July/August 1987, Vol 6, NO 4
The One Great Teaching Demonstration
Last March, many of my friends and I were living the form of life and practice associated with the second and third practicing stages of the Way of the Heart. Morning and evening meditation and the daily Guru Puja were part of our full schedule of activities within the devotional culture. We considered how to more fully embrace cooperative community. Ishta-Guru-Bhakti Yoga, or the practice of Satsang, was presumed to be the focus of our lives. As leaders of the culture, we were concerned with helping those in practicing stage one pass through the crisis of “hearing” and make the transition into the devotional culture.
As I write this in late July, none of us presumes practicing stage two or three to be true of us. Consequently, there are no “devotees” (or those who have “heard” Heart-Master Da’s Teaching Word and “seen” the Revelation of the Divine Person), and likewise, no devotional culture, no meditators, no morning and evening Guru Puja. Though we still serve one another and operate community schools and businesses, there is no true cooperative community to consider embracing more fully. Since none of us can rightly presume a Spiritual relationship with Heart-Master Da Love-Ananda, there are no devotees living in Satsang and no practitioners of Ishta-Guru-Bhakti Yoga. Moreover, whether anyone has fundamentally heard Heart-Master Da’s Teaching Word remains an open question. In any case, the great majority of those in The Free Daist Communion are “listeners”, involved in the process of study and pondering that leads to “hearing”. We are related to Heart-Master Da as Teacher. He has even restored the possibility of addressing Him once again as Avadhoota Da Free John, the (now retired) Teacher.
After His Radical Re-Awakening in 1970, for more than sixteen years Heart-Master Da engaged in what He now refers to as a single, comprehensive Teaching Demonstration. He submitted Himself completely to thousands of people whose qualifications for Spiritual Realization were ordinary at best and whose preparation for Spiritual practice was weak or even entirely lacking. In order to create a complete Teaching-Revelation, including not only His Teaching Word but also the Sacred History of His spontaneous Work with a wide variety of people under all kinds of conditions, both mundane and sublime, He lived truly as the “Giver” to those who came to Him. He showered us with temporary experiences and Revelations of all kinds, at times elevating us, by means of His Teaching Siddhi, beyond our actual relationship to Him as listeners. Thus, many who came to Him during His Teaching Work were temporarily given the capacity to live in Satsang as devotees.
Consider the events of last summer during Heart-Master Da’s “last Submission as Teacher”. Because He Worked so directly with all involved, many of us found our attention Attracted to Him as Heart-Master, and, through His Agency, to the Divine Revelation. In His compassionate commitment to those who responded, He kept up a steady stream of Spiritual Instruction, constantly realigning people to right practice and to reception of His Transmission of “Mere Presence”. During that time, people who had been formal friends for only a few weeks and even public people were able to intuit the Realization of the Transcendental Consciousness that Is the very Self of all. And through Heart-Master Da’s “Siddhi of Renunciation”, hundreds of people found themselves capable of adopting the renunciate disciplines that serve advanced practice of the Way of the Heart.
This was only one of many periods in Heart-Master Da’s great Teaching Demonstration, during which He took advantage of every means for the sake of Instructing those who came to Him. He Freely used even the most apparently worldly circumstances to create the necessary lessons for His listeners. From time to time during the course of His Teaching Work, if people’s attention began to wander toward worldly consolations and self-indulgence, He would party with them in great Celebrations, and by even such means He would maintain their relationship with Him and draw them once more into His consideration of the Spiritual process.
Through His steadfastly passionate and compassionate commitment to everyone who came to Him, Heart-Master Da was able to develop the Way of the Heart in its entirety and to Demonstrate for all the essential aspects of the relationship between the True Heart-Master and His devotee. During His great Teaching Demonstration Heart-Master Da Love-Ananda Revealed the necessary lessons of every stage of life, even at times by temporarily Awakening the signs of practice in one or more of the advanced stages of life in individuals who otherwise had no such capability.
And at the end of His magnificent Teaching Demonstration, He brought us full circle. He restored us to the reality and the integrity of our practice as “listeners”, so that we might, through understanding, establish in ourselves the necessary foundation to Realize, permanently and in Truth, the Awakening that He had bestowed on us temporarily as a Gift during His years of Teaching Work.
What does this change mean for us? The most striking of the recent events is the clarification of our relationship to Heart-Master Da Love-Ananda as the Source of the Teaching-Revelation, which is not one of Satsang in its fullest, Spiritual sense. (See the summary of His communication in the article “Satsang” on pp. 6-7.) This does not mean that we should now cut ourselves off from Heart-Master Da and suppress our love and gratitude, which are natural and appropriate in relationship to our Teacher. Nor does the fact that we are not Spiritual practitioners mean that we should deny our psychic feeling-connection to one another and to Heart-Master Da. The awakening to etheric energies and our psychic connectedness is appropriate and natural even to the second stage of life, and it is part of the ordinary process of human development that, in our materialistic society, most of us bypassed to one or another degree.
However, as Heart-Master Da has pointed out and as we have all begun to see, we have made real errors in our participation in the Way of the Heart and in our relationship to Heart-Master Da. These errors, which remain for us to understand and transcend, can be described generally as cultic religiosity and religious idealism.
Cultic Religiosity and Religious Idealism
Cultic religiosity is the “big toe” school of non-practice, named after those who hope to Realize God by childishly hanging on to the big toe of the True Heart-Master. In our egoity, we can all confess an unfortunate sympathy for this disposition. I am certain we have all many times heard, and perhaps even made, statements like: “He’s going to draw us through, if we just stay with Him.” This intention to persist in relationship to the True Heart-Master, come what may, might be admirable—if it weren’t grounded on the flimsy foundation of childish cultism. Our responsibility for Spiritual practice requires a great deal more than such hopeful clinging to Heart-Master Da. In our childish religiosity we want to be made magically free of the fear of death and the weight of responsibility for our actions (especially the root action that is Narcissus!). We want to be consoled, not Realized.
We have tended to use even our relationship to Heart-Master Da for consolation. Especially during the more recent years of His Teaching Work, Heart-Master Da often criticized so-called devotees for the way they falsified Ishta-Guru-Bhakti Yoga, the practice of Satsang. In Truth, Satsang is not the relationship between an ego and an “other”. If the Spiritual Transmission of the True Heart-Master is received from the point of view of the ego, it is felt merely as energies in the body, as heightened emotionalism, or as so-called “spiritual” experiences that reinforce the mood of seeking and subsequent effortful and idealistic practices. Heart-Master Da did not so much criticize the fact that we felt such things, but that we tried to make a Yoga out of them, to make a consoling religion out of “pseudo-bliss”. Experiences of the psychic dimension and etheric energies are not to be suppressed—their awakening is an ordinary event in the first three stages of life—but they are to be considered, enquired of, just like any other arising phenomena. They are to be understood.
It is true that the process of Realization is founded on the most one-pointed relationship to the True Heart-Master, even to the point of Identification with His Samadhi. But, this process and this relationship cannot be presumed idealistically. In our cultic desire to be consoled, we try to feel good about ourselves and our circumstances through the process of self-glorifying egoic identification with the True Heart-Master and the Way of the Heart, instead of yielding ourselves through the self-transcending process of self-understanding and Spiritual surrender. This kind of false devotionalism amounts to a childish refusal of responsibility and a hope that the True Heart-Master’s very real Sacrifice will somehow substitute for our necessity to understand and transcend ourselves. The conventional religious idea of God as Father springs from this motive toward salvation by mere association, expressed as the hope that “He is running my life, so it is all going to work out”.
This same cultic religiosity has been the single most damaging attitude pervading our public work and our relations with family and friends not practicing the Way of the Heart. We have been given great wealth in the form of the Teaching Word and Heart-Master Da’s Demonstration of the lessons that prepare individuals for practice of the Way of the Heart. But we have consoled ourselves by feeling superior through mere association with this Gift, rather than truly receiving it and passing it on. This underlying superior attitude, betraying our childish need and our lack of self-understanding, has offended and excluded those we might have served. Also, in talking with people who have never seen Heart-Master Da and have studied only a little of His Wisdom-Teaching, we have chronically made them feel as if they must relate to Heart-Master Da devotionally, bypassing the necessary self-understanding that leads to hearing, then seeing, then acknowledgement of the Teacher as True Heart-Master. In this way we have denied the Wisdom-Teaching to those unwilling to assume a false (and thus cultic) devotionalism.
Such cultic religiosity amounts to a childish refusal of responsibility, and beyond that we suffer another false view toward responsibility that springs from religious idealism—the notion that Spiritual practice is about making our lives conform to an idealized picture of how a devotee’s life should look. Under the influence of an idealistic view of Spiritual life, we try to always feel and act as if we are experiencing what we feel only in some, even rare, moments. Thus, we manipulate ourselves to create “spiritual” experiences and emotional “highs”. Or we confuse conventionally balanced patterns of behavior and an orderly life with Spiritual practice, and we allow ourselves to feel and act only within a small band of the spectrum of possibilities. We sit on life, so it won’t blow our cover, revealing us to be beings bound by desire, and thus false renunciates. We turn Spiritual practice into a goal-oriented process or futile game of seeking Realization by means of self-suppressive behavior modification.
The process of listening requires the real freedom to experiment with our lives, to discover and understand and transcend our own self-limits. In order to make Heart-Master Da’s Teaching Argument real, each of us must fully identify the unique expression of Narcissus in our own life and thereby come to the most fundamental understanding of and responsibility for the activity of self-contraction. Heart-Master Da has recently described the freedom that is necessary for any real consideration of the Teaching Argument to come to a resolution:
During the years of my Teaching Work, you did whatever you pleased, seeing yourselves in the context of the Teaching Argument and the Spiritual Process. What was necessary for you was not behavioral control, but for you to see the results of your actions, the results and implications of your motives and your mind forms, see everything you are all about altogether. The Way of the Heart begins and always continues in Freedom. This Way begins with a process of confrontation with yourself, wherein you are simply being whatever the hell you are. People must be free to work out their lives, and when they have come to a resolution in themselves, then they enter the advanced stages of practice.
On the other hand, the sadhana of listening is not a matter of forever doing whatever you please. But freedom must be your operating principle. Eventually, if you enter the process on the basis of real consideration, you will generate a resolution. That is what you must do as you move through the stages. (April 3, 1987)
One of the lessons of this time is that, while the Way of the Heart is about freedom and self-understanding rather than behavioral perfection, we have suppressed in ourselves any behavior that has not been within a certain norm. Because we idealize certain behaviors and character types, we righteously judge all who fall outside these ideals, and we soon come to view a person’s stage of practice as a sign of his or her worth. In this manner, we transform the stages of practice into levels of status and conformity to social expectations. We trade the process of actual Realization for social face, so that the process of transition between levels of practice becomes degraded by games of power, prestige, and oedipally-based seeking for the presumed favor of the Guru. This combination of games and heresies creates the insider/outsider rift that has long plagued the politics of our gathering, undermining our capacity to trust one another and to be trustworthy.
The way our religious idealism is played out depends in large part on the characteristic oedipal strategy we project upon our relationship with Heart-Master Da Love-Ananda. Some of us adopt the childish games of trying to look good for daddy (viewing Heart-Master Da as a naive or foolish parent, whose love can be won by trickery). More fearful individuals seek to avoid punishment by daddy (viewing Heart-Master Da as the bad parent, the disciplining father behind the indulgent mother, whom we must childishly strive to please at the expense of assuming true responsibility for our lives, or from whom we must hide so that He will never discover how “bad” we are). The variations are numerous, but the end result is the same—we obstruct the possibility of Realization through our perversion of the Spiritual process and the falsification of our relationship with the True Heart-Master. And our relationships with the leadership of the Communion and with each other are equally undermined by such oedipal character weaknesses.
Cultic religiosity and religious idealism prevent real Freedom (which goes hand in hand with true responsibility) and full human maturity, which are founded only on self-understanding. This is a time for growing real, for allowing ourselves the freedom to see, freely admit, and truly understand our actual motives and feelings. It is a time for growing up, for becoming truly human, for understanding ourselves and finally taking responsibility for our actions and our relationships, particularly our relationship to Heart-Master Da. It is a time for moving beyond religious games and the games of social face, and for coming to terms with the vicissitudes of existence.
But we must also ask ourselves whether or not we ever finally come to terms with the vicissitudes of existence, or even can do so, ultimately. Is coming to terms with the vicissitudes of existence even what practice in the Way of the Heart is about? We are in conflict with ourselves, driven by opposing motives that cannot be resolved in life. We cannot willfully change ourselves, but we can understand and transcend ourselves. The “self” who would be cultically “saved” and consoled, or idealistically successful through suppression and self-effort, can only be understood and transcended—or else suffered. The only way not to repeat the past is to understand ourselves. As a gathering, we have tried everything else. The events of this time, when we have been ripped off from false relationship, false status, false practices, and false selfimages, have allowed us to see ourselves more clearly. What we will do now is up to us.
Contrast our fearful search for security and consolation, and our idealistic confusion of practice with suppressive selfeffort, founded on self-conflict, with Heart-Master Da’s confession of freedom and true responsibility from The Knee of Listening:
Understanding is the ground of this moment, this event. Therefore, enjoy it, for you alone are the one who must live your ends and all the stages of time. The man who understands, who is always already free, is never touched by the divisions of the mind. And he alone is standing when all other beings and things have gone to rise or fall. (p. 226)
The Biggest Lesson
Beyond the lessons about cultic religiosity and religious idealism, Heart-Master Da has recently Instructed us about the true signs of practice in the beginning stages of the Way of the Heart. What is most interesting about this Instruction, however, is that very little of it is new. Currently, Heart-Master Da has added a third phase of practice in practicing stage one, He has moved the period for transcending stylistic and functional limitations in intimate relationships from practicing stage three to practicing stage one, and He has made it clear that the process in the frontal line in practicing stage three is one of Spiritualization and that the gross purification of the frontal line takes place in practicing stage one.
These changes or clarifications, however, were not the cause of the vast transformation we have witnessed in the Communion. The criteria for the stages of practice have not essentially changed. Restructuring our culture has been little more than the true application of already existing criteria. Heart-Master Da has worked extensively on The Dawn Horse Testament during this time, but He has not been creating a new Teaching. He has been, as He put it, “plugging loopholes” in His description of the criteria for the stages of practice.
In the past, probably everyone who read Heart-Master Da’s description of true hearing, not only in The Dawn Horse Testament but throughout the literature, has had a similar thought: “If these criteria were applied stringently, we would all need to re-examine our stage of practice.” Well, we were right. So why did we not re-evaluate ourselves sooner? There are many conceivable reasons: social pressure to conform, the need for acceptance and social face, valuing status over integrity, etc. But the simplest and most straightforward reason, and the biggest lesson of this time, is that we did not really listen to the Teaching Word. That is why we are all listeners now, and that is why we have not yet heard.
Recently, Heart-Master Da has described hearing as a profound Samadhi, whose significance is greater than any of the conditional samadhis that may be experienced in the course of human evolution. Hearing is the penetration of the first three stages of life by Radical Understanding. It is the breakthrough into life of unqualified Consciousness. The conscious process Awakened in hearing continues as the same unqualified force of understanding that penetrates and transcends the fourth, fifth, and sixth stages of life, until that same Consciousness is fully Realized in the seventh stage of life.
This is Radical! And it is precisely Heart-Master Da’s Radical Argument that we have refused, even though it is the basis of the Way of the Heart. In our egoity, we want to be consoled with progress, attainment, and social recognition. One of the great Gifts that Heart-Master Da has given us is that aspect of His Wisdom-Teaching that awakens us beyond our childish and adolescent adaptations to life and allows us to grow again, to become truly human. But while we handle our business in the world, uncovering and observing our uninspected motives and needs, purifying ourselves of religious cultism, and becoming straight and strong in the first three stages of life, may we remember the lessons of the past and not turn the forms of beginning involvement with the Way of the Heart into the new idealism. The ultimate understanding, and the greatest Gift of Heart-Master Da’s Teaching Word, is the Radical Understanding that undoes the selfcontraction altogether, that Reveals the Divine Condition that is always already True of us.
We must be real about the habits and character weaknesses that obstruct our understanding, and we must allow ourselves the freedom to go through whatever is necessary to deepen our selfunderstanding. We need to grow as human beings in the first three stages of life. But we must also transcend all of that, ultimately, and even presently. Cultic religiosity and religious idealism, and any other patterns of un-Happiness we feel the need to weed from our lives, grow from seeds of the self-contraction, which only Radical Understanding has the power to
uproot. In the talk “Consider the Error of Being” in the May/June 1987, issue of Crazy Wisdom (p. 9), Heart-Master Da addresses the single, fundamental point of view that is the basis of the Way of the Heart from listening until ultimate Realization:
The essential thrust of this Teaching has always been to understand the self-contraction. It does not really make any difference what qualities of existence are arising. The same fundamental conscious process must be brought to the event. As you mature in the Way, certain of the grosser aspects become matters of ordinary responsibility, even of established equanimity, and you begin naturally to concentrate in subtler aspects of phenomena. The phenomena associated with the advancing stages of life do appear naturally in the course of this conscious process, but the conscious process is the fundamental Teaching.
And because you are seekers, because you do function as the ego, you tend to bypass this Teaching Argument, this fundamental consideration of understanding, and replace it with some other motivation or technique or notion about yourself and your practice. I always call you to return to the fundamental understanding, the fundamental observation, wherein you transcend the binding limits of phenomena, whatever they may be in the present context. It does not really make any difference, therefore, whether phenomena associated with the first three stages of life are arising or the fifth stage of life or the sixth or the fourth. It does not make any difference what phenomena are arising. The fundamental process is the same, and it is what I have called understanding, or the conscious process. (May 16, 1987)
For us, as students and beginning practitioners, the conscious process takes the form of actually listening to Heart-Master Da’s Teaching Argument. The process will look different for each of us, and none of us can know when, or even if, our application to the process will culminate in true hearing. The Way of the Heart is not a religious contract, wherein we perform prescribed ceremonies and automatically reap certain rewards. The Way of the Heart is a real, even inevitable, process that all must undergo in one form or another. What will occur depends on the intensity, the integrity, and the free energy and attention we bring to the process.
After all these years, we have some fundamental questions to ask ourselves. And, as always, Heart-Master Da has provided all the Help we need. He has given us ten Great Questions in The Dawn Horse Testament. ■