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Truth to Power

The following is by Jeff Forrester


One summer in California, I was initiated into what my Guru called His “Sarvadhikari Circle of Protection”. I believe it was eleven devotees, men, and women, who He invited to a ceremony on the lawn of His home, the Manner of Flowers. It was a solemn occasion attended by a couple hundred devotees. Each of the eleven came to His chair and received a wooden bowl of Fijian kava from His hands to drink. In that initiation, we vowed to protect our Guru from all possible intrusion and to never allow Him to be “subordinated to the cult of Adidam.” Those were His somewhat caustic words about it.


At the time, the initiation seemed somewhat mysterious to us. A friend of mine now deceased — Donald Webley — was among the men in that circle. He felt that our Guru was getting ill to the point of death from battling without result against our passivity and sleep, and that it was necessary for us to take up that “sarvadhikari”, or interventionist role, in order to relieve our Guru from having to do so. Adi Da confirmed this was the right understanding.


I can confess that, at the time, I did not fully grasp what my Guru meant by “speaking truth to power” in the context of our sangha.


What power?


And what truth?


I did not at all see the Mummery we perform around our Guru clearly enough at that time. I did not see how our own religion of Adidam — to whatever degree it had become self-made and programmed, and this was true most of the time — inherently and even constantly scapegoated our Guru with real psychic violence and a force of control He was never able to fully undermine. “Devotees are trying to kill me”, He once said during that time. These are strong words. What do they mean?


When Adi Da spoke of “your boring and repetitive programs”, I thought, “but we’re just doing what you’ve written and said to do.”


When He said “you’ve made a religion that has literally nothing to do with Me; it is mere religious entertainment”, I thought, “but we’re following Your own instruction exactly, all of ‘right life’ and 'devotion'.”


When He said “I am meditating millions. Why are you preventing them from coming to me?”, I thought, “well… everything in its own time.”


When He said "All I have done on the human scale has been stopped by the culture of Adidam", I thought, "oh that is quite impossible."


When He said, “I need people around Me who don’t take shit and are willing to call a spade a spade”, I thought, “but who can say it more clearly or forcefully than You?”


When He said, “why are you not making sure every single devotee hears and responds to My shout?”, I thought, “every devotee can’t handle Your shout.”


These were among my arrogant and mistaken views.


At that time and ever since, all the way into His final days on earth, my Guru was calling for a profound intervention on His behalf against what He pointed to as “an insider cult that is controlling, repressing, and stopping My work from going out to the entire world.”


What is this “insider cult?”


In my experience, I think the ‘insider cult’ is the ego's cult of loyalty and its constant effort to control the Divine, or that which is authentic Mystery. It is not at all unique to our sangha, and it's a force within everyone. And it seems to be the root phenomenon that appears after a Realizer dies, and it is what turns an esoteric Way into an exoteric religion typically inside of a mere five years, and often much sooner. It is a tremendous and powerful force, not to be underestimated, even by the most discriminating people or groups.


The "insider cult" may be our own unconscious machine of propaganda that tries to indicate after a Realizer's death that ‘everything is just fine’, that we need only fall in line with prescribed behaviors and rules, and that the only Mummery left among us is ‘disobedience’ to the mutually serving loyalty cult we make in our Guru's absence.


Esoteric traditions all make the right movement toward putting true spiritual renunciates in the position of guidance. Problems arise when our larger body of renunciates is not yet fully awakened themselves, or when they are themselves bound by ego-patterns that they extend outward in the modes of common religion — toward efforts of power, self-protection, and generalized control of life, thought, energy, and spiritual vitality — or control of the very organic motions of Light . We see this often in the evolution of religious traditions who once had a Realizer at their core.


But, of course, no authentic renunciates need to make a loyalty cult around them. A true renunciate, as Adi Da suggests, values truth over power, because while power protects the ego, truth undermines it. A renunciate interested in sadhana and growth beyond the early stages of the yoga always wants that company that undermines his or her ego, that company that is most useful and real. One antidote to our own patterns in this kind of exotericism may simply be: vulnerability of confession. When we speak more vulnerably about where we are at and what is happening, this allows for Divine energy and power, or Grace, to move freely, without obstruction by the ego's own more protective gestures of control.


Adi Da often described our Mummery cult as one in which the “wolves” put out patterns of control and subordination, feeding on religious self-imagery and perceived status. While the “sheep” quietly go along without a contrary word, to maintain their “access” and social acceptance, while no longer being vocal about what they truly feel, think, and see. You can see this pattern in literally every exoteric religious group that exists on earth today.


To “speak truth to power” may be little more than speaking consciousness to pattern, discrimination to repetition, or vulnerability to invulnerability.


Who must take on this “primary responsibility” of voice that all of our authentic Masters so urgently require?


I feel fairly certain these days that in my sangha it’s not me, nor is it even that small group of “sarvadhikari” initiates my Master called to this vocation. But it is everybody in our sangha now, serving one another and the whole, all at once.


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