Authority, Certainty, Growth and Freedom
In an Age of Uncertainty and Doubt
Editors note: The following is an excepted and edited talk given by Adi Da Samraj on April 6, 1987 taken from The Way of The Heart Student Text Series, Vol 1, No 2.
Kings and Queens
ADI DA SAMRAJ: Human cultures in general, until very recently, have functioned on the basis of the presumption that there is authority, an authoritative view, an existing revelation about the universe, existence itself, about what is happening, what is going on here. In the Indian system, the Vedas are the traditional something that is pointed to as authoritative. In the West it is usually either science or the Bible. In the Islamic tradition it is the Koran. Each social or cultural system has its basis of authority.
Now, in the twentieth century, authority is disappearing, if it has not already disappeared altogether. Yes, of course, there are still religious people who want to believe in the old ways, in the old doctrines, in the old books, but people's ability to affirm authority is decreasing. Society as a whole is no longer based on it, or only tentatively associated with it, and thus authority is rather ambiguous. Authority has become less desirable. It is even becoming taboo, so that the prevailing mood is one of anti-authority. Nothing is "written". There is no fixed revelation now. We are all supposed to investigate everything and discover the Truth for ourselves. We may thus progressively learn more and more, but we do not have an authority. Therefore, we have no right to certainty, no cultural norm that tells us we can be certain about such and such.
Even a scientific theory like the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe, though it is commonly believed, is not affirmed as absolute doctrine. Maybe the Big Bang theory will turn out not to be true after a few more observations, or will disappear completely in a few decades. Or maybe it will be given more support from continued research. In any case, it will still have the status of a theory, rather than the status of authority.
In this sense, you are not like people who lived even in the nineteenth century in the West, you see, or in centuries previous. If you had been born in those centuries, not only would you have grown up believing that there was an authoritative revelation about nearly everything, but you would have lived with that same point of view as an adult. In most circles today Science has risen as the dominate authoritative point of view. Science has achieved its present status through a long period of struggling with the institutions and the human state of mind associated with the old authorities, such as the church, the Bible, and so on.
The great concepts that have influenced the twentieth century - like evolution through Darwin, or the psychoanalytical understanding of the human being through Freud, or Einstein's views about the nature of physical reality - have had to struggle even to be heard within the context of a previously existing culture of authority that did not believe it, that even felt threatened by these scientific investigations.
The struggle between science and existing authority dates back to science's beginnings as a grand cultural influence in the Renaissance. The early Renaissance was characterized by grand dramatic confrontations between the new and growing approach to existence represented by science, and the old authority represented by institutions and books like the Bible. You all know about Galileo and his struggles, for example.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Darwin's writings about the origin of species and his theory of evolution through natural selection were reacted to most profoundly by people who affirmed the authority of the Bible and the church. You know about the "monkey trial", the Scopes trial. Even now, the argument rages between fundamentalist creationists and scientific cosmologists.
Culture of Doubt, Suspicion and Mistrust
The culture into which we have all been born, therefore, is a culture of doubt, not a culture based on authority or certainty. Authority is taboo, and certainty is taboo. It is difficult, then, for anyone to come to a truly balanced state of mind, because balance depends on a kind of certainty, integrity, freedom from doubt and fear. But if it is culturally taboo to be certain, and if authority, or authoritativeness, is inherently in doubt and culturally taboo, then you cannot come to a point of certainty. You cannot come to a point of no doubt. And you cannot affirm something "without doubt".
You all clearly reflect that attitude. Nobody sat down with you and told you this is the way you are supposed to be, but you happened to turn out that way. You are the result of the cultural and social forces of our time. You were largely unconscious of their influence. You just absorbed it. You adapted to that point of view. You came to your doubt progressively because of the influences around you. Being full of doubt and uncertainty does not feel good, but you still are motivated by doubt, by uncertainty, by a lack of authority to try to regain your balance, to try to regain integrity. You are doing it in your own particular way, and other people try to do it in their way.
There is no doubt that certain kinds of uncertainty are totally appropriate. Until you precisely know how a particular something happens. Until you have truly learned about something through real observation, it is totally appropriate to be uncertain about how something works. It is therefore not necessary that human beings be absolutely certain about everything. I do not perceive that human beings need such certainty, which is a kind of closed-mindedness, no-life, no-movement, no ability to grow.
On the other hand, uncertainty in the most primal sense, at the level of existence or being itself, seems to be more a kind of disease. It is a lack of integrity, a lack of wholeness. That kind of uncertainty, it would seem, one needs to transcend. People tend to want to transcend the primal uncertainty by feeling absolutely and inappropriately certain about what nobody is at all certain about and should not be certain about, since neither they nor anyone else has investigated it.
People tend to affirm a great deal of nonsense to achieve primal certainty, whereas primal certainty ought to be achieved on the basis of Truth, or Realization. If you truly examined your grandmother's affirmations, you could not be certain of the things she affirms. The certainty she feels somehow gives her a kind of security, but in your feeling, at any rate, she is getting her primal certainty by believing in nonsense.
The Stages of Life
When human beings in general tend to be characterized by a certain point of view, a certain understanding, a certain stage of life, that point of view, that understanding, that stage of life tends to become the norm and thus tends to limit everybody's understanding and growth. If that same society were associated with an authoritative source or tradition expressive of a disposition much more advanced than is commonly achieved, that authoritative presence, because it is acceptable to people, would be the principle by which everybody continues to grow. If there is no such authority, then people will, in their collective non-wisdom, tend to suppress one another1 and make taboo the very thing that must not be taboo if people are to grow.
Freedom and True Authority
Just as it is associated with tolerance and cooperation, freedom is naturally associated with authority - not suppressive authority, not the so-called true-believer's fundamentalism, not cultism. The exercise of true intelligence and freedom, in other words, naturally or natively associates itself with true authority, honors and makes good use of the signs and representations, demonstrations, and Blessings of true Realizers. Such authority has traditionally been the context of human culture, but it has unfortunately been adulterated, and almost eliminated, made taboo even in the twentieth century. This has produced a process of subhuman acculturation wherein everybody as an ego is presumed to be a self-sufficient authority, anti-authority is the accepted disposition, and rebellion is considered to be the basis of freedom or liberty.
In the face of this subhuman orientation to freedom2, the State's efforts to control and suppress and demand conformity have increased. In other words, freedom is not increasing with all this so-called liberty. Rather, non-freedom is becoming more and more the norm, because when people become free in that self-possessed rebellious sense, the State must make more dramatic efforts to control them. The normative, non-Realized disposition is thus enforced more and more tangibly. I think this is the unfortunate state of mankind at the present time.3
A fundamental characteristic of true authority is Universalism4, the opportunity to function on the basis of the highest possible concept, the most inclusive orientation, rather than suppression, or the demand for conformity to a certain point of view. False authority localizes and polarizes. I do not advocate that at all. But true authority promotes a universal disposition, and therefore tolerance and cooperation. That is what I mean by authority. Don't misunderstand me - true authority supports and educates people in a great disposition, one that is truly human, not subhuman, but greater than ordinary - human, a true ideal if you will. It makes a true ideal the basis of human activity. It is therefore necessarily cooperative and tolerant and not suppressive, and it transcends polarization.
One of the functions of true authority, therefore - not arbitrary, suppressive authority, but true authority, an authoritative tradition of Truth - if it remains extant or culturally presumed, is to give people a resource for their fundamental integrity or certainty. True authority also keeps the collective non-wisdom from becoming suppressive to the point that people cannot grow anymore.
The Fourth Stage of Life
The next stage of growth for human beings in general is the leap to the fourth stage of life. That leap requires true self-understanding and transcendence of the egoic disposition associated with the first three stages of life. How will people make that transition if they do not come into association with an authority, a source of Truth, about which they can be certain or in relation to which they can be moved beyond themselves? It is not possible while they are guided by their own mentality and the collective mentality of non-wisdom with which they are associated. If anyone is to grow, there must be a breakthrough of something authoritative, convincing, certainty-creating, awakening. Such has been the function of the great traditions of ultimate Realization, even of religion in general.
Human existence, as I have suggested to you, develops through a structure of seven stages. The first three stages of life represent a period of adaptation and growth that we could call human in the most fundamental sense. The body-mind, the emotional being, the ordinary human psyche, and all the social expressions associated with the human being are developed in the context of the first three stages of life.
We could say that the fourth stage of life is the terrestrial stage of development. Although certainly human life in its first three stages is terrestrial, growth or development or adaptation in the context of the first three stages is toward those things which are specifically human. In the context of the fourth stage of life, at least until its advanced developments, growth takes place not merely in the context of human individuality but also in the context of human existence or descended being itself in its terrestrial or earthly form. The process in the fourth stage of life, therefore, until its advanced or ascending form develops, is self-transcending receptivity to the Divine, or the Spiritual Reality, in descent, down through the frontal line.
The authoritativeness of Realization in the context of the fourth stage must somehow break through if you are to pass beyond the merely human stages to the terrestrial stage. But that stage is not the end either. Doctrines associated with bhakti and devotional existence and Spiritual receptivity are not sufficient, and eventually you must grow beyond them. Therefore, even greater authority becomes necessary.
Adi Da Samraj
Authority, Certainty, Growth and Freedom
In an Age of Uncertainty and Doubt
1. Exoteric religion is primarily a communication that intends to bring political and social order to the public world. Exoteric religion is primarily a social gospel. Esoteric ecstatics, on the other hand, are very difficult to controlin the usual (conventional) sense. It is virtually impossible, for example, to interest ecstatics in being socially productive for its own sake. Ecstatics generally value the practice of being civil in relation to other peoplebut it is very difficult to get them to labor in factories and bureaucratic business organizations merely for the sake of worldly success, or, otherwise, to get them excited about the mundane purposes of a great State! Therefore, exoteric religion tends to eliminate all aspects of religious communication that suggest anything but how to be a productive and positive social personality. To reinforce these qualitiesand even to suppress ecstatic qualitiesis the guiding purpose of exoteric religion. Up! - Adi Da Samraj
2. In more modern days, since Spirituality has become a subject of mass communication and popularization, the Spiritual Way Itself has become increasingly subject to conventional interpretation and popular controversy. In the broad social context of the first three stages of life, self-fulfillment is the common ideal. Therefore, the common mood is one of adolescent anti-authority and anti-hierarchy, and the common search is for a kind. of ever-youthful ego omnipotence and ego-omniscience. The Knee of Listening
3. The "Western" time of Man is that epoch which is characterized by ambiguity relative to any kind of dependency, any kind of "authority", or even any demand from without. The "Western" and "Westernizing" Man (male or female), including even all the "modern" and "modernizing" human world, is deeply set in rebellion. This dark time is thoroughly characterized by a reactive and adolescent, immature, egoic, and ego-bound, and ego-binding rebellion against all that is not the ego-"I"- and all that can be described as true "authority", and all "authority-figures", and even all "others". Late Time Epoch
4. The always principal necessity for humankind is to establish and perpetually enact personal, cultural, and social understanding, means, obligation, and accountability for the personal and the universal collective transcending of the psycho-physical ego-I, or the otherwise inevitable universal personal, cultural, and social habit and distress of ego-bound and ego-binding action and system-chaos. Aletheon
Authority, Certainty, Growth and Freedom
In an Age of Uncertainty and Doubt