Good Company

a talk by Heart-Master Da April 14, 1987

I

ADI DA SAMRAJ: Spiritual life is a profound ordeal. Therefore, you cannot enter into it bright-eyed, looking to be fulfilled and mystified. As I presume all of you know after years of consideration, you do not really enter into anything like the Spiritual Process, even in its beginning forms, until you have passed through the ordeal of self-confrontation and struggle with your childish and adolescent character in the context of the first three stages of life. That ordeal is inevitable, and it should occur while you live on the periphery of our Communion. You should study the Wisdom-Teaching, receive useful guidance, and endure the ordeal of confrontation with self without projecting the struggle onto me or onto the Communion.

The Communion cannot just open its arms and say, "Look at this loving Master and come and be His devotee." That point of view is totally inappropriate. It invites cultism and egoic participation. The Communion must present its point of view clearly, clearly describe the Way of the Heart as it is in all its stages, and help people to understand the limitations that necessarily exist in someone who first expresses an interest in the Spiritual Way, help people to understand that basically they are not yet ready for the Spiritual Process, not even really willing to endure what is necessary to enter into the Spiritual Process.

If you feel you are interested in Spiritual life, you should have a serious appreciation of your unpreparedness and not come to the Communion gleefully. If you do walk in gleefully, sooner or later you will be confronted with demands that will make you resistive, because you are not prepared to meet the demands of discipline. Discipline is not what you are asking for. You are asking for consolation, something to believe in, something to relieve you of the stresses of the failed first three stages of your life. You are defending your egoity. Even though you may be interested in Spiritual life, when you are confronted by the real discipline involved, you will inevitably resist.

You should therefore appreciate this fact with some seriousness at the beginning and not take too many big steps. Simply listen, investigate what this Way is really all about, feel your way into it, and do not become involved any sooner than you are really prepared to. There are many ways to associate with this Communion long before becoming a practitioner even at practicing stage one. There are many serious ways to study the Wisdom-Teaching and consider it in your own life while you otherwise do whatever you like. For even many years you can support the publication of the Teaching literature, support the Communion in various ways, and participate in some of the services the Communion offers. Do not get too close to it while you are yet unprepared, because inevitably you will resist it.

The Communion does not exist to suffer the confrontation with your resistance, nor does it exist to confront the resistance of the world. It exists to offer a possibility to those who are attracted to this Way of life and who are prepared to take it up. And that is it. We are not here to win over the world or to beat people over the head with the Truth. The Communion simply makes the Way available, and nothing more. It does not exist to sell the Way or to hype people into feeling that their unpreparedness is exactly a qualification for the Way. Unpreparedness is a disqualification for the Way. Unpreparedness may be inevitable in people who are first approaching the Way, but those people are served by listening, or studying the Teaching Argument, coming to occasions at which the Wisdom-Teaching is discussed, and talking to practitioners-perhaps doing all of that for a very long time until they knock off some of the edges of the antagonist, the self-defending ego, and achieve a somewhat different disposition that can maintain a balance and endure the trial of self-discovery and self-transcendence. You must be equipped to do that.

I spent a decade and more with hundreds of people, and although I demonstrated all kinds of remarkable things and elaborated the total Wisdom Teaching, the basic content of everyone's involvement with me was the ego in the context of the first three stages of life. Very often I had to struggle with their abuse of me and the Communion, simply because of their unpreparedness. Now my Teaching Work is done, and I am no longer simply receiving everybody who expresses an interest and then enduring the struggle with their egoity. If I am to be free to renounce my Teaching function, the Communion must establish formalities. It can no longer invite the struggle with the adolescent ego. It can provide services for everyone, but it must not include within its culture people who are not prepared, because inevitably - there are no two ways about it - they will resist the Way and defend the ego. Some individuals resist passively and some resist aggressively, but resistance is what their involvement becomes if they are unprepared. In that case they either become a pain in the ass or they drop out. Such resistance has no value.

Many people may become formal students and remain students for a period of time before transitioning to practicing stage one. During that time they come to lectures and courses, they study, and they live as they please. They need not struggle with anyone. They study completely on their own volition, and nobody demands anything of them. They participate so that they can consider the Wisdom-Teaching.

In practicing stage one, however, there is a necessary discipline, and that is the stage at which unprepared people begin to resist. They resist because they lack real interest in the ordeal of the Way of the Heart, which is not a matter of getting your mantra and humming yourself into a sublime state in your room twice a day.

At the beginning of the Way you must break through the limit of the first three stages of life and move on to the fourth stage of life, which is a profound transition that very few have made in human time. Basically all of humanity is at school, and the fourth stage of life is the next transition. Therefore, this transition is most profound and requires great preparation. Thus, you must humanize yourself to a significant degree before you take up practicing stage one.

The Communion must not replace the true Word of the Wisdom-Teaching with cultic affirmations about me that invite people off the streets to a love relationship. Certainly presentations can be made about me, my Work, my life, and Who I Am. People read my books and see my photographs, and they may respond positively - I hope they do. But you must not create an alternative teaching merely because people are in general not prepared for the real thing. You must not create a cult as an alternative to the Wisdom-Teaching itself because you notice that people appearing at the various Centers are not really prepared for Spiritual life and you feel you must mellow out and be devotional for them. That is not it! It is heresy! It is a falsification of the Teaching Word.

Presumably people come to our Communion with some background in religious and Spiritual traditions. They must have some idea that those who have Realized the Truth in the past, even those who were aspiring to Realize the Truth, had to live a disciplined life. The precise character of the discipline may vary from school to school, but nonetheless, it is discipline. It involves self transcendence. How could those who approach this Way not know that? Have they only been watching TV? If some have only watched TV, then you must help them become educated about the Great Tradition before you invite them to what this Way involves specifically.

Everyone needs an education as a preliminary to practice. That is one of the reasons I wrote The Basket Of Tolerance. It has also been traditional for individuals to be educated about Spiritual life-certainly before they took up advanced practices, or anything beyond the ordinary religious life and its rules. You must be educated in order to become informed about the Great Tradition, but you must also be educated to become uninformed, to become deinformed, to lose your prejudices.

This reminds me of a conversation I had today with one of you about evolution. This person was arguing to me all the programs of scientific materialism she had assimilated in school. She received that uninspected point of view from her formal education in schools and her informal education at the dinner table with her parents. It is an uninspected education. We cannot call it brainwashing, because it is simply the typical way in which people become informed. However, it is not a discriminating understanding. It is merely uninspected beliefs or presumptions received from various sources, often from your schooling. These presumptions must be inspected. You can inspect them by confronting the Great Tradition and the total spectrum of practices and realizations and Teachers and religions. By this means you can lose your prejudices, untie your mind again, so that your attention is free.

In addition, you must move out of your worldly frame of reference. People in these days think there is no difference between Spiritual life and an ordinary worldly life. They think all you add to ordinary life is a mantra or meditation in the morning and in the evening. There is a vast difference between worldly life and Spiritual life, however, and one of the principal differences is discipline, even an all-embracing, all-encompassing discipline that touches every area of your life. Every function, every practical detail, every relationship must become subject to sadhana, or an intelligent discipline. Such discipline is one to which you agree in consideration, but it is nonetheless real discipline. You must therefore move out of the frame of worldly life. You must be educated out of the uninspected mind, and you must come to understand through consideration and by developing self awareness what Spiritual life really requires of you. It requires the transcendence of egoity.

Therefore, enter practicing stage one when you have achieved a relatively human balance, not perfected certainly, but sufficient to associate with people in this Communion in a disciplined way, a human way, and to minimize your dramatizations. That is what we expect in the context of this Communion. It is not only I who must retire from Teaching Work. The whole Communion must retire from it, should have done so by now. There should not be any more struggling.

The Communion should have a gentle relationship to the world. It is not here to beat the world over the head. It is not here to struggle with antagonists or to make people believe something they want nothing to do with. Why should it? Such a struggle has nothing to do with Spiritual life.

If people do not want a Spiritual Way of life, that is their prerogative. We are here to serve those who have a genuine interest in the matter, and to serve them according to their capability. To do so requires that we acknowledge their capability, and they likewise. It is a very real matter, and I have communicated in detail the evidence required at every stage. It is a human matter. People must function responsibly. And to be inside this Communion, whether as a leader or an average participant, you must stably represent true human maturity. Period. The threatening energy of you as an adolescent ego must be undone. If it is not undone in you, you do not have the right to be inside the culture of practitioners.

II

ADI DA SAMRAJ: I remember talking to some people the other day about the generation of my parents, the generation who grew up early in the twentieth century, and who reflected previous generations in the nineteenth century. The social norm ingrained in you as you grew up, and expected of you very explicitly as you moved toward adulthood in that generation, was that you did not bother others with your problems. You were even reticent about them. When somebody asked you, "How are you doing?" you said, "I'm fine. How are you?" If you were suffering, in pain, in poverty, you exhibited the signs of being able to handle it, of not needing charity, of not needing a shoulder to cry on. You presented a positive face. The limitation of that social norm is that it tends to rigidify people and limit intimacy and even growth, but it has a certain social value. It tends to promote a balance in society in the contacts among people. But after the first quarter of the twentieth century, as you move into my generation and your generation, a totally different norm has developed that is the precise opposite. Now the norm is to bother everybody with your problems at every possible opportunity, to dramatize your problems, explicitly express every last detail of your suffering, as if you are the only one who is suffering. You are to be analyzed by everybody, draw everybody into your case, infect your children with it, infect your spouse, your family, your friends with it, infect society with it, create a revolution every time you open your mouth.

Everybody is poisoning everybody else and fundamentally poisoning themselves through this new social norm. The old norm is still operative - there is a kind of general expectation that everybody is supposed to calm down and behave - but the expectation does not cut very deep. Basically, everybody is dramatizing and being unstable. That is the new norm. Be adolescent forever. To be a pain in the ass is how you stay young and energetic - keep kicking ass, keep aggravating people, stay angry, stay lustful, stay as vital as possible, and stay young. To live this way is even felt to contribute to survival and longevity.

Social norms are thought to contribute to survival, but clearly this social norm is a counter-survival technique. It poisons you and it poisons everybody who takes you seriously.

I was also reminding some of you the other day of a story that one of the children told me at dinner a couple of nights ago. On their retreat day the children had been studying stories from the traditions, and each of them told me stories, about Ramakrishna,3 Swami Ramdas,4 and others. One of them told me a story about Gautama the Buddha.

In the community associated with Gautama there was a man who was very envious of him, envious of Gautama's prominence and of the devotion and honor accorded him. He disliked Gautama immensely. He himself wanted grand visibility. He wanted to be very attractive to everyone, and he expressed his envy when he talked to other people, by making very aggressive and critical comments about Gautama and putting himself forward.

One day at a gathering where Gautama was expounding the Dharma, this man stood up in the gathering and began to criticize Gautama for having people around him who were so attached to him, and on and on and on, just venting anger.

Gautama listened to this for awhile, and then he said, "Excuse me for a moment. What if you gave somebody a gift and the person refused it. To whom would the gift belong?"

The guy said, "It would still belong to me. If the person didn't take it, it would still be mine."

Gautama said, "Well, so it is with anger. You are delivering a great deal of anger to me. You are trying to make a gift to me of your anger, and I am refusing it. So whose is it? You are just poisoning yourself."

I, in a variety of ways, have communicated something similar to this traditional story to help you realize that you are suffering from the self-contraction. You are not expressing a righteous ideal or truth through all of your dramatizations. You are poisoning yourself through your own contraction. You are suffering yourself. And you are trying to give everybody else the gift of that suffering through your dramatization. You are trying to get people to receive it and imbibe your thinking process, feel your emotions, and find similar motivations and feelings in themselves. In every interview with you, the interviewers come out angry, and you want everybody to be like that. You infect everybody with poison, with self-contraction.

The practitioner must understand something about just this principle. Do not inherit the contraction from somebody else. Do not be stimulated to contract by somebody else's dramatization. If you are so weak that you cannot help but do it, then avoid bad company.' Live more quietly. Go about your business and do not get involved in "case" with other people. At first avoid nasty, aggressive, angry, stupid, lustful, pain-in-the-ass people altogether. Then as you become stronger and more able to serve such people, you must understand a certain principle: Do not receive. Do not inherit their reactivity. Do not do likewise. Do not become infected by association with bad company.

Associate yourself with good company constantly. Remember the True Heart-Master, practice the Way, relate to true practitioners, ponder the Wisdom Teaching, meditate. Do all those things. In addition, you will perhaps be relating to people who are still suffering from themselves. But if you do, then learn how not to inherit the poison. Do not drink it deep. Do not become it. Do not become likewise. Do not receive the gift. Do not receive the transmission that you encounter in bad company. Learn how to be indifferent to it, free of it. Learn how to understand it. Learn how not to duplicate it.

In good company, you duplicate something. In bad company, you must learn how not to duplicate it. Then you can serve such people. In that case, it is true that they are only poisoning themselves. They are not poisoning you. If the Communion associates with bad company to the point that it duplicates the bad company, then it is suffering from the same dramatization.

If, for example, you lay hands on a person who is full of poison, you must first of all be balanced yourself. Then you must throw the poison off your fingers. You do not take on the diseases of another, unless you are a Siddha who has some purpose in doing so. Fundamentally, do not take on the poison of another. Do not absorb the vibrations of bad company.

This is why the principal admonition in the Great Tradition has always been "Spend time in good company." Although it is not really appropriate or even possible to reduce the Great Tradition to just one principle, we could say that if there is a most fundamental principle, it is this: Satsang, the Company of the Realizer and the company of those who love the Realizer or who truly practice in the Spiritual Company of the Realizer, is the most auspicious association. Absorb that Company. Imbibe it. Drink deep of it. Duplicate it. Do likewise. Bad company is a poison. If you must associate with bad company, you must know how to stand free of it and know how to deal with it, know how to relate to it. Otherwise, you will begin to do likewise yourself, and a friend will have to point out to you that what you are dramatizing is not you but a duplication of the problems of another by association.

I have observed that children, for instance, often reveal patterns that are a reflection of their parents. Parents burden their children through various devices, generally through the expression of their own unhappiness and their need to cling to their children. They burden the children with emotional distress. Children reflect that distress by imitating the patterns of those from whom they receive them. You must therefore serve children by being clear, balanced, free of your own sub humanity. Then you will be able to serve their growth, and you will not burden them emotionally. You must not, or they will cease to grow.

You must understand the law relative to bad company. Why is it that the principal admonition, fundamental to the Great Tradition since most ancient days, is to spend your time in good company? Because egoity, or self-contraction, is a poison. Bad company is the company of self-poisoned people. If you are not established in the fundamental Happiness of true understanding and Spiritual practice, you will tend to duplicate the qualities of bad company. You will tend to absorb the poison by association. It is a natural law. It happens inevitably unless you have realized true integrity, Spiritual integrity, human integrity.

Your associations, you see, are a vast field of poisoned air, poisoned grass, a swampland of disturbance, unhappiness, Spiritual deadness. It is fine to be compassionate with people and to relate to them positively and to demonstrate your happiness. That is good, if you can do that, but it takes a certain capacity, a certain maturity. You should be able to expect and depend on practitioners to be balanced human beings, good company,-and you should be the same for them. Instead of bothering everybody, dramatizing case, communicate your happiness.

Even in your intimate man-woman relationships and so forth you should not communicate either "I don't need you" or "I need you absolutely. I can't be happy without you. My happiness depends on you absolutely." That is a way of burdening an intimate. Nobody needs somebody else for happiness. If you are under that illusion, you have not understood enough yet. You share happiness with one another, you may participate in the fundamental and ultimately Spiritual and Divine Happiness with one another, but you do not need one another to be happy. If you are communicating that absolute need to one another, you are poisoning one another. You are burdening the other.

As a matter of fact, every single one of you could live without a sexual relationship and be happy. Every single one of you could live without the one you are living with now and be happy. Happiness is a Spiritual matter, a matter of self-transcendence, a matter of Divine Communion. You do not need the other for happiness. Others are natural for life, and relationships are inevitable, but they should be a circumstance of mutual communication of the Happiness that transcends relatedness, separateness, the separate person. True intimacy is a sharing, a communion.

Spiritual community is a mutual communication of Happiness. It is therefore good company. As true practitioners you do not burden one another with dissociative signals, and you do not burden one another with "I-need-you, I-can't-be-happy-without-you" signals. You do not do that with adults and you do not do that with children. Such relationships are fundamentally just human, even pre-spiritual, requiring human maturity. Prior to the fourth stage of life people should understand something about this principle and achieve the capacity to live it. Such understanding is the beginning of the conversion to the fourth stage of life.

I can tell by the response I feel in you all that you still lay a bit of this "I've-got-to-have-you-or-I-can't-be-happy" nonsense onto one another. I myself receive communications from a variety of people that suggest they cannot be happy unless they are hanging onto my toe. Unless they can be involved in physical proximity to me or to one or another form of relatedness to me that is direct, they cannot be happy. Their dependency game is a way of bothering other people, burdening them. It is a way of dramatizing egoity, dramatizing the self contraction, trying to fill it up with the company of another person.

This is why I say to you all, as I have said for many years, "Come to me when you are already Happy." Let our relationship, in other words, exist in the context of Happiness and its Realization, its sharing, its Communion, its Transmission. But do not come to me because you are unhappy and you need to cling to me to be happy, need to depend on me to feel anything like Happiness. Do not come anywhere near me if that is your disposition. And it is my point of view that you should not enter into acknowledged relations of an intimate kind until that disposition is outgrown. It may certainly be true that if we relate to one another, we can be very happy, even express happiness grandly. That is fine. But to have it or you cannot be happy? That is a rather aggressive communication even. It burdens the other, throws the other out of balance. It is the poison. It denies God. It denies the Truth. It suggests that only a certain conditional arrangement allows happiness.

Such is the antithesis of the knowledge of the Lesson of life7 You cannot become Happy by any means, through any relationship, under any circumstances. Happiness is inherent. You can only be Happy. Therefore, be Happy, and come to me. Learn the Lesson of life and then become a devotee. Come to me when you are already Happy, when you know the principle of Happiness, when you know the design of it, when you know what it is all about. Then my Spiritual Company can serve you. Then the Spiritual Baptism that is constantly Transmitted in my Mere Presence is alive for you, and you can use it. But not otherwise. The devotional relationship to me is not this clinging. It is not dependence on me. It is acknowledgement of me. It is openness to my Spiritual Transmission. It is Freedom.

So do not lay cultic nonsense onto me! That is not at all what I have ever Taught or ever suggested! I have been criticizing it from day one, observing it in everyone who has come to me. I have always had to criticize it. You may be passion-bound to dramatize that disposition, but I have not instructed you in it. I have not told you to do that or reinforced it in you. It is your own decision. It is an emanation of your own egoity. You must be responsible for your unHappiness, your seeking, your clinging, and your aversion. That is a human matter. And on that basis you grow into the Spiritual stages.

ADI DA SAMRAJ: I remember reading something about Shivapuri Baba.8 Someone asked him, "What is the state of Realization? Do you not experience pain anymore?" And he said, "The Realized individual experiences pain just like everybody else. Pain is pain. But in the case of the Realized individual, it doesn't hurt." What was he suggesting? Not immunity from pain, although it is possible to put your attention somewhere else. If you have a pain in your foot, you can put your attention in your head, for example, and feel an alternative pleasure, or you can go into a yogic state and be oblivious to the pain, but apart from that, there is just the pain itself.

But what makes pain hurt? It is like receiving the poison of bad company. Pain is bad company. Pain in the foot is bad company. How can it be pain, the body showing all the signs of its being painful, and yet not hurt? Ramana Maharshi9 used to groan in bed with his cancerous arm. When asked about his suffering, he would say, "It is the body's pain. So much the worse for it!" And yet he groaned. But it was the body groaning. He knew the difference. He stood in the Transcendental Position, the inherently Free Position. The pain was just as painful. He had no defense against it. In some way maybe you could say it was more painful, more intense, for him than for others. On the other hand, it did not hurt. In other words, it did not become self-contraction. It did not become obliviousness to the Divine Bliss. It was just pain, not hurt. It did not implicate him.

That is the difference between Realization and non-Realization. You may imagine that in a state of Realization one no longer feels pain, and so you like to abstract me and imagine that even though a lot of bullshit is being laid on my head, I am totally indifferent and existing in some sort of sublime elsewhere. In some ultimate sense that may be true, but in another sense it is also true that I am suffering it most profoundly, have even less defense against it than you do.

Even previous to the perfection of Realization, the discipline is still to be good company, live in good company and be good company. If you are good company, then you can associate at times with bad company and you will not inherit the poison. You will not become bad company as a result. The fundamental discipline I communicate to you, and that has been communicated in the Great Tradition since the most ancient days, is to spend your time in good company and be good company. You cannot even spend your time in good company if you are not good company. It is not fruitful, you see. The principle admonition, therefore, is to be good company.

Being good company is not to be always gleefully grinning and blissing out. "Oh, my leg just fell off! Oh, golly!" No. There are grimaces, expressions of pain, but nonetheless not un-Happiness, not non-Realization, not divorce from the Spiritual Reality, not "I don't think I want to practice anymore," not all of a sudden "I'm a case" or "I'm an ego and I just discovered that all I ever wanted to do was be an ego" - not that kind of garbage with which people interrupt this community from time to time. That is even subhuman, not merely sub-Spiritual.

PRACTITIONER: You gave a wonderful talk last year that was extremely helpful to me, about not having to put on a smiling face all the time, and about forgiving your enemies. You said forgiveness was really just forgetting.

ADI DA SAMRAJ: Right. Simply forget the offense. If you do not forgive another, you will be poisoned by him or her. You are poisoned by what you do not forgive or forget. If you cannot make the grand gesture of forgiveness, you can at least make the gesture of indifference, going into good company, going on with your practice. You can forget about it. But if you absorb it, if you mull over it, if you think about it day and night, if you change your way of life because of it, then you are poisoned. Forgiveness is in some sense a survival technique. Do not eat poison.

If you do not forgive your aggressors, if you do not let them go and do not relinquish your reaction, then you will inherit or duplicate the disturbance. You must observe this about yourself and come to a real understanding about it. Just don't do it anymore. You will be happy consistently if you will learn this lesson. If you stop trying to be happy and realize that Happiness is a matter of What you are inherently, then you will stop struggling with your various relations in order to gain happiness. And you will likewise stop struggling with others, as if overwhelming them or changing their mind would make you happy. It will not. You can forgive your enemy, you can release the poisoning influence, you can do that sort of thing right now, anytime. It does not change a damn thing about the presumed enemy or antagonist, but it changes you, restores your wholeness, your integrity. Turn your attention to the Great Matter.

There are always enemies anyway, or pain-in-the-ass people or poisoned people. You cannot eliminate them. I cannot eliminate them. Nobody can. I can serve an awakening beyond them, but I cannot wash them. I cannot eat enough poison or absorb enough karma from people to change things that much. I have absorbed and inherited a great deal from people, and transformed it in myself, and therefore transformed them, but nonetheless I cannot do it to the degree of purifying the entire world through this body in this lifetime. No way.

I am therefore not here to eat the poisons of others. I am not here to be thrown into the world, made a cult figure, and given a bunch of crap to absorb. I am not here to be your scapegoat. Understand the law of good company, the law of integrity, the law of Happiness, and know, therefore, that it is not your business to make me or anybody else the target of that nonsense. It is not your business to bother anybody. Find your own integrity, your own Happiness in this Way, and express that, through forgiveness, well-being, radiant expression, in your conversation. And with some, particularly your most intimate friends, you sometimes must talk about a little bit of poison floating here and there, get a little assistance here and there, but you do not become a non-practitioner in the process if you have integrity, nor do you ever become profoundly poisoned either.

The principle of good company is the Way of the Heart in its most fundamental sense. It covers everything, really, if you understand it. The Way is fundamentally good company and being good company, and that principle covers every stage of the Spiritual Process. This is why the fundamental dimension of the Spiritual Process is Ishta-Guru-Bhakti Yoga, not ego dependence on another personality, but participation in the Divine Process of Transmission, or Happiness itself. If you participate in Happiness, you duplicate it. You are attracted by it beyond yourself, stage by stage, into the ultimate dimension of the Samadhi of the Realizer.

Satsang is inevitably, then, the Great Law, the Great Principle, the Great Gift, the great communication of the Great Tradition. And it is also my most fundamental communication to you. The communication of Satsang is what I am here to do with people. I am not here to Teach or to suffer people, but to be Good Company for those who are prepared. And those who are prepared are prepared in the sense that they are themselves good company.

Simplify your life. Associate with the world and with worldly people to the degree you have the capacity to do so, and stay straight. Occupy yourself most fundamentally with the Spiritual Process, and do not busy yourself so much that you do not even have time for the Spiritual Process. You do not owe the world your agreement to be poisoned and destroyed. You do not owe anybody that. Do not degrade yourself, therefore. Do not submit yourself to the world or to anyone to that degree. Stand Free. Be good company. Imbibe good company. And continue to grow. That is what you should do. Serve others to the degree you can, but learn how to be free of their poisons. Learn how not to duplicate their bad company. Know your limits, and avoid bad company to the degree you need to, until you are strong enough that you can face anyone and not inherit the poison.

During my entire life, I have never really been "out there" in the world, as you might say. I have certainly been in the world, but I have lived more or less privately all my life, in general lived in a little room somewhere, never in magnificent accommodations. I lived outside of worldly domains and seriously engaged the real ordeal, the real process-not in a monastic setting generally, typically in the world in some sense, but in relative privacy. I never had a career I wanted to pursue or any of that sort of thing. I found a variety of simple ways to maintain my ordinary life, and just remained occupied with what was fundamentally important. I have never avoided the company of worldly people, but my daily life has generally been rather private.

When I associated with ordinary people, it was an experiment really, part of my sadhana, a deliberate intention to reflect the ordinariness in myself, to find out about myself, to continue my own Work, to continue to grow, to overcome myself. But I was fit to do that, knew that I was, and so did it.

My Teaching Work likewise was an association with the most aggressive kind of worldliness, constantly, year after year after year. The worst of everything in people was dramatized on my person. And I endured it because I could, because I was free to do it, and would not be destroyed by it. I certainly suffered it and still do, but I was not destroyed by it, my Realization was not eliminated. I could be Good Company in bad company, and basically that is what I have been obliged to do all my life. What I am suggesting to you is that I would like to be Good Company in good company now. But I have been Good Company in bad company since I was born, and even during all the years of my Teaching Work.

Even you who call yourselves practitioners are still to some significant degree being bad company for me. I had hoped that by now you would begin to show some integrity and balance in my Company. Now that I have retired from my Teaching Work, people are supposed to be good company for me. Even in the gatherings of the last several weeks, you see, you have each in your turn been bad company for me and for one another. But you also see that in these couple of weeks much of that bad company has been purified.

PRACTITIONER: By Your Good Company.

ADI DA SAMRAJ: By my Good Company, yes. (Laughter.) Well, that is good and it works, but on the other hand I do not like having to do that anymore. I have given you enough that you ought to be able to straighten yourself out as a precondition for coming into my physical Company. All practitioners should be good company for me and for one another, and anyone who comes into the sphere of the Communion should be basically good company-balanced, human, honorable, serious. That much should be expected.

PRACTITIONER: When You said that You were Good Company to people where we are, I was thinking You were in the worst place in the United States that anyone could be for bad company, and that is New York.

ADI DA SAMRAJ: I was also in California. (Laughter.) I was everywhere else, too. But I grew up on Long Island and spent my early adult life in New York City. That is about as bad as it gets, yes.

Last year I went to New York City with a whole crowd of people and walked through the streets where I spent my youth and early adult life. All through my late teens and twenties I spent most of my time in New York. I took them to the temples of my ordeal and showed them the little Bowery joints and crummy streets I lived on, and the kind of characters wandering around that I lived with, associated with, and struggled with. That is what sadhana requires dealing with your own nature as bad company and with the bad company of others. In other words, sadhana is an ordeal. It is not a self-congratulatory heaven of meditation.

You must deal with the conditional limitations of your own life and with life in general. It is not merely in this grosser level that you encounter limitations and disturbances and antagonism. If your attention rises to spheres above this visibility, you will find out that there are antagonists and self-poisoned beings there, too, and that these domains or dimensions are also limited.

Much of my early life and sadhana was developed in New York City, which you can say in some sense is one of the worst places in the world to do sadhana, if you think of sadhana as something that is supposed to take place in a more or less ideal environment. You all even think the community of practitioners is supposed to be an ideal environment. In principle, it is supposed to genuinely serve and exemplify the Spiritual Process. But on the other hand, there are difficulties you must struggle with creatively. There is no point in being fussy about the Communion.

This Communion is not ideal, but it is better than where I did my sadhana! I did my sadhana under the grossest kinds of circumstances, with the grossest kinds of people you can imagine. None of you are obliged to do your sadhana in such a circumstance.

PRACTITIONER: I'll never forget the time we drove by the Bowery and saw the alleyway where You had Your chair, the sofa You used to sit on ...

ADI DA SAMRAJ: It was an armchair, not a sofa, stuffed with straw. Straw stuck out of the holes in the arms and the seat. And the springs in the cushions stuck out all over the place and poked holes in my ass and my back. And because it rained in the winter the chair was always wet through and through. It was always raining when I was out there, so I used to throw something over my body if I could, or otherwise I just lay in it, freezing in the cold. I lived under many other circumstances, too, very often just as bad.

You cannot live this life in the world as it is now without struggling with bad company. Sometimes you just flat have to do it. There must be the warrior in you. But the true warrior is totally in balance. Look at the great warrior consciousness communicated in various traditions, the samurai of Japan, for example. Such a person is not an aggressive, angry, out-of-balance person who just wants to kick ass! Such a person is totally balanced, calm, graceful even, able to make a cut right through in one utterly compassionate blow, without being poisoned, without being limited by the antagonist.

In the Communion there still exists a buttoned-down, poisoned, limiting quality to some degree. The truly free disposition that should characterize this Communion is yet to be realized. The weaknesses still shown in practitioners individually and collectively must be clarified or there is no Satsang. It is one thing to feel that Satsang has been suppressed or eliminated and we must regenerate it. But you must go through the process that is necessary to regenerate it. You must handle business first. You must clear the deck. You must prepare people and establish the Communion on a right basis. You must do what is necessary to make room for my Good Company. You cannot compromise. You must meet the mark.

 

 


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3. Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886) was one of the greatest ecstatics of all time He was a paramount worshipper of the Divine Mother in the form of Kali, and he spent his life as the head priest of the Kali Temple at Dakshineswar near Calcutta.

4. Swami Ramdas (1884-1963) was a saint of South India who practiced the "japa", or constant heartfelt repetition, of the Divine Name "Ram", happily accepting every circumstance of his life as a Gift of God. He attained an extraordinary degree of mystical Communion solely through this practice.

5. "Bad company" is anyone who is dramatizing the self-contraction at a given moment. Bad company thus refers to an activity that individuals dramatize, rather than to any innate characteristics.

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7. For a more expanded discussion of the Lesson of life, see The Bodily Location of Happiness, pp. 95-109 (especially pp. 96-97). 8. The Shivapuri Baba (1826-1963)-the name by which Sri Govindananda Bharati was generally known-was a modern Indian saint best known for a 35-year world pilgrimage he undertook at the age of 50, during which he spoke with dozens of monarchs, heads of state, and cultural leaders. His long and inspiring life is chronicled in the book Long Pilgrimage: The Life and Teaching of the Shivapuri Baba by John G. Bennett, published by The Dawn Horse Press.

9. Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) was the greatest modern sage of southern India and a Divinely Realized exponent of the ultimate Teachings of Advaita Vedanta. A brief biographical sketch of Ramana Maharshi is given on page 742 of The Dawn Horse Testament (first edition).

 



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