Question:I honestly think that there would be a more vibrant and active Adidam community
if there were fewer strict disciplines and expectations. I find that people are
generally more amenable to a new direction when they feel there is flexibility.
I am not sure that makes sense, but I think that imposition of rules kind of feeds
resistance. So that is my current struggle.
The Way of Adidam is Voluntary
The first thing
to say about disciplines in the Way of Adidam: growth in the Way of Adidam is
completely voluntary. (Click
here for more about this.) For example, if you find yourself resisting the
discipline: while Adi Da Gives us guidelines for how long it should take to
adapt to the recommended diet (less than a year), in fact, He has said some people
may take their entire lives adapting to it (and to the disciplines in general).
He doesn't recommend taking a lifetime, but He does acknowledge that that
may be the way it turns out for many devotees. It's like giving up smoking: you
know it's good for you, but when you'll actually do it and whether it will last
remains to be seen. The habits of a lifetime are not always easy to change (though
sometimes Grace facilitates).
The Purpose of Adidam is Spiritual
Realization and Realization Requires Discipline
That having been said, Adidam is not a "social club", purposed
toward being "a vibrant and active community". (That is a nice, secondary
feature, but it's not really the point of Adidam.)
Also, Adidam is not a
"conventional church", where the members (or the church itself) move to change
the rules over time, to "keep up with the times" — like Catholics currently
asking the Pope to drop the restrictions on birth control; or, for that matter,
the earlier introduction of said restrictions on birth control by the Church two
millenia after Jesus' lifetime, when birth control technologies became available
in the twentieth century.
Adidam is simply and solely for those who want
Spiritual Realization. Is that what you want? Then: You get what you pay for!
No "pain" (counter-egoic behavior) no gain (self-transcendence). One must understand that the disciplines in Adidam are as necessary
for Realization as exerting oneself is necessary to climb to the top of a mountain.
You can say, I don't like exerting myself, and go for easy flat terrain walks
around the base of the mountain — maybe having fun, "vibrant" times with
a lot of others sharing that same "beginner's walk"; but you'll never
get to the top of the mountain without climbing.
If you want to win an
Oympic medal, you know that you'll never do so without having a coach, and without
allowing him or her to completely manage your time and push you to your absolute
limits. If you don't allow that, you just are not going to win that medal!
No one ever has won without a coach, and a fierce discipline that they willingly
If you are diagnosed with cancer, you can't really say, "well
I don't like the pain of chemotherapy — and you'd have a lot more people
signing up for chemo if it weren't so painful." With death knocking at your door,
you don't have the luxury to talk about your personal preferences! You don't get
to choose. Chemotherapy (at least in its currently available form) just is
unpleasant. If no other cure alternative is available, you either surrender your
resistance to chemotherapy, or die.
Just so, the laws of Spiritual Realization
can't be changed, simply because people raised in our twenty-first century Western
materialistic culture are programmed to not like demands, to avoid self-discipline,
to rebel against authority, to resist the notion of being mastered, etc. The laws
of Spiritual Realization are what they are — and either you conform yourself
to them, or you don't Realize. All changing social patterns can do is incline
us — or disincline us — to our Greatest Destiny. So those of us born
in a materialistic world, but who want Spiritual Realization, are playing with
a deck that is stacked against us.
There is just no way around it — everybody is Lawless. You listen to My Revelation-Word, or receive My Instructions relative to each aspect of the functional, practical, relational, and cultural disciplines, and you find yourself resisting in one way or another, because you have not lived a Way of life oriented toward God. You have lived the usual life, as your parents and everybody you grew up with did. You spent your entire life, at least the years before you became My devotee, before you even ‘considered’ real Spiritual life. Therefore, in Spiritual terms you weigh 350 pounds! You have over-indulged yourself in every area. Every part of you is ‘fat’, ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Not just the body — everything is ‘fat’. Your mind is ‘fat’ with constant thinking. You are sexually ‘fat’ and obsessed. Everything is ‘fat’. Thus, every part of the discipline of the Reality-Way of Adidam is just an aggravation — unless you are really ready for it, unless you have truly Heard Me about it, unless you have suffered enough, or are perceptive and sensitive enough to what it is really all about.
Avatar Adi Da Samraj
The Purpose of Disciplines in
the Way of Adidam
As Adi Da once put it:
A man went to his Master and said, Master, I
feel like there are two dogs fighting inside me, a good dog and a bad dog. Which
one is going to win?" The Master said, "The one that you feed the most."
Spiritual Realization is, in part, a matter of freeing up
enough energy and attention that one can "see" what is always already
the case — but which normally one fails to notice because one's attention
and energy are being sidetracked endlessly by one's preoccupations with (and addictions
to) money, food, sex, etc. Disciplines force Narcissus
to lift his head from the pool of his preoccupations, and look up.
people beginning to explore spiritual alternatives get entranced by language such
as "The Truth is always already the case" and the suggestion that we're
"simply" failing to notice what already is the case. It suggests to them a kind
of "quick win", "no work" approach to Enlightement. The logic
goes something like this:
Since the Truth is already the case, if I have a concept of the Truth in mind
("I am That", or "Reality is non-dual", for example), I could
be enlightened in an instant just by meditating on that concept, to the point
where the Truth becomes obvious. After all, it is always already the case, and
not anything I have to work to create!
Adi Da has strongly criticized that approach (which He labels,
the "Talking School approach"), because:
it confuses a concept
with a Realization, and you need to meditate on the Realization Itself, not a
concept of it, in order to Realize;
it fails to take into account
the reality of lifetimes of egoic habits and addictions, which are powerfully
obscuring the Truth to a very profound degree in the usual egoic life, moment
to moment. This really is so! Here's an easy way to see that: the moment we
stop distracting ourselves, we begin to feel boredom,
discomfort, and doubt, and we feel compelled to instantly begin distracting
ourselves again. Spiritual Realization lies in the other direction. This
endless distraction and obscuring of the Truth needs to be cut into (via disciplines),
in order to see what is always already the case.
Spiritual maturity is founded on the conservative equanimity of the body-mind-"self",
and its principal evidence is a profound availability of free energy and attention
(released from automatic involvement in the conditional states and "objects" of the
body-mind-"self" when natural equanimity is fully and stably realized). Thus, when
the Way has been practiced to the point of true Spiritual maturity, energy and
attention are free to Realize their Source, Identity, and Condition.
For more on the purpose
of disciplines in the Way of Adidam, click
Adi Da has created four
congregations within Adidam. The practice of the First Congregation is
the most intensive. The practice of the Second Congregation is less intensive.
And the practice of the Third Congregation is a kind of "warm-up exercise",
in preparation for taking up one of the more intensive forms of practice down
the line. As described in the Third
Congregation vow of practice:
I understand that my participation as Your devotee in the third
congregation of Adidam is preparation to take up the fully Real-God-Realizing
process that You have Revealed and Given for Your first and second congregation
devotees, and thus it is my commitment to prepare to take up practice in the second
congregation of Adidam, and, if appropriate, in due course the first congregation
Da provides a means for accomodating egoic resistance to practice, that allows
people to nonetheless be able to associate with True Wisdom, and a Revelatory
Spiritual Source. The idea is that, over time, the Grace of that auspicious Association
can help cut into one's egoic resistance, and move one to take on the greater
practice, for the sake of one's Realization.
Obviously a key issue here
is what a person actually wants: what the purpose of one's life is. So you have
to consider: Do you really want Realization? Are you willing to pay the "price"
for it, then? If you just want to be a member of a religious social group (that
has interesting discussions about Spiritual Realization), that's not the purpose
of Adidam, and you should look elsewhere.
Adi Da has a wonderful talk,
"What Is Your Intention?" that gets into this self-examination in some depth, and determining
how much is serious and how much is romantic fantasy.
is the practice; but if you must, struggle with self, not Guru or community
In a real sense, becoming a devotee involves "hiring" the Guru and a
culture of fellow devotees to help one achieve one's own goal of Spiritual Realization.
The "expectations" to which the questioner refers should, in principle, simply mirror
one's own expectations for oneself, and engender gratitude for the help such "expectations"
represent. We are not alone in the difficult challenge of self-transcendence —
what a relief! We have good company in the form of our fellow devotees, who, through
their "expectations", are helping us get through this or that moment
of weakness or crisis where, by ourselves, we would tend to slide. (Obviously
there is equally a responsibility
on the part of one's fellow devotees to actually help us in a loving and inspirational
manner, and not just "lay into us" in the manner of a "control
number" or "power trip". This is why Adi Da describes our culture
as "a culture of inspiration and expectation", with "inspiration"
So, as Adi Da puts it, the process of self-transcendence
is engaged voluntarily, and the heat of self-transcendence should not engender
a struggle with others or with one's Guru, but a struggle with self (and a gratitude for
the help of others). Eventually, with maturity, even the "struggle" with self
relaxes, as one simply surrenders the faculties of the body-mind to Beloved Adi
Da, and ceases to put one's attention on the "heat" generated by practice.
we are capable of not struggling with (or blaming) others in the process of self-transcendence
is dependent on our human maturity: it requires maturity in the first three stages
of life. But, as Adi Da points out, most people (all of us) raised in Western
society are trained by that society to be adolescents, not fully mature adults.
We are trained to be undisciplined, to cultivate weakness (through endless complaining
and reacting) rather than cultivate strength, and taught to blame others when
the going gets tough, rather than transcend ourselves and our own reactivity:
The nature of
this hell is that we are self-possessed. We are born in un-Happiness and we do
not transcend it readily. We constantly pursue Happiness through all kinds of
incredibly complex means, and we never attain It. In the entire history of this
mortal gathering there have been occasional individuals who have actually Realized
(to one degree or another) the nature of existence, the Condition, the Reality,
the Divine Nature and Domain, not simply as a form of belief, but fully, bodily,
utterly, transcendentally. Such Great Ones become a mechanism in Nature that serves
the possibility of Awakening in others.
If Spiritual Realizers did not
turn about and Teach, this would truly be a hell instead of being "like a hell".
It would truly be a hell if there were no possibility of Enlightenment, if there
were no Teaching, no Spiritual Masters, no sacred Way, no sacred community, no
capacity for understanding or self-transcendence. It is true the world is always
struggling against such possibilities. The world does not like Spiritual Masters,
Spiritual Teachings, spiritual communities. Neither do individuals like these
things. Thus, those who take up the Way of Adidam struggle with Me, struggle with
My Teaching, the community, the institution, animating the endless affair of brutishness,
betrayals, attacks, plain old neurosis, non-service. The world in its hellish
form is at war with Happiness. . . .
My Teaching is a serious and profound
matter, and you must study it profoundly and devote your entire life to it. The
process is most difficult, as any creative process is difficult. And because the
Way of Adidam is the greatest process of all, it is therefore the most difficult
and the most relevant. All other difficulties or forms of tapas
are simply expressions of this one fundamental tapas, the heat of the spiritual
process. And what is the spiritual process ultimately? It is a matter of keeping
attention in Happiness rather than in un-Happiness, keeping attention in My Well
of Happiness, the Condition, the present Locus in which My Happiness, My Current
of Love-Bliss, is actually felt, and on that basis developing the various aspects
of the Way of Adidam: real meditation, conductivity, service, and self-discipline.
Many people who are beginners and many who remain beginners even for a
very long time are struggling with the life-disciplines, service, conductivity,
and meditation. They are struggling, but actually these aspects of the practice
are only the remote cause of that struggle. Such people really are struggling
with disciplining the ego, with their resistance to the ritual of purification
and devotion. They are trying to practice without first establishing the foundation.
As seekers, as un-Happy people seeking Happiness, they are trying to practice.
They are not founding their practice in surrendering the faculties to Me. Therefore,
they can only imitate certain of the outer, behavioral features of practice, but
they cannot really practice.
You can practice the Way of Adidam only if
you are Happy, through your surrender to Me. Therefore, I have said many times,
and I say it again: Come to Me when you are already Happy. Do not come to Me un-Happy.
There is nothing I can do about it. If you want to live an un-Happy life, then
that is your business, your concern, your karma. I am not your parent. You must
become interested enough in the transcendence of all of that to practice the Way.
Why struggle with Me? Why struggle with My Teaching? Why struggle with
this Communion? If you do not want to practice, then do not practice. If you want
to live as you are tending to live, then go and live as you tend to live. Choose
it if you will. But if you cannot choose your destiny as it is, then consider
My Teaching and understand.
The Revelation that is the Primary Prerequisite for
Becoming a Devotee
The final and paramount point then, even beyond one's
own intention and seriousness, is that the Way of Adidam cannot and should not
be taken up — one should not become a devotee — unless and until one
receives the Spiritual Revelation that makes practice (and the vow of practice)
both possible and attractive. This is what Adi Da means when He says, "Come
to Me when you are already Happy": become His devotee only after you
have received this Revelation of Who He is (the human incarnation of the Divine
Person), and of what the Realization associated with the Way of Adidam is (Perfect,
Eternal Happiness) — that's when you get that the discipline's purpose are
to help restore you to that Happy Revelation, again and again.