Nirvanasara – Da Free John – Adi Da Samraj – Radical Transcendentalism and the Introduction of Advaitayana Buddhism







Radical Transcendentalism and the Introduction of
Advaitayana Buddhism
Da Free John (Adi Da Samraj)
1982


Table
of Contents


From the Introduction by Georg
Feuerstein

3.

The Seven Stages of Life

The main conceptual tool by which
Master Da Free John appraises, and allows others to
similarly understand, the spiritual status of the many
idiosyncratic expressions of human life and thought is the
schema of the seven stages of life. The seven-stage model,
which is among Master Da’s original contributions to the
theory and practice of spiritual life, is a map of man’s
total potential for psycho-spiritual development. As Master
Da explains:

In the traditions of spiritual
culture, the development of a human being has commonly been
described in terms of seven stages, each spanning a period
of seven years. There is a rational basis in Awakened Wisdom
for this scheme. That basis is the very structure of the
total bodily being (or body-mind) of every human individual.
We are a composite made of elements and of functional
relations, a coherent life-form expressed via the nervous
system and brain, and levels of mind that may consciously
reflect not only the gross or “material” realm but the
realms of Life-Energy and all the cosmic realms or media of
light. At the root of this system is the heart, the primal
organ not only of life but of consciousness in man. It is
here that the presumption and conception of egoic
independence, or the separate “I,” arises in every moment.
It is on the basis of this presumption that the human
individual is predetermined to a reactive life of fear,
vulnerability, flight from mortality, and a universal
constitutional state of contraction, That contraction
encloses consciousness in the limits of skin and thought,
and it separates the whole bodily being of Man from the
Divine Radiance and Perfect
Consciousness that is
otherwise native to it and eternally available to it in
every part ….

The culture of the Way of Divine
Ignorance may also be related to the traditional scheme of
seven stages of growth.
But
it is founded on the Awakening of the heart, from
self-possession to free feeling-attention, via all
functions, in all relations, under all conditions. Indeed,
the whole Way is the Way of the
heart.
12

12. Bubba I Da I free
John, The Enlightenment of the Whole Body)’ (Middletown,
Calif., 1978), pp. 189-90.

Now, the human body springs from a
single cell. Researchers on human development conceptualize
this original cell as being “totipotent,” that is, as
possessing the capacity to become the fundamental structures
which compose the fully developed body. This primary cell
carries a kind of blueprint of the mature organism into
which it can develop. However, in order to manifest these
differentiated structures, the cell must forego its
“totipotency” in favor of specialization and
individuation.

One can usefully apply this
biological insight to the sphere of man’s overall
psycho-spiritual evolution. As neonate the individual has
only a dim awareness which allows him to relate to his
environment just sufficiently for his survival within a
protective, caring human society. World and ego are as yet a
kind of primordial soup. Most of man’s neonatal behavior is
purely reflexive or instinctive, and his “lifestyle” is one
of utter helplessness and complete dependence.

The first stage of life relates to
the individual’s physical adaptation to the world into which
he was born. Here he learns “simple” skills like focusing
with the eyes, grasping and manipulating objects, walking,
talking, controlling bladder and bowels, thinking
conceptually, and relating to his fellow-beings. At the end
of this phase, the growing individual is a fully mobile ego
who, providing that no serious maladaptation has occurred,
is a strongly self-centered but educable person.

The second stage of life, which
extends approximately from the eighth to the fourteenth year
of life, concerns primarily the maturing individual’s
emotional and sexual development. With the growing awareness
of himself as a social being in a shared life-world, the
young personality is confronted with increasing outside
demands that conflict with the egoic tendency towards
self-assertion and autonomy. In particular the awakening of
sexuality is a possible source of great tension and inner
conflict and must be integrated into the total emotional
development of the individual. Sexual maturity depends on
the ability to enter into a mature emotional relationship
with others. Master Da Free John observes:

Because of the generalized anti
sexual taboo to which so-called civilized societies oblige
their members to adapt, people today tend not to grow and
adapt to full relational sexuality. Instead, the individual
tends to remain more or less bound to the primitive and
infantile sexuality of his or her own bodily
self.

The pleasurable and sexual nature of
one’s own bodily being becomes clear in the earliest years
of life. But the ecstatic or self-released fulfillment of
bodily life is possible only in intimate and feeling
submission in relationship. However, the anti sexual
influences that pervade our experience even in childhood
suppress our relational adaptation and leave us
self-conscious in our natural relations. . ..

[When spiritually
sex-positive] influences are not present to oblige
people to sane, human, and higher use of their sexuality,
the body of the individual tends to remain as the field of
sexual practice. Thus, even when a sexual partner is
available, the uninitiated and irresponsible individual
tends to remain essentially hidden and self-possessed in his
or her practice. Love and desire tend to be more or less
crippled in such people. Indeed, love and desire even seem
to be in conflict. But love-desire, the single force of
sexual ecstasy, is the necessary foundation of sexual
relationships and sexual embrace.13

13. Bubba lDa] Free
John, Love of the Two Armed Form (Middletown, Calif., 1978),
p.64.

In the third stage of life,
stretching approximately from the fifteenth to the
twenty-first year, the person, ideally, comes to full
intellectual maturity. The underlying theme of this phase is
mental-intentional adaptation to life and the integration of
the skills acquired, and the lessons learned, in the first
stages. When this process is complete, the individual will
have a clear self-image and be capable of relating
functionally to the world. As Master Da Free John
explains:

The third stage of life is mature
when the individual enjoys integrated responsibility for the
whole of the living being (physical, emotional-sexual, and
mental). Thus, he is in that case able to be present as a
clear will and as love under all the otherwise frustrating
or pleasurable conditions of lower experience. Those who
seek to begin spiritual life must be mature in this sense in
order to move on to higher maturity.14

That not a few people fail to arrive
at this point is borne out by the leviathan of social
problems, like alcoholism, drug addiction, violence, racism,
chronic depression, suicide, and so forth.

14. Bubba (Da) Free John,
The Enlightenment of the Whole Body. p.
196.

Fewer still take the next step –
into the fourth stage of psychic adaptation. Those who
succeed in doing so have actively entered spiritual life.
The first three stages happen to overlap with the
individual’s psycho-physical epigenesis from neonate to
adult. In their spiritual aspect, however, they call for a
conscious application to his personal integration by which
he can move beyond the mere functional adaptation expected
of a mature member of human society. With the fourth stage
of life, the commitment to ego-transcendence, tacitly
present already at the culmination of the third stage, has
become a sustained, if still limited, obligation. Master Da
notes that this stage “is characterized by submission and
adaptation of all functions of the lower body-mind to the
sacrificial and moral disposition of the feeling or psychic
being.”15 Now the individual cultivates the
practice of faith, love, trust, and surrender in relation to
the transcendental Being. This coincides with the opening of
the “heart,” leading to an acute awareness of the tendency
towards self-encapsulation, the recoil from Ecstasy or the
Bliss of the transcendental Being.

This awareness or sensitivity is
heightened in the fifth stage of life. Here the individual’s
awareness shifts from the perception of the physical
dimension to the experience of the “subtle physiology” of
the body (and mind). This extends the radius of his
cognitive field, and offers him new opportunities for self
transcendence. This is the demesne and area of obligation of
the conventional mystic and yogin. It is the field of all
forms of esotericism involving the activation of the subtle
or higher psycho-physical structures of the body-mind. As
Master Da elucidates, attention and the “Life-Current”
become established in the brain core. On the level of
conscious experiencing this manifests in the form of
supraconscious states (samadhi). He comments:

In the fifth stage of life, yogic
mysticism raises attention into the extremities of subtle
experience-or the heavens of ascended knowledge. But
Liberation in God is not Realized at that stage or by such
means. In order for the Life-Current to cross the Divide
between the “third eye” and the “sahasrar,” or between the
body-mind and Infinity, the gesture of attention and the
illusion of an independent conscious self must be utterly
Dissolved in the true Self.

The highest extreme of the ascent of
attention is called “nirvikalpa samadhi,” or total
Absorption of selfless in Radiant Transcendental
Consciousness. But, in fact, the seed of differentiated self
remains in such ascended Absorption of attention. Attention
is yet extended outside the heart, or the root of
self-consciousness, as a gesture toward an independent
Object, and, therefore, such “samadhi” is not only
temporary, but it remains a form of subject-object
Contemplation.16

Through further spiritual growth, by
means of the transcendence of the ego that has been
disclosed in the experiences of the first five stages, the
spiritual practitioner arrives at what is traditionally
known as Self-realization (atma-bodha). At this point the
individual awakens to his transcendental Identity or atman
or purusa. More precisely, he awakens as the Self. He now
knows himself to be different from the ego, or the limited
bodymind, which he once believed to be his true identity.
The sixth stage adept, in the language of Hindu non-dualism,
has become the transcendental “witness” (saksin) of all
phenomenal processes. The sixth stage coincides with the
uprooting of the “gesture of attention,” which is the
transcendence of all object consciousness.

This is the condition of
conventional liberation, variously styled apavarga, mukti,
moksa, or kaivalya. In the non-idealist language of
(original) Buddhism, which does not revolve around the
conceptualization of a transcendental Self-essence, this
superlative condition or attainment is regarded as the
“extinction” (nirvana) of the desires which bind the
individual to the world of objects and suffering. Nirvana is
thus the realization of the “object” of the Buddha’s
silence. The idealist schools of later Buddhism gave voice
to that silence about metaphysical matters by formulating a
philosophical position approximating that of the Hindu
schools of non-dualism (Advaita Vedanta). Yet, in terms of
the practical consequences on the level of the sixth stage
of life, it makes no difference whether the self is seen, in
the language of Buddhist realism, as “non-self” (anatman) or
merely as the abstract name for a “bundle of factors,” or
whether, in the language of Hindu idealism, it is seen as
“non-Self” (anatman) or the antithesis of the transcendental
Self. Both approaches share the sixth-stage characteristic
of the transcendence of the self and of
attention.

However, and this is the pivotal
point of Master Da Free John’s teaching, a further moment of
growth is possible which perfects the whole protracted
endeavor towards ego-transcendance: In the seventh stage of
life, the liberated “individual” recognizes the
incompleteness of his self-sacrifice and, in doing so,
enters sahaja-samadhi, the enstasy “with open eyes” as
Master Da names it. This is equivalent to God-realization,
for now the transcendental Self is no longer pitted against
the phenomenal world. But, through a last act of
self-sacrifice (which is from then on repeated ad
infinitum), the world is recognized as continuously arising
in the Ultimate Being which is coessential with Self. This
is how Master Da explains this ultimate
Realization:

Thus, in the seventh stage of life,
or the Way of Radical Intuition, the soul Exists in Ecstasy,
as the Heart!? (rather than in the heart, or the
inner being). And in this Perfect stage of life the Bodily
Life-Current is Released or Liberated from the body-mind and
all association with the internal mechanisms of the brain
core. When the devotee abides as the Heart, re-cognizing all
phenomena as only unnecessary modification of Itself, while
It neither embraces nor resists any experiential condition –
then the Bodily Life-Current becomes not only naturally
polarized toward the brain, and thereby Released from
concentration in the lower functional body, but it is
actually Released even from concentration in the brain. This
is due to the fact that the mind, or the independent gesture
of attention, is itself Dissolved through re-cognition in
the Heart.l8

16. Ibid. pp
422-23

17. The “Heart” is another
name for the Divine Self, the Intuition or Realization of
the Radiant Transcendental Being or God.

18. Bubba [Da]
Free John, The Enlightenment of the Whole Body, .p. 424.


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