You Must Come to the Point ofLiterally
Observing the Self-Contraction
a talk by Da Free John
November 18, 1982
DEVOTEE: Master, when you speak to us from the simplicity of your Realization, I feel an affinity with what you are saying, but it is obvious that that is not my ownRealization. So I keep finding myself involved in different aspects of the practice in an effort to overcome my doubt, and I feel like that is exactly what keeps me from really practicing.
MASTER DA: Well, that is fine. All of these reactions are the complications of Narcissus. And if you experience enough of this nonsense, you may become sympathetic with listening to me.
Only when you begin to despair of your search and feel locked into your subjective captivity, only when you can not work your way out of the fundamental sense of dis-ease, can you begin to become capable of seeing yourself most directly and simply, of recognizing your total character, your total life cycle. Then you cease to be involved with all of that in your energy and attention. The drama of your life becomes superficial, secondary, and you become more and more profoundly occupied with simply observing yourself. But first, there must be the general observation of yourself in the context of daily living to the point of recognizingyourself. This is the first stage of consideration – to see that you are Narcissus. The Knee of Listening is devoted to the development of that argument and the demonstration of its development in my own case.
Thus, this simple capacity for self-observation is what must develop first. And it is fundamentally a very simple matter – What are you doing? What are you always doing inthe event of your struggle, however profound or superficial it may be? What kind of a character are you? What are youreally about? What are you up to all of the time? This is my basic question to you, and this is what you must consider until you come to the point of seeing and accepting the fact that you are just the self-contraction, always only avoiding relationship.
You must come to the point of literally observing the theself-contraction, not merely believing it. But you will not even bother to consider it until the whole activity of self-contraction has produced enough force of result, enough quality of bondage, that you begin to feel too sick of it to merely live out your ordinary life. You develop a need to understand something about yourself. When you come to that point, then I can begin to become useful to you at the level of the Argument of the Teaching.
I have proposed this Argument again and again and again in all kinds of ways, but it is always a consideration of what you are doing. If you are unsympathetic enough with your neurosis and the ordinary results of your existence, then you have a little energy and attention left over, free of that result, to just be able to observe yourself. Most people do not even have enough reserve energy and attention to observe themselves. They are too busy being themselves. They cannot, nor are they even inclined to make use of me or my Argument.
But when the neurosis or the disease begins to become evident and you want a cure, or whatever your motivation may superficially seem to be, then you can begin to make use of the Wisdom of my Teaching. To use this Wisdom is not a matter of entering into some sort of complicated analytical process, full of propositions from the Teaching. Most basically, it is a matter of becoming sensitive to yourself in the context of ordinary existence, using the disciplines
to help you to be sensitive to your own activity, studying the Teaching, and so on. Then, at any moment, the simple or complicated forms of my Argument will become useful to you. This practice is always a matter of one basic consideration- the freeing of energy and attention to recognize and understand the fundamental activity that is the self, theliving personality.
When you really see that you are literally active as Narcissus, the self-contraction, then even more energy and attention are available than were available at the beginning when you first became a listener. Then the search relaxes -it does not dominate you anymore, it is only secondarily present – and you become more profoundly capable of feeling, observing, recognizing, understanding, and transcending the activity of Narcissus. You begin to discover it more fundamentally – not merely in the form of the man or woman you are in daily life, not merely as the outer theatre of Narcissus, but you begin to investigate the character of Narcissus, the mechanism that is Narcissus, and not merely the play we animate on the basis of it.
When you become thus capable, then you begin to enter into the layers of the symptomatic person, the persona, the doubt, the fundamental stress, the sense of dissociation that is otherwise expressed as your life drama, until you simply and most directly locate and recognize the self-senses consciousness itself, but individuated as mere attention. Then, through the ultimate forms of this exercise, in level6 of the esoteric order, or the second stage of the PerfectPractice, That in which attention or the self-contraction is arising is directly intuited to the point of your Awakeningas That, prior to the self-contraction. When that Awakeningoccurs, then the “eyes open” in the Realization of SahajSamadhi, and Nature or conditional existence becomes recognizable. Until then, any description of the origins of Nature or the world or existence are merely propositions tobe believed or doubted.
Therefore, what must first occur is a dissatisfaction with the illness, whatever complex sensation of dis-ease may characterize you as an individual. People must come to the point of feeling dissatisfied with existence as it is turning out to be. Then they will resort to their sources, teachers, traditions, continuing the search, but looking for some cure, release, or answer. They do not really know what they are looking for, otherwise, they would just say it straight out, you see, and write their own prescription. But this dissatisfaction is not merely a something to be overcome which has not yet been identified. It is nameless.
At that point, people may come into my Company and consider my Teaching, just as they may come into any kind of traditional association for the same purpose. But when they come into my Company and enter into this consideration, they study the Teaching Arguments and find something about them that makes some sort of psychological sense and that becomes useful to them as a way of entering into a process in which they are not so sick anymore. Then they take on the various disciplines that beginners take on. This serves their general capacity for self-observation. They begin to see themselves not merely in analytical, psychological, or interior terms, but in living terms altogether. This process of intense self-observation occurs in the course of practice in The Free Communion Church.
Those who are maturing in The Free Communion Church come to the point where they really practice conductivity and the conscious process in direct terms and become qualified for entrance into The Crazy Wisdom Fellowship. Such people have come to the point at which, on the basis of having entered into the general process of self-observation and self-knowledge, the search is relaxing, and they have more energy and attention for the examination of the root of the whole activity of self-contraction. Then they are just nakedly present, whereas before they were animated in all kinds of ways – with knowing and experiencing and daily activity and associations of all kinds.
Thus, for those maturing in The Free Communion Church and entering The Crazy Wisdom Fellowship, the process is much more simplified. It is fundamentally about whole-bodily surrender into the Living Current and using attention to find its Source. Whole-bodily surrender into the Living Current releases energy and attention from the activities of the psycho-physical ego. It grants equanimity and frees the fundamental energy and basic attention for the submission of attention to, and ultimate location and discovery of, the Source in which the self-contraction and all of its results are arising. This process is ultimately epitomized and resolved in the final stage of the esoteric order, in which the root of attention is Realized. Beyond that Realization, there is Sahaj Samadhi or Open-Eyed Awakening, in which conditional existence in apparently subjective and apparently objective forms becomes altogether and inherently recognizable.
Thus, the first aspect of the process of developing the Way as a real practice is to listen to the Argument of the Teaching to the point of hearing. In other words, enter into the consideration. Do not merely hear the language of the Argument, but put yourself into conjunction with it so that you begin to observe yourself. And in observing yourself, you will see the whole cycle of the self-contraction and its results.
The disciplines of the yoga of consideration1are part of our natural practice because they help you to enter into that consideration. If the consideration were just a matter of listening to my words and thinking about them, you would not need the disciplines. But the consideration is a matter of bringing yourself into conjunction with the Argument entirely, granting energy andattention to this listening to the Teaching and, therefore,to the process of self-observation. The disciplines help youto do this. Disciplines interrupt the flow of ordinaryself-fulfillment, providing a framework of responsibilityand potential equanimity in which to see in yourselfconsequences, limitations, strategies, discomforts, andmotivations. Thus, these disciplines are all part of theprocess of listening and hearing.
When this hearing becomes true, then the self-contractionis interrupted at an early stage in its life drama. Themotivation to seek relaxes. It is seen to be fruitlessbecause it produces the Narcissistic adventure. It does notmean that you are not seeking any longer, but rather thatseeking is recognized to be fruitless. Thus, a significantdegree of energy and attention is released from the searchand permitted to enter into the conscious process ofself-understanding at a more profound level. All of theenergy and attention that goes into seeking and what followsis reduced. Some of it remains there to be purified, but toa significant degree it becomes available for the process ofself-understanding and self transcendence.
At that point the conscious process may truly begin. Wecould say that at this point one would enter The CrazyWisdom Fellowship. This is the beginning of a relativelymature capacity to really enter into the true preparationfor the ultimate form of the Way. At that stage theconscious process becomes more profoundly devoted to thedirect, moment-to moment affair of observing andtranscending the self-contraction itself, not merely in theform of all of your life-habits, patterns, strategies, yoursearch and its results. The observation of theself-contraction in these life terms has more to do withbeginner’s practice, struggling with yourself in the contextof ordinary living, practicing to come to the point ofaccepting that you are Narcissus, recognizing yourself asthat character.
When the conscious process begins in its true form, it isfundamentally the investigation of that aspect of theself-contraction that precedes seeking and the ordinarystrategies and involvement’s of life. It is a matter ofobserving the self-contraction more directly, prior toseeking. Thus, the conscious process in daily life andmeditation becomes one of investigating the self-contractionin its more primary symptoms: first, as a form of primary orcharacteristic doubt or doubt-feeling; then in the form of amore subtle characteristic, a simple stress prior to anykind of thinking or ordinary involvement’s of life. Andfinally, when the self-contraction is found simply to beone’s self, prior to the observations of these life-levelsymptoms, and is felt most directly, primally, fundamentallyas the separate consciousness – separate, separated,separative, moving as itself in the form of attentionthrough these symptoms of stress and doubt into the search,becoming association with mind, body, relations,bewilderment, anger, sorrow, fear, and confinement to theself-contraction as a basic state or neurosis – when thismost fundamental or original form of the self-contraction isobserved, understood, and transcended, revealed, inherentlyobvious. This occurs in the fulfillment of the practice oflevel 6 in the esoteric order. It is necessarily orinevitably followed by what I call “open eyes” or SahajSamadhi, in which not only the self-contraction buteverything that proceeds from or is associated with it-thebody-mind-self, all of its relations that may otherwiseappear to be objective to and outside the self, and allconditions – becomes recognizable in that Source-Conditionwherein the self-contraction is arising.
Then, in Sahaj Samadhi, in the condition of Open-EyedSelf Realization, the practice is to be Conscious as theFeeling of Being, the Transcendental Condition, Realizingmoment to moment that It is Self Radiant Happiness,All-Bliss, Self-Sufficient, Unconditional, Unconditioned,Free. The practice in the seventh stage of life is to beThat and to recognize whatever arises in That as apparentlysubjective or apparently objective conditions, until theRadiance or Inherent Love-Bliss of Transcendental BeingOutshines all conditional arising, all subjective arising.Thus, that process which begins with listening and truehearing ultimately becomes the one Perfect Recognition ofconditional existence.
But what I propose to you most fundamentally is that youare Narcissus, the self-contraction, active as the avoidanceof relationship. That is basically what I have to say toyou. Everything else I say to you is built upon andelaborated from that Argument. It depends for its fullrevelation on further maturity in practice and therefore isnot really useful to you until you have heard my basicArgument.
This is what I have to say to beginners and publicpeople. Consider this matter of the self-contraction. Bringyourself into conjunction with it. Do not merely think aboutit. Serve that conjunction, that listening, through thevarious disciplines. Become a member of The Free CommunionChurch. When you have done that sufficiently, you willeventually come to a point where you will really recognizeyourself as Narcissus. Then the search, the whole adventureof life and the avoidance; of relationship will begin toseem less fruitful and will become less dominant in yourlife. Then you will be able to practice the disciplines thatI recommend more directly. You will be able to practice theconscious process more directly, seeing the self-contractionin its essential symptoms. You will be able to practice thediscipline of conductivity more essentially, not only interms of the life disciplines, but in terms of fundamentalsubmission to the Spirit-Baptism, the Spiritual Transmissionof the Spiritual Master.
Thus, when there is true hearing on the basis of this original simple exercise, you will practice the conscious process in one or the other of the forms I recommend to you.When there is true seeing, acceptance of my Transmission, then you will practice conductivity directly in the full, technical terms that I describe to you. When these two fundamental aspects of the Way are truly alive in you, you will enter The Crazy Wisdom Fellowship and go through the natural sequence of maturity until it is fulfilled in the form of the Open-Eyed Awakening, or Sahaj Samadhi. Then it will also become clear, ultimately it will be self-evident, that all that is arising is nothing but an unnecessary, non-binding, conditional, subjectively originated modification of Self-Radiant Transcendental Being, the Divine Condition.
1. Rather than practicing the stages oflife for their own sake, as in the traditional paths, thepractitioner of the Way that Master Da Teaches observes thestages of life on the basis of the Master’s criticalArgument and to the point of understanding. This “yoga ofconsideration” is a preparation for the Way Taught by MasterDa, which is the Way of the seventh stage of life, or thetacit recognition of what arises as nonbinding modificationof the Transcendental Reality.