A Talk by Da Free John - 1982
ADI DA SAMRAJ: When one looks at this great world of problems, this complex and secular world of political, economic, and military forces with all of their potential threats, one feels that something ought to be done, that something great should be in power and bring an end to all of this difficulty. It is an ordinary enough desire, but it is not very profound. It does not really offer the solution. The world as a whole is not going to change until humanity as a whole is responding differently to the circumstance of existence. Until then, there will be no great benign world. Our conflicts will continue. So long as people do not respond to the highest wisdom, they remain reactive and conventional. It will continue to be so in our world, and all kinds of problems will result, until there is a universal response to higher Wisdom. Such a response is certainly not likely in the near future, and so there will continue to be problems in the world.
Thus, the world appears to be in a terrible condition. Even total destruction seems to be imminent. That has always been so, because there has never been a universal response to the Wisdom-Influence, the Divine Influence, the Transcendental Reality. Some have responded, but most have not. You cannot expect, therefore, that something will occur in our lifetime to eliminate all the difficulties that are the daily news. It is just not going to happen. To work agitatedly toward diverting that possibility is fruitless and a waste of human energy. We must respond to the Divine Influence directly, whether or not great masses of people so respond and whether or not the world in part or in its entirety is destroyed in our lifetime. The Truth is simply the Truth. If the world is going to be destroyed, it is simply because people do not universally respond to the Truth. The destruction of the world does not invalidate the Truth. We must be able to practice real life in response to the Divine offering, regardless of what the world picture looks like and regardless of what happens. We are mortal anyway.
Many powerful influences have sought to bring order in the world, but the level of responsiveness in people has been limited to the ordinary desire for conventional fulfillment. No higher human disposition has awakened among the mass of humanity. Thus the populace that any state has had to deal with has always been a childish, adolescent, reactive, unpredictable, and ultimately dangerous force. The world has never been under the domination of a single power. It has always been fragmented, and many ideologies have tried to acquire power. Even if one ideology had the power to bring order to the entire Earth, to snuff you out or let you live depending on how you played the game, the fundamental human situation will not have changed. People will still be unillumined, ordinary, self-based, identified with their instincts in their functional capacity and orientation.
The Wisdom Influence is another process in the world -- other than the effort of power to work out the conventional solutions to human problems. The state in its various forms around the world is attempting to provide what everybody in their childishness, seeing how difficult life is disposition, wants. We want a political messiah, we want a state, we want a great influence to bring an end to the threat of war. And the state is trying to fulfill our childish desires. But that child-parent-state relationship has nothing whatever to do with Wisdom, Truth, and happiness. Another level in us responds to Wisdom. And our response and the process of life to which it leads us has fundamentally nothing whatever to do with the conventional game of power nor even the conventional game of ordinary human fulfillment. We confront all kinds of limitations and difficulties in our intimate, personal, and social lives. We tend to think that because our circumstances are not perfect, we must react and be weakened. Thus, as long as there is no great, all-powerful state to bring order, we are threatened by war and all of life's difficulties. Such vulnerability justifies a certain fear and sulkiness. Likewise, we become similarly sulky when we confront the limitations in our ordinary lives, when our circumstance is not quite right, our health is not quite right. All that impinges upon us and justifies a reactive, fearful, depressed sense of existence.
Over against such negativity there is the Divine Reality and its appeal to us to enter into the process of true existence. The process of existence that is generated when we respond to the Divine transforms every single aspect of our lives, all of our childish and adolescent justifications for self possession, fear, reactivity, despair, and depression. To take up the Way of life that is founded in Divine Wisdom is to enjoy a totally different disposition, no longer dependent upon conditions for happiness, able to transcend conditions even in their moment of arising, no longer dependent upon living to a ripe old age, no longer dependent on a benign politics, no longer dependent on the perfection of the circumstances of personal life.
Until every fraction of light responds totally to the Divine, there will be all kinds of limitations. The machine of limitations is the structure of contraction, which operates not only at the level of you as a presumed individual but at the level of every fraction of existence. It is operative in the atom, in the molecule, in the cell, in the elements, in all processes, in the weather, and throughout the total cosmos. As the fraction of the cosmos that is each being contracted upon a point, a conjunction, a play of confrontations occurs in which things change, come to an end, interfere with one another. This chaos of motions produces the process of causes and effects, destinies, worlds, everything.
The Divine is not merely present as a parental Cause or Creator in charge of all of this. The Divine is Present relative to all of this in a way that we do not suspect until we Awaken. Until we Awaken, we are rather resentful toward the Divine, insofar as we think about it at all. Why didn't God take charge of all This? God created me, so let God take care of me. Why doesn't God take care of it? Well, God is not taking care of it, so screw God! This is the usual man or woman's childish notion about God because God is not doing what they expect God to do in their childishness. They feel they are justified in their atheism or punkishness, their neurosis, their lovelessness, their weakness. But there is no justification for any recoil from the Divine except in conditions. One can find justification for self limitations, self-possession, and despair in the conditions of life, which seem to justify the mood of despair, because they are generated by processes of living that are contracted upon themselves and that do not represent the Divine Fullness at all.
Humanity is not responding to God, and therefore humanity is living as it is and suffering a great deal of difficulty. But the solution is not that some parental force or God State must arise and straighten everything out. That is not going to happen. The response to the Divine must occur at the level of every fraction of the cosmos, at the level of every individual. The coming of a force from without to change everyone is not going to happen. Neither can you wait until everybody responds and conditions change before it is the right time for you to respond. The Divine Influence is here, now, obliging you to respond.
Either you will or you won't. If you will, you will enter into the Divine Process, but even so the circumstances of life will not necessarily change. They are there to be observed, but what can we see about them? They appear to be negative because of an activity to which beings and all the levels of functional existence are devoted -- not the response to submission and inherence in the Divine -- but rather the reaction of self possession and dissociation, cause and effect games in and of themselves in their own domain.
Only this response to the Divinew Process makes a difference, nothing else. Nothing from outside can make a difference. No order can be brought from without to make any ultimate difference. Therefore we can appeal only to this response in ourselves. We can resort only to our capacity to make this response. And then we must live in this manly fashion, male or female; the life of that response in the face of all apparent difficulties. Then it is obvious that those difficulties exist not because you are or are not responding, but because everything else is not responding, even if you respond. And it is obvious that difficulties will continue as long as the responses of all others are absent. You can, through the force of your responding, your life in God, generate the attractive Influence of the Divine and thereby somehow help to bring about these responses. You can do positive work in the world, but you cannot expect thereby to generate changes. In any case, change does not justify your own response. Only the Divine, to Whom you respond, justifies your response, whether or not anything changes at all in your intimate life or in the world.
The situation in the world is dreadful -- but why? Because of what has traditionally been called sin or ignorance, the absence of response to the Living Reality. Where there is no such response, where in fact there is only this contraction, there also are all kinds of problems, all kinds of limitations, all kinds of cause and effect motions established by contraction and thereby creating limitation and suffering. We can observe what causes suffering--the actions of contracted people. But the ultimate and fundamental cause, which so often does not influence conditions directly in a play of cause and effect, the ultimate and fundamental cause, is the lack of surrender to the Divine. The force of contraction moves and causes effects of all kinds; in its bewilderment finding itself trapped in a great machine in which everything and everyone are similarly reacting rather than responding, contracting rather than surrendering.
Therefore, we must respond and enter into the Divine Process whether anybody else does or not, whether the world changes or not. We cannot in any case presume that our lifetime will be long or that we will continue together relatively undisturbed for decades. Many disturbances may very well interfere with our personal lives and our relations, even soon. Our practice must not depend on long life. Once you hear the Wisdom Teaching and respond, then you must continue that response even through death, regardless of what occurs in the world.
Such response is the realized pratyahara of the traditions. The strategy of dissociation, asceticism, hiding, separating from common society is based on a reactive, self-possessed character -- out of sympathy with life. That is all there is to it. We must respond to the Divine. In doing so, we do not lose our sympathy with life. On the contrary, our sympathy is intensified. But we are also liberated from the limiting process of the world that can uncreate or suppress our response to the Divine. Therefore, the highest form of detachment is life-positive, not dissociated, but understanding very well why things go on as they do, seeing clearly that what arises in the world does not have the power to destroy or suppress one's spiritual response, one's spiritual practice. That is true detachment. It is not the conventional detachment of turning away and withdrawing sympathy. Contractions do not appear as limitations to the Enlightened person.
In the Enlightened disposition one sees through all apparent limitations, sees that there is nothing but nonbinding modifications of the Divine. On the other hand, one also sees things as they are. It is just that seeing things as they are does not limit the force of Realization. One continues to see through everything and to see everything, everyone, in God, even presently. At the same time one sees things as they are, sees that people are suffering, sees why they are suffering, sees what one's own suffering amounts to and transcends it without losing sympathy. Therefore, such a one remains capable of sympathetic activity both in relation to other people and to personal human existence. In Enlightenment, we do not lose sympathy with existence and want to dissociate from it. We remain creatively involved in the living process of surrender, of self- transcendence. It is still difficult at the level of the mechanics of one's existence. But Realization is never qualified.
God can be Realized. Thus, God seems somehow to become effective in the world because God acquires agency through our responses. But where there is no response, there is no agency. Now, there is always some level of responding. In all the bits and processes of the universe, of the cosmos, and of all beings, there is a level of responding. Therefore, the Divine always has agency of some kind and is therefore also changing things somehow in the midst of this Mystery. Yet the response is not sufficient to create great and wholly positive agency. Only when the response is great does the Divine seem to be creative and active in a very positive way. The Divine can become very active and creative in the lives of individuals who do respond and yet seem to be wholly, profoundly absent from the world otherwise, because it is the response that gives the Divine agency. Without the response, it can seem as if there is no God or as if God is impotent. Thus, we develop all kinds of childish views about God in the absence of our own response and the response of others to the Divine.
What is the seventh stage? It is simply that disposition in which our response to the Divine is complete. What are the stages previous to that? They are just stages of less than complete response, wherein certain dimensions of our existence are still somehow locked, contracted, unopened. There is only one Way, and that is to surrender and respond completely to the Divine, depend absolutely on the Divine, inhere completely in God without any concerns whatsoever. Through our complete surrender every aspect of ourselves becomes an agent, a place of Divine Activity and Divine Influence. Therefore, surrender itself is sufficient. Everything else is done by Grace. Until we respond and give the Divine agency, nothing seems to be happening, everything seems to be difficult, and God is in doubt. But as soon as the Divine acquires agency, it does all the work.