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.”

Study of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 4, 1987

Study of ‘What is The Great Tradition’?