The Art of Spiritual Life - a talk by Da Free John - August 13, 1983

Crazy Wisdom Magazine - January 1984, Vol 3, No. 1


The Beginning of the talk:

MASTER DA: People look for uncommon phenomenal signs because they are full of doubt and un-Happiness. Such experiences suggest to them that there is a reason to feel good perhaps, but they are not profoundly transformed by witnessing such signs. In fact, having witnessed them, they begin to think of all the explanations that reduce these experiences to nothing.

Because of the use and misuse of such phenomena, another kind of tradition has arisen, in which it is not considered all right for these signs to appear, in which it is not all right to delight in them when they appear. And that is equally false. Uncommon phenomenal signs inevitably appear when the Spirit-Force is allowed to be active via the devotee's submission. These signs are also inevitable in the case of an Adept. The taboos against their appearing and the taboos against enjoying them, as well as the lust for them on the part of people who are not converted no matter what they see, are equally inevitable in the egoic world.


The remainder of the talk is copyrighted and Beezone is unable to reprint it in its entirety. What follows are central points in the talk along with a paragraph or two from the talk itself.


 Main Points - Highlights

1. Uncommon signs and experiences do occur, which gives hope or temporary solutions.

2. But these occur in a culture in which such (spiritual) experiences are taboo.

3. Or there is a lust for them, sought through drugs, yoga, prayer, fasting, kundalini etc.

4. When people who are not converted no matter what uncommon signs appear, they are inevitable deluded.

5. People always look for uncommon phenomenal signs.

6. This is because they are always full of doubt and un-Happiness.

7. Experiences suggest a relief from un-Happiness.

8. But witnessing the experiences of their own and others they begin to think of all the explanations that reduce these experiences to nothing.

9. There are genuine spiritual experiences, but they are not the point.

10. The art of spiritual life is granting attention, and following it with total submission, to Spiritual Reality.

11. But, instead of following attention with submission, people tend to get locked or bound to problematic states of mind and body.

12. The art of spiritual life (once you've HEARD and SEEN) is the ability to "re-devote" (FREE ATTENTION) to the Living Spiritual Reality.

13. You must be able to OBSERVE how attention is functioning.


Attention is moving toward forms and conditions, and because the individual is tending to be in the self-contracted state, attention is moving toward forms of contraction. These forms of contraction are all the things that bother you. The ego is bothered, contraction is a bother, and attention is tending to move toward the weakest point, the bother, the difficulty in the moment. However, there is usually nothing in the environment or as immediate as a physical pain to be bothered about.

The mind produces problematic conceptions. Attention is always getting locked into these problem states, and thus you are experiencing contraction, a problem, a limit. You do not experience the Spiritual Reality, you are not whole, in fact you are not even aware of the Spiritual Reality.

Thus, the art of spiritual life is to notice this mechanical, contracted state and be wholly reoriented to the Spiritual Reality through Remembrance. In other words, in the midst of a mechanical state that is tending to take on this contracted form, you must be able to merely notice it, and rather than working to untie the knot, be reoriented through devotion, as well as by being artfully responsible for the mechanics of your activity.


14. Attention (in the gross and subtle dimensions) is always moving towards forms of contraction (objects, experiences).

15. Ego is disturbed and is tending to move toward the weakest point of difficulty.

16. Pain, physical and emotional, are the most common points of difficulty.

17. The mind produces problems and gets locked into problematic states, limits.

18. You are not aware of Spiritual Reality.

19. The art of spiritual life is to notice the mechanical (unconscious) contracted states and be capable of "reorienting" through Remembrance and responsibility.

20. You must be able to observe whatever arises as a problematic (or apparently unproblematic) form and be submitted and responsible - at the same time.


Last night I was talking about the mind, how the mind itself is contraction. Unless the mind is informed in the moment by spiritual consideration, it is a form of contraction and attention is locked into that contraction. People are constantly engaged in thinking, thinking. Thinking is really a conversation you are having with yourself. Speech is the same thing engaged with others. That process is a meditation on contraction. The mind, is a problem, it takes the form of a problem. You hope that thinking will produce release from this contraction, this problem. You are trying to get free of a knot, an oppressive sense of existence. You are trying to think your way out of it, trying to solve a problem, get an answer. And, of course, occasionally the mind does let loose with some relieving concept or other, but it always returns to these contracted states, because the mind is about this self-perpetuating disease. This disease is as much a lock on attention as a cramp in the body. If you have pain in the body, attention dwells on it very directly, or at least subliminally. Thinking is pain of this kind. It is a compression of the Living Conscious Force, a suppression of it, a knot in it, a contraction of its field. Therefore this perpetual thinking is pain.


21. The mind and attention are forms of (one) contraction.

22. Unless the mind is "informed by spiritual consideration" it is locked in its own mechanics.

23. Thinking is a conversation with yourself.

24. Speech is thinking engaged with others.

25. Thinking is about looking for solutions, inventions, and trying to solve problems.

26. Thinking is about trying to free yourself of this "knot", an oppressive sense of existence.

27. The mind is a question trying to find an answer.

28. The mind is a self-perpetuating dis-ease.

29. This "knot" of mind and attention is simultaneously in the body.

30. This knot is a compression of the Living Conscious Force, a suppression, a contraction of its field.

31. Perpetual thinking is pain.

32. Instead of trying to "think" your way out of this chronic pattern of mind you should understand yourself, see what you're up to.

33. You should divert and submit your attention to the Living Reality.

34. The art of spiritual life is the ability to relocate attention.

35. The is a directed way of practicing.

36. The common method of practicing is based on the contraction itself, trying to relieve or direct attention itself, not submission of attention.


I was considering this cramp in the solar plexus with you the other evening. We were having a conversation about the yoga of the frontal line. Perhaps the most common experience people have of contraction in this frontal line is a cramp over the solar plexus, the "knot in the stomach" that people refer to. If you become aware that you are suffering this knot and this anxiety over the solar plexus, your first resort, by tendency at any rate, will be to try to relax it. You will take deep breaths and so forth. That may work if the contraction is rather superficial and your attention is relatively free, but you may also discover that you cannot do it, that you cannot relax it. In that case, you will begin to think some more and work on your trouble, whereas the most direct way of dealing with it is to divert attention from this knot, rather than keep attention in the knot and try to undo it. I suggest to you, as a practical matter, that instead of keeping your attention in this knot over the solar plexus and trying to relax it you should simply remember that attention goes wherever the knot is. Attention gravitates toward the contracted states and becomes fretful, suffers the pain of these contractions, gets stuck in these contractions and then tries to work its way out of them, you see.


37. The knot of the solar plexus is a primary knot and people try to relax it by taking deep breaths and so forth.

38. This may temporarily work if the cramp is superficial.

39. But you will discover you cannot relax it.

40. This leads to more trouble, maybe panic.

41. Adi Da suggests, as a practical matter, you should remember that attention goes wherever the knot is.

42. Attention gravitates toward contracted states and objects.

43. This then creates an effort to escape, or a strategy to work itself out.

44. The knot is a reversal of the Current and it prevents the Current from going to its lower terminal.

45. One way of relieving this contraction (in addition to your basic resort of devotional practice) is to place your attention LOWER DOWN in the body, below the point where you feel the cramp.

46. If you place your attention above or at the cramp, the revulsion will continue.

47. There is natural pleasure in the body in the lower regions where the Current "leaks" through.

48. If you place your attention below the cramp you will enjoy the capacity to submit to the total bodymind in its Fullness.

49. This is conductivity.

50. Do not fasten attention to some "point" or locus (object).

51. With this form of conductivity and devotion, the practice becomes fruitful.

52. This same wisdom applies to thinking and talking - where the "knot" is in the head.

53. Submit attention to the Living Reality, the Living Current.

54. In this manner any thinking will be informed with a spiritual communication.

55. Thinking has a practical and abstract value but must be informed by the Living Current.

56. Thinking coming out of the knots is problematic and has to do with the search.


This is why I suggest that the first thing you do when you get up in the morning is go to the meditation place. When you do that, you enter into the sphere of activities in the natural state, spiritually awakened, whole, balanced. Your activity or expression is transformed by that disposition. Of course, you must maintain that disposition through the practical exercise of the Way throughout the day, even turning aside to sit at some other point during the day, and certainly in the evening again. In this manner you develop the capacity for abiding in this full, natural state, spiritually awake at all times, under all conditions. When this realization, which is the essence of real meditation, becomes full, uncaused, and natural or inherent, then meditation has served its purpose.


57. The first thing you should do when you get up in the morning is meditate.

58. From your meditation, you will be "informed".

59. From this "orientation" you can go about your day spiritually awake, under ALL conditions.

60. Most thinking is problem-based and trying to solve problems and make the situation better.

61. Thinking is contraction.

62. Thinking cannot make you happy.

63. You are always obliged to participate in Reality and to surrender and be Happy.

65. Reality is always ALREADY the case. The body-mind arises in Reality.

66. Self-contraction makes you discontinuous with Reality - in the full sense.

67. Instead of the effort of thinking, surrender based on hearing and seeing

68. Submit and participate in Reality.

69. Submit - intellectually, emotionally, and physically.

70. Submit through FEELING, tacitly.

71. Do not stand back from life, participate.

72. You are not participating in life, you are reservedly armoring and defending yourself.

73. Bring yourself to my Argument so it generates self-observation.

74. You are un-Happy and it is you that is causing that.


True knowledge is not what you get as a result of your contracted mental wanderings, it is what you realize when you are, not thus contracted, What is directly obvious when you are in this continuous state, this participatory state, this true knowledge, and that is precisely what is unknown in the contracted state. Therefore, only what is known in the uncontracted state, and only the uncontracted state continuous with that, is Happiness. Nothing else is Happiness. To realize this is Wisdom, is hearing., And to be thus submitted and to Realize what there is to be Realized in submission, what simply Is, is seeing. To do all of this, moment to moment, is practicing.


75. True knowledge comes when there is NO contraction.

76. When you are in a free and participatory state, uncontracted.

77. To realize this Wisdom is hearing.

78. This is a moment to moment practice.

79. Primarily, practice is feeling submission to whatever is already the case in this moment.

80. Period!

81. This feeling submission carries the body, attention, (and therefore the mind) along with it.

82. In that condition you become aware of the Spiritual Reality.

83. In this submission there is a good deal to observe about yourself.

84. That process is purifying.

85. That submission is self-observation and self-observation is the capacity to be feelingly submitted without self-contraction in every moment.

86. In every moment, intuit the Condition in which you exist and thus conduct the inherent Radiance of the Living Reality.

87. It is simple to discuss this matter, but discussing and Realizing are very different.

88. The ego will always try and take the teaching and make it into a technique.

89. The technique will be a system of seemingly rational, devotional, insightful practices.

90. You must develop the capacity to practice based on hearing and seeing.

91. We are born to Realize the Living Reality, this is the basic Principle of our birth, to realize that Reality.

92. The Demonstration of the Spiritual Condition is beyond Enlightenment, and this is what I teach.




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  Adi Da, Ramana Maharshi, Nityananda, Shridi Sai Baba, Upasani Baba,  Seshadri Swamigal , Meher Baba, Sivananda, Ramsuratkumar
"The perfect among the sages is identical with Me. There is absolutely no difference between us"
Tripura Rahasya, Chap XX, 128-133





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