Authority, Certainty,Growth and Freedom
In an Age of Uncertaintyand Doubt
Editors note: The followingis an excepted and edited talk given by Adi Da Samraj on April 6, 1987
taken from The Way of The Heart StudentText Series, Vol 1, No 2.
Kings and Queens
ADI DA SAMRAJ: Human cultures in general, until very recently, have functioned on the basis of the presumption that there is authority, an authoritative view, an existing revelation about the universe, existence itself, about what is happening, what is going on here. In the Indian system, the Vedas are the traditional something that is pointed to as authoritative. In the West it is usually either science or the Bible. In the Islamic tradition it is the Koran. Each social or cultural system has its basis of authority.
Now, in the twentieth century, authority is disappearing, if it has not already disappeared altogether. Yes, of course, there are still religious people who want to believe in the old ways, in the old doctrines, in the old books, but people’s ability to affirm authority is decreasing. Society as a whole is no longer based on it, or only tentatively associated with it, and thus authority is rather ambiguous. Authority has become less desirable. It is even becoming taboo, so that the prevailing mood is one of anti-authority. Nothing is “written”. There is no fixed revelation now. We are all supposed to investigate everything and discover the Truth for ourselves. We may thus progressively learn more and more, but we do not have an authority. Therefore, we have no right to certainty, no cultural norm that tells us we can be certain about such and such.
Even a scientific theory like the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe, though it is commonly believed, is not affirmed as absolute doctrine. Maybe the Big Bang theory will turn out not to be true after a few more observations, or will disappear completely in a few decades. Or maybe it will be given more support from continued research. In any case, it will still have the status of a theory, rather than the status of authority.
In this sense, you are not like people who lived even in the nineteenth century in the West, you see, or in centuries previous. If you had been born in those centuries, not only would you have grown up believing that there was an authoritative revelation about nearly everything, but you would have lived with that same point of view as an adult. In most circles today Science has risen as the dominate authoritative point of view. Science has achieved its present status through a long period of struggling with the institutions and the human state of mind associated with the old authorities, such as the church, the Bible, and so on.
The great concepts that have influenced the twentieth century – like evolution through Darwin, or the psychoanalytical understanding of the human being through Freud, or Einstein’s views about the nature of physical reality – have had to struggle even to be heard within the context of a previously existing culture of authority that did not believe it, that even felt threatened by these scientific investigations.
The struggle between science and existing authority dates back to science’s beginnings as a grand cultural influence in the Renaissance. The early Renaissance was characterized by grand dramatic confrontations between the new and growing approach to existence represented by science, and the old authorityrepresented by institutions and books like the Bible. Youall know about Galileo and his struggles, forexample.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Darwin’s writings about the origin of species and his theory of evolution through natural selection were reacted to most profoundly by people who affirmed the authority of the Bible and the church. You know about the “monkey trial”, the Scopes trial. Even now, the argument rages between fundamentalist creationists and scientific cosmologists.
Culture of Doubt, Suspicion andMistrust
The culture into which we have all been born, therefore, is a culture of doubt, not a culture based on authority or certainty. Authority is taboo, and certainty is taboo. It is difficult, then, for anyone to come to a truly balanced state of mind, because balance depends on a kind of certainty, integrity, freedom from doubt and fear. But if it is culturally taboo to be certain, and if authority, or authoritativeness, is inherently in doubt and culturally taboo, then you cannot come to a point of certainty. You cannot come to a point of no doubt. And you cannot affirm something “without doubt”.
You all clearly reflect that attitude. Nobody sat down with you and told you this is the way you are supposed to be, but you happened to turn out that way. You are the result of the cultural and social forces of our time. You were largely unconscious of their influence. You just absorbed it. You adapted to that point of view. You came to your doubt progressively because of the influences around you. Being full of doubt and uncertainty does not feel good, but you still are motivated by doubt, by uncertainty, by a lack of authority to try to regain your balance, to try to regain integrity. You are doing it in your own particular way, and other people try to do it in their way.
There is no doubt that certain kinds of uncertainty are totally appropriate. Until you precisely know how a particular something happens. Until you have truly learned about something through real observation, it is totally appropriate to be uncertain about how something works. It is therefore not necessary that human beings be absolutely certain about everything. I do not perceive that human beings need such certainty, which is a kind of closed-mindedness, no-life, no-movement, no ability to grow.
On the other hand, uncertainty inthe most primal sense, at the level of existence or beingitself, seems to be more a kind of disease. It is a lack ofintegrity, a lack of wholeness. That kind of uncertainty, itwould seem, one needs to transcend. People tend to want totranscend the primal uncertainty by feeling absolutely andinappropriately certain about what nobody is at all certainabout and should not be certain about, since neither theynor anyone else has investigated it.
People tend to affirm a great dealof nonsense to achieve primal certainty, whereas primalcertainty ought to be achieved on the basis of Truth, orRealization. If you truly examined your grandmother’saffirmations, you could not be certain of the things sheaffirms. The certainty she feels somehow gives her a kind ofsecurity, but in your feeling, at any rate, she is gettingher primal certainty by believing in nonsense.
The Stages of Life
When human beings in general tend tobe characterized by a certain point of view, a certainunderstanding, a certain stage of life, that point of view,that understanding, that stage of life tends to become thenorm and thus tends to limit everybody’s understanding andgrowth. If that same society were associated with anauthoritative source or tradition expressive of adisposition much more advanced than is commonly achieved,that authoritative presence, because it is acceptable topeople, would be the principle by which everybody continuesto grow. If there is no such authority, then people will, intheir collective non-wisdom, tend to suppress oneanother1and make taboo the very thing that must not be taboo ifpeople are to grow.
Freedom and TrueAuthority
Just as it is associated withtolerance and cooperation, freedom is naturally associatedwith authority – not suppressive authority, not theso-called true-believer’s fundamentalism, not cultism. Theexercise of true intelligence and freedom, in other words,naturally or natively associates itself with true authority,honors and makes good use of the signs and representations,demonstrations, and Blessings of trueRealizers. Such authorityhas traditionally been the context of human culture, but ithas unfortunately been adulterated, and almost eliminated,made taboo even in the twentieth century. This has produceda process of subhuman acculturation wherein everybody as anego is presumed to be a self-sufficientauthority, anti-authority isthe accepted disposition, and rebellion is considered to bethe basis of freedom or liberty.
In the face of this subhumanorientation to freedom2,the State’s efforts to control and suppress and demandconformity have increased. In other words, freedom is notincreasing with all this so-called liberty. Rather,non-freedom is becoming more and more the norm, because whenpeople become free in that self-possessed rebellious sense,the State must make more dramatic efforts to control them.The normative, non-Realized disposition is thus enforcedmore and more tangibly. I think this is the unfortunatestate of mankind at the present time.3
A fundamental characteristic of trueauthority is Universalism4,the opportunity to function on the basis of the highestpossible concept, the most inclusive orientation, ratherthan suppression, or the demand for conformity to a certainpoint of view. False authority localizes and polarizes. I donot advocate that at all. But true authority promotes auniversal disposition, and therefore tolerance andcooperation. That is what I mean by authority. Don’tmisunderstand me – true authority supports and educatespeople in a great disposition, one that is truly human, notsubhuman, but greater than ordinary – human, a true ideal ifyou will. It makes a true ideal the basis of human activity.It is therefore necessarily cooperative and tolerant and notsuppressive, and it transcends polarization.
One of the functions of trueauthority, therefore – not arbitrary, suppressive authority,but true authority, an authoritative tradition of Truth – ifit remains extant or culturally presumed, is to give peoplea resource for their fundamental integrity or certainty.True authority also keeps the collective non-wisdom frombecoming suppressive to the point that people cannot growanymore.
The Fourth Stage ofLife
The next stage of growth for humanbeings in general is the leap to the fourthstage of life. That leaprequires true self-understanding and transcendence of theegoic disposition associated with the first three stages oflife. How will people make that transition if they do notcome into association with an authority, a source of Truth,about which they can be certain or in relation to which theycan be moved beyond themselves? It is not possible whilethey are guided by their own mentality and the collectivementality of non-wisdom with which they are associated. Ifanyone is to grow, there must be a breakthrough of somethingauthoritative, convincing, certainty-creating, awakening.Such has been the function of the great traditions ofultimate Realization, even of religion ingeneral.
Human existence, as I have suggestedto you, develops through a structureof seven stages. The firstthree stages of life represent a period of adaptation andgrowth that we could call human in the most fundamentalsense. The body-mind, the emotional being, the ordinaryhuman psyche, and all the social expressions associated withthe human being are developed in the context of the firstthree stages of life.
We could say that the fourth stageof life is the terrestrial stage of development. Althoughcertainly human life in its first three stages isterrestrial, growth or development or adaptation in thecontext of the first three stages is toward those thingswhich are specifically human. In the context of the fourthstage of life, at least until its advanced developments,growth takes place not merely in the context of humanindividuality but also in the context of human existence ordescended being itself in its terrestrial or earthly form.The process in the fourth stage of life, therefore, untilits advanced or ascending form develops, isself-transcending receptivity to the Divine, or theSpiritual Reality, in descent, down through thefrontalline.
The authoritativeness of Realizationin the context of the fourth stage must somehow breakthrough if you are to pass beyond the merely human stages tothe terrestrial stage. But that stage is not the end either.Doctrines associated with bhakti and devotional existenceand Spiritual receptivity are not sufficient, and eventuallyyou must grow beyond them. Therefore, even greater authoritybecomes necessary.
Authority,Certainty, Growth and Freedom
In an Age of Uncertaintyand Doubt
1. Exotericreligion is primarily a communication that intends to bringpolitical and social order to the public world. Exotericreligion is primarily a social gospel. Esoteric ecstatics,on the other hand, are very difficult to controlin theusual (conventional) sense. It is virtually impossible, forexample, to interest ecstatics in being socially productivefor its own sake. Ecstatics generally value the practice ofbeing civil in relation to other peoplebut it is verydifficult to get them to labor in factories and bureaucraticbusiness organizations merely for the sake of worldlysuccess, or, otherwise, to get them excited about themundane purposes of a great State! Therefore, exotericreligion tends to eliminate all aspects of religiouscommunication that suggest anything but how to be aproductive and positive social personality. To reinforcethese qualitiesand even to suppress ecstaticqualitiesis the guiding purpose of exotericreligion. Up!- Adi Da Samraj
2. In more moderndays, since Spirituality has become a subject of masscommunication and popularization, the Spiritual Way Itselfhas become increasingly subject to conventionalinterpretation and popular controversy. In the broad socialcontext of the first three stages of life, self-fulfillmentis the common ideal. Therefore, the common mood is one ofadolescent anti-authority and anti-hierarchy, and the commonsearch is for a kind. of ever-youthful ego omnipotence andego-omniscience. TheKnee of Listening
3. The “Western”time of Man is that epoch which is characterized byambiguity relative to any kind of dependency, any kind of”authority”, or even any demand from without. The “Western”and “Westernizing” Man (male or female), including even allthe “modern” and “modernizing” human world, is deeply set inrebellion. This dark time is thoroughly characterized by areactive and adolescent, immature, egoic, and ego-bound, andego-binding rebellion against all that is not the ego-“I”-and all that can be described as true “authority”, and all”authority-figures”, and even all “others”.LateTime Epoch
4. The alwaysprincipal necessity for humankind is to establish andperpetually enact personal, cultural, and socialunderstanding, means, obligation, and accountability for thepersonal and the universal collective transcending of thepsycho-physical ego-I, or the otherwiseinevitable universal personal, cultural, and social habitand distress of ego-bound and ego-binding action andsystem-chaos. Aletheon
Authority,Certainty, Growth and Freedom
In an Age of Uncertaintyand Doubt