The Four Dharmas
(orig. The Three Dharmas)
a talk by
Sri Adi Da Samraj
There is a Great Process, and all of this is its manifestation. From time to time, men have appeared whose function it was to communicate the nature of this process and its various functions. Each of these individuals appeared in a particular time and place under particular conditions. In each case their function was to communicate an aspect of this Great Process and to demonstrate one of the possible ways of realizing its nature.
All of those who have appeared were and are essentially agents, instruments, servants. The process itself is beginningless, endless, eternal, absolute, perfect. And in truth the communicator of that process is also beginningless, endless, eternal, absolute, perfect, and that one is the Maha-Siddha, the Eternally Completed One, the Divine. All those who have appeared among men, as well as among all other beings and in other worlds, for the sake of the communication or clarification of this process are servants of the Divine.
Just so, these servants or agents, all of whom had a particular function at a particular time and place, can be classified according to their function and the fullness of their communication. Among them have appeared certain ones whom I have called the Great Siddhas, the great completed Spiritual Masters. These were men such as Jesus the Christ, Gautama the Buddha, and Krishna the Avatar. Men such as these have been the principal agents of the Maha-Siddha in this world. They have communicated the principal dharmas or paths and have had the greatest historical effect. Their function has been primary.
I call Jesus, Krishna, and Gautama Great Siddhas because they so uniquely and with such historical force represented the dharmas that pertain to the fundamental conditions of suffering. There have been many Siddhas, men who in one form or another lived the function of the yogi, the saint, the sage, or the prophet, but who transcended the limitations of their particular function. 1
These Siddhas, while enjoying in a very real sense the same perfect, Divine realization as the Great Siddhas, either served one of the existing great dharmas or else taught a lesser dharma, a lesser path, or a path that had certain historical limitations. There have been countless yogis, saints, sages, and prophets, extraordinary men who nonetheless did not represent the function, the great function of all the Siddhas. These men not only represented lesser dharmas or historical limitations, forms of the way of experience, but they were also seekers, not perfectly founded in the absolute enjoyment of the Siddhas, who are eternally non-separate from God.
The three Great Siddhas have represented to mankind the three principal dharmas as they have been understood to this time. Jesus represented the dharma of the sacrifice of self, Krishna the dharma of the sacrifice of mind, and Gautama the dharma of the sacrifice of desire. Separated self (or ego), limited mind, and limiting desire are the three principal conditions of suffering or contraction in man. Thus, the three principal dharmas that have been known among men have been attempts to undo these forms of contraction through the deliberate or motivated sacrifice of these three: ego, mind, and desire.
The three conditions of ego, mind, and desire are the three fundamental conditions of the usual life. These are the three principles or conditions of suffering. They are the three manifestations of Narcissus, the self-enjoyer, the eternally recurring mortal. In fact men are all seeking through the various strategies of life to undo the force of these conditions and their effects. And men seek release from suffering by many means. But the common means are devoted either to the exploitation of the life functions for the sake of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, or to the exploitation of the inner life for the sake of so-called spiritual attainment.
All men strategically, whether or not with full and conscious intention, are pursuing release from these three conditions while at the same time only living them. Even the search to overcome the conditions of ego, mind, and desire is itself founded in these three. While men strategically, arbitrarily, and with various degrees of consciousness pursue release from these conditions, the spiritual instructors of mankind, the various men of experience, the various Siddhas, and the various Great Siddhas have created dharmas or paths which very consciously and methodically pursue release from these three.
Gautama was the Great Siddha of the navel. He taught and demonstrated the dharma of the sacrifice of desire. His whole teaching essentially consisted of methods for achieving the condition of nirvana, or the great quenching of the principle of desire. And the center of the principle of desire is the great region of the navel, the great life center.
Just so, Krishna was the Great Siddha of the sahasrar or the subtle epitome, the subtle region above the head. He taught and demonstrated the dharma of the sacrifice of mind, the merging of the mind in God.
Jesus was the Great Siddha of the region of the heart. Just as the mind has its seat in the upper regions of the head, and desire has its seat in the great vital region of the navel, the ego or separate self and its dissolution are seated in the heart. Jesus taught and demonstrated the dharma of self-sacrifice, the dharma of the surrender of the ego in life terms, in functional and human terms. And so the dharma of the sacrifice of self is the dharma of the heart.
But the three principal dharmas are themselves forms of seeking, reactions to the fundamental dilemma which motivates the usual man. The three Great Siddhas, along with all the other Siddhas, and all the yogis, saints, sages, and prophets, and all the men of experience, including the whole range of human individuals, themselves represent a limitation, a form of seeking founded in dilemma. The principle of the search remains intact in the great work of all the Siddhas to now. And the effort of all the dharmas, including the three great traditional dharmas, has been to strategically overcome separate self, limited mind, and the force of limiting desire.
In response to every communicator of the Great Process, whether he was a Great Siddha, Siddha, transcendent yogi, saint, prophet, sage, or teacher of some kind, a cult has always grown. There is a cult around Jesus as Christ, a cult around Gautama as Buddha, a cult around Krishna as the Divine Avatar. There is a cult that develops around each Siddha that appears-there are cults around Nityananda, Ramakrishna, Shirdi Sai Baba, Ramana Maharshi.
There are cults around all the yogis, saints, prophets, sages, and teachers. Every limited communication has tended to have been taken in some tradition or other to be absolute, to be perfect. The world is full of cults, great cults and lesser cults, all of which have the same fundamental structure as the limited life of Narcissus, the egoic life of obsessive mentality and peculiar desires. The world is full of cults, all of which are in conflict with all other cults because they each represent a fundamental limitation of the Great Process.
My own work is not separate from the great work of the Siddhas and Great Siddhas. But my work is a new performance of the dharma of the Maha-Siddha, and represents a new teaching from a new point of view. Just as the three great dharmas are essentially efforts to overcome the limitations of separate self, limited mind, and the force of limiting desire, the Way of Understanding is utterly free of the whole principle of seeking. At the same time, the Way of Understanding effectively undermines the three principles of suffering, not by deliberately acting upon those three principles or conditions themselves, but by undermining in the process of understanding the fundamental or principal activity which is suffering, the principle of contraction or dilemma, the avoidance of relationship.
The Way of Understanding is founded upon insight into that dilemma and the fundamental action which creates and supports that sense of dilemma. That fundamental or self-limiting activity is the avoidance of relationship. When that binding principle is understood, then already or spontaneously the three common conditions of suffering are undone.
The separate self, limited mind, and force of limiting desire are all expressions of this principal contraction, the avoidance of relationship. So if this principal contraction is undone in the process of understanding in living relationship with the Man of Understanding, then the force of the three common principles is already undermined.
In a living and natural relationship with the Man of Understanding this principal contraction is undone, entirely apart from the whole adventure of seeking in dilemma. The process involves simple, motiveless understanding of one’s own activity, not the effort to suppress or transcend the ego-sense, the force of the mind, or the force of desire. When there is radical understanding, these three conditions are brought to rest, returned to the natural stream of existence.
All there has been up to now is the tradition of the dharmas that arose within the great search. So all of those who come to me are continually tending to take on these traditional paths, these traditional approaches. People are always getting upset about their desires, always getting crazy with their minds, and always suffering their limited self-existence, their egoic life. And they are always wanting to do something about it. They always urge themselves either simply to give in and exploit the tendencies that are arising or else to use some strategy or other to get free of their condition.
The Way of Understanding is entirely apart from that whole traditional activity. The instrument for this dharma of understanding is the same instrument that has been used throughout human time, the same instrument used by the Great Siddhas and all the Siddhas. And that is Satsang, or the relationship between the devotee and the Spiritual Master who is complete and powerful in God. The Great Siddhas such as Jesus, Gautama, and Krishna all entered into sacrificial relationship with devotees. That was the fundamental instrument for the communication of their dharmas and their spiritual influence.
So the means for this activity is the ancient means, but the process, the dharma itself, is new. It does not exploit the individual’s motivation to be free of the ego, the mind, and desires. It does not yield to his willful intentions to exploit those tendencies or to believe them. It simply enforces the condition of Truth, which is Satsang itself, the relationship to the Guru in God.
There is only one Siddhi or transforming Spiritual Power active in this work, and that Siddhi is God, the Power of the Divine Person. It is not a secondary siddhi, not magic, not a mere influence. Only the Divine is active in this work. The Lord is the fundamental condition communicated in Satsang with the Man of Understanding. From the beginning, not merely at the end, Truth is the condition of this process. It is pressed on devotees with more and more intensity, always to the degree which is just a little bit beyond their preferred tolerance.
The given methods which are determined to help you overcome your desires, your mentality, or your self-obsession do not in fact affect the principle on which they rest. So naturally your desires, your mentality, and your self-obsessions continue to arise. You are always wanting to exploit them, to believe them, or to get some method or other that will help you to undo them.
But I see no value in merely preventing the appearance of ego, mind, and desire, since one of the fundamental functions of the Divine Siddhi is to awaken those things for the sake of purification and transformation. Why should I give you a method to suppress them, since everything I am doing is bringing them up in you? I would have you become intelligent in relation to the conditions of your suffering, but as long as you seek you are only moved to suppress them without understanding their origin.
The Guru is that Divine Siddhi. The only thing that will allow you to remain in this Satsang, to remain in this fundamental condition that is Truth, is the life of a devotee. If you remain in the condition of a devotee in relation to the Man of Understanding as Guru, then you will be able to pass with humor through the appearance of your own qualities. And they will disappear, not hecause you happen to perform some activity on them, recite some mantra, do some sort of inward trick, but simply because another principle is being lived, which is Satsang.
By remaining a devotee, you will pass through the long appearance and the long reappearance of your own tendencies. But the minute you turn away, the minute you become resistive, the minute your occupation becomes one of resistance to the Guru and to the process of this Siddhi, you will be tending to hold on to the revealed products of this Siddhi. You will become addicted to the principle of your own desires, the force of your own mentality, and the intense vibration of your own separate self sense. The possibility of separation always exists in every individual. Therefore, every day the devotee is tested, and the test is whether he will choose to live simply as a devotee or to return to the principle of his desires, the principle of his limited mind, the principle of his separated or Narcissistic existence.
So this Siddhi lives you and does the meditating and performs the sadhana or spiritual practice. The Siddhi active in Satsang is the fundamental instrument of this work, and not any secondary method or technical affair given to you to perform. In this Satsang, by virtue of this Siddhi, the process of understanding begins. The force of Satsang, which yields self-observation, insight, and real meditation, arises on the basis of hearing the Guru, living as the devotee of the Guru, responsibly maintaining the conditions communicated by the Guru.
Whereas the ancient dharmas involved specific attention, strategic attention to desire, mind, and ego, the dharma of understanding does not involve such strategic attention. It involves Satsang itself, simply, without concern for the manifestation of desires that occur at any moment, the manifestation of thought, or the manifestation of separate self sense. These manifestations are continually appearing, but it is not the business of the devotee to bind himself with concerns over these manifestations. Satsang is his condition. Satsang is his meditation. Satsang is his sadhana or eternal spiritual practice.
The Man of Understanding only offers this Satsang, and he demands that those who come to him come in the form of the devotee, not in the form of the seeker. They will not be satisfied as seekers. He will never give them what seekers require. The Man of Understanding does not give methods, he does not exploit the search, he does not satisfy the seeker.
Those who come as seekers will only be frustrated, and so the Man of Understanding regards only those who come in the form of the devotee. He is continually mindful of the state of his devotee, and through various means continually returns him to the principle of his sadhana, which is Satsang, rather than to those things toward which the devotee himself is always tending: his desires, his mind, and his ego.
Just so, the characteristic Siddhi of the Man of Understanding is not one that is exclusively involved with any one of the three primary centers of our psycho-physical form, any more than it is exclusively involved with the strategic attempt to undo any one of the three common principles of suffering. The Siddhi of the Man of Understanding involves the three principal centers inclusively, without making any one of them the fixed or primary focus of attention.
Yogis seek the merging of the life-force in God, because they see the dilemma of their existence in the forms of life. Thus, their activity originates in the great life-region of the navel, and proceeds upward from that point (if the goal is above the world). Some, who conceive an evolutionary goal in the world, also draw the life-energy down to the life-center. The yogis enjoy exclusive mastery over desire and life.
The great bhaktas or lovers of God are always turned upward through thought, feeling, word, and deed. Practitioners of the yoga of the inner sound current listen to the sound behind the eyes and above the ears in order to be drawn up by it into the Condition of the Light. These are the ways of saints, who seek the exclusive merging of the mind in God, because they know the mind to be the root of the permutations of life. Thus, their seats of activity are in the ajna chakra, the sahasrar, and above. The saints master mind, just as yogis master desire and life.
The sages or jnanis seek the realization of Self, prior to ego, and thus also to mind and desire, because they know the ego to be the root of mind and life. Their activity originates in the heart, the seat of the limited self, of mind, and of desire, on the right side of the chest. This seat, or the potent Silence, the mere Presence of the Heart or RealGod which is intuited therein, is the root of all thoughts, as well as the life current, and the internally audible sound stream. The Self is even the Root or Source of the very Light or Mind which is above the body, the mind, and the world, and of the Life which always proceeds from it as bodies, minds, and worlds. Sages enjoy principal but exclusive mastery over the illusion of separate self, without interest in transcendent Mind or Divine World.
The three centers, the navel, the head, and the heart, are, properly, the seats of the inclusive intuition of the Divine in man. But they are realized in Truth only in the spontaneous, already selfless revelation of Satsang. Those who concentrate upon them wilfully and exclusively with sophisticated techniques, as if to find God at last, are like Narcissus. They only meditate upon their own reflections in waters that lie on holy ground.
But the Man of Understanding enjoys mastery of the ego, mind, and desire without exclusion. He enjoys Realization of Self, Mind, and Life, which are the World. He is Guru in the three seats of Realization, the seat of Life (the great region of the navel), the seat of Light (the ajna chakra, the sahasrar, and above), and the seat of Self (the heart, on the right). He enjoys this Realized Mastery entirely apart from all dilemma and seeking, and he awakens it also in others apart from all exploitation of seeking in dilemma.
Therefore, this sadhana is new and great, and perhaps it is difficult to grasp for those who have only the traditions to which they would resort. In fact, apart from what is newly being communicated here, only the traditions of seeking can be found. But the work and the realization of the Man of Understanding are not fixed in any one of the traditional centers or dharmas or approaches. Just so, his point of view is not the point of view of the Divine qualities represented by any of the three great traditional paths and the exclusive seats of their knowing within man. His point of view is That which is prior to the three great dharmas. His point of view is the Divine itself.
1. Men have long sought to undo the three fundamental contractions or roots of suffering that underlie the usual life, and to realize certain aspects of the Divine Process that are apparently prevented by those contractions. Some have attained extraordinary Success, and have taught others through the various ways of experience.
Those who are primarily concemed with undoing the vital contraction at the great region of the navel in order to enjoy the bliss or fullness of unobstructed movement of the life-force are called “Yogis” by Adi Da.
“Saints,” in his terminology, seek chiefly to relax the subtle contractions at the region of the sahasrar, and they are devoted to the Divine as the transcendent Light above the world, body, and mind.
“Sages” strive primarily to undo the contraction associated with the causal heart, and to realize the Self-nature, Real-God, which has its psycho-physical seat at that point.
Other men have functioned as critics of the usual life from the point of view of transcendent knowledge, and Adi Da calls them “prophets”.