The Religious Ambivalence of Western Man
ADI DA SAMRAJ (Bubba Free John): There is something very negative implicit in the religious consciousness of Western people. “Is there a God?” seems to be the question you should be asking in order to become religious. But it is a completely absurd question. It has nothing whatever to do with spiritual life. It has to do with human beings, not with God. The question “Is there a God?” reflects a state in human beings for which they must be responsible. It is not itself a question that can be answered or that must be answered. But the religious consciousness of Western people is ambivalent. Westerners are very worldly and strong on the one hand, when religion permits worldliness, and on the other hand they are phasing, weak, always threatened at the level of subjective, or psychic, responsibility.
The Western consciousness is always trying to make positive whatever is overwhelmingly negative. The negative thing is what is powerful. We in the West are always trying to overcome it with positive feeling, with beliefs, with effort, with answers, with knowledge. The negative pattern, or karma, is actually what is creating your life. Thus, people remain characteristically weak, obsessed with an uninspected negative force that is always influencing their behavior and their thinking. They are always trying to surmount it through self-effort or association with the “edible deity”—the external savior or god whose power they can consume irresponsibly. Therefore, faith and belief are reduced to ways of overcoming negativity.
In the Western doctrines (and the Middle Eastern teachings that gave rise to them) the negative force that tends to overwhelm us beneath the superficial mind is interpreted as sin, a disposition to be overcome by association with something greater than yourself—the edible deity, the savior, the true God, the true religion, the true belief. Presuming a negative position, you orient yourself toward something positive and are saved by it. But you are still always sinful. You are always tending to fall back on sin.
The fundamental tenet of the Middle Eastern religions, Jewish or Christian or Islamic, is that this world and everything in it, including man, is the creation of God. Man is also the highest creation of God, reflecting the Deity although not in any sense equal to the Deity. Therefore, the negative view of this life and this world is itself a form of sin. It is a sin to believe that this world is not godly, or that the Divine is not the ultimate destiny of the world, or that the world is not controlled by the Divine. The presumption of the West is that if the world is under the control of the Divine, its destiny is altogether positive, whatever its present condition may be. Therefore, to view the world negatively is itself sinful.
On the other hand, the strictly left-sided or classically Oriental point of view does not adhere to the principle that the world is the creation of God and that God is therefore its destiny. The principle that is appealed to in the East transcends phenomena, even excludes phenomena and precedes them altogether. The Oriental mind is critical of the world itself, not just of things in the world. The world is viewed not as the creation of God, but as an illusion. Thus, to view this world positively, in itself necessary, in itself the point of existence, rather than to transcend the world, is to be swept up in an illusion, a false point of view. That is sin, from the Oriental point of view. The natural disposition in the West is toward the world itself, to move into the world with a positive moral character, struggling against sin, the negative power. The natural disposition in the Orient is toward transcendence of this world.
From the Western, right-sided point of view, your association with the edible deity, the savior, is what gives you strength. He gives you the spirit. Through the magic of your association with this savior, you acquire the spiritual force that enables you from moment to moment to overcome your own sinfulness and negativity so that you can participate in this great plan of creation. The Oriental, left-sided point of view has nothing whatever to do with such an idea (although clearly Western and Middle Eastern ideas have filtered into Oriental culture so that the later, more modern cultures and traditions of the Orient tend to varying degrees to reflect that right-sided point of view). Therefore, when the disciple approached a traditional spiritual master in the East, he was not trying to find out how to live better—he was looking for liberation from the world. But the people who went to Jesus, or Mohammed, or Moses did not ask how to be liberated from the world. That was not their question. They wanted to be certain that there is God and that the one they were talking to was a true messenger of God. And then they wanted to know what they should be doing in order to enjoy the blessings of God, in order to be in right relationship to God in this world and to enjoy a future that would be blessed by God. That was their question. In the Orient, on the other hand, they did not ask that question. If they went looking for a master, they wanted to know how the hell you get out of here and bring an end to all this torment!
For example, Gautama grew up as a prince, with all the benefits of royal seclusion, the highest level of life possible in his time. When he was a relatively young man, he was taken on a trip through the streets where he saw the daily life of the people, who were sick and aging and suffering in all the ordinary, social, mortal ways. He did not see them as sinners who were suffering their turning away from God and who needed to be more positively associated with God in order to do better and feel better. He did not see them as the creations of the Deity, as his brothers and sisters under the one Divine. No—he was completely astonished by what he saw and he was, to his very depths, convinced that this is not a place in which to continue, that what life is about is not surviving and improving your circumstances and acquiring a positive moral character under God, or even a worldly life of success under God. That is not the business of life. The business of life, as Gautama realized it, is to find a way, through meditation, through understanding, through purification, and through release of desires, to escape completely from this condition of existence.
That disposition represented by Gautama, among others, that search for liberation, characterizes the classic traditions everywhere in the Orient. It is for the purpose of liberation that a person in the East seeks a teacher or becomes interested in a spiritual teaching. Spiritual teachings in the Orient are always associated with one or another ascetic disposition, the inversion of attention, the transcendence of this world. Inversion and transcendence are the fundamental principle, just as in Western religion the fundamental principle is that this world is to be interpreted positively as the creation of God, and therefore the problem of existence is a moral one.
Western religion comes out of the Middle East. The Middle East is the dividing line between the right- sided approach to life and the left-sided approach. The West has inherited Middle Eastern religion, but basically the path of the right side is not about religion at all. Western development is about life in the world, in which conditions of born existence are essentially considered to be just what they are—the conditions of born existence. Born existence is the game in which you are to survive and struggle, which you must take into account, and which your philosophy must reflect. The Middle East still has a religious or spiritual aura of a kind, but its principles, once they develop as Western history, as the right- sided history of mankind, do not appear in the form of religion. They appear in the form of our modern, technological, scientific society, which is essentially a-religious, not religious, a-spiritual, most often anti- religious and anti-spiritual. Thus, Western culture is basically oriented to conditions and functions themselves.
Western people constantly confront the negative force of their own self-presumptions while trying to live a merely human, social, mortal life, advancing, succeeding, and surviving. Thus, Middle Eastern religion has provided psychological support for the right-sided man of the West. But, over time, the more involved Western men have become in the functions of manifest existence, in surviving and dealing with the material universe, and the more sophisticated human beings have become in their knowing, the less they have been able to justify the naive presumptions that this Western or Middle Eastern religion depends upon. Thus, more and more, people are being left with only sin. They do not even know what to call it anymore. They call it sin only if they see a god over against it. Basically they are left with an obsessed, negative, mortal life.
Having developed to this point, then, Westerners seeking after Truth are turning to the other side. They are hoping to be consoled by becoming Oriental, or left-sided. But once you have gone to the right, you can never go to the left and exclude the right side again. Thus, in this gesture toward the left side there is the possibility for consciousness as the whole body.
The Orient, on the other hand, which has been trying to transcend the gross conditions of worldly existence for centuries, has a very strong and sophisticated religious and spiritual tradition. But it also has the most dreadfully mortal social and human conditions on earth. Thus, people in the East today are reaching toward the right to find technological, scientific, social, cultural advantages within which to carry on their essentially negative philosophical point of view. But once you have gone so far to the left, you can never go all the way to the right and exclude the left side again, because you have already adapted to it. Thus, the East in its association with the West also has the possibility for becoming sensitive to the necessary or whole body point of view.
What we see in the world today are essentially the artifacts of the two sides in their independence, in their clashes with one another, in their distinctions.
People today naively try to become associated with the ancient, classic systems of religion, spirituality, and philosophy, but they do not have the concentration for considering what these concepts are all about, what these motives in them are all about, what these belief systems and yogas are really all about. People today generally no longer represent the archetypal psychological dispositions that are at the root of all of these great enterprises, East and West. And unless those archetypal or psychological suppositions, presumptions, dispositions are actually true of you, you cannot fulfill them. Therefore, if you are truly moved to real or spiritual life, you have no choice but to inspect completely your own condition of existence.
You must begin to understand what the religious or spiritual life in Truth is really all about. You must be able to differentiate all your casually generated motivations that reflect old, conventional concepts, persuasions, and philosophies. You may have casually inherited your Western Judeo-Christian mind without ever having been a very profound student of it. It just filtered in, through a little bit of church-going, a little bit of parental and social influence. But you must become responsible for the religious conventions you represent, through a very sophisticated investigation of Judeo-Christian thought and concepts, however casual your inheritance.
Although you are nominally associated with me, you are actually trying to fulfill your destiny as Jews and Christians and Moslems and Hindus and Buddhists and so forth. The mechanical aspects of our thought, feeling, and behavior are determined by even the most casual upbringing in those traditions. My Teaching work has largely been with Westerners, and therefore it has always been associated with a very worldly level of drama. My Teaching work does not look much like the way Oriental teachers deal with their devotees, because you all are not looking to be liberated. You have different problems altogether. You are sinful people! Being sinners is what you are up to.
True spiritual life turns out to be a differnt kind of thing altogether from what many people come to me for. Either they come to me for the left-sided reason, thinking of me as a yogic, ascetic teacher who is simply going to lead them inward and away from things, or they come thinking I am a sort of worldly philosopher who is going to provide them with a social life and amusing talks and a rather casual orientation toward changing themselves.. Such people are always bothered by something. They are always on the verge of leaving, always on the verge of some great crisis and separation, always in some problem, always struggling. They have not heard the Teaching.
The Way of Divine Ignorance is the influence by which interested individuals, regardless of their disposition toward West or East, right or left, can make the necessary inspection of the totality of human existence. The essence of the Teaching of the Way of Divine Ignorance is that God-Realization is the present Condition of existence, not in any sense the goal of existence that can be approached through efforts toward transcendence. Nor is the Divine in which we commune to be viewed simply as the Creator of this world, implying, therefore, a necessarily positive view toward the world and the functions of existence themselves. This Teaching is about present, radical, and continuous God-Communion as the very Condition and Truth of existence. The Divine is the Truth of existence, not just the Creator of the world. It is the Condition of all conditions, not just a great condition that creates all lesser conditions. And Divine Communion is not a matter of moving into a condition other than the present conditions, in order to escape them by exclusion through the inversion of attention.
Once you truly hear the Teaching, spiritual life becomes an essential responsibility, simple in principle. When you enjoy a positive orientation to the Teaching and to the Spiritual Master who communicates and demonstrates it—in other words, when you enjoy Divine Communion, then although the subjective artifacts of your past and your old disposition may appear, you have a sense of humor relative to them. Then not every day is a crisis. Subjective feelings come and go, and external circumstances tend to bother you somewhat, but there is no great moment. Literally nothing is threatened, once you are living in this Communion. Existence then becomes the creative process wherein you are living responsibly, purifying, changing, making things sacred, living the sacrifice that is real life. Then existence is not problematic. It is creative. It is a process of the confrontation of conditions, but it is humorous, already enlightened. Nothing ultimate is at stake. It is just the game of the universe.
And there is nowhere to look for God. What is God is completely obvious under these conditions, even totally within the limits of your present perception. There is the Divine. It is not a matter of some other vision, some other experience, some inwardness. It is a matter of hearing, of being awakened from the sleep, the bondage, the problem, the dilemma by which you apprehend your present condition. In this hearing you are awakened to the Condition of this moment without all the concepts and contractions of energy and feeling.
When there is no obstruction to feeling-attention, then what is Divine, without qualification, is completely obvious. You need not create any strategy in your attention, to invert it or to exteriorize it, in order to find the Divine. Finding God is the illusion of the sinful individual, the one obsessed with suffering. Such people are always involved in programs of finding the Deity, finding someone to sustain them, because they are being themselves only, independent, separated, betrayed, unloved. You cannot find God in that case. Where God is completely obvious, God is nothing like what you think God must be. And to realize God is nothing like what you imagine it must be.
You imagine that, since you do not realize God, or do not feel completely happy, sustained, and free under these ordinary conditions, then the realization of God must be enjoyed under other kinds of conditions altogether. So you think that psychic awarenesses and visions are somehow the conditions under which God is realized. But it is not true. Have those experiences, and there is no God then either, you see, unless you are converted in your feeling-attention even in that moment. In that moment of feeling- attention, then, you realize God. But God-Realization has nothing whatever to do with those new conditions any more than with these old conditions. You become liberated from the search for conditions, attainments, goals as God-Realization, and you return to normal. Whatever conditions are to arise for you will arise for you, and you need not be the least bit concerned about them! You are finally free, in God-Realization, of the idiotic game of rising and falling with the conditions of existence.
Remain simply in that enjoyment at Infinity and forget about all the complications of the machinery of life and all your efforts to become free, and be happy. Be happy and active as love in the world. As long as this world continues, you must perform action. You will necessarily perform action, because you are action. You are only action. So be converted in this God – by something, whether it is in this gross form or in some subtle contemplation. You are afraid to feel, to release your consciousness to Infinity, because that means you will lose your point in space. You are going to lose your life—that is exactly true. Thus, only when the happiness of Communion at Infinity becomes obvious to you will that dissolution be permitted to become perfect. Because it does involve the dissolution of everything, the dissolution of body, of all energy, all forms, all worlds, all that is mind, all concepts. It does involve that literally, you see. That is exactly what you are afraid will happen! (Laughter) That is what you call death, and try to prevent. And that is exactly what does happen in this Communion. Everything is given up, everything is dissolved at Infinity.
Infinity must become your pleasure. Then this world becomes humorous and livable. Then you can make something sacred out of it, without holding on to it. It will pass away. Everything passes away, everything is changing here. Everything is action. Everything you hold onto changes, because it is itself change. Therefore, holding on to a position obviously is not Truth. The surrender of all positions is true. Ultimately that becomes your position moment to moment, not just in intense moments of formal meditation, when you have temporarily relaxed from the games of life. Ultimately, there is no limitation under any conditions. Even while active and appearing in the ordinary way you are complete Zero, without a center, without any shapes whatsoever.
To the ordinary man that does not sound like happiness—it sounds like some sort of craziness, some sort of tremendous, terrifying state, as Arjuna experienced in the Bhagavad Gita when he saw Krishna in his thousand-armed form. That is what that vision is Communion. Then your action is transformed. It fulfills the Law. It is a form of sacrifice, of love.
Be love and perform the actions of love until the universe disappears, and be willing to let it disappear. Be happy in any moment for it to disappear. Whatever satisfactions there are in the functional display in this moment cannot in any sense compare to the blissfulness of Divine absorption. Do not be strategically turned away from those satisfactions in the doubting that possesses the ego. Live as love in the form of all your relations. Living as love in God-Communion, rested at Infinity, you are not holding on to these relations any longer. You are just participating in them fully, openly, freely, happily. You are not rejecting them, but neither are you clinging to them madly, out of fear. You are perfectly happy to have feeling-attention pass suddenly in this moment to Infinity, so that everything disappears.
There is nothing inherent in you that is holding you back from Infinity. Whatever you are holding on to is your position and therefore your destiny. Whatever you are holding back from Infinity, that is what you will continue to be. That is the destiny that will repeat itself in experience. If you are capable of being feeling-attention to Infinity, then conditions will arise for you, but they will also become obsolete and fall away.
The way to give up everything is not through renunciation or turning in and up, but through love without qualification. Then everything falls away. Everything becomes God. Everything becomes enjoyable and not binding. When you can be released as love completely and fall into Infinity completely, then everything dissolves.
But you, you see, are afraid to dissolve. You think that you have to be in a position somehow, observing something, holding on to something, being held in time and space. It is not just seeing somebody with a thousand arms. Actually, that would be wonderful and interesting. But to commune with something with endless dimensions, to fall into Infinity yourself, is terrifying. When Arjuna was drifting into that open- ended Divine Condition, he shouted and screamed and told Krishna to please show him his two-armed, objective form, which was good enough! (Laughter)
But my confession to you is that this Infinite existence is ultimate Bliss, the Great Happiness.