Originally published in ‘Crazy Wisdom’
The Monthly Journal of the Johannine Daist Communion
May 1985, Vol 4, NO5
“HAPPINESS IS THE DIFFERENCE”
by Daji Advaita Bodha Deepika
“No one has ever entered, or ever will enter, the Great Way without first paying the fare of self-knowledge.”
Rejoice in the Dharma in the community of your own practice.
Rejoice in God in the company of all men of humor and love.
As for the rest, the watchful, manly, and without illusions.1
—Da Free John
1. Quoted in S. Bonder and T. Montano, “Think and Ye Shall Find,” in The Dawn Horse, Number 6 (Volume 2, Number 4), 1975, p. 53.
Peace is not a present luxury of mankind. Instead of living in peace, men live at odds with one another, childishly and brutally destroying the gifts of life, friendship, and love; so intimidated by the universal demand for relationship, and yet so in need of love; so in need of being restored to the real substance of the universe, and yet so afraid to enter the Way, the Venerable Way, the Precious Way of the Graceful Heart.
No one has ever entered, or ever will enter, the Great Way without first paying the fare of self-knowledge. Since ancient times, in spiritual schools all over this world, the first lesson taught to aspirants has been the lesson on the necessity of self-knowledge. The Greek philosopher Socrates told the students of his academy to ‘ ‘know thyself. ’ ’ The fourteenth-century German mystic-theologian Meister Eckhart said, “A man has many skins in himself, covering the depths of his heart. Man knows so many things; he does not know himself. Why, thirty or forty skins and hides, just like an ox’s or a bear’s, so thick and hard, cover the soul. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there.”2
2. Quoted in Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy (New York: Harper &. Row, 1st
Harper Colophon edition, 1970), p. 162.
Gautama’s science of self-knowledge led him to declare, “I discovered that profound truth, so difficult to perceive, difficult to understand, tranquillizing and sublime, which is not to be gained by mere reasoning, and is visible only to the wise. . . . Yet there are beings whose eyes are only a little covered with dust: they will understand the truth.”3 And all throughout the East, the great Masters and spiritual Teachers have expounded on the virtuous act of self-knowledge for thousands of years.
3. Nyanatiloka, The Word of the Buddha (Kandy, Ceylon: Buddhist Publication Society, 1971), p. 2.
“When I first heard of the accusations against The Johannine Daist Communion…”
When I first heard of the accusations against The Johannine Daist Communion, I was reminded of a passage from the distinguished English novelist and philosopher Aldous Huxley: “If most of us remain ignorant of ourselves, it is because self-knowledge is painful and we prefer the pleasures of illusion. As for the consequences of such ignorance, these are bad by every criterion, from the utilitarian to the transcendental. Bad because selfignorance leads to unrealistic behavior and so causes every kind of trouble for everyone concerned; and bad because, without self-knowledge, there can be no true humility . . . therefore no unitive knowledge of the divine Ground underlying the self and ordinarily eclipsed by it.”4
4. Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy, pp. 161-62.
The Chinese Taoist Chuang Tzu praised and cultivated the science of self-knowledge, claiming that “the mind that is penetrating has understanding, and the understanding that is penetrating has virtue.”5
5. Chuang Tzu, Basic Writings, trans. Burton Watson (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 3d printing 1969), p. 138.
Understanding was viewed as the natural state of the mind, and the “unnatural” mind, the mind incapable of self-knowledge, was looked upon as sick and thus destructive to the Way or natural harmony of things. “In all things, the Way does not want to be obstructed, for if there is obstruction, there is choking; if the choking does not cease, there is disorder; and disorder harms the life of all creatures.”6
6. Chuang Tzu, Basic Writings, p. 138.
Reflecting on these past weeks, I am more aware than ever of the senseless harm men inflict upon one another. I am also newly sensitive to the wisdom of the spiritual traditions’, which have always tested the humility and receptivity of those who claim to be serious about practice by admonishing them to first remove the log from their own eye. But this ancient admonition is more often preached than put to practice.. In our Way, the realistic eye of self-understanding must be brought to bear upon one’s own life. “Listening,” as Master Da calls it, is the preliminary step to “hearing,” which is the foundation upon which the life of authentic practice is built.
Unfortunately, some imagine that Heaven can be taken by storm. They do not want to hear about the wisdom and necessity of self-understanding. This conflict is of course not new. The “Crazy Wisdom” Master Han Shan of Cold Mountain faced this arrogant attitude in some of the curiosity seekers who came looking for him. Cold Mountain is the name of the hermit’s mountain retreat, but he also uses Cold Mountain as a metaphor for spiritual attainment or the Realization of the Tao. Criticizing their worldliness and arrogant attitude, he challenged them to try taking up the spiritual Way they criticized.
When people see the man of Cold Mountain They all say, “There’s a crackpot!
Hardly a face to make one look twice, His body wrapped in nothing but rags. . . . The things we say he doesn’t understand; The things he says we wouldn’t utter!” A word to those of you passing by— Try coming to Cold Mountain sometime!7
7. Burton Watson, trans., Cold Mountain: 100 poems by the T’ang poet Han-shan (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1970), p. 75.
Understanding or true hearing is a very, very difficult course, and Master Da leaves plenty of room for those developing in the earliest and most difficult stage of the Way, and offers them much supportive help. In the beginning or listening stage He recommends that the newly approaching student simply ponder and consider His Teaching. Everyone has trouble stomaching the strong medicine of self-knowledge. But what is the Master-physician to do? Regardless of the symptoms, the disease is always the same, and thus the medicine prescribed in every era by the Adepts is the same— self-knowledge.
Like a doctor prescribing a medicine for each disease,
I use what remedy is at hand to save the world. Only when the mind is free of care Can the light of understanding shine in every comer.8
8. Ibid.,p. 112.
The yoga Taught by Master Da Free John requires, as a preliminary to the Great Way of Transcendental God-Realization, a course in self-knowledge. Although Master Da’s entire Teaching has arisen spontaneously in response to the people and times in which He appears, the self-understanding He requires of His students has always been an integral part of the spiritual learning in every serious school of teaching.
The Laughing Man Institute provides a full program of support for people who listen to Master Da’s words but are yet to hear the Teaching sufficiently to take up the rigorous life of authentic practice. For these many sympathetic and interested persons Master Da has offered the “sadhana” of “pondering and preparation,” which reflects the unusually open and compassionate attitude toward beginners that He has always maintained.
“As in any school of learning, self-examination and testing are a necessary part of spiritual learning and growth.”
As in any school of learning, self-examination and testing are a necessary part of spiritual learning and growth. The observation and knowledge of one’s limits and the realistic knowledge of the nature of the world have always been an essential requirement for anyone taking up authentic spiritual practice. The traditions are filled with stories of seekers who got this lesson, and of their gratitude to their Teachers for granting this knowledge.
Self-knowledge leads to powerful spiritual attainments, but only in the case of those who can use it. Thus the testing of the student’s capacity for self-knowledge required in the past remains useful and necessary today. Master Da says:
My first Work is to help people observe and understand their unHappiness, so that they may naturally renounce or be free of the dilemma or problem-based motivation of their life of seeking. My second Work is to Awaken such natural renunciates (or serious people) to the Locus, Condition, Self, and Way of Happiness Itself.
All of my Arguments are a call to seriousness about the Lesson of life and to the Awakening of devotion to Real Happiness. The earlier years of my Teaching Work were largely devoted to the development of seriousness or radical understanding in the rather un-serious and even worldly people who gathered together with me. Now I basically depend on the literature of my Teaching and the institutional culture of The Johannine Daist Communion to embody my Work in relation to those who are only beginning to consider these serious matters. Now I reserve myself for those who are serious in their understanding, so that they may be quickened in my Company by the Transmission of the Current of Happiness, or Transcendental Love-Bliss, and so Awaken to the Truth and the practice of the Way that I Teach.9
9. Da Free John, The Bodily Location of Happiness (The Dawn Horse Press, 1982), pp. 99-100.
People in the general public and beginning practitioners are not called to assume a relationship to Da Free John as Spiritual Master, but are called to assume a relationship to Him as Teacher. They are simply called to listen to the Teaching and to observe themselves until they understand the ego and are moved to practice the selftranscending Way of life.
I do not believe in bullshit, and I do not try to move people with bullshit. I have made it very clear in The Dawn Horse Testament that the Teaching, which I have communicated openly, is not given so that you will believe it. I am not interested in involving myself in any manipulative techniques merely to create belief-mind in you.
At first, simply listen to My Arguments and respond to Me as Teacher. My Confession will be true for you as your spiritual life and your recognition of Me develop in My Company. Then My own Confession becomes, in effect, your Confession. You know it to be so, not because you have become involved in belief-mind, the mere conditioning of yourself as an ego, but because you have gone beyond the egoic limitations and have entered into the domain of real spiritual practice.10
10. From an unpublished talk given by Da Free John on October 27, 1984.
Students who have gained sufficient self-knowledge or “insight” into the ego or self-contraction awaken quite naturally to a spiritual relationship to the Divine Presence, which we call “Da,” meaning the Giver of Life, and which is referred to or indicated by Christians when they speak of the “Holy Ghost,” by Jews when they speak about “Shalom” or the “Fullness,” and by Hindus when they speak of “Divine Shakti” or “Divine Mother.” Such an extraordinary relationship is spontaneously revealed, guided, and quickened by means of Master Da’s constant Spiritual Blessing, or Transmission, which He perpetually maintains from His Hermitage like a sage tending an eternal and life-supporting fire. It is because of this Realized Master’s Divine Incarnation that He is prepared and supremely suited to serve others in their efforts toward Realization. Thus we share an extraordinary spiritual relationship to Master Da that is founded in an ancient Yoga, a Yoga that has been the prize of the spiritual traditions in the East for centuries.
Master Da and devotees are mutually drawn together, often through miraculous “coincidence,” and the devotee (once he or she has understood his or her own egoic activity—which is no small feat) is then initiated into a spiritual relationship to Master Da, and a whole new life of practice, discovery, and spiritual enjoyment or Divine Communion begins. Thus the devotee is so called because he or she has become naturally devoted to that Great and Indescribable Power of Being and Bliss, the “Mystery,” which has captivated men and women since beginningless time.
The devotee’s relationship to his or her Teacher as Spiritual Master has nothing whatever to do with “cultism” in the sense that is being negatively portrayed. It is one of the tragic ironies of our day that the ancient yoga of esoteric spirituality, the purpose of which is to transcend that most “sanctified” of all cults, the ego itself, is a scapegoat. The irony is that society abounds with cultists, people who attach themselves to fascinating personalities, new ideas, fads, movie stars, athletic teams, artistic movements, intellectual schools of thought, political parties, and, yes, religious movements, and not just new religions.
Master Da Free John has Himself always been critical of the “beginner’s” mind, the phenomenon that is at the roots of religious and all other forms of cultism:
The negative tendency in cultism is the tendency to forget that mere enthusiastic association with an object, an idea, a person, or whatever, is basically a superficial or “beginner’s” stateofmind. All mere enthusiasm, or belief, or ritualized consciousness is at the novice level of human existence, and if it persists beyond its appropriate term, it becomes an expression of either childish or adolescent neurosis. (Such is true of individuals and also of human groups or, cultures.)
The “problem” of cultism is prolonged exotericism, which produces fanaticism, delusion, and exclusivism. Freedom from false cultism depends on human growth, from the exoteric (or superficial levels of understanding) to the esoteric (or higher, evolutionary, and transcendental levels of understanding). Exoteric religion must become nothing more than a means of preparation for higher spiritual and evolutionary acculturation.
Therefore, every religion must be submitted to the universal Truth and the universal Wisdom of Adepts who have fulfilled the higher Way through actual practice of it. Conventional religions must abandon all things superficial and exclusively true, and they must submit to all that belongs to the universal, profound, and transcendental Truth.11
11. Da Free John, Scientific Proof of the Existence of God Will Soon Be Announced by the White House! (The Dawn Horse Press, 1980), pp. 28, 29-30.
True devotees associate with their Master as real practitioners of the self-transcending Way of life. They are not attached to the Master as if He were a conventional personality, nor even to themselves or one another as conventional personalities. Their relationship to Master Da is a spiritual one, requiring constant self-transcendence or moment to moment practice, and expressed primarily in meditation. There is absolutely nothing consoling to the ego about such a practice. And such a devotee would no more think of abusing his Master than he would his father, children, spouse, or friends. Real spiritual practice is, as Master Da has always said, and as the great traditions have often agreed, a Sacred Fire.
“the ecstatic Confessions of the Great Realizers and Teachers of mankind, such as “I Am God,” or “TatTvam Asi,” or “Allah Akbar,” or “I and The Father are One,” or “Nirvana and Samsara are the same,” which also can be heard in Master Da’s writings, must be intelligently considered and rightly understood.”
People need to study what Master Da is actually saying. You would not expect to learn about nuclear physics by reading an ad in the newspaper, and the same holds true, even more so, if you want to learn about the demanding and sophisticated subject of spiritual esotericism and transcendental philosophy. For example, the ecstatic Confessions of the Great Realizers and Teachers of mankind, such as “I Am God,” or “TatTvam Asi,” or “Allah Akbar,” or “I and The Father are One,” or “Nirvana and Samsara are the same,” which also can be heard in Master Da’s writings, must be intelligently considered and rightly understood. When people who have been acculturated to theistic religious ideas, particularly Westerners, hear an Adept Confess “I Am God,” they immediately think that the words are blasphemy or that the person is deluded. Master Da Free John’s Teaching does not originate from the theistic conception of God or Reality. It is a very sophisticated Teaching based on the Realization of the Transcendental Reality, and it has won the acclaim and recognition of many intelligent and respected people in the sciences and the humanities, East and West, as well as many respected religious scholars of our day. When Master Da speaks of God, He is talking of the “Subjective Transcendental Reality,” not the Creator-God or the mind-created or intellectually reasoned God, conceived of in the mold of theistic religions.
The God with Which Master Da claims Identity is already constantly identified throughout His Teaching as “The Ultimate or Transcendental Self of every one.” When Master Da makes such ultimate statements as “I Am the Radiant Transcendental Being,” or God, He is simply Confessing that He has Realized the True Self, and that It is indeed the Self of every one and every thing. When Master Da makes such an ecstatic Confession as “I Am God,” He is proclaiming to devotees that they inhere in the Transcendental Self and that they and all beings can Realize the Transcendental Self and be Free.
“My mind and my heart are at peace when I say to devotees around the world that, in my estimation, no man, no poet, no artist, no sage, no saint has ever Loved more deeply or given more bounteously to the world of Man than Master Da Free John.”
My mind and my heart are at peace when I say to devotees around the world that, in my estimation, no man, no poet, no artist, no sage, no saint has ever Loved more deeply or given more bounteously to the world of Man than Master Da Free John. And I have no reservations in saying that His sublime Teaching on Understanding, human psychology, the Lesson of life, hearing and seeing, Spirit-Baptism, esoteric initiation, sacramental worship, real Meditation, Spiritual Conductivity, service, Enlightenment, Transfiguration, Transformation, and Translation is certainly the most insightful, significant, and liberating wisdom ever presented to mankind.
“Contrary to the materialistic man, who criticizes the spiritual man for not living in the so-called “real world,” the spiritual man is called to penetrate or “understand” the illusory nature of egoity in all worlds.”
Contrary to the materialistic man, who criticizes the spiritual man for not living in the so-called “real world,” the spiritual man is called to penetrate or “understand” the illusory nature of egoity in all worlds. In fact, only men and women moved by the Heart’s intelligence can endure the trial of self-transcendence, which leads into the emotional depths and the expanded psychic world of our untapped human and spiritual potential. The “real” life of spiritual endeavor offers the greatest of all possibilities—that of God-Realization. And no one takes up that Great Way of life without the guidance and Grace of a Spiritual Master.
“Let those who defend themselves against the Great Ordeal, and who deny the existence and help of the Wise, keep their distance from the world of the Spirit.”
Let those who defend themselves against the Great Ordeal, and who deny the existence and help of the Wise, keep their distance from the world of the Spirit. Let them not be so quick to criticize what they themselves have never understood or practiced. Let them go their own way, and do what they will, and let those who value the Great Way, regardless of their religious, spiritual, or philosophical differences, live the Way in the form they choose.
In all times and places, the most profound (and conventionally unacceptable) act is to understand and freely transcend self, and all others, and the total world. Such is the Lion’s Way, the Way of radical inherence in the Radiant Divine or Transcendental Being. It is the Way that I Teach.12
12. Da Free John, The Yoga of Consideration and the Way That I Teach (The Dawn Horse
Press, 1982), p. 20.
“The Lion’s Way requires more creativity and humility, and more intelligence and courage, than any of the challenges offered in the conventional world.”
The Lion’s Way requires more creativity and humility, and more intelligence and courage, than any of the challenges offered in the conventional world. In the true world of spirituality you must stand before the greatest of all obstacles—your self. And the gesture of self-transcendence is greatly aided by the community wherein the Wisdom and the Blessing of the Adept are present.
So what kind of spiritual community are we? We are a community dedicated to the great purpose of Liberation! Because of this unique and honorable purpose, you could say we are different, different in the sense that self-understanding and Divine Communion are the essence of the Way of life that we live. What kind of people make up our spiritual community? We come from the mainstream of humanity, ordinary people, people elated to have finally connected with the Universal Mystery, people grateful for the guidance and blessing and wisdom that have so graciously come to us through the Love-Sacrifice of the Western-Born Avadhoot, Master Da Free John. Thus, we are a unique community with an unprecedented story that we alone can tell. We must tell the story, and we must make it clear in the telling that it is a great story, a sacred story, a liberating story, a story that needs to be told despite the pressures and conventions of the times, and despite the obstacles (many of our own making) and the attacks (which are not of our own making) that now confront us.
No collective of human beings has ever received the spiritual inheritance that this troubled generation of ours has received. Whoever truly chooses this Way has been granted the right of passage into a new way of life, a life that is just beginning in its glorious effort to humanize and spiritualize mankind—not as an end in itself, but as a bridge to Transcendental Realization, Freedom, and Happiness. We are the witnesses and recipients of the Love-Miracle and Spirit-Blessing that is the Life, the Teaching, and the Way of Master Da Free John.
“What of the recent disturbances to The Johannine Daist Communion?”
What of the recent disturbances to The Johannine Daist Communion? They can be looked upon as a lesson in the school of this world, a usable lesson that enables the spiritual man or woman to gain self-understanding, to intensify his or her own practice, to honor the Sacrifice of the Living God and the sacrifice of ordinary men, and the struggle and unioning between these two, in which “victor” and “loser,” “good” and “evil,” subject and object are understood, forgiven, elated, resolved, and dissolved in Love’s Realization of the undeniable Unity and Bliss that Master Da, the Beloved, Reveals to the world of men.
“There is a Way in God, but there is no Way to win,”
The times are had, but they are not extraordinarily so. The times are merely had, as the common world of desire must always be. But Truth is prior to desire and the world. Therefore, in My lifetime, a few may Awaken in My Company. This Teaching and the Community of My Devotees may even survive for countless generations as a Witness to the Truth that Awakens and Enlightens the soul of Man. These Good Events may come to pass, or they may not. There is a Way in God, but there is no Way to win.13
13. Da Free John, The Enlightenment of the Whole Body (The Dawn Horse Press, 1978), p. 158.
Perhaps there is no great change on the horizon for humanity. Read closely the spiritual histories of such ancient civilizations as India, China, and Tibet. Read the biographies of the great Adepts and practitioners. You will see that when Master Da says, “There is a Way in God, but there is no Way to win,” this is also the conclusion generally drawn by Teachers, practitioners, and spiritual communities in the past. But read Da Free John more closely, examine His extraordinary life more openly, and you will begin to understand that, while He is not predicting or promising world salvation, He also places no limitation on the numbers of people who may benefit from His Work. Winning is simply not the Way. But there certainly is a Way, a “hole in the universe,” a Lighted Space, a passageway through human suffering and delusion.
When I behold Master Da’s face, which always tells His Feelings, the purity of His face always moves my heart. I have seen every sign of human sentiment reflected on this man’s face. Very few men are free enough to express themselves without self-consciousness. It is not only human, His magnificent face, but it includes all that a human being must or should be and feel.
If you have known this face, as I have for the past ten years, then you notice the traces of time and the struggles of Love. But it is not an old face, nor a withdrawn expression, that one encounters, but an unfathomable look! All the Dharmas are written upon this ancient Face. The eyes themselves are holy. This is a man, you cannot help feeling, who lives utterly for the sake of others, for those who have come already, for those who are on the way, for those of future generations, even—and equally—for those who oppress Him. This is a man who has had to Teach to survive. I know this is literally so, for I have seen Him encounter the very worst in human beings, and I have seen Him suffer their limitations for their spiritual growth. This is an inspired man, an abused man, a man disturbed by human suffering, and at the same time a man full of Love and Forgiveness, a man who embraced the world with a Love that few appreciate or can even imagine. He is an Adept of the Highest Realization, a Siddha Who, having fallen to Earth, has had to struggle alone (even—and this is difficult to say—within the Community of devotees) to reach some one or some many who would understand!
All I have asked is that you understand.
It is a simplicity, signalled in many ways.
Do not imagine it is more or less than my plain word, the time you heard me and understood.14
14. Da Free John [Franklin Jones], The Knee of Listening (The Dawn Horse Press, 1973, 1984), p. 206.
“Very few people know of the world’s varied, sophisticated, and colorful spiritual history, of which Master Da and our Communion are a part”
This Teaching and our community do not exist in isolation. Thus it becomes important that everyone is helped to understand Master Da’s great Work—not only devotees, but parents, supporters and the general public as well. Very few people know of the world’s varied, sophisticated, and colorful spiritual history, of which Master Da and our Communion are a part. Master Da has made sense of this Great Tradition and made it comprehensible and usable in our generation. It always exhilarates me to find evidence that this grand experiment has been carried on from the beginning of recorded history, and all over the world, and by such diverse personalities as the few already mentioned in this article. The Chinese Taoist sage, Chuang Tzu, for example, lived in 300 B.C. Over 2,000 years later we find the British gentleman-philosopher, Aldous Huxley, talking about the ordeal of self-knowledge. More familiar to Westerners is the Greek philosopher Socrates, who is an example of a teacher philosopher, instructing his students in the wisdom of self-knowledge, among other matters. In every era the Wisdom of the Spirit has been made available to people, and it is our era’s good fortune, and the necessity of the times, that we have received the unprecedented Wisdom and Enlightening Blessing of Master Da Free John.
I now turn to the present and to our own sacred and praiseworthy tradition. I do not need to seek confirmation from the more established traditions in order to acknowledge Master Da Free John and His Teaching. The spiritual greatness of this man and His Way have been “proved” to me Face to face, through countless acts of love, humor, and brilliant Teaching, and cultivated internally via the unceasing river of His spiritual Benediction, a Conscious Light that widens and deepens beyond the limits of the body-mind, revealing an uncharted sea of Bliss known by the ancients as “the Ocean of Immeasurable Happiness.”
“Do you know who that man is? He looks so happy. And His friends are so happy. They’re different, aren’t they!”
Let me thus turn you to a day in the life of our honorable, even if a little unusual, Sacred History.
After a morning of writing in His tiny office at Tumomama, Master Da was persuaded by devotees, who thought He would enjoy a little leisure, to take His lunch at the seaside. The outing was attended by a devotee who had been serving at the Sanctuary and was invited to join the Master. This curious fellow is a much-loved friend of Master Da, and I have often likened their wonderful relationship to that of Ramakrishna’s love for Girish Ghosh, the skeptic, carouser, and renowned Bengali actor. His eccentricities notwithstanding, Master Da has a great fondness for His friend, and, when they were together, welcomed his frank and always endearing conversation.
While they were sitting on the beach, our friend began a lengthy dialogue about many subjects of interest to him. He began by asking, “My Lord, have You ever heard of ‘the Fibonacci sequence’?” Master Da replied that He had not, but if the questioner felt this was pertinent io spiritual life, He would be willing to consider it. Hours of conversation passed between the two men, sitting in the Hawaiian sun, one full of questions about mathematics, spiritual personalities, economics, historical cycles, psychism, and the other—let me put it this way—simply Teaching.
The day was over, but their conversation seemed to have only begun. Our friend had become so engrossed in his conversation with Master Da that he insisted Master Da accompany him to dinner so as not to lose the thread of their dialogue.
My memory of this night is still clear. We were seated around a white wicker table in the corner of a garden patio, surrounded by beautiful large tropical plants, waiting to be seated for dinner. The image of their two contrasting faces, bonded in indissoluble union by speech, or really by some unspeakable, invisible adhesive, impressed itself upon my consciousness then, and the image is still with me today.
Master Da and His devotee in their trance are transfigured. It is there in the look on their faces. No fear or doubt is registered in the expression of Master Da—only the dignity and serenity of a Knower of Truth. His is the language of the Heart, a language that very few have understood. Now from His mouth the most loving words are falling upon the soul of this devotee. His rugged face softened, full of wonder.
“My Lord, You have been most gracious to me in answering all of my questions. And if You would be so kind, I have but one last nagging thought which I would put before You. It is this: What if something terrible happened to the American government, affecting the Constitution, and freedom of religion was no longer permitted, so that we could not openly practice our Spiritual Way of life? And what if America suffered a revolution like in China where all of the sacred books were destroyed, so that Your magnificent literature was no longer available to people? And what if, God forbid, devotees were separated from one another, dispersed to different countries, and unable to practice in community? What would become of You and the Teaching and the community of devotees?”
His weighty “what if’s” stunned everyone, because these were precisely the kinds of questions no one likes to think about. But they were serious questions for him, questions that had to be faced. Master Da replied:
“First of all, there is no reason for anything like that to happen. Even if it did, don’t you know that what I am Teaching can never die? The Way of Truth does not end. History changes. Civilizations appear and disappear. People and philosophies and religious movements come and go. But the Great One cannot be removed or replaced. No one can ever take that Realization away. The Adepts come again and again in every era. It is this very Realization that is the essence of renunciation. The true renunciate is someone who has given up the ego, someone who has transcended himself or herself and Realized the Radiant Consciousness That Stands Prior to the mind, the body, and the world of Nature. The realm of Nature is constantly beginning, changing, and coming to an end, but the Truth and the Great Way transcend the realm of changes. What we enjoy can never die. No one, no experience, not time or space, not even death can destroy this Supreme Realization. God is the Happiness for which all beings are seeking.”
Only in the depths of the heart is a man at peace with the world. By Master Da’s choice of words and the tone of His voice and the sublimity of His gestures you know that here is a man wholly occupied with drawing all into that depth, of holding open the eyelids of the world to that Vision of inexhaustible Light, until the truth of that Light is no longer deniable. All the faces were aglow, transparent to the Light Source in their midst. Not a single word was uttered. All the hearts were calmed by the Holy Presence.
Just then our saucy hostess, who had been annoyed by our seeming indifference at first but who had grown very curious, informed us that our table was ready. “Oh, and by the way,” she asked, “you’re not tourists, are you?”
“Nope, we’re not tourists.”
“Are you in the theatre?”
“Depends on what you mean by theatre, but no, we are not part of what you probably mean by theatre.”
“Well, I just wanted to say that you are different from anyone I’ve waited on before.”
“Yes, really. You’re different, and that’s nice. And I hope you enjoy your meal.”
We were seated in a small private wing of the restaurant. The Da-Presence was Radiant. A distinguished waiter brought us the menu. Our friend insisted that we try the wines. The waiter brought the first bottle of wine and, displaying the label, explained that this was an excellent year. He opened the bottle and offered Master Da the first taste. But it wasn’t quite right. Too sweet, the Master explained. An alternative selection was recommended. It was better, but not adequate. Finally a third choice was made. “Estate bottled, with a marvelous aftertaste,” the waiter said hopefully.
“What is your name, sir?” Master Da asked the waiter.
“My name is George.”
“Are you all right, George?”
“Why of course, sir,” the waiter answered.
“Are you certain, George?”
“No problems?” the Master asked.
“No, sir, none at all,” George said.
As George pondered these questions, Master Da unexpectedly posed an entirely different query:
“Well, if you don’t mind, would you ask the busboy to try his luck at bringing us the next wine?”
Disarmed for a moment, George hesitated and then looked amusedly at Master Da, exclaiming, “The busboy?!” Although at first taken aback by this unusual request, he did find humor in the situation, and admitted he felt the criticism of the wines was correct. The only complication was that he would have to get permission from the management to allow the busboy to serve us. Ordinarily this would not be permitted, but he saw no harm in asking. Returning to our table, he informed us that at first the manager had said no, but that the hostess had intervened on our behalf, explaining, “They are very good people. They are just a little different, that’s all.”
So the young busboy, who had taken a break from college and was working to earn some extra money, marched to our table with an unsettled look on his face. “Could you assist us in choosing an appropriate wine to go with our meal?” Master Da said to him. “I’ll certainly try, sir,” he replied.
In order to help the young man make the right choice, Master Da gave him a fascinating discourse on the two most famous cuisines, the French and the Chinese, explaining that the Chinese was by far the greater because its gustatory science had been developed upon the spiritual principles of “yin” and “yang,” and with the intention of satisfying more than taste alone.
George, who was now serving as our busboy, was staring at the Master. When the Master finished explaining our choice of cuisine, based on the principles of the Chinese Taoist philosophy, George leaned over my shoulder and whispered, “Brilliant.”
Next Master Da instructed our resurrected busboy, who was now feeling like an expert in the esoteric culinary sciences, to take the unacceptable wines and give them to the employees in the kitchen’with our blessings.
“Thank you, sir.” And off went our busboy, who had just undergone an unexpected promotion to head-waiter of the most exclusive room in the restaurant.
As our new waiter diligently went about his task of serving the meal, our attention naturally turned to George, who was trying his best to be enthusiastic about refilling our water glasses. “George, are you sure everything is all right with you?” Master Da asked, not at all mockingly. He had been concerned about George since noticing him. A few moments later George found himself considering the first “fundamental question” (“Are you the One Who is living you now?”), and next the Argument about self-understanding.
Sure enough, Master Da had been right. This man was going through a very difficult moment in his personal life. He told me, “I can’t believe I am telling my customers my problems, in the midst of serving them, or trying to serve them, their meal.” But he quickly added his appreciation, admitting that he was relieved to get his problems off his chest. “The gentleman,” he said, referring to Master Da, “gave me some good advice, and I appreciate His kindness.”
No sooner had Master Da finished with George than our young waiter returned with our meals. “Are you religious?” the Master asked him.
“Well, I was brought up a Christian, if that’s what you mean.” “I mean do you practice religion?”
“No,” said the waiter, “but I do believe in God.”
“Ah, you believe in God, you say. Well, have you ever seen God or felt God?” Master Da asked.
“No,” the young man said ironically, “I can’t say I have ever seen or felt God.” And he smiled as if he had gotten the joke.
For twenty minutes Master Da talked very earnestly and compassionately with the young man. He became totally concentrated in their conversation. Everyone at the table, including George, was fixed on their interaction. This was not a joke. In just a few minutes he had become intensely interested and available to the Master’s Wisdom.
Then the Master began to praise Jesus and to give the young man instructions, describing the relationship between God the Father (the heart on the right), Jesus (the crown or the “sahasrar”), and the Holy Ghost (the Circle of conductivity). He told the man how to breathe in the Circle and feel from the heart.
By this time all of us were absorbed in Communion, some with our eyes closed, and some just sitting with our eyes bugged out and our bodies flowing with that ever-loving joy we call “the Presence.”
The Master asked the young man if he understood Him. He replied, “I think so.” The Master then told him it would take time, but if he practiced daily, he would see and feel God, and that would make him Happy.
In reflecting on this story, it occurs to me that Master Da did what He always has done, which He cannot keep Himself from doing—He was Teaching. This story can be seen as a paradigm for His entire Teaching Work. He had quietly turned the worldly environment of the restaurant into a setting for Spiritual Transmission. The hostess lost a little face but gained Darshan for her service. The waiter George underwent a reality consideration for which he was very grateful. The management consented to change their rules and showed a sense of humor in allowing their most humble employee to serve their most important guest. The young man was given spiritual instructions that yogis seek for lifetimes to hear. And the kitchen staff had received the “spirit” in a form they were easily able to appreciate. Master Da had conducted a “religious ceremony” affecting not only the devotees present at the table but also the employees of the restaurant.
George and the busboy were generously tipped for their service. And as we were leaving the restaurant, the cashier asked the hostess, “Do you know who that man is? He looks so happy. And His friends are so happy. They’re different, aren’t they!” ■