The Cycle of Subjective Captivity

The Cycle of Subjective Captivity

A talk by Heart-Master Da Free John (Adi Da Samraj) on November 18, 1982, given at Tumomama Sanctuary in Hawaii.



Adi Da: This essay is called, ‘Transcendence of Subjective Captivity’. The first paragraph is – as you can see visually, see these arrows yields are leads to – the first paragraph is made up of a sequence of descriptive words, followed by arrows, which would be read as follows:

The self-contraction

yields or leads to subtle self-stress,

which yields to doubt

which yields or leads to seeking or motivated energy and attention,

which leads to mind,

which leads to body,

which leads to relations,

which leads to bewilderment or the unrecognizability of existence,

which leads to frustration,

which leads to anger,

which leads to sorrow,

which leads to fear,

which leads to confinement of awareness to the self contraction.

So, this is the cycle of subjective captivity.


The self-contraction yielding all kinds of complications, which ultimately reinforce and confine, reinforces this confinement and reduce awareness to the sense of confinement.

See this, see that it is felt. Recognize yourself as this, as Narcissus, then all seeking and its results is felt to be fruitless and energy and attention freely returned to the primary process of self-understanding rather than to the secondary or self-bound effort of self-exploitation via seeking and all that follows it.

You see, in this short of the cycle, the self-contraction becomes subtle self-stress, then doubt, and then seeking, everything else follows from seeking.

Well, if this cycle can be seen thoroughly observed and understood, then energy and attention are in some significant sense, liberated from seeking and all that follows seeking in this sequence. You see, so seeking is the fourth stage in the sequence.

All the other things follow from it. If the whole cycle is understood, then attention and energy fall back from seeking and what follows it and gravitate toward, or become freely capable of engaging in the process of self-understanding when everything that precedes the stage of seeking itself, then the way of no seeking or self-understanding and self-transcendence begins. It is a matter of the turning of energy and attention to what precedes seeking.

First, the self-contraction is observed as fundamental doubt, which is the stage just previous to seeking. When this is understood and felt beyond the self contraction is felt as a subtle stress. Finally, one is simply found as the self-contraction itself, the separate, separated, and separate of consciousness rising as symptomatic self-stress and so forth. When this ultimate persona or self-essence is found, recognized and understood as an unnecessary reaction or contraction that in which it is arising is directly and radically intuitive. When this radical or native intuition awakens, the eyes will open. That is, all forms of the self-contraction and all states objects and relations of the separate self become spontaneously and inherently recognized as unnecessary modifications or disturbances of the Source Condition or Self Radiant Transcendental Being. Then be Conscious as the Feeling of Being and constantly, or moment to moment realize that it is Self-Radiant Happiness.

Be Thus, recognizing whatever arises in it until the Radiance or inherent Love Bliss of Transcendental Being, Outshines all subjective and conditional arising.

This is the first part of this essay. It’s a summary of the process of awakening ultimately demonstrated as translation. And then there was a second part to the essay. The world, or all the planes of nature is not only conditional or a plastic chaos of changes without an ultimate single cause, but subjective that is even the objective world arises as the result of countless self-contractions or the apparent arising of countless separate willful or object making entities.

The self-contraction at the level of the individual is the cause of association with the total world. Therefore, transcendence of the individual self-contraction is the Way of Liberation or the Enlightened Realization of Freedom and Self-Radiant Bliss, the Divine or 1transcendental Source Condition of Self, and the apparently objective world. On the basis of this Realization, the self and the apparently objective world are simultaneously found to be not only subjective and conditional, but unnecessary and without binding power. Therefore self-awakened Enlightenment is the way of standing free of self and world. And this is ultimately demonstrated as Transfiguration, Transformation, Indifference, or motiveless renunciation and translation, or the transcendental outshining of conditional subjective experience and knowledge and captivity.

The essay begins with an outline of the Cycle of Subjective Captivity, the words, the cycle. It begins in the self-contraction and is ultimately confined to the self-contraction. And which includes between those two limbs or extremes, all the kinds of self-awareness seeking relations, activities, reactions, and so forth that belong to the realm of our experiencing and knowing.  All of this experiencing and knowing is rooted in the self-contraction. All of our experiencing and knowing it’s preceded by a search for experience and knowledge. If there were no search for experience and knowledge, experience and knowledge would not follow, would not appear would not be engaged, would not be troublesome therefore. So seeking precedes all associations, but seeking itself is preceded by the self-contraction, individuation, contraction, or separation from the Transcendental Condition. So the way is the way of release from, or standing free from conditional existence, from subjective bondage, from experiencing and knowing from all of the implications of association with the world or conditional existence,

It is the way of no seeking and self-understanding is not a way of first of all, merely analyzing the world or experience and knowledge themselves and saying, seeing them to be troublesome, seeing them as a problem to be solved a quantity to be eliminated. It is true that associations with conditional existence are all troublesome, but the way it is not a matter of proceeding on the basis of that analysis. That is simply part of our ordinary awareness of existence.

The Way itself is a matter of the transcendence of seeking, the transcendence of self through direct understanding, not through efforts, that in advance conceive of the self and the world has problems to be eliminated or overcome. It is a natural process of self-observation, self-understanding, self-transcendence – discovering the unnecessary that is our imaginary disease. Simply seeing it directly, not conceiving of it in advance and trying to eliminate it, but simply seeing it and in seeing it, understanding it and understanding it finding it to be unnecessary – merely a contraction and transcending it directly not treating it as outside ourselves, like a sickness to be eliminated through the exercise of the body mind, but finding it as ourselves in the present moment.

So this first part of the essay describes the cycle of experience and knowledge based on the self-contraction, and it calls you to see this – 

To observe yourself and see this, see that it’s so.   Not really see it, but see that it is so accept the fact that it is so. It’s one thing to see it, analyze it, find it somehow, another thing to accept that it is so. To accept that it is so means that you must recognize yourself as this pattern. You must discover yourself to be Narcissus, to be this activity summarize in these results, this cycle, this captivity.

Echo and Narcissus


Student: Can we equate conditional existence with the primary contraction? When you used the word conditional existence.

Adi Da: Well, that was the business of the second part of the estimate to consider this in cosmic terms. There is subjective bondage, this is the first thing that must be observed is one must understand, but what are the implications of it? The implications of it become fully clear as we become most profoundly involved in this process of self-understanding and self-transcendence. And when we see that which has realized when the self-contraction is understood, then the eyes open. Then we recognize the world as well.

We discover that the world is not merely something outside ourselves, something objective, something caused by some single cause or even merely caused by many causes. We see that the world is subjective in nature, that it arises only on the basis of the appearance of the self-contraction as entities. So the appearance of the self-contraction in the transcendental condition, in the form of countless entities, willful entities, object, seeking entities, produces apparitions of all kinds at the level of mind, the level of body, subtle and gross forms, all the kinds of forms. There are countless creative entities, therefore not merely one ultimate creative entity, responsible for everything. Everything is a play upon that one ultimate entity, but this play of causes and effects is a result of entities, individuated beings, all contractions of the transcendental reality.

Your entire world is that the total world is not merely the creation of you as a separate entity. It’s the creation of all kinds of entities, including you as a separate entity, but the world is the product of all such entities. It’s sub-origin, not our objective, not really Divine in the conventional sense. It arises from this process of the contraction of the Transcendental Reality or contraction from its condition. When it appears as all kinds of separate entities, then the worlds begin to appear. Phenomenal existence begins to appear. It changes, appears and all the separate entities are separately involved in a different kind of adventure in this massive complex, this plastic chaos of apparitions made by all kinds of entities.  Each of which have different powers at their command, different capacities, different abilities in the planes of nature and so on. So there are beings of great power forces in nature and so on. And there are beings of lesser power, little creature like entities, all of them are creative and all of them are effects and all of them are making effects and experiencing effects. What is the origin of all of this? Not some big-bang or some objective process and not the Divine itself, making entities and making them suffer and so forth. But it’s very process that is described in the first part of the essay –  Contraction from the Transcendental Condition.

When that contraction takes the form of countless numbers of entities, then we have the hierarchical politics of nature, all the planes of appearance, objective and subjective. But each of us as a separate entity is involved with that one process that is appearing in countless occasions, in the form of countless entities producing this total complex, that process.   If it can be understood and transcended breaks the link in our own case between us and all the results of the subjective contraction, the self-contraction. So the understanding and transcendence of this process at the level of individual existence breaks the link with this great complex. And therefore this understanding, this process of self-transcendence is the process of liberation, which any individual can be responsible. It’s just not necessary for everyone, all entities to do this before there is any liberation.  It is not necessarily for the universe to disappear before there is liberation. Liberation is simply realization of the Transcendental Condition. It may be direct by dealing with this cycle, this process that evolves from the self-contraction. We may deal with it therefore at the level of our own existence by understanding and transcending the mechanics of our own involvement with this great plastic chaos, our own transcendence and restoration to the Transcendental Condition doesn’t eliminate the universe because the universe is the product of all kinds of entities.

The entities may transcend the universe and enter into the transcendental condition, but there are many more entities in many planes. And so the universe continues, bondage continues (break in tape) communicated by Adepts and their traditions and makes it possible for entities in all realms to transcend this subjective bondage. To understand themselves to have their eyes open on the basis of that awakening and see the unnecessary nature of the cosmos and be free and demonstrate the qualities of the Transcendental Reality even in the midst of conditional existence, through the various kinds of demonstrations that appear in the seventh stage of (inaudible) ultimately summarized via the power of Recognition in Translation or the Outshining of conditional existence.

From the point of view of those who are self-bound, the world seemed necessary, involving – it implies the self in an adventure, and it seems like wisdom or truth – or any way communicated – ought to take the world into account as some sort of a necessary structure that we must engage in in order ultimately to realize happiness.

But if we understand ourselves and we are free of those implications, apparent objectivity of nature, discover that the origin of nature itself, as well as the origin of our individuality and our association with the cosmos is subjective. In other words, is created by this unnecessary gesture of self-contraction, which on the one hand dissociates us from the Transcendental Condition and on the other hand, associates us with the cosmic conditions of nature.

Instead of nature having left the transcendental condition than our adventure seems to belong there, coming to the point of understanding ourselves in the realm of nature. And we are free of the search within that plane. Free of the search for knowledge and experience and are restored –  translated into the Transcendental Condition that eternally outshines in nature. Nature therefore, on the one hand seems to self exist eternally, on the other hand, it is out shined eternally, simultaneously. Both of these things are true. It simply depends on the point of view of being. If being as entered into its transcendental condition then the world is outshined.  If being is entered into the self-contraction and conditional existence then the world exists and all of its planes and possibilities exist and the search for the adventure of Narcissus is inevitable.

So, does that answer your question? What else, what other part of it do you have though?

Student: Well, what I was trying to do is equate conditional existence itself to the contraction. What you’re saying is that in the midst of conditional existence awareness can become the case, which translates the apparent entity beyond that. And yet the apparent entity remains conditional form and that entity remains as a conditional form then, but it’s awareness is what is transcendent.

Adi Da: Yes. In the enlightened condition this is so.  But in the enlightened condition, the fully awakened condition in which the self-contraction no longer holds true, in which the Self is realized to be the Transcendental State in that condition all of nature is recognized. The eyes are open. So the apparent self, the body-mind psychophysical personality and its relations continue to exist in the seventh stage of life. But temporarily they don’t exist on the basis of bondage. They exist on the basis of the mere factuality of nature of the previous motions that are produced as appearances, projected the body-mind into existence and so forth. But in the seventh stage of life, these conditions are all recognized. They’re not found to be objective, necessary, existing independently, and so forth. They all seem to be nothing but the Self Radiant Bliss of Transcendental Being, they are truly realized to be just that . Well, that process of Open-Eyed Recognition, Self Abiding Recognition on the one hand continues the lifetime of the individual or lifetimes perhaps.

Student and Adi Da back and forth

Adi Da: The conditional being doesn’t realize anything. It’s in the transcendence of the conditional being that there is Realization.  So it’s body-mind, personality, and so forth doesn’t realize anything as its energies, as its fundamental attention become free to consider its real condition. Then that is Realized.

The conditional being doesn’t realize anything. It’s in the transcendence of the conditional being that there is a Realization. So this body mind, personality and so forth doesn’t realize anything as its energies, as its fundamental attention become free to consider its real condition. Then That is Realized. And then the conditional personality is no longer a conditional personality as we ordinarily think of one, what a conditional personality, the self-bond is not there. But the plastic conditions, the body-mind and so forth, conditions of nature are temporarily continuing. And this fundamentally Enlightened State. But the capacity of the Dnlightened State is one of inherently Recognizing nature. And that power of Recognition dissolves the seeds of association with nature, dissolves the play of nature, fulfills the karmas, Plays the Divine Play, and so forth, you see. But as it does, so the seeds of these apparitions are reduced, dissolved, simplified, and more and more the quality of Indifference or Free Renunciation appears and ultimately becomes the Outshining of conditional noticing subjective noticing.

So what part, what part of that is not clear?


So there are two aspects to this essay, two stages in this essay.  The first of which should be the one immediately available to your consideration. You should be able to observe this cycle described here, whatever its implications about the origins of cosmos may be. Those implications are only evident in the case of actual awakening, but this cycle is evident before awakening. The cycle is immediately evident to you.

The second part of the essay merely considers the cosmic nature from the point of view of what is ultimately Realized when this cycle of self captivity, subjective captivity is thoroughly transcended. So it’s not immediately obvious to you, perhaps that all of nature is arising subjectively and unnecessarily and so forth. This is simply self-evidence, obvious, inherently obvious when the Eyes Open in the Awakened State.

So the capacity to recognize nature is what is enjoyed in the seventh stage of life. The inability to recognize nature, the unrecognizability of existence is the middle term of this sequence here. And therefore from the point of view of conditional existence, it isn’t obvious that all of nature is arising subjectively, unnecessarily, without binding implications, and so forth? That’s precisely what is not obvious.

That is why we must observe this cycle. This sequence, all the qualities of our association, all the results of our seeking, and so forth. This is what you’re called to observe, and to believe as a matter of doctrine, believe on the basis of my authority. The things suggested in the second part of this essay, that is my confession to you. It’s the confession of what is obvious in the case of realization.  And for you, it is, therefore, to be seen in that case. Prior to that time, you can at least see that it’s consistent with my argument.

So, what you’re called to do is consider this cycle, the cycle of subjective captivity. It’s another description of one of many descriptions I have given that should help you to observe the characteristics of your existence, these characteristics that must be observed. That’s the process you must enter into.

By entering into this process of listening to me, the point of hearing and seeing you must come to the point of observing that this cycle is so. Not really believing that it’s so, and thinking of yourself in problematic terms or merely intellectually struggling with yourself and trying to think yourself out of this bag, you see, you must really come to the point of observing yourself in these terms. And it’s not a matter of superimposing, these ideas on your life. It’s a matter of simply observing your life, bringing this argument to your life, making yourself coincide with this argument. Not really believe it, but see if it’s so, test it.  See yourself, see the sequences, the cycle of your own experiencing, knowing and so on until you come to the point of seeing that it is so till you come to the point of recognizing yourself as Narcissus the character that is the verbal representation of the ego that I’ve used in all of my teaching.

When you find that this, that this is the summary description of you, and you’re not merely whoever you are named and living in this world – being happy, having such and such relations, looking to be fulfilled, feeling God around and so forth, not all of that. But that you are Narcissus, the self-contraction and exhibit all the qualities of this character – all the time. On all of your moments and all the kinds of your association, all the states of life.

You always exhibit this cycle. One or other moment in this cycle and the fundamental principles of this cycle. When this is, when this becomes obvious, then the energy and attention that is unconsciously and conventionally devoted to the search for experience and knowledge – devoted to the search for fulfillment in the planes and the planes of nature. That motivation that search will relax when this self recognition is plain, when it is completely clear.

Narcissus and Echo. Gretna Green Museum, Scotland.

[Hera (Zeus’ wife) created a curse that robbed Echo of her storytelling abilities. She was cursed to only be able to repeat the last words said to her; never to speak her own words again.

Tragedy of Echo and Narcissus Narcissist was a young boy of unrivaled beauty, in Greece or anywhere else. One day, Narcissus went hunting in the woods with friends, but he became separated from them. This is when Echo spotted him and fell deeply, madly in love. Obviously, she was unable to tell him how she felt. When she attempted to speak to him, a confusing conversation ensued because Hera’s punishment to Echo caused her to have difficulty speaking.

Because of this curse, Narcissus pushed her away, believing himself to be too good to go around having affairs with wood nymphs. His rejection broke Echo’s heart. Echo, like many of us undergoing breakups, retreated to a cave and stopped eating until she wasted away. Eventually, she died, leaving only her cursed voice. Punishment of Narcissus For his cruel rejection of Echo, Narcissus was punished by Nemesis, Greek Goddess of Revenge.

The beautiful young boy was cursed to fall in love with his own reflection, as seen in the waters of a pond outside of Echo’s cave. Falling desperately in love with himself, Narcissus too stopped eating and wasted away. His last words to himself were, “Farewell dear boy. Beloved in vain.” Echo’s disembodied voice repeated his words back to him before he died.]

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