The Dreaded Gomboo or The Imaginary Disease That Religion Seeks To Cure.
A Collection of Essays and Talks on the “Direct” Process of Enlightenment.
By Da Free John.
Compiled and edited with an introduction and commentary by the Renunciate Hermitage Order.
THE DREADED GOM-BOO
Part II: Renunciation
Freedom Is in the Existence Place
February 16, 1983
MASTER DA: I believe that in the past at one time or another I have compared the usual marriage to the relationship of Siamese twins. I have called it the “cult of pairs.” Instead of being a free relationship between awakened beings, the usual marriage is a dependency relationship between unawakened beings who neurotically depend on one anothers survival. The subject and the object are dependently linked. The subject-object condition in general is a state of mutual bondage. Both the object and the subject are bound and bind one another and, curiously enough, they depend on their state of bondage for their existence.
We try to work out our freedom in the domain of relations, yet what we do never becomes freedom, because we never transcend the self-contraction and object-bondage. The more we seek to achieve a sense of release in the plane of relationships, the more we bind ourselves. Our relationships are like traps that bind more tightly the more the quarry strives to escape.
The subject-object orientation of conditional existence is like such a trap. It is conceived as a form of bondage from the beginning, but the more you try to liberate yourself in the context of this bond, the more bound you become, until you understand the binding principle of the subject-object condition, which pervades both the subject and the object and which, when understood, permits perfect transcendence and Freedom. This principle in fact is the subject of the essay I intend to read to you today.
Freedom Is in the Existence Place
Stress is our apparent, unnecessary, and thus ultimately imaginary disease.
Stress is the inherent discomfort of object-dependency. Object-dependency is constantly caused by the self-contraction, or egoity.
The self-bound or self-contracted being is always under stress. And this stress, shown as object-dependency, is always generating physical discomfort, boredom (and all kinds of emotional reactivity), and doubt (or all kinds of mental agitation). Therefore, the self-contracted and dependent being is always seeking all kinds of knowledge and experience, in order to achieve objective distraction, consolation, and conditional release from boredom, doubt, and discomfort.
But there is no freedom from self-bound stress unless the self is understood, and the self-contraction, with all of its dependency on objects, is transcended. Then the Virtue or Happiness that is Inherent in the Existence Place, the Self-Position, or Consciousness Itself, Stands as the Obvious.
The Enlightened or Inherent Being is inherently free of the self-knot, or the self-contraction, which is the seed of modification (or the urge toward objects). Thus, the Enlightened Being is Freely and always capable of recognizing and transcending all objects, including the body-mind. The Enlightened Being Stands Eternally in the Existence Place, the Transcendental Self-Position, Consciousness Itself, Self-Radiant, Infinite as Love-Bliss, or beginningless and endless Happiness.
Then what disease? What are you trying to cure? Why seek? Only understand and Stand Free.
MASTER DA: This essay considers renunciation, or release from the imaginary disease of self-bondage. This disease is apparently real. We do suffer. We do show signs of the absence of equanimity. We do exhibit the qualities of boredom, doubt, and discomfort, mental agitation, emotional distress, physical disease, and all the patterns of bondage in relationship. Wherever there is the self-contraction, there is bondage in relationship. Self-contraction is always associated with object-bondage or object-dependency.
We do not exist simply or merely in relationship, therefore. We exist contracted in the plane of relations, and, therefore, we do not enter into relations freely, but dependently, as seekers, trying to relieve ourselves of the chronic physical, emotional, and mental states of the ego through the acquisition of various kinds of experience and knowledge and the pursuit, in relationships, of various kinds of conditional release from our distress.
Thus, this disease, the Dreaded Gom-Boo or the stress of living, is real enough as an experience. It is imaginary not because we do not experience it in life, but because it is inherently unnecessary and can be transcended in its place or in the Self-Position. It does not require the life of remedy or cure, the usual pursuit of seeking in terms either of ordinary life or of spiritual life. The search for cure is unnecessary. It is based on the failure to understand this apparent disease.
In a word we could say that the disease or distress of living is stress, and “stress is the inherent discomfort of object-dependency.” Whenever we live in a circumstance of dependence on relations, objects, circumstances, or conditions of any kind whatsoever, we associate possibilities or relations and objects with Happiness or well-being. In our dependency on objects or relations we forget the Happiness Inherent in the Self-Position. “Object-dependency is constantly caused by the self-contraction, or egoity.” In other words, our bondage is not inherently in objects or relations themselves. We bind ourselves to these relations via the principle of bondage, which is the self-contraction.
The Way that I Teach is not a matter of manipulating objective life or cutting ourselves off from relationship. It is a matter of dealing with the principle of bondage, which is the self-contraction or the ego, and liberating ourselves in the plane of relationships, ultimately coming to the point not of separation from relations or objects but of the Outshining of them in the Inherent Happiness of existence. Our Way is not fulfilled in the traditional state called “kaivalya” or isolation, separation of the Consciousness-Principle from objects. The Way is fulfilled in the Outshining of conditional existence-not in separation from objects, but in the Outshining of the subject-object condition.
Our Way is therefore not associated with inversion and separation, but with self-understanding, freedom from dependent bondage in relations, the recognizing of all relations and conditions until the Inherent Virtue in the Self-Position, prior to the self-contraction, Outshines all objects, the subject and its objects, the body-mind and its relations, in all planes.
Our apparent, unnecessary, and ultimately imaginary disease can be characterized as stress. The Way, then, is the transcendence of stress. “The self-bound or self-contracted being is always under stress.” The ego is inherently stressful. Not only is the ego the self-contracted being, but it is dependently oriented toward objects. It seeks Happiness or well-being by pursuing objects and temporarily achieving a sense of well-being, Happiness, or release in moments of objective relatedness. But it never finally achieves Happiness, because Happiness is not in objects, nor is un-Happiness, for that matter. Like Happiness, un-Happiness is also in the Self-Position, in the form of self-contraction, and Happiness is Realized when the self-contraction is transcended. If the self-contraction is transcended, then also object-bondage, or the pursuit of dependency-relations, is transcended.
Thus, “the self-bound or self-contracted being is always under stress. And this stress, shown as object-dependency, is always generating physical discomfort, boredom (and all kinds of emotional reactivity), and doubt (or all kinds of mental agitation).” The self-contracted or self-bound individual is always experiencing one or another form of physical discomfort, emotional reactivity or emotional threat in the form of boredom, and mental dis-ease or mental agitation. Anyone can observe this readily in any moment.
The Way, as I have indicated to you, is a matter of transcending boredom, doubt, and discomfort, or the dis-ease in body, emotion, and mind that leads the being to seek for well-being outside itself in the plane of objective relations, and to forget the Happiness Inherent in the Self-Position prior to the self-contraction.
“The self-contracted and dependent being is always seeking all kinds of knowledge and experience, in order to achieve objective distraction, consolation, and conditional release from boredom, doubt, and discomfort.” In any moment, the self-contracted being is characterized by physical, emotional, or mental stress, or by boredom, doubt, and discomfort, or some configuration of physical discomfort, emotional distress, and mental agitation. Therefore, that personality is always in every moment seeking, via all kinds of dependent relations, knowledge and experience of all kinds, in order, via objective distraction, to achieve consolation and release.
But consolation and release are only temporary, if they are achieved at all, because the principle or the self-contraction remains. Thus, “there is no freedom from self-bound stress unless the self is understood, and the self-contraction, with all of its dependency on objects, is transcended.” If, rather than pursue the cure of this apparent disease, we understand the self in our own place, understand the self-contraction and thus transcend the self-contraction and its mode of dependency on objective relations and states, “then the Virtue or Happiness that is Inherent in the Existence Place, the Self-Position, or Consciousness Itself, Stands as the Obvious.”
“The Enlightened or Inherent Being is inherently free of the self-knot, or the self-contraction, which is the seed of modification (or the urge toward objects).” The self-contraction is the base or stimulus of all the forms of modification of the Radiant Transcendental Being. In the event of the self-contraction, objective orientations come into existence, modifications appear as body, mind, emotion, and all the relations of these in all kinds of planes. The process of modification of the Radiant Transcendental Condition is based on the urge toward objects. But the urge toward objects is founded on the self-contraction, the isolation of Consciousness as an independent, separate condition.
“Thus, the Enlightened Being is Freely and always capable of recognizing and transcending all objects, including the body-mind. The Enlightened Being Stands Eternally in the Existence Place, the Transcendental Self-Position, Consciousness Itself, Self-Radiant, Infinite as Love-Bliss, or beginningless and endless Happiness.” In the Condition of Transcendental Self-Realization there is no self-contraction, and there is no need for objective modification. There is simply Self-Radiant Being or Inherent Happiness, Eternally Free.
The ultimate demonstration of this Happiness is not Realized by any strategy to dissociate from objects. Such a strategy is itself an enterprise of the ego or the self-contraction. If, rather than become ascetical, detached, dissociated, and inverted, we understand the self-contraction and transcend it, then objective conditions become recognizable from the Free Position of Being. And these conditions, not divorced from the Self via the strategy of dissociation, are, via the process of Self-Abiding recognition, Transfigured, Transformed, and ultimately Outshined, and the subject-object condition, the modification or the limitation of Happiness, is ultimately dissolved.
This essay ends, then, with the questions: “Then what disease?” What disease should we consider or take into account? Not any, you see. There is no disease to take seriously. Now, on the basis of taking some symptomatic state seriously, “What are you trying to cure? Why seek?” if there is no disease. “Only understand and Stand Free.”
What we must do is not anything that may characterize conventional renunciation, which is founded in the self-contraction or the dis-eased ego, and which seeks to become dissociated from what it regards to be its bondage, and which blames its relations for its disease or un-Happiness. Our Way is founded on self-understanding in the midst of what appears to be a dis-eased or stressful state of life or being. The Way, then, is to simply and directly understand the self-contraction, and therefore the Way has implications for all the forms of relatedness. When we understand and transcend the self-contraction, enter into the Domain of Free Being, then objective conditions and relations become recognizable. We release the habit of dependency and Stand in Free relationship to apparent conditions, recognizing them utterly in the Existence Place of prior Happiness.
That Self-Abiding recognition ultimately dissolves these objects, including the body-mind, by a process of Outshining, or Transfiguration to the point of perfect Radiance, without limit. That is the fulfillment of the Way. The Way is founded in this renunciation that is naturally associated with self-understanding. This Principle, then, which is epitomized in this essay, is the Principle of the Way that I Teach.
During this recent period of Teaching, which we might call the “Dreaded Gom-Boo period,” I have met directly with this small group of you to help you to observe yourselves, to consider the consequences of everything you are up to, to consider your relationships, your functional tendencies, your emotional, physical, and mental characteristics, so that you could come to a point of self-understanding that would be renunciation. It is not that through our consideration you come to a point of having a picture of yourself, as if you had gone through several months of psychiatric analysis. There is nothing to hold on to, no picture worth perpetuating. The purpose of true self-observation is to become capable, on the basis of self-understanding and self-transcendence, of releasing this picture or this habit or this persona and also of releasing all its characteristic games. To become a renunciate you must be capable, through self-understanding, of transcending your own bound persona, your own version of Narcissus. You must also be capable of releasing patterns in relationship.
As I have indicated, your relationships tend to be dependency relations. They tend to be based on the self-contraction or egoity. You pursue a sense of well-being in relations of dependence with some others and some circumstances or experiences of life. Likewise, you try to be independent from certain other relations, experiences, and objects. You are struggling in this subject-object stress, failing to understand yourself, really failing to understand everything to which you are related as well, but creating patterns of bondage, all of which may be characterized as forms of dependency, just as every aspect of your person may be characterized as stress.
As Narcissus, you are by tendency a stressful personality, obsessively pursuing dependency relations and in the same event trying to escape from certain other relations to which you feel somehow bound, either presently or potentially. You are a seeker. Stress makes seeking. Stress makes a stressful personality that seeks, and it seeks through the mechanism of dependency.
You as much depend on what you are trying to escape as you depend on what you are trying to embrace. If you did not already feel bound to what you are trying to escape, you would not be running away from it. You would not be trying to be independent from it. Thus, even when you are trying to escape from or avoid something, you are already dependent on it. Your primal act, in other words, whether at the level of consciousness or not, is the act of entering into a relationship of dependency on that which you fear. Only when you fear it do you go about seeking to avoid it. It is the original creation of your stressful personality, the original creation of boredom, doubt, and discomfort, founded on the self-contraction that is the basis on which you are generating all kinds of relationships, seeking to embrace some and avoid others, but always already in this relationship of dependency.
Everything people are doing is characterizable in these terms: stress, or moving by dependence to find temporary release. All of life is just this. This is Narcissus. This is the Dreaded Gom-Boo, a real enough disease because you are experiencing it, but unreal because it is unnecessary. It can be immediately understood and transcended. Therefore, it is imaginary, because we need not go on with it in order to be free of it. We can be immediately free of it. We need not escape it. We need only understand ourselves and Stand Free. When we Stand Free, ultimately we will Outshine subject and object, the body-mind and all its potential relations.
It is always useful, then, to practice this process of consideration of the Teaching to the point of self-understanding. Wherever there is this self-understanding based on consideration of the Teaching, there is natural renunciation, not the character of avoidance but the Free character, the character that Stands in Free relationship to the personal characteristics of the body-mind-boredom, doubt, and discomfort-and also Stands in Free relationship to all the relations of the body-mind, high or low in the scheme of Nature.
The renunciate practices in the Free Position, based on self-understanding, and constantly, naturally, spontaneously purifies relations, ultimately to the point of recognizing all relations perfectly. Self-transcendence becomes perfect Transcendental Self-Realization. Purification of the conditions of existence becomes not only equanimity but recognition of all relations.
Everything that we have considered over these last few months should have equipped you now to be a renunciate, to have crystallized, in the form of very concrete self-observation, your persona, your personal characteristics, the tendencies in relationship that are binding you, and the kinds of relating with others that are binding to yourself and to others, that are about bondage or dependency. Know what there is in all relations that is about bondage or dependency.
Know what there is in yourself that is about self-contraction. See this very clearly and very concretely. Do not presume the persona any longer. Live freely. Do not pursue or presume dependency relationships. Your relationships should be free. You need not be a celibate or an ascetic, but if you are sexually active, you must be free in your sexual relationships. Be sexually active only to the degree you are capable of being free and sexually active at the same time. If you are not prepared to be sexually active and free at the same time, then you might choose to relax that enterprise for the time being.
To whatever degree you are sexually active, your relationships should not be an expression of the cult of pairs, the binding arrangement of egos, but free association between individuals who are practicing the Way based on self-understanding and for whom sexual activity is a yoga of Divine Communion, self-transcendence, and submission to the Living Current of Being. There is no bondage, therefore, no obsession, none of the usual coloring of the owner and the owned, the householders trap of reproductive miseries and emotional concerns and jealousies and doubts and binding intent or obsession with sex itself.
You notice that in fact most of your sexual activity has nothing to do with reproduction, even though reproduction is the biological origin of the sexual urge. The main reason you engage in sexual activity generally is that you are under stress. And the more stressful you are, the more stressful your character is, then the more hyperactive you tend to be sexually, or the more hyper-interested in sex you become. And the more disturbed your sexual life is, the more sex is devoted to degenerative release and obsession. When you are free of stress, not just relaxed but truly awake spiritually, you are less inclined in any obsessive sense to sexual activity. Then sexual activity becomes an activity, chosen under some circumstances, whereby you intentionally magnify the free disposition through the Yoga of the body-mind.
To engage the sexual yoga or “sexual communion”, requires a great capacity, and devotees are not really prepared for this form of sexual activity until they are relatively mature. Any sexual activity before such maturity is more or less a continuation of a stress-based interest in sex, and therefore it should be economized. The earlier time of preparatory practice should be devoted not to the exploitation of sex but to the understanding of the emotional distress at the root of sexuality as well as the understanding of all the other aspects of the body-mind, the egoic persona and all its intentions in relationship.
The consideration of sexuality has occupied us significantly during this time and in the past because it is such a fundamental dimension of human bondage expressed in the domain of the most immediate intimacies in peoples lives. It is therefore at the threshold of the object-oriented egos entrance into the world of relations. I therefore expect that you will come to the point of clear understanding about this sexual matter, about relationships that are associated with sexuality, about the whole social and intimate pattern of your sexual relatedness, and likewise about all your functional life-your diet, your practice of life, the general maintenance of the body-mind, your habits of thought, of emotion, all the patterning of your related life.
MASTER DA: What is all this complication anyway? What does it all amount to? What does it really amount to? It is just a matter of being diverted from Inherent Happiness, being diverted from the Self-Position to the subject-object world, where you think that Happiness is not Inherent, where Happiness is something to be gained by what you do, by your search, by your experiences, the things you acquire in your relationships. Thus, Happiness is always in doubt and at stake in the usual life. It is not Inherent, you see.
The Happiness of which I speak is not just a matter of feeling good and being able to smile. That is not Happiness. At most that represents a kind of ordinary personal equanimity. The Happiness of which I speak is spelled with a capital “H,” and It is an Indicator of the Inherent Blissfulness of Being Itself, prior to the body-mind and its relations. That Happiness is Inherent in the Self-Position, Where we stand, as we Are at this very moment.
The only reason you are not practicing in the Enlightened or seventh stage of life, with the full equipment of Enlightened Being, is that you do not presume the Inherent Happiness in the Self-Position. You do not live in that Well, but rather you presume the self-contraction and are pursuing Happiness via objects, relations, conditions of all kinds. You only feel good sometimes, therefore. The rest of the time you feel rather mediocre. At the worst of times you feel terrible. Such feelings are the result of this object-dependency to which you commit yourself when you submit to the self-contraction, and when you do not observe it and are not responsible for it.
Everything that is troubling people, everything that is trouble itself, is a very simple matter. All un-Happiness is really one very simple matter. Of course Happiness is a simple matter, but to Realize It and stably Abide in It requires that you deal with the habitual mechanics of the self-contraction and its plan of life, its search. That is why discipline must intervene, once self-understanding awakens and the Divine Blessing is found. You must restore equanimity through the naturally self-purifying Force of Being and magnify It through your daily discipline and through your meditation.
Thus, in the beginners stage of the Way and in all the levels of practice to level 6, an apparent disease that we might otherwise have taken seriously is being released through a process of purification, but the Principle of our life is not the search for a cure for that disease. More and more an equanimity appears in the body-mind, and energy and attention are free for the Way itself, which is simply a matter of falling into the Well of Happiness, falling into and Abiding in the Well of Happiness, Which is Inherent, already Where we Stand, Where we Are, as we Are, prior to all our concerns, prior to all our relations, prior to this world, prior to all our trouble, prior to all our seeking.
We already Stand in that Well, but we forget that we do. We look outside, and in our distraction we forget the Well of Happiness or Inherent Bliss. When we rediscover this Well, then it seems a great wonder to us that we were ever so concerned for the ends of living, for life and death, for relationships, that we ever became so dependent, so bound, so confused, so bewildered. It seems a wonder to us, because the separation between bondage and Enlightenment is a hairs breadth. It has no depth.
The separation between bondage and Enlightenment is not the difference between being here and being in a super-world somewhere else. The difference is right here, right Where you Stand, right at this moment. All it requires is that you use the Argument of the Teaching, bring it into your own place to the point that you can understand yourself through observation and see this simple activity, this simple gesture, see how it becomes boredom, doubt, and discomfort, or the complications of mind, emotion, and body, and then see how these in turn become the complicated life of seeking and all the kinds of dependencies, all the kinds of object-seeking, all the kinds of relationships that you pursue or that you try to escape.
That drama is based on a very simple mechanism: The self-contraction diverts you toward objects. Paradoxically it associates you with objects. Not all those objects are external to the body-mind. Some are internal to the body-mind. And among the objects to which the self-contraction binds us or for which it causes us to seek is the body-mind itself. The self-contraction is an illusory knot in the Well of Being, or the Self-Position, that draws us into association with the body-mind and its relations.
If we transcend this knot, if we could just observe it through self-understanding and the reception of Divine Blessing, then we would Locate again this Well of Happiness that is Inherent in the Self-Position. This process is not a matter of dissociating from the body-mind and its relations, but of cutting this knot through understanding, so that the body-mind and its relations cease to be necessary, although they may still exist as appearances for the time being.
In the seventh stage of life we are thoroughly and inherently established in the Well of Bliss, Divine Being, Transcendental Existence. The body-mind and its relations may continue to arise, but they are recognizable, they have no necessity, they no longer have binding power. They are seen to be just modifications of Happiness without qualifying It, so that Happiness bleeds through the body-mind and its relations, Transfigures and Transforms them until the Force of Being Outshines the body-mind, or the subject, and its relations, or the objects.
Even from the beginning of this Way you must understand this self-knot and its symptoms, and you must naturally transform your relational life. You cannot therefore just be a self-indulgent or doubtful character or a bound householder or a lover, an attached character, a worldly seeker, a businessman. You can be functionally something like that-you can work in the world, you can be sexually active obviously-but only as a free personality, only from the point of view of That which precedes the self-knot. Rather than bind yourself in relations and seek Happiness in them, you Stand already Free and Happy, and magnify that Happiness in relations. That very Principle is the essence of the Way, and it makes all the difference.
Although the renunciate may appear to be doing something very much like other people do, he or she is established in a different Position, not in the position of the self-knot and its seeking, but in the Position of the Well of Inherent Being. And therefore even though the renunciate is still present via functions in the plane of ordinary relations, he or she expresses the Virtue of the Well of Happiness and not a bound disposition. You must Realize this unique difference by using the Wisdom and Blessing that come to you in the Adepts Company.
You must see everything about yourself that would otherwise be hidden by the rigid persona in its arrangements. You must be able to understand what is hidden. And the only way to understand what is hidden is to be able to look at it. Sometimes in order to look at it you may have to do something different-perhaps get exaggerated, get silly. You must be in a position to see what you do and think and feel and are, apart from the presumptions of your conscious mind.
You must see yourself completely, take it all into account, and then ultimately become capable of free transformation of life, creating a pattern that is not just rigid, not just an ideal structure, but creating a pattern based on freedom, in which you can always be free and therefore do not have to break out of it to feel free, although you might break out of it from time to time, who knows? But you would not have to do that just to release pent-up energy.
Your life pattern, your real practice, should not confine energies. It should release energy and attention. Therefore, you must break the principle of bondage first, so that the patterns of your living are liberating and not confining. In the common world the patterns of living are superimposed on people and tend to be confining. They do not call people to understand themselves perfectly. They are intended basically just to maintain order.
We are not here just to superimpose an ideal on people. We are here to understand ourselves and live a pattern, more spontaneous than the conventional patterns of life, that is inherently free, always free, more and more the Power of Being. To do that you must be able to take a much harder look at yourself than people commonly do.