You Cannot Practice the Perfect Practice Without Becoming God-Possessed
The Laughing Man, 1982
Adi Da Samraj: On the one hand, there is a motive in you to be Enlightened by your associations, but on the other hand there is a more fundamental motive to be dissociated from these associations and to be immune to their influences. The ego-structure you are animating necessarily would prevent the spiritual process because the gestures you make toward the Divine with a part of the mind are associated with another gesture of immunity, dissociation, and self-control. Thus, you can see how an individual with such a structure of character might feel that the Perfect Practice is the appropriate form of spiritual activity. Although it does not really if you truly study it, the Perfect Practice could seem to invite the dramatization of this same dissociative character. It seems to suggest that you can just be consciousness, dissociated from all possible relations. Already being that, you seem perfectly adapted to the possibility of the Perfect Practice, so it seems that all you need to do is to continue it.
No. You must do something else. First of all, you must understand the modes of your own character and see them dramatized in the relations and activities you tend to choose. You must be established in self-understanding as a basis for whatever your form of the practice. And whatever its form, your practice must specifically represent the activity of transcending this particular form of self-contraction. The process of your practice must involve the observation and understanding of the self-contraction and the conscious transcendence of that specific activity.
Thus, it does not seem that the Perfect Practice is particularly appropriate, at least at the beginning, for such a character, because it would only be practiced apart from real understanding and basically take the form of a passive and dissociative so-called identification with consciousness. It is necessary, rather, that you be able to understand the self-contraction already dramatized as a dissociative consciousness. To understand the self-contraction and transcend it consciously is the Way of Insight.1
But you should also consider the orientation and the exercises that are expressed through the Way of Faith2 because even though the Way of Faith must also be based on real self-understanding, it is most fundamentally the gesture of moving beyond self, the gesture of transcending the self-contraction in God-Communion. It is a different activity than such a self-possessed personality ordinarily engages. It is not at all self-protective or dissociative. It is ecstatically associative. It is a violation of the very taboo to which your character clings, the taboo against being possessed. To violate that taboo on the basis of real understanding would seem to represent at least a good beginning practice. If you would carry on the gesture of God-Communion, violating the taboo of the ego or Narcissus, then you would in fact, in every moment, be engaging in a different action than your particular mode of egoity tends to animate.
If you understand the egoic self, then you begin to have a feeling for the kind of action or exercise that is free, or the opposite of that to which you are bound. This is why I suggest and expect that people who are beginning to become involved in this Way will not, as beginners, choose a practice, but will rather spend their time listening to the argument of the Teaching, observing themselves, and considering the three forms of the practice. As the power of self-understanding and self-transcendence begins to develop, then not a tendency but a natural ability to practice one or the other of the three Ways will begin to demonstrate itself.
I also suggest and expect that people will, at the beginning in any case, practice the Way of Faith in its rudimentary form, the Way of Divine Communion, because it is directly available to anyone at the beginning of practice and is a counter to the tendency that everyone is suffering. Although everyone’s biography or character is in a certain way unique, in some sense all biographies are the same biography, the biography of Narcissism or self-possession.
With even a little understanding of just that very fact about yourself, it is possible to practice the process of God-Communion. And as you practice that rudimentary form of the Way of Faith, in the culture of devotees, then the form of the Way that is appropriate for you will reveal itself quite naturally. Whereas if you choose it arbitrarily prior to its natural development, you are likely to choose one or another form that is based on your tendencies. Your choice should be a natural one, based on prior understanding of tendencies and a prior transcendence of them.
You may have known relationships in which you felt another individual was trying to possess you in some negative way. The only liberation from possession by evil forces is to submit oneself to the Divine Force, the Divine Being. It is impossible to avoid possession altogether. You will either be self-possessed or other-possessed, or, if you wake up, you will become God-Possessed, but you cannot avoid possession. If you are seeking to avoid possession, then you are involved in the Narcissistic way of life. After all, what did Narcissus do? He left his doting mother and his angular father, avoided society, avoided intimate relationship with a woman, avoided the self-confession in relationship, and became more and more self-involved, more and more isolated, more and more self-possessed. Titis is the model of every biography. Under the stresses of relational existence, every individuated being dramatizes basically the same adventure. Each one, however, dramatizes that adventure in a uniquely characteristic fashion. The uniqueness is not absolute, but every individual manifests unique characteristics, and therefore the Way depends on self-observation and understanding of the characteristics that are unique, factual, and concrete in the setting of one’s relational life.
Such concrete self-understanding takes time. Until that understanding develops, it is impossible to know which form of the Way should be fully developed. You cannot practice the Perfect Practice without this understanding. You cannot practice the Perfect Practice nor the Way of Insight without becoming God-Possessed. You cannot avoid the thing that you fear by practicing the Perfect Practice. You must develop a healthy fear of yourself that is equal to the fear you have of others. Self-possession is the greatest form of negative possession, and it is the form of possession that everyone is thoroughly suffering. Everyone is also, to one or another degree, suffering from “other-possession,” the intrusion of relations, parents, friendships, intimate love relations, beings who manifest uncommon powers of energy or mind. Also, in fact, everyone, generally without knowing it, is possessed by various forces in the realm of Nature and by discarnate entities and demonic powers of one or another kind. The degree to which you suffer these influences generally depends on your susceptibility to certain kinds of vital weakness.
If the motive of independence, self-preservation, isolation, control of others, control of what may possess you—if all of these motivations are fundamental to your history as a human character, then you must thoroughly understand them all in the context of your present life and take up a practice that transcends your dissociative character and your chronically separative activity, that not merely transcends the idea of the ego in activity. When that specific activity has become weakened in you, then the ultimate form of the Way for which you qualify will begin to become obvious. This is why I say that the Perfect Practice is for uniquely qualified characters, not merely for people who are suffering from the kind of Narcissism that makes them comfortable with dissociative consciousness. It is a practice for those in whom attention and energy are free. Everyone eventually qualifies for the Perfect Practice, at least at the point of spiritual maturity in the second stage of that Practice, but whether or not you can practice the first stage of the Perfect Practice in the form described in The Liberator (Eleutherios),3 for instance, depends on your qualifications at the beginning.
The difference between an individual in the seventh stage of life and individuals in the lesser stages is that in the seventh stage of life the being is Radiant, and in the previous stages the being is to one or another degree contracted. You cannot simply be consciousness in any dissociative sense and be Radiant at the same time. Only when being consciousness becomes Radiance is the Perfect Practice truly engaged. In the neurotic mode, you see, the being is contracted upon itself and thus realizes consciousness as a sense of separate identity. That gesture is effective universally in the body-mind, so that the nervous system, the brain, the hormonal system, and the functional being altogether become contracted in the mode of Narcissus. In the seventh stage of life, all of these systems are restored to the Radiant Principle rather than confined to the contracting principle.
The whole practice of the Way, then, is a process of Transformation from a self-contracted mode to a Perfectly Radiant mode. There is no proper description of spiritual life that does not coincide with this orientation. The ideas of Enlightenment as a kind of dissociated consciousness are false conceptions of Enlightenment. Consciousness is the Principle in which all manifestation is arising, but it is SelfRadiant. It is the same Principle out of which objective Nature is made. Therefore, when we Realize the Self, we recognize objective Nature.
The seventh stage of life is a kind of Perfect God-Possession, then, whereas the sixth stage of life can be seen as a kind of dissociation from all possession, from God-Possession and lesser possession. It is basically, therefore, a demonstration of self-possession. The secret of SelfRealization is the recognizability of Nature, not merely identification with a separate consciousness.
1. Adi Da’s practical Teaching embraces three forms of approach to Transcendental Realization: the Perfect Practice, the Way of Insight, and the Way of Faith. All three approaches are based on the attitude of self-transcendence, surrender, and understanding of the Teaching, and each of the “schools” involves specific practices and disciplines which prepare the individual for the ultimate intuitive Realization of Truth.
The Perfect Practice itself is for the unusually qualified individual who demonstrates the unique qualities of equanimity and free attention during an initial period of practice. The Way of Insight is for the person who is especially gifted with the capacity to grow by observing and understanding and transcending the self through discriminative intelligence. And the Way of Faith is specifically intended for the practitioner in whom the naturally self-transcending disposition of devotion and feeling-surrender is dominant.
2. See n. 1.
3. The Liberator (Heutherios), Da Free John (Clearlake, Calif.: The Dawn Horse Press, 1982).