“My first Work is to help people observe and understand their un-Happiness, so that they may naturally renounce or be free of the dilemma or problem-based motivation of their life of seeking. My second Work is to Awaken such natural renunciates (or serious people) to the Locus, Condition, Self, and Way of Happiness Itself. All of my Arguments are a call to seriousness about the Lesson of life and to the Awakening of devotion to Real Happiness.” The Lesson – Bodily Location of Happiness
We live the Law backwards. Instead of living from the point of view of Happiness, love of God, submission to the Transcendental Reality, we live in submission to others, objects, relations. In moments we find a certain kind of Happiness in those relations and circumstances, but it is always being corrupted and threatened, so that we eventually forget Where the Happiness Is, We forget where we put It. We forget Where It comes from. We forget Its Source, we forget Its Origin, we forget Its Nature, we forget our actual Condition.
We must remember that Condition. We must find Happiness in our own Place. We must find It in God, not the God outside or the Parent-God of the childish ego. Transcending the ego in the Self Position, we must directly find the Source that is Happiness, Freedom, Bliss, Free Consciousness, the Fullness of Being.
Having fulfilled the first and fundamental aspect of the traditional Law to love God, and economized by that Realization, we should enter into the sphere of relationships. Thus, we should enter into relationships not on the basis of the psychology of dependence, wherein we lose Happiness or feel It to be threatened or allow It to be disturbed by the mechanisms of relationship, but we will move into the sphere of relations, magnifying that Happiness which is in our own Place or in the Transcendental Position. Then we are free to play our relations, and they are no longer the expressions of dependence on relations or objects for Happiness.
To Realize Happiness, however, you must be profoundly devoted to That Which Is in the Self-Place, or the Divine. You must be constantly and consistently established in That Well of Being, to the point of dissolving the rituals of the Law played backwards and the ritual reactions of ego-based living. Instead of being established in the ego, therefore, which is already separate from Happiness and finds It only simulated through the mechanics of relationship, we must be established, prior to the ego-base, in the. Transcendental Self-Position, Which is All-Blissful. Then we may enter into relations as the play or the expression or modification of that Reality.
In doing so, we will be free in relationship, not free of relations in the sense that we are detached and do not care about them, but already Happy, magnifying Happiness by Blessing others, and thereby always allowing. change and inevitable separations to occur in the framework of this born existence. If we fulfill the Law in its right arrangement, then ultimately our immersion in this great Well of Happiness will Outshine the noticing of relations and objects and the separate “I” or the functional ego. All that is arising is nothing but a play on That, a modification of That. Therefore, if we Realize That perfectly, the play of modification will first be Transfigured by this Blissful Radiance, and ultimately cease to be noticed in It, ultimately disappear and dissolve in It.
When you place newly made clay crocks in a furnace of great heat to dry and harden the crockery, at first the crocks become red-hot and seem to be surrounded and pervaded by a reddish glow, but they are still defined. Eventually the fire becomes white-hot, and its radiation becomes so pervasive, so bright, that you can no longer make out the separate figures of the crocks.
The first thing to do is to Realize That Which Is, Inherent in the Self-Position. See yourself ritually dependent on relations and objects for Happiness, but notice also that you are simply playing upon Something Inherent in your own Condition. You can go from person to person, object to object, relationship to relationship. You can always be distracted and become Happy elsewhere, in another setting, in another time and place. No matter who goes, who passes, who lives, who dies, you always have the capacity to reconnect with your own Happiness again. Noticing this, and getting the Lesson of life,1 you ultimately become disposed to enter into the Well of Inherent Being and discover its Virtue, the inherent Happiness of Being.
The First stage of the real spiritual process is to make this discovery, to pass out of the ritualization of egoity and discover the Source-Condition of the body-mind and its relations. Having thus Awakened into that Well, that Realization, then you are still established in the sphere of relations, but the whole world is like a pile of freshly made crocks sitting on racks in a Great Furnace. Everything is Transfigured by a Fire that Pervades the space, the Spirit-Fire, the Fire Inherent in your own Position, Inherent in Being. And so you live in this Transfigured Condition, having first of all Realized the Virtue, the Power, the Being, in the Self-Position.
The second stage, then, is the stage in which all things are recognized through Self-Abiding. Everything is Transfigured in various ways, Transformed from the point of view of Enlightenment. And the third stage is the stage of Translation, in which everything in this Fire is Outshined by the Perfect, White Radiance of the Fire Itself.
Thus, there are three stages to authentic life or the life of Wisdom beyond our merely ritualized, egoic life of suffering, birth, change, and death. The first stage is to Realize the Transcendental Condition Itself, Happiness, the Happiness that is Inherent in Being. The second stage is the stage of Transfiguration and Transformation of existence, based on Self-Abiding recognition of everything arising in other words, based on free or real relationship, in which you magnify the Inherent Happiness of existence rather than depend on relations for It. And the third stage derives from these two. It is the stage of Translation, or the Outshining of conditions.
Until you have entered into at least the first of these three stages, you are simply living out the ritual-drama of the ego. You are a crock, you see, a clay pig on a table, merely suffering the elemental changes potential in a world that is not acknowledged to be Light. You suffer, therefore, the ordinary occasion associated with birth and experience and change and death. Life seems to be just what it seems to be, and you make philosophy out of that conception. You try to be as Happy as you can under all the possible circumstances of your life, without realizing that the Happiness you Locate in moments of relationships of all kinds is Inherent and that your ritual orientation to objects and relationships enables you only in certain moments to magnify and detect that Inherent Happiness.
Dependent on relations and conditions, you feel free to magnify the Inherent Happiness only under certain conditions. Thus, at best you feel a modest state of well-being or pleasure in the ordinary moments of existence, clouded over by doubt and dis-ease, unHappiness, threat, fear, anxiety, physical, emotional, and mental reactivity, and all the rest. Only in the million-dollar moments, the great occasions, great successes, great meetings, great newness, do you permit yourself the liberality to fully feel Happy, to be expanded, to be magnified without containment, without limitation, without contraction. These moments pass, and you spend the rest of your life seeking a similar moment.
Wisdom is to observe the mechanics of the whole affair of unHappiness, wherein Happiness is just an occasional incident within the framework of ritualized relatedness. To observe the mechanics and understand them and to penetrate them to the point of discovering their Law, their Source-Condition, the Virtue in the Self-Position prior to your ritualized dependency, is the essence of the beginning of the spiritual process. Until the spiritual process begins, there is no spiritual process. You are just the solid, lightless clay pig on the table, consoling yourself with philosophy, religious ideas, possible metaphysical realities, and all the rest of the nonsense that is just another development of our ritualized dependency.
Our usual association with religion is a continuation of that aggravated egoic life. In moments in our consideration of religion and spiritual teaching, we get to feel Happy, just as in moments of sexual relatedness, acquiring money, being successful. The real spiritual process is not the occasional dependent touch of Happiness in which Happiness seems to come from without or seems to be manufactured by fortunate events. The spiritual process has nothing to do with all of that.
You must get the Lesson of life and stop being a dependent, childish character. You must observe yourself and the mechanics whereby you limit Happiness, and come to the point of Discovering or Locating Happiness Itself, which is in the Self-Position, prior to the gesture of egoity or self-contraction or identification with the “I” or body-mind, prior to all our driven associations and reluctances relative to relations and objects of all kinds. You must find the Well that is Inherent in the Self-Position. That is God, and That is not any force or combination of forces or virtues beyond and forever detached or separate from the self. This is what you must discover, and discovering It, you enter into the first stage of spiritual life, which is the stage of Realizing the Well in the Self-Position.
The second stage is to live from that position, magnifying this Self-Radiant Being under all conditions, in all relationships, recognizing them and therefore Transfiguring and Transforming them. That Self-Abiding recognition ultimately Demonstrates Itself as the White Outshining of all conditions.
This is a summary of the true spiritual Teaching, and it must apply to every aspect of your living. Therefore, it must apply to all have some sort of interest in associating with our community and our institutional culture tend to detain themselves from this ultimate exercise, and therefore this Realization, indefinitely, perhaps for this entire life, perhaps for many lifetimes, because they persist in the impediments represented by their functional life, the life of “I” in relationship.
You must deal with your lack of qualification first. Traditionally, people have been invited to the Great Process of spiritual Realization only once they have exhibited the qualifications for it. They had to struggle and make false gestures of all kinds and suffer and escape for a long period of time before they could receive the esoteric Teaching or be invited into the Company of the Adept.
Such has not been your circumstance. In your case, the Adept has become willing to consider the Way with you in the midst of your lack of qualifications and to provide a cultural bridge for you whereby you may enter into this practice and this Realization. But you all, being by tendency mediocre people, self-bound and possessed by various kinds of object-dependencies, relational dependencies, relational rituals and habits, are tending to create a culture of bondage and to create a form of association between us that is about your bondage and not about your practice and your Realization.
You insist upon the ritual of your egoity, your Narcissistic destiny, and you want to use the Adept as some sort of great stone to crush it out of you or as someone to kid you along or console you in the meantime while you fulfill your born destiny. This is not the Adept’s role. This is not an appropriate purpose to which the Adept should be devoted. It is not appropriate that you oblige the Adept to associate with you on this basis. Yet the substance of our history together is just this obligation that you superimpose on me, whereas it is the practice I have just described to you, in this essay to which I am here to call you, and it is your involvement in this practice to which I should be responding, it is you as such practitioners to whom I should be available, it is you that I should be Blessing, it is you with whom I should be meeting. I should not, in effect if not in fact, be going out in the world to talk to people who are not even interested in spiritual life, the “club” of egos or mediocre beginners who seem to be eternally committed to their beginner’s state.
The preliminary practices are such that relatively mediocre people can be involved with them in some sense. We can include hundreds of thousands of such people from all over the world. But the preliminary practices are supposed to be engaged profoundly, with great seriousness and therefore with great humor. Their intent, their purpose, their effect, if they are really practiced, is to release energy and attention from bondage to the “I”-identification and bondage to all the patterns of your association with objects and relations of all kinds.
Presently your energy and attention are bound up in this bodymind – “I” and all its relations. You are dependent on them for Happiness. You console yourselves with them, you trouble yourselves with. them, you resist them, you indulge in them, you are spiritually neurotic. The preliminary practices represented by the Way of Faith, the Way of Insight, and the first stage of the Perfect Practice are intended for serious and therefore truly humorous people who will consider this Argument and understand and practice profoundly, so that they will gradually -release their energy and attention from the self-bond and from the whole ritual life of aggravated involvement with the relations and objects of attention.
These preliminary practices are not to be engaged for decades, you see. They are only supposed to occupy a person for a finite period of time, not days or weeks, perhaps at the least months, but perhaps a year or two. If people are seriously and humorously involved with me, really responding, if they have really considered my Argument, they should enter into level 6 of The Advaitayana Buddhist Order in a couple of years or so. I cannot see any reason why it should take longer if you are a serious individual, if you have understood yourself and are motivated to engage the preliminary practices fore the sake of your spiritual maturity.
But you all dabble in these things and partially understand yourselves and are constantly becoming distracted and troubled by your functional life-involvements, so that in effect all you are doing is making an environment out of the preliminary practices, finding a place to live, creating relationships and associations upon which you can depend and which give you a certain amount of Happiness, a certain amount of good feeling in life. Therefore, you could remain a beginner for the rest of your life and never take up the practice I have just described to you. Whereas it is this practice you are supposed to do. This is the Teaching. Everything else is a couple of pushups beforehand. The preliminary practices are supposed to be only preliminary. They are not supposed to be anything more than that. They are a cultural transition, a kind of bardo2 between living in the world and really practicing the spiritual Way.
Yet people want to make a lifetime out of what is supposed to be a transitional time of discipline. They want to make a church out of it. They want to live the rest of their lives that way. They just want to color their lives with these disciplines, these associations, these Teachings, and they fail, therefore, to use the Teaching and the Adept for the sake of spiritual maturity.
Instead of being devoted to your spiritual maturity through your involvement with this Teaching, you are devoted to your own consolation. You are satisfied with making a club out of the community of practitioners, another downtown church organization where people color and console their lives with beliefs and associations and rituals and hopes. Well, such is not the purpose of the culture of preliminary practice in the Way that I Teach. The preliminary practices, are a bardo, a transitional realm, a transitional time for those who have heard me and who are thus preparing themselves for the real practice that I consider with them. And they are prepared when, by virtue of these preliminary practices, energy and attention have been released from compulsive identification with the body-mind or “I” and its patterns of ritualized association with relations and objects of all kinds, so that the very same energy and the very same attention that are now swallowed up by life are freely devoted to the Well, the Source, the Source-Condition, the Happiness, Inherent in the being.
That devotion of free energy and attention to the Inherent Happiness is the entire purpose of all the levels of practice, from The Laughing Man Institute to level 6. That is all it is. The levels of practice are a kindergarten world, a time of preparation, that is all. The culture of practice is not supposed to be a home for misfits, social dropouts, diseased characters and sociopaths, psychopaths and neurotics, who need an institution to help them along and console them, make them feel better, a gang of people constantly dealing with their problems and indulging their interests in a larger congenial society. That is not the purpose of all of this! The purpose is to liberate energy and attention from “I” and its objects, so that energy and attention can be devoted to the exercise of Transcendental Realization!
Likewise, it should be your discipline to reserve the Adept for association with people prepared for this exercise. I am here for the sake of your Realization. I am not here to be your Parent, Daddy Cult Figure, the Hero of your lives, who constantly analyzes you and forgives you and helps you out and is troubled by you and kicks your ass. That is not my purpose. That is not anybody’s purpose, actually, nor is it the purpose of spiritual community of practitioners. Your entrance into spiritual community should be based on your consideration of my Argument, your self-understanding, and your commitment to the disciplines for the sake of spiritual maturity.
Until that really is your interest, you should not enter The Laughing Man Institute. You should be a friend of our Work, a patron, a reader of the books, a listener at public lectures. When you are prepared to commit yourself to real spiritual maturity and this practice, then you should enter The Laughing Man Institute. It is not that at that point you are prepared for the ultimate practice altogether, but your commitment should be to prepare for it. You should not be just a hanger-on and a club member for years on end in an atmosphere of beginners, obliging the community to be devoted to you as if you were an inmate of a psychiatric institution, as if you were really diseased and the Adept and the community were here to cure you. Breaking the spell of this damn disease-consciousness is the subject of this book!
This spiritual community is not supposed to be devoted to problems in people. Spiritual community should at least be made up of real beginners, real practitioners of the preliminary disciplines who can help one another, who constantly support one another in their understanding, their real process of freeing energy and attention from self-bondage and from the presumed problems of existence.
1. Please see Master Da Free John’s instructions on “The Lesson” in The Bodily Location of Happiness, chapter 2, pp. 95-115.
2. “Bardo” is the Tibetan term for any of the intermediate or astral states of the soul after death and before rebirth. It can also refer to any kind of transitional or intermediate state or stage of life, and this is the sense in which Master Da uses the term here.
The Dreaded Gom Boo – Table of Contents