The Old Religions, the New Scientism, and the Awakening of the Psyche


Volume 2 , Number 9


The Old Religions, the New Scientism,
and the Awakening of the Psyche

A talk by Bubba Free John (Adi Da Samraj)


BUBBA: The most ancient consciousness of human beings is
the etheric consciousness. Thus, the ancient religions are
all forms of connection to the etheric dimension of
existence, which is emotional in nature. You are already
connected to it via your emotional-sexual functions, through
which you experience the functional energy of the etheric
dimension. Furthermore, the elemental body is connected to
an etheric energy body that is its life. Thus, you
participate at all times in the etheric dimension of
existence, but because it is more subtle than the physical
world, you tend not to be completely conscious and
responsible for it. In the most ancient times, however, and
in the earliest stratum of our consciousness, the earliest
stratum of human culture, there existed a great culture of
the etheric being.

The religion of the etheric being still survives in many
parts of the world, even in a certain primitive level of
every individuals consciousness. It is the tribal religion.
Wherever remote tribes of people are discovered who are
isolated from conventional civilization, we find them
involved in the religion of right relationship to the
etheric dimension of existence. That same primitive
consciousness makes us aware in ourselves that the gross
physical body thrives upon, depends upon, and is lived by an
energy body, or the etheric dimension of existence, and that
the material or gross elemental realm in which we live is
pervaded by this energy.

When people begin to become a little psychic, they begin
to experience intuitions and even perceptions of the realm
of energy in which this elemental realm is floating. Thus,
for instance, psychics are able to see the dead and fairies
and other etheric spirits associated with the elemental
realm. These beings do not appear in elemental form, but
they exist on the “other side” of the elemental realm and
monitor the play of the elements. In fact, they are the
lower powers of Nature, the powers behind the elemental
form. These energies are not visible in themselves, but they
pervade and control the elemental world. Thus, the lowest
stratum of our consciousness, the earliest level of human
culture and awakening, is the awakening to the etheric
dimension, which is the next most subtle or next highest
level of existence from this gross elemental world in which
we are bodily present.

The principle of etheric religion, then, is the
connection with the etheric world. By the practice of
etheric religion people sought to loosen their consciousness
temporarily from the rigidity of the fleshly life, through
magical exercises, rituals, and tribal activities of all
kinds. We do not have to go to the Amazon or deep into the
heart of Africa to find people involved in the old etheric
religion. Everybody is involved in it to one or another
degree. The lowest level of our own consciousness operates
in the etheric way. Everybody has his little superstitions,
his little ritual activities. You may say, “Oh, there are no
such things as ghosts,” but there is still a primitive,
etheric level of your own consciousness, and you always
accommodate it in one way or another. Under the
circumstances of danger, stress, and other kinds of intense
emotional experience, you tend to lapse into your etheric
religion, your rituals of subconscious activity. Your dreams
are part of that religion. And your primitive emotional
awareness, your life of fear and sorrow and anger, is
essentially a life associated with etheric or emotional

In the ancient etheric religions, however, one of the
primary means of connecting with the etheric realm is to
commune with the personalities of the dead. The members of
etheric cultures were always very careful to maintain good
relations with the dead, each honoring his immediate
ancestors, the dead personalities of his own bloodline. The
tribal dead, the significant chiefs and witch doctors,
likewise were placated in order that the tribe survive and
prosper. Just as the ancestors would be remembered quite
frequently in ritual ways, etheric powers and personalities
apart from the dead were also remembered, etheric
personalities who never have been born but who exist only in
etheric form.

Each etheric religion, then, was a complex religion of
deities, of dead personalities, of nature spirits and
influential powers of all kinds. Each of these influences
possessed a persona, a unique quality, an individuality, and
each was identified with the symbols of its
personality-figurines, totems, amulets, talismans, and
fetishes. Putting attention on these objects in the
appropriate manner enabled the practitioner to commune with
the etheric powers. Such fetishistic means of establishing a
right relationship to the etheric powers through ritual
activity is the basis of etheric religion, and there were
always some individuals-the shamans or witch doctors or
seers of the tribe-who had a gift for entering into
communion with the etheric world. Members of the tribe
approached these people, always respectfully, to ask for
special help. Thus, we see the origin of the holy man, and
even of the Spiritual Master, as a cultural archetype.

The etheric realm is senior to the elemental, just as our
own emotional or energy body is senior to the fleshy body.
The breath and its energy control the physical, pervade it,
and give it Life. But the etheric realm is itself pervaded
and transcended by higher dimensions of existence. The
dimension of etheric energy is a fairly low level of
manifestation. It is transcended by the astral dimensions of
mind and the still subtler, causal, or “seed” dimensions of
consciousness. The etheric dimension is simply the
instrument for managing the elemental dimension, but it is
itself controlled, created by, and dependent upon the
astral. Thus, at a certain point in what are called ancient
times-though it is a relatively recent moment in terms of
the great span of human time-another culture began to appear
in the human world: the culture, or the several cultures, of
the astral reality, the reality of the higher mind, which
pervades, monitors, and controls the etheric as well as the

In India, for instance, the Aryan culture appeared and
began to replace the older, primitive, etheric levels of
culture. At the same time great religions appeared all over
the East and the Middle East. The religions that are
dominant in the world today are the remnant of these great
astral religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, much of
Buddhism, and many of the higher forms of Hinduism. These
religions seek to turn the attention and consciousness of
human beings beyond the elemental and beyond the etheric
into the astral dimension, which is higher than the
elemental-etheric world, or the gross realm of energy and of
solid form. Thus, some to years ago, there was a movement
toward astral religion and the development of a form of
culture based on the intuition of this dimension that
transcends, pervades, and controls the etheric and elemental
realms of experience.

We can see the meeting of the etheric culture and the
astral culture in the Old Testament , in the struggle out of
which appeared the religion of Yahweh. Moses and the
prophets constantly struggled with the people of Israel, who
represented the ancient tribal culture, a people more or
less associated with the magic of etheric religions. The Old
Testament seems to teach that one should not worship idols,
objects made of gold and holy images and the like. The
worship of idols, however, was not the objection of the
Hebrew prophets. They objected, rather, to dependence on
etheric powers. The tribes of Israel did not worship the
golden idols themselves. They used these images to connect
with the powers in Nature, the chthonic deities, the
ancestors and the spirits. They were using these objects as
fetishes, as instruments of connection.

Thus, the prophets of Israel argued against the religion
of the etheric world, the religion of appeal to or
dependence upon the etheric world. Nevertheless, they did
not deny the existence of the etheric world. They asserted
that that world is simply an instrument of a higher power.
They argued that Yahweh, or the astral deity, the deity of
light above the gross world, has power over all of Earth,
power over the etheric realm, power over the spirits, power
over the dead. Yahweh gives Life to everyone and everything.
Therefore, they claimed, you should appeal to this deity.
And if you do, then you will obtain the blessings of this
life. The etheric realm suddenly comes to your aid then,
because the etheric realm bows to the astral deity. In the
Old Testament Moses tussles with magicians, individuals who
were part of the etheric culture and who had magical control
over the powers of the ancestors and the nature spirits.
Moses showed that he too had power over those same
influences, but he obtained his power by appealing to the
astral deity. He showed that his god was more powerful than
the etheric gods.

When Moses came down from the mountain to find the tribes
of Israel worshipping the golden calf, he was furious,
although he was not for one minute under the illusion that
they were worshipping the golden image itself. They were
practicing the old religion-that is what he objected to.
They were involved in orgiastic activities and other
techniques that belonged to the old, etheric religion, but
they were not just having a party. These practices of the
old way were associated with the etheric or emotional realm,
and thus also with the sexual realm. Orgiastic sexual
activity is always associated with these forms of ritual
worship, and many other practices that look strange from the
clean, astral point of view of the Ten Commandments and the
new religion that was emerging. Through these activities,
the tribes were giving themselves up to the etheric forces
in order to bring power into their lives. They were making
their peace with the energies that control the world.

Moses had a new vision of the astral god, Yahweh, who was
the Power superior to those etheric powers. Appealing to the
new, astral deity required a different kind of activity. One
had to adapt to a different way of action, a life that was
moral in the sense communicated in the Ten Commandments.
Those who adopted the new religion were required to abandon
the religion of the etheric powers. Through submission to
the astral deity, they could receive the same benefits,
because the astral deity is the god superior to the etheric
powers, but to commune with the astral deity required a
different way of life, a moral and lawful rather than
orgiastic and magical disposition.

The new Hebrew religion communicated a psychic practice
higher than that engaged in the etheric cultures. It was not
merely adherence to a mental ideal about religious life, or
a few behavioral or moral demands, but direct communion with
the superior god. Thus, a new kind of priest appeared who
did not appeal to the etheric powers, but he appealed
directly to the astral deity, the higher psychic deity,
Yahweh. There were prophets and priests, or great
individuals, in that culture, just as there were shamans, or
more psychic individuals, in the etheric culture. There were
people like Moses, who could apparently enter into more or
less direct psychic communion with Yahweh and receive
visions and prophetic inspirations. These individuals had
special prominence in the culture, since more ordinary
people made their connection with Yahweh through the
conventional forms of religious activity, which were
likewise direct appeals to the higher deity rather than to
the etheric powers.

In India, we see this same influence appearing in, though
not altogether characterizing, the higher developments of
Hinduism and the Upanishadic religion. But the ultimate
result of the emergence of the astral religions all over the
world was the combining of the two religions, the etheric
and the astral, to produce an odd, complex kind of religion.
Thus, in Mexico, for instance, Catholicism combined with the
local Indian religion, both religious practices remaining
intact in some form. Only great saints manifest the astral
religion in its purity in any culture. In this cultural
theatre of astral and etheric religion, the priests of the
culture argue the astral point of view to the common people,
who tend to be associated with the lower desires, the
emotional and etheric life, however conscious they may be of
their association with etheric powers.

A third level of cultural influence is generated by
individuals who have passed through the mysticism of astral
religion, beyond the Creator Deity of the astral dimension,
into the Transcendental Dimension. These are the great sages
who fulfill their sainthood to the degree of perfection and
pass beyond the play of mind, the play of astral reality. A
strain of instruction or culture appears as a reflection of
the lives of these people and appears as an aspect of the
higher religious teachings of the world. We see it in the
form of Advaita Vedanta and aspects of Buddhism. This
transcendental, or actually causal, culture is never very
popular, because the mass of humanity is still struggling
with the lower levels of vital life and the passage from the
etheric dimension into astral consciousness. They are still
struggling with vital and etheric purification, still
struggling to raise their level of vision. Thus, people do
not commonly hear about or respond to the higher
philosophical teaching of transcendental and inward

The sages tend to be exclusive in their consideration.
They seek a reality that is exclusive, transcendental, and
absolute, and that has no extensions in life or mind or
world. They have passed beyond the elemental and the etheric
into all the realms of mind, and they have gone beyond even
the higher dimensions of the astral into the realization of
the very Consciousness of which everything is a modification
and from the point of view of which nothing is necessary.
They abide in that Consciousness exclusively. Thus, it is
the sages who introduce the method that is asceticism to the
realm of religion.

The techniques of asceticism were not at all a part of
the old etheric religions. Those religions were based
entirely in the psycho-physical realities of the gross world
and were not inclined to abandon them. The practitioners in
the etheric religions might engage in fasting or techniques
of self-deprivation temporarily, in order to attain a
subtler state of mind, but the purpose of such practice was
to achieve magical influence or to make magical contact with
the etheric realm. Through right connection with the etheric
powers, personalities, and energies, the primitive ancients
sought to survive, to prosper, to gain power over their
enemies, to overcome the “evil eye,” and to circumvent the
natural disasters of the world.

The astral religions, however, tend toward asceticism and
the transcendence of this gross etheric and elemental realm
altogether. Thus, it is in the astral religions that we see
the exploitation of asceticism and higher, mystical activity
for the purpose of transcending the world. Astral religions
do not in fact require the abandonment of this world, but
rather the gradual transcendence of this world in mystical
vision and contemplation. They do not require a life that is
absolutely ascetic, but rather a life that is
self-controlled. The sages, however, those who are involved
in the intuition of the transcendental Reality, see no
necessity to any dimension of experience, astral or etheric
or elemental. They therefore recommend that the attention be
given up to the Reality that transcends everything, and that
is sufficient in itself. Thus, the technique of radical
asceticism, or of the denial of the world, appears through
their influence.

The trouble with so-called civilized human beings is that
they pay lip service to the abstract ideals of astral
religions, but they have lost the sense that the etheric
dimension actually exists. When the astral religions began
to appear, they were not in any sense based on a notion that
there is no such thing as the etheric world of powers and
spirits and discarnate entities. The astral religions fully
acknowledged that these things existed. They simply
communicated that there is a higher Power, a higher
dimension of experience, a higher dimension of
Consciousness, and that ones highest benefit is in
association with this higher Realm of existence, rather than
in dependence on the ritualisms of the worship of etheric
energies and powers, ancestors, chthonic deities, deities of
Nature, and spirits. Contemporary society, however, is based
upon a very mechanical orientation toward the elemental
life, through a closed, verbal mind that is essentially
bereft of intuitive or psychic capacity. This society in
general considers that there is no such thing as the etheric
realm, or the astral realm, or anything whatsoever beyond
the realm of elemental visibility. Even as they prattle on
about Jesus and Moses and Mohammed and Gautama, they do not
have any sense at all of a higher or subtler dimension. They
are not even as sophisticated as the tribal, religious
people of old, who at least had a connection to etheric
forces that really did affect their lives.

Common people remain common, not very illumined. And,
over time, the propagandizing of astral religion has led
people to forget that the etheric dimension exists. Not only
do they fail to enter into relations with the etheric
dimension, they also have not realized the mystical activity
that permits the connection to the astral religion. The
result is a very low class of humanity, who have no real
sense of the nature of the universe, who cannot accept basic
truths about the universe, about consciousness, about the
psyche. Such individuals have no way of connecting with what
is real. They only go to their jobs and watch TV; they have
no consciousness at all. At the present time, then, we do
not have a higher level of culture. We have instead a
nonculture, dead humanity.

This cultural emptiness is complicated and made ominous
by constant propagandizing against the awakening of the
psyche. The psyche is kept asleep by our mechanistic
scientism and religious movements that are bereft of Divine
life, and even of etheric energy and astral vision. No
psyche remains in them. They do not permit the flowering of
the psyche, the awakening of the consciousness. Dreams are
anathema; mysticism is anathema. Enjoying ecstatic states is
anathematized by our hard-edged, materialistic thinking.
Even the old religions, having become full of doubt because
they have lost their connections with the realms of psyche
and power, are themselves influenced by the pervasive
scientific and materialistic thinking that does not sense
the etheric level of reality, not to mention the astral
dimension, or the transcendental Consciousness.

Thus, people claim to be religious and associated with
traditions that belong to a somewhat higher human culture,
but they have no sense of the powers behind the world, no
sense of the psyche, or of what it truly means to be
religious, or of how one must live in order to realize a
truly religious life. True religion is to enter
ecstatically, through higher intuitive and mystical
processes, into the realms of the psyche, the realms beyond
material visibility. It is a way of making changes even in
ones gross life, as well as passing consciously beyond this
gross life into another destiny at death. However, people do
not have any understanding of this process.

It is only later in time, in recent centuries, that
people lost their psychic connection to the universe and
religion became nothing more than a collection of moral
precepts for downtown life, for how to manage your business,
and so forth. True religion is based on the psychic
connection to Reality. There can be no religion without
psychic activity. Religion is the disposition of the psyche,
the feeling core, of Man. Contemporary religion has no
psyche remaining from its etheric origins, only verbal mind
and meaningless, heartless rituals. It is not based on a
sense of the invisible realities with which we need to enter
into right association in order to live well and to be
happy, in order not to be undone, bound up, smothered, and
destroyed by elemental movements in Nature. All true
religion and spirituality are founded in the way of the

In order to live such a religious Way of life,
individuals must enter psychically into the play of their
experience in the universe. They must move beyond this
stupidity of the verbal mind, which has no sympathy, no
heart, no feeling, no psyche, move beyond the stupidities of
the mere bodily exploitation that we inevitably engage when
we are frozen in this mind without a psyche. The usual man
in our time is limited only to verbal thinking and
exploitation of his physical experience. Everything else is
taboo. He cannot go beyond the hard-edged appearance of the
physical body, because he is not permitted his own

Precisely what is wrong with the universal scientism of
modern society and the forms of politics that derive from
that scientism is that the modern scientific world view and
politics do not permit the human being his psyche. Scientism
constantly forces him to stand face to face with mere
elemental experience and denies all reality to the higher
dimensions, which since ancient times have been recognized
by human beings as their fundamental resource. Scientism
denies our connection to the energies and creative sources
of the world. We are denied true religion by scientism.

Scientism is simply an activity of the verbal mind. It is
oriented toward the investigation of elemental phenomena
without any psychic participation in the world. Even when
scientists consider phenomena that are not merely elemental,
but that belong to the realm of energies and the psyche,
they do not study these things through the psyche. They
study them objectively, as if these invisibles were
butterflies under a pin. But in order to investigate such
phenomena, one must enter into consideration of them through
the medium of the psyche, through feeling, through
intuition, through all the aspects of the mind and heart
that precede the verbal consciousness.

We are not permitted to recognize and acknowledge the
invisible dimensions of existence. Nor are we permitted any
psychic connection to them, or to anything else for that
matter. We are encouraged to watch TV and go to work and
wait for science to save everyone. But science can never
save anyone. Science is not a method of salvation. Salvation
depends upon the psyche of the human individual; there is no
salvation apart from psychic awakening. Science, however, is
not a psychic activity or adventure; therefore, it does
nothing for the psyche of the individual. It is merely a
method for the investigation of aspects of the externalized,
experiential universe. It can produce useful technologies
and benign changes in the environment, but it cannot improve
our lot in any fundamental sense, because human beings are
liberated only through psychic awakening and psychic
participation in the universe. We must be awakened
psychically in order to be truly happy.

That the scientific point of view dominates human beings
is a profoundly negative state of affairs, because science
strictly anathematizes the awakening of the psyche of human
beings. The propaganda of science is most profoundly about
the anathematization of the psyche. Whatever benign changes
it may bring technologically, science represents a
philosophy that is opposed to the psychic awakening of human
beings. That is what is wrong with it. As soon as anybody
shows an inclination toward psychic life, toward the things
of the psychic world, toward mysticism, toward religion-in
the psychic sense, rather than just the downtown morality-he
is considered crazy, bizarre. The conventional scientists
appear before the press immediately, claiming that the
movement toward psychic life is nonsense, falsehood,

The historical origin of scientism is the rebellion of
the verbal mind against the institution that tyrannized it.
Science was a reaction to religious institutions and other
movements in human cultures that prevented the free exercise
of mental activity. Scientism appeared as a reaction to that
oppression, in order to permit the free exercise of the
verbal mind. That reaction was positive, and a certain
aspect of science and scientific influence is certainly
positive. However, because of that original reaction of
science, it now supports the psychology that wants to
exclude the psychic awakening. It represents a new kind of
priesthood, a different kind of Church, against which others
must now rebel. There must be the free exercise of the
verbal mind and of intellectual inquiry, but there must also
be the free psychic exercise of human individuality. Human
beings must be permitted psychic association with their own
universe. If it is denied them, they become crazy. And that
is exactly what has happened-these few hundred years in
which the scientific point of view has gradually become
dominant have emptied human culture of its psychic

Now we are looking toward a future of technological
domination, a heartless world, a human world without psyche.
It is not only totalitarianism that is represented in the
image of the future of science fiction. It is a human world
without human psyche. It is a universe without a psychic
dimension, a merely physical universe rather than a
psycho-physical universe. The current state of our so-called
culture reflects the same lack. True culture depends on the
life of the human psyche.

The scientific community must understand that its
positive aspect is its orientation toward free intellectual
inquiry. The old religious institutions perpetuated an
understanding of the physical universe that was
characterized by mythology and nonsense. Fresh and direct
inquiry into phenomena needed to be permitted. That aspect
of the emergence of scientism was completely positive. The
religious institutions that existed when scientism began to
appear were not founded in Truth. They were downtown
institutions, traditional institutions, without saints and
without wisdom. In throwing away this half-baked religion,
however, we have thrown away all psychic inquiry into the
universe. Intellectual inquiry into experience certainly has
its social value, but psychic inquiry into the universe is
equally essential, and it is more fundamental. It is

The attention of the psyche can move in any number of
directions. There are great teachings and lesser teachings.
The so-called teaching of conventional religion and the
intelligence that one acquires in the streets and in the
school of the common world is no teaching at all. It is the
lowest form of human communication, because it denies that
the psyche is the fundamental nature of Man and that he must
live by his psyche, not by the things of the world, not by
the objects of experience, not by the elemental fleshly
life, not by thinking alone. To sin is to “miss the mark,”
to be without a psyche. It is to be enamored of things
themselves, to have lost the psychic, feeling connection to
Reality, and to be turned in on yourself without
consciousness. To be awakened from sin is to “meet the
mark,” to be awakened in your psyche, in your heart. Man
must live by his psyche, his unqualified feeling nature. He
must enter psychically into relationship with the powers of
the world, into relationship with the ultimate Power, the
absolute God of the world. If he does not, he is

The function of the Spiritual Master is to restore this
understanding, this awareness, to reveal all experience in
its proper light. The Spiritual Master does not represent
any single convention of human experience. He is Awake to
all experience, all phenomena of human life. Therefore, he
can establish a culture based on the perfect Realization of
Truth, in which all aspects of the structure of human
experience are recognized. Man must realize a right sympathy
with the etheric life; Man must also transcend the etheric
life in his astral consciousness; he must evolve beyond the
astral dimension into the transcendental Realization of
Reality. We cannot exclude bodily life in our perception of
the Absolute; we must become a sacrifice, even bodily, to
the Absolute Reality and Truth. Our Way of life while alive
must represent a right relationship to that Absolute
Reality, and, through that relationship, to all of the
manifestations of the universe, gross or elemental-etheric,
or astral-intuitive, or egoic, that proceed from that
Absolute. All things work together for the good of
individuals who remain in right association with the
Absolute Reality. They are awakened, they see through the
limits of their experience, and they transcend the phenomena
that bind them.

Thus, the Spiritual Master communicates the entire Way of
the psyche, the Way of life in Truth, the right disposition
toward all of the phenomena of experience. Therefore, he
criticizes all of the forms of exclusive acculturation, all
of the less than absolute religions and persuasions. You may
hear me criticize all kinds of religious and psychic and
mystical approaches, without denying what is real about
them. I criticize the exclusive point of view and the
limitation of experience and understanding of each approach.
Just so, I also constantly criticize the ordinary worldly
life, not because people enjoy themselves-enjoyment itself
is positive. But there is no psyche in the enjoyment of the
usual man, no heart, no Truth, no Life.

The whole world is obsessed with the anathematization of
the psyche, and to the degree that people become involved in
psychic life at all, they are involved in some little
compartment of it, some creepy, petty aspect of it that is
not God-Realizing. I communicate the disposition of the
heart in absolute terms, the Way of life that involves the
psychic or heartfelt relationship to everything. I
communicate the Way of sacrifice via the heart, or the
psyche, to the Absolute Reality. In the process of this Way,
through your awakening to the psyche, you may become aware
of uncommon phenomena that are not discussed on television.
You are perfectly free to experience everything from ghosts
and spirit forces to the most sublime subtle visions and
absorptions in the absolute Transcendental Consciousness-and
you are obliged to transcend it all through heartfelt
understanding and the feeling sacrifice of the whole
body-mind and all experience into the All-Pervading and
Radiant Transcendental Consciousness.

Just as scientific inquiry must be free, so also must
psychic or religious inquiry be free of all kinds of
nonsense. As it exists in the world today, religion is
largely comprised of accretions of nonsense, the archaic
ideas and presumptions of very ordinary people. True
religion is the communication of Realized individuals, or
Adepts, whose voices must be honored in the world. People
must begin to engage in truly religious forms of activity, a
truly religious Way of life. Likewise, science or free
intellectual inquiry must also be permitted its freedom, its
special function in the world. Nevertheless, it must be
purified of its anti-psychic interest. If it is not so
purified, it will continue to represent an evil influence in
the world, an influence that is dominating and destroying
the psychic potential and the psychic need of the human