An “Inner Life” Creates Social Schizophrenia
or “Are your archetypes leeching you of humor?”
AVATAR ADI DA SAMRAJ: Recently, one of the members of our Church was asked to write an essay about her practice. I happened to see this essay a few days ago. Although she was not very much aware of the implications of what she was describing, I thought that a couple of things she wrote were very interesting. And now I am about to make a mountain out of a mole hill, make something really profound out of it, you see!
In her essay, our friend wrote that from her childhood she has been involved with fantasy, not with just the usual sexual fantasies, but with an unreal and altogether interior world. When she remembers the past, she changes the memory, theatrically plays back the past so that it is more desirable. Or, in confrontation with some circumstance in life, she imagines, dreams about, thinks about the different ways it could be and rehearses more ideal circumstances in her mind.
The other thing that is interesting is that whenever she wrote about the mind in this essay, she spelled “mind” with a capital M.
Whenever anyone speaks to this young woman about spiritual life, generally she talks very enthusiastically, even ecstatically, about it, about her spiritual experiences and about energies and visions and dreams, about all the exotica of spiritual life. And she is fascinated by things like astrology, palm reading, flying saucer stories, mystical news. She is very enthusiastic about the possibility that something will drop out of the sky to make life more interesting.
People in general love hype, stimulation. We love to be made enthusiastic again, in order to get away from our ordinary state in which we are mulling things over inside and being subjectively oriented in general. It is a tendency that appears in all of us, reflected in our inwardness and fantasies.
Everybody fantasizes in one form or another,
but there is a profoundly significant orientation
that develops in us by reaction to experience,
and our life of fantasy,
even in its playful form,
is a reflection of it.
To return to the case we have been discussing, at one point in her essay, our friend described herself as being subject to two influences in her life: the mind and her external activity. Clearly, in her consideration about herself she sees two realms in which she operates. One is the realm of activity in the environment of relations, and the other is the realm of the mind. She is not unique in this disposition.
Since everybody functions mentally, therefore everybody has the capacity to interiorize attention, to dream and think and fantasize, and even to have visions. But there is a tendency in us, particularly remarkable in certain types of people and in certain cultures of the world, to divide the experience of the being into two realms-the physical, active, so-called outer world and the internal, subtle, mental, visionary world–and to make this distinction absolutely. It is this tendency, acquired by reaction to the things of bodily experience, that creates magic and mysticism and traditional spirituality.
In the description some people may give you of themselves, as with this young woman, for instance, you can see how this psychology of dual existence becomes philosophy. When she discussed her external activity, she wrote with small letters. But when she wrote about the mind, she used a capital M. Not only does she perceive a division between her physical, active self and her mental self, but the mind is reality, the more true, or higher, or more potent dimension.
If you are born in the West
and at least socially oriented toward outer activity
and fulfillment of your functional life,
then to perceive the mind and the so-called internal life as Reality
fosters a kind of social schizophrenia.
If the mind is the more real side of life to you, then you find yourself unable to deal directly and creatively with the so-called outer, functional, relational level of life. Such people become involved in neurotic self-possession, turning in on themselves, living in a world of fantasy, unable to function or to see their situation clearly. Thus, our friend’s description of herself and her social dilemma is a description of the kind of neurosis that is typical of Westerners.
But even more than that, she is also reflecting the point of view that characterizes the left-sided culture of the Orient and spirituality as it is traditionally conceived. This reaction to ordinary life that she describes is precisely what traditional spirituality and the motive toward conventional spiritual experience is all about.
Through the shock of our ordinary experience we tend to become divided in ourselves, essentially self-possessed and subjectively oriented, and this dilemma disturbs our harmonious living. Furthermore, this reactivity tends to establish a metaphysical or philosophical understanding in which we divide the internal world from the relational, functional, formal, or bodily realm of experience. And not only do we make this division, but we assign reality exclusively to the inner or mental dimension. This is how mysticism develops.
The reaction to the gross realm occurs first, then it is followed by the division of experience or awareness into two dimensions, one above the heart and one below it; one apparently outer and one apparently inner; one right, one left; one below, one above; one that is the effect of causes and the one that is cause. The view of the cosmos therefore, the view of Reality, is that whatever is presently appearing is the effect at the end of a long chain of events that proceeds from the subtle or mental or higher dimension.
The logic of life, then, is to detach yourself
from outward and lower functional orientations
in order to internalize or invert attention and feeling,
and to return along the chain of causes,
along the thread of the inner life,
toward God, Truth, Reality.
This approach to manifest existence characterizes traditional Eastern spirituality altogether, but it also characterizes Western religion and the psychology of Western man, whose essentially religious personality precedes this technological age in which we now live.
Western religious psychology also assigns Reality or Cause to what is above, subtle, and mental. God is in that direction, within, above, and beyond. But the psychology of the West is not left-sided, as is that of the Orient, where one attempts to abandon everything and return to the Source and identify with it.
The Western religious psychology still gives predominance to what is above and subtle, but it does not attempt to return to the Source or to become identical with it. Rather it seeks to establish right or useful and magical relations with that Reality through prayer, incantation, righteous and moral activity, and ecstasy.
The left-sided approach, the Oriental approach, attempts to return along the chain of causation and to become identified with the highest and most subtle. The Western approach is also to turn toward That which is the cause, and which is highest and most subtle, not to return to it but rather to surrender to it, submit to it, open to it, do what is necessary in order to receive blessings from it.
Thus, somewhat different practical orientations characterize East and West or left and right, but they are based in the same two-sided conception of experience and of our condition.
You all find it quite natural to respond to philosophical,
religious, or spiritual ideas that call for going within,
going up, having visions, hearing voices,
getting signs, getting proofs,
getting knowledge from an alternative dimension of reality
that lies within and mind-ward, beyond concepts perhaps,
but still in that inner and mental direction.
The notion of the Divine within seems basically logical. And, although you find it very difficult to absolutely take up the way of life that this approach to God implies, the notion sounds familiar and comfortable to you.
Of course, you cannot altogether commit yourself to actually lead a life of moral and religious piety and righteousness or to take on the disciplines of purification and the inversion of attention or to assume the practical way of life implied by these activities, because you are not classic Western-born people–you are Western-born people who live in the twentieth century. Thus, you cannot make the naive response to this logic that would have been relatively easy a few centuries ago.
In some sense it still seems logical that the Truth is within and above and that the Cause is in the subtle direction. It seems logical to turn in that direction through disciplines of the physical being, through disciplines of feeling and attention, through ascetic and emotional and mental inversion. It seems logical. On the other hand you do not have the will to do it.
Discipline in itself is difficult. It is working against inherent motions or tendencies. But not only is it difficult, you are also psychologically indisposed toward such a life. Your indisposition is a different thing altogether.
In times past people had difficulty with disciplines. There were some who could be religious and some who could not, but in general the psychology of people then was more disposed toward religious discipline. To express that psychology in simplistic terms, if you found yourself incapable of the discipline, you knew you were going to go to hell! Or you depended on mercy. The psychological disposition toward a life of discipline was strong, but it was a struggle to actually live such discipline.
In this time and place it is also difficult, not only because discipline in itself is difficult, but also because the psychology of inwardness and the assignation of Reality to what is within and above are not wholly logical to us.
I am also here to remind you that
even if you were able to do it,
what you find by going within and up is not God.
It is not Reality at all.
The proposition of the traditional argument is that Reality is within and above and at the end of a chain of causation or at its origin. The ancient notion is that the Deity is the Creator or first Cause, and everything is at the end of a chain of events that begins in the most subtle dimension and becomes reflected in the levels of manifestation appearing here in the grossest form.
Now, there is some truth to that consideration in the physics of things. Grosser manifest events do in some genuine, processional sense appear as a result of subtler causes. There are also gross causes responsible for certain permutations as well, but Reality is not at the end of that chain.
The Deity, the Very Reality, or Happiness, Bliss, is not at the “cause” end of the chain any more than it is at the “effect” end. This chain of causes and effects is simply physics. It is science, not philosophy! The origins of this psychology–which, as we see, typifies both Eastern and Western people, even though they have different characteristic practical responses–are in reaction to experience, actually to the single experience of having been grossly born.
In her essay about herself and her problems, our friend described herself in a classically typical fashion that has profound philosophical significance. For her, the mind, the inverted inner life, the subtle, invisible, “alternative Reality,” is, in her feeling, the direction of Reality, the direction of God, the direction of Truth. Therefore, to recoil from the world has justification, not just in the rottenness of the world, but in the truth of within.
The next thing to do, you see,
is to shave your head, put on a cheap outfit,
and find some piece of unowned real estate
where you can sit in private.
This is not the country in which to do that–
everything here is owned!
But you can do it Western style, become very pious and religious and visionary, involved in constant prayer, appealing inward and upward for help, for blessing, for happiness, for good feeling.
What this young woman represents in her psychology is not something she has invented. She is typifying the psychology that characterizes us all, since we are all traditionally born. We are still infected with the ancient psychology, although we no longer enjoy the disposition to fulfill it in the ancient manner, through most strict religious and spiritual striving.
As twentieth-century Westerners, we have some interest in this psychology, in this destiny or way of life, but we want to make profound modifications in how we will live on the basis of it. And when it comes down to it, we basically do not live this left-sided way of life at all. It is too much for us. Not only is it too much for us, but we cannot find the strength of purpose to do it. And that is not altogether because we are weak, but because this way of life is not true of us.
We are living in a moment in human time when it is becoming obvious that Truth is not within, although the implications of that fact are only vaguely apparent at the present time. There is just the barest intuition of it. This Teaching, this Way of Divine Ignorance (Adidam), is a voice, an expression, of this new realization.
The ancient conception is that Truth, or Reality, is an alternative dimension of experience. God, the Divine, Heaven, is an alternative dimension of experience that is found by inverting attention, going within and up. How that is done varies from village to village and culture to culture.
But usually morality is the way of disciplining the outer life with physical and relational practices, moral injunctions, including all kinds of social peculiarities that are expected of the individual, and formal religious obligations, sacrifices, observances, rituals. And ascetic practices are an even more personal form of this fundamental inversion of attention.
Every religious person, at least from time to time, engages in conventional observances that are symbolic of the practices of the ascetic, such as observing silence, refraining from ordinary pleasures and work, or honoring religious occasions.
But those who are moved to pass beyond the ordinary level of the conception of happiness, that is communicated through religious rituals and social obligations, take up this practice of inversion most conscientiously. They perform ascetic practices most intensely. Usually the conventionally religious person does not approach this process of inversion on the psycho-physiological level that the yogi or ascetic does.
The conventionally religious person projects this psychology
on the cosmos–thus heaven is above, behind the stars,
and Jesus goes up into the clouds.
But those who pass beyond the naive and outer dimension of traditional psychology are committed to the search for God through a process of the inversion of attention, perhaps at first through moral and ascetic religious disciplines, although many who become ascetics abandon the religious life as a purely outer and symbolic discipline (unless they have taken the vows of some religious order, as did Saint Seraphim, for example, a great ascetic who maintained the outward observances of the monks of the Eastern Orthodox Church).
Thus, professionally ascetic individuals involve themselves more or less in private experimentation. Their disciplines are not moral in the conventional social sense. Such individuals step outside the relational plane of things.
And now we begin to see the true significance of this logic–it is the avoidance of relationship. It is the recoil from Infinity. The professional ascetic in general abandons relational life and retires into solitude, even retires from his own functions. He performs ascetic rather than moral disciplines.
This practice particularly characterizes the Eastern or left-sided approach, which is completely oriented to passing back toward identity with the first cause, or mind, whereas the Western orientation generally involves a magical relationship to that cause.
Western religious practitioners generally maintain moral and religious disciplines in their way of life, whereas yogis, Oriental ascetics, throw all of those disciplines away and have a great deal of humor about all moral and ritual observances–they, burn the images of the Buddha!
Saint Seraphim, in contrast, created little buildings out of mud and sticks so that he could “walk around Jerusalem” in his forest retreat and recite the liturgy as the priest that he was.
Thus, when you begin to grasp the logic inherent in this traditional psychology and become professionally and intentionally oriented toward a practice that seeks Truth as a result, you involve yourself perhaps in moral and religious disciplines, but certainly in ascetic disciplines of the inversion of feeling.
You take up practices of heart-felt remembrance of a Divine name, mantric repetitions, devotional practices, prayer, intense generation of feeling, and bodily attention toward what is within and above and subtle and the end and origin of the chain of causes. When physical and emotional functions or tendencies become relatively quieted, the Essential principle is the inversion of attention.
All these practices finally depend upon the essential matter of withdrawing attention from the outer, gross, descended level of functions, turning attention within, and, having brought it within, sending it up.
There are innumerable practices, not only for turning inward the attention or the course of energy in the consciousness of the being, but also for sending it up once it is collected from without.
These practices include everything from prayer to pranayama
and physical manipulation of the nerves
through contact with a potent influence
(some yogi or remarkable presence, object or visionary influence),
and all the methods of conventional meditation,
including turning attention in on the audible life current
and its light-phenomena,
and turning attention toward the midbrain
into visions, voices, blisses.
The principle at the core of all these methods is “If you do this with enough intensity, if you submit yourself to it absolutely, then you will ultimately realize God, or Truth, or Reality, or Bliss, or Perfect Knowledge, because that Reality, whatever name it is given or whatever concept is associated with it, is within and away from outer or formal or gross manifestation, and up beyond concepts, at the end of a chain of causes that originates beyond even the most subtle level of appearances.
Therefore, if you can turn attention in that direction and pass through all the levels of your bodily, mental, and psychic awareness, you must inevitably come to the first Cause.
If God, Truth, Reality, Happiness, Nirvana, is within and above, then you all are in a great deal of trouble! You can see that what you are up to is not essentially going to realize that Happiness or Divinity. You are not making much of an effort in that direction.
And, according to this psychology, every time you do something in order to enjoy yourself blatantly, every time you engage the functions of ordinary life, not ultimately irresponsibly, even with some humor, but without the slightest thought of an alternative reality–every moment in which you involve yourself in such a way of action, you are moving closer toward the ultimate destiny of the pit!
If you do not go in and up, then you are tending to go down and out, and you are going to realize a destiny that is also down and out, more down and out all the time. Such a destiny is damnation, separation from God, who, in the traditional view, is all the way at the other end. The more down and out you go, the less association you have, even in your sympathy, with what is at the origin of that chain, the ultimate inwardness and the ultimate mind.
There has been a great deal of enthusiastic propagandizing throughout human history to convert people in their feeling-attention and in their actions to this principle of inversion, so that we will at least assume it in the religious sense, get saved, get religious, go to church, or take up one or another yogic or mystical or magical path in order to be blessed, and so that we will not suffer the destiny that our outward-oriented attention seems to imply.
We are really very vulnerable to this argument and very childish in our response to it. We are full of fear and guilt and sorrow and anger and doubt. When circumstances are the most difficult, we tend to be most vulnerable to this psychology of inversion, which is like a leech on our nervous system.
We are leeched by these archetypes.
We are not able to live the way of action they imply,
and we constantly suffer that disability.
We have no humor in the face of this life
and its circumstances and its mortality.
We are not strong in our relations–we are weak and vulnerable.
And this weakness is reflected in our phasing, our childish disposition, our reactivity, our subjective orientation, our lovelessness. It is also reflected in our philosophy, our metaphysics, our spirituality, our religious consciousness, our imageries.
We are still dominated by the concept of the alternative reality. When we are most weak, most childish, most vulnerable, we tend to reflect the domination of this concept in our anxiety, self-possession, fearfulness, our crazy religious beliefs, our willingness to submit to the winds of doctrine.
All the teachings that flood this earth are forms of propaganda, an argument for this psychology and this conception. And we do have the possibility, you see, to take up a way of life based on this logic. There are countless traditional ways of doing it. But perhaps we are free to consider whether or not it is necessary or fruitful because we, in our time and place, in our disposition, are not tending to fulfill the ancient path.
Profound philosophical considerations are part of the modern mind with all its language, but actually philosophy comes from a much more primitive logic than the abstract mind. It is in our neurosis, in our fear, in our disturbance, in our dilemma that we find the purest origins of philosophy, not in abstract thinking. Philosophy and matters of greatest importance come out of experience, out of vulnerability, not out of mechanical logic.
In our birth into apparent, or functional, independence, in the relational play of manifestation, we become afraid. If you consider your history, your past and present emotional adaptation to life, you will find that from the beginning you have been recoiling upon yourself, reacting, feeling betrayed, feeling unloved, collapsing in on yourself.
From the very beginning, out of our sense of independence by birth, we become opponents. In reaction to all the forces in experience we become engaged in strategies of offense and defense, right-sidedness and left-sidedness, masculinity and femininity, aggressiveness and passivity, self-exploitation and self-protection. We become Narcissus, the self-possessed one, by reaction to experience. We recoil in fear to protect ourselves from our necessary ending, our necessary mortality.
And when in our mediocrity we begin to think about all of this, when we become capable of thought, language, abstraction, it is then that we begin to talk about God and what is within and what is above. It is then that we begin to abstract our inwardness and our mentality from our physicality, our life-force, and our relational activities. It is then that we begin to say that Truth, Reality, the Divine, Bliss, is at the other end, the origin of manifest events.
In our later life we may become involved in a religious or spiritual or magical discipline. But even early in our life we are already involved in self meditation, inwardness, fantasy, thinking, as a random, habitual activity or tendency. As we mature and enter into the play of life more directly, we extend this habit into the more sophisticated activity of the inversion of attention for the sake of happiness, escape, fulfillment, peace, bliss.
We can be restored in our humor if we can see
that the impetus to the inversion of attention
originates in our childishness.
See our children doing it, and we can see how we got to do it!
We can see how ridiculous this so-called spiritual activity really is,
that it is really an expression of our fear,
our inability to engage in the play of relations without recoil.
It is through penetrating insight into that tendency, that psychology, that we become free of the mind, you see, not by struggling with the mind. And it is likewise by penetrating insight into that psychology that we become free of the whole destiny, the whole demand, of conventional religion and spirituality. It is through insight into our own activity that we become free of the idol of inwardness, the deity propped up at the origin of causation, the origin of effects, within and above.
Contrary to the traditional opinion, God-Realization is a matter of just such penetrating insight and liberation. God-Realization is not at all a matter of the inversion of attention. The argument that leads to the inversion of attention belongs to the childish and primitive level of human awareness, when the dramatization of the recoil from Infinity, or reaction to experience, vulnerability, and death, informed the whole life.
Therefore, in ancient times the division between left and right and out and in and below and above was true. It was a true characterization of human beings at that time. But in our time the whole world is intercommunicative, the whole body is intercommunicative, both sides of the body have an equal voice, both ends of the universe have an equal voice. Eastern cultures and Western cultures are meeting one another. All the cults that once survived in relative independence are now confronting one another.
From the point of view of the whole body, God is not the inward, invisible, original, alternative reality to be found only through inversion. God is not an alternative experience to your present experiences. The alternative reality only seems hopeful to you when you are in fear, when you are stuck in recoil, identified with only half of the body, caught in its passivity, its doubt, its vulnerability.
When you are simply free, without motion in yourself, then you realize the eternal Reality, the absolute God, Who is not other than any experience at all, not other than any condition whatsoever. Reality or Bliss is the Condition of present conditions, the Reality of present conditions.
It is not elsewhere, not inside in the form of a light,
a sound, a voice, a vision, an idea, a place.
The Realization of the Divinity does not involve the slightest
subjective orientation, not even the slightest.
On the contrary, the Realization of God is a matter of total, absolute freedom from recoil, contraction, and inwardness. God-Realization is not the inversion of feeling-attention but the complete release of feeling-attention to Infinity via all of these functions, relations, conditions.
Standing in a position of no recoil in the midst of all conditions, you intuit the Reality and are happy. There is tacit certainty of Happiness in that Realization. It does not necessarily carry with it any experience or any knowledge of what happens after death or what other worlds there are, gross or subtle. Such experience or knowledge may arise, but in themselves they can create no certainty or happiness or love. Quite independent of such knowledge or such experience we may be completely happy and free in any moment.
When we are free of the inversion of attention, free of the recoil of feeling-attention, free of the self-directed tendency in relations and in the pattern of experience, when we are so equalized, so fully conscious, so free of reaction and recoil, then we are completely free of the argument of inwardness, of mind, of the belief that Reality is an ultimate cause to be found only through turning within. That whole automated program is lifted from us and becomes totally unnecessary.
Avatar Adi Da Samraj
© 2010 ASA