MASTER DA FREE JOHN: You are all becoming philosophical in the midst of a life in which you are hoping to Realize the Truth. If you examine the Great Tradition, you will observe that whenever people appear to have become very serious about Truth, they have also become very philosophical. In fact, the philosophical ideas associated with Truth are ordinarily presumed to be the basic content of the traditions. Generally, when people become philosophical, they confess that they are trying to Realize the Truth.
But, it is not the commitment to Truth itself, as if Truth were already known, that produces philosophy. Rather, the absence of Truth produces philosophy. Philosophy is an effort to solve the problem of the absence of Truth. In other words, the disease produces the philosophy. But if the Realization of Truth is not a philosophical matter, what precisely is the process in which Truth is Realized?
The human individual is suffering primarily from the obstruction of feeling. By this I do not mean an inability to be emotional, an inability to get angry, or be loving, or be affectionate, and so forth. Any of these disabilities may very well be a sign of neurosis. But the specific disease that characterizes all human individuals is the disease of Being, of fundamental Feeling. Therefore, all neurosis is fundamentally a spiritual disease, the transcendence of which requires spiritual Realization.
If you observe yourself in any moment, in any situation, you will discover that you are always obstructed in your feeling. Whether circumstances are relatively pleasurable or relatively painful, you are always active as the contraction of Being, the contraction of Radiant Self-Existence. The Feeling of Being Itself is obstructed by this contraction. Therefore, you interpret everything that arises, within or without, as a limitation on your own Being, and you feel short of Infinity.
To feel infinitely, to be present as unobstructed Feeling, you must feel beyond what you are noticing. To notice anything at all is to have attention fall short of Infinity. You regard your noticing of things to be an ordinary matter, and it is ordinary, but it is also a convention of egoity, merely a habit. All your noticing is associated with a contraction of fundamental Feeling.
People sometimes notice about themselves that they do not feel good, they do not feel strong, they do not find themselves free to be emotionally expressive or sympathetic, and they try various devices to cure themselves of this inability. Sometimes people try to develop a counter emotion. If they are depressed by tendency, they try to be very jolly and outgoing. If they do not tend to be sympathetic with people, they try to become really interested, to really put out energy, love vibrations, and love stares at everybody. (Laughter.) They constantly tell people how much they love them, or they may use psychiatric devices to enable themselves to be more emotional. They review their past, trying to locate memories of experiences that may have wounded them and made them emotionally rigid.
People may observe their dreams, looking for some key that will unlock their emotional power. They may try to become religious in order to believe something great about Reality that will make them able to feel more strongly and more openly. Or they may try to fall in love again and again, or become very promiscuous. They may indulge themselves physically to create a feeling of pleasure by being full of food, never empty, never not eating, never not sexing. They may talk or think compulsively as a way of generating energy in themselves to counter a feeling of depression or emptiness. They may become socially motivated humanitarians. They may teach others in order to confirm to themselves that there is something true that everyone can feel good about.
Everybody is trying to cure an emotional problem. Not just a few people, who are unable to be angry or happy or emotionally expressive, but everybody is doing something to try to cure what they regard to be a disease of emotion. Yet, the reasons for being emotionally retarded, emotionally dissociative, or emotionally disturbed are not eliminated through such counter efforts. People may perhaps feel a little better, but they fail to become finally, simply Happy. Everyone tries again and again, through their unique style, to become happy, to become emotionally free, emotionally alive. Yet, all they are doing is dramatizing this emotional disease. All social, physical, mental, psychic, or emotional actions are dramatizations of a disease of Feeling.
Everyone dramatizes a neurotic state of feeling, a state of obstructed Feeling, a limitation on Feeling. By "Feeling" I do not mean mere emotion. I mean the Feeling of Being. Even though what I call Feeling is obviously related to emotion, this Feeling cannot be separated from mind or body, located in a portion of the brain or the chest. Every aspect of the body-mind-the psyche, the thinking mind, emotion, the body, relational and social life is a limit on the Feeling of Being, a dramatization of contraction. Therefore, to recover the Feeling of Being, or to be unobstructed in this Feeling, you must not merely become more emotional. The entire body-mind must submit to Be, to Feel without obstruction.
The seventh stage of life involves a process called Transfiguration2 wherein the body-mind and all of its relations, and therefore the entire cosmos, is implicated. How is the body-mind Transfigured? What is so powerful that it can Transfigure not only the body-mind but every relation of the body-mind, even the whole universe, the whole cosmos? What is it that Transfigures all in the Enlightened state? It is Feeling. It is Love-Bliss, the inherent Radiance of Being, or what we might also call Free Energy. The un-Enlightened personality is most fundamentally characterized by bound energy and attention, whereas the Enlightened personality exhibits the signs of free energy and attention. Thus, the spiritual process involves the liberation of energy and attention from bondage, contraction, limitation, and obstruction.
Limited or obstructed energy and attention are both evidenced by the same phenomenon the limitation of the Feeling of Being. We do not Feel freely. We do not Feel simply, completely. Rather, we are limited in our feeling relative to absolutely everything. In every function we feel short. Our fundamental disease, even though it is unnecessary, and could therefore be called imaginary, is a limitation on Feeling.
Rather than trying to overwhelm our feeling of emotional disease with some counter effort or regimen where by we hope to relieve ourselves, we must first profoundly observe our own characteristic limitations. The Spiritual Master, his Argument, and his Play help us to make these observations. This is why it is good for there to be such characters! Such individuals, Awakened beyond the disease of Being, help others to Realize the Truth. But to Realize the Truth you must go through a process of self-transcendence, and since this process begins with hearing,3 it begins with considering the Argument of the Adept.
How do you consider the Argument? Not merely by philosophical thinking, but by observing yourself, no matter what you are doing. The Spiritual Master helps you to become sensitive to yourself altogether and to enter into a profound state of self-awareness, wherein you will notice not merely that you are un-Happy, emotionally disturbed, or limited, but that you are doing that.
You are being un-Happy. You yourself are the action that is your neurosis, or limitation. That neurosis is not merely something that is happening to the body-mind, or that happened sometime in the past. It is not outside yourself. You are the very party, the very process of limitation t4 at is creating the phenomena you notice and acknowledge to be sour un-Happiness.
Your un-Happiness is not a disease at all. It is an action. It is something that you are doing. Pinching yourself is not a disease, you see? But if you do not notice that you are pinching yourself, then that pinch gradually becomes chronic, prolonged pain to which you react in various ways. Your whole style of life begins to change around it. You could call that pain a disease then. But the action of pinching yourself is Dot a disease. It is merely an action. If you notice you are doing it, you can stop doing it. Then, sure enough, all the symptoms will disappear as well.
Generally, people know very well that they are un-Happy, that they are suffering. They can acknowledge it to some degree, and at least in private conversation will confess it. People know life is difficult and they know they are suffering.
The classic Buddhist formula holds that life is suffering, but that there is a cause for and a way out of that suffering. People notice that they are suffering, assume there are various reasons for their suffering, and are busy trying to eliminate those causes. This is why people think so much, emote so much, and desire so much, why they do so much, and this is also why they suffer so much. The search to release suffering is a form of suffering. It is not the solution to it.
One of the reasons I criticize the classical Buddhist point of view is that we must do more than notice we are suffering and strive to eliminate that suffering. This tactic is only minimally intelligent and ultimately it is fruitless. You can never do enough to yourself to eliminate suffering absolutely. Those who only try to eliminate suffering do not get happier and happier. They get more and more dry, serious, and emotionless, although relieved of some of the psychological content of their disturbed reaction to existence. But corpses are also relatively free of the evidence of disturbed reaction to existence. (Laughter.)
I suggest that there is something corpselike about the results of such extreme effort to eliminate suffering. Everybody is already something like a Hinayana Buddhist, but without the sophistication, without the revolutionary approach, without the profound effort engaged by such individuals to get rid of all these mechanics of existence. Still, everybody is noticing that they do not feel good, and everybody is trying to feel better.
What do you do to feel better? You notice why you are not feeling good, and then you try to make a counter effort. All your desiring, all your activities, all your emoting, and all your thinking are a kind of monastic discipline. They are what you are doing in the solitude of your un-Happiness, no matter how many people you are associated with.
I suggest we must do more than make this minimally intelligent and ultimately ineffective counter effort. That "more" is what I am trying to illustrate in this picture of you pinching yourself. You must observe yourself more profoundly, much more thoroughly than merely to acknowledge that you do not feel good or that you are generally un-Happy, complicated, obstructed, and so forth. You must not merely think about yourself, but you must observe yourself thoroughly, moment to moment, in every detail. You must observe that this not feeling good is something that you are doing and not something that is happening to you.
Un-Happiness is not the inherent Condition of the body-mind or of manifest existence. It is something added to that Condition. It is a reaction to that Condition. Understanding relieves us of the principle of disease and the effort to solve a problem and puts us in a different position altogether, just like that of a person who discovers he or she has been pinching himself, and stops. In that case we become responsible for a primitive mechanism that we are animating but that we do not have to animate. This understanding must be at the base of our existence if we are going to practice spiritual life. Certainly, practice in our Way is based on this understanding.
By practice, I do not mean merely changing your diet. I mean practicing the conscious process and conductivity,4 engaging the real force of the spiritual exercise. The basis of this practice must be this understanding in which you discover that your un-Happiness is simply something that you are doing to yourself, something that you are fully responsible for, something that is without necessity, something that you are adding to existence. It is something that you are being, in fact, instead of simply Being, truly and fully. This understanding exists, if you stop pinching yourself, if you simply stand prior to this gesture of un-Happiness, then you are in a position to locate, become intimate with, and be submitted to the Condition in which you truly exist, in which all beings exist, in which all of Nature exists. Having located That, you can practice, and practice is primarily submission to that Condition. Practice makes use of this capacity for insight. It makes use of all kinds of disciplines that serve your equanimity, or that release energy and attention from habitual tendencies to dramatize un-Happiness. But primarily, practice is submission to the Condition of Being. Practice is Feeling without obstruction.
In every moment a different circumstance arises, and in every moment you tend to limit feeling in a different fashion. In a moment of desire you limit feeling to what is desirable, to what you are seeking to attain, to the sensations and activities associated with desire and its fulfillment. In a moment of thinking you exercise the limitation of feeling by limiting attention to the conceptual categories of thought. In a moment of emotional reaction you limit feeling to the emotional force of reactivity-fear, sorrow, anger, or even what we conventionally call love. Every object and condition that arises suggests or mechanically calls into being a different kind of limitation on feeling. Typically, you become that limitation, and because you chronically take on a limitation in every moment, over time you begin to have a sense that you are un-Happy, that you are obstructed, and your search to become Happy intensifies.
Many people look for something in the conventional round of experience, some solution, that holds the possibility of being completely free and Happy. But some people eventually learn the lesson of life. They discover that they are un-Happy not merely because manifest. existence is un-Happy, but because they are being un-Happy. Those who learn this lesson of life, at least to some degree, before they meet a Spiritual Master, may then go and find one. Others may be frustrated enough that they look for a Spiritual Master before they even understand very much, or really learn the lesson, and eventually they learn this lesson of life in that Company.
You must eventually learn this lesson, make this discovery, if you are going to enter into the stream of spiritual life. What you must discover, once that lesson is learned and once you find a source of Transmission, is that you are precisely that which you are suffering. You are not merely un-Happy-an entity definable as that suffering-but you are active as un-Happiness, as suffering. This action is primarily a limitation on Feeling. This limitation on Feeling may be observed in relation to absolutely everything, during any activity, and in any circumstance, any relationship, any incident. If you observe yourself even now, you are not Feeling without obstruction. You are feeling the apparent limit.
Is it not presently obvious to you that you are feeling short, not Feeling fully, but feeling a limit, based on your interpretation of whatever you are noticing in this moment? You are not Feeling freely, unless you have fulfilled this process already, and most of you are still engaged in the earlier stages of practice. You must notice, if you observe yourself, that even now-in a circumstance you would presumably regard to be pleasant and untroubled-you are feeling short, you are feeling un-Happy, in fact. You are not un-Happy in the sense that you are in a negative emotional state. What I suggest that you observe is that you are not Infinitely Happy, not Feeling without obstruction. If you are not Feeling without obstruction, you are feeling short, or contracting upon the force of Feeling, the force of Being, and therefore you are actively being un-Happy.
The limit on Feeling that I have been describing in this consideration is what I am pointing to with such descriptions as "spiritual neurosis," "Narcissus,"5 "the self-contraction," and "un-Happiness. That fundamental limit, which you can observe in your own case in any moment, is an obstruction of Feeling that is demonstrated in every form of your functional life. It is demonstrated as all kinds of habits of mind, states of the psyche, tendencies toward emotional reactivity, tendencies of desire, habits and rituals in relation to other people, self-indulgence, seeking, and your unique personality game.
Patients of psychiatrists typically project onto the psychiatrist the emotional reactions and patterns that they otherwise tend to live out with parents and others. In effect, they make the psychiatrist the same person to whom they react in their daily life. The phenomenon of counter transference also exists. Psychiatrists, because patients transfer certain emotions to them and interpret them in a certain way, begin to feel they are that projected personality and to respond to the patient as a primary figure in their own lives. It never comes to an end then. Both become the very people they are suffering.
You do not have to be the patient of a psychiatrist to be involved in this play. Everyone engages in a primary form of transference. In fact, all our problems are an expression of transference. We all transfer, or superimpose upon others and upon the whole world, the disease from which we are suffering. This disease colors the whole world. It causes us to act and feel and think in certain ways in relation to others. The infantile personality that develops the Oedipal conflict actually transfers upon the parents an emotional state-the feeling of limitation-and interprets parental behavior as a literal betrayal. The sense of betrayal is generally so profound that it affects the child for the rest of his or her life.
However, everything else that we do is also an example of transference. We are all superimposing upon the world and all our relations a state for which we ourselves are responsible, a state that originates in ourselves. The cause of this state is not out there in the world.
You could say that the classical Buddhist interpretation of reality or of the universe is a form of transference. "Life is suffering. Existence is suffering." How did existence become suffering? How did the universe become suffering? Even if a Buddhist actually examined everything and came to this conclusion, he would always be looking through the color of his or her own disease. He would transfer that disease, then, to the world, and begin struggling to eliminate the apparently objective phenomena of the body-mind as if they were evil.
The notion of sin in the Judeo-Christian tradition is a similar example of transference. Human un-Happiness is attributed to an objective cause, such as what Adam and Eve did in the Garden. It would follow, therefore, that you must be objectively caused to get to heaven, or to be happy, or to be spiritually alive. This would require not a Spiritual Master, specifically, but a God-incarnate individual to go through an objective ritual that makes your guilt objectively unnecessary, whereas previously you were necessarily guilty.
We engage in this rather primitive effort of transference because we are not responsible for ourselves. Therefore, having made this act of transference, we must transcend all our religion, all our philosophy-everything we do, insofar as it is merely an extension of our own irresponsible suffering. And, in general, all our actions are of this kind.
Clearly, individuals appear here and there in the Great Tradition whose lives are about transcendence and Transcendental Realization, but these individuals represent only a small part of the traditions. Human history contains great moments, great individuals, but most of history is the product of human irresponsibility, egoity, or un-Happiness. History is made of the same state that you in this homely moment acknowledge to be the case obstructed feeling.
If you will continue to observe yourself, you will discover that you are not merely chronically limited in feeling, or un-Happy, but you are doing that. You are not obliged to be invited in your feeling, you are simply doing that. If you do not want to be un-Happy, then don't do that anymore! Do not appeal to the universe to cure you, or propose that the universe is evil, or become involved in counter efforts, psychically, mentally, emotionally, physically, and socially to make yourself Happy. You cannot become Happy by any method. If you really do not want to be un-Happy anymore, then you must observe yourself and stop being un-Happy. Stop doing un-Happiness.
Whatever arises, you habitually feel either "appropriately" or "inappropriately" in relation to it. If you see a gorilla chasing you, an appropriate emotional response is to be afraid and also to run! An inappropriate response would be to laugh and start telling the gorilla stories about your childhood. An appropriate response for a person at a funeral would be to weep or feel sorrowful, and an inappropriate response, at least in the conventional point of view, would be to laugh and do a tap dance.
I am suggesting that what we might call an appropriate response is at best only a logical limit of emotion, a logical state of limited emotion, relative to some apparent fact. To so respond is not Feeling without limit. Likewise, appropriate emotional responses are also clearly imitations on Feeling. No matter what arises, whether you tend to react appropriately or appropriately from a conventional point of view, you always present yourself as a limit of Feeling. And this, as you might gather, is from my point of view inappropriate! (Laughter.) -
You must do more than feel afraid when it is appropriate to be afraid, sorrowful when it is appropriate In be sorrowful, or gleeful when it is appropriate to b gleeful. You must Feel completely, without obstruction. In that case, you will not merely afraid or angry or sorrowful. You will feel emotions, but by being completely free to these feelings, you will not merely dramatize them (although you might tend to dramatize them to some degree). You will simply Feel. In other words, the feeling of the appropriate emotion will become Feeling itself, and will eventually become Feeling simply, or Feeling without obstruction.
Remarkably enough, the reason we are so disturbed about events that might make us fearful, sorrowful, or angry is that whenever something arises about which we might appropriately feel these emotions, we do not feel it completely. We limit our feeling of these reactions, and we certainly limit our feeling of the circumstance itself. We are always exhibiting the evidence of limited feeling, obstructed feeling.
If feeling becomes limitless, if we do not contract, then feeling becomes Being. When there is no reaction, no contraction, Feeling without limit, this Feeling goes beyond fear, sorrow, anger, and even conventional happiness and loving attitudes. What do we Feel in that case? It is Bliss. It is the Self-Radiant Force of Being, without the slightest obstruction. It is Enlightenment. It Transfigures the body-mind and becomes a great Power. To look at manifestation through this Color, this One Flavor, this free Force or free Energy, allows you to interpret everything differently.
In that case, you will not interpret manifest existence to be evil or suffering or sinful, or others to be unloving, or life to be terrible. Instead of that, you will regard all of manifest existence to be pervaded by Bliss-not merely Bliss coming at you from every direction, but Bliss Radiating from every direction in the Place Where you Stand. This Bliss has no center, no bounds, no limits. It is free Energy. In the midst of free Energy, you are free as attention, not limited, not obstructed. When attention is without limit, it is Consciousness Itself. Only Consciousness. When energy is without limit, it is free Force, Love, Bliss. When there is no limit on energy and attention, there is only Self-Radiant Being, without limit, and even the whole world becomes obviously That. You, in the form of the manifest personality, become active as the Transfiguring Power that is inherent in and Transcends all of Nature
1. The term "Great Tradition" is used by Master Da Free John to refer to the totality of Man's religio-spiritual traditions, past and present.
2. See The Enlightenment of the Whole Body for a definition of "Transfiguration".
3. 'Hearing' is a technical term used by Master Da Free John to describe the foundation process of intuitive understanding on which spiritual life is based.
4. See The Conscious Process for an explanation of conductivity and the conscious process.
5. Please see "Narcissus" for an explanation of the use of the term Narcissus.