The Art of Spiritual Life

The Art of Spiritual Life – a talk by Da Free John –
August 13, 1983

Crazy Wisdom Magazine – January 1984, Vol 3, No. 1

In this very practical consideration, Master Da Free John
recommends a “way to submit whole bodily when the body-mind
is in a contracted state.” It is not a method that can be
applied usefully for its own sake, but a way to express
hearing and seeing, or the desire to submit to

Both the conscious process, or the submission of
attention to Happiness, and conductivity, or the submission
of the whole body through feeling, are involved in this
consideration. You will see, as Master Da speaks, that he
does not treat these two processes as distinct, separable
exercises, but as one movement of the being.

All devotees must appreciate that in the absence of
simple love and devotion to the Spiritual Master in God, no
such exercise as the one Master Da suggests in this talk
will be fruitful. Let us therefore always fulfill our
primary obligation, to simultaneously apply ourselves to the
Argument and embrace the God-Man in our hearts and our

MASTER DA: People look for uncommon phenomenal signs
because they are full of doubt and un-Happiness. Such
experiences suggest to them that there is a reason to feel
good perhaps, but they are not profoundly transformed by
witnessing such signs. In fact, having witnessed them, they
begin to think of all the explanations that reduce these
experiences to nothing.

Because of the use and misuse of such phenomena, another
kind of tradition has arisen, in which it is not considered
all right for these signs to appear, in which it is not all
right to delight in them when they appear. And that is
equally false. Uncommon phenomenal signs inevitably appear
when the Spirit-Force is allowed to be active via the
devotee’s submission. These signs are also inevitable in the
case of an Adept. The taboos against their appearing and the
taboos against enjoying them, as well as the lust for them
on the part of people who are not converted no matter what
they see, are equally inevitable in the egoic world.

When there is submission to the Spirit, such phenomenal
changes and what are called miracles inevitably occur, but
these signs are merely, part of the normal evidence of
spiritual life, and are part of the delight of spiritual
life. They are not the ultimate matter, but they are an
ordinary part of a Spirit-filled existence.

DEVOTEE: In your Company the simplest, most profound
miracle is this matter of Remembrance. It is miraculous that
a completely self-possessed person can give their attention
and energy to the Spiritual Master and receive the Blessing
that transforms their whole life in that moment.

MASTER DA: That is the art of spiritual life granting
attention and following it with total psycho-physical
submission to the Spiritual Reality. People are not tending
to do that, of course, and so attention is constantly
getting locked into problems, conceptions that are
problematic, states that are uncomfortable and problematic.
The art of spiritual life, once you have, heard and, seen,
is this capacity to be re-devoted in any moment to the
Living Spiritual Reality. To do that, you must be equipped
with hearing and seeing, you must be, able to observe and
understand yourself, and primarily, what there is to observe
is how attention is functioning

Attention is moving toward forms and conditions, and
because the individual is tending to be in the
self-contracted state, attention is moving toward forms of
contraction. These forms of contraction are all the things
that bother you. The ego is bothered, contraction is a
bother, and attention is tending to move toward the weakest
point, the bother, the difficulty in the moment. However,
there is usually nothing in the environment or as immediate
as a physical pain to be bothered about. The mind produces
problematic conceptions. Attention is always getting locked
into these problem states, and thus you are experiencing
contraction, a problem, a limit. You do not experience the
Spiritual Reality, you are not whole, in fact you are not
even aware of the Spiritual Reality. Thus, the art of
spiritual life is to notice this mechanical, contracted
state and be wholly reoriented to the Spiritual Reality
through Remembrance. In other words, in the midst of a
mechanical state that is tending to take on this contracted
form, you must be able to merely notice it, and rather than
working to untie the knot, be reoriented through devotion,
as well as by being artfully responsible for the mechanics
of your activity.

Last night I was talking about the mind, how the mind
itself is contraction. Unless the mind is informed in the
moment by spiritual consideration, it is a form of
contraction and attention is locked into that contraction.
People are constantly engaged in thinking, thinking.
Thinking is really a conversation you are having with
yourself. Speech is the same thing engaged with others. That
process is a meditation on contraction. The mind, is a
problem, it takes the form of a problem. You hope that
thinking will produce release from this contraction, this
problem. You are trying to get free of a knot, an oppressive
sense of existence. You are trying to think your way out of
it, trying to solve a problem, get an answer. And, of
course, occasionally the mind does let loose with some
relieving concept or other, but it always returns to these
contracted states, because the mind is about this
self-perpetuating disease. This disease is as much a lock on
attention as a cramp in the body. If you have pain in the
body, attention dwells on it very directly, or at least
subliminally. Thinking is pain of this kind. It is a
compression of the Living Conscious Force, a suppression of
it, a knot in it, a contraction of its field. Therefore this
perpetual thinking is pain.

In these moments of chronic thought, rather than put our
attention in that thought process and try to think your way
out of the pain, you should understand yourself, be able to
find yourself out and divert your attention, submit yourself
with full attention to the Living Reality. Submit yourself
whole bodily, release yourself from the oppression of
chronic thinking, chronic conversation with yourself,
Narcissism. The art of spiritual life is a matter of
relocating attention, noticing that attention is simply
dwelling in a contracted state and giving it over to the
Transcendental and All-Pervading Force and Being with every
aspect of the body-mind. This is the direct way of
practicing. Your common technique, however, tends to be
developed on the basis of contraction itself or egoity
itself. You think and feel that you have a problem, even
though you might not be able to explain just exactly what
that problem is, and you generally try to keep on thinking.
You think and think and think and fret and fret and read and
read and talk and talk and are in pain the whole time.

I was considering this cramp in the solar plexus with you
the other evening. We were having a conversation about the
yoga of the frontal line. Perhaps the most common experience
people have of contraction in this frontal line is a cramp
over the solar plexus, the “knot in the stomach” that people
refer to. If you become aware that you are suffering this
knot and this anxiety over the solar plexus, your first
resort, by tendency at any rate, will be to try to relax it.
You will take deep breaths and so forth. That may work if
the contraction is rather superficial and your attention is
relatively free, but you may also discover that you cannot
do it, that you cannot relax it. In that case, you will
begin to think some more and work on your trouble, whereas
the most direct way of dealing with it is to divert
attention from this knot, rather, than keep attention in,
the knot and try to undo it. I suggest to you, as a
practical matter, that instead of keeping your attention in
this knot over the solar plexus and trying to relax it you
should simply remember that attention goes wherever the knot
is. Attention gravitates toward the contracted states and
becomes fretful suffers the pain of these contractions gets
stuck in these contractions and then tries to work its way
out of them, you see.

Well, this knot over the solar plexus is occurring a
little more than halfway down the frontal line of the body.
The Current of Life is not descending below that point. The
knot over the solar plexus is a little bit like nausea, the
urge to vomit, weeping, and anger. This contraction is a
revulsion, a reversal of the Current in the frontal line of
the body, and in effect it prevents this line of force from
going to its lower terminal in the bodily base.

One way of naturally relieving this contraction, in
addition to the basic resort that is your devotional
practice, is to place your attention lower down in the body,
below the point where you feel that cramp. If you place your
attention above the point of disturbance, the revulsion will
continue. The most intelligent approach, therefore, is to
place your attention below that point, where there already
is no contraction, you see. Place your attention below the
navel in the vital battery region in the genital region or
at the perineum. Do nothing other than that. Simply place
your attention there, and then practice the meditative
disposition, the devotional disposition, the breathing and
relaxing that are your daily practice. You will very likely
notice that in those moments when you otherwise would not be
able to release such a contraction, it will naturally relax,
and you will enjoy the capacity to breathe and feel and
submit the total bodymind to this Fullness. Indeed, this is
how conductivity must be practiced, by submitting yourself
to the native disposition of the body rather than fastening
your attention to some point in the circuit of the

The way, then, to submit whole bodily when the body-mind
is in a contracted state is to place your attention lower
down in the line of the frontal Current, place it in the
lower abdomen, in the genital region, in the perineum. In
these regions there is in general a residual sense of
pleasure, because there is a portion of this Current always
descending – it does leak through this knot, you see. Thus
if you place attention in this pleasurable expression of the
Current, the knot, which is being reinforced by holding
attention in this anxious place will tend to relax. Then
resort to the devotional disposition, and, the practice of,
conductivity will be found to be fruitful.

The same wisdom applies to thinking. Instead of talking
to yourself through thought or talking to others about this
contraction through speech-thought and trying thus to get
out of your problems, simply submit attention to the Living
Reality, submit attention with the total body-mind, or whole
bodily. Instead of trying to do something with thought,
simply submit to the Living Current. Submit yourself to the
Feeling of Being. Instead of making this knot in the head
which becomes thinking, let the head relax into the Living
Current. In that case, thoughts will change, thought becomes
an expression of Spiritual Consciousness. Apart from this
submission, thought is only an expression of the
self-contraction that precedes your thinking activity. If
you are going to think at all, you should think in an
already awakened state of natural submission, so that even
your ordinary communications become a feeling expression, a
spiritual sign.

There is very little thinking that has even practical
value if you are not in such a submitted condition. This is
why most of the communications that human beings make to
themselves through thought, and to others through speech,
are diseased, troublesome, angular, and disturbing. Most of
the communications that people make verbally, emotionally,
and physically disturb other people and are evidence that
they themselves are disturbed. Therefore, you must first of
all and in every moment be submitted, and grant attention to
the Spiritual Reality rather than to these knots and

This is why I suggest that the first thing you do when
you get up in the morning is go to the meditation place.
When you do that, you enter into the sphere of activities in
the natural state, spiritually awakened, whole, balanced.
Your activity or expression is transformed by that
disposition. Of course, you must maintain that disposition
through the practical exercise of the Way throughout the
day, even turning aside to sit at some other point during
the day, and certainly in the evening again. In this manner
you develop the capacity for abiding in this full, natural
state, spiritually awake at all times, under all conditions.
When this realization, which is the essence of real
meditation, becomes full, uncaused, and natural or inherent,
then meditation has served its purpose.

You are hoping that you are going to think something, or
discover something and think about it, that will make you
feel good about Reality, feel good about life. Whatever
Reality is, it is the case, and thinking about it is not the
way to be in touch with it. Thinking is something you do by
standing back. When you think, you contract back, you turn
away, you turn inside, you become involved in the programmed
mechanisms of the verbal mind, hoping to discover something
that will give you some excuse, some reason to return to
Reality openly, to feel good about it. You are trying to
find a reason to surrender, to let go, to let yourself be
vulnerable in the midst of this mortal circumstance. That is
why you are thinking. However, no reason you can think of
will either finally justify or make you capable of being

You are inherently obliged to surrender, to be
vulnerable, to be Happy. Only this participatory disposition
is the right disposition in which to live. We can prevent
ourselves from living in this way, and thinking is one of
the ways we do it, but it is the only way to live. Only that
participation in Reality is living. To participate in
Reality means you must allow yourself to be continuous with

The body-mind arises in Reality. Reality is the case, it
is whatever it is. To be continuous with Reality you must be
free of everything that disconnects you from it, free of
every impediment or form of disease that makes you
discontinuous with whatever is the case, In other words
every form of the self contraction is precisely what is
preventing your Happiness, and your direct awareness of
Reality. Hear me a, little bit, think along these lines a
little bit, and you will discover that this is obviously the

Instead of this effort. of thinking to locate something
that will make you feel good and justify surrender, you
should be actively surrendering, on the basis of hearing and
seeing, submitting yourself whole bodily to this
participatory disposition. This means you must submit
bodily, release bodily contractions, submit without placing
limits on the Living Current, on this Circle of
conductivity. You must submit attention. To submit attention
means you cannot let attention become fastened in thought.
You must submit emotionally. To submit emotionally means you
cannot let emotion assume a contracted form, become a
reactive state. You must simply feel whatever is the case.
You must put yourself in a position to be wholly vulnerable
to whatever is the case, through feeling. Feeling is a kind
of touch. Our communication with feeling is a circuit, in
fact, that relates you to whatever is the case altogether,
or Reality.

If you are thinking, reacting, and being physically
knotted, you are not practicing this Way of life. Not only
are you not practicing this Way of life, you are not really
alive, you are standing back from life, you are not
participating in life, you are Narcissus. This is
fundamentally what human beings must appreciate, and not
just as a generalized philosophy: Every one of you must
appreciate it in the terms of your personal existence. That
is why you must hear my Argument. You must bring yourself to
me and to my Argument in such a way that this Argument
generates self-observation in you, in all the moments of
ordinary living. Then it will become clear to you
specifically how you are, withdrawing from Reality to sulk,
to hide, to protect yourself, to think about it. That is
your disease. That is precisely why you are not Happy.

True knowledge is not what you get as a result of your
contracted mental wanderings, it is what you realize when
you are, not thus contracted, What is directly obvious when
you are in this continuous state, this participatory state,
this true knowledge, and that is precisely what is unknown
in the contracted state. Therefore, only what is known in
the uncontracted state, and only the uncontracted state
continuous with that, is Happiness. Nothing else is
Happiness. To realize this is Wisdom, is hearing., And to be
thus submitted and to Realize what there is to be Realized
in submission, what simply Is, is seeing. To do all of this,
moment to moment, is practicing.

Primarily, then, practice is a matter, of being feelingly
submitted to, whatever is the case in this moment. Whatever
is the case is not limited merely to what events seem to be
occurring in the natural world relative to this body-mind.
Whatever is the case is what is altogether, visible and
invisible, apparent and not apparent, in the gross plane and
in the subtle plane, altogether. To be submitted to that is
to be feelingly submitted, period. It is to be continuous
with whatever is the case even if you do not know very much
about it. Submission is another, word for faith, really.
That process of surrender, that disposition of submission,
is faith, rather than any kind of hopeful believing in some
proposition about reality acquired through religion. That
submission is true religion.

What you must realize is a disposition in you can be
feelingly submitted, uncontracted, in every moment. This
feeling submission carries the body, attention, and
therefore mind along with it, and in that condition you
become aware of the Spiritual Reality. In that condition
you, can notice, acknowledge, and use the Transmission of
the Spiritual Master. Therefore, it is in that condition
that the great Confessions and Demonstrations associated
with spiritual life are made.

In the process of this submission there is a good deal to
be observed about yourself, but that information is not what
is significant. That process humanizes you and improves the
quality of your living, but the import of all of that is the
the spiritual process and not what you can say about
yourself based on self-observation. In other words, the
import of self-observation is not self-knowledge in the
sense that “I do this and that, and I tend to be this way
and that way under these circumstances.” The, import of
self-observation is the capacity to be feelingly submitted,
to be without self-contraction in every moment, and
therefore to directly intuit the Condition in which you
exist. To be thus submitted puts the body-mind in a
circumstance in which it, can be a conductor of the inherent
Radiance of the Living Reality.

It is rather easy to understand this matter that we are
discussing all the time. It is really a very simple matter.
I have just summarized it. However, you must appreciate the
fact that even though you are party to this consideration,
you are still by tendency making the resorts that egos make.
You still find some way or other to be the ego, even in the
midst of the apparent practice of this Way of life. In other
words, you will tend to use the devices that the ego uses.
You will tend to do the kinds of things I was talking to you
about earlier, such as keeping your attention in the knots,
in the problems which reinforces the knots and the problems.
That tends to be your technique. You talk about it, think
about it, try to break out. of it, relax or bust your way
out it. That is the ego’s fundamental technique. That is
life along the, lines of the Dreaded Gom Boo, the search for
the cure, whereas the technique of Wisdom, if we can even
call it a technique is to notice what you are doing and to
divert attention, submit attention otherwise. Instead of
keeping attention in the knots, the problems, you should,
through feeling whole bodily, submit attention to, whatever
is the case, to the living instant, to the uncontracted,
participatory states. Be continuous with whatever is, and
the Blessing and the intuition of Reality will come and then

You must, through hearing and seeing, develop the
capacity to practice just this, rather than the ego’s
technique, moment to moment. You must discover how to submit
attention artfully by practicing over time, because in every
moment, that sacrifice is played in a subtly different way
than at any other moment. If you are reserved, and running
this Current through a little teeny wire and knotting it up
and using up all the energy to run the idiotic machinery of
your habitual reactivity, then of course your happiness is
limited and diminished, your life becomes complicated, and
the demonstration of the Spiritual Reality will not occur in
your case to any remarkable degree. Here and there you may
have a positive experience, because everybody has some
moments in which they are relatively loosed, you see, but
there will not be any significant or continuous

The Demonstration of the Way is a, great delight.
Happiness Demonstrated is Magnified Happiness, Incarnate
Happiness. That Happiness is the position that all of this
spiritual labor leads to. However if you spend your entire
lifetime resorting to the egoic technique and fretting over,
your limits and merely acquiring information about yourself,
you will never truly practice the Way.

The human body-mind has great capacity for this,
Demonstration of the Living Divine. That Demonstration is
what we are born to do. If you spend yourself getting
Enlightened, then you spend your life getting born.
Enlightenment is simply the fullness of birth, full birth,
true birth. The lifetime that most people spend is not a
fully born life. It does not Incarnate its own Principle.
Thus, most people are struggling to be born, looking for
some reason to feel good. Enlightenment is simply the basic
Principle of our birth. The Demonstration of the Spiritual
Condition is what is beyond Enlightenment, and that
Demonstration is what we are born for and is the Way that I