The following dialogue is from a seminar Bubba Free John gave to his community on July 26, 1975 on various aspects of the teaching and disciplines of the developing Sadhana.
TOM RILEY: Bubba, the release of vital shock to me seems to be the equivalent of real self-observation and insight. How does ego death fit with that, is that, on a life level the release of vital shock occurs, but is ego death something that takes place in the causal heart or is that impossible in the release of vital shock?
BUBBA: Well, in its ultimate sense, certainly, yes. It is when the casal being is opened, when that knot in the causal being is opened1. But that event as well as a lot of more superficial versions of it essentially amounts to forgetting of the self-definition, release of it. And that occurs whenever there is real insight, real enquiry.
In such a moment consciousness falls into its natural position and releases ego, mind, and desire. So at the same time is the mind is perhaps effected, stilled in some moments in this affair of enquiry and desires also come to rest at random times. Well, just so, this self-meditation, this activity of self-definition, also comes to rest in the midst of the same insight, the same enquiry.
Ego death is simply the absence of self-definition, the absence of self-meditation. And that occurs whenever the consciousness that is otherwise defining itself as a “me” rests in its prior condition of the Self, of the Divine. Whenever that occurs there’s not unconsciousness, there’s not the death of somebody and then you sit in the darkness feeling dead. No, there’s the passage of consciousness from one assumed condition into another that is not assumed.
Ego is a matter of attention, contraction of the field of consciousness. When consciousness rests in its prior condition, there is no attention, no contraction in the field of consciousness, natural, prior happiness, radiance, without a sense of being separate one, without the sense of having died and now become a big one either. It’s the prior condition, not an achieved condition. So, another one of the lessons in these seminars is that passage through the principal mood is not to go through an episode of fear. Some people just like to go through phases and then have experiences of that kind they way I’ve described it. But passage though the principal mood is to go beyond the contraction of fear and of self and so forth into the natural intuition that is the condition of enquiry2. And that obviates fear, that obviates the principal mood. It doesn’t bring it on so that you can cut it out of yourself and so forth.
So just so, there’s no ego death experience either that is a necessary aspect of this affair of understanding. It’s not a required experience. It doesn’t have to happen at all. There needn’t be anything, in experiential terms, that’s particularly far out about this whole affair of understanding, from beginning to end. That is, if you really grasp it. If that fundamental realization, which is not just a minor little psychological adjustment, but an absolute realization of the Divine, as long as that is served, there needn’t be any karmic dramas that amount to anything. There may be, but there needn’t be, it’s not necessary. And you shouldn’t try to manipulate yourself into a very dramatic and heroic kind of spiritual life because you think that otherwise you’re not having it or something. No, you must be sensitive to what the process itself fundamentally is and you’re responsible for what sadhana is by description, what it is as a natural process. And if in the midst of doing all of that there is no special drama ,well, that’s fine.
TOM: I don’t know if it’s useful for this or not, but today I was in study group, I was mentioning to people that sometimes a confusion arises in my own case as to what, like, a sensation of the experience of clarity, what I would call Presence. I’m beginning to wonder about that, it’s a sense of, like, maybe a sense of great immunity, just sort of removing myself somehow.
I don’t know, it’s not some little trick that I do, you know, I never really got it out, but, maybe a little trick that, some internal trick that I’m fooling with that clears out the mechanism, as a sense of community as opposed to…
BUBBA: Is this true?
TOM: Yeah, like the effect…
BUBBA: Is that what you do?
TOM: It seems like there’s somethin’ goin’ on. I’m suspecting myself.
BUBBA: Well, in some moment without really getting concerned about it now, trying to look at it and watch it, at some moment it may be very clear to you that that’s what you’re doing. That;s the difference between understanding relative to the mind in your own case and watching it. You can sit here and watch it now and see what you’re doing. But all you’ll get out of that is some data about it, some information. But just by doing sadhana in the practical terms in which at some random it’s been given to you at some random moment you may see something specifically about that….
At this point in the discussion another devotee asks a question….
1. The first three stages of the Way (The Way of Divine Communion, The Way of Relational Enquiry, and The Way of Re-cognition) are a process of ‘whole body readaptation to Lawful (sacrificial) responsibility for the contractions of the lower coil (gross being), the upper coil (subtle being), and the manifest dimension of the heart (causal being). This process is awakened through “hearing” the argument of the Spiritual Master, entering into Communion with the Spiritual Master, and enjoying the Revelations that are natural and native to that Company and that Teaching. This Way Matures as Transfiguration, Regeneration, and Translation of Man into God – Vision Mound Magazine
2. There are two forms of self-Enquiry being practiced in My Company. One is self-Enquiry based on real self-understanding and, especially, on true hearing. In that case, self-Enquiry is most fruitful, obviously, and it takes the form I have just described. The other form of self-Enquiry is that which may be used by any of My devotees, even from the beginning of practice in the Way of the Heart, with little or no self-understanding. In that case, you exercise self-Enquiry relative to all kinds of things. You just described an instance of how self-Enquiry is done in that case, in the sheer beginners sense, with little or no self-understanding. But, as you described, in the doing of it, you observed something a little deeper behind this vital enthusiasm, a sense of despair. So your practice of self-Enquiry had some usefulness in the sense that it enabled you to observe something more. Using self-Enquiry in this ordinary fashion may serve self-observation, but, in that case, it is not the exercise of self understanding itself. It is not true self-Enquiry.” – Adi Da Samraj – Religious Realism
Dissolution of Vital Shock – The Seminar