Nirvanasara – Da Free John – Adi Da Samraj – Radical Transcendentalism and the Introduction of Advaitayana Buddhism

Radical Transcendentalism and the Introduction of
Advaitayana Buddhism
Da Free John (Adi Da Samraj)

of Contents

Introduction by Georg

1. From Scholarship to

How does one introduce a great adept
(maha-siddha), a living Buddha, and his compassionate,
prophetic teaching? In the following essay I have given my
own answer to this question. I have tried to keep myself
open to, and to faithfully represent, the teaching of Master
Da Free John, while at the same time endeavoring to remain
sensitive to the naturally skeptical posture which, I
suspect, most readers will maintain while perusing this

I have written as one who has
committed himself to a particular way of life, namely the
spiritual path hewn out by Master Da. Simultaneously, I have
brought to bear on my presentation whatever scholarly skills
I have acquired in my professional career as an indologist.
I must state at the outset that in making this communication
I have had only one purpose in mind: to aid the
understanding of those who, like myself, approach life
rationally but who, nevertheless, are capable of acts of
intuitive recognition and spiritual appreciation.

This book will only make sense if
the reader is willing to at least seriously consider two
possibilities (which I myself have come to accept as

1. There is a transcendental

2. This transcendental Reality is
the Condition of body, mind and world.

These are bold propositions for the
agnostic and pragmatist, but this book does not defer to the
professional skeptic or materialist at all. It is mainly
directed at all those who sit on the fence: those who are
too wise to fool themselves with materialistic values and
concerns, but also too indecisive to take the plunge into
spiritual life; those who wish their life would be different
but do not know how to change it; those who are tired of the
thraldom to arid scholasticism and quietly hunger for a more
meaningful way to use their cerebral dexterity; those who
are prepared to change their life but have been waiting for
the right stimulus and context.

It is my heartfelt hope that this
book can tip the balance for them-to the side of a full
spiritual life.

For those who can see eye to eye
with the above two propositions, it will only be a small
step to the acceptance of the idea that in some individuals
the transcendental Essence is “out front,” that they have,
paradoxically, died as separate entities while continuing to
be alive, and that this has nothing whatsoever to do with
schizophrenia. Once this has been understood, it will not be
too difficult to further realize that such rare beings could
indeed have a special function to fulfill in spiritual life.
Where a real leap of understanding (rather than of faith)
has to be made is in the recognition that the adept, or the
enlightened being, could be instrumental in one’s personal
spiritual endeavor.

Although this volume contains essays
by Master Da Free John which do not match the scholarly
stereotype of the adept as a “naive bumpkin,” as Master Da
put it recently, nevertheless they are all authored from the
adept’s point of view. Master Da concedes that there may
have been adepts who would fit the “naive bumpkin” myth,
invented by scholars mainly to buffer their profession
against interference by adepts. However, the higher adepts,
especially of the sixth and seventh stages of spiritual
life, typically communicate a very sophisticated teaching
(see pp. 22ff.). Such adepts, having transcended the
discursive mind, operate from within a different frame of
consciousness. Thus, Master Da Free John creates his essays
spontaneously, and they are not merely the product of his
ruminations on what he has studied. In point of fact, Master
Da reads very little, and the ideas which he expresses are
simply grounded on his “psychic relationship” to the
traditions and to literature.

His communications are an expression
of his “free attention,” and they freely and directly
reflect, as he puts it, an ultimate transcendental
consciousness. Hence the “adept’s point of view” is, quite
simply, to serve the enlightenment of others. So, even
whilst Master Da is responding on a level of consideration
that scholars will presumably find stimulating, he does not
write as a scholar or theoretician nor in order to indulge
the scholastic mind. His technical essays on Buddhism and
Advaitism are simply a new way of expressing his teaching,
and as such they complement his many other oral and written

Several of my friends and colleagues
have expressed their surprise at the fact that a
self-transcending adept should write at all. In doing so
they have-in the politest or perhaps the most disingenuous
fashion-given vent to their basic disbelief. But the
question springs from a fundamental misunderstanding of the
nature of a realized adept. If one is willing to concede
that an enlightened being can eat (much or little), walk
(barely or long distances), talk (ecstatically or
didactically), be humorous or serious, and sleep (hardly
ever or like everyone else), then why should he not write as
well if it serves the purpose of his teaching

The siddha-pursha cannot be gauged
or measured by his apparent behavior. The “awakened one” ~
the transcendental Reality. The processes which occur in,
and the conduct of, his body-mind are devoid of an ego. They
happen spontaneously, just as the body-mind of the ordinary
person “happens” spontaneously, though he superimposes a
false identity on it and becomes enamored of and possessed
by it. And because there is no ego obstacle in the Realizer,
his body-mind is fine-tuned to the Invisible and acts as a
powerful transmitting agent for those who are spiritually

I consider myself most fortunate to
have entered the ambience of one of the truly great
spiritual Lights of today’s world. Master Da Free John’s
compassionate presence has already greatly transformed my
life. His Teaching has definitely lured me down from the
fence on which I had been sitting uneasily for a good many
years. Many others have experienced a similarly profound
change and the benefits accruing from this. But, of course,
spiritual life does not unfold mechanically. It requires
passionate commitment and constant application to the art of
self-transcendence. However, the adept’s efficacious
presence and, in this case, the most rounded spiritual
teaching help one to pass through the necessary
transformation more surely.

I am aware that the stance I have
taken in my introduction to this auspicious volume is
incompatible with the current “objective” fashion of
science. But this has ceased to trouble me. What concerns
me, though, is whether the reader-regardless of whether he
is a scientist or a “layman” – will be sufficiently
sensitive to his own intellectual predilections and
emotional predisposition so as not to allow them to muffle
the clear message in the essays by Master Da Free John. I
sincerely hope that at least one or the other reader can
actually “hear” the adept’s central argument. It is always
the same argument, irrespective of the subject of his
consideration or the style in which it is conducted. It is
always an insistent call to actual spiritual awakening and
practice, the essence of which is perpetual and unsparing

There is another aspect to Master Da
Free John’s essays which is likely to perplex and possibly
even incense one or the other staunch adherent of Buddhism.
This is the declaration of his radical teaching as the
Fourth Vehicle of Buddhism. Again, I can do no more than
point out that this is an adept’s enunciation and as such
warrants a most careful, open-minded consideration. I am
confident that, if the reader is a seriously practicing
Buddhist who truly experiences “the heresy of the assertion
of an ego” (Visuddhi-Magga XVII), he will have no difficulty
whatsoever with this declaration of Advaitayana Buddhism or
its essential teaching.

I am grateful to have been given the
opportunity to do guru seva in the shape of this
introduction, and I respectfully bow to Master Da Free

2. Frog Perspective vs. Bird’s Eye

When, in 1336, Francesco Petrarca
climbed Mont Ventoux in the South of France, he effectively
freed himself from the tunnel vision of the reigning
structure of consciousness of his time. His vision of the
valleys far below jolted him out of the dreamlike
self-containedness that characterizes the “mythical
consciousness” 1 of medieval Gothic art, piety,
and feudalism. He awakened to a new mode of perceiving the
world; he began to see things in conscious perspective. And
Petrarca (1304-74) was aware that his “discovery” of
perspectival space would be of far-reaching importance to

1. I have borrowed this
concept from J. Gebser, Ursprung und Gegenwart, 3d ed., 3
vols. (Munich, 1973).

Petrarca stood at the threshold of
the Renaissance which, in a certain sense, can be said to
have reached its climax in the genius of Leonardo da Vinci
(1452-1519) who was the first to solve the theoretical
problems of perspectivity. His achievement was paralleled
and augmented by the heliocentric “revolution” of Nikolaus
Copernicus, Christopher Columbus (who opened up earth’s
space), Galileo Galilei (who used the telescope to disclose
the vastness of outer space), Johannes Kepler (who replaced
the ancient idealistic circular model of planetary motion by
calculated ellipses), Andreas Vesalius, Europe’s first great
anatomist (who explored the body’s inner space), and so

Petrarca’s Mont Ventoux experience
has nothing in common with the sense of achievement, of
egoic pride and self confirmation, that the veteran
mountaineer feels when he has successfully scaled and
“conquered” a particularly difficult peak. Nor must it be
compared with the feeling of mere aesthetic pleasure of the
occasional wanderer who, picnicking on a modest peak,
admires the panoramic scenery of the valley beneath him. For
Petrarca the experience was a sudden widening of his
cognitive horizon, a strengthening of his capacity for world
understanding and self-insight. His was an experiential
encounter with a new “paradigm.” Although it occurred on the
personal level, it was yet thematizing a new general
awareness which was shared by other sensitive thinkers of
his period and which, before long, became a part of the
sensibility of the Western European civilization and its

I have begun this introductory essay
with Petrarca’s auspicious discovery for two reasons.
Firstly, because the full awakening to spatial consciousness
which typifies the Renaissance is the psychohistorical
foundation for the hypertrophy of reason, in the form of
materialistic rationalism, witnessed today in all areas of
human life. Secondly, because Petrarca’s Mont Ventoux
experience affords a fitting metaphor both for the vantage
point of Master Da Free John’s teaching in relation to
religious or scientistic doctrines, and the implicit demand
his communications make on the reader. Like Petrarca, the
reader is expected to burst through his familiar cognitive
universe into the wide-open horizon which informs Master
Da’s teaching. In other words, he is encouraged to share
Master Da Free John’s panoramic vision of existence as seen
from the very summit of human life.

In the Yoga-Bhasya (1. 47), the
oldest extant commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutra, an
ancient stanza is cited which speaks of the yogin who has
realized the summum bonum as follows:

Having ascended to the
tranquillity of gnosis (prajna), the man-of-gnosis beholds
all grief-stricken creatures as one standing on [the top
of] a mountain [beholds] the valley

2. This is a recurrent metaphor
in the Sanskrit literature of Hinduism and

The same idea is epitomized in the
well-known Sanskrit concept of kutastha which literally
means “summit-abiding” or “standing on the peak.” The
expression is for the first time met with in the
Bhagavad-Gita, which dates back to the fourth or fifth
century B.C. There it is applied to the adept who is fully

The yogin whose self is content in
gnosis (jnana) and world knowledge (vijnana), standing on
the peak with his senses subdued: he is called “yoked”
(yukta), and to him clods earth, stones and gold are the
same. (VI. 8)

In two other stanzas (viz., XII. 3
and Xv. 16), the term kutastha is employed to refer to the
transcendental Reality per se This second usage is in
keeping with the fundamental notion that the wholly realized
adept is coessential with the Ultimate.

Interestingly, R. C.
Zaehner3 drew attention to a striking parallel in
the writings of two little-known but important Christian
mystics, Hugh of St. Victor and Richard of St. Victor. In
his De Vanitate Mundi, which is a commentary on
Ecclesiastes, Hugh speaks of the “flight” of the soul whose
“keen perception” – from the bird’s eye view-“naturally
reaches further when directed from above on things that lie
below, when it sees all things, so to speak,

Even more remarkable in its
similarity with the Hindu metaphor are the following two
passages in Richard’s Benjamin Minor:

The high peak of knowledge is
perfect self-knowledge. The full understanding of a rational
spirit is as it were a high and great mountain. . . . 0 man,
learn to think, learn to reflect upon yourself and you will
have risen to the deep heart! (75)

Let a man rise up to the heart’s
high place, climb up the mountain if he desire to attain and
know what is above the human mind. Let him rise up by
himself above himself, and from self-knowledge to the
knowledge of God. (83)5

3. See R. C. Zaehner,
“‘Standing on the Peak’: A Concept Common to the
Victorines,” Studies in Mysticism and Religion Presented to
Gershom G. Scholem on His Seventieth Birthday Jerusalem,
1%7), pp. 381-7.

4. Ibid., p. 384

5. Ibid., p. 386.

The above considerations describe, I
trust, most aptly the particular context in which the
present essays and all the other oral and written
communications by Master Da Free John must be placed if one
is to do full justice to them. Master Da always and
necessarily speaks as a realized adept or transcender. He
has no secular ambitions and, in particular, no scholarly
axe to grind. His “motive” is compassion (karuna), which is
the natural complement of his transcendental realization
(prajna). If, in this volume, he addresses some perhaps more
technical and intricate matters, it is because he has
recently been moved to respond on this level of

This volume of essays is, then, an
invitation and a challenge to the reader to examine and
understand the inherent presuppositions of his own
world-view and, having identified its intrinsic limitations,
to ultimately and actually remove his cathexis in regard to
it. In fact, only when such a metanoia has occurred in the
reader can he hope to “hear” the essential argument of these
essays. Prior to that he will be handicapped by the
restraining influence of his personal “world hypotheses”
which, for the most part, are only rarely the product of
deliberate philosophical effort rather than subconscious
“information” stemming from one’s socio-cultural environment
and individual biography.

Thus, the reader is expected to make
an advance comparable to Petrarca’s. He has to climb the
mountain, that is, he has to countervail his own cognitive
tendencies and habits of thought. But once he has reached
the peak, that is, when he has successfully checked his
resistance to change his mental outlook, all effort must
cease. He must simply remain open, as Petrarca succeeded in
doing for at least part of his experience, to take in the
new vista and let it act upon his whole being. For some this
may prove easier than for others, but in every case an
epochistic6 bracketing of presuppositions is
required: a mental holding of the breath as it were, when
all doubt and superficial criticism is at least temporarily
suspended, and when one has ears to hear and eyes to

6. This refers to the
phenomenological act of epoche’ as formulated by E. Husserl.
See M. Farber, The Foundation of Phenomenology, 3d ed.
(Albany, N.Y., 1968), pp. 526f.

This free, open, unneurotic attitude
is essential in reading this book. For, what Master Da Free
John seeks to convey in his essays is both subtle and
profound. It will only be offensive to those who have
cut-and-dried answers to the big questions of life and who
entertain hard-shelled preconceptions and prejudices about
religion, spirituality, and in particular the Indian
traditions. They will find that Master Da does not cater to
any conventional expectations. He writes and speaks as a
realized adept, not as a philosopher, scientist, politician,
or novelist. He does not presume any of the usual
limitations. In other words, he does not play the game. This
is always vexing for those who fail to understand that their
reaction to such enlightened “spoil-sports” is an expression
of their neurotic relationship to life as a

Scientists are, perhaps, especially
prone to “cast the first stone” at any maverick who, as they
would have it, encroaches on their pet discipline but does
not play according to their rules. There is a high degree of
conformism among scientists (as a subculture), which may
partly be due to the world-wide streamlining of
government-financed research since the 1940s. Bur in part it
is undoubtedly also bound up with the scientists’ self
perception as a group of specialists overtly or covertly
cherishing the quasi-religious presumption of possessing the
“true knowledge,” the key to understanding existence. In the
course of the gradual debunking of the post-Enlightenment
ideal of scientific objectivity, doubt has also been cast on
the integrity of the scientist as a manipulator of data. And
rightly so. The scientist is first and foremost a human
being, and this means that his scientific activity, like any
other activity he may engage in, is embedded in his total
psychology. That is to say, he is subject to
misunderstanding, ignorance, prejudice, misrepresentation,
and even deliberate distortion of reality (‘tailoring of
facts”). In sum, he does not enjoy the adept’s “view from
the peak.”

Even where, as Isaac Newton has
done, the scientist helps to institute a new “paradigm,” a
new framework for formulating and interpreting scientific
data, his vision remains partial and angular. This has to do
on the one hand with the psychological and cognitive
limitations of the scientist as a member of the species homo
sapiens, but on the other hand also with the inherent
boundaries of science itself. For, as Master Da Free John
has explained in his illuminating talk “The Asana of
Science,” science is a particular way of seeing the world.
In his own words:

Science is an invention of Man that
represents the development of one specific convention of
interpreting reality exclusive of other possible conventions
…. To do science, you must take on a pose. That pose is
not the disposition, however, of Man as a whole
contemplating Infinity.7

7. Unpublished Talk
(October 25, 1980).

Science, as we know it today, is
thus a product of the particular consciousness-frequency
which, at least for Europe, emerged in the Renaissance and
was developed ad absurdum in the nineteenth and twentieth

Science is more than the organized
and institutionalized study of phenomena with the view of
predicting events in the material cosmos; it is more than
the sum of accumulated knowledge acquired by applying the
scientific methodological canons; and it is more than the
cooperative effort of a group of specialists. It is also,
and primarily, a specific cognitive mode. Master Da
describes the scientific method as a mood of doubt. And he
further indicates that in its globalization as scientlsm or
scientific materialism it is, as Master Da styles it, a
veritable culture of doubt. Scientism is not only a calling
into question of everything, while being unhappily wedded to
the psychological need for absolute certainty (even when it
is cautiously expressed in probabilistic terms); it is also
a concealed form of cynicism or nihilism insofar as its
program excludes a priori certain “bothersome” questions,
subject-matters, and methods which are dissparagingly
branded “metaphysical.”

Although the methodological credo of
scientism is to excise the observer from the process of
knowledge in order to arrive at the “objective” truth,
science as scientism has yet the most profound personal and
social repercussions chiefly through the medium of
technology. Indeed, it implicates the “observer” to the
point of usurping and traumatizing him. The scientistic
method of certainty-through-doubt has, in fact, become a way
of life, a “metaphysics,” for millions of people. As Master
Da Free John noted:

We are so used to the presence of
science and technology in our culture that we believe
science is a natural activity, a sort of professionalization
or technical elaboration of something that everybody is
already doing. But this may not be the case. The activity of
science may not be natural at all.8

Today, scientism or scientific
materialism is firmly entrenched in the cerebral pathways of
the vast majority of “consumers” of the high-technology
nations of the world; and, as a surreptitious component of
the technological export package, it is beginning to take
its toll also in the so-called Third World.

In his first essay in the present
collection, Master Da Free John contrasts the scientistic
culture of doubt with the culture of certainty which is
rooted in what he styles the “Great Tradition,”, that is,
the religio-spiritual traditions of the world. The punctum
dolens which separates science and scientlsm from the Great
Tradition is the existential status of the “invisible” or
immaterial dimension of the universe. The scientist flatly
denies the existence of what is valued most in the Great
Tradition or, if he is inclined to make any concession at
all, argues that if “higher” cosmic dimensions did exist,
science could never know anything about them since their
very invisibility or immaterially precluded scientific
experimentation. The left-brained scientist demands
“concrete” evidence which can be translated into
instrumental measurements. His favorite sense is sight-not
the visio Dei but the perspectival image conjured up by the
neurons of the brain and the rods and cones of the material
eyes. Naturally, the Invisible is beyond the pale of
physical vision and therefore also does not figure in the
scientific interpretation of the universe. The fundamental
scientistic doctrine, amounting to a metaphysical axiom, is
that “seeing is believing.” But “seeing” is always given a
very restricted meaning, and “inner vision” is dubbed

8. Ibid.

It is important to understand that
in making the contrast between scientism and the Great
Tradition, Master Da Free John does not merely restate in so
many words the age-old scission between rational scientific
knowledge and irrational, religious faith. For, he tacitly
affirms that the method of science and the methods (“way”)
of the religio-spiritual traditions of mankind are, on a
comparable level, both generative of knowledge. Implicit in
his argument is the predication that the Great Tradition is
not primarily a culture of (blind) faith-as against the
scientistic culture of (pure) knowledge and (absolute)
certainty-but a culture of experiential knowledge. The
“scientific method” of the Great Tradition is an inversion
of the orthodox scientific procedure inasmuch as it is
founded on the implication of the subject in the noetic
process. In fact, the “theory” of the Great Tradition
rejects the observer model of science as introducing an
artificial disjunction between subject and object. This
leaves it free, on the “experimental level,” to resort to
epistemic means generally outlawed by orthodox science,
viz., introspection and supra sensuous cognition which, in
India, is known as “yogic perception”
(yogi-pratyaksa).9 And the “instrumentarium” for
the practitioner of the Great Tradition is his own

9. All spiritual
traditions of India are agreed on the possibility of supra
sensuous knowledge. A distinction is made between paranormal
cognition and the immediate apprehension (saksatkara) in
mystical experiencing.

However, as Master Da Free John
explains in subsequent essays, the respective forms of
knowledge yielded by scientific materialism and the Great
Tradition are, ultimately, both to be transcended. For, from
the realized adept’s “summit” point of view, both are still
mere representations of reality, and not Reality per se.
But, whereas scientific materialism, confining itself to
segments of the visible realm of cosmic existence only, is a
dogmatic commitment to the frog perspective of unillumined
intelligence, the Great Tradition has the intrinsic
potential of generating the bird’s-eye view of the self- and
world-transcending adept. Possibly, the phrase “bird’s-eye
view” is still misleadingly suggestive of perspectival and
hence one-sided knowledge. In actuality, the adept’s
authentic locus is in what Master Da styles “Divine
Ignorance” or “seventh-stage wisdom.” The adept, to be sure,
is not a knower but a transcender of knowledge, knower, and
known. His transcognitive stance, or mood of certainty
through – Realization, truly enables him to serve and not
merely ideologically exploit the world. The kutastha has, it
is implied in the Bhagavad-Gita, “become the Absolute”
(brahma-bhuta), and the Absolute is not hampered by the
perceptual-cognitive apparatus of the body-mind; rather, it
is traditionally styled “omniscient” (sarva-jna), though
this omniscience is not knowledge of particularized

Scientific materialism and the
cultural attitude which it informs are implicitly atheistic,
and where they are tenuously associated with theism, the
latter is typically of a highly secularized, demythologized
cast of religiosity. In his essay “God as the Creator, the
Good and the Real,” Master Da Free John comments that
“atheism proposes a myth and a method for ego-fulfillment.”
This, mutatis mutandis, is also true of conventional
religion and, to a degree, even of the modes of higher
esotericism. Atheism is camouflaged religiosity. As Vincent
P. Miceli observed, “Atheism’s vigor arises from its heroic
will to create mythical gods in place of the true
God.”11 Atheism is, therefore, as much an opiate
for the masses as Karl Marx thought religion was. Moreover,
as Master Da points out, in their political dimension both
atheism and religion resort to materialistic modes of
control. Both are manifestations of the ego and as such are
partial approaches to Reality, angular visions of the Truth.
Both may be regarded as instances of what one might call
“the fallacy of misplaced finality”: the confusion of
experiential knowledge of reality with Reality itself, that
is, the absolutization or deification of fragments of

It is only when the egoic root of
our functional, worldly, and religious spiritual life is
inspected, understood, and transcended that self, and world,
and God are seen in Truth. (See below, p. 84)

The “mountain peak” of spirituality
ascends so steeply that the ego cannot find a foothold on
it. One could also say that the ego belongs to the climber’s
gear which must be abandoned in the course of his ascent.
The peak will only sustain the most sublime. Indeed, if I
may stretch this metaphor still further, the mountain’s
pinnacle looms into the truly rarefied atmosphere of the
Invisible and therefore cannot sustain anything but that
which is, or has become, invisible itself.

Whilst one may characterize atheism
as the religion (or irreligion) of the visible, the raison
d’etre of religion is the Invisible. Scientific materialism,
which is per definitionem atheistic, is the glorification of
the visible aspect of the universe. And by “visible” is here
meant the entire spectrum of phenomena amenable to
“verification” and translatable into ocular proof or its
analogues. It is a left-brained monopolization of truth,
seeking to grasp reality by way of “rationalization,” that
is, literally, the “reckoning” by parting, dividing,
fragmenting, atomizing,, or quantizing. Now, the Invisible
can never be rendered visible. It is inconvertible. But the
visible can be rendered transparent to evince its invisible,
hidden foundation. That is the domain of religiosity and

10. The phrase “Divine
Ignorance” simply refers to the highest or “seventh-stage”
Realization of the One Being beyond all experience and
knowledge. From a practical point of view it is bodily
surrender into the indeterminate Reality and abidance as the
Transcendental Consciousness which is devoid of all content.

11. V.P. Miceli, The
Gods of Atheism (New Rochelle, N.Y. 1971). p.

Master Da Free John’s teaching is
securely founded on his personal realization of the ultimate
Condition. And it is from the realizer’s or adept’s point of
view, and not merely from the limited perspective of the
theoretician, that he engages in metaphysical
considerations. It is this fact which must be duly
appreciated, for it lends uniqueness and authority to the
following essays. This is, to all intents and purposes, the
very first time that a maha-siddha communicates the
realizer’s apical view in the medium of the contemporary
mind. By virtue of this, Master Da’s communication is
intelligently critical of the conceptual and ideological
structures that are today’s forms of ego affirmation or
denial, rather than transcendence. And, for the same reason,
his message is not only searching and profound but also
encompasssing. In his own words:

My Way is a radical Teaching that
enters into consideration of all the stages of life and the
entire Great Tradition of the ancients and their modern
representatives. (See below, p. 71.)

Just as Buddhism and Advaitism stand
in critical relation to the traditions and stages of life
that precede them, and just as each advancing stage of
Buddhism and Advaitism stands in critical relation to its
precedents, my own Work also develops a form of Argument
based on criticism (positive and creative rather than merely
sectarian and destructive) of the entire Great Tradition
that is our Treasured Inheritance and all of the developing
stages of life that are our school of transcendence. (See
below, p. 108.)


The Seven Stages of Life

The main conceptual tool by which
Master Da Free John appraises, and allows others to
similarly understand, the spiritual status of the many
idiosyncratic expressions of human life and thought is the
schema of the seven stages of life. The seven -stage model,
which is among Master Da’s original contributions to the
theory and practice of spiritual life, is a map of man’s
total potential for psycho-spiritual development. As Master
Da explains:

In the traditions of spiritual
culture, the development of a human being has commonly been
described in terms of seven stages, each spanning a period
of seven years. There is a rational basis in Awakened Wisdom
for this scheme. That basis is the very structure of the
total bodily being (or body-mind) of every human individual.
We are a composite made of elements and of functional
relations, a coherent life-form expressed via the nervous
system and brain, and levels of mind that may consciously
reflect not only the gross or “material” realm but the
realms of Life-Energy and all the cosmic realms or media of
light. At the root of this system is the heart, the primal
organ not only of life but of consciousness in man. It is
here that the presumption and conception of egoic
independence, or the separate “I,” arises in every moment.
It is on the basis of this presumption that the human
individual is predetermined to a reactive life of fear,
vulnerability, flight from mortality, and a universal
constitutional state of contraction, That contraction
encloses consciousness in the limits of skin and thought,
and it separates the whole bodily being of Man from the
Divine Radiance and Perfect Consciousness that is otherwise
native to it and eternally available to it in every part

The culture of the Way of Divine
Ignorance may also be related to the traditional scheme of
seven stages of growth.

But it is founded on the
Awakening of the heart, from self-possession to free
feeling-attention, via all functions, in all relations,
under all conditions. Indeed, the whole Way is the Way of
the heart.

12. Bubba I Da I free
John, The Enlightenment of the Whole Body)’ (Middletown,
Calif., 1978), pp. 189-90.

Now, the human body springs from a
single cell. Researchers on human development conceptualize
this original cell as being “totipotent,” that is, as
possessing the capacity to become the fundamental structures
which compose the fully developed body. This primary cell
carries a kind of blueprint of the mature organism into
which it can develop. However, in order to manifest these
differentiated structures, the cell must forego its
“totipotency” in favor of specialization and

One can usefully apply this
biological insight to the sphere of man’s overall
psycho-spiritual evolution. As neonate the individual has
only a dim awareness which allows him to relate to his
environment just sufficiently for his survival within a
protective, caring human society. World and ego are as yet a
kind of primordial soup. Most of man’s neonatal behavior is
purely reflexive or instinctive, and his “lifestyle” is one
of utter helplessness and complete dependence.

The first stage of life relates to
the individual’s physical adaptation to the world into which
he was born. Here he learns “simple” skills like focusing
with the eyes, grasping and manipulating objects, walking,
talking, controlling bladder and bowels, thinking
conceptually, and relating to his fellow-beings. At the end
of this phase, the growing individual is a fully mobile ego
who, providing that no serious maladaptation has occurred,
is a strongly self-centered but educable person.

The second stage of life, which
extends approximately from the eighth to the fourteenth year
of life, concerns primarily the maturing individual’s
emotional and sexual development. With the growing awareness
of himself as a social being in a shared life-world, the
young personality is confronted with increasing outside
demands that conflict with the egoic tendency towards
self-assertion and autonomy. In particular the awakening of
sexuality is a possible source of great tension and inner
conflict and must be integrated into the total emotional
development of the individual. Sexual maturity depends on
the ability to enter into a mature emotional relationship
with others. Master Da Free John observes:

Because of the generalized
antisexual taboo to which so-called civilized societies
oblige their members to adapt, people today tend not to grow
and adapt to full relational sexuality. Instead, the
individual tends to remain more or less bound to the
primitive and infantile sexuality of his or her own bodily

The pleasurable and sexual nature of
one’s own bodily being becomes clear in the earliest years
of life. But the ecstatic or self-released fulfillment of
bodily life is possible only in intimate and feeling
submission in relationship. However, the antisexual
influences that pervade our experience even in childhood
suppress our relational adaptation and leave us
self-conscious in our natural relations. . ..

[When spiritually
sex-positive] influences are not present to oblige
people to sane, human, and higher use of their sexuality,
the body of the individual tends to remain as the field of
sexual practice. Thus, even when a sexual partner is
available, the uninitiated and irresponsible individual
tends to remain essentially hidden and self-possessed in his
or her practice. Love and desire tend to be more or less
crippled in such people. Indeed, love and desire even seem
to be in conflict. But love-desire, the single force of
sexual ecstasy, is the necessary foundation of sexual
relationships and sexual embrace.13

13. Bubba lDa] Free
John, Love of the Two·Armed Form (Middletown, Calif.,
1978), p.64.

In the third stage of life,
stretching approximately from the fifteenth to the
twenty-first year, the person, ideally, comes to full
intellectual maturity. The underlying theme of this phase is
mental-intentional adaptation to life and the integration of
the skills acquired, and the lessons learned, in the first
stages. When this process is complete, the individual will
have a clear self-image and be capable of relating
functionally to the world. As Master Da Free John

The third stage of life is mature
when the individual enjoys integrated responsibility for the
whole of the living being (physical, emotional-sexual, and
mental). Thus, he is in that case able to be present as a
clear will and as love under all the otherwise frustrating
or pleasurable conditions of lower experience. Those who
seek to begin spiritual life must be mature in this sense in
order to move on to higher maturity.14

That not a few people fail to arrive
at this point is borne out by the leviathan of social
problems, like alcoholism, drug addiction, violence, racism,
chronic depression, suicide, and so forth.

14. Bubba (Da) Free John,
The Enlightenment of the Whole Body. p.

Fewer still take the next step –
into the fourth stage of psychic adaptation. Those who
succeed in doing so have actively entered spiritual life.
The first three stages happen to overlap with the
individual’s psycho-physical epigenesis from neonate to
adult. In their spiritual aspect, however, they call for a
conscious application to his personal integration by which
he can move beyond the mere functional adaptation expected
of a mature member of human society. With the fourth stage
of life, the commitment to ego-transcendence, tacitly
present already at the culmination of the third stage, has
become a sustained, if still limited, obligation. Master Da
notes that this stage “is characterized by submission and
adaptation of all functions of the lower body-mind to the
sacrificial and moral disposition of the feeling or psychic
being.”15 Now the individual cultivates the
practice of faith, love, trust, and surrender in relation to
the transcendental Being. This coincides with the opening of
the “heart,” leading to an acute awareness of the tendency
towards self-encapsulation, the recoil from Ecstasy or the
Bliss of the transcendental Being.

This awareness or sensitivity is
heightened in the fifth stage of life. Here the individual’s
awareness shifts from the perception of the physical
dimension to the experience of the “subtle physiology” of
the body (and mind). This extends the radius of his
cognitive field, and offers him new opportunities for self
transcendence. This is the demesne and area of obligation of
the conventional mystic and yogin. It is the field of all
forms of esotericism involving the activation of the subtle
or higher psycho-physical structures of the body-mind. As
Master Da elucidates, attention and the “Life-Current”
become established in the brain core. On the level of
conscious experiencing this manifests in the form of
supraconscious states (samadhi). He comments:

In the fifth stage of life, yogic
mysticism raises attention into the extremities of subtle
experience-or the heavens of ascended knowledge. But
Liberation in God is not Realized at that stage or by such
means. In order for the Life-Current to cross the Divide
between the “third eye” and the “sahasrar,” or between the
body-mind and Infinity, the gesture of attention and the
illusion of an independent conscious self must be utterly
Dissolved in the true Self.

The highest extreme of the ascent of
attention is called “nirvikalpa samadhi,” or total
Absorption of selfness in Radiant Transcendental
Consciousness. But, in fact, the seed of differentiated self
remains in such ascended Absorption of attention. Attention
is yet extended outside the heart, or the root of
self-consciousness, as a gesture toward an independent
Object, and, therefore, such “samadhi” is not only
temporary, but it remains a form of subject-object

Through further spiritual growth, by
means of the transcendence of the ego that has been
disclosed in the experiences of the first five stages, the
spiritual practitioner arrives at what is traditionally
known as Self-realization (atma-bodha). At this point the
individual awakens to his transcendental Identity or atman
or purusa. More precisely, he awakens as the Self. He now
knows himself to be different from the ego, or the limited
bodymind, which he once believed to be his true identity.
The sixth stage adept, in the language of Hindu non-dualism,
has become the transcendental “witness” (saksin) of all
phenomenal processes. The sixth stage coincides with the
uprooting of the “gesture of attention,” which is the
transcendence of all object consciousness.

This is the condition of
conventional liberation, variously styled apavarga, mukti,
mokfa, or kaivalya. In the non-idealist language of
(original) Buddhism, which does not revolve around the
conceptualization of a transcendental Self-essence, this
superlative condition or attainment is regarded as the
“extincction” (nirvavna) of the desires which bind the
individual to the world of objects and suffering. Nirvana is
thus the realization of the “object” of the Buddha’s
silence. The idealist schools of later Buddhism gave voice
to that silence about metaphysical matters by formulating a
philosophical position approximating that of the Hindu
schools of non-dualism (Advaita Vedanta). Yet, in terms of
the practical consequences on the level of the sixth stage
of life, it makes no difference whether the self is seen, in
the language of Buddhist realism, as “non-self” (anatman) or
merely as the abstract name for a “bundle of factors,” or
whether, in the language of Hindu idealism, it is seen as
“non-Self” (anatman) or the antithesis of the transcendental
Self. Both approaches share the sixth-stage characteristic
of the transcendence of the self and of

However, and this is the pivotal
point of Master Da Free John’s teaching, a further moment of
growth is possible which perfects the whole protracted
endeavor towards ego-transendance: In the seventh stage of
life, the liberated “individual” recognizes the
incompleteness of his self-sacrifice and, in doing so,
enters sahaja-samadhi, the enstasy “with open eyes” as
Master Da names it. This is equivalent to God-realization,
for now the transcendental Self is no longer pitted against
the phenomenal world. But, through a last act of
self-sacrifice (which is from then on repeated ad
infinitum), the world is recognized as continuously arising
in the Ultimate Being which is coessential with Self. This
is how Master Da explains this ultimate

Thus, in the seventh stage of life,
or the Way of Radical Intuition, the soul Exists in Ecstasy,
as the Heart!? (rather than in the heart, or the
inner being). And in this Perfect stage of life the Bodily
Life-Current is Released or Liberated from the body-mind and
all association with the internal mechanisms of the brain
core. When the devotee abides as the Heart, re-cognizing all
phenomena as only unnecessary modification of Itself, while
It neither embraces nor resists any experiential condition –
then the Bodily Life-Current becomes not only naturally
polarized toward the brain, and thereby Released from
concentration in the lower functional body, but it is
actually Released even from concentration in the brain. This
is due to the fact that the mind, or the independent gesture
of attention, is itself Dissolved through re-cognition in
the Heart.l8

16. Ibid. pp

17. The “Heart” is another
name for the Divine Self, the Intuition or Realization of
the Radiant Transcendental Being or God.

18. Bubba [Da]
Free John, The Enlightenment of the Whole Body, .p. 424.

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