Why Study the Great Traditions of Mankind – The Religious and Spiritual Holy Traditions of Ancient and Modern Man


“The reason why Ultimate Divine Self-Realization has not become the case within the context of the Great Tradition is that the Great Tradition always operates on the basis of the self-contraction. The ego-knot is fundamental to all the stages of life previous to the seventh. The key to the transcendence of the psycho-biography of the ego has not been grasped before now, and that is why there has never been Ultimate Divine Self-Realization, or seventh stage Realization, before. Because that is so, other states, which are conditional in nature, or dependent on conditions, have been proposed as God-Realization or Truth-Realization or Reality-Realization. But they are not Ultimate Divine Self-Realization, precisely because they are either conditional in themselves or because they are dependent on that which is conditional. They are founded on the self-contraction, ego-bound, however great they may appear. By comparison to lesser states, the advanced and the ultimate stages of life in the Great Tradition are great—but they are not Ultimate Realization. There is no Ultimate Realization without Most Perfect transcendence of egoity.”

“You must realize (the) capacity for discrimination, or you really cannot cut it in the Spiritual process.”

Beezone Study of
‘What is The Great Tradition’?

The first exerpt if from a talk given by Adi Da on January 22, 1983.

The second exerpt if from a talk given by Adi Da on April 20, 1987 and the third is from April 4, 1987.

“I myself have suggested on occasion that it is useful to study religion and spiritual philosophy in terms of the Great Tradition. The reason such critical study is useful is that you already have all kinds of inherited, thought-up, and propagandized ideas that correspond to ideas that can be found in the traditions. Thus, you can see how those ideas traditionally get elaborated as a way of life, and you can see their limitations. Doing philosophy in these terms, then, can be said to have a purpose. Doing philosophy is thus a way of undoing philosophy

Part of what I am doing [with the “Seven Schools Of God-Talk” list] is to help people break out of the mold of religious provincialism, the mold of feeling that you are somehow obliged by virtue of childhood training to presume that you are related to just one tradition, a specific dogmatic tradition, or a Western orientation, or whatever your birth signs and early cultural life or society determined was to be your religious background. In fact, we are not truly the inheritors of these provincial religious traditions. At this point in history we are all the inheritors of the Great Tradition, the total tradition, and we should acknowledge this.

One of the great traditional means of Realization and of practice toward Realization is the affirmation of the sacred tradition. If you study the Hindu scriptures, for instance, they outline various means that should help you to become convinced of the Way and equipped to practice it, and ultimately to enter into its Realization. Discriminative intelligence and insight are prominent among all those means. The authority, rightly understood, of the sacred tradition – represented by Realizers of the past and their reports is one of the great aids to practice of the Way.

In this time of doubt people are highly secularized, not even religious. If they are religious they are basically provincial and associated with religion in its lowest form, the form it takes in the lesser stages of life. In this epoch, people tend to live on the basis of doubt. Doubt informs our culture, it is a primary principle of our world society. One of the great traditional means to restore faith is to consider the testimony of those Realizers who have come before and those now communicating the Way of Realization. Having entered into this Domain of Realization, I can affirm to you the force of this Great Tradition as a whole. I help you to understand all those features of it which represent its primary force, which we should take into account and affirm, and use to heal our doubt and transcend the mechanical disposition of doubt.”

January 22, 1983

“I do not mean that you should just read a couple of lines [of traditional literature] here and there. You should be obliged to read and formally study a complete book every week or two. All the meetings that occur on a weekly basis-devotional meetings, study groups, and seminars – should have something to do with the traditional reading for that week. Thus, you will eventually become familiar with these works and become responsible for the hash of ideas you have in the back of your mind.

In the present moment, no matter what stage of practice any one is at, he or she has to go to school relative to the Way of the Heart and the Great Tradition. Everybody must understand that their formal study of these matters is just as much a part of this Way of life as their service, their meditation, and their devotional activities.

You cannot see the subtle uniqueness in the various aspects of this Teaching because you do not know what the Great Tradition itself is. The religion you all know is Sunday school or its equivalent at the synagogue. Beyond that, there is very little that you represent in terms of an educated understanding of this Great Tradition. My own Teaching is not an effort to brainwash you or lay arbitrary notions on you. I represent the entire Great Tradition. However, it requires great understanding of that tradition to practice this Way. It does not require a doctoral degree, or something like that. It is fine that there are various levels of the capacity for study. Nonetheless, there must be some fundamental understanding of the Great Tradition.

All these years, I have been calling on students and practitioners to study and gain this understanding. I have talked about the traditions in all kinds of ways. I have generated an educational process through my own Work with you. Through all these years, I have also been creating what is now known as The Basket Of Tolerance, which is a very specific design for your study of the Great Tradition – something that is workable, and usable by everyone.

Becoming familiar with the Great Tradition is another fundamental that you must have established in order to practice as a devotee. If you do not have some true familiarity and understanding of the Great Tradition, how can you be practicing at level three? You could practice it in some rudimentary sense without verbal education, but you are so full of prejudices relative to sadhana and what it requires that you freeze yourself out of real participation in the process. So you must get an education to unlearn your own prejudices and mental blocks against the Spiritual process.

You not only need an education in this Way in particular. You need an education in the whole history of human religion and Spirituality, so that you can overcome your prejudices, your failed religion neurosis and all the rest of it. You have to set yourself free for the Spiritual process. It is not that you have to encumber yourself with this education. You have to use it as a means for transcending your own fit, limitations relative to the Spiritual process. That is what I call you to do by using The Basket Of Tolerance-not to get involved in the stuff of the Great Tradition for its own sake, but to use that study critically as a means for clarifying your own mind, relieving your own prejudices, and making the Great Tradition your tradition in some fundamental sense. Through that study, you overcome your religious prejudices and free yourself for the real practice.

April 20, 1987

“I did not enter into and endure or pass through the Spiritual process by being an asshole or true believer. Doubt was my Siddhi, the kind of Siddhi I acquired through that intellectual discipline, I do not believe or communicate bullshit, nor do I suggest that you bullshit yourself. Put yourself through the hard school, and really consider it. You must realize that capacity for discrimination, or you really cannot cut it in the Spiritual process. It takes a long time to be really schooled in discrimination. There is more to discrimination than just things of the mind, ideas and so forth. Discrimination is a tool you also bring to non-ideas – to impressions and events that have nothing to do with intellect or mentality or culture or society. You ‘must bring discrimination to events that transcend the conventional or lower bodymind, that transcend the first three stages of life. I was able to use that tool in the higher stages of life. I know how important it is as an instrument for growth into the higher stages. Therefore, you must acquire a similar capability.

Developing the discriminative mind is not a matter of absorbing content. You do not have to absorb all the books in The Basket Of Tolerance and be full of thoughts. You must use The Basket Of Tolerance as a means for polishing the discriminative intelligence, and let it serve the Spiritual process. You must use it to relieve yourself of mind, not to build it up, or create accumulations of thought. Something like that may occur for you in the beginning. But if you truly and seriously enter into this consideration of the Great Tradition, it will break your mind like the Spiritual process breaks your heart. It does not break your mind in a negative sense-it will relieve you of your egoic prejudice, your provincialism, your small-mindedness, your self-possession in mind. It will give you an instrument that is beyond the body and beyond mere energies and sensory impressions and casual thoughts. It will grant you an instrument that will be useful to you in the transition from the whole cosmic game of the first five stages of life.

That is a hard school, yes. That is the way it is. It is not that you are born in this lifetime to realize the Ultimate. You exist to realize the Ultimate. You will have many opportunities in life. This is one of them. If you can fulfill this grand passion of the Way, then maybe you will realize it perfectly. If you cannot, then you will realize a lesser stage, and that is the way it is. It is not damnation. It is reality. To realize the great stages of the Way, you must become a Genius of Realization, a Saint, a great Yogi, a true Seer, a true Siddha. That is what it takes, absolutely nothing less. You are given every advantage, but it nonetheless requires a great deal of you.

In My Company you can Realize Happiness. But if you are to Realize Happiness of Self, you must learn how to think, learn how to discriminate, learn how to transcend, learn how to overcome yourself. You must go through this hard school here. It was Columbia for me, but for you it is this hard school of consideration. There is no easy way to go through it. You all want to be calm and congratulate yourselves into the ultimate Realization of existence! It is absolutely impossible to do it that way! You must be refined and hardened, polished, brightened, awakened, quickened, transcended, perfected, or else you can be a level 1.1 practitioner or something just a little bit beyond it for the rest of your life. That is the way it is. There is not a damn thing I can do about it. Cult be damned! The cult cannot enlighten you.

The real process is a kind of extraordinary asceticism, but not asceticism as it is commonly understood just putting on a hair shirt, keeping your genitals in your pants, eating very little and so on. It is a superior asceticism, the asceticism of the total being, whereby it transcends itself. Apart from that asceticism, you cannot realize the Ultimate. You cannot realize much beyond the beginning without it. A little bit of discipline, a little bit of understanding, a little bit of responsiveness can enable you to enter into the process of the Way. But you cannot fulfill it without being hardened, polished, brightened, made into a fire by discipline. It is impossible. So the choice is up to you. What will you do about it? You tend to cop out by assuming the point of view of limitation, choosing associations that make you feel comfortable. Notice how you make this choice, then discipline yourself. If you choose not to discipline yourself and overcome your point of view, do not blame me. Do not suggest that I said that is what you should do.

Of course, there is not only that sheer discipline in this Way, that hard school – there is also the Grace of the Presence of Samadhi, the Attractive Power. That unique Gift is also given to you. That Power does not make this Way into a silly middle-class religion business. The Way itself remains a hard school. But the hard school becomes effective and quickened by that Attractive Power.

That is the Gift I give to you, and I cannot give you any relief from the hard school itself. I do not suggest to you that there is a cultic way to realize the Ultimate. I do not suggest that you can choose the disposition or the way of the ego, be self-consoling, and somehow fulfill this practice. You absolutely cannot. Look at all the details that I communicate to you and the summaries of the Teaching. There are very real disciplines, very real requirements, and there is no way to cop out and still grow and Realize.

Easy for me to say? No. My life became really difficult when I started to Teach. It certainly was difficult before, but compared to the difficulties that have developed since I began to Teach, my earlier life and ordeal of Realization was nothing. So I have had to live the hard school, and so must you. And I have not, by fulfilling that process in Realization, relieved myself of difficulty, you see. It becomes more and more difficult, never less and less. So what is the moral?

April 4, 1987

Beezone Study of ‘What is The Great Tradition’?