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6. Transcending Identification, Differentiation, and Desire

This is Part 6 of Chris Tong's eight-part article, The Necessary Artfulness in Taking Up Disciplines in the Way of Adidam.

The Ego Manifests as Self-Contracted Identification, Differentation, and Desire

Adi Da has described the ego as manifesting as three separate activities: identification, differentiation, and desire. These three activities correlate with the three components of the human body-mind: the "gross" or physical body, which manifests in every moment as desire or movement; the subtle body or "mind", which manifests in every moment as the activity of differentiation; and the causal body, which manifests in every moment as the activity of identification. Divine Realization requires self-transcendence, and self-transcendence requires transcendence of these three egoic activities or "presumptions" in every moment.

The appearance, the quality of rising experience, tends to inform one's intuition. This "information" tends to become one's presumed condition. And this presumption corrupts and ultimately superimposes itself on the force of intuition. It does so by reinforcing the process of identification, or "ego" (the stream of self-cognition), differentiation, or mind (the stream of thoughts), and desire (the stream of motivations, the endless movement toward contact, connection, union, and temporary loss of the sense of separate existence).

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Gorilla Sermon

Conscious Energy (or the One and Only and inherently individible Conscious Light) becomes trapped in the area of Its concentration. Thus, Conscious Energy (or Conscious Light) tends, most often, to be trapped in life-problems. . . Only when Conscious Energy is Realized as no-dilemma and no-seeking is It neither trapped nor exclusively concentrated. It is Realized as Freedom, Existence, Joy, Enjoyment, and Consciousness without qualification. If one examines this process of Conscious Energy in relation to the human vehicle, one sees that It remains trapped in life-seeking as long as It is concentrated (by identification, differentiation, and desire) in any of the various chakras.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Knee Of Listening

DEVOTEE: You have said that this activity [the self-contraction] takes the form of identification, differentiation, and desire. In a concrete situation, what happens?

ADI DA: The ordinary sense that you have — while sitting, standing, walking, lying down — is of separate existence. It is not that you are constantly saying to yourself, "I am this body. I am this mind. I am this. I am that." There is no mental process that is responsible for communicating to you the sense of separate self. You already have this sense. You wake up alive, you move in bodily terms — it just seems very obvious. There is the root-sense of some sort of limit, size, shape, or "difference". That is identification. It is called "ego".

Differentiation is expressed through all the forms of knowing (or mind) by means of which all experience becomes an extension of the separate-self-sense that one has assumed. Everything becomes a "this". "Look at this. Look at this." Suddenly, there are endless planes of significance. The very structure of your thought is "this, this, this". Spontaneously, everything is already multiplied, distinct.

Having already acquired this sense of separate existence — already perceiving, already thinking, presuming a range of multiplicity, a range of separate natures, forms, and forces — you move. That motion is desire. This separate one moves. The one you call "I" conceives a realm of multiplicity in which to move, because that one presumes itself to be separate. There is something, even a world, that you are up against — so you move. And that movement is desire.

Once these three assumptions (of identification, differentiation, and desire) are made, an endless adventure inevitably ensues. That adventure is what human beings are up to. Indeed, all ordinary beings (human and non-human) who are karmically manifested in the conditional worlds are living that adventure. Each one lives the adventure with particular qualities, in particular circumstances, with characteristic ranges of subjectivity — but all beings are living their adventure on the armature of this same structure, this same form, this same complex of assumptions. Therefore, the best practical (or concrete) example of the process of identification, differentation, and desire is simply your present state — "me", separate, with everything around "me" moving. The best example of it is simply what you ordinarily perceive to be your condition in any present moment . . .

The waking life, what you know as the ordinary waking state, is a continual drama based on these three activities of identification, differentiation, and desire. The causal body (which is the seat of deep sleep) manifests as the activity of identification (or separate self-sense), through contraction of the causal center in the right side of the heart. The subtle body (which is the seat of dreams) comprises the internal (or subtle) range of functions — manifesting, essentially, as the elaboration (or differentiation) of thought, feeling, energy, and sensation. This is done by contraction of the subtle mechanism — which (in the vertical plane) has many centers (or functions) in the ascending (or spinal) line of the Circle and in the brain, and which (in the horizontal plane) is eptomized as the middle station of the heart. Then the waking state adds the movements of desire (or manifested vitality) — which (in the vertical plane) manifests as the descending (or frontal) line of the Circle and which (in the horizontal plane) is felt as the contraction in the left side of the heart.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, "Money, Food, and Sex"
in My "Bright" Word

But in Reality, there is no experience, no identity, no differentiation, no desire. . . . In the unqualified State of the most perfect Realization . . . all self-contracted (or egoic, or separate and separative) identification, differentiation, and desire have ended (in centerless and boundless "Bright" Feeling-Awareness, or the always-already State, Which Is Self-Existing and Self-Radiant Love-Bliss-Consciousness).

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Knee Of Listening

The Man of "Radical" Understanding is not "entranced". . .
He is Awake.
He Is Merely and "Brightly" Spiritually Present.
He knows no obstruction in the form of mind, identity, differentiation, and desire.
He uses identity, differentiation, and desire.
He is passionate.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Knee Of Listening

Adi Da indicates that the sense of dilemma is created by self-contracted identification, differentiation, and desire. Identification, differentiation, and desire don't have to stop. They simply have to stop being used as extensions of the self-contraction. There is no problem (or ego, or sense of dilemma) when identity, differentation, and desire are being used for the functional purposes of the Divine, by the Divinely Enlightened Realizer.

The Relation between the "Two Halves of the Ego Script" and the "Three Activities of the Ego"

In the last section (Disciplining Not Only the Self-Indulger but the Self-Discipliner), we considered Adi Da's observation that the ego is always appearing in the form of opposing tendencies (self-indulgent and self-suppressive/self-controlling) and:

true hearing doesn't really awaken until there is total self-awareness and the freedom from having to identify with one or the other half of your script in any given moment.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, "Beyond The Koan"

The "two halves of the script" (the self-indulger and the idealistic self-controller) correspond to the three activities of identification, differentiation, and desire in the following way:

  • The self-indulger is all the various forms of self-contracted desire (manifesting vitally through the body).

  • The self-discipliner (or self-controller) is all the various forms of differentiation, or mind, or ideas about self and world (and how things should be, or how "I" should be).

  • In any moment of egoity, there is always a sense of dilemma because these two tendencies (of self-indulgence and self-control) point in opposite directions: eating and ideas about eating; relating to others and ideas about relating to others; etc. One half is enjoying "eating", while the other half separates itself from the act of eating by thinking about it. One half is moving outward, while the other half is moving inward. It doesn't matter which one is currently active — the other tendency is there (even if only dormant), creating a sense of dilemma.

  • Disciplines are taken up in the Way of Adidam for the purpose of disciplining (and transcending) both the self-indulger (desire/body) and the self-controller/self-discipliner (differentation/mind/idealism/self-imagery), as discussed in the last section.

  • However, we don't take up any disciplines per se to directly transcend the third activity of identification. The fundamental practice of the Way of Adidam (Ruchira Avatara Bhakti Yoga) — or turning of the faculties of the body-mind to the Divine in the form of Adi Da — is the direct means by which the egoic activity of identification is being "disciplined": the lesser (egoic) identity is always being surrendered into the "Great Identity" (the Divine Person).

  • Disciplining both the self-indulger (desire/body) and the self-controller/self-discipliner (differentation/mind/idealism/self-imagery) leads to progressively greater self-understanding — which coincides with a progressive relaxation of identity. More about this below.

Progressive Relaxation of Identification via Self-Understanding

Identification is the deepest egoic process, originating in the causal body (via the contraction of the right side of the heart). Disciplining of the self-indulger (associated with the self-contracted body) and the self-controller (associated with the self-contracted mind) — combined with Ruchira Avatar Bhakti Yoga — indirectly relaxes the process of identification, leading it to progressively "unwind" or "loosen up". (Adi Da has used the metaphor of the fist for the act of self-contraction. You can think of the progressive relaxation I am describing here as the "fist" of self uncurling progressively.)

The way this "works" in the beginning — the listening process — is that the disciplining of both opposing tendencies (associated with body and mind) in every moment leads to moments of self-understanding, based on an inability to identify with either one of the opposing tendencies:

You see both sides so you must be aware of all of your complexity and in all areas you must see yourself in pairs of two minds of someone living in a dilemma or problem. You see when you are fully self-aware and when you are no longer really able to be one or the other side of any position.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, "Beyond The Koan"

When disciplining of both tendencies in a pair of opposing tendencies has led to such a degree of awareness of both tendencies that one can no longer identify with either one (the self-indulger or the self-controller), a moment of self-understanding can occur. Adi Da uses this word "understanding" in its "root" sense: in a moment of true (or "radical") self-understanding (as opposed to merely intellectual self-observation), you are "standing under" your self — standing in a position prior to either of those opposing tendencies. Hence, in this new position, your own activity of identification has been relaxed a bit. You are no longer identifying with either of these tendencies, and so long as you remain in this position, these tendencies can no longer bind you, regardless of which side you happen to animate (for functional reasons) in any given moment. The animation of either side (for example, when you are choosing whether to eat or to not eat in any moment) is not based on self-contraction (either in the form of self-indulgence, e.g., "I need to eat to feel good"; or in the form of idealistic self-control, "I weigh too much, so I shouldn't eat") but self-understanding.

Further Progressive Relaxation of Identification

Adi Da has laid out certain milestones that occur in this process of progressive relaxation of identification, in which the self-contraction is increasingly "letting go" or "unwinding".

  • "I" is a point in the head — In the beginning, as ordinary egos, the self-contraction is "wound" so tight, that we are not even identifying with the entire body-mind. Most of the time, we are contracting inside the body, so that we are identifying with a point in the head we associate with the mind, over and against the body.

    You must have listened to music through a pair of stereo speakers or headphones. The sound appears to arise from some point in the middle of your head. If you become very attentive to that process itself, the point of hearing seems to be generated in the very midst of your head. If you become even more attentive, this point of "hearing" will become the thing in which you are interested, and you wont hear the details or even the sounds of the music anymore. The psycho-physical organism as a whole operates in very much the same way. The functional mechanisms of perception, such as the ears, seem to "target" phenomena.

    When we are weak, when we have suffered through not living these phenomena from the point of view of Truth, we become obsessed with this point of awareness, the target itself. We begin to identify with it. Perception or experience creates the self, the ego, and we begin chronically to live in terms of this target as if it were the source and center of life. No matter what phenomena arise, you habitually manipulate them in such a way that this target becomes the focus and apparent source or origin of your attention. . . . The target became the obsession. In this way, the intensity or potency of all experience is used to reinforce Narcissus, the sense of separate, independent self. . . .

    When this target becomes the obsession in consciousness, the living phenomena of our spontaneous existence are no longer clear. If you are focused compulsively upon the target of the sound, you can't differentiate the patterns of music any longer, you can't enjoy the sound, you can't turn to the source of sound, you contract from it continually. So the sense of existence as this contracted point is the dilemma. When we speak from the point of view of self, it is always as dilemma. And when we begin to perceive, to turn back to the spontaneous world from this point of view, everything seems mysterious, threatening. Then every thing assumes the form or quality of a question. And there is a continual return, folding back in on that target or point again and again, until this activity is re-cognized, known again.

    Avatar Adi Da Samraj, "One-Pointedness"

  • "I" is the body (or whole body-mind) — This is the first major step in the progressive relaxation of identity and self-contraction.

    The first thing you've got to go through is the process of understanding in which you simply stand as the 'I' as the body without contracting into some abstract sense of being interior, being the mind against the body.

    You've got to relax from this identification with the conceptual mind or the interior perceptual mind and be the total which is the whole body or the total psycho-physical person. The conditional self is the I. The 'I' is not merely some interior mental preoccupation. It is that but it is more than that. It is the total body mind physically present, physically felt, not contracting. You must see this and understanding it as it is. . . .

    It's like a two-step process. You have to discover what it is altogether and let it be. Be it. Let the 'I' be it, but this 'I' you see which is the body-mind and not merely the mind. It is contraction. It is something being superimposed in the present instant on existence. So this process of listening whereby you allow the ego to be identified with the body mind is not merely some interior drama. It's just the first step in a process in which you find out the 'I' . . . .

    Every stage of the Way has a progress of events or stages of demonstration. In the listening stage there is a progress or there are stages of the demonstration of it. 'I' as the body is not hearing. It is simply an early event in the process of self-understanding or self-observation. To acknowledge the 'I' as it is which is the total body mind and not an interior dramatization merely, puts you in a position to go further in this process of self-observation.

    Avatar Adi Da Samraj, "Beyond The Koan"

  • "Being" Narcissus perfectly, hearing, and communing with That Which is prior to self-contraction — Hearing occurs when the listening devotee understands the ego at a fundamental (or comprehensive) level, such that the mechanism of self-contraction can be recognized in any moment and felt beyond. One of the key communications about hearing that Adi Da has given is the understanding that hearing requires one — as the prerequisite just the moment before hearing — to be able to "be" Narcissus (the self-contraction) perfectly and in its entirety, rather than simply identifying with one or another half of the many pairs of tendencies that comprise the totality of our egoic patterning:

    I observed this deep sensation of conflict and endlessly multiplied contradictions, such that I was surrendered to its very shape, as if to experience it perfectly and to be it.

    Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Knee Of Listening

    Being self-contraction perfectly and entirely (rather than just being a "piece" or "extension" of it), we are able to see that we are doing it, and can then release it in every moment.

    If you truly locate the self-contraction in this Yoga of devotion to Me, you simultaneously locate Me and discover the immediate means always available to you for going beyond that ego-knot. . . . It's a matter of standing in the position of that act, that self-contraction, that knot, not just experiencing it from some point of view outside it, and directly feeling beyond it. So that becomes the basis of practice once hearing is the case. It's a very direct gesture. . . . And you have the knowledge, in that position, of Radiance. You can always make this gesture. You always know what the problem is. It's this knot, that you're doing. And you always can feel beyond it in Communion with Me. . . .

    It becomes more and more profound, more and more constant. So instead of noticing the self-contraction, feeling beyond it, or however it works in your own case, you see, instead of those kinds of routines, it becomes the constant of Communion with Me, Samadhi, just beyond the self-knot. . . . A taste of that is so full you don't want to drop back. And you find out how to enter into that Communion under all circumstances.

    Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Knot of 'I' - The Self-Contraction

  • The Samadhi of 'the Thumbs' and identification with the Witness-Consciousness — "The 'Thumbs'" is Adi Da's technical term for the Invasion of the body-mind by a particular form of the forceful Descent of His Divine Spirit-Current. In the fullest form of this experience, which Avatar Adi Da calls "the Samadhi of the 'Thumbs'", His Spirit Invasion Descends all the way to the bottom of the frontal line of the body mind (at the bodily base) and ascends through the spinal line, overwhelming the ordinary human sense of bodily existence, infusing the whole being with intense blissfulness, and releasing the ordinary, confined sense of body, mind, and separate self. Eventually, in what Avatar Adi Da calls the "'Radical' Self-Manifestation of the 'Thumbs'", this process leads to the stable awakening of the Witness-Consciousness and the transition to the "Perfect Practice" of Adidam.

    Consciousness (Itself) is Inherently Free of the implications, or effects, of the body-mind and the apparent cosmos of conditional Nature. Therefore, the (Inherently Perfect) Witness-Consciousness is not (Itself) un-Happy, afraid, sorrowful, depressed, angry, hungry, lustful, thoughtful, threatened by bodily mortality, or implicated in the alternately pleasurable (or positive) and painful (or negative) states of the body, and of the mind, and (altogether) of conditional Nature.

    Avatar Adi Da Samraj, Eleutherios

  • Divine Enlightenment — Finally, the Perfect Practice awakens one to Divine Self-Realization.

    The difference between ordinary self-contracted awareness and Divine Enlightenment is that in ordinary self-contracted awareness you identify with the conventional (or phenomenal) self, while in Divine Enlightenment there is Most Perfect Identification with (and Realization of) the Divine Reality.

    This is the only difference. Thus, depending on what you identify with, you will live in either one of two ways. One is the usual round of obsession, fear, and seeking in which the egoic self is the actor and the meaning of the drama. The other is the Way of Unlimited Intelligence, Love, Freedom, Spontaneity, and Infinite Happiness.

    Avatar Adi Da Samraj, Easy Death

    When attention is without limit, it is Divine Consciousness Itself, just Consciousness. When energy is without limit, it is Free Force, Love-Bliss. When there is no limit on energy and attention, there is only Self-Radiant Being, without limit and even the whole world becomes obviously That. And you, in the form of the manifest personality, become someone who is active as the Divinely Transfiguring Power that is Inherent in the realm of conditional Nature and that Transcends It also.

    Avatar Adi Da Samraj

Part 7: The Artfulness of Helping Others Take Up (and Persist in) Disciplines


Quotations from and/or photographs of Avatar Adi Da Samraj used by permission of the copyright owner:
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