RamaDharma One

This follows the

Introduction & Summary of the Seven Dharmas

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

First Dharma, Step One:

Self-Conviction

Since time began, or at least the human species, the first step on the spiritual path has been ever the same. In essence it’s the first of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and its many spin-offs: the realization and admission that you’re not up to snuff, and are powerless to change it on your own steam.

AA itself was a spin-off of a Christian organization called the Oxford Group, whose charismatic crusade swept the world in the 1930s. It used the traditional Christian term for the first step: conviction of sin. The postmodern era is also post-Christian for many people, but anyone who’s serious about spiritual development has to accept that there is a timeless primal reality behind the concept which Judeo-Christian-Muslim religion labeled “sin”. You can think of it as the inherent imperfection of the ego, and in fact New Age spirituality recognizes that the ego must be surrendered, cast off, outgrown, or otherwise transcended.

There’s a big pitfall in this usage, however: it enables too many people to miss the point that the fault is in themselves. Some people take the ego to be some kind of abstract psychologism, and even question its existence. To clear up this mass evasion, you have to face the hard fact that the ego is YOU ~ it’s precisely what you identify as yourself. So the problem is you, what has to change is you. And since the ego can’t save itself from the ego, you are utterly helpless to do it yourself. Once you become convinced (“convicted”) of this humbling truth, then YOU are ready to surrender to something beyond yourself. Our term for this first step is self-conviction.

Self-Conviction

First Dharma, Step Two:

Surrender to Spirit

The trademark of life in postmodern times is that it’s guilt-free. People who still accept responsibility for themselves and acknowledge their faults are often mocked as repressed or neurotic or worse. This may be true in some cases, but it’s not nearly as bad as the mass pathology of amoral self-indulgence.

From this totally degenerate context, people tend to see self-conviction as a terrible burden ~ they fear it would ruin their self-esteem and subject them to endless torments of guilt. This in fact is the legacy of dogmatic religion when it’s divorced from the life-changing reality of Spirit. The truth is that there’s a literal miracle cure for guilt, sin, and psychopathology: spiritual surrender.

This sublime practice cuts across all bounds of time and space, creed and custom. Many of the traditional forms of spiritual surrender can be found side by side in the global village: Christians accepting Jesus as their personal savior, Hare Krishnas dancing and chanting the name of their sweet Lord, devotees of the many living masters receiving the blessings of grace/baraqa/shaktipat. All the names and faces of God and Goddess are conduits for this divine power, awaiting the simple act which opens a heart to receive it.

The true Source of it all is Spirit, the external-internal-eternal Presence. It’s right there all the time, but you don’t perceive it because YOU are in the way. It’s what’s always happening while you make other plans. As soon as you become willing to step aside, to jettison all your ballast, to let go of your self, your life, your goals, desires, attachments, everything ~ then suddenly you’ll realize your heart’s desire, the substance behind all those shadowy lusts and illusions.

Yet this giant leap is still but a single step; the hard part is to keep doing it. One of the best words for spiritual surrender is probably the oldest: bhakti, which means literally devotion. The goal of bhakti is to dwell in a surrendered state continuously, to master the art so that it becomes a way of life. This produces the deepest rewards, but the spiritual individualism that prevails today makes it virtually impossible to attain.

The most popular New Age gurus preach the self, and more self, and nothing but the self. They shrink in terror from surrender or devotion to anything beyond the self. In the name of spiritual development they hypocritically proclaim the death of all the Gods, and sometimes even the One God, leaving them in a world of frightened little egos, each striving in desperate isolation for enlightenment.

RamaSpirit is a communion of kindred souls who realize that their individuality can find its optimum development in a sodality, a spiritual community, in the same way that plants grow from a plot of soil. To worship the Sun does not diminish the plant, and this is our relationship to Spirit. The energy of the Sun is the inner essence of every living thing on our Earth, yet it comes from above, and is greater than all.

The flower can’t help but open to the light of the Sun when it’s time to bloom, but for human beings it takes an act of will to surrender to Spirit.

Dharma 2: Awakening from the Matrix

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11 thoughts on “RamaDharma One

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  7. First Dharma, Step Zero Point Five:
    Getting a hard core Egomaniac to accept Surrender.

    The term surrender is hard to swallow for someone with the “warrior” spirit so another way to look at it is to refuse to play the game. Its a sort of mental gymnastic when one lacks the humility to surrender and thus is unable to perform Step One.

    Using alcohol as an example I would state that no alcoholic can can do battle with alcohol and win because he is the alcoholic. As you say, he is the problem. The only way to battle something is to engage it and an alcoholic engaging with alcohol has already lost. Yet our egomaniac is unable to surrender as “Death before dishonor” is his motto! (Even though alcoholism is his true dishonor but we will put that on the back burner for now.)

    So rather than surrender he can simply refuse to do battle. By refusing to play with, or enter the relationship of alcoholic to alcohol, one must be willing to redefine oneself outside of these parameters. To remove oneself from the relationship. To create a new life. This is not easy as by the time this is necessary the alcoholic has become the problem. He is by virtue of his own actions the “sin” and his life the repeated result of his last sin and the root of the next. A downward spiral.

    Avoiding surrender by not playing the game allows him the possibility of growth denied by his inability to surrender. He is not surrendering or ‘losing the game’ as his big fat ego will define it, he is simply moving on to greener pastures.

    Yet he find himself adrift.

    Now, as every good egomaniac knows, being the smartest guy in the room makes it difficult to accept guidance from another flawed human. It is unpalatable to say the least. Yet asking for guidance for something greater than ALL mankind, a god of his understanding and his choosing, surely is not as weak as asking another mere mortal. In time he will realize the benefits of communing with his god and it will not be so difficult to desire to serve and be of service his god and its community at large. Its sodality.

    At this point the egomaniac has been replaced by an ego-less-than-maniac and is ripe for Step One.

    Substitute anything in place of alcoholic and it works just the same.

    These are musings of a stubborn jackass so take them as such.
    ZS

  8. First Dharma, Step Two:
    Death and rebirth of the ego and the quandary of letting go.

    This is a tough transition for westerners to make as we are fiercely individualistic people. For most of us the thought of letting go of the rudder is tantamount to suicide. Or at least murder of the ego. I remember being taught by Sesame Street as a child that “The most important person in the world is you, the world is you, yes the world is you!” Who am I to question the wisdom of Bert and Ernie?

    We can be told that when we identify ourself as our ego it is similar to a single cell believing that is it the whole of the organism and the reason for being. And that without comprehending that the ego is simply a single cog in the wheel of the machine that is the soul, the ego will act as does a cancer cell and attack the body in an attempt to become all encompassing. Or at minimum fail to perform its greater function in favor of immediate self satisfaction. We can be told that this uppity cell has decided that it is the reason for the body rather than an indispensable part of a whole. Indispensable in that its function is necessary yet itself is transitory and has been preceded and will be proceeded by other cells fulfilling the function of the healthy cell. We can also be told that the obvious outcome of a cell failing to behave is sickness, disease and possibly the death of the organism. To avoid this the organism will attempt to expel and replace the offending cell. (Either way this does not bode well for the offending cell. )

    Ergo, for our soul to attain its greatest expression each ego must attempt to fulfill its role to the best of its ability as benefits the soul, not the ego.

    Yep. This is easy to grasp yet it is indeed difficult to let go and let God as they say. If my ego is not the driving force than in effect I am driven by that which I let in the drivers seat.

    Is an act of surrender an act of admitting defeat? ugh!!!

    The quandary is having faith that this unknown driver will take a better route than will I.
    The gag reflex comes from relinquishing this wonderful Me for something not Me.

    Cause as you know, “Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble…when your perfect in every way…..”

  9. Zen, thanks for the exegesis, i.e. your first comment above. The intensity and detail lead me to take it as autobiographical, but correct me if I’m wrong. I’ve had friends who were 12-stepppers, but was never in a group myself. I get the impression that your zero-half-step mental dance went on for awhile, then you said that in time there grew the desire to be of service to the sodality. I’m wondering if this means you attended AA meetings while this was happening, and only then got up in front of the group and made the Step One admission. I thought that this was first thing you had to do, so it would be interesting to find out otherwise.

    It’s also of interest to me how you used god as a way to dance around a humble relationship to any of the other people. It makes me wonder how you dealt with Step Five. Also curious about Steps Three, Six, and Seven, which seem to hinge on the genuine externality/transcendence of the god you’re dealing with. My subjective impression is that your god was an extension of your ego ~ just took the maniacal edge off it, which may have been all you needed to get clean.

    A note on the concept of sin, re *Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions*, one of AA’s basic manuals. For Step Six it defines the “character defects” as sins, and adds that their removal by God is a lifetime process.

    Next I’ll reply to your comment on *Connecting to the Source*, then I’ll get back later to your last one above.

  10. You are essentially correct in your estimation. From my experience, lack thereof and limited understanding I was unable to comprehend a caring god and therefor had no good reason to want to believe in one. Why would I want to submit to a divine being than allowed such a mess to be made of his creation? I figured that there had never been a true christian since Christ and that went for every other relationship with God. This is because nobody can experience God in his entirety and none will experience the divine in the same way. Everyone ultimately “rolls his own” God, so why not I? I came to believe in a god of my understanding which is a common pre-step you might say.

    In effect I suppose that ‘my’ God might be nothing more that a portion of myself. How would I really know any difference? At the end of the day I had to settle for practical application. Did asking for Gods help seem to help? When I used prayer for the asking and meditation for the receiving did I get what seemed to be better answers that I could come up with for myself? When I actually listened to these answers did I get positive results?

    Twelve Step programs allow someone to unfold at their own pace and the only requirement is:
    ‘A desire to stop (fill in the blank the program is designed to work for)’.
    This is what I believe makes these programs such powerful tools. The requirement is almost nonexistent and the growth potential limited only by the practitioner. It also is a inclusive program of attraction and avoids anything not directly relation to the task at hand. The secret is that the task at hand is initially to stop some behavior yet the result is a spiritual unfolding.

    All the Steps are suggestions and while the most successful, (measured first by quality and second by duration), people in the program attempt to work through and continue to apply them nobody has ever managed to do so to perfection or even close. I am a near picture perfect example of that. Verily I am a poster boy for stepping over the Steps.

    The Steps are a tall order and while 3,6, and 7 all do require an acceptance of an external divine agency, once again, how would anyone REALLY know? That’s a kicker. Even if God Almighty was to appear before me and demonstrate some grand miracle I could still decide that I was insane or that it was really Spock beaming in and violating the Prime Directive for some unknown reason. You get the drift. I am a doubting Thomas.

    Ultimately coming to God is an act of faith. At least for me it was and still is. Also, I believe there are energetic entities other than God and these gods might not be up to snuff.

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