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The Religious Ambivalence of the West

November 3, 1977


 

When the disciple approached a traditional Spiritual Master in the East, he or she was not trying to find out how to live better he or she was looking for liberation from the world. But the people who went to Jesus or Mohammed or Moses did not ask how to be liberated from the world. . . . They wanted to know what they should be doing . . . to enjoy a future that would be Blessed by God. That was their question. In the Orient, on the other hand, they did not ask that question. If they went looking for a Master, they wanted to know how the hell they could get out of here and bring an end to all this torment!

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

 


dutch version


Avatar Adi Da Samraj
ADI DA SAMRAJ:
There is something very negative implicit in the religious consciousness of Western people. If you are a Westerner, "Is there a God?" seems to be the question you should be asking in order to become religious. But it is a completely absurd question. It has nothing whatever to do with Spiritual life. This question has to do with human beings, not with God. The question "Is there a God?" reflects a state in human beings for which they must become responsible. It is not itself a question that must be answered.

The religious consciousness of Western people is ambivalent. On the one hand, Westerners are very worldly and strong when religion permits worldliness, and, on the other hand, they are phasing, weak, and always threatened at the level of subjective, or psychic, responsibility.

The Western consciousness is always trying to make positive whatever is overwhelmingly negative. The negative thing is what is powerful. People in the West are always trying to overcome negativity with positive feeling, with beliefs, with effort, with answers, with knowledge. The negative pattern, or what is known as "karma", is actually creating their lives. Thus, Westerners remain characteristically weak, obsessed with an uninspected negative force that is always influencing their behavior and their thinking. They are always trying to surmount such negativity either through self-effort or through association with the Edible Deity the external Savior or God whose power they can consume irresponsibly. Therefore, faith and belief are reduced by Westerners to ways of overcoming negativity.

In the Western religious doctrines (and the Middle Eastern teachings that gave rise to them) the negative force that tends to overwhelm the individual beneath the superficial mind is interpreted as sin, a disposition to be overcome by association with something greater than oneself the Edible Deity, the Savior, the true God, the true religion, the true belief. Presuming a negative position, the Westerner orients himself or herself toward something positive and is saved by it. But such a person is still always sinful, always tending to fall back on sin.

The fundamental tenet of the Middle Eastern religions Jewish or Christian or Islamic is that this world and everything in it, including humanity, is the creation of God, and human beings are also the highest creation of God, reflecting the Deity although not in any sense equal to the Deity. To this point of view, therefore, the negative view of this life and the world is itself a form of sin. It is a sin to believe that this world is not godly, or that the Divine is not the ultimate destiny of the world, or that the world is not controlled by the Divine. Thus, the presumption of the West is that if the world is under the control of the Divine, its destiny is altogether positive, whatever its present condition may be, and to view the world negatively is itself sinful.

The classically Oriental point of view does not adhere to the principle that the world is the creation of God and that God is therefore its destiny. The principle that is appealed to in the East transcends phenomena, even excludes phenomena and precedes them altogether. The Oriental mind is critical of the world itself, not just of things in the world. The Eastern mind views the world not as the creation of God but as an illusion. Thus, to view this world positively in itself necessary, in itself the point of existence rather than to transcend the world is to be swept up in an illusion, a false point of view. It is sin, from the Oriental point of view.

The natural disposition in the West is toward the world itself. It is to move into the world with a positive moral character, struggling against sin, the negative power. The natural disposition in the Orient is toward transcendence of this world.

From the Western religious point of view, one's association with the Edible Deity, the Savior, is what gives one strength. The Savior gives the Spirit. Through the magic of one's association with this Savior, one acquires the Spiritual force to overcome, moment to moment, one's own sinfulness and negativity so that one can participate in this great plan of creation. The Oriental point of view has nothing whatever to do with such an idea (although clearly Western and Middle Eastern ideas have filtered into Oriental culture so that the later, more modern cultures and traditions of the Orient tend to varying degrees to reflect the Western point of view).

When the disciple approached a traditional Spiritual Master in the East, he or she was not trying to find out how to live better he or she was looking for liberation from the world. But the people who went to Jesus or Mohammed or Moses did not ask how to be liberated from the world. That was not their question. They wanted to be certain that there is God and that the one they were talking to was a true Messenger of God. And then they wanted to know what they should be doing to enjoy the Blessings of God, to be in right relationship to God in this world and to enjoy a future that would be Blessed by God. That was their question. In the Orient, on the other hand, they did not ask that question. If they went looking for a Master, they wanted to know how the hell they could get out of here and bring an end to all this torment!

For example, Gautama (known as the Buddha) grew up as a prince in India, with all the benefits of royal seclusion, the most opulent level of life possible in his time. When he was a relatively young man, he was taken on a trip through the streets where he saw the daily life of ordinary people, who were sick and aging and suffering in all the ordinary, social, mortal ways. He did not see them as sinners who were suffering their turning away from God and who needed to be more positively associated with God in order to do better and feel better. He did not see them as the creations of the Deity, as his brothers and sisters under the One Divine. No he was completely astonished by what he saw, and he was, to his very depths, convinced that this is not a place in which to continue, that what life is about is not surviving and improving your circumstances and acquiring a positive moral character under God, or even a life of worldly success under God. He was convinced that that is not the business of life. The business of life, as Gautama realized it, is to find a way, through meditation, through understanding, through purification, and through release of desires, to escape completely from this condition of existence.

That disposition represented by Gautama, among others, that search for liberation, characterizes the classic traditions almost everywhere in the Orient. It is for the purpose of liberation that a person in the East seeks a Teacher or becomes interested in a Spiritual Teaching. Spiritual Teachings in the Orient are, in general, associated with one or another ascetic disposition, the inversion of attention, the transcendence of this world. Inversion and transcendence are the fundamental principles in the East, just as in Western religion the fundamental principle is that this world is to be interpreted positively as the creation of God, and therefore the problem of existence is a moral one.

Western religion comes out of the Middle East, which is the dividing line between the Western, or right-sided, approach to life and the Eastern, or left-sided, approach to life. Although the West has inherited Middle Eastern religion, basically the path of the right side of the body is not about religion at all. Western development is about life in the world, where the conditions of born existence are essentially regarded to be just what they seem to be the conditions of born existence. Born existence is the game wherein you are to survive and struggle, which you must take into account and which your philosophy must reflect. The Middle East still has a religious or Spiritual aura of a kind, but its principles, once they developed as Western history, as the right-sided history of humanity, have not appeared in the form of religion. They have appeared in the form of this modern, technological, scientific society, which is essentially a-religious, not religious, a-Spiritual, most often anti-religious and anti-Spiritual. Thus, Western culture is basically oriented to manifested conditions and functions themselves.

Westerners constantly confront the negative force of their own self-presumptions while trying to live a merely human, social, mortal life, advancing, succeeding, and surviving. Middle Eastern religion has provided psychological support for the right-sided man or woman of the West. But, over time, the more involved Westerners have become in the functions of manifested existence, in surviving and dealing with the material universe, and the more sophisticated human beings have become in their knowing, the less they have been able to justify the naive presumptions upon which this Western, or Middle Eastern, religion depends.

Thus, more and more, Westerners are being left with only sin. They do not even know what to call it anymore. They call it "sin" only if they see a God over against it. Basically they are left with an obsessed, negative, mortal life.

Having developed to this point, then, Westerners seeking after Truth are turning to the opposite side. They are hoping to be consoled by becoming Oriental, or left-sided. But once you have gone to the right, you can never go to the left and exclude the right side of the body again. Thus, in this gesture toward the left side of the body there is the possibility for awareness as the whole body.

The Orient, on the other hand, which has been trying to transcend the gross conditions of worldly existence for centuries, has a very strong and sophisticated religious and Spiritual tradition. But it also has had among the most dreadfully mortal social and human conditions on Earth. Thus, people in the East today are reaching toward the West, toward the right side, to find technological, scientific, social, and cultural advantages with which to carry on their essentially negative philosophical point of view. But once you have gone so far to the left, you can never go all the way to the right and exclude the left side of the body again, because you have already adapted to it. Thus, the East in its association with the West also has the possibility of becoming sensitive to the necessary, or whole body, point of view.

What one sees in the world today are essentially the artifacts of the two sides in their independence, in their clashes with one another, in their distinctions. People today naively try to become associated with the ancient, classic systems of religion, Spirituality, and philosophy, but they do not have the perspective for examining what these concepts are all about, what their own motives are all about, what the traditional belief-systems and Yogas are really all about. People today generally no longer represent the archetypal psychological dispositions that are at the root of all of the great enterprises, East and West. And unless those archetypal psychological suppositions, presumptions, and dispositions are actually true of you, you cannot fulfill them. Therefore, if you are truly moved to true Spiritual life, you have no choice but to inspect completely your own condition of existence.

You must begin to understand what the true religious life or the true Spiritual life is really all about. You must be able to understand all your casually generated motivations that reflect old, conventional concepts, persuasions, and philosophies. You, as Westerners, may have casually inherited your Judeo-Christian mind without ever having been a very profound student of it. It just filtered in, through a little bit of churchgoing, a little bit of parental and social influence. But if you would practice true religion or Spirituality, you must become responsible for the religious conventions you represent, through a very sophisticated investigation of Judeo-Christian thought and concepts, however casual your inheritance.

The Way of Adidam is the influence by which interested individuals, regardless of their disposition toward West or East, right or left, can make the necessary inspection of the totality of human existence. The essence of My Wisdom-Teaching is that the Divine is the present Condition of existence, not in any sense the goal of existence that can be approached through efforts toward transcendence. Nor is the Divine in Which you Inhere to be viewed simply as the Creator of this world, implying, therefore, a necessarily positive view toward the world and the functions of existence themselves. My Wisdom-Teaching is about present, "radical", and continuous God-Communion, or Communion with Me as the Very Condition and Truth of existence.

The Divine is the Truth of existence, not the Creator of the world. The Divine is the Condition of all conditions, not just a great condition that creates all lesser conditions. And Divine Communion is not a matter of moving into a condition other than the present conditions, in order to escape them by exclusion through the inversion of attention.

Once you become truly sympathetic with My Wisdom-Teaching, practice of the Way of Adidam becomes an essential responsibility, simple in principle. When you enjoy Divine Communion with Me as your True Heart-Master and as the Source and Proof of My Wisdom-Teaching, although the subjective artifacts of your past and your old disposition may appear, you have a sense of humor relative to them. Then not every day is a crisis. Subjective feelings come and go, and external circumstances may tend to bother you somewhat, but there is no great moment. Literally nothing is threatened, once you are living in this Communion with Me. Existence then becomes the creative process wherein you are living responsibly, purifying, changing, making things sacred, living the sacrifice that is real life. Then existence is not problematic. It is creative. It is a process of the confrontation of conditions, but it is humorous. Nothing ultimate is at stake. It is just the game of the universe.

And there is nowhere to look for God. What is God is completely Obvious under these conditions, even totally within the limits of your present perception. It is a not a matter of some other vision, some other experience, some inwardness. It is a matter of understanding, of being awakened from the sleep, the bondage, the problem, the dilemma by which you apprehend your present condition. In any moment of this understanding, you are awakened beyond the self-contraction without all the concepts and contractions of energy and feeling.

Therefore, hear My Argument, or understand the self-contraction most fundamentally, and see Me, or be converted at heart, in this Communion with Me. Then your action is transformed. It fulfills the Law. It is a form of sacrifice, of love.

Be love and perform the actions of love until the universe disappears. And be willing to let it disappear. Be Happy in any moment for it to disappear. When you are My devotee, whatever satisfactions there are in the functional display in this moment cannot in any sense compare to the ecstasy of Divine Communion with Me. Nevertheless, do not be strategically turned away from those satisfactions in the doubting that possesses the ego. Live as love in the form of all your relations. Living as love in love with Me, you are not holding on to your relations any longer. You are just participating in them fully, openly, freely, Happily. You are not rejecting them, but neither are you clinging to them madly, out of fear. You are completely Happy to surrender beyond all limits.

The way to give up everything is not the strategic renunciation of the traditional ascetic, or turning in and up, but love without qualification. Then everything falls away. Everything becomes God. Everything becomes enjoyable and not binding. When you can be released as love completely and can transcend the body-mind-self completely, then everything dissolves.

But you are afraid to dissolve. You think that you must be in a position somehow, observing something, holding on to something, being held by something, whether in this gross form or in some subtle configuration. You are afraid to feel so profoundly, to utterly release your separate self-consciousness, because that means you will lose your point in space. You are going to lose your life that is exactly true. Thus, only when the Divine Love-Bliss, Happiness Itself, becomes Obvious to you will that dissolution be permitted to become Perfect because it does involve the dissolution of everything, the dissolution of body, all energy, all forms, all worlds, all that is mind, all concepts. It does involve that literally. That is exactly what you are afraid will happen! That is what you call "death" and what you try to prevent. And that is exactly what does happen in this Communion with Me. Everything is given up, everything is dissolved in the Formless Divine.

This dissolution must become your pleasure. Then this world becomes humorous and livable. Then you can make something sacred out of it, without holding on to it. This world will pass away. Everything passes away. Everything is changing here. Everything is action. Everything you hold on to changes, because it is itself change. Therefore, holding on to a position obviously is not Truth. The surrender of all positions is what is true. Ultimately that surrender becomes your position moment to moment, and not just in intense moments of formal meditation, when you have temporarily relaxed from the games of life. Ultimately, there is no limitation under any conditions. Even while active and appearing in the ordinary way, you are complete Zero, without a center, without any shapes whatsoever.

To the ordinary person that does not sound like Happiness-it sounds like some sort of craziness, some sort of tremendous, terrifying state, as Arjuna experienced in the Bhagavad Gita when he saw Krishna in his thousand-armed form. That is what that vision is all about losing all ability to comprehend yourself in time and space. It is not just seeing somebody with a thousand arms. Actually, such a vision would be marvelous and interesting. But to Commune with Something with endless dimensions, to fall into that Infinite Condition yourself, is terrifying. When Arjuna was drifting into that open-ended Divine Condition, he shouted and screamed and told Krishna to please show him his two-armed, objective form, which was good enough! [Laughter.]

But My Confession to you is that this Infinite Existence is ultimate Love-Bliss, the Great Happiness.


left-sided approach to life The left side of the body is controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain, the hemisphere (in most people) primarily associated with nonverbal, spatial, and holistic methods of relating to the objects of experience. These "left-sided" qualities generally typify the mystical and sacred cultures of the East. The right side of the body is controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain, the hemisphere (in most people) primarily associated with verbal, temporal, and analytical methods of relating to the objects of experience. These "right-sided" qualities typify the scientific and materialistic cultures of the West.

 
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