Enlightenment Is Perfect Responsibility
a talk by Heart-Master Da
May 20, 1987
The Way of the Heart - Student Text Series
HEART-MASTER DA: I thought perhaps we would discuss the advanced levels of the listening process this evening. Rather than my simply beginning by saying what I have to say about it, perhaps some among you have an idea of what the advanced dimension of the listening process is. Who thinks they have a notion of how the listening process develops? Anybody have a sense of that?
PRACTITIONER: In The Knee of Listening You describe a period that began during Your sadhana at the beach in the early 1960s, in which You engaged a concentrated process of examining everything that arose. The culmination of that was Your understanding the activity of the search as Narcissus. You said that process became full during the time with Rudi. So my thoughts are that first Narcissus becomes obvious, and then there is the concentrated work in relationship to that understanding.
HEART-MASTER DA: You have pointed to the advanced process, but you have not described it. What you described is the first stage of the listening process, or self-observation, which is served by the sadhana of study, or response to the Word of the Teacher. There is no way of knowing how long this process will take to become fundamental insight, or "hearing". All the details of the self must be observed over time. You must observe yourself as a persona, as an actor, as a collection of strategies, in every detail relative to money, food, and sex, and you must also observe your conventional religiosity. This process is served not only by study of the Wisdom-Teaching, but also by study of the Great Tradition, using the Wisdom-Teaching as the basis for discriminative consideration. At some point, you take on a variety of disciplines to support the process of self-observation. You also begin to use the Great Questions, allowing yourself to be pondered by those Questions.
The process of self-observation becomes fundamental understanding of the action that is the conditional self (see: Hearing). The self is observed not only in its details but in toto, totally, as the avoidance of relationship, or as self-contraction. This is summary insight, the culmination of the first step in the listening process. Once the self is understood as self-contraction, or the avoidance of relationship, then the advanced form of the listening process is initiated.
In the first stage of the listening process the Great Questions, particularly the two primary ones*, have something of the significance of the disciplines in general. They are instruments of self-observation. They serve to reflect you to yourself. However, when insight becomes summary, when you have truly observed and understood the search as self contraction, as a motivation that always expresses the avoidance of relationship, then the Great Questions assume a different function. In the advanced form of the listening process the Great Questions become agents, instruments, of the summary insight that you already enjoy. The voice of the Question, then, has become your own. It is the voice of the Teacher, but it has also become your own true voice, by virtue of your self-understanding. In a fundamental sense, you have become one with the Teacher, one with the Teaching Word. Then the Great Questions become the expression of your insight enforcing itself, bringing itself into the present moment, wherein all the ordinary actions of the ego are taking place.
The Way of the Heart is not turning in upon the self to realize an abstract, eternal, internal state. It is not going within and beyond all the forms of the self to find the ultimate soul-level that is free. It is not intellectually observing the self and seeing all its objects and k; peripheral signs, and identifying with a consciousness behind that. The process of the Way of the Heart is a process of observing the self totally in the context of every moment.
When the self is observed and understood as self-contraction, then the seif-contraction may be felt beyond. Instead of the avoidance of relationship, natural, native, inherent relatedness is realized. When you feel beyond the self-contraction into the simple condition of relatedness, the knot, the pain, of self-contraction is released. If you do not realize you are tightening your fist so hard that you feel pain, you will be motivated by that pain to take a variety of actions, but you will not successfully relieve yourself of the pain. Only when you realize that you are tightening your fist and causing yourself pain can you relax your hand. When you relax, allowing the hand to rest in its natural state, the pain is relieved. The process is basically as simple as that. The self-contraction must first be observed in its parts and then totally, as a summary observation, and then it must be felt beyond.
The second or mature phase of the listening and hearing process is the process of feeling beyond the self-contraction, of feeling the native state of unqualified relatedness. The body- mind is not wholly independent but is a totally dependent form, with infinite associations. By reaction, the self presumes itself to be independent or separate and struggles to realize self- sufficiency, non-dependency. In doing so it generates stress, the pain of its own individuation or separation.
The pain of the stressful "knot" is suffered, and the self becomes active in a variety of relationships and experiences in an attempt to relieve the stress. The self does not in that process, however, release the fault. It is looking to compensate for it, to console itself by associations, as if the solution were elsewhere, whereas, in fact, the problem is with the self itself, which must relinquish its activity of self-contraction. You cannot do this from a position outside the self, a peripheral position. You must release the knot from the position of the knot. You cannot merely sense a pain in your stomach, relate mentally to the knot and the general sense of yourself, and release the knot. You must stand in the very position in which the knot is being generated, before it is expressed as a knot in the solar plexus or any other place of disturbance in the body-mind. The ability to stand in the position in which the seif-contraction is generated is served in the initial phase of the listening process. Detailed self observation, to the point of fundamental insight, is the process whereby you come to stand in the position of the self-contraction, the original place where the pain that is motivating the search is generated.
Thereafter, every moment of self-enquiry, "Avoiding relationship?", addresses the present moment of existence, observes the pain, and understands the self-contraction. This understanding allows the simple gesture of release, allows you to stand prior to seif-contraction. When you stand in the position of the knot itself, the position of creating it, you can then feel beyond it and simply stand in the natural condition of relatedness. Thus, in any moment in which this simple feeling-realization is re-awakened whole-bodily, the knot of egoity is released, and you stand in the position of equanimity.
This realization, this original insight, is twofold. First the knot of the self is released, and you are established in prior equanimity. When you stand prior to self-contraction, the disposition of merely being, feeling toward, feeling through, and feeling beyond, is awakened. The free, feeling disposition of free energy and attention, the natural state of equanimity, is realized. The second aspect of the same realization is that you are restored to relatedness. In the context of the first three stages of life, then, this self-understanding restores you to the variety of relations that pertain to the grosser dimension of the body-mind. The process must proceed through the advancing stages of life, where this same self-observation, self- understanding, and self-enquiry awaken in relation to the limitations that belong to the subtler dimensions of the self-experience.
Thus, the process that leads through the stages begins with listening and hearing. You practice in the sphere of relations and experiences, and you realize fundamental equanimity and relatedness. You progressively observe, understand, and feel beyond the limitations of the stages of life. This process culminates in the sixth stage process or in the transition to the seventh stage of life in the event of transcendence of the feeling of relatedness itself. In that event, the process is made single.
In the earlier stages the process is associated with the feeling of relatedness and therefore with a variety of objects, according to the stage of life. Thus, the agent of the process leading to the seventh stage of life is the feeling of relatedness, which is a natural realization developed on the basis of listening and hearing. In the equanimity prior to self-contraction, the feeling of relatedness is wholly felt, wholly allowed, and in any moment in which the self-contraction intervenes, it is observed, understood, and felt beyond, or felt prior to. Instead of seif-contraction generating your experience, the feeling of relatedness, simple being, feeling toward, feeling through, and feeling beyond, is awakened in every moment of true self enquiry or True Prayer.
In the transition to the seventh stage of life, the feeling of relatedness itself is transcended. The inherent Condition, the Condition of conditions, Where you Stand, is Realized. Thereafter, even all apparent objects are Recognized as simply the Self, the same Condition that is Self-Radiant Consciousness. Consciousness Itself is the Feeling of Being, without center, without bounds, without limits. It is the Very Divine. Its own Radiance is the Substance of conditional appearances. It is the Substance of all objects. In the context of the seventh stage of life all objects are Recognized, and in Truth there are no objects. There is only Self-Radiant Being, the Divine Condition Itself. Although apparently there are also objects, there are no objects as they appear from the point of view of the ego. The difference is most profound, and, in fact, absolute.
HEART-MASTER DA: In our conversations I have referred to the advanced process in a variety of ways. For the most part, however, we have been talking about the initial process of listening, of self-observation. That process produces a variety of insights, and even positive changes in your lives, but it is not conclusive until it becomes summary insight, and then the process advances into its mature form.
The advanced form of listening and hearing is a quickening process, because it has such great arms. Self-understanding has become profound at that point. But the practice must go on to develop basic equanimity in the first three stages of life. Therefore, no one should make the transition to practicing stage two until he or she has fully entered the mature phase of the listening-hearing process and allowed it to develop basic equanimity in the first three stages, in addition to having met the other requirements of the transition.
Most of the members of this group are perhaps practicing at the 1.2 level, which is fine, but the 1.2 level is not the beginning of the mature phase of the listening process. It means that you have simply come to a point of sufficient self-observation, general insight into your character, that you represent sufficient balance and seriousness to justify your making use of the reflective capacity of others, just as you make use of the reflective capacity of the disciplines you practice. In practicing stage 1.2 there is an advanced development, but even that does not signify that you are ready to immediately make the transition to practicing stage 2. It would have to be seen whether that transition occurred soon.
Do any of you feel you are practicing in the mature phase of the listening-hearing process? (Pause.) I know many of you are not, by your own confession. Your questions and your descriptions of your experience at the present time indicate that even the process of self observation is not active in the deepest root of your personality. You are still dealing with rather peripheral matters-the dimensions of money, food, sex, and religious consolation.
You are dealing with peripheral emotions, rather than the fundamental feeling of the cramp of self-contraction, the mood of fear in its most fundamental form. You say you are afraid, that you can feel fear, or that you feel a variety of other reactive emotions, but you are not understanding them fully, nor have you come to a summary understanding of yourself altogether as simply self-contraction.
If you think it would be useful, we could perhaps indicate another stage of the listening process-cal: it the 1.3 discipline, if that would be a useful indicator relative to transitions. When people come to the point of summary insight, such that they are using self-enquiiy in the mature form I have described, then you could say they have made the transition to the 1.3
PRACTITIONER: You have spoken several times about the point in practice when the student sees the self-contraction in relationship to objects and others and understands his motivation by a fundamental stress. Does that mark the transition from 1.2 to 1.3, or would that transition occur prior to summary understanding?
HEART-MASTER DA: The transition to practicing stage 1.3 occurs when summary understanding is awakened.
PRACTITIONER: When the practice of seeing the self-contraction in relation to others is stable, would that be a sign of maturing in practicing stage 1.2?
HEART-MASTER DA: Even in practicing stage 1.1 there will be some maturing in that area. Practicing stage 1.2 simply marks the point at which you can make use of the reflective capacity of others-there is simply more stability. Practicing stage 1.1 is the beginning of the formal listening process, in which the individual knows it is useful to take on disciplines. Even students are pondering, you see, so they are involved in the first dimension of the practice. Practicing stages 1.1 and 1.2 continue the listening process. Insight gradually develops, at first relative to the more peripheral matters of the self-money, food, sex, and conventional religiosity. When the ability to make use of the reflective capacity of others is present, the transition to practicing stage 1.2 occurs, just as the transition to practicing stage 1.1 from the student stage occurs when the capacity to make use of disciplines awakens.
Thus, the earliest level of the listening process is the progressive development of the capacity to make use of self-reflecting disciplines. You begin with the Wisdom-Teaching as a student, you add disciplines at the 1.1 level, and you add the reflecting capacity of others at the 1.2 level. When the process becomes summary insight, and the practice of self-enquiry is transformed by that understanding, then the transition to practicing stage 1.3 is justified.
At practicing stage 1.3 the practice is quite different, because in a fundamental sense there is hearing. Of course, the listening process continues, and there is still much to observe, but the realization of hearing is already enforcing itself, manifesting itself in the form of self enquiry. Prior to that time, self-enquiry is simply another sounding board like the disciplines in general or the reflective capacity of others-another instrument you use to observe yourself. You enquire "Avoiding relationship?" and in some sense you do say "Yes", and you notice in what form you are avoiding relationship. That is how enquiry works in this earlier stage.
Once you make the transition to practicing stage 1.3, when you enquire "Avoiding relationship?" there is no "Yes" in response. You are already encountering or observing a form of self-contraction. You enquire of it. The insight is expressing itself, enforcing itself, and it is not answered. Rather, the enquiry is effectively feeling beyond self-contraction. Thus, the seif-contraction, instead of being suffered, is felt beyond, and the wholeness, the fullness, of the ego-transcending condition, the natural or native Condition, is realized. What is prior to the knot is experienced.
PRACTITIONER: In the course of practicing stage 1.3 the practice of enquiry would become constant.
HEART-MASTER DA: In the course of the 1,3 discipline, enquiry becomes not only profound and effective, but the random exercise of self-enquiry might become more frequent and also more potent. You would not make use of formal enquiry more than two or three times per day, but you might begin to spend more time in each sitting.
At practicing stage 1.3 the human personality in the context of the first three stages of life is transformed by effective enquiry, whereas prior to the 1.3 level, all the forms of practice are simply leading you to self-understanding. They are simply instruments for reflecting you to yourself. You develop a variety of insights that lead toward a culminating or summary insight that gives you the arms, or the instrument, of hearing, the capacity for self transcendence. That capacity, then, is the exercise at practicing stage 1.3, and it continues intensifying itself, showing a variety of signs of maturity in the context of the first three stages of life, until there is stability, or basic equanimity, in the body-mind and the heart-response is full.
At that point, the potential of the heart-practice is regenerated and the individual can make use of the Company of the Heart-Master as Heart-Master, can make use of Spirit- Baptism, can be converted Spiritually, entered into the Spiritual Process itself in the context of the advanced stages of life. Right relationship to the Teacher as True Heart-Master is within your capacity once there is that stability and that maturity.
It is important for you to understand that hearing awakens and develops in practicing stage one. This is one of the aspects of the practice, among many, that has been bypassed. Moments of insight have tended to be sufficient to suggest to you that you are prepared for the devotee stages. But hearing in the fullest sense was not awakened. Hearing-if we can call it hearing at all-developed only superficially in relation to peripheral levels of insight, but it did not develop in the fullest sense. Whatever you might have called hearing never became the basis for a continued process of maturing and transformation in the context of the first three stages of life preliminary to your making the transition to practicing stage two.
This must be understood, and I think adding the 1.3 designation is a useful way to make cultural sense out of it, because no one will make the transition to practicing stage two until the 1.3 discipline has fulfilled itself.
PRACTITIONER: Heart-Master Da, this discussion about the self-contraction reminded me of the section in The Dawn Horse Testament in which You mention the insight You had, while looking at Your hand, that it is the natural state of the hand to be open.
HEART-MASTER DA: That was a very important, simple, tacit insight. It did not occur in an extraordinary moment. I was not doing anything unusual. I was simply sitting in the room, perhaps in a chair, when I noticed my hand closed up in a fist at my side. I was not clenching it, it was just in a fist, and suddenly I understood something. The observation happened to coincide with the physical observation that the hand is not naturally turned in on itself. The hand is for relationships. The hand is to touch things. It is built to pick things up, to touch things, to move around. It has no function when it is closed, and yet it was tending to be closed.
This observation of my hand became a total observation of myself, of the body-mind.
All of it was showing the same picture to me, as something turned in on itself, even going inward for "Spiritual" reasons. This inward-turning gesture suddenly appeared to me to be false and not the Way at all.
The Way is not about turning inward toward some abstraction within. Turning in is another form of seeking, another form of the self-contraction. In its natural state, the body- mind is inherently related, not even necessarily doing something. When the hand is just open, it is not grasping anything, and when the whole body-mind is in that disposition, the motive to seek within is released. Likewise, the motive to seek without is released. In the simple, natural, native Condition self-understanding is complete.
The Condition of conditions is not strategically separating Itself from phenomena, nor is It merely identified with phenomena. The Condition of conditions is prior to phenomena. It is the Native State of Absolute Self-Radiant Freedom. This realization awakened in that moment in a flash, in that moment in a flash, in that observation of the hand. There were many such moments in my own case, but this was a very important one-not an intellectual experience, not a thought, but a tacit awareness, an awakening, also associated with this observation of the hand.
Throughout the years and, in fact, on the cover of The Knee of Listening, you have seen me making the gesture of the clenched fist and the open hand. I was not holding a microphone or pointing to myself with my thumb. In that moment I was making the gesture of the closed fist and the open hand, and I happened to be photographed at the moment of using my fist. I have always used this gesture, or these two mudras, as a sign, a Teaching Communication. The entire Wisdom-Teaching is summarized in this (clenching His fist) and this (opening His hand). This is an absolute mudra. Inside the book I am shown with the open hand. That was a Blessing moment. I do not Bless you with my fist raised! The raised fist is another gesture, a gesture of a fight, of beating the enemy. The open hand is the hand of Blessing and of Freedom and of Happiness. Therefore, I have used these gestures throughout the years as a way of communicating a metaphor or an understanding you could grasp just by observing the clenched fist and the open hand. The message communicates itself tacitly, you see. I have also used the concept of pinching oneself. These are a couple of the instruments I have used to communicate to you.
Thus, the transition to practicing stage 1.3 is the transition from the closed fist to the open hand, or the capacity to release the self-contraction, to stand prior to self-contraction in the condition of relatedness. This is the capacity that is awakened in the event of hearing.
PRACTITIONER: It seems to me that when this open-handed disposition takes place in 1.3 there would be a different kind of relationship to You, a recognition of You as Spiritual Master.
HEART-MASTER DA: However, you are not yet brought into my Company. The acknowledgment of the Teacher as Heart-Master depends on Spirit-Baptism, depends on coming into the Company of the Heart-Master Spiritually. The principle at practicing stage one is that the practitioner would not be brought into the physical Company of the Heart- Master, except perhaps on a rare occasion in a formal setting of consideration of the Wisdom-Teaching. You are prepared for acknowledgment of the Heart-Master when the full conversion to the Spiritual Process has occurred and you enter practicing stage two. You could say that the capacity to make that acknowledgment is beginning to awaken with the hearing event, but prior to practicing stage two you are still dealing with the conditions of the first three stages of life, not the Spiritual Process. The Spiritual Process, which directly deals with the conductivity of the Spirit-Force, begins at practicing stage two. Does that answer your question?
PRACTITIONER: What I wanted to ask You is whether the relationship to You as Teacher is affected by that change.
HEART-MASTER DA: You will have to see. It does not become a relationship to me as Spiritual Master, but the relationship could change, certainly. In the practitioner who has a Teacher, gratitude is an appropriate feeling, and honoring of the Teacher is appropriate. A variety of signs are indicated in such a relationship, but they are not the signs of the devotee. The signs of the devotee are specifically associated with the Spiritual Process, not merely with the relationship to the Teacher or Heart-Master, and the Spiritual Process does not begin until you move beyond the sphere of the first three stages of life. Therefore you must complete that transformation. You must do the sadhana in that context first. Whatever feelings arise relative to the Wisdom-Teaching and the Teacher in that time are simply to be observed, inspected, and understood. I would certainly expect gratitude and a more profound honoring of the Teacher once the Wisdom-Teaching has proven itself to that degree.
During practicing stage 1.3, just prior to moving on to practicing stage two, practitioners are invited to sacramental celebratory occasions in the community of devotees to observe the community in its action and form. They are not present as devotees, but they are invited to begin their association with the devotional community. They are invited not to the Guru Puja, but to occasions of chanting, or occasions of devotees talking about the devotional practice and the Spiritual Way. This will give 1.3 practitioners opportunities to respond to the devotional culture, to see if they are ready for that.
Any other questions about this?
PRACTITIONER: In this final stage of 1.3, will there also be occasions of Spirit-Baptism?
HEART-MASTER DA: Absolutely not. That has nothing to do with it.
The motive to God-Realization has awakened at practicing stage one, so it is appropriate for the practitioner at 1.3 to come into a celebratory setting, a setting that is natural for them to relate to. But it is not a Baptismal occasion in its intention, at any rate-although you may feel energies.
PRACTITIONER: What would be the exact sign of transition to practicing stage two?
HEART-MASTER DA:Simply this maturity in the listening-hearing process. Just that. The evidence is simply that you have finished the business of the first three stages of life. That is it. There naturally might be signs of the awakening of fourth stage responses, perhaps even some evidence of Spiritual awareness, but the fundamental evidence we are looking for is that the business of the first three stages of life is finished, that the motive to God-Realization is present, and there is a right relationship to the Teacher.
Then you are initiated and brought into the culture of the next stage. You take on a variety of new disciplines associated with practicing stage two. You are brought into the sphere of Spirit-Baptism. You are brought into the Company of the Heart-Master, and the process of Baptism, or Spiritual conversion, develops through the disciplines of that stage and in that context, not before. Is that clear?
PRACTITIONER: The practitioner in the 1.2 stage would be involved in a weekly group reality consideration, but in the 1.3 period it seems that that would change. Even though there would still be groups, would they follow' the same format?
HEART-MASTER DA: It would be a similar format. Most of the time you would meet with others of the same sex, and there might be some occasions in which people who are intimately related to one another gather in groups of men and women together. However, the content that would be brought up in those discussions would clearly be different if the maturity of practicing stage 1.3 had developed. The format would basically be the same-individuals would describe their practice, respond to one another, reflect themselves to one another if they like, and there would be individuals present whose obligation it is to guide everyone to the Wisdom-Teaching relative to everything that is brought up.
In practicing stage 1.3 the topics of money, food, sex, and conventional religiosity would be dealt with less. If one of these subjects comes up, it comes up. Fine. But fundamentally such individuals would be dealing not with these subjects but with the real process of self transcendence through enquiry and describing the evidence of that, the real effect of that, remarking about that in one another's case, perhaps not only reflecting critical observations to one another, but also acknowledging changes that are positive. Of course, positive changes could be acknowledged at practicing stage 1.2, but there tends to be a more critical dimension to 1.2, whereas at the 1.3 level, acknowledgment of real changes would be perhaps more frequent.
Criticism is also appropriate, however. There is still much to learn. You are still functioning in the context of the first three stages of life, so aspects of yourself may have to be brought to your attention. You may be capable of dealing with it, but it may be useful to bring something to your attention sometimes.
Nevertheless, a real and mature responsibility should be evident in individuals involved in practicing stage 1.3, and that maturity should characterize practitioners not only at the advanced 1.3 level but at all the stages beyond. In devotees there should be no wrangling and disturbance, no male games or female games. All of that must be handled before the transition to practicing stage two, and in some basic sense even before the transition to practicing stage 1.3.
Even so, at the 1.3 level you are still dealing with the first three stages of life, so that kind of content is there to be discussed.
PRACTITIONER: So the transition from 1.2 to 1.3 occurs when the fundamental insight has taken place. Then it is allowed to express itself through the rest of the life functions and in the community.
HEART-MASTER DA: Yes.
PRACTITIONER: In my own case there was a very intense moment in which I felt confronted with all the activities in myself, including turning away. In that simple moment, there was no way to turn, and I felt free. But I also noticed that that moment did not go on to become fully expressed in my daily life.
HEART-MASTER DA: It was not summary understanding, but it was an incident that is significant perhaps, and that shows a progression in which the listening process is becoming more focused, more basic, has more to do with the root of egoity.
PRACTITIONER: That incident was not self-generated, which is one of the reasons it didn't continue-I was not up to continuing, and so I could not practice to the degree that the understanding would become permanent.
HEART-MASTER DA: This point must constantly be brought to people in the listening stage. You must realize the capacity to self-generate the practice, self-generate the discipline, self- generate the seriousness necessary for the process to be effective. If you do not realize that capacity, if you do not bring that instrument, it makes no difference how much Wisdom- Teaching there is, how much help others can bring, or how great your Teacher is. None of those things make any fundamental difference if you do not bring the self-generating disposition. If that capacity is not present, no change will take place, because you do not redly want change. You may be looking for consolation, looking for something to happen to you, but that is irresponsible, not a sign of someone truly prepared for the practice, not even a sign of someone really prepared for practicing stage 1.1. There must be a basic seriousness and the capacity to self-generate the discipline as the qualification for taking on practicing stage 1.1. We look for that kind of seriousness in a student. And students should not make the transition to practicing stage 1.1 until that seriousness is there.
Any other questions about this process of listening and hearing and enquiry?
PRACTITIONER: You have talked about how the death of the ego, which occurred for You in the seminary event, is indicative of practicing stage six.
HEART-MASTER DA: In my own case the seminary event can be said to be an expression or a realization of Jnana Samadhi, but it was not the end of the process. It was something like you all having a Spiritual experience at practicing stage one. The experience may be true enough, but the process has not advanced sufficiently for the experience to be conclusive. Therefore, it is just an experience, a sign of the deepening of the process, but it is not a representation of your actual level of practice and responsibility. Thus, in my own case, even after the seminary event, a wide variety of fifth stage phenomena developed. The true sixth stage process occurred later.
The seminary event was another event like the observation of my hand. Even from the beginning of my life there were many profound and summary experiences. But the Spiritual Process itself necessarily develops by stages of increasing responsibility. Thus, even though those summary events occurred and a fundamental awakening was a constant throughout my life, the process developed in its natural form by stages.
This does not mean that you must necessarily have the same kinds of experience or that you must go through all the levels of the experiential process that I did. I have certainly addressed this thoroughly enough by now. It is possible to make the transition to practicing stage six at maturity in practicing stage three. Perhaps this transition will not be common, but it is certainly a possibility in principle. Others could make the transition at any time within practicing stage four. Certainly at maturity in practicing stage four there may be sufficient evidence for the transition to practicing stage six. Some may enter into practicing stage five but move on to practicing stage six prior to the awakening of Conditional Nirvikalpa Samadhi, even prior to the most profound forms of Savikalpa Samadhi, perhaps. Some might pass through all the basic dimensions of the Spiritual Process. It remains to be seen.
If you are founded in the listening and hearing process, this listening and hearing then becomes an instrument with which to cut through all the stages, because they are all stages of limitation. In principle, if the basis of practice is profound, early transitions are possible, and even likely. In fact, they become likely only because you found the Way on hearing.
Otherwise, early transitions are not really possible, certainly not likely, because you will tend to identify with the limits of each stage of life, just as you do now in the context of the first three stages of life. When would you ever make the transition to the seventh stage of life? When would you even make the transition from the fourth to the fifth stage or the fifth to the sixth stage? It is not likely that it would occur in one lifetime. But if you establish the Way in hearing, then the specific content of any stage of life, even the first three stages of life, is not a limit to be identified with. Rather it is there to be understood and transcended, and the instrument of that transcendence is true hearing.
PRACTITIONER: I know that based on desire rather than hearing, life is just a labyrinth. Every turn you make, you go in the wrong direction.
HEART-MASTER DA: That is why the Hindus call it maya, meaning that it is a vast, unfathomable illusion. It has no end place. If you view the so-called physical universe from the point of view of contemporary physics how can you make sense out of it? How can you make sense out of space-time or the fact that space itself is curved and all time is simultaneous? How can you make any sense out of it? In older models of the universe you could imagine going up as high as you could and getting to the heavens, or going straight out and getting to the end of the universe. In these models you come up against a wall or you walk through a door to heaven, but in an infinite space that is also finite and curved and incomprehensible even from the point of view of modern physics, what else could you call it but an illusion, or maya, or a labyrinth, as you say? It has infinite numbers of doorways and switches about. It goes around and comes around. You wind up in the same place all the time. You wind up getting somewhere else only in the short term. Only walking from here to that door does it seem like everything is on one plane and you can go out toward another place. But if you view space-time in its totality, you wind up coming back to this chair or to the place where you are sitting now. The further you go away from here, the closer you will get to where you are right now, both in terms of time and space. You could cover all time and all space before you got back to this place, but you would never have come to an end of anything. You would have experienced a lot, but would you have realized anything?
Look at the spectrum of an ordinary human lifetime. You experience a great many things, but what have you realized? In your moments in the past you wanted to experience this and that, you wanted to enjoy yourself a certain way, and so you did. Now here you are today. What difference did it make that you enjoyed yourself the way you did ten years ago?
Those enjoyments do not exist now. You have accumulated nothing. You had an experience then and you are having an experience now.
What is the realization, anyway? Experience is a labyrinth, a fluid, a plastic. It is nonsense. You are exhausting yourself as if you were pursuing an end, and there is no end. There is no ultimate purpose. There is no ultimate doorway. The Truth is right Where you Stand. The Truth is Realized by understanding yourself. That which is the Divine is right now! Right Where you Stand, prior to time and space and yet not divorced from it. Enlightened Realization ultimately "Outshines" conditional existence, but It does not separate from it. The Divine Domain is not elsewhere. It is the inherent Radiance of Being Itself, so bright that this dark clay of the conditional universe is not seeable in the Brightness, is effectively non-existent, but it is not excluded.
Maya is not to be comprehended. It cannot be. Conditional existence is not to be comprehended. It cannot be. It is to be transcended and it must be. There is no Happiness otherwise. Happiness is in transcendence, not in mere experience in any world or in any time or in any stage of life. This is Wisdom and, therefore, it is for you to discover, not something for you to believe. You must find yourself out, where you are now, in the context of the experiences to which you are bound now. When you do, you will move on to other dimensions of experiencing, and you must likewise understand yourself in those contexts.
The maya of the stages of life is not comprehensible, but it can and must be transcended. Even so, it is transcended in your own disposition. It is transcended Where you Stand, not in any of the efforts you may make in relation to the varieties of objects and in the context of any of the stages of life. Again, this is Wisdom and therefore you must realize it. It cannot merely be believed. It is not a philosophical proposition. It is an expression of Wisdom, an ecstatic expression. I am communicating this to you. This is my Realization. You must practice the Way and Realize this Wisdom or it is nothing more than my Confession. What do you confess? Your confession presently is the limit you have to deal with. My Confession can inspire you, it can serve you perhaps, by intensifying your seriousness, regenerating your heart motive, but you must live by that seriousness and Realize the Wisdom of it.
PRACTITIONER: I feel both excited and sobered to begin the process. The consideration we have had over these weeks has made me feel how many times, because of a moment of freedom I felt, I thought that I was someplace else in the practice, and it feels good and real to be where I am, dealing with what is being revealed in me. That process has come alive before, but I have always cut it short because of my hopefulness and wanting the ordeal to be over quickly. I opted out of the place where the real growth is occurring to be someplace else.
HEART-MASTER DA; When you say you want the ordeal to be over, what are you really saying? You want to be in a position of irresponsibility where happiness is happening. The ordeal never comes to an end. There is no such thing. This is my Confession to you. There is no end to the ordeal. Responsibility is the process. Enlightenment is perfect responsibility, and there is no end to that requirement You are not relieved of it in the transition to the seventh stage of life. That responsibility is magnified to the point of absoluteness. It is only from the position Where you Stand that the Realization that is above all is manifested. It never happens to you. It must be regenerated Where you Stand. It does not exist in the context of beings and others and universal processes. Those things are just what they are, and they are not, in and of themselves, Enlightening. They are limits. Therefore, there is no point in hoping for the process to come to an end. It does not come to an end and never will. Of course, you can cop out and become hopeful, look for consolation, but you will observe that seeking fails. It is fruitless.
PRACTITIONER: I feel like that has happened over these years, and I feel committed to staying with it at this time.
HEART-MASTER DA; Ultimately it is not even a commitment. You have no choice. It cannot be done otherwise. When you realize the futility of your seeking, then what else is there to do?
You cannot seek, because it is fruitless. You develop a commitment to standing in place and doing the "real thing" and, yes, it is a commitment, but really it is a matter of coming to a point at which you have no option.
Therefore, you must exhaust your options with real self-knowledge. That is a first step. In other words, you must retrieve your energy and attention from seeking and come to the point of being able to observe yourself, the seeker, and the mechanism of the search. Understand it and transcend it. Become responsible for it. In that case, responsibility is the foundation of the Way and the foundation of existence, and that never comes to an end even in the seventh stage Awakening. It is simply Perfected.