Do Not Reduce This Institution to a Religion Business


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Do Not Reduce This Institution to a Religion Business

a talk by Heart-Master Da Love-Ananda October 18,
1981

 

HEART-MASTER DA: I started Communicating this
Wisdom-Teaching, rather bright-eyed, more than a decade ago
already, and I am still Struggling with the same lack of
response in people that I encountered when I began. Nobody
is really interested. I have not really seen any response to
my Work. I have seen the usual, gleeful,
sitting­around-at-a-lecture attitude with which people
respond to movies and TV. The Teaching Argument is just a
commonplace. To enter into a higher frame of existence is
just not very important to people. They really do not care
to do it, particularly if it requires great effort, great
energy, great attention, great intelligence, great will.
Anything great to be Realized requires all of those things,
but people are used to being sold everything, as if they can
just have it at a cost they can comfortably afford.

 

Like everyone else, you are adapted to the psychology of
the consumer. If something exists to be desired, you can
have it just by coming into contact with it, or by going to
a store, by picking up a book, and by going someplace for a
weekend. Everything is supposed to be instantly consumable.
The message is that what is between you and a mouthwash is
the distance between here and the store. You only need to
plunk your money down. Everything is like a sex-object,
conceived solely in terms of its consumability, its
desirability. Even the great Realizations of human life have
somehow been drawn into the stream of communications that
propose such things merely as desirable objects. However,
the substance of Spiritual life is not merely a desirable
object that you can notice and then desire just because it
is there, or that you can acquire simply by coming in touch
with it. The conventional consumer’s mind says that there is
nothing between you and anything you might desire but space,
whereas what is really between you and What is Great is much
more than space!

 

The distance between you and What is Great is not only
space but time, or mind. It is the distance between where
you are now and your ultimate overcoming. God-Realization is
not a consumable product. Spiritual Teaching cannot be
presented as a consumable object. To become a successful
institution or religion business involves making the
Teaching somehow consumable, an object you can sell. And if
the Teaching is to be an object you can sell, then not only
the Instructions but also the Realization must become
salable.

 

People are not interested in coming to your church if
Enlightenment is not what they get by coming there. If they
do come to your church, and you tell them all the things
they must do in order to become Enlightened, they go to
sleep. People simply do not have any tolerance for the Way
whereby the Great Things are Realized. They reject the whole
process. It is too much. They think it is evil. They cannot
desire the Way.

 

If you cannot make a religious or Spiritual offering in
its fullness available like a consumable object, you cannot
generate the growth that seems desirable. Religious
institutions grow, therefore, by creating religious
illusions, consumable religious products, consumable
Spiritual products. Religious institutions hype illusion, or
ideas, in such a fashion as to make them desirable, make
them somehow seem like Enlightenment itself. You would think
that just the ideas themselves were the equivalent of
ultimate Realization, or ultimate Happiness. All you have to
do is consume these things. All you have to do is get kriya
initiation, and right then, having gotten that now, you are
happy. People flock to organizations to get products that
are hyped, thinking that they are getting Happiness, or
getting the ultimate Great Thing. But they are not getting
true Happiness at all. The religion business exists to make
the unattainable seem like a product that can be
purchased.

 

I have been Teaching the Real Thing to people all these
years, and I know what happens to people when they are
confronted with the realities of Spirituality. Unless they
are unusual people, they basically do not respond. They
somehow can get attached to the Teacher, or attached to
whatever organization may seem to develop around the
Teacher, because they are hopeful of something, or because
in the context of belonging certain goods come across so
consoling that people do not mind being hangers-on.

 

But we do not have an “Enlightenment-product” to sell
here. The Way must be lived. The Way requires disciplines.
As soon as we emphasize the disciplines in The Laughing Man
Institute and talk about the profound orientation to
practice, every student wants to retreat and become a
friend. But if we keep The Laughing Man Institute a kind of
middle-class religion business, wherein we do not make
demands too heavily and we permit people to dramatize their
human ordinariness, then we can make that department into a
business. People do not mind being consumers of The Laughing
Man Institute business we produce here-although even so it
is very difficult to develop that business!

 

One of the reasons it has been so difficult to establish
The Laughing Man Institute is that the Wisdom-Teaching is
inherently critical of the point of view of religion
business. This Wisdom-Teaching just does not have anything
to do with anything like religion business. The
Wisdom-Teaching is not consumable. The Way is not
consumable. The Way is not something some smiling jerk can
purchase and tell his friends about. It is too difficult,
too profound.

 

The problem with the people who are involved here is that
they have not observed life itself in such a light that they
are motivated toward the Great Process. Life still seems to
them to be an amusing opportunity. They want to continue
with its consolations. They are not really observing life as
a whole. They are not really seeing what is before them. The
profound nature of existence escapes them. They are involved
in a very superficial level of existence, largely oriented
toward bodily amusement. For them, life is the proposition
of bodily fulfilment. Of course there is mortality and
difficulty, and therefore they like to throw a little
religion into their heads, just to protect themselves.

 

This Teaching is not the kind of religion that can serve
such a purpose. The kind of religion that can serve that
purpose is conventional, exoteric, downtown churchism and
all the hype of self-help groups. The ultimate,
Transcendental, esoteric Spiritual Process has always been a
great matter. Very few have ever been involved in it. Very
few even heard about it before the last century. The
ordinary run of humanity just is not in touch with it. Thus,
it has always been reserved.

 

Then the Lord said to the monks: “I am released (mukta),
0 monks, from all fetters (pasa), whether divine or human.
You too, 0 monks, are released from all fetters, whether
divine or human. 0 monks, wander! We will go forward for the
benefit of many people, for the happiness of many people,
out of compassion for the world, for the good, welfare and
happiness of gods and men.”

Kloppenberg, Ria, translator, The Sutra on the Foundation
of the Buddhist Order (Catusparisatsutra), Vol. 1 of the
Nisaba Religious Texts Translation Series (Leiden: E. J.
Brill, 1973), p. 43

 

Yet, because the world has gotten into such a bad state,
and because the science of communication has advanced, the
secret stream of human evolution and higher Teaching has
become more public. As a result, the secret Teaching became
part of the domain of business and superficial culture. And
that is our double bind: We are involved in a Teaching that
is fundamentally only for those who can use it, and at the
same time we have an apparent obligation to the world at
large that requires a worldly business.

 

Today all kinds of weak-minded people are making
commentaries on great matters, as if they were authorities.
The Great Teaching has been made an object of abuse and
casual treatment by the general public, who are threatened
by its existence. If you want to succeed as a religious
institution, you must reduce yourself to a common message.
You must present yourself as a congenial, friendly little
thing, a little character that does not know too much or own
too much, is not free too much, is just a good guy. You must
be like everybody else. You must present something that is
consumable by all people just as they are. “Jesus loves you
just as you are” is the message, you see.

 

All people want to be just as they are, and they want to
enjoy themselves just as they are. Such is the common
motivation to be exactly as you are and to enjoy yourself.
People basically come around here expecting to find out that
they can simply enjoy themselves and not have to change one
whit. They merely want to be what they are, the born
physical character. They desire all the things that would be
fun to do, and they want to know how to do them. The reason
they are asking about how to get happy, of course, is that
they are frustrated and unhappy and mortal, but they do not
want to get too philosophical about all that. They do not
want to look at their frustration and unhappiness to the
point of becoming something else altogether. Of course, if
they come to me, they are told, “You should really examine
all of this and be something entirely different.” Yet they
keep coming back every week, asking, “Are you sure that is
the way it is? Are you sure I have to do all this stuff? Are
you really serious, or is this just a bit of theatre? Are
you just setting us up for a big party? What you are really
going to wind up telling us is that we really do not have to
do anything but simply enjoy ourselves, right?” Meanwhile, I
am busy working myself over, trying to Communicate the Truth
to you in such a form that it will make a difference to
you.

 

Now, why should I be worried about that? Why should I be
concerned to find some new way of phrasing the Truth that
will somehow make the difference for you people here? If you
had half a wit, The Knee of Listening would have changed
your life! It has been in print since 1972, but you simply
do not like the implications of The Knee of Listening. It
suggests that you must change, you see. It suggests that you
cannot enjoy the consoling religious ideas, You must have a
fundamental understanding now, and if you live on the basis
of that fundamental understanding, you will change your
life. Your whole life will be taken up by disciplines,
meditation, and God-Realization, but you do not want it.

 

What do you want? You want some promise, some graduated
path. Why must a Teaching based on the Wisdom that there is
no graduated path and that the ultimate Realization is not
the goal of human life busy itself creating a graduated path
wherein the goal of Realization is constantly sought? Why
must a gradual path be created? Because of the nature of the
people who come around. Because they are not really
available to the Wisdom that is offered to them, they must
be given something else to do in the meantime so that
perhaps they will gradually be brought around. Not only are
people not ready for the esoteric dimension of this process,
but they are not even ready for the basic communication.

 

You simply do not use the radical Wisdom. You insist on
being associated with the conventional archetypes. As long
as I use archetypal words, you feel you are in the presence
of something religious, you feel all right, you will keep
struggling along, applying yourself in some very minimal way
because you are not truly motivated. You are motivated only
if you wake up, and then you have great energy. But since
you have not awakened yet, you only want to be surrounded by
a few comfortable slogans and archetypes, and you will apply
the discipline only to the degree that you are not burdened
by guilt.

 

The trouble with religious and Spiritual institutions all
over the world is that people do not practice. In general
the institutions do not even regard this reality to be a
problem. They become immune to it. They are willing to exist
specifically for people who do not practice. Lack of
practice has likewise always been a problem here. I have
been able to function as someone who communicates, but I
have not been able to function as somebody who communicates
in the company of people who practice. The institution
itself takes on more and more of the quality of
non-practice, on the justification that “If we are going to
succeed and grow, then we must give up on this idea that
people are supposed to practice seriously, if at all”

 

If all there is is what there was at the beginning –
which is me, having Realized the Truth-then that is all
there is about this institution that is real. All the rest
of it is a worldly machine that has developed around me
because of my poor interest in bringing other people into
God Realization. But I ask myself, “Why should it be a
concern of mine?” Why am I concerned about whether or not
people hear me and change their lives? That concern just led
me into more and more involvement with people and with the
world, an involvement that confines and threatens my own
existence and that does not represent a change in other
people.

 

I did not become involved in this Teaching Work in order
to create a religion business, not at all. My Teaching Work
was a serious impulse, a real impulse, based on what I had
observed in everybody since the day I was born. What I had
seen in other people seemed to make them worthy of being
instructed. Something needed to be found out, and if it
could be found out, there would be profound change. It
always seemed to me that if I could find it out, then to let
other people know about it was something important to do.
Such has always been my impulse, but it is an impulse that
is always frustrated, even subverted and reinterpreted by
the institutional process of communicating the Teaching
Argument to people. Something could be profoundly different
about everybody’s life, but the fact that I am interested in
its being profoundly different does not mean that other
people are interested in its being profoundly different.
Basically people are not interested.

 

You know that saying in The Knee of Listening, in “The
Man of Understanding” section, something like “Nobody
understands so he makes himself happy with the idea that you
have already understood.” There is no way whereby you get to
understand. There is nothing I can do to make you
understand. The Bodhisattva vow does not really work, not in
any ultimate sense. Some sort of Transmission is involved in
the awakening of one individual, because the Divine Reality
Transmits Itself to the world in one way or another, but
such Transmission is required eternally. It must happen
again and again and again and again. Nothing one individual
can do in one lifetime is going to make the ultimate or
absolute difference for mankind as a whole because of the
nature of this material bondage that is humanity.

 

I have had only the best intentions, but this world, and
the people who come around to hear the Wisdom-Teaching, and
the people who are available to listen to it, are doing
something different than I am doing. I lived what everybody
else lives in the midst of this Teaching Work in order to be
instructive. It became very clear to me in the midst of that
submission that everybody is interested in my living what
they are living forever. What they liked was the fact that I
was living their kind of life, not the fact that I was
Teaching in the midst of their life. Everybody was really
very disappointed by the fact that I did not want to live
that kind of life very long and by the fact that I am not
doing it now.

 

Everybody is wondering where the good times are! People
become worried when they see me just as I am, when I am not
taking on their qualities, playing life just the way they
want to play it. They start getting uptight. If I am just
sort of invisible, criticizing things and making demands,
people become uninterested. They feel burdened by
everything. When all they hear about is the disciplines of
Spiritual life, they lose interest.

 

The survival of the institution should not be dependent
on immature people who presume they are already Enlightened
beings. Because immature people are what they are, we must
have a proper formal structure for their involvement. That
is the way it was always done traditionally. If there
existed a core of renunciate or esoteric practitioners, they
related to the public and to beginners through the kind of
very formal temple structure I have described in the past.
They did not create folksy, informal association with
inappropriate expectations and access to beginners.

It is a nice idea that there be a gathering of mature
practitioners, but it is very difficult to manifest,
particularly in this wasteland where forces propagandize
against the higher possibilities of humanity from all
directions. It is basically against the law to become
Enlightened. You must violate basic human taboos to enter
into the real Process of Spiritual life. There is not enough
free space. Everyone is obliged to be the same. How can you
possibly create an authentic gathering under such
circumstances? It would be a rare case if any single
Realized individual came out of that, and it is rare and
unusual, but today everybody wants to maintain the
egalitarian view of humanity. Everybody imagines that if one
guy can do it, everybody must be able to do it in a weekend.
It must be as easy as pie.

Adepts almost never appear. Real practitioners are very,
very rare. That is the way it has always been, and it is
still the way it is. To hear people talk you would think
there were thousands of Adepts all over the country. There
are not even thousands of real practitioners. There are
people famous for their Spirituality who are not even real
practitioners. This is an Alice-in-Wonderland world. It is
not real. That is why there must be the Great Teaching. That
is why the Truth is of such great consequence, because it is
hardly understood, and the real implications of Spiritual
Wisdom are not grasped.

Even in the optimum circumstance of the traditional
setting, it still took years and years to develop a
disciple. And there were very few of those. Look at the
history of the traditions and consider the people who were
associated with Adepts. How many Adepts were, in effect,
fathered by other Adepts? How many Adepts produced one or
more other Adepts, even in the apparently optimum
circumstances of the traditional setting?

All of the Adepts basically act as if, in their sort of
bright-eyed fashion, they are going to save the world. What
they have Realized obviously has great consequences. If
everybody else could Realize it likewise, things certainly
would be remarkably different. Thus, the Adepts are always
laying the Teaching onto people and suffering and being
abused for doing so. What is the history of mankind? It is
not the absence of Adepts and Teachings. These have always
appeared. It is the non-use of them, the non-response, the
abuse, the suppression. Yes, religion is famous, but not as
true religion, not as the servant of Truth, not even as the
medium of Truth. Religion has become famous because it is
not really religion. It is the same thing that existed
before the Truth was proclaimed. And it makes the Truth or
the atmosphere of Truth into something else entirely,
basically a justification for the conventions of
worldliness, not Enlightenment.

And yet religious institutions have value in that they
keep some sort of stream of Spiritual teaching in the world.
What they present is often falsified, manipulated,
suppressed, abused, and miscommunicated, but these
institutions are the only vehicle apart from the occasional
arising of an Adept. This is why it seems important to me to
create an institution that functions rightly, but not
because I have even the slightest sense that the world could
be suddenly changed by hearing the Truth. It has never
happened, and it is never going to happen, at least not with
humanity as it is. In general, it is not going to happen in
the manifest realms, and there is no other place where it
could happen.

To communicate the Truth is always difficult because the
Truth is about waking up from the presumption you are making
on the basis of manifest existence. Even religion and
so-called Spiritual endeavor tends to be based on that same
presumption. The religion people hold on to, cling to, feel
consoled by, is the religion based on that error, that false
presumption. The Truth is another matter. The Truth is
taught in a religious or Spiritual context, but if it is to
be practiced, the error you are making on the basis of
manifest appearances must be thoroughly transcended. Such
transcendence is Enlightenment. Such transcendence is
hearing the Teaching.

Just to begin the Way you must hear the Teaching. You
must Awaken. Whole-bodily Enlightenment in the most
thorough, full, and high sense involves a Great Process, but
Enlightenment is not its goal. Enlightenment is its root.
Enlightenment is a fundamental Awakening, a fundamental
insight, which you then use moment to moment to create the
Way. A practice that is not based on that fundamental
insight is not based on Truth.

Therefore, the basic Teaching this institution should
represent is the understanding of this fundamental error, or
the mechanism associated with manifest existence that makes
it into an illusion, into suffering, un-Happiness,
un-Enlightenment, Godlessness. You cannot merely believe
something positive and develop a true religious or Spiritual
life. Enlightenment is not simply a matter of believing in
conventional God-ideas that motivate you to be better. All
such ideas must be understood. You must enjoy this
Awakening, this insight. You must hear the Teaching
Argument.