a talk by Da Free John October 30, 1985
MASTER DA: Your involvement in the spiritual process will move attention through stages with the result that at some point it will be natural for you to sit and observe subtle phenomena and pass beyond them, just as at the present time it is gross phenomena that you more naturally observe and pass beyond. Moving beyond gross phenomena characterizes your practice in early stages, but what you realize in meditation is the same as that which may be realized in the higher stages—it is simply that you realize it in the context of the observation and transcendence of real, or gross, personality phenomena. What difference does it make whether you pass through gross phenomena or subtle phenomena to realize the same Condition? There is no difference.
When it is more natural for meditation to take place in the context of subtle phenomena, or higher stage phenomena, then that will be the kind of meditation you will be obliged to realize. It will come quite naturally as a result of your having fulfilled your present stage of practice, just as changes in your psycho-physical life, in the frontal personality, will occur as a result of your spiritual practice. Your meditation will be evidenced in transformations of your ordinary life, not vice versa. You will not make fundamental changes in your ordinary, psycho-physical life until you enter into the spiritual process.
Therefore, changes in the frontal life are not proposed to you idealistically. You are not called to perfect your frontal life on the basis of an ideal. Rather, on the basis of hearing and seeing you enter into the spiritual process. You must give yourself up to that completely and allow it to show evidence in and out of meditation. Allow transformations to occur on the basis of your spiritual life rather than struggle to make changes on an idealistic basis.
Thus, the practice at the early stages is the real spiritual process. From beginning to end it is a matter of Divine Communion. At the beginning of any meditation you tend to be in the position of the knots, of the self-contraction, and you move beyond them through the practice of Divine Communion. Ultimately, and quite naturally, you will realize a condition in meditation that transcends the body-mind, transcends conditional existence. In other words, you will realize Divine Communion. You will not realize anything other than that when you pass through and beyond subtle phenomena, and therefore there is nothing preferable about the higher stages. What you must realize is That which is to be Realized, and you must realize it presently in the context of whatever is arising. If gross phenomena are arising, then you must realize the Divine presently in that context. If subtle phenomena arise, then you must include that in your meditation. That is the logic that produces the seven stages. The Way is not progressive God- Realization, it is God-Realization from the beginning. However, the practice of the process of God-Realization in the context of conditional existence naturally, inevitably, and progressively develops the signs of the seven stages.
What, then, are you called to realize in the early stage when you pass through and beyond the frontal knots? You are called to realize the Divine, the spiritual, Transcendental, and Divine Condition. You are called to realize That which transcends pain, fear, attachment, sorrow, sex, pleasure, frustration, anger, unlove, suppression of being, suppression of fullness of bliss, chaos of life, doubt, confusion. You must pass through and beyond those literal, ordinary, human conditions. You are not called to bypass them by somehow or other raising your attention up the spine and into subtle phenomena, or by imagining a visionary reality that is an alternative to gross existence. Rather, you are called to participate directly, as what you appear to be, in the Living, All-Pervading, Absolute Divine Condition.
All you need overcome at the early stages are the gross phenomena. You need not worry about subtle phenomena. Be grateful! [Laughter.] When subtle phenomena actually begin in your case you will have more complex meditation, more responsibility. Why look for these signs as if there were some advantage in their appearance, as if those objects were superior, as if you will not be spiritual until they arise? You must transcend yourself. Selftranscendence is not a matter of attaining superior objects of attention or of self-fulfillment. Self-transcendence occurs in the context of what presently arises without committing the aggressive act of dissociation from what is presently arising.
Why practice another teaching? That is what you are doing if you think your practice of meditation is to avoid the phenomena of the frontal personality and have spinal or brain core visions and see subtle things. All of that is really a sign of your egoic unwillingness to pass through the trial of self-transcendence. There is nothing superior about subtle objects. They will occur naturally, eventually. What is superior is actual self-transcendence, the transcendence of that which arises in your experience—just that, without having to find an alternative experience. Whatever is arising is the context of your ordeal. Since the phenomena of the frontal personality are the context of your experience, you are quite naturally an early practitioner.
This being the case, why do I complain that there are not more people moving into the higher stages? It is because you are not really doing the yoga of early stages. You are fans of spiritual life and you tend to think of spiritual life in terms of subtle phenomena, inwardness, states dissociated from the body, and so on. You tend not to really practice the yoga of self-understanding and self-transcendence in Divine Communion. You idealize meditation in terms of subtler objects and do not really want to confront and deal with the grosser ones. Likewise you tend not to practice self-transcendence in life. You use up life indulging the ego, not truly transcending it, not showing the evidence of true meditation because you do not practice true meditation nearly as much as you should.
Our practice is not about dissociating from the frontal personality in order to become subtle, in order to enter into an alternative experience. Experiences, whatever form they may take, are not the goal of, nor are they an impediment to, God- Communion. Any object can be an impediment if you do not practice the Way. No object is an impediment if you do practice the Way. What I am complaining about, the basis of my urgency with you, is your being fans of spiritual life, not truly practicing the yoga you are already given. In fact, if you had been practicing it all these years—and you have had this practice for years—you would be more advanced in your practice as a natural matter of course. Therefore, what I am really complaining about is that you are not truly practicing the stage you are in. Why do I complain when you are taking a long time being an FCC 2 practitioner? Not because you are an FCC 2 practitioner, but because you are not really an FCC 2 practitioner. You are not really getting down to that practice. If you were, it would not take you nearly as long as it has already taken you.
You think that to be spiritual you must somehow do spinal yoga and get up into the brain core—and that is not true. That is one of the stages of practice—not a superior one, and not one that you can willfully decide to do because it sounds like a good idea. You cannot truly practice that because it is not your experience. You cannot practice it in any case because you have not fulfilled the lower stages, you have not passed beyond the egoity of the lower stages of life. Therefore, it makes no difference if you do see a vision. It does not change anything. You must still deal with the egoic obstruction in the frontal line. If you did that and no subtle phenomena arose you would live the life of Samadhi, because there would be no objective form, no conditional state, limiting your realization of God.
Subtle phenomena arise quite naturally as soon as the true samadhi in the frontal personality begins to steady itself—you naturally move into the next stage as I have indicated. The stages unfold naturally. They are not an idealistic performance, nor are they something that you can generate by an act of will. You simply practice the self-transcending Way of God-Communion in the context of what arises. You do not make gestures to dissociate from what arises, nor do you simply make the common egoic gesture of identifying with what arises or indulging yourself in what arises. Self-understanding, or hearing, and seeing, or Divine Communion through Baptism or Spirit-reception, make it unnecessary for you either to dissociate from, identify with, or exploit conditions. All you need do in meditation is sit or abide in the midst of whatever conditions are naturally arising for you. You need not struggle to have other conditions arise. Observe and feel beyond what arises by granting attention to the Divine Person, to the Living Current of the Divine.
As you grant attention to the Divine, various phenomena will arise quite naturally—the products of the self-contraction will appear. Whatever form the self-contraction takes for you is a sign of what your stage of life and stage of practice is. Those phenomena are the circumstance in which to meditate and the circumstance in which to practice Divine Communion in daily life outside of meditation. In this frontal meditation you must go beyond fear, you must go beyond sorrow and attachment, you must go beyond the motivation to indulge the body in various pleasures, you must go beyond frustration, and you must go beyond the angry reaction to frustration. All these things are quite natural to you. You experience them in daily life. They come up also when you are sitting in meditation.
However, these emotions are not the meditation. They are the natural arising objects that tend to claim attention, but you are free to pass beyond them because you are intimately aware of the Divine Presence. Therefore, you can grant attention to the Divine Presence. If you feel into the Divine Presence these phenomena cease, they lose their seed. You have deflected the motion. You have passed into another motion. That reactive motion becomes obsolete by not granting attention to it in the usual way. By granting attention to the Divine Condition, these conditional motions lose their seed, their motive. They fall away in the fullness of Divine Communion.
In the frontal yoga, the phenomena that dissolve tend to do so progressively from the top of the body toward the base. One by one, all of the various conditions, from the more superficial ones higher in the body to the more deeply rooted ones lower in the body, are transcended. You transcend the more superficial phenomena first. The busy, doubting mind relaxes. The chaotic or suppressed nature of the Life-Force moving through the throat relaxes. More fullness comes. The basic cramp of unlove and emotional dis-ease relaxes. Over time you will progressively and more and more fully and deeply transcend the base emotions, the base reactivity of anger, sorrow, and fear. If you do the yoga of the frontal personality, you will transcend those reactive states and enter into the fullness of Divine Communion, utterly free of fear, sorrow, and anger—not experiencing another psycho-physical state, but transcending psycho-physical states in direct Communion with That which Is, the One who Is.
If you practice this from day to day, over time the fullness of the Current will eventually pass through the frontal personality. The chronic evidence of these contractions will relax, be more easily and naturally dealt with. The frontal personality will become more and more spiritualized by this contemplation. Then the Current is free to move more fully by turning about in the base and moving up the spinal line and on through the total course I have described to you.
As chronic obstructions that are more superficial in the line of the Current are stably, fundamentally overcome, the Current moves further. Other objects or contractions must be transcended in basically the same fashion until the whole line of the Current is fundamentally liberated from the disease of self. That is Enlightenment in the fullest sense.
Even in the seventh stage of life all of the natural evidence of conditional existence arises, but it is thoroughly recognized. There is no effective contraction. It is all recognizable. Life becomes a creative play, one with the Divine. Until then there are various knots, various signs of being a conditional being, knots in the Current, from the right side of the heart up, and down and up throughout this Circle or Arrow in the structure of conditional being.
You do not fulfill the process completely until there is complete transcendence. Conditions will continue to arise. Progressively you will see more and more and will be obliged to transcend more and more. In any moment, however, you do not have to transcend any more than what arises. Therefore, Divine Realization in the fullest sense is possible in any moment or at any stage of life. Thus, any practicing devotee, having entered at least into the FCC 2 stage, may enter fully into Divine Communion, transcending conditional limitation through the right practice of this discipline. I am responsible for this consideration and you are responsible for the practice of it. Is what I just described to you what you are doing when you sit for meditation? Or are you doing something else or wishing you could do something else? What are you doing?
DEVOTEE: Often meditation is as you described, but other times what arises is very distracting.
MASTER DA: It is always distracting and you always become distracted. It is a matter of how much time you spend being distracted. It is not as though you must try to prohibit that distraction or prohibit things from arising. That is not your business, because things will inevitably arise and you will inevitably, for the moment, be distracted. You are called to practice the meditation, the instruction, I have given you when you become distracted, when attention (as it inevitably will) moves toward those difficulties or toward interesting things, whatever they may be. In that case, you are called to a particular, most specific form of real practice based on hearing and seeing. Many times each day meditation will bring up objects and you will be distracted. This happens constantly, but if you will practice as I have described, it is inevitable that you will pass through and beyond those things.
If you really practice, there will hardly ever be an occasion of meditation in which things are so difficult that you cannot fulfill your meditation. Perhaps occasionally a great difficulty will distract you. In that case, you are better off not meditating. Instead, handle the difficulty. Fundamentally, however, meditation is almost always appropriate two or three times a day at these stages of practice. If you practice as I have instructed you and you practice for a full hour or hour and a half (sometimes it does not even take that long), you will pass through and beyond those distractions, whatever they are, and realize the fullness of Divine Communion. That Communion is Samadhi. It is God-Realization. Having passed through these obstructions or contractions and realized that state, then you can luxuriate in it. If you pass into that state, the technical exercise becomes unnecessary or obsolete in that moment. You wander in that fullness and enjoy complete freedom from fear and sorrow and anger and hurt and limitation and doubt and all the rest of it. You spend as much time as you like luxuriating in it and then it is time to get up and exist in that Blessed state while living out your daily life until your next meditation. Even during those hours you occasionally enquire or perform mala japa. Maintain the attitude of Divine Communion. Know how to use your attention in the midst of ordinary things. Practice the art of the Way in daily living, and that realization from meditation will not diminish absolutely or even very significantly.
The principle of practice is not to perfect or engineer an idealistic life circumstance and then go and meditate on that basis. That is not the principle of this Way. All of these emotional-sexual problems that we have discussed, all of your efforts to perfect your marriages, are nonsense. They are forms of heresy. You are called to practice the spiritual discipline, and fundamentally you do that in meditation. Your practice outside of meditation is an extension of meditation. It moves from meditation, and therefore you must not fail to meditate. Meditation is your fundamental practice. If you do that, then by virtue of real meditation you will naturally be in a position in which changes occur in your ordinary life. They will move in the direction of the spiritual transformation of your life, not the idealistic perfection of your life. Every one of you, once you have passed through and beyond the FCC 3 stage, will still exhibit only as much perfection of your ordinary life as the Divine Condition will allow, as your own particular limitations as a born being will allow, once spiritualized.
There is no ultimate ideal to conform to, but quite naturally there are certain basic features of your life that will be transformed if’ you really fulfill the spiritual process. I have described them in basic and general terms in relation to such things as marriage, but these descriptions are not an ideal for you to manufacture as an alternative to the spiritual process. I am certainly not speaking of marriage, for example, as an ultimate condition. You, on the other hand, are still tending to pursue a third stage goal of perfection, of self-fulfillment and social fulfillment. Not only are you troubled by these things, but you do not submit them to the spiritual process. You do not make the spiritual process the focus of your living. You make ordinary life-fulfillment that focus. Therefore, when you sit for meditation you do not really meditate. You do not submit the things that you must submit and go beyond. Therefore, you do not practice real meditation. If you practice any meditation at all, it amounts to relaxing or wandering in an ideal notion about God or spiritual experience, or you manufacture or stimulate what appear to you to be higher religious states or subtle conditions. You look for your meditation to take on these subtle yogic forms instead of simply dealing with what is before you, what arises quite naturally.
You do not go beyond what arises quite naturally, because you do not want to change. There is a basic resistance to having some things change, an unwillingness to relinquish self-bondage in certain critical areas of life, an unwillingness to relinquish the point of view of the first three stages of life, the motives of self-fulfillment associated with adolescent neurosis, and so on. Obviously meditation cannot be effective if you are unwilling to understand and go beyond those limitations and the desires and idealism proposed by those limitations. Everything must be relinquished in real meditation. You cannot hold on to the point of view of the first three stages of life and expect fourth stage meditation to effectively transform your existence. You must have heard and seen and gone beyond the context of the first three stages of life.
Hearing and seeing are the means whereby human beings pass from the first three stages to the fourth stage of life and then beyond. Those are the evolutionary mechanisms, if you will. Only if mankind as a whole passes through the processes indicated by my description of hearing and seeing will mankind as a whole move into the next stage of life, the fourth stage of life, and then beyond. That hearing and seeing involves the observation and transcendence of egoity in the context of the first three stages of life. You continue to practice transcendence through the spiritual process in the later stages. Hearing and seeing are the means for the transcendence of the earlier stages. There is even a kind of meditation, meditative pondering, associated with listening and hearing and seeing.
The essence of this practice is doing something different with attention, and you must formalize it. You must schedule your use of attention, in fact. You have many obligations and the core obligation, the focus of your daily life, is meditation. In meditation you must do something different with attention, something other than merely watching and becoming absorbed in what arises conditionally. That is not the practice, you see. Nor is the practice an effort to keep things from arising or to dissociate from what is arising. It is not a matter of trying to turn attention away from what is arising. It is a matter of giving attention to the Divine, to the Living Person, to the Spirit-Current. The practice is not difficult when you can locate the Spirit-Current. When you can observe, naturally understand, and pass beyond the egoic contraction, That which is supremely attractive is not difficult to give attention to.
You can observe this principle of attraction in your daily life. As soon as one of the objects you desire appears you do not have any difficulty looking at it or being distracted by it. The same is true in meditation. You have no difficulty granting attention to That which is supremely Attractive, the Divine Presence. That is what you are called to do. Simply feel it. It is not a matter of an effort of mind. It is a matter of being distracted, attracted by That which is fully attractive. It is not a matter of turning away from what is otherwise arising. It is simply a matter of meditation, feeling, of being naturally attracted by the spiritual Reality. Without trying to separate yourself from conditional arising the force of conditional arising will naturally relax. Thus, it is not a matter of struggling with it or of trying to get away from it. It is not a matter of identifying with it as if you had not understood yourself and do not know the spiritual process, had never received the Spirit-Current, cannot locate it.
As a devotee of the Divine you are like someone in love who carries a mental image or a picture in their wallet of their loved one. That image is always there, you see, always available, so you can practice this discipline at any time and certainly in meditation. Having practiced it in meditation, you realize more and more how you can practice the same thing all the time. Thus, your life becomes spiritualized by this understanding, this realization. It liberates you from great stress, great fear. It liberates you from the stress of self-contraction. You have an option. You remain free because of that option. All you are called to do is exercise that freedom. If you will not do it, then it is no wonder that you have problems and complaints and do not grow. If you will exercise that freedom you will inevitably grow. You will inevitably experience this samadhi and this transformation in your daily life. You will inevitably move into the higher stages.