You Must Not Believe in Me
Bubba Free John (Adi Da Samraj)
Originally published in
Laughing Man Magazine
Beezone note: The following articles were published and directly addressed the Jim Jones’ Jonestown Massacre (indirectly) where (909 inhabitants of Jonestown (304 children) died of cyanide poisoning – suicide (murder?). Adi Da’s talk (You Must Not Believe in Me) was given in December 1978 one month after the massacre.
San Francisco Chronicle – Front Page – November 21, 1978
(insert by Beezone)
Cult is a Four Letter Word
Continue with Article
The text of the article
No one has more thoroughly and incisively criticized cultic behavior than Master Da Free John, and the “cult” that has received the brunt of his criticism is his own following. Since the beginning of his teaching Work in the early seventies he has steadily addressed the tendencies of devotees to relate to him as some sort of magical being who will shelter them from the vicissitudes of life. He has time and time again decried the tendency to relate to him, to the Teaching, and to the community of practitioners in superficially enthusiastic terms, as if they had “found it.” He calls cultism a beginner’s orientation to practice, describing it as “prolonged exotericism.”
In general, cultism is expressed as either a childishly dependent or adolescently independent approach to an object, ideology, person, group, whatever. The childish approach is based on the need for an external, parental, consoling influence in one’s life. This tendency is everywhere in evidence—not merely among minority religious cults, but also within the worldwide “established” religious cults that look to God as an all-powerful parental Creator, eternally separate and unattainable. The flip side of the coin is the adolescent reaction, which is founded upon independence, immunity, and a self-sufficient, do-it-yourself relationship to life. It can manifest in the form of intellectual cleverness or abstraction, the need to dominate, or the doubting mood of the scientific materialist. The child reveals the wide-eyed, believing mind of the naive enthusiast, while the adolescent displays the overt antagonism or cool resistance of the doubting mind.
Ideally, an adult maturing in spiritual life will have outgrown his childish and adolescent patterns of reactivity. Most of us, however, have remained confined to earlier stages of emotional development and to the egoic identity thus enforced. The result is that we childishly embrace or adolescently attack or refute whatever person, place, idea, etc., occupies the focus of our attention. It is not the object of that attention which defines cultism, but rather the form of the relationship to that central interest as dictated by the childish or the adolescent ego. So it is that our refusal to grow up lies at the bottom of the cultic impulse.
Cultism is an inevitable expression of egoic existence, and its transcendence requires real human as well as spiritual growth beyond the self-enclosure of the ego. The Spiritual Master calls us to transcend this self-possession and discover the Ecstasy that lies beyond our limited self-sense. The childish cult of conventional religion and the adolescent cult of scientific materialism are influences in the world which effectively work to suppress even the possibility of such transcendent Ecstasy. The function, in fact the inherent obligation, of the Spiritual Master is to awaken in others the impulse to liberation, Ecstasy, God-Realization. And the relationship between Master and devotee exists solely and exclusively to accelerate the process wherein the devotee literally duplicates the Divine State and Condition which the Master himself has Realized. Central to this process is the release of any tendency to create a cult in relation to the Adept. Master Da Free John addresses this entire matter at great length in Scientific Proof of the Existence of God Will Soon Be Announced by the White House! in which he makes the following summary statement of the right relationship to the Adept:
“A Transcendental Adept or true Spiritual Master is a Transparent Reminder of the Living One, a Guide to Ecstatic Remembrance of the One in Whom all conditions arise and change and pass away. Such an Adept is not to be made into the Idol of a Cult, as if God were exclusively contained in the objective person and subjective beliefs of a particular sect. Rather, right relationship to an Adept Spiritual Master takes the form of free ecstatic surrender to the Living Divine based on recognition of the Living One in the Revelation of Freedom, Happiness, Love, Wisdom, Help, and Radiant Power that Shines in the Company of the Adept.”1
1. Da Free John, Scientific Proof of the Existence of God Will Soon Be Announced by the White House! (The Dawn Horse Press, 1980), pp. 314-15.
MASTER DA FREE JOHN: Over the years you have all heard me speak about cultism in negative terms. I have criticized the cult of the Spiritual Master, as well as the cultic attachments that people create with one another. In other words, I have used the term to criticize a certain aspect of your own approach to spiritual life. One of the primary aspects of the negative meaning I have given to the word “cult” is the exclusiveness of the cult. Married people, for example, sometimes create a cult with one another. They get married, go off together, and are never heard from again except in superficial TV language by people they happen to bump into. The same is true of people who join groups that are cultic.
In other words, when there exists a certain hyped enthusiasm to which people are attracted, and when those people accept all the dogmas with which that particular group makes itself enthusiastic, they maintain themselves as opponents of the world and lose communication with the world in general and with the processes of life. Their attitude is, “We’re it, we’ve found it.” You have seen this attitude expressed thousands of times. I have seen you all do it. To me, that enthusiasm is bizarre. There is something about the capacity of individuals for that kind of enthusiasm that makes my back tingle. It is a kind of madness. It is a tolerable neurosis as long as people do not become destructive. It is tolerated in general in our society, but I have always been moved to criticize this quality in you, because this is how you tend to approach me. To the degree that you tend to approach me in this way you make me a cultic figure and you yourselves become a bunch of balmy enthusiasts. In that condition I cannot deal with you, I cannot teach you, and you cannot live this practice or hear what I am saying. I have had to spend a great deal of time and energy over the years trying to break down this form of approach.
You are not unique, however. That cultic quality can be seen in other groups of all kinds, just as we have seen it here throughout the years, again and again and again—the gleefulness, the gleeful enthusiasm for having found it. That is not it! Yet, even in the midst of my serious attempts to develop real practice in people, this quality constantly reincarnates, reappears, distorting the practice, distorting your understanding, making you into a cult of enthusiastic people, enthusiastic for the sake of enthusiasm itself, merely gleeful. This mood chronically reappears in which you feel you have found it, are being protected by one another, are able to be put in a good mood by one another, are able to believe that there is something true that you are all associated with and are glamorized by the energy of.
Some people simply read spiritual books and begin to believe they are Enlightened—just by reading books. Here, not only can you read books, you can associate with me, you can live in this community, you can engage devotional practices—you can really begin to believe you are Enlightened, for no reason whatsoever! Therefore, you must be very mindful of this quality of cultism, which I have criticized repeatedly over the years. So much of my work with you has been to undermine this childishness, this failure of people to truly live the spiritual process. That is the significance of the way I had to work with people for several years in order to uncover all of these methods, these strategies, that are simply childish. They must be uncovered and they must become a matter of responsibility in you before you can truly live this process.
My purpose in associating with people is not to entertain them, not to be believed in, not to be worshipped in this nonsensical downtown fashion, so that you are never changed, but only consoled.
This tendency is present in everyone, not only in you and in members of other religious groups, but in the form of every group that exists, from political organizations to begonia fanciers. Wherever there exists an organization of people associated with something about which it is possible to become enthusiastic, the qualities of the cult can be seen. I am not joking about begonia fanciers. If any of you have ever belonged to a hobbyist organization, you have seen precisely the kind of mentality that appears in what are now being negatively called cults. Watch what occurs during our presidential campaigns, in those huge auditoriums during the nomination ceremony—that is cultic insanity! The same neurosis, the same childishness is constantly being generated by influences about which you can become enthusiastic.
The roots of this kind of cultism are present in the childish mentality of every man, every woman. Cultism has its roots in the need to depend on parent-like energy, parent-like attention, in order to be sustained, to feel good. It is the need to be loved, while at the same time not wanting to be responsible to be love. This tendency is not only present in our childishness universally, it is dogmatically justified by specific cultural influences with which we have all come in contact.
To confine this examination of cultism to the area of religion itself, consider downtown religion, establishment religion. Consider the religious message that you probably became associated with when you were a child. For most of you it was a Christian organization that trained you, while a smaller percentage of you were brought up in the Jewish tradition. Very few of you come from anything other than Jewish or Christian backgrounds. Now what kind of mentality or approach to life was communicated to you in those cults? (They are cults, you see. Cults are not merely little groups of a hundred or a thousand people in California. All religions are cults, some positive in their quality and some negative.) What were you taught? How were you instructed to live? What most of you were fundamentally indoctrinated to be was a child, a believer in the Parent-God. You were taught to be in awe of certain individuals who were great prophets or great saints or great saviors of exclusive power, exclusive intimacy with the Divine. The most obvious example of that is in Christianity itself in which Jesus is exclusively regarded to be God and is worshipped as such.
The worship of Jesus or any other religious figure is dangerous when it becomes exclusive. Cultism in general tends to exclude certain things in order to confine attention to certain other things and be enthusiastic about them. We are taught to assign the Truth and the realization of Truth exclusively to certain individuals, usually to one individual. This is one of the primary signs of negative cultism—we are taught to be children, mere believers. The center of the cult—the worshipped figure, image, idea, whatever— is considered to possess a certain status that no one else can attain. We assign to this status our notion of the Deity. We regard the Deity to be unattainable, unrealizable, totally external to us, and we regard those human individuals whom we deify to represent an unattainable status. This is typical of exoteric teachings. People are made to be in awe of or to worship someone or some concept that is Divine, feeling that they themselves can never attain that status but if they worship that reality they will receive benefits. In other words, if you enter into the childish relationship to God or to Jesus and merely believe and do whatever mechanical things you are supposed to do if you belong to that cult, then you will go to heaven or when Jesus comes again you will be part of his organization and he will wipe the hell out of everybody else!
Such exoteric religious messages oblige people to remain children. The result is the inevitable creation of a cult in the negative sense. In other words, such a religious message must produce a childish cult because nothing but the mood and practice of a child characterizes it. The cult is exclusive in nature. “We have the only truth and the only God. Everybody else is wrong. Everybody else is even to be destroyed.” That is quite often the mood of Middle Eastern religions. Everyone else is the infidel. Everybody becomes an infidel relative to your cultic belief simply because they do not have in mind the few simple-minded, childish ideas that you believe in. It is not that others become the infidel because you represent a superior moral force, a superior and transcendental Realization of God. That is not what makes you feel “superior.” Rather, it is the fact that you believe a lot of nonsense that others don’t believe.
Rather than believing or not believing what I say, you must consider this matter for yourself. Consider the childish messages of your own religion, and you will see that they are nonsense. The way of being childishly dependent on the Parent-Deity whom you can never approach, never realize, is typical of mainstream religion in the Western world, and all of us have been indoctrinated in this kind of understanding. The result of that indoctrination is the childishness which we have not yet outgrown, which is natural to us in our undeveloped subhuman state and has been justified by authoritarian religion.
To the degree that you are childish, dependent, irresponsible, and need connection with something superior to yourself to console you, you merely want to hang in here, engage in superficial aspects of spiritual practice, rise and fall with your commitment, and basically be glamorized by your association with me, with what I have taught, and with this community. On the other hand, to the degree that you are adolescent, reactive, self-possessed, not liking your quality of needing to depend on something, you are always haggling with being here or not, always trying to find some position of security and absoluteness in yourself, some likeness to the God-Realized personality, some likeness to the Divine Reality itself, so that you can believe that you “have It,” that you are It, and that you are now immune to any need to associate with the Spiritual Master and with the practice.
Self-transcendence is a difficult path. This Teaching contains no justification whatsoever for either your childish or your adolescent strategies. These tendencies in you are specifically considered and criticized in this Teaching and always have been. This is not an exoteric teaching. It is an esoteric teaching. Your approach to me should not be one in which you become benightedly enthusiastic about superficial matters associated with me, and assign to me exclusive Divine intimacy and power that you can never duplicate. My purpose in associating with people is not to entertain them, not to be believed in, not to be worshipped in this nonsensical downtown fashion, so that you are never changed, but only consoled. My purpose in dealing with people, my purpose in Teaching, is to make it possible for you to duplicate what I have done—to be in communion with me, to be spiritually intimate with me, so that you yourself may live and fulfill this practice, and make community with one another out of the true happiness of mature Divine living.
Everything about cultism that is negative is specifically criticized in this Teaching. I do not want your enthusiasm to be superficially generated by the books that I write. I want you to consider the matters this literature contains, consider yourself very critically, very directly and rigorously, and come to the point of insight expressed in these books. When you come to that point of insight into your own game, into your childishness and adolescence, you will be able to take up this spiritual practice and the forms of adaptation that mean continued growth beyond your present stage of life.
You must be founded in insight. You must come to the point of critical insight, not mere enthusiasm about me, not irrational “belief’ in me, not consolation by association with me. You must enjoy insight into the qualities of the world, the qualities in you that have adapted to all of that, and to your own immaturity. I constantly communicate every possible aspect of the consideration that belongs to this insight and to this practice. That is why I continue to write and speak. That is why I am always working creatively with the symptoms and the circumstances of this community to make it more and more authentic, to find better ways for you to fully consider this matter and be served in your maturity.
This task is so difficult, and has been so difficult over these years, because those who came to me persisted in a false approach. I have always refused to console individuals by telling them all they need do is believe in me, practice this silly little technique, and they will realize God, no matter what they do otherwise. We had to begin at the bottom, at the lowest level of human adaptation, and consider all of that with one another. We lived with one another as the world does, for a time. Step by step our consideration began to mature, enabling the Teaching to be precisely communicated on the basis of our own experiment.
True practitioners do not come here for childish reasons, nor are they always having trouble because of their adolescent mentality. They come here because they understand, in serious terms, what the relationship to the Spiritual Master is, and they understand and value what a community of spiritual practitioners can represent for all its members. Such a community senses all its members spiritually and culturally, if it is rightly created and maintained.
This community is not a cult in the negative terms of childish exclusiveness. We must understand what we are and communicate ourselves rightly in the midst of superficial and worldly minds. In some ordinary sense, however, we could be described as a cult. We have gathered to worship together and to practice spiritual life. There is a teacher, a teaching, and a community. Thus, in some sense we can say we are a cult, without negative connotations. On the other hand, I am not the slightest bit interested in your gleeful applause. I want you to understand, to practice, and to duplicate this Way. In order to do that, you must grow up, and you must stop being naive about the world. Do not allow your practice to be undermined by the communications of conventional downtown people, the aggressiveness of media campaigns, and all the things that fundamentally work against the higher acculturation of human beings.
Cultism in the negative sense is fundamentally an expression of exoteric religion, or the childish orientation toward life and the Divine, in which the Divine and the Divine’s agents are all given an exclusive prominence that you can never attain. You are only to believe in them, and your belief saves you. That is all nonsense! At the very best, exoteric religion can perhaps implant in people a kind of conventional morality. Particularly at this time, however, even that influence does not run deep. The idealism of religion is essentially lost, superficial, and the practice of true morality, of love, of self-sacrifice, is fundamentally absent from our daily world. The struggle taking place between people, between groups and nations in the world today, has very little to do with morality or wisdom. The justification for true morality, which is higher wisdom, has been systematically undermined by the influence of scientific materialism. Religion is in doubt, and therefore even those who practice it do not become seriously motivated by the religious influence. Rather, they are consoled by association with one another and with archaic beliefs.
This community cannot be founded on cultic enthusiasm. Such enthusiasm is utterly misplaced. You must rightly understand and appreciate your relationship to me. I am not here to be fascinating, but to be of service in the Way that I have specifically communicated to you, so that you may duplicate this process, enter into this same enjoyment, and fulfill the Spiritual Law. God is to be worshipped in Spirit and Truth. God is to be Realized, not merely addressed, not merely believed. We must enter into perfect intimacy with the Divine by transcending the self, the limits of personality, the nervous system, the mind, reactivity, all the forms of bodily self-indulgence.
You are obliged to enter into real Communion with God, and to presume true spiritual intimacy with the Spiritual Master. It is a process in which you are founded in Truth and in right understanding, in which you are obliged to enter into direct self-transcending Communion with God, Realizing God in that process, benefiting from right relationship to the Spiritual Master, who simply has fulfilled the Process inherent in the body-mind of Man. The Spiritual Master has inspected and adapted to the entire mechanism that is the human body-mind. The Spiritual Master has ultimately transcended Man, transcended the evolutionary possibility. The Spiritual Master’s destiny is not of this world. It is of another kind, which is beyond description. Your destiny is also of that kind if you will duplicate that path by fulfilling these stages. Then you will also transcend yourself, become Radiant, and live as love.
When you enter into a true spiritual community, you respond to a call to a higher way of life. You have made this gesture on the basis of your insight. You have a different kind of relationship to things in that case, a responsible one, a sober one, a serious one. You must not be cultically enthusiastic. If you indulge in that tendency, you will not even look at the world anymore, because you will not like the emotions that are awakened in you when you do. You must rather stay in touch with the world in order to see everything that you are by tendency. Then you can respond to those tendencies, feel them, transcend them, and become a human being. We do not live the ascetic way here. We accept the principle of community, and we also accept the world and our position in it. Our responsibility is to live creatively in the world, overcome our limitations, and help the world in general to overcome its limitations. We are here to serve the spiritual acculturation of humanity.
However, all of this right potential can be lost if you will not practice truly, if you will not found yourself in insight, if you will not overcome your own childishness, your own gleefulness, your own need to be consoled. By living this Way you adapt to higher dimensions in yourself. You continue to grow, through transcending your state in every moment. When all the mechanics of your body-mind have thus been adapted to and transcended, then there is no further destiny—there is only transference to a dimension beyond description.
Read more on what Adi Da has to say about –