Love Is a Great Discipline
A CONVERSATION WITH SRI DA AVABHASA
DEVOTEE: I have found in my relationship to people
throughout the day that I make judgments on the basis of
people’s competence. If I see someone with competence, I can
demonstrate love to that person. During the recent
hurricane, everybody became competent.
SRI DA AVABHASA: Yes, whenever there is an emergency, a
threatening situation, people work together. But when the
threat passes, everybody is back to competition.
DEVOTEE: During that time I was in love with everybody.
It was so easy to love them. And during these gatherings
when You are here, my heart melts and again I love everyone.
During the day when everyone is serving and everything
happens marvelously, I am in love with the people who are
participating. They are all very competent, and I can
surrender myself to the project and take any dramatization
that comes up from anybody.
But when a project is not going right, there comes my
dramatization. It is in my speech and in my interaction with
people. They feel that I am not free, and they do not feel
free, and our service does not feel full.
SRI DA AVABHASA: What is the alternative?
DEVOTEE: I think I have taken on the alternative, which
is to renew myself fully in the service, to not be so
sensitive, and to help everyone make it happen.
SRI DA AVABHASA: That is a rather negative alternative!
Is there some other disposition or way of functioning that
would be wholly right and also more productive?
DEVOTEE: I cannot see it.
SRI DA AVABHASA: Is it all right to express displeasure
when people are animating themselves minimally? Why isn’t
that all right?
DEVOTEE: I like to see things happen and get done.
SRI DA AVABHASA: That is good. I do, too! Isn’t it
appropriate to express displeasure when people are not
functioning fully, happily, and with great attention? Is
this not a time to express displeasure, rather than
DEVOTEE: I think that my expression of displeasure is
SRI DA AVABHASA: Why is it un-love? I express My
displeasure. To express displeasure is not inherently
loveless. It depends on who is doing it. There are times to
express displeasure, and such an expression is not
DEVOTEE: I feel it as a burden.
SRI DA AVABHASA Because of how you are doing it, perhaps,
because of your intention, your disposition. I express My
displeasure for My devotees’ sake, and they regard it as
just another form of My Blessing. When you express your
displeasure, it is felt as pettiness, withdrawal,
dissociation, lovelessness – and perhaps it is all those
DEVOTEE: Obviously it is.
SRI DA AVABHASA: Therefore, the problem is not the
expression of displeasure but your failure to deal with
DEVOTEE: Everyone here has shown that they are absolutely
competent in certain circumstances.
SRI DA AVABHASA: And everyone here on staff has shown how
incompetent they are, as well, under many circumstances. And
I have to raise My Voice about it sometimes, don’t I?
Generally, you express lovelessness, displeasure,
dissociation, a lack of interest in familiarity with anyone,
a sort of “hard-nosed” attitude. Expressing displeasure or
trying to help people to function more productively can be
appropriate enough, but what is your disposition in it? When
some people make such a demand, others are happy, even
inspired, to straighten themselves out. They feel something
positive about such people. The displeasure of such people
motivates them. When others – like yourself, apparently —
express their displeasure, people run for the hills, become
uninterested, and do not want anything to do with such a
person. They feel you are dramatizing, even being nasty.
People notice your egoic attitude, your dissociativeness,
your egoic “self-possession”, your nastiness as an egoically
“self-possessed” character, and they do not get the point
you are trying to make. They are not motivated. They do not
do anything different. They do not feel in you a motive of
congeniality, of support, of getting on with it. They just
become focused on your nastiness. In that case, your
displeasure is not really productive.
DEVOTEE: I basically just write them off in my heart.
SRI DA AVABHASA: Sometimes getting people to respond is
fundamentally what there is to be done.
In any case, your will to competence and making the
“hardnosed” measure of it in everybody else is obviously
part of your pettiness, your lovelessness. The problem is
not so much your expressing a managerial intention, or
criticizing people, or raising your voice. These things in
and of themselves could be all right, but they are being
done by someone who has, in some sense, bad intentions,
negative intentions, or an egoically “self-possessed”
attitude that does not become very productive for
Is that you?
DEVOTEE: It is me. I am the force behind this. It is my
expression to people that causes this reaction. It has
nothing to do with love.
SRI DA AVABHASA: So you get into the petty attitude
without any regard for anything else, is that it? It is just
pettiness. You expect people to just do the job at hand.
This is just another way of saying that when people fulfill
your expectations you feel for them. And when they do not
fulfill your expectations, you may deal with them – that is
all right – but you withdraw your feeling. And that is not
all right. In your circumstance of managing people, there
are two ways to do it. The way you are doing it is rather
petty, egoically “self possessed”. It is your way of
dissociating from people, and that is the wrong way to do
it. You could still insist on competence or getting down to
the job at hand, but in a different disposition. Regardless
of whether or not other people changed very much, you
would be in a different disposition. You would be there as
My devotee and really practicing the Way of the Heart.
You are just describing the same old fault that is in
everyone, the conditional manifestation of feeling. You
manifest feeling when your expectations are fulfilled, and
you withdraw feeling when they are not. If you did not
withdraw your feeling when your expectations were not
fulfilled, you might still raise your voice or call for what
you regard to be competence but your communication would be
entirely different. The outward manifestation is the same,
but the character is different.
Instead of practicing the discipline of love, which is a
real discipline requiring self-understanding and intention,
you avoid that discipline, and you manifest feeling
according to whether or not your expectations are fulfilled.
That is the ego’s game. Your confession, like the confession
of others, suggests that this is a universal principle, a
universal act, a universal game. Everyone is up to the same
thing. You manifest it in various ways through the design of
your own character, but it comes down to the same thing in
everyone. The feeling dimension of life is manifested by you
conditionally when your expectations are fulfilled, and not
otherwise. Everyone is doing just that, every single one of
you, all the five billion. Everybody is playing this out.
This is just how you do it.
When there is real self-understanding, real
self-responsibility, when you are no longer playing the
heart on the basis of whether your expectations are
fulfilled or not but you are manifesting love in any case,
love is a great discipline. That is the difference.