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

The Purpose of Disciplines
in the Way of Adidam

This article is organized as follows:

Question from an interested non-devotee: 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 dietary 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 (or even multiple lifetimes) are not always easy to change (though sometimes Grace facilitates).

The Purpose of Adidam is 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 millennia 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 the coach imposed, and that the would-be medalist willingly engaged.

If you are diagnosed with cancer and the only reliable address to your cancer is chemotherapy (I'm not talking about situations where alternative means are available and effective), 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 viable alternative is available, you either surrender your resistance to chemotherapy, or you die.

Just so, the laws of Spiritual Realization can't be changed, simply because people raised in our self-indulgent, anti-authoritarian, 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, even when the entire culture has been Spiritually "dumbed down". And either you conform yourself to those laws, 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 simply 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

Many people who resist discipline confuse it with suppression. Adi Da clarifies the distinction between suppression and discipline:

Suppression of the psycho-physical personality is not auspicious. However, it is a common social device. There is a common social and political expectation that people be orderly. That expectation tends to reach into the most personal level of everyone's life. If the individual is not moved to be so orderly altogether, then the influence is felt as a repressive force, and the individual resists it. But, feeling he or she must conform, the individual becomes 'self'-suppressive and rather neurotic—I suppose that is the common word for it—perhaps not so 'self'-indulgent in comparison with others, but disturbed, stressful, cold, and capable of suddenly acting in a disturbed fashion.

Others when confronted by the same demands do not feel quite so obliged to be orderly. They find loopholes in the system somehow and so are more exaggerated in their behavior. They indulge themselves. They release the suppressed energy, or at least seem to, or are trying to, but they likewise do not relieve it. They merely indulge themselves, and in the process develop habits of 'self'-indulgence that intensify the stress and intensify ego-possession over time, constantly regenerating the motive of seeking.

What must truly occur is that the individual must understand himself or herself, be rightly purposed, and make sense out of his or her life. If you do this, then your great purpose is not the same as the 'civilized' purpose, but it does not run counter to it, either. An individual rightly purposed for self-understanding will find it rather easy (in general) to function happily in social relationships with others, and will be regarded (in general) to be a rather benign character. Nonetheless, the purpose to which that individual is fitted is not merely to be orderly for order's sake.

You must, therefore, discover the purpose in all this order that is socially transmitted to you and traditionally transmitted to everyone socially. . . You see in the demands for order, even in secular politics, the present-time representation of an ancient sacred principle, an ancient Dharma given to the people. A great philosophy in one form or another is at the origin of all these social rules. It was regarded to be appropriate in ancient times that individuals even in the earliest time of life maintain self-discipline, to purify themselves and not become exaggerated or lose balance, not merely for the sake of society — of course, that was a secondary purpose — but (ultimately) for the sake of Divine Realization, Divine Communion.

Discipline exists for the purpose of the transcending of egoity. When you are organized toward the possibility of the transcending of egoity, then you become capable of discipline, and the mood of being suppressed disappears.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

The Function 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.

Some 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 Enlightenment. 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;

  • 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.

    Avatar Adi Da Samraj, October 8, 1981, I Is the Body of Life

For more on the purpose of disciplines in the Way of Adidam, click here.

What is Your Intention?

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 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 also understand that, as Your Third Congregation devotee, I may, at any time, apply to enter the Second Congregation and, thus, into the process of “radical” devotion, right life, and “Perfect Knowledge” practice that have been Given by Your Divine Person for Your Second Congregation devotees.

While transitioning from the Third Congregation practice to the Second Congregation practice is not required, the more intensive forms of practice are always available for consideration. Because engaging the actual practice of the Third Congregation deepens one's heart-response to Adi Da, one is naturally moved to do whatever it takes to Realize Him; so a transition to the Second Congregation at some point is a very natural progression.

Thus, Adi Da provides a means for accommodating 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.

"No Struggle" 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", "power trip", or self-righteousness. This is why Adi Da describes our culture as "a culture of inspiration and expectation", with "inspiration" listed first.)

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.

Whether 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 we are 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.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Bodily Location of Happiness


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 is to help restore you to that Happy Revelation, again and again. One is not just becoming "a devotee" associating with a teaching, rituals, a set of disciplines, a community of devotees, etc. One is becoming a devotee of Adi Da and that requires the heart to recognize Who Adi Da is, and respond accordingly.

For more about this Revelation, click here.

Further Resources on Discipline in the Way of Adidam


Sadhana Hurts

Sadhana Hurts ADI DA: "Suffer the heat of this sadhana every day. That is it. Not the heat you think you are suffering because you are failing, but the heat of succeeding, the heat of doing it. That is it! God is not a tit or a genital hanging down out of the top of the universe. God is that which is Realized only through transcending your egoic self."


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.

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