The Reaction that Must be Experienced
‘The Distraction of Narcissus’
Adi Da Samraj (Bubba Free John), 1979
Adi Da Samraj: Those who are new, who are beginning their search in life, become associated with others who are practicing one or another of these answers and pick up habits. You can pick up habits from a set of swamis just like you can pick them up from drunkards. They become associated with different types of people in your life and you hear them communicate and you observe them doing this and that and you repeat what they appear to be doing, believe what they’re believing, you see, and attain these experiences yourself and decide for yourself how distracted you are by for that. And whatever level of it simply are complex, you find more or less distracting, sufficient for the level of anxiety or fear that besets you and your down time of daily consciousness, that becomes your style, your answer.
Except in those perhaps extreme moments of naked fear, in which everything that you have done, everything you’ve experienced, everything you’ve realized becomes superficial, but most people try to keep themselves occupied so that this kind of incident doesn’t occur very often. And they try to keep it from occurring at all as a matter of fact. So we ritualize every aspect of our daily lives so that no moment becomes a moment in which we are not capable of distraction, self-possession. We always have the option of self, of mind, of experience in some form so that the fundamental fear of annihilation that is native to a separate consciousness does not have to be experienced. But in truth it is this reaction that must be experienced. If it is not experienced, there is no realization of truth.
All of life, all of ordinary life, all the lives that you may observe, all the lives that you are individually living are built upon this fear. They are solutions to a reaction for which you are not fundamentally responsible, a reaction of self-possession, of fear. Rather than observe that and feel it with the most profound intensity. You would entertain all of the ways that you have for distracting yourself by experience. And this in fact is what all of mankind does. Each individual, each class of individuals who finds some distracting way and is found to be capable of duplication by others and which is found to be sufficiently satisfied or distracting is dogmatically and righteously maintained to be the, certainly a way, if not the only way. And these various ways are protected by creating cults or circles of practice in conversation that are essentially impenetrable by other persuasions, other kinds of groups, other techniques, other ways.
In this sense, cultism is a negative phenomenon in the highest spiritual sense, even though these cults may otherwise have some sort of social and ordinary psychological value and so forth. And in fact, every aspect of the daily life of everyone is a liturgy, a ritual, a part of cultic life, something that’s been done again and again and again and again by countless other people. You have simply become associated with it, duplicated it, repeated it, become attached to it. Every aspect of ordinary life has a ritual played by Narcissus, the separate personality. The root of all conventional activity, society, religion, mysticism and so forth is a reaction to existence, a reaction to manifest existence. It is a reaction of whole bodily contraction, fear, self-possession, self meditation. Everything that we as individual beings do from that point is built upon that gesture. That is the bottom line, the undercurrent, the fundamental gesture on which all ordinary life is built and all extraordinary lives also.
So in our conventional seeking, in our pursuit of truth or wisdom, God, we become distracted by forms of self-indulgence, practices, experiences, ideas that console and distract the separate self, Narcissus. The way of true wisdom, however, is rare and fine and profound. And it is not a way that is found congenial or really interesting to most people.