Volume 1, Number 3
The True Teaching Is a Renewal of Culture
Bubba Free John (Adi Da Samraj) in dialogue with a devotee.
BUBBA: When people think of spiritual matters they tend to think of the influence of the Orient. But because in the last hundred years the world has become more and more intercommunicative, we are witnessing a synthesis of world cultures in which the great divisions of East and West are breaking down. And coincident with this development, new awakenings to spiritual influence are appearing in both East and West. My work here represents both of these cultural events. The Teaching I am here to demonstrate is not an Eastern philosophy, nor is it a Westerners recounting of his experience in the East. It is a reunion of the great divisions of culture.
In the past to be acceptable to Western people a teaching had to be based in the one-sided experience of the West. Today, however, to be truly acceptable a communication must represent a unity of experience. Individuals in the world today, because of the modern experience of communication, will not accept nor rest in a practice that is not unifying and full.
Even so, people generally identify genuine spirituality with Eastern cultures. And there are aspects of this Teaching that relate to Eastern culture, but there are also aspects that relate to Western culture. These relationships however, are secondary and superficial. This Teaching represents a synthesis of cultural and spiritual tension of the being. Thus, while it is not Eastern, it is not particularly Western either.
Nonetheless, while this Teaching does not represent simply the objective Western approach or the subjective Eastern approach, it is also not just a mechanical or intellectual synthesis. It is itself a unity created out of spiritual realization. As a matter of fact, if realization were not its source, then it would be simply intellectual stuff. Thus the whole matter of Divine life cannot be summarized. It is not something that can be presented in a weekend to an interested group. It emanates from an impulse that is the renewal of culture and the transformation of life.
People have many cultural suppositions about spiritual life and spiritual teachers based on what they have read and heard. The teacher is supposed to look and act a certain way because what is spiritual is generally associated with what is ascetic. The Way of Divine Ignorance does not represent an exclusively ascetic point of view. But clearly it is a discipline, ascetic in the highest spiritual sense. Nothing in itself is presumed to be the Real. No experience in itself is the Truth, no inner experience or outer experience, no object, no state in itself exclusively is the Truth. Thus all experience and all movements of attention in the being are transcended in intuition of the Real Condition. In that sense all the disciplines in this Way are ascetic. They are a kind of heat. They transform, they transcend. Yet the world of arising manifestation is not avoided. Therefore when you become involved in this work you live an ordinary life. You work in the world and are creatively active in the world, if that is your interest. Ordinary worldly activity is not prohibited in principle.
Because of today’s fast communication, because there are more and more books about spirituality and more and more people traveling and talking about spiritual matters, it is easy to imagine that some great spiritual event is occurring. But people are just considering spiritual ideas. Most people who are involved with so-called spirituality are involved in superficial ways, as they would be with conventional church beliefs.
What people describe as the great spiritual age today is just a turning toward subjective matters and subjective illusions. Such a view was fostered in this country by the drug culture of the 60’s which turned people into the subjective order. But that way is just as filled with illusions as any conventional life. It is the dimension of mind just as outward obsessions are also mind. Mind is the thing that we suffer, including the ego, which is a part of mind. Therefore, turning to the subjective order is not spiritual.
Certainly the so-called spiritual cultures arising in this country have some feeling for a fuller life. They represent a sympathy with an aspect of the body-being that Western life has tended to exclude. The subjective or emotional aspect of the being is being emphasized again, and so for that reason spiritual movements in this country look toward the East. But the subjective being is not the Truth any more than the active or objective being. Thus most people are just arbitrarily and superficially taking on Eastern religious customs in the name of spirituality.
True spirituality is a moral and spiritual transformation. And the practice of real or spiritual life begins to make a difference when people who are living conventional lives are no longer addicted to the worldly game. Not that they become other-worldly and separate from the world entirely, but they no longer live as a manifestation of conventional consciousness and interests.
It is important to recognize that conventional consciousness and interests also include all the baggage of conventional spirituality, all the outer forms of priestliness, all the Pharisaic nonsense – your robes, your philosophers, your sitting at the head of the table, your “I belong to this and you are crazy,” and all the beads and trappings and concepts and symbols and cultishness. These are not the sign of spiritual awakening. They are part of the ordinary consciousness, just as ordinary as gray flannel suits and Madison Avenue.
Nevertheless, all states of consciousness, whether ordinary or extraordinary are to be overcome. They are just mentality. People in this country in particular are not too much aware of the dual criticism that is contained in the ultimate spiritual message. They are attuned to the message that serves when you are outwardly obsessed, full of desires, living by the flesh. Then the common message is that you must turn to the spirit, change your mind, get involved in internal, spiritual things. But spiritual is not internal. Spiritual is absolute vacuum. Thus the true spiritual message is a criticism of inwardness and the subjective order just as it is a criticism of ordinary outward, compulsive, obsessive desiring.
An aspect of spiritual growth is the passage through the revelation of so-called internal content. But the individual overcomes the content in the process. He stands over against it, in relationship to it, consciously, just as he must also stand in relationship to the so-called outer world. But people tend to become involved in subjectivity rather than transcending it. They get turned off to the “outside” world and turned on to the “inside,” and then they become obsessed with all kinds of symbols of the mind that they identify with Truth, everything from artificial designs of God, like the paintings of Krishna, to subtler aspects of the subjective order, such as internal lights and spontaneous visions. Thus, every tradition in religious history has been subject to the illusion of the internal. This Teaching, however, is the expression of the radical Way of Truth. It criticizes the order of the mind, the subtle dimension, just as it criticizes the gross or objective dimension.
Traditionally there has been a division between the great tendencies in consciousness of West and East, the one toward manifestation and the other toward the source of manifestation. When the Western man gets religious, he turns toward the source, but without leaving the born condition. He believes in Creator-God, the God-apart who has plans for the world. Basically his belief in God is an orientation toward his life, his future. The Eastern man is turned toward the source, giving up his born position, merging back into the origin. These approaches are like two different relationships to the sun. In the one the individual stands in the sunlight and depends on it for his destiny, in the other he tries to merge himself in the sun. These are the two classic, cultural religious positions represented by East and West.
The Eastern and Western paths developed independently for a time and eventually they began to come into contact with one another, in opposition to one another, but also combining and sharing qualities. Today communication is so fast and time and space on earth are so single that a synthesis is emerging, a whole body culture, and the seat of it is here in this country.
As this new culture emerges the criticism it implies of old adaptations must be absorbed. Separate tendencies represented by past cultural habits can no longer be accepted. We no longer are disposed to indulge a one-sided culture. This is the time of synthesis, not the superficial synthesis of mere communication, but the real synthesis of the reawakening of the whole body point of view. That point of view is the essence of this Teaching. It is a reawakening without the cultural limitations of any time and place in the past. And it carries with it, then, a criticism of the presumption that any object or experience, whether subjective or objective, is Truth in itself. Therefore, neither of the great orientations is, in itself, the way of Truth.
In the fullness of our practice the whole body is brought into consciousness, all of its orientations and all of its experiences are inspected and become a matter of responsibility. All the superficial patterns that we represent individually, psychologically, culturally, and socially all are inspected and all are made a matter of responsibility. We are turned to lawful practice rather than reactive patterns by tendency. Thus this is a different practice altogether from what is traditionally represented in East or West.
DEVOTEE: You have said before that the spiritual influences of Buddha and Christ initiated a completely different form of culture.
BUBBA: They represented a synthesis in their time also, not so much of East and West because rapid global communication did not exist in those times, but between the movements of the being. Jesus emphasized the inner man and mans higher sympathies as opposed to outer observances and beliefs. Gautama also was a critic of the great sacrificially ritualistic culture of the time. He saw that real life required the individuals full commitment, full realization, full conscious participation, and a revolution of consideration. Both Jesus and Gautama taught that the individual himself must become responsible for a union between outer and inner considerations.
Krishna likewise, in the recorded teaching associated with him at any rate, did not teach simply the inner path. He taught that spiritual practice is not a matter of avoiding action but of assuming a different relationship to it, one that enables you to be turned toward the Divine while active. Thus Krishna also represents a movement toward the synthesis of “within” and “without.”
Whenever a spiritual awakening appears, unique in time and space, and begins to become communicative in the world to others, it synthesizes oppositions, differences, the qualities that are creating disharmony in individual lives and separating people from one another. Its origin is a realization of real or Divine life in that time and place, realized and communicated through an individual in the company of others and for their sake. It has cultural significance and thus cultural synthesis also occurs. But such a Communication is fundamentally a radical approach to all things harmonious or in-harmonious. It is prior even to any synthesis. It is a real process. It is a serious and profound matter in the highest sense. It always has been.