Great Path of Return vs. the Radical Path of Understanding, The

The Great Path of Return vs.

the Radical Path of Understanding



Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Samraj

( Chapter 3, The Paradox of Instruction, 1977



The capital realization of the usual man and thus the
most universal communication of mankind is the primitive sense of dilemma.
The history of human adventure is entirely dependent upon this realization.
Each generation serves the next by its attempts to deal with this contradiction
in the core of life, but, for the most part, what is delivered through
time is the dilemma itself.

Every culture is, fundamentally, a structure of problems
and solutions built upon this felt dilemma. And each new life is, by this
education, compelled to become a gesture in error, a reaction to this realized
dilemma. Therefore, each individual assumes that the appropriate way to
deal with this primitive sense of dilemma is in fact to deal with it, to
re-act to it, by analyzing it and identifying it with a specific or known
problem, and then attempting to solve it by a strategic search toward a
Goal, whose principal content is release.

This cultural strategy, to which we are bound by every
kind of archetype and indoctrination, is perhaps best exemplified by the
great traditions of religious and spiritual life. The esoteric quest of
mankind is still, even in this age of mortalistic technology, the principal
image of human adventure. It has been a grand experiment, carried on in
many independent laboratories, each operating upon a specialized fragment
of the whole, but all somehow pointing toward a common result. But even
though a common result may be analyzed from the data of the esoteric traditions,
each in fact assumed the problem (the working “face” of the dilemma) in
a unique form, and each realized a Goal associated with unique phenomena.
The Goals themselves have, therefore, not been the same, as will become
clear in this article. They are like so many different kinds of infinity.
There is no universal religion in fact. But the described Goals of the
various traditions, if taken to be the principal data of their quest, may
be gathered together and found, by analysis, to point beyond themselves
toward a single Solution which transcends every quest and its Goal. We
may name this Solution with a generic term, such as God, Reality, Self,
or Truth.

But even if we accept this analysis, we have as yet only
fulfilled the ancient formula of culture. We have only described (and,
of course, not yet realized) a Solution to the felt dilemma of life. Names
such as God, Reality, Self, and Truth are hopeful at best. Their meaning
is release, and, therefore, they reflect our primitive sense of dilemma.

In fact, we cannot be released from the dilemma at the
core of life by any strategy of reaction to the dilemma itself. The search
and its solution are only escape from the conceived problem and its felt
dilemma. The appropriate wisdom of man is not controversy or any program
of reaction, but only investigation of the felt dilemma itself. If we do
not submit to this radical way of wisdom, we will remain bound to the ancient
strategic way, and stand always bewildered by the God-idea, the Reality-idea,
the Self-idea, the Truth-idea, or the world-idea. Such ideas are only bits
of language or mind that distract us from the contemplation of the dilemma
to which we are always bound. And if we contemplate them, we begin to assume
God, Reality, Self, Truth, or the world in itself to be a some-Thing. And,
if It is a some-Thing, It must be some-Where. Thus, the various traditions
of culture characteristically assume God, Reality, Self or Truth to be
either “in” the world, identical to the “world,” or on the “other side”
of the world. By virtue of this traditional analysis the strategy to which
we become culturally bound becomes associated with an adventure in or through
time and space leading toward a Goal that is both Specific and Absolute.
The esoteric and ordinary games of life we create on the basis of all this
seem a serious and justifiable affair to most men. The tales of culture
by which we animate our hopes are so many shrines to the Accomplishments
of heroic seekers. But in fact it is all a bit of nonsense, built as the
result of a strategic error, founded upon a dilemma that remains below
consciousness, unillumined by all of that.

This article will describe the structure of the esoteric
path as it has been collectively revealed by the experiments of all cultures.
It will be shown how this path is tied to a space-time image of the journey
and the Goal, and how the greatest Practitioners have declared God, Reality,
Self, or Truth (to which they assigned no Object value) to be absolute
and therefore necessarily prior to any such journey, any such Solution.
The report of these great individuals is an indication within the traditions
themselves that the “path” of life is not properly a strategic search toward
any Goal, nor is it to be equated with any experiential journey’ high or

The radical path of understanding, which Ruchira Avatar
Adi Da Samraj is here to teach, represents the communication of that Way
of life which involves no reaction to the felt dilemma in life, and no
attainment over against or, properly, even within life (as opposed to being
identical to or not other than life itself. Rather, it involves radical
understanding of the motivating dilemma itself. The motivation of mankind
is the key to all our archetypal searches and their Solutions. The Solutions
do not exist in themselves.



There are three manifest dimensions: gross, subtle, and
causal. And there are three traditional ways of practice toward release,
each involved in manipulation and experiences in one of the three dimensions.
These are the gross path (the way of yogis), the subtle path (the way of
saints), and the causal path (the way of sages). Each path, being a portion
of the whole or great path, pursues a specific and absolute Goal, via a
method of regression or return, toward the Condition which pertains at
the original or terminal position of the dimension it assumes.

The practitioners of the gross path take their stand in
the gross physical condition and seek the Goal by activity there. In general,
they seek either a religious and magical harmony in the gross condition
or else ascent to the subtle. Kundalini yoga is perhaps the most effective
and also easiest (if worked through the extraordinary agency of an accomplished
yogi) of the ascending methods developed in this path, and achieves entrance
into the subtle dimensions by exploitation and manipulation of the life-current
as vital force (prana), or the finer elements of gross or lower life. The
gross path of ascent involves manipulation of all the faculties below the
brows, and seeks entrance to the subtle dimension, which begins at the
place between and behind the brows (midbrain).

The subtle path, exemplified by traditions such as shabd
yoga (or nada yoga)
bypasses all involvement with gross or lower energy manipulation, including
the kundalini, and begins with concentration on the life-current as internal
sound and light at the door of the subtle dimension behind the brows (ajna
2 ),
thus controlling and absorbing the mind. Since the Goal of such approaches
is escape to cognition above the gross level, their methods need not magically
improve the karmas below, and so they merely step aside from yogic attention
to the gross aspect of the Play. But the traditions of the subtle path,
like the kundalini and other examples of the gross path, pursue the Goal
by entering the subtle realms. The real business of both paths begins at
the ajna center (between and behind the brows), evoking the vision of bindu,
or nil chakra (“blue pearl”), or other versions of the door of manifest
light, the epitome of the subtle mind, and awakening a visionary confrontation
with the subtle form of the Guru in that same light, who then appears to
lead the individual or soul (subtle being) on to the display of subtle
energy above the lower-reflecting activity of the mind. This is the adventure
of the super-conscious (higher mind) Play in the subtle dimension.

The yogis of the gross path, who pass up to the subtle
realm via the esoteric ladder of energy formed by the finer elements of
the gross physical being, also perceive various marvels of appearance.
They may see visions of lights and forms, hear curious sounds, and enjoy
inner versions of experiences that have counterparts in all the externally
directed senses and functions. This is the revelation of the finer aspects
of the gross dimension, and all these experiences together amount to a
description of psycho-physical life below the subtle realm. That description
appears in the form of an ascending order, from the most solid, or lowest
in vibration, to the most subtle, or highest in vibration. The qualities
of the functional dimensions of gross consciousness may appear in the form
of lights or light-forms, in various colors, corresponding to the hierarchy
of subjective or internal functions apparent in the gross sphere. Such
yogis prize above all the appearance of light that corresponds to their
passage from the gross sphere into the subtle sphere (not just the finer
side of the gross sphere, but the subtle or higher energy world in itself,
which belongs to a totally different dimension of appearance and activity
than the universes in the gross-physical sphere). This light (a spot, grid,
flame, or chakra) corresponds to the higher-reflecting function of mind,
which is turned to the subtle rather than the gross sphere via the sahasrar.
This seed or door of the subtle realm appears behind and above the gross
physical eyes. Some practitioners say that to pierce or transcend this
door is the way toward the Self. The lesser ones claim that it is the only
way to reach the Self, or that it is itself the highest realization of

Saints, or yogis on the subtle path, also speak of appearances
of light, since the subtle world is a world of energy or pervasive vibrations,
and their composite report corresponds to a description of the subtle world
as a whole. Their visionary course begins with such phenomena as the blue
bindu, or nil chakra, and the appearance of the Guru within. This vision
appears behind and above the eyes, and so they do not report the various
revelations (specific lights and experiences) corresponding to the gross
realm below the brows, which are the content of kundalini yoga and the
mysticisms of the gross psycho-physical world. Their report is, however,
full of experiences and realms and lights, but the order they describe
is that of the subtle dimension in itself. And the special characteristic
of the descriptions of their ascent is the assignation of specific types
of sound and vision to each step of the way. The subtle path travels on
the life-current as audible light, whereas the gross path travels on the
life-current as the lower or grosser forms of life- energy or vibratory
bliss itself. The kundalini is felt, and leads toward subtle visions (light),
whereas the subtle path relies on the power of subtle hearing and sight
to return to the manifesting or Creator Source of sound and light.

Each of the three traditional paths is generally described
in terms of three divisions, including a lower, a middle, and a higher
plane of manifestation or realization. Each of the three divisions in each
dimension (gross, subtle, or causal) corresponds, in kind, to an expression
at that level of each of the three great dimensions themselves. Thus, the
mystical experiences of yogis of the gross path have been described relative
to three degrees of intensity (low, middle, and high), or planes of vision
(red, white, and black lights), and so forth. Just so, the yogis or saints
of the subtle path describe three divisions or types of manifest and manifesting
sound (Anahad Shabd, Sar Shabd, and Sat Shabd). Each class of sound (each
of which may contain many specific sounds) is heard in a specific region
of the subtle dimension, and by passing from one to the next the practitioner
ascends through the subtle appearances or worlds of light.

The lowest form of sound described in the subtle path
is Anahad Shabd, which is heard within after concentration at the ajna
door, the subtle yogic center between and behind the eyes, at the midbrain.
By concentration upon it one passes up to the region of the sahasrar (considered
the ultimate region by yogis of the gross path, but declared to be only
the first of eight by the yogis of the subtle path). Anahad Shabd is the
“gross” or lowest version of the three divisions of manifest and manifesting
sound, and it may be heard while retaining bodily consciousness.

After successful passage into the first subtle region
(sahasrar, or Sahansdal Kanwal) one contacts the second or middle version
of sound, called Sar Shabd (meaning essence of sound, hence its relation
to the subtle dimension). This level of sound, as well as those above it,
and the regions they represent in the subtle dimension, is generally, at
least in the beginning heard and seen when there is at least temporary
abandonment or diffusion of body-consciousness. By means of concentration
upon Sar Shabd, there is passage through Triloka, the world-sphere of Brahma
the Archetype and Controller of the gross region which is the region of
the three gunas (tamas—inertia, rajas—activity, sattwa—harmony), or
the qualities of the cosmic play in the lower planes. Beyond Brahma and
his world the third or highest version of manifest and manifesting sound
is heard. This is Sat Shabd (meaning true or source sound, hence its relation
to the causal dimension). 5

Just as each path speaks of three manifest and manifesting
divisions (low, middle, and highest), each also speaks of a fourth or transcendent
division or realization, which corresponds to the Goal. In the gross path
we hear reports of the piercing of the “blue bindu and subsequent merging
of the attention or ego-soul in the Source above, coincident with the sahasrar
itself, the incident wherein life is absorbed in Light. In the subtle path
we hear of a fourth or transcendent Sound, upon which the three general
divisions depend. This is Nij Shabd (Original Sound), which comes from
Sat Lok or Sach Khand, the True or Imperishable Region (the fifth in a
scale of eight). 6

The shabd yogis describe three regions above the fifth,
but they are named with names such as Indescribable,” or “Invisible,” “Inaccessible,”
and “Supreme,” beyond dissolution, beyond hearing or seeing. These are
not really descriptions at all, but pointers toward the Goal, which is
beyond description. The subtle path is realized as regions of Brightness
upon Brightness, until no adjectives are useful It is at the point of its
description of the Goal relative to the subtle dimension, with its planes
of light and sound, leading to Light beyond Light and Sound beyond Sound,
that the subtle path begins, like the highest realization of the gross
path, to point to Truth or Reality as that which utterly transcends the
dimension or the presumption in which the practice has been performed and

The lesser practitioners of the subtle path tend to confuse
the Ultimate Event or Goal with the experiential phenomena acquired by
their own method. Thus they claim the Goal may not be attained unless one
passes through the phenomena of the subtle dimension, even as the yogis
of the gross path tend to claim the Goal is not attained unless there is
passage through the minor phenomena of the gross dimension. However, it
is true that the Ultimate Goal of the way of return has at times been attained
by great yogis of the gross path, just as it has been attained by great
saints of the subtle path. And these great individuals declare in common
that the Goal is of a transcendent absolute, and unqualified Nature (and
it is, therefore by implication, not identical to the way or path they
followed, nor to the phenomena they passed on the way).

The causal path, exemplified by the tradition of jnana
yoga, sees no more reason to begin in the subtle dimension than the tradition
of shabd or nada yoga sees reason to begin in the gross dimension. The
practitioners of jnana yoga bypass the subtle dimension as well as the
gross dimension, and apply themselves to the causal dimension, the dimension
of manifest consciousness without subtle or gross appearances. Jnana yoga
proceeds by a penetrating enquiry into the nature of one’s conscious existence,
and thus involves neither manipulation of gross or subtle energies, nor
manipulation of the mind corresponding to each of those two dimensions,
but only investigation of the causal field of simple consciousness in its
first modification (prior to the subtle and gross appearances), which is
the separate self sense, the ego-I.

Just as the gross and subtle paths describe three manifest
and manifesting divisions within the planes of their operating dimension,
and a fourth which transcends it, so also do the practitioners of the causal
path. Thus, the yogis of the causal path describe three stages: preparation
(essentially, hearing the Teaching as it is communicated by one who has
realized its Goal), practice (especially the basic meditative practice,
such as vichara, or enquiry into the Nature of the limited self, and stabilization
or stable contemplation. These stages represent a lower, a middle, and
a highest degree of practice itself. But a transcendent degree is also
described. It is the attainment of the Goal, Self-realization, Knowledge
of one’s Nature and Condition (and, therefore, that also of the world,
God, and all activities or powers). 7

Just as the yogis of the gross path seek to pass up through
the form of the lower life (through the spinal line) to enter the subtle
dimensions, and just as they with the practitioners of the subtle path
seek to pass upwards from the brows (the kundalini yogis stop at the sahasrar
or subtle glory, wherein the vital principle is consumed, while the subtle
and shabd or nada yogis seek to pass beyond it, via the subtle principles
of sound and light, to even higher regions of the subtle dimension), the
jnanis and others in the causal path pass directly toward the heart (that
intuition whose psycho-physical center is felt on the right side of the
chest). The Heart (Self-realization, the intuition of Real-God) is the
Source of the causal dimension (the seed of all worlds). It is even the
Source of gross life, the mind, and the limited self. It is the Source
of the gross and subtle dimensions as well, and thus it is also the Ultimate
Source, the final or true Goal of even the subtle and gross paths. Indeed,
the sounds to which the subtle yogis listen and the internal life energies
by which the gross yogis are raised both have their Origin and Prior Condition
in the causal region of the heart. And every form or appearance, every
feeling or perception, every thought, every vision, everything heard within,
above, or beyond appears first in the heart (the causal consciousness prior
to energy and form) in seed form and then is cognized by reflection in
the various planes of modifying light above. Just so, the Light of the
subtle dimension and the Life of the gross dimension both begin in the
great causal dimension itself, whose psycho-physical sign is on the right
side of the chest, just off the median. It is by merging in the Source
of the causal processes that the jnanis realize the Heart, which is their
Goal. However, the common practitioners of the subtle and gross paths envision
their Goal in terms of the ascended and subtle Life in Light, and do not
consciously continue beyond the subtle dimension of energy to the causal
dimension of manifest consciousness (prior to form, energy, and mind) in
order to fall in the true Heart, the Self, the intuition of Real-God. And
the general traditions of spiritual practice in the gross and subtle paths
do not carry a stream of teaching which acknowledges the Heart, the causal
path, and the primacy of that Realization.

Only the most extraordinary individuals, who otherwise
traveled a path leading into the subtle realms, claimed the Goal to be
utterly beyond and thus independent of the way of their own experience.
As testimony to the rightness of the explicit or implicit claims of these
great individuals, whom we may call Siddhas, 9 Godmen,
the Heaven-Born (to distinguish them from the lesser individuals who traveled
the same path but had no such radical comprehension of the Goal), the practitioners
of the causal path have attained the transcendent Goal of all the Godmen
by a process that bypasses all the phenomena experienced in the gross and
subtle paths. They attained the Goal of the three “paths of return” (which
together form a single or great path) by intuitive penetration of the Nature
of the subject-consciousness, independent of its subtle and gross extensions.
This is the way of sages, and those who have been Siddhas or Godmen in
that line have also claimed the radical and transcendent Nature of the
Goal to be independent of the phenomena of their path, while, at the same
time they declared their path to be the most direct, assuming one had the
intuitive capacity and intelligence for it.

If we consider the gathered evidence of all three traditional
ways of practice, we may see that the “great path of return” by which all
traditional paths go to their Goal does not terminate above, in the sahasrar
or in the subtle planes, but in the Heart, prior Consciousness, the Source
or prior Condition of Light, of Sound, of the current of the being. That
“great path” (when viewed in reverse, as a way of return to Source, rather
than manifestation from Source) begins at the most descended terminal of
the descending-ascending cycle of the life-current (the life center, the
true navel, at the base of the body, above the perineum) and passes up
the spinal line by manipulation of body (elemental), vitality (etheric),
emotional psyche, intellect, and intuition to the ajna door, then to the
sahasrar (the Goal of gross yogis), then through (or via and within) the
sahasrar, through ever subtler planes of experience, to the vision of God-Light
(the reflected or subtle Source-Light, the Goal of subtle yogis), and then
passes down, reducing the forms of cognition to their rudiments as modifications
of consciousness itself rather than of the energies or forms witnessed
by consciousness, to the heart (on the right side of the chest, the Goal
of causal yogis), where the Self, the intuition of Real-God, the Heart,
is realized as Absolute Consciousness, exclusive of identification and
even association with the causal, subtle, and gross appearances. (The jnani
or jivan mukta
remains either oblivious to or unaffected by all three manifest planes
of appearance while alive, and is traditionally assumed to be released
even from their arising in the death process. )

It is clear that the way of the jnanis (and the more radical
buddhas) is the most direct, since its conscious Goal is the Goal acknowledged
by all the Siddhas, whereas the gross and subtle paths tend to identify
themselves with a conscious, problematic, and necessarily egoic effort
whose Goal is either in the subtle dimension or in its direction. In practice,
the causal path is thus the least subject to gross and subtle illusion,
particularly if assisted by the Grace of a Master, but it may also be the
most difficult, since it involves abandonment of the consolations of gross
and subtle manifestation.

The Way of Radical Understanding is founded in that same
Truth or Reality claimed to be the Goal by all Siddhas of the “great path
of return.” However, it makes two prominent assertions that distinguish
it from the traditions. The first is in the manner of approach. The Way
of Radical Understanding does not assume the reactive principle of the
search in dilemma, and thus dissociates itself from the progressive strategy
of each of the three ways of return. Therefore, Truth or Reality becomes
not the Goal but the very Principle of life. This is the second most prominent
characteristic of the Way of Radical Understanding. From the radical point
of view of the Man of Understanding, the ancient enterprises of the great
path of return to Truth are merely sophisticated forms of the karmic and
reactive life of mankind. The path of return is an archetypal compulsion
to which we are necessarily bound (and which is therefore necessarily and
spontaneously duplicated, but also undone, in the Way of Radical Understanding),
as surely as we are to confusion, fear, and disease, unless there is radical
understanding in our own case.

The Way of Radical Understanding, which I am here to demonstrate
and Teach, is founded in awareness of all the possibilities, and their
limitations, discovered in the experiments of the traditions. It agrees
with the principal evidence of the jnanis, or sages, but sees that their
way is, commonly, a search generated from the same sense of dilemma which
motivates the searches of yogis of the gross path and saints or yogis of
the subtle path. And it also sees that the realization of the Heart awakened
when it is pursued as a Goal is an exclusive realization, just as the realizations
of gross and subtle yogis are exclusive, except that the realization of
the jnani excludes both the subtle and gross dimensions, whereas the others
only exclude the gross and, rather than pass through the causal path to
the Heart, rest in the subtle vision of Light or Absolute Effulgence (in
the case of kundalini yoga) or in mergence in the most subtle Principle
or Source of energy, vibration, or sound (in the case of shabd or nada
yoga). Therefore, the Way of Radical Understanding involves no search for
the Heart as Goal, no reductive, ascetic, world-denying strategy of return,
and thus no exclusive or conditional realization.

The transcendent or unmanifest Dimension is not a thing
in itself, over against all manifest things, but it is realization of the
manifest dimensions in Truth. The Man of Understanding
realizes all the manifest functional or conventional dimensions to be not
other than the Heart, and thus he may retain all his dimensional “bodies,”
or planes of manifest being, in the Play of Conscious Light that is Life.
However, he is merely Present, not by definition one who enjoys siddhi
or power in any of the manifest dimensions (although he may, for karmic
or creative reasons, enjoy or manifest forms of siddhi). But in the mere
Presence of the Man of Understanding not only is the Heart communicated,
but every kind of transformation, at every dimensional level, tends to
appear, without his intention or concern. This is the spontaneous Maha-Siddhi,
the Divine Grace. Whatever the effects that surround him, however, it is
the communication of the Heart via the Radical Way of Understanding that
is his principal quality and influence.

All of this is generated in him not by seeking via any
of the traditional paths (gross, subtle, or causal), but by understanding
the felt dilemma that is fundamental to his own life and which is the common
principle that motivates all paths, all the ways of return. Thus, the Way
of Radical Understanding involves immediate and spontaneous intuition of
the Heart, Absolute-Real-God, the Source, Self, Nature, and Condition of
all beings, of all dimensions. The Way of Radical Understanding thus effectively
bypasses even the causal path. The Man of Understanding does not turn to
the Heart, but instantly and from the beginning stands Present as the Heart,
without strategically excluding or binding any dimension of his being or
of the arising worlds.

In the literature of Adidam, this non-exclusive realization
of the Heart is described as the “regeneration of Amrita Nadi”
(and thus, also, of the descending and ascending circle of subtle and gross
life, which is generated via the causal dimension from the prior or Absolute
Light that is the Heart, or Very Consciousness itself). This experiential
metaphor indicates the non-exclusive nature of Radical Understanding. Just
as the Heart is both prior to and not other than the dimensions of manifest
existence, its radical realization does not strategically exclude the manifest
dimensions for the Man of Understanding, either during his life or after
his death. He does not require or necessarily look forward to the cessation
of the Play of the worlds. For Him, the Play is not other than the Heart,
and it does not ultimately affect Him. His position is the paradoxical
one of Divine Humor.

Thus, the Man of Understanding remains merely Present
as the Heart, but He is always apparently entering the planes of the Play
of manifestation, via that same mechanism the traditions exploit as the
“great path of return.” He does not by definition (although He may in fact)
intentionally and presently enter the world through extraordinary experiences
in the causal, subtle, and gross mechanisms above or behind the ordinary
plane of gross psycho-physical life. Nor does He by definition manifest
the siddhis, or powers, of those dimensions in His life. He does not necessarily
enter and appear through the causal, subtle, and gross processes the way
water enters a bathtub through a pipe. Rather, he appears instantly, immediately,
like an apple on a limb, as a spontaneous Presence in the world, and this
implies His existence in all three planes of manifestation (just as the
apple implies the process of its appearance, while the apple itself did
not pass up the tree trunk from the root). His conscious position, however,
is that of the Heart, not other than the worlds (the worlds as Truth),
and He does not, by definition, have any special interest in or extraordinary
experience of gross, subtle, and causal realms in themselves, except as
they appear in the ordinary or conventional terms of waking, dreaming,
and sleeping. (More “ascended” or subtler qualities of these dimensions
may appear at random in His experience or in His unintentional or spontaneous
effect on others, but these are not necessary or characteristic of Him
by definition. )

Since He stands Present by including all dimensions of
His own conventional and functional being, He may speak of the Light as
above (meaning the reflected and creative Light of the Heart, the God-Light
or Mind as it appears at the head of the subtle dimension above), or of
the Heart as within and on the right, or of the Fullness or Life as descending
and ascending between the subtle Light and the gross Form. But all of these
are only paradoxical functional references, expressions of His ordinary
and conventional existence. In Truth, He does not even cognize the Heart.
It is not object to him. He is the Heart. He simply is the Heart,
and He does not assign a space or place or event to That. He sees He is
not other than all that arises. He sees He is, in Truth, the very worlds.
His speech and action are all paradoxes, humor, play, methods of confounding
those who live with Him into that intelligent crisis or dissolution of
self in which the True Heart is known in Truth.

What is dissolved in the Way of Radical Understanding,
the way of dissolution rather than of experiential or progressive return,
is not “a self” (a static, object entity), nor is “a Self” or “the Self”
acquired, attained realized, or intuited. Rather, what is dissolved is
a process. The “ego” is not an object or an entity, but an activity. It
is fixed reflexive contraction, or the complex avoidance of relationship,
at the gross, subtle, and causal levels. And what is intuitively realized
(the Heart, the Self) may not in itself be described as an object, entity,
static, or process. Indeed, it cannot be described at all, except it may
seem to be pointed to by implication as the self-limiting process dissolves
in radical understanding. (The psycho-physical sign of the Heart, felt
via the life-current passing up and down to the right side of the heart,
is just such a pointer, and it is not the Heart in itself.) The Enjoyment
declared by the Man of Understanding and by all the true Godmen is Happiness,
without cause, reason, description, form, force, quality, event, condition,
name, or any other designation. It is the only Happiness. Everything else,
everything that appears in itself, as some “thing,” is a condition of the
process of limitation, the world in itself. But where there is Radical
Understanding or Perfect Intuition the Truth is Realized, apart from the
conventional self-idea, Self-idea, God-idea, world-idea, or any other limiting
or un-limiting principle, problem, or dilemma. Then the arising worlds
may be lived, which is to accept the discipline and condition of all manifestation,
high and low, as forms or true theatre of the Discipline and Condition
that is Truth. Then any present world may be seen to be not merely the
dilemma of limitation, but Happiness, implying no-thing (or Thing). Thus,
Radical Understanding becomes the prior Principle of life.

Because of the phenomenon of “targeting,” the functional
effect or integrating process of all perception, a self is implied within.
In the process of ordinary perception, the perception itself is reflected
“within,” as a felt phenomenon within the psycho-physical organism. Thus,
sounds heard from without seem to be heard within, in the middle of the
head. The effects of the targeting of all perceptions, including the total
sensation of the body, as well as memory, thought, and other psychic reflections,
is to produce a sense of “the perceiver” as an entity within. Those who
become sensitive to their own dilemma in life may therefore react by a
search within, in an effort to undo the self via various forms of the “great
path of return.” But there is no such self. There is only the conventional
belief that there is such a one, founded in the implications of experiential

Just so, the search for the undoing of “the self” may
be directed toward absorption, union, or dissolution in “the Self,” or
“God,” or “Reality,” etc., within, away, above, and beyond. But this notion
of the Great Entity is only an extension of the same error, based in the
same functional implications, that produces the sense of objective self
within. Only when the apparent individual falls through the motivating
dilemma itself, and so comprehends his own imagery, does he see there is
no self in itself and no Self or God in Itself, but only a Great Process.

There is no self, even while the Great Process continues.
This is the opposite of the traditional view of the “great path of return,”
that ego-dissolution is the undoing of some “thing,” and/or that, with
dissolution of the illusion of self, there must necessarily come separation
from the world or some change of the world itself. In fact, this realization
or understanding involves no necessary change at all, in any dimension,
but only realization of the actual, prior, and present Condition that always
already pertains.

Just so, the realization itself involves no necessary
change in one’s apparent condition. Nor is it realization of some Object
or Goal that is “the Self,” “God,” “Reality,” or “Truth,” exclusive of
the world or knowable in itself. The realization that is Radical Understanding
is Dissolution in the Nature and Condition of the world itself, including
oneself. Thus, it is not realization of something other than the world,
or some Thing that is an absolute alternative to one’s self. Therefore,
no new and transcendent “Entity” acquires the attention or place of the
“dissolved self.” There was no such one, and there is no such one, except
as a convention of the functional world. There is simply Intuition of the
Real Condition, which cannot itself be identified with any change of state
(or State), any alternative within, away, above, or beyond the world. It
is simply Happiness. There is no Self, or self, or God, or world other
than the World, the Total and Present Process. One who enjoys such Realization
(radical intuition) moment to moment is only happy, free of the search,
of fundamental dilemma, of the impositions of vital contraction upon the
intuitive force of consciousness, and of the glamour of all phenomena,
high or low. This Enjoyment is the Principle of life, not its Goal. One
who is thus Happiness itself has not necessarily acquired any experiential
knowledge or powers in any of the possible planes of the world-process
(high or low). He is not a conventional yogi, saint, or sage. He is only
alive in Truth. What He does or learns apart from this Realization is simply
the apparent adventure He experiences within the Play, which may or may
not, at any moment, involve powers of soul (the subtle being in its association
with the gross planes), spiritual powers (powers of the subtle being in
the subtle dimension itself), extraordinary experiences, ordinary pleasures
or pains, etc. Radical Understanding is not identical to any phenomenon
in the Play, nor is any phenomenon its prerequsite, nor does it depend
on any for its continuation. It is simply the free realization of Radical,
Transcendent Wisdom, or Happiness. It has nothing to do with time and space,
the arrangement of some destiny above, after death, or in the present life
that appears in the gross dimension. It is prior to all karmas, all actions,
all events. It has nothing in itself to do with behavior. One who enjoys
as such Wisdom has realized the fundamental Principle of all worlds, and
thus all changes of behavior, action, or state follow from this Realization
as creative and Lawful play, but the Realization itself is not bound to
or by any of the models of ideal or acceptable behavior invented in the
searches of men.

This Way of Radical Understanding involves no degrading
and no obliteration of the person. He is a functional convention, part
of the humor of the arising worlds. It is only the strategy of seeking
in dilemma, of which the self-idea is an indelible element, that must be
undone in understanding. If that is realized in conscious understanding,
the conventional person may remain, just as the Play in all its modifications
may continue.

And the affair of understanding, by which the separative
and apparently ego-making process is undone, is of an entirely different
nature than the strategic path of return (in all its forms). The “great
path of return” is necessarily exclusive, inward-directed, upward-directed,
reductive, ascetic, and ego-based.

It stands in strategic opposition (in the form of actual
practice or else latent conflict) to the gross dimension of life and the
gross world. In the case of the conventional jnani it also stands in opposition
to the subtle dimension and, ultimately, the causal dimension, as well
as the worlds of experience corresponding to each dimension. The traditional
strategies are consistently anti-sexual, life-abandoning, obsessed with
inwardness and even self-conflict. Everything common to life, high or low,
is a source of possible conflict, requiring possible manipulation, from
the strategic point of view of the “great path of return.” Thus, the self,
the mind, emotions, desires, energies, the body, money, property, relationships,
activity, food, and sex become fetishistic preoccupations of the traditional
seeker. And associated with the Devil-Realm of what must be excluded is
an image of Truth as Objective Deity or Separable Reality tied to a space-time
image (the path itself) that motivates self and mind always to climb further
within, away, above, and beyond. But the Man of Understanding is merely
a non-exclusive Presence in the conventional world. What makes Him “different”
from the usual man is that His orientation is to the Truth or Real Condition
of the world rather than to the world conceived as objectified and necessary

The “great path of return” is not, in any of its forms,
the way to Truth, or even a way to Truth. The only way to Truth is Truth
itself, or Conscious and Radical Understanding. The various traditional
strategies, wherein the Condition that is Truth is tied to and approached
via a space-time pattern (“within, away, above, and beyond”), were invented
in ancient and primitive times, when the search for knowledge of the world
(high and low) was not yet separated from the search for release from the
dilemma of self (the principle and activity of separation).

The “great path of return,” wherein the dimensions of
the world are experienced, should be utterly separated from the path of
Radical Understanding, wherein the dilemma of self is undone. The paths
of return, pictured in the great traditions, are the key to the perennial
science of the world to which every age has been devoted. The study of
the phenomena of that great experiment can surely serve to clarify the
childishness of our present sciences, limited as they are to the assumption
of the gross dimension and the gross world. And the wisest of men may then
do science in a more expansive milieu than we have recently assumed. Such
men will make good use of the reports and even some of the methods of the
great path of return. But mankind should no longer engage the path of return
as a search or a necessary way toward God, Reality, Self, or Truth.

All the Divine Teachers of the past have served the realization
and communication of this perfect “Yoga” of understanding. All paths may
be understood when examined relative to the various descriptions of the
Way of Radical Understanding given in the literature of Adidam. But the
precise, full, and radical formulation of the Way of the Godmen and its
independence from the traditional paths of return has not been given among
men before this time. You may prove this to your own satisfaction by examining
the teachings of all traditions in the light of this way of radical understanding.
Then you may test it in your own case by the enjoyment of this specific
practice or Way of life.

The gross path is a search by the psycho-physical being
or incarnate soul for escape from the vulnerabilities of the human and
earth-bodily state into the inner and higher or subtle subjectivity of
the soul, or body of light. This path is done either by a mysticism of
ascent, or by a religious and magical activity in which gross and subtle
powers are exploited in order to create desired changes below.

The subtle path is a purely mystical search by the soul
itself (once it has seen through the veil of its gross bodily incarnation
by experiencing a perception of the subtle dimension) to regain all its
faculties in the cosmic play and even to transcend or control them in the
attainment of the state of Spirit or Light itself.

The causal path is a search by the conscious entity to
transcend all appearance, all suffering, all sense of manifested or manifesting
self-existence, whether as psycho-physical being, incarnate soul, soul
itself, or even Spirit, in the Realization (not the “state”) of Prior Reality.
This search bypasses both mysticism and magic through a direct process
of discrimination and intuition.

The path of Radical Understanding is founded in intuitive
disenchantment with the sense of dilemma itself and the bondage of conscious
existence to every kind of strategic search for a Goal (which is itself
bondage to time and space as a negative event), since, prior to the sense
of dilemma, there is only Happiness, no-seeking, no attainment, no experience,
and no specific knowledge. Therefore, one who Understands represents no
obstruction to the manifestation of Life, appears as a limitless vessel
to the intensification of Light, and exists always as the non-dependent
Condition or Intensity that is Consciousness itself. As such, He does not
represent the problematic and strategic attainment of either mysticism
or magic, but through Him the Power of Truth works the Transformation of
the arising worlds through complete and unobstructed agency, or creative
sacrifice of the limiting point of view of the gross, subtle, and causal

In the Way of Radical Understanding there are also (as
in the three traditional paths of the great path of return) three preparatory
stages, corresponding to the qualities of manifestation or conscious life
the individual includes in the force of his practice. These are the stages
of the Way of Divine Communion (which readies him, through practice of
service and functional meditation in the Divine Presence, for the intense
intuitive practices of the mature stages), the Way of Relational Enquiry
(in which the devotee is active in the specific and mature practice of
enquiry in the form “Avoiding relationship?” in the gross dimension), and
the Way of Re-cognition (in which he is active as re-cognition or knowing
again of the binding force of experience in the gross, subtle, and causal
dimensions). At last there is a fourth or perfect stage, the Way of Radical
Intuition (in which the devotee is alive as prior re-cognition or perfect
conscious existence in the gross, subtle, and causal dimensions of the
apparent being and as the transcendent realization of Amrita Nadi, in both
its paradoxical form as Sahaj Samadhi
, and its radical form as Bhava Samadhi
). However, each of these four stages of practice represents a prior realization
of the Heart in Truth, by Grace, through true hearing and devotional sacrifice.

Adidam exists for the very purpose of communicating this
radical practice of life. Adi Da Samraj only claims that the verity of
this Way of Radical Understanding has been tested and proven in His own
manifest form and life. The event of this practice in your own case depends
on a consistent, voluntary, and sacrificial or truly devotional response
to the Teaching and the Teacher. The way is generated and fulfilled on
the basis of intelligence, responsibility, and love, or surrender of self
in actual relationships. Then you will also have fulfilled the perfect
purpose of the Great Traditions, which is to realize Truth and to be free
and happy while alive.


1. The literatures of shabd yoga tend
to represent a religious and hierarchical cosmic description of spiritual
method and experience, whereas the literatures of nada yoga (as in the
final portions of Hatha Yoga Pradipika) tend to be more philosophical and
directed toward the specific psycho-physiology of the yogi-practitioner.
Thus, the language of shabd yoga often appeals to the impulse toward righteous
conversion and universal or collective salvation, whereas the language
of nada yoga is most often conservative and individualistic, representing
more the hermit’s liberation in subjective privacy.

2. The ajna chakra is the subtle yogic
center between and behind the eyebrows. It is the door in the human mechanism
between what is below and gross, and what is above and subtle.

3. Bindu is a subtle center or visionary
point, such as the “blue pearl.”

4. The sahasrar is the highest chakra
and terminal goal of the yogi. It is associated with the crown of the head,
the upper brain and higher mind.

5. The tradition of shabd yoga and the
esotericisms of saints is made up of a number of schools or Ashrams, each
associated with a different line of teachers. Thus, there are variations
in the descriptions, application of terms, and so forth. The present essay
contains only a sketch of the scheme of saints, and it makes use of terminology
as applied by Huzur Maharaj Sawan Singh Ji and Kirpal Singh, since these
are perhaps most commonly known. The texts of Soami Ji Maharaj and Huzur
Maharaj are senior in line to these and should also be consulted for a
comprehension in depth of the technical viewpoint of saints in the subtle
path of shabd yoga.

6. Although the esoteric descriptions
of the subtle path speak of regions above the sahasrar or crown center,
these essentially refer to subtle perceptions associated with various regions
of the brain (just as the esoteric descriptions of the gross path refer
to subtle perceptions associated with various regions of the body below
the brain and culminating in the brain). The hierarchical display of subtle
planes is experienced as the perceptions of mind become less and less oriented
to gross and lesser subtle conditions of subject-object knowledge or experiential

7 . Most yogis, saints, and sages refer
to a fourth or transcendental Condition, distinct from the gross, the subtle,
and the causal. This Condition is called by such names as “Supra-causal,”
“Sat Lok,” “Turiya,” and the like. Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Samraj regards
such specific “Conditions” or “States” of experience to be themselves versions
of subtle and causal conditions, albeit transcendental relative to the
usual conditions of gross life. The Real Condition is not a fourth, but
the Truth of the three It is a Paradox, not a separable or exclusive Condition.
It is the prior Reality, and therefore (as in Bhava Samadhi) need not include
the noticed appearance of any conditions (gross, subtle, or causal), but
it may not itself be located distinct from and relative to any such conditions
as long as they appear. All conditions that appear relative to any or all
other conditions are themselves versions of gross (elemental-etheric),
subtle (mental-intuitional), and causal (egoic-primal) expressions in manifestation.
When Adi Da speaks of a fourth or transcendental Condition, either he is
speaking of the exclusive realization of the Real (which is an illusion,
yet to be undone) or he is using a conventional reference to Truth, while
meaning it in the Paradoxical or Humorous sense. If this Paradoxical sense
of the disposition of the Real Condition is assumed, then Sahaj Samadhi
may be said to be the Fourth or Turiya State, and Bhava Samadhi is, then,
Turiyatita (beyond the Fourth).

8. Those whose path is knowledge of the
true Nature and Condition of the worlds through the dissolution of the
ego-soul principle. Classical Vedantic and Buddhist sages are examples
of jnanis.

9. A “Completed” or fully realized One,
who lives in and as the very Divine. One in whom radical understanding
is perfect and who communicates That to others.

10. One who is “liberated while alive.

11. Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Samraj uses
the term “the man of understanding” to refer to his own characteristic
point of view and function in the worlds. By implication, at least certain
qualities of the man of understanding are characteristic of all who live
as devotees in the radical Way of Understanding,  ( or the Way of
the Heart, or Adidam ).

12. Amrita Nadi is the intuited structure
of manifest existence, which is the structure of Consciousness, of human
existence, of conscious meditation. The Transcendent Form, intuited as
Divine Reality, expanding and rising out of the Heart or very Self into
and as the most prior God-Light or infinite Radiance.

13. Sahaj Samadhi is the realization
of the Condition of all arising, in which whatever arises is seen to be
only the modification of the prior Condition. It matures as Bhava Samadhi,
which is the Truth of Sahaj Samadhi,

14. Bhava Samadhi is the realized state
of the most radical enjoyment, prior to self, mind, body, energy, or any
realm. It is the Condition of conditions, the existence in the Condition
or “Realm” that is Only God, the very Reality. It is without or prior to
references, and it is, therefore, unspeakable, or without description.


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for The Da Love-Ananda Samrajya,

claims perpetual copyright to all photographs
and the entire Written (and otherwise recorded)

Wisdom-Teaching of Avatar Adi Da Samraj and the Way of the Heart.

©1999 The Da Love-Ananda Samrajya Pty Ltd.,
as trustee for The Da Love-Ananda Samrajya.

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Used in DAbase by permission.

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