The Way That I Teach – Bubba Free John – The Grace of Suffering

Bubba Free John

on the Intuition of Eternal Life

The Grace of Suffering
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DEVOTEE: I have a question that is
not related specifically to the Way of Divine Ignorance but
to losing the thread of practice. Recently I became very
sick, probably more sick than I have been in years. And I
found that I could not maintain any connection to the
disciplines. I felt it was impossible for me to do this
practice. Under ordinary circumstances when problems arise,
I can observe them and understand that they are my own
activity. But when I was so ill and identifying with the
body, I found that I just was not able to maintain the
practice under those conditions. Would you be willing to say
something about this?

ADI DA SAMRAJ: How terrifying to be
in such a position! “I certainly hope you learned from this
observation and will do better next time.” (Laughter) An
individual is always seeing that he cannot fulfill the
discipline. You are continually being shown the failure of
your life, the conventional strategy of your life, the false
commitment of your life. That inspection is what this
practice is all about. It is not about winning! It is about
Truth, freedom in God! There are no winners in God, none.
Thus, the demonstration of your tendencies is the principal
content of your spiritual life. You did see this, didn’t

DEVOTEE: Very clearly.

ADI DA SAMRAJ: Right. But you also
to a degree mature in the practice of this Way. You never
become the absolute hero in the face of God, but you do
mature in terms of the ordinary content of your life. The
crudity of your turning away begins to break up and you
become a little more sophisticated. Still you are constantly
shown, particularly as your practice begins, as in your
case, that the first levels of false commitment are
generally very gross. You have only to get sick and suddenly
you abandon God! This is a useful lesson. The body becomes
ill and you do not want to fulfill the discipline. You find
yourself possessed by another interest, that is, the body in
itself becomes the principle by which you define yourself.
At another stage when you can pass through such a physical
episode relative to the body or your life circumstances
without being so heavily perturbed, you will begin to see
that you define yourself on some more subtle level, in the
mind or in the psyche.

The practice in the Way of Divine
Ignorance is a continuous revelation-through conscious
participation in the process of inspection-of identification
with phenomena, with limitation, with subjective destiny.
Such a revelation is useful for someone whose intelligence
is available, in the present, for inspection. You are less
distracted then by the parts of your bodily life, and thus
when you see the implications of it you are liberated to a
degree. The revelation chastens you.

Nevertheless, you must also yield
your victory. Spiritual life for most people is a kind of
effort at the end of which they are supposed to be the hero,
the winner, the victor. Such a view is an illusion. The
fulfillment of the disciplines is coincident with
fulfillment of the Law, which is sacrifice or Love. So even
to be so thoroughly ill that you cannot turn to me, through
any conventional device at any rate, can itself be an
instance of this sacrifice. Usually, when you are feeling
relatively good, you can walk about briskly and perform
actions and think of the Spiritual Master and study the
Teaching. But when you are overwhelmed by some circumstance
such as pain, to the point that you do not have the usual
faculties and flourishes by which to represent yourself,
then you have nothing to do but fall. And there is something
to be known in that event.

God is not what you think God to be.
God is realized only in the instant of sacrifice, not in the
instant of congratulations or of some conventional
acknowledgment or success. There is only God. How can there
be God-enjoyment without loss of face? Without sacrifice
itself? Without being undone in God?

And how do you begin to realize such
enjoyment? You begin to realize such enjoyment by suffering.
No one begins the practice of spiritual life until he or she
has suffered and has begun to observe and know that
fundamentally-whether the circumstances are pretty good or
not so good-life, in itself or for its own sake, is
suffering. Our merely born destiny is suffering. The
experience of life becomes, over time, a complication, a
depression, and communicates a fundamental sense that is
suffering. You get to know this only by suffering, by living
an ordinary manifest life and doing what you feel like
doing, doing what everybody does, doing what is culturally
impressed upon you, doing what circumstances require you to
do by reaction, trying to make this a sort of heaven world
or Utopia, trying to make human life a perfect vessel,
trying to make your own life work out terrifically! By
living a usual life you will come to know

Thus, suffering is the first form of
Grace. It is only when you begin to comprehend your life as
suffering, as limitation, as dis-ease in some very
fundamental way that you will practice real or spiritual
life in its true form. Anybody can want to be consoled,
anybody can feel that life could be better or that life is
not really so terribly good right now. But spiritual
practice rests upon the critical comprehension of the usual
life itself as bondage. When this recognition appears, it is
not necessarily accompanied by dismal neurotic side effects,
because it can appear in the midst of a life that is getting
along relatively well. In fact, unless there is a kind of
ordinariness to a life, there is not likely to be very much
intelligence. People whose difficulties are profound, for
whom nothing goes right, are generally those who are the
least available to the grace of suffering. Thus, most
commonly this critical insight or sense of life as suffering
occurs in the midst of a life that is getting along
relatively well. But it can occur in anyone, certainly-in
the midst of a life that is getting along fantastically
well, from the conventional point of view, and also in the
midst of a life that is really, from the conventional point
of view, not getting along well at all!

Prior to the acknowledgment of
dis-ease you think of the world as a something. You
objectify it as a place, a finite circumstance, a fixed
material event, just as you objectify yourself. You imagine
that the world is a massive, solid, physical process and
that your own functions, even your thinking, are a dead end
of chemicals. You go on living that solid, muscular life
until you begin to suffer. Then you cannot be blithe and
naive any longer.

With this recognition of your own
suffering comes a tacit awareness that the world is not
merely physical in nature, but psycho-physical. All the
spiritual and religious traditions of the world are
essentially based upon the acknowledgment that the world is
a psycho-physical process, not a physical one. The world
itself, not you only, not man only, but the world, this
stuff, this universe, is a psycho-physical process whose
essential foundation is, therefore, Consciousness. All the
imagery and language about God that develops within any
religious tradition appears because of this original or
primal supposition.

You become more and more sensitive
to the psycho-physical nature of the universe the more you
are released into a fuller sense of your own existence. When
you cease simply to move about mechanically, to do what you
do, and to exploit yourself in purely vital terms, but when
you have begun to yield through failure, through suffering,
through insight, then the world begins to seem very
different to you. The more psychic you become, the more
conscious you become, and the more obvious it is that the
world is also psychic in its nature. Then you begin to move
into a psychic and feeling relationship to the world, not
just a physical one. The dimension of consciousness in you
ceases to be stopped and prevented. In the case we are
discussing, the psychic, conscious dimension in the one who
asked the question has ceased to be stopped and prevented by
the conventions of life. Suffering has released him into his
own depth. The profundity of this awareness varies from
person to person, but the possibility of true practice
exists only in that instant.

When the world ceases to appear
solid and when you are no longer obsessed, you may still be
moving with your life, but you are no longer obsessed with
it as something ideal and perfect. The whole form of
existence has become loose. Its definitions are no longer
clear. All kinds of experiences may begin to occur in a
person then, all of which tend to make him more in awe, make
him feel more mystery, even drive him a little batty. The
world becomes like dreams-and in fact it is dreams. We are
so used to our conventional objectification of things that
we forget we do not live within a defined world. Everybody
has seen photographs of the earth. The usual man thinks,
“Well, you know, it is a something then!” But the world is a
realm such as the one into which you enter in

Where is that place in dreams? What
is its size? The world is exactly of that kind. The
difference is that you are associated with it in such a way
that it seems much more formidable. You see the subtle and
dream worlds briefly and confusedly, because basically you
rest in this one. But when you begin to suffer life, you see
that this waking world corresponds exactly to your
requirements. Things happen to you, some so-called good and
some so-called bad, exactly in accord with your tendencies.
Things in this world are always testing you and not
fulfilling you. When you begin to see the world as a realm
rather than as a place or fixed something to which you are
attached, then it becomes much more amusing.

What does the notion of saving the
world mean? What is the world? That notion is just as absurd
as saying that you are going to go back into your dream
world tonight and save it! Because we have a fixed idea of
the earth-it has a certain population and so on-we can
imagine everybody believing and doing the same thing,
belonging to the same organization, and all that nonsense.
It is not necessary to save the world. Such a notion is
completely absurd. There are infinite numbers of beings,
infinite numbers of possibilities and changes, and all of
them are an illusion. When you wake up you have no concern
for the dream world. Having awakened, you have no
inclination to save anybody that you met in dreams, or to be
saved yourself! The gorilla can chase you all night, but
when you wake up in the morning, there is no gorilla, no
threat. Then who cares?

Just so, the possibility of
spiritual practice, and also growth in more or less
conventional terms, begins when suffering moves you to
acknowledge your own psycho-physical nature and the
psycho-physical nature of the manifest worlds. Then
everything in life begins to break up and loosen. A new kind
of life can begin, perhaps with all kinds of episodes and
adventures and even self-exploitation. But contained within
the seed of that change is the possibility for God
Realization. Contained within that acknowledgment of
suffering is the possibility of knowing the Spiritual
Master. And when the Spiritual Master is met, then your
self-possessed adventure is interrupted.

When you first begin to know that
you are suffering, you sense that suffering is what happens
to you, as when you became sick. You reason that the
suffering is occurring because of what happened to you when
you were a child, or because of some experience you are
having today-perhaps you are ill or you just lost a million
dollars. Or you think you are suffering because of what is
going to happen to you-you are going to die, you are going
to lose a loved one, you are going to fail. When the
individual first begins to conceive of his or her life as
suffering, as something that is always producing limitation,
he begins an adventure of experiencing, indefinite in length
(it can take lifetimes), in which appear many emotional,
mental, and psychic phenomena and the exploitation of
experience and manipulation of what can happen. For the
usual man spiritual practice is egoic manipulation of what
can happen, what has happened, what is happening. Each
individual then develops an odd life of his own through this
adventure-the worldly man by exploiting life, and the
spiritual seeker by manipulating his bodily mechanism in
more sophisticated ways-until that same sensitivity by which
the life of suffering was realized and acknowledged brings
him into the Company of the Spiritual Master, and he becomes
sensitive to the Spiritual Masters consciousness and

By contrast, the Spiritual Master
constantly indicates that suffering is not anything that is
happening or has happened or will happen to you. Changes of
state are not, fundamentally, to be equated with this
suffering to which you have become sensitive. Your suffering
is your own action. Even what you call yourself is a form of
action. And so the Spiritual Master draws the individual
into more and more intimate company, into the mutually
sacrificial love relationship that spiritual practice
involves. He constantly serves this realization in the
individual, serves this sensitivity to suffering and the
inspection of its nature, serves more and more the intuition
of God, the Infinite Reality. Thus, the individual begins to
take on a pattern of responsibility, whereas before, founded
in his sense of suffering, he wandered. In the Company of
the Spiritual Master his practice becomes specific and a
matter of responsibility, not the accumulation of experience
nor the exploitation of mechanisms of experience. In the
Company of the Spiritual Master he begins to love. He
becomes a sacrifice to the living God.

Suffering is your action. Therefore,
it is the action of contraction, of self-definition, of
obsession with what arises in itself, independent of its
ground or substance or its true Condition. The action that
is suffering produces the usual life as karma, illusion,
negative destiny, unconsciousness. Thus, the Way of Divine
Communion involves a life of counter-action, of other
action, as a specific responsibility. Whatever is not used
becomes obsolete. In the Way of Divine Communion the person
is not continually involved in the affair of his inner life,
his content, his interests, his tendencies, his suffering,
his experience. He is surrendering all that, always. He is
consciously involved in the Presence of God, always. The
action of devotion, then, undermines and ultimately replaces
the false action of self-possession. This is the principle
of the Way of Divine Communion: devotional action which is
different from the action that is suffering and turning from
God or from the Condition of Truth or Reality.

The practice of this Way is
surrender to the Divine, That from which everything arises,
of which everything is the modification, than which there is
no other, which is Only. There is no center for That. Only
when you have yielded entirely, when everything has been
sacrificed, will you know that One perfectly. Thus, in the
case of one who is engaged in the spiritual practice of the
Way of Divine Communion there is reception of the Divine
Presence, without any definition of what it does and is.
First you must simply yield the circumstances that are the
forms of your existence, so-called external and so-called
internal. Then you must surrender the body. Then you must
surrender your life-force, or your sense of energy. Then you
must surrender the mind, or thinking or thoughts. Then you
must surrender knowing, or knowledge. And then you must
surrender self. All these forms of content, of distraction,
must be yielded, from the heart, the great psychic region of
your being.

This process does not involve
acquisitive meditation on any centers of the body, in
descending or ascending order. It has nothing specifically
to do with the spine or the chakras, the internal energy
centers. This process is simply reception and release
without the traditional mechanics. You will see, when you
are instructed, that it involves a certain depth, a certain
opening, in which the entire psycho-physical mechanism must
yield. Experiences may arise, but the specific
responsibility of this initial or foundation process is not
any esoteric yogic technicality. As devotees mature through
the practice of this action that makes the old action
obsolete, the grosser levels of obsession begin to weaken
and attention falls into subtler tendencies.

At first there is much attention to
life circumstances and struggling with a relatively orderly
life. Later the gross ordinariness of your life begins to
become orderly without great strain, and the content that
arises becomes more subtle. Thus, you may very well, and in
general you will, have subtle yogic experiences. You may
even pass out of the sense of this body into visionary
states and move into subtle perceptions. But the spiritual
disciplines are not a way of aligning with the subtle
dimension through techniques. They are a responsibility for
Communion with the Divine.

Thus, whatever arises, you are to
persist in Communion or devotion and yield even the subtle
experiences. In this way, then, you will gradually be drawn
into greater and greater sensitivity to That from which all
this experiencing arises, all this thinking, all this
knowing, all this being “me.” This Way is not something that
you do and then God-Realization happens as a result. All who
take up this practice must presently fulfill the Law. Grace
cannot be communicated in a realizable form unless you
fulfill the Law. Only to the degree that you fulfill the
Law, which is sacrifice, or love, will you realize this

You will, in the course of this
practice, see many things that may seem to you to be God.
And not a single one of them is God, I will tell you this
right now! Many of the traditions enshrine a something or
other that they consider to be God, usually based on the
experience of some great individual. These relics are not
God. People are always saying about another that he worships
idols, not the true God, as in the great religious wars, for
example. There are idols within. There are idols within all
the worlds. Your very functions are idols, not only the
gross ones but the subtle ones as well. All the conditions
of existence are possible idols. And you tend to worship all
extraordinary perceptions.

Thus, when you begin to sense the
Divine Presence, you will feel it first as force, and you
will tend to make force an idol, consider it to be God, and
become obsessively involved with self-manipulation for yogic
or mystical experiences. Just so, when the body and
life-force sensations cease, you may begin to hear inner
sounds and you will want to make sound an idol, thinking it
to be God. You will manipulate yourself in order to have
experiences of subtle planes, visions and so forth. Or at
some point you may begin to see light or lights and you will
perhaps think that a color of light is God or that visible
light itself is God. You will begin to manipulate yourself
so that you can have experiences of light or contemplative
experiences of a great brilliance. But these are not God.
God is That from and in and as which all things or
conditions arise.

You will notice, while watching
things arise out of the force or the sound or the light,
that something is not arising-which is “you”! You, who are
wherever you are, are watching these things arise out of the
gross physical or subtle physical or spiritual material,
mental, or higher mental substances. But the Divine is of
the nature of Consciousness itself. It is only in the case
of perfect intuitive absorption that the Divine is Realized.
Only when even self is yielded do you truly begin to see
that Consciousness, rather than your inwardness or
subjectivity or your consciousness. Then for a while you
will think that being distracted by this intuition, to the
exclusion of every possibility arising, is Realization. You
must sacrifice that also and thus begin to permit the world,
to see that the world is a modification of that same
foundation, a play upon it. Even so, you will be somewhat
“spiritual,” setting yourself apart in various ways and
protecting your sublimity. At last your eyes will open
fully, when you are sacrificed perfectly and perfectly
undone in this devotion. Then there is only God, regardless
of what arises-only God. Then preferences fail, designs
disappear, strategies are of no consequence. The character
of your present circumstances will cease to have any
ultimate significance whatsoever.

Then you will be absorbed in the
Divine always, regardless of the circumstances-waking,
dreaming, or sleeping, alive in the gross plane or passed
into some other appearance. You will truly realize the
psycho-physical nature of the world. In the same moment that
you appear in conventional terms-bodily, personally, doing,
thinking, appearing ordinary-in that same instant and in
every moment there is the Divine Intuition. It is not that
Consciousness is some other principle against which this
fantasy appears. It is one Reality. You will see that all
this appearance is Consciousness. It has the same quality
exactly as what appears when you look within to think. The
manifesting world is mind. And it has no necessity. It
simply persists. It goes on, it is play, it is humor. There
are endless possibilities for other kinds of worlds and also
endless possibilities for experiencing in this world-none of
which is of any consequence to one who is free in


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