Breaking the Cycle

Breaking the Cycle

Originally published in Crazy Wisdom magazine, Vol 1, No
3, June 1982.


MASTER DA: Because the basic work that I do with
people is not noticed by them very well, I must keep
reminding them of it. My Teaching Work is not something that
I do every now and then when I gather people for
instruction, but it is constant. In one fashion or another
my influence in people’s lives is always interrupting the
conventional or karmic motion of the self. I am not
motivated to give you, the karmic or manifest self,
something to be interested in, to give you visions or
extraordinary experiences that pleasurize the manifest self.
If visions arise in my company, they arise not to pleasurize
but rather to stop the flow of the grosser self. They are
possible moments of Awakening. I Teach a Way that enables
you to make use of my spiritual Influence, as well as all
the ordinary moments of life, as a process of Awakening and
transcendence, until attention is perfectly free to directly
and intuitively Realize the Condition of existence, or That
in which all of manifest conditional existence is

Particularly because you are Westerners, you have a sort
of dogged interest in perpetuating the egoic state in every
moment. The psycho-physical personality is tenaciously
reinforced in the state of consciousness to which you have
become habituated. No other influences have interrupted the
flow of egoity in your acculturation as Westerners.
Westerners do not have time for Enlightenment. They
generally think of Enlightenment as they think of all the
goods of the ego and the pleasures of the manifest self.
They view Enlightenment as a big pleasure, one of the
delights of the manifest being. For the Westerner,
Enlightenment is built upon the conditional self, pursued by
the conditional self, and conceived as a state or object of
the conditional self, whereas in fact Enlightenment has
nothing to do with the conditional self. No “one” is
Enlightened. In Enlightenment there is no individuality, no
separate person, no separate anything. The manifest
conditions of existence may continue to arise, but they are
utterly recognizable, they have no binding power, they are
tacitly recognized to be merely apparent or unnecessary.

Ramana Maharshi is a teacher to whom I
frequently point as an example of the sixth to seventh stage
Adept. You all know the story about how he suddenly became
Enlightened when he was about seventeen years old. Even he
remarked that people should understand that Enlightenment
happened in his case because of preparation in previous
lifetimes. Thus, from his early years, his lifetime as
Ramana Maharshi is regarded as an Enlightened lifetime, but
an Enlightened lifetime that was the result of extensive
preparation nonetheless.

Just so, there must be preparation in everyone’s case and
an intense orientation toward Realization. Perhaps the
Enlightenment of most people takes many lifetimes-how can we
account for it? Fundamentally you must understand the Way as
a person who is already born or incarnated egoically. You
must be turned about, you must be converted, and you must
enter into the stream of preparation. You must use attention
and body and mind in a different fashion if you are going to
realize Wisdom and Awaken to the Truth that transcends
egoity. Without understanding the Spiritual Master, valuing
such Awakening, and entering into the stream of practice,
there is no such thing as Enlightenment, and. Enlightenment
will not be true of you. There is no Enlightenment, no
Awakening, without fierce practice.

You must practice fiercely, not because what is to be
Realized is not already your Condition, but because through
lifetimes of repetition you have reinforced mechanical
states of attention. Because you have bound the
consciousness and energy of being to the conventions of
conditional existence, there is no residual attention to
enable consciousness to stand apart from manifestation
sufficiently to realize its own Status. Rather,
consciousness is wasted in the repetition of states of
attention that are fixed in the process of conditional
existence. Spiritual practice must therefore be so fierce as
to provide the basis for a natural Awakening so that we may
release attention from the bond of conditional states.

In the process of practice, the Spiritual Master serves
you in all kinds of ways, one of which is to stop the mind
through verbal Teaching, through gestures, through
Transmission of Spiritual energy. Through the Spiritual
Master flow all kinds of instructional means that are
encountered by people who respond to the Spiritual Master
and the Teaching, who are practicing daily, who will use the
spiritual Influence and not merely notice some parts of it
here and there and every now and then while otherwise
basically oblivious to it. Devotees are supposed to be those
who have attention available for the Spiritual Master and
the spiritual process, which is the process of transcending
conditional existence, transcending the body-mind-self,
transcending attention. If you are not oriented or inclined
to transcendence, then of course no amount of help in that
direction will be of much use to you.

These little satoris of the momentary stopping of the
mind are not of any ultimate significance either. Much is
made of them at the popular level of the Zen tradition. On
some level Zen is a kind of “pop” Buddhism. Its satoris are
for the common people who are very busy in their minds. The
highest form of Zen is that which is applied by people who
devote their entire life to its practice. For such people
satoris are not sufficient. They are drawn to go beyond the
moments of the stopping of the mind and glimpses of the
space of Consciousness to Realize the Transcendental
Condition of existence. Just so, you must also realize more
than moments of experience, moments in which the mind stops,
moments of meditation.

I know how fierce the mechanics of the body-mind are. I
have had to deal with them all my life. Even though I
possessed the capacity for Enlightenment at birth, my life
became a fierce spiritual practice based on a spontaneous
but profound commitment to Realization. Such commitment is
absolutely essential for spiritual practice, which cannot
fulfill itself without such commitment and which likewise
must be fierce and profound.

You cannot be forced to practice, nor can your practice
be guaranteed. What there is of Awakening in your case
depends on your commitment. You must really practice. You
cannot mechanically repeat yourself. If you are basically
inclined to ordinary consolations and fulfillments, hopeful
of being happy in this world, then when you feel so
fulfilled, you step out of the stream of the spiritual
process. You have bought and signed for consolation on the
dotted line. If self-fulfillment is not sufficient for you,
however, then you keep going. You persevere in the practice
and you move on to the higher stages.

Some may seem to move more quickly to the higher stages
of practice. The fact that they seem to have more talent and
natural ability for it is probably a reflection, not only
perhaps of their commitment during this life, but primarily
of their preparation in previous lifetimes. They too will
reach their cutoff point, the point where they will tend to
stop, the point where practice tends to be sufficient for
them or where further effort is too frustrating and too
offensive. Everybody reaches the point where he or she tends
to withdraw from the stream of practice. Most people reach
that point even before they begin the practice. Either they
are never moved to find anything greater than ordinary
ego-fulfillment in the world, or they are just “fans” of
spiritual life. They like the books, but they basically
resist and even resent the interference represented by a
Spiritual Master and a Teaching and the idea of

The world is not organized around Enlightenment Wisdom,
which is struggling to survive in our time, even though
paperback books about spirituality and so-called spiritual
teachers are springing up everywhere. The Enlightenment or
Wisdom Tradition is struggling to survive. Spiritual life is
mocked everywhere, and the culture of materialism is
dominant. The politics of egos, with its materialistic
force, is in charge in this world and it always has been.
The motive to Enlightenment has always been rare. Although
the motive to God-Realization has traditionally been a
cultural premise and many people have responded to it in one
form or another, more so in the Orient than in the West,
even so, the spiritual cultures have tended to rise and
fall, or become weak or conventional, or be reduced to at
most a fourth to fifth stage esotericism, and the
practitioners within those cultures have tended by and large
to be ordinary people.

Only those who have accepted the discipline of religious
or spiritual renunciation sufficiently to release attention
from the bond of the mechanics of ego or body-mind can
practice the conscious process in its radical form. The
radical process of spiritual practice can be described to
people, and I have written a great deal about the radical
form of the conscious
. It need not be kept secret particularly, but it
cannot be practiced fruitfully by an individual in whom
attention is not fundamentally free. One cannot simply
communicate to people in general a sixth stage teaching, for
instance, such as the teaching of Advaita Vedanta or the
mindfulness discipline of original Buddhism, and expect that
everybody will therefore be able to practice it. Most people
must engage preliminary or supportive practices. Most people
should approach the radical Way through the lesser stages of
life, because one cannot practice the advanced levels
without an increase of available energy and attention.

To realize profoundly the mysticism of the fifth stage of
life, for instance, you must demonstrate a great deal of
free energy. Energy cannot be locked up in the vulgarities
of the physical, outer-directed personality. Only free
energy floating in the brain permits the subtle phenomena to
arise. Likewise, you must realize free attention to invert
beyond the outer-directed mechanics in order to focus in the
phenomena of brain and higher psyche. Just as the fifth
stage is an advance over the lesser stages, likewise the
sixth stage is an advance beyond the fifth, requiring
attention free even of the subtle bond of energies and

Thus, this radical practice that I communicate based on
the seventh stage disposition is not something that people
can rightly, truly, fully, and fruitfully practice without
preparation, without available energy and attention.
Therefore, I have also communicated the forms of spiritual
practice that basically represent the preparation for the
most radical practice, preparation that releases energy and
attention for the conscious
, which is the fundamental process I consider.
That process in consciousness cannot really be engaged until
there is free attention, because in that process attention
itself is encountered and transcended. If you cannot enter
into the consideration of naked attention itself, the
fundamental mechanics of the being, then you cannot practice
in the radical sense. Most people cannot. The attention of
most people is wandering in the conditions of the body-mind
and is not free to inspect and transcend itself.

Therefore, I have engaged this ten-year display of
Teaching Work, and I have written this literature and
related to people in many different ways, in a tremendous
struggle with people who are basically disinclined to the
very process I am considering with them by virtue of the
fact that on the one hand they are Westerners and on the
other hand they are mechanical beings or egos. Such a
struggle with egos is inevitable wherever the Teaching and a
Teacher appear. But it is particularly disheartening to
spend a decade at it and not have at least some mature
practitioners who are sufficiently committed and prepared to
practice in the radical sense. Such freedom for the radical
process is not easy to find. It never has been easy to find
in any cultural setting, yet it seems that there are
remarkable impediments in the West. Still, because of the
change in our time – worldwide communication, political
changes, suppression of the Orient through political,
social, materialistic, and technological movements because
of all that the technological twentieth century has created,
it is necessary that the Dharma appear in the West, which is
also the source of the materialistic movement that is
overcoming the world. That a Spiritual Master be born in
this setting and do this work is therefore necessary. In a
few more decades there may not be any such thing as the
Orient anymore. There will basically be a worldwide culture,
and the esoteric and transcendentalist cultures will perhaps
fundamentally have been suppressed in the part of the world
we call the Orient.

Then the Teaching must take hold elsewhere. Orientals
themselves are moving all over the world. The traditional
homes of esoteric and transcendentalist schools or movements
are being overwhelmed by the materialistic politics of our
time. The Tibetans were suppressed by the Chinese, Communism
is taking over in Southeast Asia, and materialistic social
movements are overcoming India. The break in the
Transmission must be mended, and the Teaching is appearing
in the West through my Work. But my Work is obviously
immensely difficult and not a very rewarding task, if we can
use the word “rewarding” in discussing the work of Spiritual

You should see in yourself your mechanical disinclination
to the very thing that is brought to you every day of your
life. Not so much through an intentional will, but via the
mechanics of your own born personality, you find one way or
another to by-pass the Divine Influence and the obligation
to practice in every moment of your life. This sidestepping
of responsibility is Narcissus, the self-contraction. To
break the cycle and even glimpse the transcendental
circumstance of the ego requires great intelligence and
fierce commitment. The Siddhi or perfect fulfillment of that
process is rare and remarkable, but you are given all the
arms for it, all the Help for it, all the Teaching necessary
for it. How well you will use the opportunity is to be