Four Dharmas, The

The Four Dharmas

(orig. The Three Dharmas)

a talk by

Sri Adi Da Samraj

November, 1973

There is a Great Process, and all of this is its manifestation.
From time to time, men have appeared whose function it was to
communicate the nature of this process and its various functions.
Each of these individuals appeared in a particular time and place
under particular conditions. In each case their function was to
communicate an aspect of this Great Process and to demonstrate one of
the possible ways of realizing its nature.

All of those who have appeared were and are essentially agents,
instruments, servants. The process itself is beginningless, endless,
eternal, absolute, perfect. And in truth the communicator of that
process is also beginningless, endless, eternal, absolute, perfect,
and that one is the Maha-Siddha, the Eternally Completed One, the
Divine. All those who have appeared among men, as well as among all
other beings and in other worlds, for the sake of the communication
or clarification of this process are servants of the Divine.

Just so, these servants or agents, all of whom had a particular
function at a particular time and place, can be classified according
to their function and the fullness of their communication. Among them
have appeared certain ones whom I have called the Great Siddhas, the
great completed Spiritual Masters. These were men such as Jesus the
Christ, Gautama the Buddha, and Krishna the Avatar. Men such as these
have been the principal agents of the Maha-Siddha in this world. They
have communicated the principal dharmas or paths and have had the
greatest historical effect. Their function has been primary.

I call Jesus, Krishna, and Gautama Great Siddhas because they so
uniquely and with such historical force represented the dharmas that
pertain to the fundamental conditions of suffering. There have been
many Siddhas, men who in one form or another lived the function of
the yogi, the saint, the sage, or the prophet, but who transcended
the limitations of their particular function. 1

These Siddhas, while enjoying in a very real sense the same
perfect, Divine realization as the Great Siddhas, either served one
of the existing great dharmas or else taught a lesser dharma, a
lesser path, or a path that had certain historical limitations. There
have been countless yogis, saints, sages, and prophets, extraordinary
men who nonetheless did not represent the function, the great
function of all the Siddhas. These men not only represented lesser
dharmas or historical limitations, forms of the way of experience,
but they were also seekers, not perfectly founded in the absolute
enjoyment of the Siddhas, who are eternally non-separate from

The three Great Siddhas have represented to mankind the three
principal dharmas as they have been understood to this time. Jesus
represented the dharma of the sacrifice of self, Krishna the dharma
of the sacrifice of mind, and Gautama the dharma of the sacrifice of
desire. Separated self (or ego), limited mind, and limiting desire
are the three principal conditions of suffering or contraction in
man. Thus, the three principal dharmas that have been known among men
have been attempts to undo these forms of contraction through the
deliberate or motivated sacrifice of these three: ego, mind, and

The three conditions of ego, mind, and desire are the three
fundamental conditions of the usual life. These are the three
principles or conditions of suffering. They are the three
manifestations of Narcissus, the self-enjoyer, the eternally
recurring mortal. In fact men are all seeking through the various
strategies of life to undo the force of these conditions and their
effects. And men seek release from suffering by many means. But the
common means are devoted either to the exploitation of the life
functions for the sake of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, or to
the exploitation of the inner life for the sake of so-called
spiritual attainment.

All men strategically, whether or not with full and conscious
intention, are pursuing release from these three conditions while at
the same time only living them. Even the search to overcome the
conditions of ego, mind, and desire is itself founded in these three.
While men strategically, arbitrarily, and with various degrees of
consciousness pursue release from these conditions, the spiritual
instructors of mankind, the various men of experience, the various
Siddhas, and the various Great Siddhas have created dharmas or paths
which very consciously and methodically pursue release from these

Gautama was the Great Siddha of the navel. He taught and
demonstrated the dharma of the sacrifice of desire. His whole
teaching essentially consisted of methods for achieving the condition
of nirvana, or the great quenching of the principle of desire. And
the center of the principle of desire is the great region of the
navel, the great life center.

Just so, Krishna was the Great Siddha of the sahasrar or the
subtle epitome, the subtle region above the head. He taught and
demonstrated the dharma of the sacrifice of mind, the merging of the
mind in God.

Jesus was the Great Siddha of the region of the heart. Just as the
mind has its seat in the upper regions of the head, and desire has
its seat in the great vital region of the navel, the ego or separate
self and its dissolution are seated in the heart. Jesus taught and
demonstrated the dharma of self-sacrifice, the dharma of the
surrender of the ego in life terms, in functional and human terms.
And so the dharma of the sacrifice of self is the dharma of the

But the three principal dharmas are themselves forms of seeking,
reactions to the fundamental dilemma which motivates the usual man.
The three Great Siddhas, along with all the other Siddhas, and all
the yogis, saints, sages, and prophets, and all the men of
experience, including the whole range of human individuals,
themselves represent a limitation, a form of seeking founded in
dilemma. The principle of the search remains intact in the great work
of all the Siddhas to now. And the effort of all the dharmas,
including the three great traditional dharmas, has been to
strategically overcome separate self, limited mind, and the force of
limiting desire.

In response to every communicator of the Great Process, whether he
was a Great Siddha, Siddha, transcendent yogi, saint, prophet, sage,
or teacher of some kind, a cult has always grown. There is a cult
around Jesus as Christ, a cult around Gautama as Buddha, a cult
around Krishna as the Divine Avatar. There is a cult that develops
around each Siddha that appears-there are cults around Nityananda,
Ramakrishna, Shirdi Sai Baba, Ramana Maharshi.

There are cults around all the yogis, saints, prophets, sages, and
teachers. Every limited communication has tended to have been taken
in some tradition or other to be absolute, to be perfect. The world
is full of cults, great cults and lesser cults, all of which have the
same fundamental structure as the limited life of Narcissus, the
egoic life of obsessive mentality and peculiar desires. The world is
full of cults, all of which are in conflict with all other cults
because they each represent a fundamental limitation of the Great

My own work is not separate from the great work of the Siddhas and
Great Siddhas. But my work is a new performance of the dharma of the
Maha-Siddha, and represents a new teaching from a new point of view.
Just as the three great dharmas are essentially efforts to overcome
the limitations of separate self, limited mind, and the force of
limiting desire, the Way of Understanding is utterly free of the
whole principle of seeking. At the same time, the Way of
Understanding effectively undermines the three principles of
suffering, not by deliberately acting upon those three principles or
conditions themselves, but by undermining in the process of
understanding the fundamental or principal activity which is
suffering, the principle of contraction or dilemma, the avoidance of

The Way of Understanding is founded upon insight into that dilemma
and the fundamental action which creates and supports that sense of
dilemma. That fundamental or self-limiting activity is the avoidance
of relationship. When that binding principle is understood, then
already or spontaneously the three common conditions of suffering are

The separate self, limited mind, and force of limiting desire are
all expressions of this principal contraction, the avoidance of
relationship. So if this principal contraction is undone in the
process of understanding in living relationship with the Man of
Understanding, then the force of the three common principles is
already undermined.

In a living and natural relationship with the Man of Understanding
this principal contraction is undone, entirely apart from the whole
adventure of seeking in dilemma. The process involves simple,
motiveless understanding of one’s own activity, not the effort to
suppress or transcend the ego-sense, the force of the mind, or the
force of desire. When there is radical understanding, these three
conditions are brought to rest, returned to the natural stream of

All there has been up to now is the tradition of the dharmas that
arose within the great search. So all of those who come to me are
continually tending to take on these traditional paths, these
traditional approaches. People are always getting upset about their
desires, always getting crazy with their minds, and always suffering
their limited self-existence, their egoic life. And they are always
wanting to do something about it. They always urge themselves either
simply to give in and exploit the tendencies that are arising or else
to use some strategy or other to get free of their condition.

The Way of Understanding is entirely apart from that whole
traditional activity. The instrument for this dharma of understanding
is the same instrument that has been used throughout human time, the
same instrument used by the Great Siddhas and all the Siddhas. And
that is Satsang, or the relationship between the devotee and the
Spiritual Master who is complete and powerful in God. The Great
Siddhas such as Jesus, Gautama, and Krishna all entered into
sacrificial relationship with devotees. That was the fundamental
instrument for the communication of their dharmas and their spiritual

So the means for this activity is the ancient means, but the
process, the dharma itself, is new. It does not exploit the
individual’s motivation to be free of the ego, the mind, and desires.
It does not yield to his willful intentions to exploit those
tendencies or to believe them. It simply enforces the condition of
Truth, which is Satsang itself, the relationship to the Guru in

There is only one Siddhi or transforming Spiritual Power active in
this work, and that Siddhi is God, the Power of the Divine Person. It
is not a secondary siddhi, not magic, not a mere influence. Only the
Divine is active in this work. The Lord is the fundamental condition
communicated in Satsang with the Man of Understanding. From the
beginning, not merely at the end, Truth is the condition of this
process. It is pressed on devotees with more and more intensity,
always to the degree which is just a little bit beyond their
preferred tolerance.

The given methods which are determined to help you overcome your
desires, your mentality, or your self-obsession do not in fact affect
the principle on which they rest. So naturally your desires, your
mentality, and your self-obsessions continue to arise. You are always
wanting to exploit them, to believe them, or to get some method or
other that will help you to undo them.

But I see no value in merely preventing the appearance of ego,
mind, and desire, since one of the fundamental functions of the
Divine Siddhi is to awaken those things for the sake of purification
and transformation. Why should I give you a method to suppress them,
since everything I am doing is bringing them up in you? I would have
you become intelligent in relation to the conditions of your
suffering, but as long as you seek you are only moved to suppress
them without understanding their origin.

The Guru is that Divine Siddhi. The only thing that will allow you
to remain in this Satsang, to remain in this fundamental condition
that is Truth, is the life of a devotee. If you remain in the
condition of a devotee in relation to the Man of Understanding as
Guru, then you will be able to pass with humor through the appearance
of your own qualities. And they will disappear, not hecause you
happen to perform some activity on them, recite some mantra, do some
sort of inward trick, but simply because another principle is being
lived, which is Satsang.

By remaining a devotee, you will pass through the long appearance
and the long reappearance of your own tendencies. But the minute you
turn away, the minute you become resistive, the minute your
occupation becomes one of resistance to the Guru and to the process
of this Siddhi, you will be tending to hold on to the revealed
products of this Siddhi. You will become addicted to the principle of
your own desires, the force of your own mentality, and the intense
vibration of your own separate self sense. The possibility of
separation always exists in every individual. Therefore, every day
the devotee is tested, and the test is whether he will choose to live
simply as a devotee or to return to the principle of his desires, the
principle of his limited mind, the principle of his separated or
Narcissistic existence.

So this Siddhi lives you and does the meditating and performs the
sadhana or spiritual practice. The Siddhi active in Satsang is the
fundamental instrument of this work, and not any secondary method or
technical affair given to you to perform. In this Satsang, by virtue
of this Siddhi, the process of understanding begins. The force of
Satsang, which yields self-observation, insight, and real meditation,
arises on the basis of hearing the Guru, living as the devotee of the
Guru, responsibly maintaining the conditions communicated by the

Whereas the ancient dharmas involved specific attention, strategic
attention to desire, mind, and ego, the dharma of understanding does
not involve such strategic attention. It involves Satsang itself,
simply, without concern for the manifestation of desires that occur
at any moment, the manifestation of thought, or the manifestation of
separate self sense. These manifestations are continually appearing,
but it is not the business of the devotee to bind himself with
concerns over these manifestations. Satsang is his condition. Satsang
is his meditation. Satsang is his sadhana or eternal spiritual

The Man of Understanding only offers this Satsang, and he demands
that those who come to him come in the form of the devotee, not in
the form of the seeker. They will not be satisfied as seekers. He
will never give them what seekers require. The Man of Understanding
does not give methods, he does not exploit the search, he does not
satisfy the seeker.

Those who come as seekers will only be frustrated, and so the Man
of Understanding regards only those who come in the form of the
devotee. He is continually mindful of the state of his devotee, and
through various means continually returns him to the principle of his
sadhana, which is Satsang, rather than to those things toward which
the devotee himself is always tending: his desires, his mind, and his

Just so, the characteristic Siddhi of the Man of Understanding is
not one that is exclusively involved with any one of the three
primary centers of our psycho-physical form, any more than it is
exclusively involved with the strategic attempt to undo any one of
the three common principles of suffering. The Siddhi of the Man of
Understanding involves the three principal centers inclusively,
without making any one of them the fixed or primary focus of

Yogis seek the merging of the life-force in God, because they see
the dilemma of their existence in the forms of life. Thus, their
activity originates in the great life-region of the navel, and
proceeds upward from that point (if the goal is above the world).
Some, who conceive an evolutionary goal in the world, also draw the
life-energy down to the life-center. The yogis enjoy exclusive
mastery over desire and life.

The great bhaktas or lovers of God are always turned upward
through thought, feeling, word, and deed. Practitioners of the yoga
of the inner sound current listen to the sound behind the eyes and
above the ears in order to be drawn up by it into the Condition of
the Light. These are the ways of saints, who seek the exclusive
merging of the mind in God, because they know the mind to be the root
of the permutations of life. Thus, their seats of activity are in the
ajna chakra, the sahasrar, and above. The saints master mind, just as
yogis master desire and life.

The sages or jnanis seek the realization of Self, prior to ego,
and thus also to mind and desire, because they know the ego to be the
root of mind and life. Their activity originates in the heart, the
seat of the limited self, of mind, and of desire, on the right side
of the chest. This seat, or the potent Silence, the mere Presence of
the Heart or RealGod which is intuited therein, is the root of all
thoughts, as well as the life current, and the internally audible
sound stream. The Self is even the Root or Source of the very Light
or Mind which is above the body, the mind, and the world, and of the
Life which always proceeds from it as bodies, minds, and worlds.
Sages enjoy principal but exclusive mastery over the illusion of
separate self, without interest in transcendent Mind or Divine

The three centers, the navel, the head, and the heart, are,
properly, the seats of the inclusive intuition of the Divine in man.
But they are realized in Truth only in the spontaneous, already
selfless revelation of Satsang. Those who concentrate upon them
wilfully and exclusively with sophisticated techniques, as if to find
God at last, are like Narcissus. They only meditate upon their own
reflections in waters that lie on holy ground.

But the Man of Understanding enjoys mastery of the ego, mind, and
desire without exclusion. He enjoys Realization of Self, Mind, and
Life, which are the World. He is Guru in the three seats of
Realization, the seat of Life (the great region of the navel), the
seat of Light (the ajna chakra, the sahasrar, and above), and the
seat of Self (the heart, on the right). He enjoys this Realized
Mastery entirely apart from all dilemma and seeking, and he awakens
it also in others apart from all exploitation of seeking in

Therefore, this sadhana is new and great, and perhaps it is
difficult to grasp for those who have only the traditions to which
they would resort. In fact, apart from what is newly being
communicated here, only the traditions of seeking can be found. But
the work and the realization of the Man of Understanding are not
fixed in any one of the traditional centers or dharmas or approaches.
Just so, his point of view is not the point of view of the Divine
qualities represented by any of the three great traditional paths and
the exclusive seats of their knowing within man. His point of view is
That which is prior to the three great dharmas. His point of view is
the Divine itself.

1. Men have long sought to undo the three
fundamental contractions or roots of suffering that underlie the
usual life, and to realize certain aspects of the Divine Process that
are apparently prevented by those contractions. Some have attained
extraordinary Success, and have taught others through the various
ways of experience.

Those who are primarily concemed with undoing the vital
contraction at the great region of the navel in order to enjoy the
bliss or fullness of unobstructed movement of the life-force are
called “Yogis” by Adi Da.

“Saints,” in his terminology, seek chiefly to relax the subtle
contractions at the region of the sahasrar, and they are devoted to
the Divine as the transcendent Light above the world, body, and

“Sages” strive primarily to undo the contraction associated with
the causal heart, and to realize the Self-nature, Real-God, which has
its psycho-physical seat at that point.

Other men have functioned as critics of the usual life from the
point of view of transcendent knowledge, and Adi Da calls them