The Principal Mood, fear
Louise and Sal Lucania – 1974
Sal Lucania – 1975
The transformation in consciousness enjoyed by one who does sadhana in the company of Bubba free john is a graceful process. The following two talks given by Bubba to his students and disciples together make up a concise description of this process and the stages of its realization.
In the first talk delivered in late November 1974, Bubba discusses the necessary penetration of what he calls the principal mood or the underlying sense of fear that motivates our conventional life of suffering.
This penetration need not involve dramatic breakdowns and episodes of the kind described in one of Bubba’s disciples at the beginning of this talk.
In fact, it is just this kind of drama that is made obsolete by the appearance of the true guru and the enjoyment of sadhana in his company.
DISCIPLE OF BUBBA FREE JOHN
SAL: I wanted to talk to him about my own sadhana because of a series of phases that I felt I had been going through since I entered Bubba’s house and left Bubba’s house some of which was communicated in the god and the goddess fear experience that would periodically arise and then disappear.
I think about six or seven weeks ago I guess before I left for New York it began again and it didn’t stop. It brought me to a point today where I was just immobile in bed for about ten hours examining the stages that I had been going through and not knowing where I was at relative to anything anymore.
I went over to speak to Bubba about it and we got into various aspects of my sadhana including the teaching and inquiry where I expressed to him for a year I used this inquiry and we went through the phase where this connectivity was generated by Bubba and then he withdrew or relaxed that generation and I found myself left with nothing.
The teaching no longer could be used to sort of get me out of that sense or that feeling and I found myself was constantly in it all the time and I thought that my sadhana had collapsed completely so I went over there tonight to speak to him about that not knowing where I was relative to anything and not being able to now avoid that sense of fear.
I think the answer communicated to me about the stages of student sadhana and what takes place and how ultimately because I was saying that I had a working knowledge of the teaching by virtue of my functioning in an ashram for a long time and none of that any longer relieved me.
I couldn’t make use of that to bounce me out of there anymore. I just continuously fell into it. He proceeded to communicate to me how at some point that must take place where you do fall into that kind of a situation and at some point where nothing becomes available anymore and you do just continuously fall into that situation and it was really very helpful to me because at least I wasn’t feeling guilty about it anymore.
(Laughter from audience)
It didn’t matter to be happy and all of that and here I was continuously falling apart. So anyway I wanted to relay some of the groundwork for what he wanted to communicate to me.
BUBBA: The things I told Sal the other night seemed to me to have a general application to everyone and they give you a picture in terms of stages of what the student sadhana is as a conscious affair so that you have some idea at what point student sadhana has fulfilled itself or has become mature after which quite a different sadhana appropriate for a disciple comes into play.
When a person first becomes a student in the ashram based on his sympathy with the teaching, he begins a period of confrontation with the teaching in the form of demands, in the form of ongoing instruction, the responsibilities at a functional level. You must develop that self observations of various kinds arise. Insights relative to our own game arise. A certain amount of sophistication relative to this teaching develops and perhaps the individual begins to inquire in this form of waiting relationship at random. But simply because all that has occurred, doesn’t mean that you have fulfilled your life as a student.
Now you’ve put in your year as a student, you know that and now you’re supposed to be a disciple. The student stage of this sadhana is fulfilled only in the case of radical understanding, only in the case of real inquiry. The kind of inquiry in sadhana that I just described is a relatively superficial one. It’s more a kind of acquaintance with the work in some of its implications to you on a superficial, behavioral and psychological level.
Beneath your conventional game of life there is a principal mood and fundamentally its content fear and during the course of your sadhana you periodically come close to that sense, that felt dilemma, that fear. All of this sadhana generated in this ashram is a process that always brings you into more and more intimate content with that principal mood, that fear. So, all of this sadhana is constantly bringing you into a crisis in which you cease to be involved in conventional mentality and insight and behavioral change and philosophy and all the rest and fall into that principal mood which underlies your conventional game.
Depending on the force of your movement into this work in the earlier phases of your sadhana, you will go through difficulties relative to the work itself. And so there’s the usual rise and fall coming and going reluctance and commitment and all of that in the earlier phases. The reason that drama takes place is because of this crisis, its possibility. As soon as the individual begins to feel something of that crisis, begins to move reflectively, the various ways into the sense of that principal mood are fear which underlies his conventional life, so he begins to touch on a little bit through the crisis the development of this sadhana.
He reacts. He tries to do something about it. One of the ways he has of reacting is to consider the possibility of abandoning sadhana altogether to consider the teaching to be false, Bubba free john to be crazy and all the rest. When he gets a little better hold on that, he begins to then perhaps doubt himself as a way of reacting to this felt crisis. Doubting the teaching and the guru and then doubting yourself are the two basis forms of that initial reaction or reluctance to enduring this crisis, this falling into that principal mood.
At some point though if you don’t leave, or commit suicide, whatever (laughter from audience), at some point you begin to stand in place and you obviously are going to do this sadhana and that’s it. You’re going to pass through the crisis regardless of your reluctance and so you continue again to go through the game of rise and fall, all the phases that I’ve talked about.
You all will be having insights and seeing where you’re at and all that. So all that takes place on this superficial level on top of this principal mood and during that period you always had the teaching to resort to and you always had study groups and the possibility of insight and of learning again what you’re up to and you’re seeing it all (laughter).
But then there comes a time when you begin to fall at random but more and more certainly into that principal mood and what Sal was talking about, what he keeps talking about this evening is his experience of that.
Previous to this time, Sal like anyone else was always reacting to that fundamental dilemma, that felt mood or fear with his personal games, his insights, his grasping of the teaching, and everything else. He would always react to it by getting himself into shape somehow or other getting on top of it.
My way of getting on top of it is understanding a little bit, inquiring, etc. but when this crisis is intensified so that you begin to fall into this principal mood randomly for longer periods of time, and without any defenses, you no longer have at your disposal these alternative ways of getting on top of it.
You begin to pass through a period of time in which you don’t have any of the things you had before to resort to.
This period of time when you lie in that mood, that fear, that dilemma without resorts, without being able to comprehend it, without being able to inquire, without being able to understand the teaching, without being able to engage in an emotional connection with the guru, without finding satisfactions in your sadhana, without finding satisfaction in the ashram, without finding hope, without any of that.
during that time it is still your responsibility to live in this community without dramatization. you don’t have the right because you are going through that process to go insane and that is why the earlier phase of this sadhana serves, because it prepares you in sheer functional terms to live appropriately to enjoy a disciplined functional existence while you must pass through later on this difficult crisis.
So there is this range of all conventional existence and with that there is this principal mood and beneath that, and let’s talk about that in spatial terms, you know what I mean, and with That is the intuitive consciousness. The guru operates from two directions then.
He’s in the same picture, the one essentially externally through communicating the teaching verbally and making demands, creating conditions, creating community. He works to bring about this crisis in which you fall into that principal mood.
he works also from the other direction, from the direction of that intuitive consciousness so that when you fall into that principal mood, he works by grace to awaken that intuitive realization and that is the level in which the teaching exists for one who is passing through this crisis. It exists as grace. It exists as that fundamental consciousness which is the guru which is your own nature also.
And so a phase appears in the sadhana of a student in which he passes through this principal mood, this dissent into this fundamental karmic condition. While passing through that period, understanding arises relative to that mood.
It is understood, comprehended as your own activity as a present activity. When that insight appears, since it’s on quite a different level than on all the more or less superficial, behavioral, psychological levels in which you enjoyed insight before, it is a comprehensive and intense form of insight.
It is fundamental insight and that is what I call understanding, not the understanding that takes place in the conventional psycho-physical state but that understanding that takes place within this principal mood. That is fundamental understanding.
One year later………
Bubba Free John talks to his community of devotees about ‘The principal mood’.
After we left here on Saturday night, several devotees followed me over to the house there and started asking questions, sort of continuing the discussion that had been going on here. There were a lot of questions about this event of passage through the principal mood and so forth.
If you remember when I first spoke about that late last year, Sal had come over to my house and was talking to me about experiences he was having at the time about fear and the like. I came over and sat with everyone and decided while talking with Sal, that I could speak to everyone here about it. I have spoken since that time on a number of occasions about that process and because of the general quality of the human being which is self-obsessive and wants as much drama associated with itself as possible, the idea of the spiritual process being super dramatic, heroic in fact, is much more appealing than intuitive conscious resistance. So the idea of going through an episode of absolute terror and confusion and disassociated thinking and collapse and so forth is very appealing and sounds like something is really happening and the fact that this real process is not something that is really happening. It is not in itself identical to the passage that may appear when you’re alive outwardly or inwardly. It is not identical to the content that may appear in your life, the kind of learning we all have gotten through television and school and not in psychiatry and endless paperback literature reinforces this notion that real existence is an heroic dramatic affair and when the real spiritual process takes place, it’s a matter of unbelievable experiences positive and negative. This satisfies the narcissistic demand and narcissistic image of existence. When I spoke to you on that first occasion after speaking with Sal, I was interpreting an aspect of this process relative to his kind of experience as easily as a kind of metaphor for an event that is not in itself dramatic. It just happens to be associated with dramatization, a dramatization that Sal himself was experiencing at the time. It was already assembled then.
Passage through the physical mood is not the same thing as primal therapy or some psychiatric episode anymore than vital shock is the same thing as birth trauma. It is simply the real process of understanding is absolute and perfect in its nature. It’s not the equivalent of mentalizations and of philosophies of mere subjectivity and so forth. that is a very direct affair. You can take as long as you like and the reason you’ll do that is because you love drama.
Do you see where a cat will catch a mouse sometimes? Frequently I had a cat bring a mouse into the house. The cat could just as well deal with the mouse in the yard. The cat would bring the mouse into the house instead of knock it around for awhile, make it run, slap it back, and torment it, leap on it, again and again. You all play with this whole process in that same way. You make it indirect because you want all kinds of drama to be associated with it. It’s in fact, the drama, the content that interests you. You want all kinds of neurotic episodes, heavy bullshit, infusions of near insanity and breakdowns (laughter). You want to be dealt with heavily. You want conditions and you want to really have to try it harder and so forth. You love all that stuff and the more you love it, the more time you’re going to spend playing with it. And so you will make it necessary for there to be episodes of all kinds.
The other way to pass through the principal mood is to go directly through the heart and not waste any time bullshitting in fear. Of course in practice there will be a certain amount of theatre in everybody’s case. Perhaps in most people’s cases there will be lots of cycles and phases and insights and so forth. the process I am describing is instant, direct, present and is just as much a matter of penetration of a moment of fear as it is a penetration of any ordinary thought. Sheer terror coming out of the unconscious is no weight here, an object, then the simplest reverie or thought.
The process I am talking about is not heroic. It’s not an effort that succeeds. It’s not a game by which you earn an inquiry or discipleship or anything of that kind. It is a process in consciousness in which you see the present event of your existence is this contraction and know what just proceeds it and every moment in which that occurs there is a natural falling out of the binding limitation that you are compulsively creating into an unnamable sense of existence. That is the natural state. It is the intuition of the heart whenever it occurs. It is simply that when a life becomes founded in that intuition, that intuitive consciousness comes to the front of that life and begins to work upon all the events of life most directly. That intuition is not simply unnamable and describable but has revealed itself to be the very reality which is as in the case of the devoted, so it is not really appropriate to objectify this moment of passage through the principal mood and think of it in those kinds of dramatic terms. There may at random be some individuals in some sort of moment like that, something comparable in its appearance to the experience I described in my own case in seminary. But it is not necessary for there to be any such drama. It is only necessary to pass directly into that intuition.
If consciousness rests in that intuitive enjoyment, it has already passed through the principal mood. It has obviated the principal mood. That’s the point of passing through it, not to have the experience of terror, but to be free of the limitation. If you pass directly in front of insight inquiry and so forth and into that intuition, that mood of fear which is natural to the ego to that activity of self-definition is undone. It has no force. We rest in that intuitive consciousness. We are happy. There is the clear and uncaused and reasonable sense of happiness of unobstructed consciousness, no threat, and there is no self in that intuition. There is no fear. In the next moment when we yield again to conditions perhaps but the fundamental instrument whereby the mood of fear in all of its forms is overcome is that direct passage, that intuition, a nominal mental repetition on the formula of avoiding relationship is not the equivalent of that intuition.
There must be real insight. The force of consciousness must have moved out of its seclusion. There must real inquiry activated from the very nature of the individual. So in order for there to be a real inquiry, the force of fear which is hidden in the unconscious and unconscious life must be passed through. It must be obviated but it is not obviated specifically by a kind of psychiatric passage through the subconscious and unconscious life. It is rather obviated by a direct passage into your real nature and condition and that direct passage is fundamentally a simplicity and a graceful process.
The guru enters into the affair of human life in order to communicate the way of that process in conditions that serve it and also to generate it, so the entrance of the guru into the affair of human life is a significant event. It makes the possibility of spiritual life a graceful possibility, not an heroic affair for those who have the calmer intensity to struggle through the great circle of the cosmos. So the fundamental condition of this real process is Satsang itself. That is the realization. That is the communication. That is the samadhi. When one enters into direct sacrificial relationship with the guru, that intuition is established and the conditions that serve that intuition are established and in Satsang then, it’s that the relationship then becomes the principle of your sadhana, but it can indeed be a graceful process. It’s only if you remain bound through lack of insight to your own theatre, your own possibility, your own separate and heroic spirituality, if only that remains the principle of your spiritual life, that you’re going to have to go through a prolonged period of up and down and phasing and struggling, coming and going. I’m looking great on those occasions when you get to be announced as the disciple and so forth. There will be no such occasions because it is simply a natural process, the description of disciple sadhana and so forth. It’s just that. It’s a description to account for elements that all of you will in one form or another realize in this sadhana. It’s not a way of establishing a kind of cultic organizational game in which you get acknowledged for this and that and you attain this and that and so forth. It’s simply a way of making sense out of the process and that at appropriate stages, other things may be added so that at certain stages you may see the signs that will make it possible for you to adopt to more responsibility.
So the sadhana is very simple and is graceful. You consider the guru’s argument and then you go on and meet the guru. On the basis of your response to the teachings, having seen and make points in your own case, you enter into that relationship naturally, voluntarily and the more you live that relationship, the more it communicates itself. And on the basis of that relationship, you accept the discipline and conditions and of the community of service and study and the theatre of our life together. But the process itself is very natural. It is that response, having that argument make its points, to the point of essential and spontaneous surrender to the guru which in that case becomes Satsang, becomes samadhi, not true samadhi essentially but there’s natural intuition. There’s happiness.
Then, continued consideration of that argument under the conditions given which serve to reflect your own drama to you to the point of insight and all this goes on to the point of inquiry, just increased responsibility with the level of consciousness. Inquiry is real when it is found at an insight, not when it is thrown around in the mind on the basis of reading essentially, essentially mentalized comprehension. But when it is found in that insight, it is comprehensive that sees the fundamental activity of this contraction and therefore knows what is just prior to it. On the basis of that insight inquiry is real. Wherever there is real inquiry there is already passage through the principle loop. There is obviation of it. Inquiry finds the apparent individual continually established in his real condition. An inquiry then continues and a scene outwardly can be effective relative to the life of the actual individual until it essentially inquires of itself and then simply another level of this very same conscious process is established but doesn’t accept what’s randomly involved with this internal verbal inquiry.
So all of this rests upon that single principle, that living condition of Satsang and everything that is associated with it is very concrete and demands responsibility of you, intelligence, real life. There’s nothing vague about it. There’s nothing confusing about the dharma. You must simply continue to return to its fundamentals and any of you who take on this sadhana as a process of grace in this way I have described, can see it quickened and suddenly. But if you remain attached to the possible theatre of narcissus and some heroic self-transcendence and overcoming, filled with endless experiences and complications, then it will take a great long time and will not essentially be a process of grace but perhaps random moments. Basically, it’s not that too graceful and possibility of Satsang of which you have committed yourself but rather to the possibility of your own transformation.