Volume 1, Number 4
The Religion of the Whole Body
a talk given by Bubba Free John on August 21, 1977
Implicit in our description of the spiritual process are a realization and a concept of the Divine that are neither conventional nor traditional. All of you who are sitting here today are Westerners who have been brought up in a culture that fundamentally represents the Middle Eastern, Judeo-Christian tradition. If you were asked “What is God?” you might be able to discuss the question at length, but your traditional notion is that God is the Creator, the Source. In Truth there are three fundamental and primary aspects of the Divine Reality. Our descriptions of the Divine are actually descriptions of ourselves, descriptions of our own condition, descriptions of the whole body. It is our manifest condition as a whole that determines our consideration, realization, and conception of experience and the Divine Reality.
Mankind historically matures through a progressively more complete realization and conception of the Divine Reality. At first there appears a description of a Reality outside mankind that controls men, but over time it becomes more and more a description of our own intimate Condition. At first it is a partial description of the Divine Reality and therefore a partial description of mans own body, his own body-being, his own Condition. In general, our common religious background, the Judeo-Christian tradition, is a recent but still only partial description of the Divine and of our own Condition. It is one that still fails to acknowledge at least one of the primary dimensions of that Process. The primary aspect of the Divine and of our Condition that is acknowledged in the Judeo-Christian tradition is the Divine as the Creator and Source. Thus, we are creatures, souls, or emanations of the Divine. This is a primary concept that all of you, in some mood or other, would acknowledge as representing something meaningful to you.
The God of the Old Testament is the Creator, Yahweh, who corresponds to Brahma in the ancient Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. All created things and beings are responsible to the Creator through obedience. Whatever is created has its form, its destiny, and its possibilities, and if it engages certain of those possibilities, it will do well. If it engages others of those possibilities, it will fail. If it is true that we are simply creatures or souls formed by the Creator-God, Brahma or Yahweh, then our way of life must be one of obedience to that Divine or of fulfillment of the obligations of our manifest existence. In other words, we should act a certain way if we are to do well.
All religions of the Creator-God emphasize obedience, and the religion of the Old Testament is a whole religion of obedience. The connection between the people of Israel and Yahweh was the Ten Commandments and other prescriptions for right living. If you did these things then you would realize shalom, or fullness of life. But our mere existence, our manifest existence itself, is not the summation or totality of our experience or Condition. Eventually the religions of the Middle East matured beyond simple acknowledgment of the Creator-God to include another aspect of the ultimate Reality.
We not only notice that we exist, we also notice that we continue to exist, as the people of Israel noticed as well. If you exist only in this moment, then obedience to the ultimate Reality, or simple conformity of attention and action to the ultimate Reality, is a sufficient philosophy. But if you continue to exist, then the Divine, the Reality, our Condition, our own body, our whole body-being, must be considered in terms of survival or of being sustained, helped, and saved from potential dangers and threats against the fullness of life. Thus, other aspects appear in the religion of Israel (as in other religions of the Middle East and elsewhere), as well as a further development in the form of Christianity.
In the development of religious conception represented by Christianity, the Divine is acknowledged to be not only the Creator but the Sustainer or Savior of man. Jesus, or Vishnu in the Hindu trinity, became a concept added to the Godhead, an instrument for acknowledging the fuller dimension of our experience and Condition. Thus, the Savior-Sustainer aspect of the Divine was acknowledged along with the Creator aspect in the development of the religion of Israel, as well as in Islam and in other religions, such as those of the Orient. The concept of Divinity was enlarged. Now the Divine was Brahma-Vishnu, Creator-Sustainer, and the way of life included not merely obedience, but also faith. Through faith in the sustaining and absolute power of the ultimate Reality, the Condition of the whole body-being, human beings could enter into shalom , fullness, salvation, happiness or success in this drama of life, and they could do it more easily, more directly, more consistently, more frequently, more certainly.
In the religions of the Middle East with which you are all familiar, that is the entire development of religious and spiritual consciousness. But there is at least one other primary dimension of our experience and our Condition and our acknowledgment of the nature of the Divine. We notice that we have come into being mysteriously, or have been created. And we also notice that we continue to exist and that we may be sustained, purified, transformed, made happy. We notice that, through right acknowledgment of our ultimate Condition, or the Divine, we may be brought into circumstances that are more full. But we also notice that we change and die, and that everything else changes and dies.
As Westerners we do not have a religious consciousness that is fully integrated with this observation. It is implicit in our Christianity, our Judaism, our Islamic faith, but it is not integrated with our conception of the Divine. The Divine is One, the Divine is Whole, and our own body-being is whole. Whatever we can acknowledge as our experience and Condition is part of that Wholeness. But in general among human beings and particularly in the West, the dimension of change and disappearance or death (passage beyond present awareness and knowledge) is not integrated with the dimensions of creation and sustenance. It is not integrated with the wholeness of our conception of Reality or with the wholeness of our realization of whole body existence.
In other words, Brahma and Vishnu are divided from Shiva. Yahweh and Jesus are divided from the Devil, Satan. Satan is Shiva. The Devil is always pictured holding a trident, which is also a Hindu symbol associated with Shiva. Obviously as Westerners we have not integrated within our religious consciousness, our psyche, that aspect of the Divine Reality that is change and death. We are divided from it. We are split in our consciousness. Thus, Shiva is not acknowledged. The Destroyer, the Transformer toward disappearance, is not acknowledged as an aspect of the Divine Reality. It is acknowledged as different from God and therefore evil. Our consciousness is dualistic. Light and Dark are separated. We are divided, threatened on the basis of the observation that we, as well as everything else, change and die. That aspect of our experience seems to be totally different from the other aspects of our experience that we have acknowledged in our religions. It seems totally different from our acknowledgment that we exist and continue to exist and may be sustained and fulfilled in the form of our present appearance, as different as day is from night.
In the Orient Shiva is acknowledged along with Brahma and Vishnu, but a different religion worships each one of these deities. There is not necessarily One Reality, but several aspects of Reality, and you can worship whichever one you feel like worshipping, whichever one you are disposed to philosophically, emotionally, and conceptually, yogically.
The Truth is that there is One Reality. And it includes all three of these primary aspects. We exist, we continue to exist and may be fulfilled if we are rightly related to our Condition, but we also change and things fall away and we disappear. This is the Truth of the whole body and therefore it is the Truth of the Divine. Our God is not just the Creator and Sustainer-Savior. Our God is also the Transformer and Destroyer of everything that appears.
Absolutely everything passes. You cannot worship Brahma only-you will be frustrated. You cannot be sustained only-you will disappear. On the other hand, you cannot recoil in the face of death and worship death itself, worship disappearance itself, because things continue also, and things constantly reappear. There is an eternal cycle of appearance and continuance and change and disappearance. And you yourself, although you are only partially aware of it at the present time, pass through that cycle from life to life, state to state, world to world.
True religion acknowledges our Condition as a whole, and fully and consciously restores Satan to the heaven from which he fell. We must become integrated with our Condition as a whole, in which we appear and may be sustained if we live a life of faith or full recognition of the Divine, but in which we also change and disappear. Our happiness must be based on this recognition.
The mature religion is neither based simply on obedience nor based simply on faith (which includes obedience). The Way of life that emerges when all three aspects of the Divine Reality are acknowledged is the Way of sacrifice. Brahma requires obedience, Vishnu requires faith, and Shiva requires sacrifice. Sacrifice includes obedience and faith, just as faith includes obedience. The Way of sacrifice is the Way of faith and obedience. It is the Way of the Law absolutely. It is Love. It is right adaptation. And it is surrender and dissolution. It is all of these simultaneously and progressively.
This Way is not the way of revulsion toward death or the way of despair of life. It is the Way of Fullness, of Divine Realization. When the Divine or the Condition of our whole body is acknowledged, then we are at peace, fully integrated with all that is represented in our experience-our appearance, our continuance, our change, and our disappearance. The consciousness that lives this process of sacrifice cannot be always harrowed by its fear of death. Such a consciousness is always disturbed, disoriented, always fundamentally keeping itself from the acknowledgment of change and death.
The sacrificial intelligence participates in the Lawful process consciously. It lives the Way of death, the Way of whole body sacrifice, in which all conditions are released even as they arise, in which they are not suppressed but released. All bondage, all implication, all holding on, all separativeness-all such conditions are released or sacrificed whole-bodily in a consciousness that is open, that is Love, that is free to die, that is free to sacrifice, that acknowledges change and death to be Divine rather than “the Devils work.” Through sacrifice the creative and sustaining, or saving, aspects of the Reality in which we appear are constantly demonstrated in our experience. It is only in freedom from the fear of death, freedom from fear itself, freedom from recoil, freedom from the ego, that the creative and saving aspects of the Divine Power are truly enjoyed. As long as Shiva is kept in the closet, as long as fear is hidden beneath our conscious acknowledgment of the Divine, we are not a sacrifice.
Thus, the real way of religion or spirituality is to surrender fear, to acknowledge the Divine in such a way that we release the fear of death. Until then we are childish, immature in our religion, acknowledging only our egoic, created, soul-like position, in which we are constantly trying to survive, constantly trying to prevent change in ourselves, in others, and in the world, always unable to release the conditions of existence. This very sacrifice is the complete acknowledgment of the Divine and our whole body Condition.
The way of sacrifice as a process includes two primary moments, or phases. The first is sacrifice of our own dilemma, our own dividedness. It is the sacrifice of subjectivity to the whole body. Now, in our chronic recoil and fear of death, in our lack of integration with the whole Reality, we are bound up in our subjectivity, our ego-presumption, our inwardness, body and mind, life and mind, emotion and mind, pleasure and pain, light and dark, life and death. All of these conditions represent a dilemma in which the upper and lower coils of the body are not in play but in opposition with one another and the two sides of the body are not in play but in opposition. And man and woman, or intimates, human beings themselves, are in opposition rather than in play with one another. Therefore, man and God, man and his Condition, are in opposition rather than in play with one another. As a result men do not realize God or their true Condition.
Acknowledgment of the wholeness of our Condition and the fullness of Divinity is acceptance of the way of sacrifice. And the first phase of the way of sacrifice is the complete sacrifice of the subjective position. All of the subjective recoil, of self-division, the self, the mind, the emotion, the life, the body, all relations, all inwardness must be sacrificed and confessed to be the body. The ways in which that sacrifice is realized, the kinds of new adaptation in which it is true, have all been described to you. They are the disciplines of the Way of Divine Ignorance in each of its four stages.
Thus the first phase in the process of sacrifice is the humanization of the being through new adaptation, the abandonment of the dramatization of old adaptation and concern about its continuance as subjective interest and impulse. It involves being awakened through hearing to the response of love, of free feeling-attention, and allowing that response to be the grounds of your discipline. That is the first aspect or dimension of the way of sacrifice. When the devotee becomes responsible for the sacrifice of inwardness and subjectivity to the whole body Condition, when the whole body has become free feeling-attention without obstruction, when it has become Love, the obligation of the Law becomes absolute. It becomes God-Realizing. And that absolute obligation is the second moment, or phase, of the process of sacrifice. The subjective being must become the whole body, and then the whole body must be sacrificed to Infinity.
The Way of Divine Ignorance is not the way of fulfillment of our mere and temporary manifestation. It is the Way of the Whole God and the whole body. It is a Principle that is perfectly compatible with the bodys present existence and with its future continuation and fulfillment. This Way is also perfectly and absolutely compatible with the bodys ultimate transformation and dissolution. Therefore, the way of sacrifice is not simply a way of becoming integrated with our bodily condition, balancing its sides, and having a right diet and right relations and so forth. It is founded in the spiritual process, in real meditation, which ultimately becomes the Samadhi that is both the fulfillment of ordinary meditation and the transcendent Realization of Truth that is prior to it. When “I” am the whole body, the whole body-being is sacrificed into the Divine through meditation, through initiation in the Company of the Spiritual Master, through Graceful absorption in the spiritual process in that Company and ultimately in Samadhi. In Sahaj Samadhi and in Bhava Samadhi there is absolute dissolution in the Real Condition, translation into the Divine.
So the way of life that we consider and propose and practice is the Way of sacrifice. It is the way of the mature Realization of man, based on his acknowledgment of the totality of his Condition, the acknowledgment of his whole experience and destiny, the acknowledgment of the fullness of God and the totality of the Divine Process. Such Realization transcends the ancient religions, and it is their fulfillment and their integration.
But to live this Way you must become oriented toward your true Condition and toward the Divine in a way that you are not disposed to by tendency. You want to be obedient to a degree. You want to be saved above all. You want to be loved and cherished and made immortal. You want to believe in what will enable you to continue without pain and have as much functional enjoyment as possible forever. You like the idea of the Creator. You like the idea of Saviors. You like the idea of consoling meditation and visions and other fulfillments. And in your tendencies below consciousness you hate Shiva. You hate change and dissolution and your own fear.
In my play with you, what I have had to demonstrate to you so much over these years is the play of Shiva. I had to substitute for your own ability to inspect, your own willingness to acknowledge. It is not that you are being called to a religion of Shiva or of dissolution alone. You are being called to the religion of the Whole God and of the whole body. In order to live that practice truly, you must respond through present hearing. You must not engage in your own argument and self-manipulation, which will only take you to where you already are, previous to “hearing.” Only through hearing this argument do you respond in the present with the force of the whole body-being, free of your latent tendencies, your old experience, and mankinds old philosophy. Only through hearing will you become willing to come alive as love, as free feeling-attention. Only through hearing will you become willing to make love your discipline, to be positively oriented toward the readaptation rather than the fulfillment of your tendencies.
DEVOTEE: I have noticed something this week along the lines of what you are talking about relative to my refusal to participate in death. I can identify with the first two aspects of God, the creative power and the glorification throughout life. But I have found that if I live those two aspects in terms of my obligation to you, the whole sacrifice begins to become true. I feel that I am being drawn into that Shiva aspect.
BUBBA: If you are constantly trying to survive, you become more and more afraid. You become afraid of dying, afraid of separations, afraid of the loss of things and the loss of others. The better things get, the more afraid you get. The longer you persist in the attempt to survive, the more threatened your survival becomes. Ultimately you do change, and separations and changes do occur. Other people die, and you die. All of that is the Law, and all of that is God. All of that is true to us. But since we spend our lives in the refusal of it in trying to survive only, death and change only happen to us, whereas if we live as devotees in the acknowledgment of our whole Condition, death does not happen to us. Death becomes a process for which we are responsible just as much as for breath and dinner.
We must become a sacrifice while alive. Only then do we live in God. Only the life of sacrifice acknowledges the totality of our Condition. We fulfill the Law through love, through free feeling-attention, through sacrifice of subjectivity, and ultimately through sacrifice of the whole body. When we begin to become that sacrifice, fear dissolves. Fear is only our mood, our reading of what we see reflected in our contraction, our recoil from Infinity, our attempts to survive, our own Narcissism. If, instead of holding on to mind and emotion and body and relations and the world itself, we release it all, there is no fear whatsoever. Fear is only the reflection of the holding on. Stop holding on and there is obviously no fear. But we stop holding on only if we respond to the argument of the Spiritual Master, One who is not hiding from any aspect of the revelation of God, One who is transparent to that revelation and therefore an agent of its communication and of its Conscious Power. You yourself must respond by taking up that way of life, by acknowledging the revelation that occurs in that Company. Then you will stop refusing the excluded aspect of the body, and the world, and the Divine Reality, and God.
There is a single event, and we are not rightly involved in it. Basically that is all there is to say. Through inspection of the event, of what it is completely, and through becoming rightly involved in it, we are happy, we fulfill the Law through sacrifice. Sacrifice is simply acknowledgment of the Divine in its completeness. The body in its completeness does not just exist and continue and change in benign ways. It changes altogether. It gives up parts of itself and becomes something else. And it also dissolves. If we acknowledge this process completely and see it as the revelation of the very Divine Reality, then we will give up our childishness, which is founded in fear, and we will become the process of death, of love, of sacrifice.
The failure to love is the same as the fear of death. That is why you have so much difficulty maintaining this life of love. You are afraid of death. That is the only reason. That is why you cannot do it. The mechanism that would be love is not available to you consistently. It is locked into fear, into the attempt to survive, to define yourself through anxiety. If you give yourself up, the whole body is transformed and the whole character of your life changes. But you can love only if you are no longer afraid to die. Because love is death. Love is the sacrifice of inwardness and independent existence into mere bodily existence, and the surrender of mere bodily existence into Infinity, beyond visions, beyond self-definition. Love is the ecstasy of the presentation of ones existence to Infinity. That is the Way. Nothing else permits us to be free and alive at the same time. Sacrifice is not suicide. It is the Law of life. But life also changes and dies, and the same Law applies also to changing and dying.
The event you fear in your observation of corpses and the ending of lives is the same event that you are obliged to realize in this moment , completely. To the degree that you do not, you are afraid and independent, separative, self-possessed, and not love. You have no free attention. Your feeling is constantly obstructed and lived through episodes of reactivity, fear, sorrow, anger, and all the resistance to change and dissolution. Only in our dissolution do we confront the light of Brahma and the mysterious beauty of Vishnu and the absolute consciousness of Shiva.