The Wizard of Oz
ADI DA SAMRAJ: People enact a kind of ritual when they become involved in so-called serious consideration of this Teaching and Way of Life. First they talk together about profound matters and confess many things about themselves that were previously hidden. Then someone in the group summarizes what is the proper attitude toward the subject, based on a real understanding of life in Truth, and at that point the people in the group-having already completed the ritual of talking very profoundly and relieving themselves of secrets they had never told before-begin to speak as if they have now understood and assumed this practice profoundly, once and for all. Then, at the next several meetings, the group presumes that it need not pass again through that ritual purge. Rather, they ritually play out a positive feeling about the discussion of the last meeting. That superficially positive attitude tends to become the dominant quality of their lives until the next time they must engage in a great purgative ritual or a “serious” consideration.
People who indulge this pattern do not tend to pass through the real emotional change that I have been discussing with you. Rather, they only indulge the ritual itself, at the end of which everybody talks and acts as if he or she were really practicing now. Perhaps a few real changes do occur here and there, mostly at a cultural level. But for the most part such changes are only superficial, external to the heart of true change. Thus, rituals with fixed liturgies or scripts typically become established in the culture of this community of practitioners. These ceremonies are just as fixed as the rites that are repeated week after week in downtown churches. You use the principle of “lets pretend” to bless one another. Having performed the ritual of seriously dealing with one another, you then accept one anothers false confession and false or merely pleasant face. You may act more pleasant than usual, but you have not passed through the real change. Nevertheless, your act of being relatively pleasant and assured, as if you have finally understood, is accepted by your fellows as if it were the real change of the heart.
In the film The Wizard of Oz , three characters come to the Wizard to acquire something they lack-a mind, a heart, and vital strength in the world. Even though the Wizard turns out to be something of a sham, he gives them each a gift that, in the feeling of the story, seems to be genuine. The scarecrow, for instance, has no brain. So the Wizard says to him, “The only thing you lack that all other people who have a brain do not lack is a diploma.” Then the Wizard gives the scarecrow a diploma. But the scarecrow has not developed his intelligence. He has never passed through the process of adaptation to the functions of the mind. All he has done is to receive a diploma. The diploma is sheer nonsense, a lie that he now feels or imagines is a truth about himself. In the story, however, everyone now accepts him as if he were no longer lacking a brain.
Very superficial changes are the focus of this story, but the same superficial orientation to personal change tends to be the social norm in our time. That moment in the Wizard of Oz is not altogether satirical. It is also meant to be emotionally fulfilling. We are supposed to feel very positive about the scarecrows new image. The message is, “To think positively is sufficient for change. You do not need Grace nor do you need real transformation. Just positive thinking, or believing, about yourself is entirely sufficient.” In reality, of course, such “positive thinking” is not sufficient at all.
You are making a gesture now toward the kind of life that you would lead if you were in love with God, if you were emotionally committed to God and emotionally committed to your relationship to me, and if you were rightly established as a religious community. There is a motion in that direction, but it is still only beginning, weak and still tentative and not yet very profound. You tend to generate a kind of self-satisfaction as soon as you make even very minor changes in your life. Thus, the “Wizard-of-Oz principle” is at work. Everybody wants to feel as good about himself (or herself) as he can, and as soon as possible. Since that is everybody’s motive, you must be very careful-invariably you play “lets pretend” when it is time for real changes.
I am not the Wizard of Oz. I do not accept your false faces as true practice, as genuine conversion. Thus, you must not forget the emotional nature of this practice. Your consideration must always be emotional. Never allow it to degenerate into “lets pretend” and mere positive affirmation. There must be a real and direct feeling association among devotees and a constant, feeling practice of love-surrender to God, or surrender of the whole bodily being into the Living Principle, the Life-Current, in every moment. You must literally practice this heartfelt surrender at all times, and you must literally oblige one another to this practice.
You should not merely think about emotion every now and then. Your practice must be constantly emotional. What is wrong with these purgative rituals that you enact is that they are periodic. For a few moments you think about emotion, or act as if you are emotional. You may temporarily even appear to be emotional. Then the ritual is over and you are supposed to be a smiling, affirmative character, acting and talking as if you understand everything. How superficial! We are involved by tendency in such a mechanical and worldly way of life that we do not live emotionally. We are like mere salt-of-the-earth workers, plodding our way through life and fulfilling our humble tasks, as if such an existence were the purpose of life.
You must be able to maintain a feeling association with everybody. You must be trustable in your relations altogether, not given to phasing and emotional betrayal. You must literally practice your association with God from the heart, in every moment. Your habit, however, is to put on the false face of self-affirmation and remain self-possessed, absorbed by your emotional problem. The emotional problem manifests fundamentally as self-possession and lack of energy and attention in relationship. When your energy and attention are yielded to self-absorption, then your energy and attention for others and for God seem to be missing. Your self-possession is perfectly obvious to everybody. And, since it is so obvious, the opposite disposition is also obvious-and that is what is required, the obvious practice of a loving, serving life.
These periodic ritual conversations in which you receive your diploma, or are led to think affirmatively that you are a devotee, must end. You must practice from the heart and you must live a serving life. Stop phasing. Stop the endless consideration of the tendency toward unlove, which is the emotional problem that everyone suffers. That consideration never becomes an actual, emotional, whole bodily change and a new way of life. In such a consideration of limitations, you are overwhelmed by one anothers weakness. As a result, you decide to accept limitations in one another instead of continuing with the consideration and breaking through the limits and the withholding that you suffer.
The only thing wrong with anyone in any moment of limitation is the collapse of the heart. When the heart collapses, the energies all over the body become distorted. Thus, the transformation of the heart is the single and fundamental occupation of Man at this time in our evolution. A person must directly enter into loving association with the All-Pervading Transcendental Divine Reality and Person, and he (or she) must persist in that form of existence from moment to moment. If he lives in love with God, then naturally he associates with all beings through love. Whatever he is associated with becomes the medium, the Divine Image in fact, for his association with God. Such a one is always associating with God in love. Therefore, all his relationships are loving relationships. Self-transcendence is the quality of his action. He lives as a servant in the highest sense.
The quality of such a devotees existence is the quality of radiance to others and to God. It is an emotional radiance. It is also full of energy, and it is physical. It is the radiance of energy and attention in relationship. In the company of such a person others feel an endless force of consciousness and energy to which the individual is surrendered bodily and emotionally. Thus, the quality of God, or the spiritual Power that Radiates the worlds, is expressed through such a person quite naturally, and he or she becomes an increasingly different kind of person because of that expression. A community of such people becomes a profoundly unique association of human beings, because they work constantly to transform the emotional and moral dimension that is basic to our existence.
In general we tend not to engage the emotional dimension at all. We avoid it. We play the game of emotional dissociation from the world, from one another, and from God. When we dramatize this problem of emotional dissociation, this quality of the collapse of feeling, energy, and attention, then we become self-servers, totally without clarity in relationship not only in human relationships, but in all relationships, and in relationship to God most fundamentally. This constant and unconscious effort to create emotional dissociation must be undermined. We serve one another by helping to break this habit and by reestablishing one another in authentic emotional association, in love-surrender to God and a loving, radiant life altogether, in all relations. We must bring down this emotional barrier that exists between us and never again play the game of “lets pretend.”
I have heard you talk about your dramatizations. At times you feel you are living as if on an automatic circuit of tendency, but you feel that you live in God the rest of the time. You must understand that the dramatization of emotional dissociation does not happen only sometimes. The total collapse of the being, the fundamental emotional dissociation, is effective at all times, even when you think you are being positively or energetically emotional in relation to something or someone. Even at those times, if you are sensitive to yourself, you will feel yourself withholding at the root of the emotional gesture. The gesture is not based on love, but it is a superficial activity created by outer circumstances. Sometimes, therefore, your outer circumstances are such that you appear to be a loving person, but in truth you are no more loving than before. You are contracted even then, and you are playing “lets pretend.”
You must also recognize the emotional limitations of your upbringing and background in the middle class of the twentieth century West. Most of those who come to me have come out of the middle-class world of slick associations, in which this emotional matter has never been dealt with and the whole affair of spiritual life has never been seriously considered. The term “middle-class world” is just another way of describing the world of “lets pretend.” It is a TV world of totally subhuman existence founded in the collapse of emotion into self-possession. We are really referring to that TV society when we self-critically call ourselves “middle-class.” We are so superficial, we play “lets pretend” so profoundly, that the reality of TV becomes our own minds.
In the game of “lets pretend,” you have a serious confrontation with somebody every now and then, and at the end of it you kiss one another or slap one another on the back. You feel good about one another, but you have not changed at all. You have simply passed through the superficial ritual that is acknowledged as sufficient for friendship and trust in our ordinary society. It is not real friendship, however, not real trust, because each emotional personality is self-possessed.
What I am considering with you is that each of us is most characteristically and basically an emotional personality. But you are not living emotionally, with radiant feeling. You are living in the collapse of emotion, in Narcissism, self-possession, and doubt. Your bodily life is devoted to self-indulgence, and your mental life is devoted to illusions and obsessions, all because there is a collapse at the root, at the emotional being. Furthermore, we all mightily resist making the change from self-possession to God-possession, emotional surrender, and loving service. Therefore, if this Churchs community is to represent a unique advantage in the life of an individual, he or she must be party to the agreement that the community represents among those who live in it: constantly to maintain this emotional consideration-in other words, to demand the real, obvious, feeling gesture of the being and accept nothing less as a condition of membership in the community. All the emotional limitations that people bring to one another and that make them untrustworthy must be undone. There must be a demand for emotional association, or right association, in every moment. The slick, affirmative, personality game, the fake piety game, and all the other superficial games that people play must be abandoned as no longer acceptable.
This consideration of the activity of emotional dissociation, or Narcissus, must not be dropped. It is not something that you take seriously only every now and then. It must be constant. You must constantly observe what you are doing at the heart and transcend it. That is what it is to practice the heart in every moment. Therefore, you must be able to inspect the limit on the heart in every moment. You must be able to inspect this process of emotional dissociation, whereby you are always entering into the separative, subjective mood of the separate person, instead of the radiant or loving mood of the devotee, or the true person.
DEVOTEE: I feel that this emotional conversion is not something that I can will to happen.
ADI DA SAMRAJ: That is true, but paradoxically it is also not out of your hands altogether. You are obliged to associate consciously with That with which you are in love. If you spend time in the company of what is lovable, then the emotional radiance of the being, the love that is native to the being, will naturally come forward. Right association is the secret, then. It is said that of all the things a person can do, association with the God-Realized personality, the saint, the Spiritual Master, is the best, simply to be in the company of one who is lovable in the highest sense, one in love with whom the very Force of God is encountered. Emotional conversion is not out of your hands. You are not obliged to wait until it happens to you. It occurs when you are in love in the fullest sense. Therefore, the simplest way to accomplish this change is to spend your time in the company of one with whom you are in love.
The best Company in which to spend all your time is the Company of God and the Spiritual Master. There are other relationships in which you are also in love, but the relationships with God and the Spiritual Master are primary. True religion is simply a matter of maintaining association with God and with the Spiritual Master moment to moment. Then the natural emotion, or the force of love, devotion, and self-surrender, will tend to be evoked by that Company. Thus, devotees are instructed to recite the Name of God, to remember God constantly, to hold the image of the Spiritual Master in their minds, to talk about the Spiritual Master, to praise the Spiritual Master, and to think of the Spiritual Master. These are all ways of maintaining Divine Association. The secret of ecstatic practice is to find your way of maintaining association with the One who is lovable, or the Beloved, in every moment.
How do you do that? Such practice is the artfulness required of you in every moment. You must create this theatre of Divine Association in relation to God and to me. Your emotional conversion is not outside your power to effect. You must practice, and practice is something you must do. This is how you do it: Rather than willfully trying to conjure up the emotion of love, you must understand yourself and maintain total psycho-physical association with the One with Whom you are in love in the fullest spiritual sense-in other words, with God. You must choose to do this. You must come to this point of clarity in yourself, wherein you realize that to practice this Divine Association is all that life is. Everything else is an expression of what life is when it fails to be that.
You must be committed to this practice, and of course this practice makes you a saint! This is how you must transcend your middle-class, street personality, and you naturally will transcend it if you will practice as I am suggesting, in this emotional sense. If you will serve in love constantly, if you will constantly and literally serve God in every moment-not God as an idea, but God confronted as the very Presence of Life-then your street personality will naturally fall away. It will be transformed into the higher personality or character. It is a matter of remaining alive in the emotional sense, moment to moment, without recoil from relationship, without emotional collapse of feeling and attention onto the self. Do not let anybody tell you that he or she cannot do this. And do not let anybody tell you that he or she is doing it if it is perfectly obvious to your feeling that he or she is not!