FAQs about Adi Da & Adidam > Taking Up the Way of Adidam > Disciplines & Artfulness

3. The Ego Will Always Find Another Door
To Escape Through Unless All Doors Are Closed

This is Part 3 of Chris Tong's eight-part article, The Necessary Artfulness in Taking Up Disciplines in the Way of Adidam.

So, prior to hearing, disciplines have to be taken up — but in an artful manner, based on what self-understanding one does already have; what response to the Divine one is already experiencing; and what capacity for enduring heat (tapas) one has already developed. If one takes on disciplines to a degree that is matched by one's growth in these three capabilities, then everything will be okay. Otherwise, one's will, idealism, or self-imagery may be egoically propelling one "ahead of the game", and there will be a backlash: either the ego will escape out another door; or the ego will be suppressed (in the manner of an ascetic) rather than transcended, stifling rather than freeing up energy and attention, and leading to what Adi Da referred to as "mediocre practice" or "double-mindedness".

Here's a way to think about the matter of the ego escaping out another door. When you try to smooth out the lumps in a water bed, if you press out one lump, another one tends to pop up elsewhere. Just so, when you add a discipline to the ego that is not based on increasing self-understanding, increasing response to the Divine, and increasing capacity for enduring heat, the ego will try to escape out another door. For example, if you take up the raw diet, the ego might try to re-express itself through what Adi Da calls "lunch righteousness", feeling superior to people who are not "disciplining" themselves in this way. Another example: you take up the discipline of regular retreat, and spend an entire day each week immersed in contemplation of Adi Da (which is fantastic!); but then at the end of the day, you go off and have a pizza, to desensitize your body-mind and "blow off" the tremendous heat you are feeling from Adi Da's purifying Transmission throughout your body-mind.

The examples go on and on. But the principle is always the same: you shut one door on the ego, only to find the ego escaping out another door.

"If you have one more place to go,
you will not endure this moment as the great bliss."
(Adi Da's handwriting)

In the total context of the only-by-Me Revealed and Given Reality-Way of Adidam, it is not sufficient to apply discipline to only some areas of your life. In order to do the intrinsically ego-transcending practice I Give to My devotees, you must bring the discipline of the Reality-Way of Adidam to every area of your life. You must convert your life itself into ego-transcending practice. If you are to effectively practice and grow in the only-by-Me Revealed and Given Reality-Way of Adidam, your discipline must cover every aspect of your life. The trend of attention is a natural force, like wind and earthquake and mobs. An extraordinary discipline is required to turn that tide. Mere "self"-effort is not sufficient. Only the devotional response to My Avatarically Self-Transmitted Divine Grace makes the turn.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

Devotional life is constant attention to the Divine Presence, and participation, through real functional activity, in that Presence.

It is a constant test of the born life, because the born life wants to randomly fulfill its conflicting tendencies or desires.

The conscious life or the life of spiritual discipline wants to remain in God.

Therefore, the Way of Divine Communion is a trial between these two motives.

Most everyone will reach their cutoff point, the point where they will tend to stop, the point where practice tends to be sufficient for them or where further effort is too frustrating and too offensive. Everybody reaches the point where he or she tends to withdraw from the stream of practice. Most people reach that point even before they begin the practice. Either they are never moved to find anything greater than ordinary ego-fulfillment in the world, or they are just "fans" of spiritual life. They like the books, but they basically resist and even resent the interference represented by a Spiritual Master and a Teaching and the idea of practice.

Practice in My Divine Avataric Company is about passing tests, such that the total body-mind constantly goes through ego-transcending changes and makes an always greater and always new ego-transcending demonstration.

The Practice accounts for the dual or dynamic nature of the body-mind, while it is also founded in the radical point of view of the Free soul. At every stage of the Way, right functional or whole bodily activity is the chosen principle, rather than any or all forms of exclusively subjective or internal and mental self-manipulation. The individual must change his action first, or else the contents of the mind, which are only a reflection of past actions, will not change. At every stage of the Way, the devotee is obliged to accept responsibility for a more and more total functional spectrum of action.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

Note, by the way, how the areas of egoic expression can be completely different: an egoic discipline on diet, but an egoic escape through self-imagery and how one relates to others ("lunch righteousness"). Many people find it easy to discipline themselves in one area (like bodily self-discipline), but often are rather unconscious in other areas (like relational disciplines), and so may not even be aware of the "egoic escape". (And of course, the ego naturally will escape through the areas we have least consciousness of, or self-understanding in.)

If how others see you (status, peer pressure, etc.) is the real reason you are taking up disciplines, then the egoic escape can take another even more obvious form. You eat the raw diet to maintain your image while around your devotee friends; but you pig out on pork chops when no one is looking. You are a televangelist maintaining your image of "holiness" when in front of the TV camera, but get caught late at night in a whorehouse. That sort of thing!

So how do we deal with this matter of the ego escaping out another door? The ego does not escape out another door (or merely suppress itself in the manner of an ascetic) if:

  • The reason for taking up the discipline is response to Adi Da, not egoic self-imagery, peer pressure, etc. (We'll say more about this in a later section.)

  • You really get this principle of the "ego escaping out another door" and are on the watch for it, knowing that hearing won't ever occur unless all the doors are shut. Or to use another metaphor: boiling won't ever occur if the lid of the pot or pressure cooker is not really on tight.

    A good metaphor for "heat" is a pressure cooker. When you apply pressure you get heat. When you do not, you get coolness. So there must be this compression to burn up and dissolve limitations, the "dissolving of the dog". People just want off the hook from this process. They do not want the pressure, They want to be cool and blasé. They do not deal with anything seriously. That is not the attitude that allows for a life to be one of realization of Me. So, you have to put the lid on, and you have to be given over to Me, with all four faculties, in order for the structure of the body-mind to contain the heat and pressure — in other words, of My Descent.

    Avatar Adi Da Samraj

    Sadhana is not called "suffering". It is called "tapas" (heat). It is called "the ordeal of practice". It is called "discipline". It is necessary! That is it. That is the substance of change! That is the alchemy of change. That is the fire on the pot. Everything must be thrown into it.

    Avatar Adi Da Samraj

    You people are all weakening yourselves, consenting to be identified with your early-life complication, your early-life adaptations, your old adaptations, as if complication is your right. That is nonsense. What about your understanding? Change it, then! Do something else! Suffer the heat of it, and grow. Without heat there is no growth, there is no cooking, there is no alchemy, there is no change; things are not thrown into the pot; nothing happens.

    Avatar Adi Da Samraj

  • You have sufficient self-understanding to catch yourself in the act when your ego makes its escape attempt (which it absolutely will do, just as surely as water will leak from a pipe with a hole in it).

  • Your capability for enduring heat has increased to the point where you can stay in place with the discipline to the point where adaptation occurs (and the heat — which is caused by the friction between old habit and new habit — dissipates over time as the new habit becomes second nature).

    Sadhana is tapas. It is a profound ordeal. It is painful, to some degree. However, when you understand the reasonableness of the cure and its purpose, you become willing to endure it. You must be like a five-hundred-pound man or woman committed to losing weight, that you must endure a process of purification. Therefore, a part of self-discipline is that you become willing to endure it, because of your intelligence and your understanding.

    Avatar Adi Da Samraj, Beyond Pleasure and Pain (1994)

  • You understand (and are following) the logic of adaptation for a particular discipline. We'll say more about this in the next section. This is important in actually getting the discipline to "stick", as opposed to constant phasing in your practice of the discipline (another door through which the ego escapes).

  • Most importantly: your response to the Divine and your heart-impulse to God-Realization is what is moving you to your discipline, rather than egoic self-imagery; and your reception of Adi Da's Transmission is helping both to directly "cool" the heat, and to enable you to put your attention on Him rather than the heat.

    What you would have in Communion with Me is a cool, watery, full moonlit night, cooled of stress and desire, and consolation, Awake to Brightness. On that basis, visions of clarity and peace. And then moving beyond them to Love-Bliss Itself, without the slightest image, the slightest object, without the slightest fear, without any "other" — not yourself as "other".

    Avatar Adi Da Samraj, Ishta

    There is an Infinite Well of Being, of Happiness, of Consciousness. We are immersed in It. That cool, free Water is unblemished, undosed with the chemicals of egoity, not stressed, not transformed, not modified, not limited in any sense whatsoever. We lie in that Well, inebriated, shouting Infinite Happiness of Being, without the slightest qualification. We lie there now, infinitely dead, and therefore infinitely Alive and Blissful, Radiant without qualification. Before and after the Big Bang and all times in between we are altogether fulfilled Where we Are.

    Avatar Adi Da Samraj
    God Is Not A Gentleman and I Am That One

* * *

Note that, while one must take heed to not let idealism and egoic self-control "drive" the discipline process faster than one's own maturity (in self-understanding, devotional response, and heat endurance) allows, on the other hand, one must also not use this as an excuse to let egoic resistance to discipline delay the process of adapting to disciplines, for decades or forever. Taking into account all the varieties of devotees, Adi Da has indicated that the time from becoming a devotee to hearing could be anywhere from a few months to a few years. If one is taking longer than that, than one certainly is (to use Adi Da's phrase) "building time into the Way" unnecessarily. While the Way of Adidam is entirely voluntary, and allows for people to (unnecessarily) take decades (or even lifetimes) to adapt to the beginning disciplines, you at least should be aware that that is what you are doing (if you are indeed taking decades), and that it is you who are choosing to do that.

People think they are supposed to be allowed a little time to get through all of their functional problems. You are supposed to analyze it for a few years, under very supportive conditions, and get it a little bit straight about two, three, maybe four years from now. But that has nothing whatever to do with the Truth. It is only another sign of reluctance, inertia, tamas. Spiritual life is not the support of your malfunctioning, with a few little bits of wisdom thrown in until you come out of it. Spiritual life is sadhana, the always present demand of function.

How do you think the spiritual crisis was brought about in traditional monasteries and spiritual centers? Certainly not by coddling and consoling mediocre disciples. That is why very few people went to those centers. The moment you stepped in the door, there was a guy waiting with a stick. He took all of your clothes, all of your money, all of your belongings, put you in a little cell, gave you brief instructions about the four or five things you were going to be allowed to do for the rest of your life, and then demanded you do all five before dinner! You found out how you were failing to function by trying to function, by living under the conditions where nothing but functioning was allowed.

Spiritual life is a demand, not a form of therapy. It is a demand under the conditions of Satsang, the relationship to Guru. It is the practice of life in a world where the living Heart, not your own dilemma and search, is the condition. The demand itself does not make real sadhana possible. It is Satsang, the prior condition of Truth, that makes it necessary. Satsang contains and communicates itself as a demand. And this demand acts as an obstacle for those who are not certain about their interest in this radical life. They have read a little about it, heard a little about it, and now it tests them in the fire of living.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, Money, Food, and Sex

Part 4: Understanding and Conforming to the Logic of Adaptation


Quotations from and/or photographs of Avatar Adi Da Samraj used by permission of the copyright owner:
© Copyrighted materials used with the permission of The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd, as trustee for The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam. All rights reserved. None of these materials may be disseminated or otherwise used for any non-personal purpose without the prior agreement of the copyright owner. ADIDAM is a trademark of The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd, as Trustee for the Avataric Samrajya of Adidam.

Technical problems with our site? Let our webmaster know.