acts of violence or unhibited sexual libido. Those are common among alcoholics, and the stories surrounding Adi Da certainly fit that pattern.

So the whole issue of slander that Mr. Happy brings up simply seems to have no basis. Daists will admit that Da drank a helluva lot for many years, but they will cringe at the use of the term "alcoholic" to describe him, even though the definition fits. It's really not for someone like Mr. Happy, who has no personal knowledge of Adi Da or life in Adidam, to accuse anyone of slandering Adi Da by calling him an alcoholic. Adi Da or his personal representatives, or people who have been close to Adi Da for many years, could certainly make accusations of slander in regards to his alcohol consumption, but they never have. Why is that? Why is Mr. Happy making accusations of slander when not even Adidam does?

Now I would be happy if anyone out there would like to correct the above account. I've talked to many insiders about this, and yet if I've made mistakes in any way, please correct me and I'd be happy to update this post. I don't see any reason to condemn Adi Da as a human being simply because he had a long-lasting drinking problem. Many people do. Even many spiritual figures have been heavy drinkers in the past. Chogyuam Trungpa died of alcoholism. It's a serious illness, and needs to be taken seriously, not made the object of derision. But it also needs to be accepted as one of many facts about Adi Da, and people need to take it into account in evaluating his fitness as a Guru. For some it may not seem a big deal, for others it may. I don't have a problem with either interpretation. What I have a problem with is denying the simple facts, or pretending that keeping the facts from people will help protect them from things they just aren't ready to understand about Adi Da. That attitude simply has no place in this discussion.

The positive side of Adidam

In an earlier post on the subject of lies in Adidam, I mentioned that I would write something positive about Adidam also to put things in perspective. I still intend to do that. One of the problems with having to deal with people like Mr. Happy who deny the dark side of Adidam is that it forces critics to combat that denial by focusing on Adidam's worst qualities at the expense of a more rounded picture. Not that "round" is an adjective that best suits Adidam, but you know what I mean. In any case, over the next few days I'd like to post about Adidam's positive aspects as best I can. That may not satisfy the Adidam devotees who are beginning to check into this site, in that what is good about Adidam is not necessarily as great or profound or of such earth-shaking importance as the Adidam propaganda machine would like people to think. But it's certainly worth mentioning for those who want to get a fuller picture of what makes Adidam tick.

As mentioned before, I don't want this site to turn into an extended meditation on Adidam. It will certainly come up from time to time, and I don't have any problem turning my attention to it, but Adidam in general is not something I spend much time thinking about. Writing about it is simply a way of dealing with my past - and considering that I spent most of three decades in the thrall of Adidam, it's a pretty hefty part of my past, just not of my present and future. Still, I get the sense from watching the traffic flow to this site that reader interest peaks when I post on Adidam, so it seems to be on the minds of visitors here also. So I will keep some kind of commentary going on the subject from time to time.

For example, I hear there's a new book by Adi Da coming out called "The Scapegoat", or something like that, which takes the form of a dialog between Raymond Darling and Evelyn Disk, two of the main characters from The Mummery. Because The Mummery and the relationship between those two characters forms a central theme in my previously posted pieces about Adi Da on the Daism Forum, I will definitely take a look at the book and post a lengthy review incorporating my own "general theory of Adi Da" into the piece. That could be a good pretext for writing some kind of summary of my views on Adidam. I've also heard that the book was actually "performed" by Adi Da recently in front of a live audience of devotees at the Mountain of Attention, and that a DVD of that performance will soon be made available, perhaps even to the public. So a theatrical review may follow as well. Other than that, I'm not sure what else needs to be said by me about Adidam. Some of that depends on readers of this blog, who can always ask me to write about what they would like to know, regardless of the subject. And there are of course personal intersections with friends of mine who are still involved with Adidam which keeps the issue somewhat alive for me.