Week 12 – The Life of Understanding
A twelve-week course taught by Franklin Jones (Adi Da Samraj)
January – April/May 1973
The Knee Of Listening Tapes/transcribed discourses entitled the Life of Understanding took place in Los Angeles in 1973.
Now this next paragraph begins, “Heartless one, Narcissus, friend, loved one.” This description of the Man of Understanding is written by the Man of Understanding. This is the point of view of this particular essay. It’s addressed to one who does not understanding or to all beings as one who does not understand. It’s addressed by the Man of Understanding, who is this whole process of paradox, functions as truth in relation to Narcissus, one who takes on the fixed and exclusive quality, just as the Guru as Spiritual Master functions as Truth relative to disciples. So, relative to disciples, true disciples, the Guru has a certain quality which is perhaps not paradoxical in all these obvious ways that it seems here. He seems much more straight forward and is indeed very straight forward. But as a man in the world, as the Man of Understanding, relative to all individuals, all ordinary forms and processes, the Guru also functions, but he functions as the Man of Understanding, as the paradoxical presence. So now we see that this letter is in fact addressed, or this essay is addressed, as the Man of Understanding, functioning, then describing himself to Narcissus. The Guru or the Man of Understanding is showing Narcissus, letting Narcissus know how he works, how he himself works, the Man of Understanding works. Therefore explaining in some way to Narcissus perhaps who he, the Man of Understanding, has the effect on Narcissus that he does.
So,. that’s why this essay comes at the end of this book. It’s to somehow describe the paradoxical nature of one who is all things that I’ve described in this book, of one who functions in these terms, for the sake of the reader who is not expected at this point all of a sudden of be self-realized simply because he’s read a book. He will have ambiguous feeling. He still will be attached one some sense to the game of Narcissus, really attached to it because he hasn’t done any sadhana by reading this book. So this last is an address to him without condescension. It’s an address to Narcissus, to this game, this drama. So he’s not just called Narcissus in order to offend him. He’s called heartless one, friend, loved one, but also Narcissus.
“He weeps for you to understand.” In other words, the Man of Understanding, the Guru in the world, profoundly would have the world understand. The nature of his presence in this intention, this requirement, this wish, this hope for the world. But even this hope that the Man of Understanding lives is paradoxical because it is absolutely impossible for the world to understand. The world will never be anything but Narcissus. This is the principle of the world. Some may turn about of course. But the principle of the world is very likely to remain the same because the turn-about, the becoming of Truth in this world requires the creative dissolution of Narcissus, not the magical disappearance of Narcissus. So spiritual life in the presence of the Man of Understanding in the world is always a creative process. It’s always relative to the essential, fundamental limitation of the world.
“After all of this why haven’t you understood?” The one who writes this book knows very well that the guy who’s reading this last paragraph hasn’t changed one iota by reading this book. It’s assumed, and it’s not a magical assumption, it’s obvious that nobody is going to have understood in any fundamental way as a result of reading this book. Perhaps something has begun. “The only thing you have not done is understanding. You have seen everything, but you do not understand.”
“Therefore, the Man of Understanding leaps for joy that you have already understood.” This is the madness of the Man of Understanding, because he lives in a madhouse. Truth lives in an insane environment. But the Truth in the form of the Guru, in the form of the Man of Understanding does not take on the principle or the quality or the point of view of Narcissus or of the world. He remains the Man of Understanding, and in order to remain the Man of Understanding he must live the quality of the Man of Understanding, and to live the quality of the Man of Understanding is not to take on the images of the world, not to believe the world, not to reflect in his own mind the quality of the world as it is being lived in ignorance.
So, instead of getting dramatically upset and depressed by the fact that the world does not understand, the Man of Understanding is humorous. He acts as if the world already understood. He sees the world as a place of understanding, a place of illumination. He sees everything already self-realized, already true. But by assuming this paradoxical role which is also a quality of his paradoxical activity, this is his means of coaxing everyone only to understand. This is his way of curing Narcissus, not by acting as if Narcissus is Narcissus all the time. He’d put a bullet through his head in a short time if he went around actually seeing everybody doing that all the time. He would lose his humor. But the quality of one who understands is humor, prior humor. So by remaining humorous, by acting as if the world understands, by remaining joyful, even under the ordinary conditions of the world, essentially free and blissful even though the world remains as it is, by doing this, he also does paradoxical work that cures the world, coaxes it to understand. By these means he makes disciples, not by acting toward his disciple like his disciple actually is, but by always representing to him the form of Truth, the form of life, always living in humor with those who come to him, he makes disciples out of them.
“He looks at the world.” This is after he’s begun to leap for joy. (laughter) Did I write that? (laughter) “He looks at the world and sees that everyone and everything has already understood, He sees that there is only understanding.” Not that there is a world that doesn’t understand and must understand, but he sees that there is only understanding, already. That’s all that there is. This is again a way of reflecting the nature of his humor, this is paradox, this is not delusion. “Thus, the Man of Understanding is constantly happy with you. He is overwhelmed with happiness. He says to you: “See how there is only this world of perfect enjoyment where everyone is happy and everything is blissful. His heart is always tearful with the endless happiness of the world.” Now obviously, if this were literally so of him, he would be insane. But no, this is part of his paradoxical quality. He always speaks in terms of bliss, of happiness, of Truth, of sadhana, of all of these things, and of Self-Realization in the world as being an entirely blissful process, which it is. And he represents it unconditionally to everyone. In other words, the activity of his presence in the world is not one of believing the world as it is but of always acting from the principle of his own realization, not the principle of the appearance that the world itself generates.
So now in this last paragraph the first few sentences are describing his position in the world, his relationship to the world in terms of paradoxes. “He has grasped it but no one is interested.” This is the way it is. Not only has nobody else grasped it, but nobody is interested in it. Understanding has no cash value in this world. It’s not a principle that is desired or that can be desired. There’s nothing toward which you can be motivated. So wherever there is understanding, there is a thing gained in the world. So this is situation for such a one. He has grasped it. And even this is a paradoxical statement because you can’t literally grasp the Truth. But if we’re to use language at all we can use this. “He has grasped it but no one is interested.” No one is now going to come to him because he happens to understand. People might come to him for other reasons, in the traditional spiritual motivations or any other kind of motivations, but not because of understanding. It’s not that (that) specifically people will come for, they can’t be motivated to it. All their motivations are for something exclusive, and these will always be offended in his presence, denied in his presence, reduced in his presence. But in his presence another quality is generated to which those who are capable of becoming his devotes become sensitive, and that transcends interest or disinterest or motivation.
“But he is of interest to no one,” is this fundamental sense. “He is fascinating. He is unnoticed. At the same time he is fascinating, he is unnoticed. His fascination is the fascination of Truth itself, but Truth as no fascinating quality. So that which should ultimately be the great fascination or absolute desire of all beings is present in such a one and yet is absolutely unnoticed because it has no fundamental value in terms of the world. “Since no one understands, how could they notice him.” Though what he is even though what God is, is perfectly desirable and should ultimately fascinate, since no one understands, since no one has the connection to Truth that is very consciousness, he cannot be noticed. So God is unnoticed. Just as the Man of Understanding is unnoticed, just as the Guru is essentially unnoticed by the world and has no fundamental value for the world, God is also unnoticed because he has no function. And one who becomes an atheist or even a mediocre believer is just simply one for whom God has no function. So all these people who look out and make considered opinions about everything and say, “There is no God,” haven’t been looking at anything in the first place except their own quality, and their own quality is one in which God has no function. So how could God be discovered to be present in the world if he has no function? Just so, for one who does not understand, the Man of Understanding has no visibility, or for one who has not even the movement, the subtle capacity to identify such a one.
“Because there is only understanding, he is beloved and no one comes to see him.” Again a form of opposition. “Because there is only understanding,” which is the paradoxical assumption or assertion of the Man of Understanding in the world, “he is beloved.” He is loved by all beings.
All nature adores him and all beings adore him. This would seem to be the way it must be but, “no one comes to see him.” No one is interested. He is not a fascination to nature. He is not like St. Francis. He doesn’t walk around and birds land on his hand. Animals do not come crawling on their knees when he walks by. People are not healed of their diseases when his shadow falls on them. There may be spontaneous healings but they are part of the paradox of spiritual presence in the world, not of these concrete obvious limitations.
“Because there is only truth, he is likely to become famous.” Because he being very Truth itself, in a world of only Truth, he must be outstanding, he must be valued. “Since there is only joy, he will not be remembered.” If there is only joy or likewise, if there is only Truth, how could he become famous because everything is already true. So if there is only joy, he will also not be remembered because he is only joyful in the midst of a world that is only joy.
“Because you have already understood, you find it necessary to touch his hand. Since you love so much and are not understood, you find it possible to touch his ears.” Now these two sentences are describing forms of intimacy and signs of love, relationship. But these forms of intimacy, of relationship, of love, are not characteristic of the world. They are not characteristic of Narcissus. They are not characteristic of people, of beings who do not understand, who do not live in the fullness of Truth. So again these are paradoxical statements. But the Man of Understanding feels from this point of view. He assumes life from this point of view. He assumes that this intimacy with devotees is possible. He assumes that there can be disciples. He assumes that others can understand. And it is true. But his power to assume or his power do live from the point of view of his realization is the power that makes understanding possible for others. If he did not assume it, no one would be transformed in his presence. So it’s the humor of the Man of Understanding that makes it possible for Truth to be communicated through him.
Whereas if he did not assume that fundamental Truth to also be the nature of all other beings and act as if that were so and generated that process in others as if they were his own body, the bodies of other beings were his own body, if he did not operate in that way, this transformation would not occur for others. So it’s only because he assumes this intimacy, it’s only because he brings Satsang into the world that the process of Truth is generated. Otherwise the world would not notice him. Otherwise the world would remain what it is. It would remain Narcissus because he would be like all other beings, acting according to that principle. Whatever he felt within himself or enjoyed within himself, if he acts in all the functional ways according to the ordinary principle of life, there is no transformation possible, because transformation is not occurring ordinary. People are living the form of Narcissus.
“Everything has already died. This is the other world.” These words again just sort of express the paradoxical point of view or vision with which he permeates the world. He permeates the world with his vision, his delight, his understanding and this becomes delight, vision and understanding in other beings. By his assuming this is the other world, this is, in other words, the heaven, the Divine world, the after death world, which we have all died and all appeared in heaven sort of thing. By his assuming that point of view, it generates itself, it communicates itself to other beings. So just so, the principle of the Ashram is essentially the same principle whereby the Man of Understanding operates. It must be a paradoxical presence in the world. In other words, it must not take on the quality of the world which is without humor, which is Narcissistic, separative, cultic. The Ashram must remain free.