The Dreaded Gom-Boo – Chapter 8

The Dreaded Gomboo or The Imaginary Disease That
Religion Seeks To Cure.

A Collection of Essays and Talks on the “Direct”
Process of Enlightenment.

By Da Free John.

Compiled and edited with an introduction and commentary
by the Renunciate Hermitage Order.

Table of Contents


Part II: Renunciation


Boredom, Doubt, and Discomfort

August 7, 1982


MASTER DA: The usual individual chronically suffers three
basic difficulties: boredom, doubt, and discomfort. And the
usual individual is adapted to a culture of life that is
always trying by one or another means to overcome these
three difficulties of ordinary experience. When such
individuals become involved in spiritual practice, even
though higher principles of Realization are involved, they
tend, particularly in the beginners phase, to adapt the
principles of spiritual life to their ordinary life. They
attempt, in other words, to use the principles of spiritual
life to overcome boredom, doubt, and discomfort.

Such people are practicing, then, on this side of
boredom, doubt, and discomfort. They do not profoundly enter
into these conditions of ordinary suffering and move beyond
them. Rather, the factors of ordinary discomfort, disease,
unhappiness, and suffering are always in the background of
life somehow, and such people use the ordinary programs of
life to keep from experiencing these difficulties
profoundly. They simply add the principles and the process
of spiritual life to their arsenal of means.

For those who are in a mature phase of spiritual
practice, who manage their lives so that they can enter into
a renunciate circumstance, a different kind of practice
becomes possible, inevitable, and necessary.

We must appreciate ourselves through
self-observation-observe how, as functional or manifest
beings, we are programmed entities. We are perhaps not as
mechanical as robots, but the metaphor of the robot is
usable, nevertheless. We are programmed through experience,
through stimulus-response learning, through social learning,
and through the trial of our own limitations and
difficulties, to use certain functions of the brain and the
nervous system and the functional being altogether. The
programs that most people are animating involve the
functions of the motor activity of the brain, the nervous
system, and the body, and the thinking activity of the
outer-directed mind. We use these systems in order to
achieve a semblance of well-being, comfort, and pleasure,
and the efforts whereby we pursue these ends may be seen to
be efforts to overcome the three fundamental difficulties of
boredom, doubt, and discomfort.

The usual individual is functioning on this side of
boredom, doubt, and discomfort, living in a realm short of
well-being, equanimity, release, and pleasure, and always
seeking to overcome boredom, doubt, and discomfort in order
to achieve well-being, pleasure, release, comfort, and
consolation. The program of such seeking is typical of
individuals who are functioning in the earlier stages of
life, particularly in the first three stages of life, and of
course it describes a kind of neurosis or essential
unhappiness. It is a program that seeks happiness while
always falling short of it, always being in some sense or
other haunted by the limitations of boredom, doubt, and
discomfort. The very mechanisms that are constantly brought
into play to overcome these difficulties and to achieve the
desired ends are themselves the source of boredom, doubt,
and discomfort.

We are always stimulating the motor and thinking
mechanisms to overcome boredom, doubt, and discomfort and
achieve well-being and pleasure. But those very mechanisms,
by being constantly stimulated and brought to a point of
achieving some sort of enjoyment, become insatiable. We
require more and more remarkable stimulations of body and
mind to achieve a relative degree of pleasure. The more we
think, for example, the more extraordinary our thinking must
become to satisfy us. We become addicted to the pursuits we
can engage through motor activity and thought, and we are
constantly agitated by this motivation. We feel always
haunted by our limitations, our difficulties, or boredom,
doubt, and discomfort.

The usual individual is simply involved in this struggle
or neurotic bind. Somewhat more uncommon individuals may
become involved in not merely exoteric religious belief but
a spiritual way of life, including the Way of life that we
consider. Even so, at the beginning of their practice they
merely adapt the possibilities of this spiritual Way of life
to the programs of neurosis. Therefore, they try to use the
spiritual process as a means for overcoming boredom, doubt,
and discomfort, and they particularly emphasize certain
aspects of the spiritual process that involve motor activity
and thinking, because these are the programs that in general
such individuals are constantly stimulating in order to seek
pleasurable fulfillment.

The higher aspects of the Way do not therefore represent
a major aspect of the practice of beginners. Rather,
beginners concentrate their practice in functional
disciplines, the disciplines that relate to motor activity,
the disciplines or practices associated with money, food,
and sex, and the activity of ordinary life. Likewise, they
become involved in thinking about the Way, studying the Way,
engaging in a verbal play with the Teaching, and perhaps
seeking uncommon sensory fulfillment through meditative
activity. Thus, such individuals continue to remain on this
side of boredom, doubt and discomfort, even though they are
involved in the rudimentary practice of spiritual life.

Since ancient times an alternative has been offered to
people who are committed to the spiritual Way of life. It is
not an alternative most people would choose if they fully
understood or appreciated what it involves. It is not an
alternative for which everyone is immediately capable. It is
the renunciate discipline, which is not merely a matter of
superimposing stark limitations on your ordinary life. It
is, rather, a matter of changing your circumstance of life
so that in fact and in effect you are no longer living an
ordinary life. In other words, you are not trying to
practice the Way in the midst of an ordinary life, but you
are practicing the Way in the midst of an uncommon life. The
renunciate discipline is not merely a matter of
superimposing limitations on yourself while you continue to
live in the world. It is, rather, a matter of leaving the
setting of ordinary life in the world and renouncing the
programs that are activated in the world, and starkly
reducing the opportunities the world uses to overcome
boredom, doubt, and discomfort.

The effect of living the renunciate way is to confront
boredom, doubt, and discomfort directly, abandoning all your
usual means for avoiding and overcoming boredom, doubt, and
discomfort, so that in short order you are practicing on the
other side, rather than on this side, of boredom, doubt, and
discomfort. This is the secret of renunciation. It is a kind
of discipline that, as I have said, few perhaps would
choose, at least in the beginning of their practice. Some
might choose it and then discover they do not have the
ability or the real inclination for it, at least in the
beginning. But it is also a form of discipline that can be
practiced only if you are able to manage a circumstance of
life that is largely retired from worldly responsibilities
and associations. Generally this means that you retire into
a renunciate community. In the traditional setting sometimes
individuals retire by themselves into a wilderness area and
maintain minimal survival requirements there. But an
alternative to personal isolation is to move into a
spiritual or renunciate community.

If you observe yourself in a relatively unstimulated
environment-and everyone who practices this Way has this
opportunity even in daily meditation or on retreat-you will
observe that the automaticities of thinking and motor
activity are already in motion, so that when you are in a
relatively unstimulated environment or just intending to be
quiet and inactive, the impulses to physical activity and
thinking automatically arise.

They arise because they operate according to the laws of
physics. Something set in motion remains in motion until it
is deflected or brought to rest. You have set these
activities in motion through the programming of your
ordinary life. It is inevitable, therefore, that you are
very much oriented toward physical activity and thinking,
both as an ordinary matter of daily life, and as a technique
of achieving well-being.

When you feel uncomfortable, you generally employ some
physical means for achieving release or a sense of pleasure.
Social life, sexuality, all kinds of physical activities are
used as means for overcoming chronic discomfort. Likewise,
because boredom is an emotional state, you are always
seeking emotional stimulation through entertainments, the
play of your relationships, aesthetic enjoyments. And you
always seek to overcome doubt through activities of the
mind, through reading, pursuing conventional knowledge, and
so on.

In the typical setting of the usual life, these means,
physical, emotional, and mental, are constantly,
chronically, in every moment, used in pursuit of a sense of
pleasure, well-being, and release from these chronic
difficulties. The unique characteristic of the renunciate is
that he or she does not merely retire from all this from
time to time, in daily meditation or in occasional retreat,
but as a rule of life enters into a circumstance that
intends to bypass these programs. The renunciate within the
renunciate community no longer uses body, emotion, and mind
to overcome discomfort, boredom, and doubt but engages in a
daily life of associations that does not in general
stimulate body, emotion, and mind to any remarkable degree,
does not provide the means, therefore, for the overcoming of
boredom, doubt, and discomfort through physical, emotional,
and mental stimulation, the renunciate, in effect and in
fact, enters into permanent and constant retreat, enters
into the principle of retreat. Instead of stimulating body,
emotion, and mind and remaining always on this side of
boredom, doubt, and discomfort and short of well-being,
happiness, and release, the renunciate directly confronts
chronic discomfort, boredom, and doubt.

Merely entering into the renunciate circumstance or
entering into permanent retreat, in and of itself, causes
this direct confrontation with boredom, doubt, and
discomfort because the means are not generally available in
the renunciate community for stimulating body, emotion, and
mind and avoiding boredom, doubt, and discomfort. The
renunciate discipline, therefore, involves a unique
circumstance of living, in which the means for escaping
boredom, doubt, and discomfort are neither available nor
sought. Thus, in the renunciate setting there is simply
boredom, doubt, and discomfort. That is it! What there is on
the other side of boredom, doubt, and discomfort is to be
Realized, and the spiritual process is the direct means for
that Realization, but the circumstance of the discipline of
the renunciate way of life is simply and in principle a
stark confrontation with boredom, doubt, and discomfort
wherein one renounces, practically and effectively, the
usual means for escaping boredom, doubt, and discomfort.

Everyone who enters into an occasional retreat, or even
sits for meditation a few times a day, constantly confronts
these three chronic difficulties and to one or another
degree, perhaps, moves beyond them through spiritual
activity. But those confrontations are occasional. Most of
the time such individuals are involved in various other
social, physical, emotional, and mental pursuits that are in
effect an escape from boredom, doubt, and discomfort. Then
they dive into the setting of renunciation occasionally, for
an hour or two a day or an occasional weekend. To do so, of
course, is useful. It is simply that there exists a unique
form of practice that we could call the renunciate way,
which might also be chosen and which has unique

Those who enter into spiritual maturity inevitably and
naturally enter into a habit of life that as a practical
matter more or less conforms to this renunciate discipline.
But that habit of life may not develop for quite some time.
It may not appear until the seventh stage of life. Certainly
those who are in the seventh stage of life are disposed
toward the renunciate habit, but it is possible to practice
this unique form of the discipline as a habit of life even
from an early stage of practice.


MASTER DA: In the past I have frequently pointed out to
you that in every moment, in every circumstance, you always
know what it would be to look and feel and be and act
completely Happy. The Current of Bliss is resident in
intimate association with the living being. It is always
Locatable. It is perpetually knowable. It is never lost,
although It can be forgotten and we can dissociate attention
from It. But we are always capable of Locating It, of
knowing It, Realizing It, animating It, Being It. This
principle is an indication, therefore, of the essential or
sufficient sadhana of the renunciate way.

In a circumstance of remoteness or dissociation from
worldly obligations and stimulations, in every moment,
instead of animating or stimulating yourself physically,
emotionally, or mentally in order to overcome the sensations
and feelings of boredom, doubt, and discomfort, you could,
directly, do or realize what is necessary to exist in a
condition of Bliss or Happiness. Instead of seeking to
overcome or escape boredom, doubt, and discomfort, you could
enter into that Current of Happiness directly, that
Realization of existence that is prior to boredom, doubt,
and discomfort.

This is the secret of the disposition of Enlightened
beings. It is the secret of the disposition of the seventh
stage of life, which is to be so oriented that you do not
chose anything except Bliss. You do not fall from It, you do
not dissociate from It, you do not contract or collapse into
chronic difficulties that lead you to seek It in forms of
fulfillment and release. Rather, you always remain in a
condition of Bliss. You always directly enter into the
native Domain of Being.

In the common world, as life is supposed to be, as we
program ourselves and one another to live, we experience
life always in a state of contraction that is to some
significant degree associated with boredom, doubt, and
discomfort, so that in all our private moments and in all
our relations we are always suffering boredom, doubt, and
discomfort and seeking by ordinary functional means, through
the extensions of the nervous system and the brain and the
physical personality, to escape these difficulties, to
replace them, to enjoy an alternative experience.

A subtle, and perhaps not so subtle, taboo is always
active, therefore, in our relations with one another in the
world. In the world, you are not supposed to look as if you
are in a state of Bliss. This is not considered acceptable
social behavior! If you are tending to move into a condition
of Bliss that is associated with any kind of exaggerated
expression, people try to prevent you from expressing It, or
they feel uncomfortable around you, or they make you feel
uncomfortable so that you withdraw into your social

The world, you see, imposes a subtle, and perhaps not so
subtle, obligation to maintain the social personality and
superficial ego as instruments of living and association.
And this obligation carries with it taboos against
Happiness, Bliss, Enlightenment, laughter, God-Realization,
and Ecstasy. These taboos also carry over into even
conventional pleasures. Sexuality, for instance, is
associated with all kinds of taboos. It must be limited and
contained because there is a social taboo against sexuality.
If you are animated sexually in public, you are violating
the basic taboo, the basic demand to maintain the social
personality, the egoic face, the being possessed by boredom,
doubt, and discomfort, struggling through ordinary social,
conventional, psychological means to feel good, but always
within the limits of the appearance of the aggravated or
limited social personality.

There is an entirely different way to live. Once you
begin to awaken to it, you must find some way either to live
it to sufficient degree while remaining in the world, or, at
least at some stage, to choose some kind of remoteness, not
anti-social dissociation from the world, but simply a way of
life that is different in kind from and yet not merely
opposed to the habit of people who are living in the world.
It is a way based on self-criticism, self-observation,
self-understanding, a clear appreciation of the limitations
that people commonly choose.

The choice people commonly make is not based on
Enlightenment or Transcendental Realization. It is simply a
functional choice programmed through the ordinary media of
society and suffering. We may take up the Way in the midst
of a worldly life and gradually overcome those limitations
in ourselves, carrying on a right practice even while living
in the world, but the time inevitably comes in the advanced
stages of spiritual maturity when we stop accommodating the
social personality, or the merely conventional orientation
toward life, and likely at that point become more

In some traditional settings it is understood that there
is an alternative to egoic existence. Thus, even in the
setting of ordinary social life, even in the downtown world,
some people in an advanced stage of spiritual maturity have
entered into uncommon Bliss and become somewhat apparently
mad or foolish in the process. But they are acceptable
within the setting of the general society in which they live
because there is some traditional appreciation of this

In our society at the present time there is absolutely no
appreciation of such a thing whatsoever. No appreciation of
it, no valuation of it. In fact, there is a great deal of
angry resistance to the possibility. Those who practice this
Way must therefore find some means or other, perhaps through
living more and more in community with one another and
living more privately even while continuing to live in the
world, to develop the spiritual process, and then, at some
point in their real spiritual maturity, they should find a
way to accommodate themselves and one another in communities
established by devotees that permit people to live in a
setting of general remoteness.

Earlier I briefly described the basic or sufficient
sadhana practiced in the renunciate setting. That same
practice, the direct Realization of or entrance into the
Divine Condition, the Condition of Bliss, must become the
practice of all of you. You must practice it through the
spiritual culture in which you are already involved.
Whatever your level of practice, it is always the equivalent
of the renunciate discipline. Practice the Way, happily
practice the Way, within the “limitations” of renunciate
community. Be sensitive to the habits, techniques, and
neurotic tendencies that are the hangovers of your worldly
life and that would represent significant impediments to
your well-being in the renunciate setting,

The fundamental discipline is not to escape or avoid
boredom, doubt and discomfort, but to transcend them,
directly, through the most direct Realization or Communion
with the prior State of Happiness or Bliss. This is the
essential process in everyones case. You will discover in
yourself, always, the tendencies of boredom, doubt, and
discomfort and the learned will to do things, physically,
emotionally, and mentally, to escape this confrontation. The
unique discipline of renunciate community is that you do not
readily have at hand these means of stimulation.

You do have at hand, however, always, the neurosis of
which you would generally relieve yourself through physical,
emotional, and mental means! If you do not have the means at
hand and do not directly transcend boredom, doubt, and
discomfort, then you will find yourself always settling into
some sort of neurotic mode of boredom, doubt, and
discomfort, negative emotions, physical discomfort, mental
dis-ease. If you desire to enter into the circumstance of
renunciation, where the usual means are not at hand, then
you must come equipped with the ability to observe and
transcend your own neuroses, and you must come equipped with
the ability to practice the Way in its most direct form as a
moment to moment discipline.

DEVOTEE: Master, you said something yesterday that
capsulizes the renunciate discipline: “Always do what is
necessary and nothing more.”

MASTER DA: Yes. You are used to acting and thinking all
the time. What would you do if you had nothing to do that
was highly stimulating? What if you did not have many
communications to deal with emotionally and mentally? What
if you did not have many overt demands on you physically,
nor many things you did physically to keep yourself
stimulated and pleasurized? You are habituated to physical
activity and thinking, but what if you did not have any
significant obligation, physically or mentally? Could you
live a conscious existence simply?

The spiritual process is primarily conscious existence,
the process that takes place in consciousness itself, not in
the extensions or associations of consciousness at the level
of the mind or the body. Secondary obligations or
impositions on consciousness appear at the level of mind and
body, but to a much reduced degree than for someone who
lives in the world. If you are going to retire into the
renunciate setting, you must know that there exists in you
the capacity to live in the domain of consciousness and to
live far, far less in the domain of body and mind.

As a renunciate or spiritual practitioner, you live in a
far simpler and less stimulated circumstance than people in
the world. You must, therefore, embrace a much greater
conscious life, or else the effect of living in the
renunciate retreat will be deadening. After you go through
the initial period of reacting to the lack of stimulation,
then you may become vegetable-like, sort of droning and
sleepy and dull or “tamasic.” Of course, such qualities have
nothing to do with spiritual life. Many people think they
are becoming involved in spiritual life merely because they
limit their life and in effect take on the renunciate
circumstance without the renunciate practice. As a result
they simply do nothing.

But the spiritual Way is not to do nothing. It is to
enter fully into the consciousness of existence, the Domain
of Consciousness, the Domain of the Divine. Such a
commitment economizes or simplifies the functional
extensions of the being, in body and mind and in society. It
does not entirely eliminate these functions, but it reduces
them to a state of “sattvic” or balanced economy. In the
renunciate setting, the obligations impinged upon the being
through worldly association and the conventions of egoic
society are not present in general. Therefore, to choose the
renunciate style of life necessarily must be accompanied by
the choice of the spiritual process in its ultimate


The Dreaded Gom-Boo – Table of Contents