Right practice of the Way of the Heart depends on “hearing” the Teaching, on an insightful response to it, particularly its critical argument. The essence of the critical argument is that you are tending to persist in the drama of Narcissus, which is the summary image of one who is self-possessed, contracted, presuming himself to be an individuated, separated, mortal person. You must “hear” that critical argument constantly in order to practice rightly. You must be in the disposition of that “hearing” in order to “see” the Spiritual Master, in order to Commune with the Spiritual Master, in order to transcend your tendency to relate to me as an object, and in order to transcend the object value of all phenomena.
You all have read and heard a great deal about spirituality and religion, but your approach to spiritual life has remained conventional. It is a self-possessed approach. Even the traditions of religion and spirituality largely represent self-possessed approaches of human beings to the Divine Reality. Thus, we have all of these archaic and symbolic traditions of religion, each one claiming to be the absolute one, and we have all kinds of esoteric orders, each one claiming to have the ultimate practice. In your approach to the Spiritual Master, in your approach to this Way of life, you are tending to duplicate the approach that created these limited traditions. Most fundamentally, it is the approach of self-possession and self-meditation. Until there is the transcendence of this Narcissistic mood, your belief in religion and your use of spiritual practices do not make the slightest bit of difference.
All religions, all practices, including this path and practice become the ritual conventions of Narcissus unless that tendency is transcended. Human beings habitually live totally in this destructive, deluded, and separated state of being. It is a lie about the nature of existence. In Truth, there is no separate consciousness. However, you persist in this self-involved. Narcissistic state of being while you consider the matter of Truth, the Spiritual Master, and his Teaching, reflecting upon it in yourself, as yourself. You confront it as “yourself.’’ Various aspects of it may interest you so that you become involved in this practice in some nominal fashion, but it is only the genuine “hearing” of the Teaching, the transcendence of yourself, that makes the practice true. It is only this “hearing” that permits you to enter into Communion with God in my Company.
If you come into my Company as yourself, full of yourself, turned upon yourself, then you cannot “see” me truly, you cannot recognize the Spiritual Master, alive as the Radiant Bliss and Consciousness that is your own true Nature. You simply see this flesh body. And when you sit in the Communion Hall you tend to focus attention upon me rigidly, lifelessly, and you tend to interpret the Spiritual process as a subjective process, as something that happens “within” you, in your mind. The truth of the matter is that the spiritual process has nothing whatever to do with the subjective being, except that it is the transcendence of the subjective being.
The fundamental process with which you must become involved is your biophysical transformation. The literal, physical, living body-mind must go through evolutionary and transcendental changes. Even so. all kinds of people read about spiritual life thinking that it is merely a matter of getting quiet, thinking and believing in a certain fashion, or experiencing a subjective sense of “no being.” Enlightenment is considered to be more like an attitude than a great transformation. But the real spiritual process necessarily involves the literal biological transformation of the body-mind. There is no Enlightenment, no God-Realization without this bodily transformation.
I have described the spiritual process in terms of seven stages of progressive growth, adaptation, responsibility, and maturity. They are obligatory stages. You cannot realize Perfect Enlightenment, or the seventh stage of life, merely by associating with ideas or descriptions of that Realization. It is not by focusing on your inwardness that this transformation takes place. The process by which this transformation takes place depends upon “hearing” the critical argument about your Narcissistic, contracted, loveless ways and then opening, from the heart, into Divine Communion.
When the usual man. Narcissus, hears about the spiritual process and also hears that it involves a biophysical transformation rather than just a mental transformation, if he does not recoil and react to the demand implicit in these arguments, he wants to do things to himself that will motivatedly produce this transformation. It is such Narcissistic personalities, for the most part, who have created spiritual and religious traditions, as well as psychiatric, scientific, and technological methods for changing people.
People who become involved in aspirations for true transformation through the imagery of religion and the esoteric traditions of spirituality- soon also become involved with various versions of renunciation and inversion. They think that to take up the spiritual process seriously requires becoming a renunciate. So they start giving up this and that. They want to become sexless swamis and wear robes and enter into hours and hours of closeted meditation. On the other hand, others, who are more Western in their approach get involved in scientific literature about the psycho-physical processes that people equate with Enlightenment. They find out what parts of the nervous system are activated by the kundalini, what hormones are secreted by the pituitary gland during meditations, and what brain waves are emphasized during certain kinds of relaxation. Thus, they begin to approach it in another way. which is equally Narcissistic. This is actually a new “tradition” in which the seeker is manipulated from without by various means, such as drugs, therapies, and intimacy with machinery of various kinds, all intended to bring about the profound biophysical transformation that is called Enlightenment or God-Realization.
Thus, we have the two conventional methods: the method of renunciation and inversion, typical of religious, spiritual, and mystical traditions, most common in the Orient: and the other method, which is the technological manipulation of the psycho-physical being, a new tradition, typical of Western approaches to human change. But both of these approaches are founded in the same self-possessed consciousness that desires changes of experience. Though the self-possessed personality may somehow become involved with ideas associated with higher human transformation and Enlightenment, he has not “heard” the essence of spiritual Teaching. Therefore, instead of entering into the profound sacrifice in which this transformation occurs in its highest spiritual sense, he looks for ways to manipulate himself, to remain self-involved, and to generate changes for his own amusement.
This mood, this strategy, this pattern of Narcissus is the convention of human existence all over the world. Each one of you is bound to this method of existence you have learned through the conditioning of your entire life. In your self-possession and separate consciousness you want to feel better, you want to get out of trouble, you want somehow to escape the dilemma in which we exist. We are alive and conscious, and yet we are dying. No matter how much you improve your state, therefore, it all comes to an end. But you want to escape this threat. This is the primal motive of Narcissus: to escape the sense of threatened existence and to enter into a sense of permanent, immune, unthreatened existence. The effort of Narcissus is toward self-enclosure. He creates a hedge about himself with all kinds of experience.
Until you transcend this method, you cannot truly enter into the process of spiritual life in my Company. You cannot truly enter into the higher transformation and ultimate transcendence of Man. no matter how much you manipulate yourself through renunciation and inversion, or through mechanical manipulation from without. All such methods are extensions of the ritual of Narcissus. They will transform your experience temporarily, but they will never amount to Transcendental Realization.
There must be a literal, biological or biophysical transformation of the body-mind in order for the seventh stage of life (and all stages above the third) to manifest truly and stably. The question of Narcissus is: “Well then, what do I do to myself to make this happen?” But that is not the appropriate question. That you must go through this biophysical transformation is secondary to the fundamental Teaching, which is that you are self- possessed, contracted upon yourself, deceiving yourself, considering yourself to be a separate consciousness, at odds with all other beings, existing with a chronic sense of dilemma and threatened existence. This is your trouble. This is your suffering. And the transcendence of this is Happiness. In fact, it is in your transcendence of the motive to become Enlightened that you are Enlightened, not by “working on yourself ” without transcending yourself. You must transcend yourself to be Enlightened. The act of self-transcendence itself is the medium of this transformation, not any self-involved techniques.
This is what I mean when I say that you must “hear” this Teaching. You must awaken from the illusory dilemma of Narcissus and all of the rituals built upon it. You must pass beyond the bad company of your self-communion into Good Company, into Divine Communion. That itself is the principle of this Way. Apart from that, everything else is secondary. Even if you fulfilled every other aspect of the practice down to the last letter, if this gesture of self-transcending Love-Communion were absent, the process could not take place.
Thus, our Way is not the Narcissistic way of renunciation, nor is it the Narcissistic way of external manipulation. This Way requires a response from the heart of the being. Lou must awaken in your “hearing” of the Teaching and “seeing” of the Spiritual Master beyond the motive of self-possession. You must enter into Love-Communion with the living God. Our Way is characterized by a moral conversion, by natural Lawful disciplines, and by a continuous process of self-transcendence through love. You must understand that fundamental difference. The only process that serves Enlightenment is the conversion of the heart, the moral conversion of the being from the self-possessed methods of Narcissus to self-transcendence, to God- Communion.