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
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
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
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
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
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,
For more on the purpose of disciplines in the Way of Adidam, click
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
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
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
For more about this Revelation, click
Further Resources on Discipline in
the Way of Adidam