The Old Religions, the New Scientism,
and the Awakening of the Psyche
by His Divine Presence, Avatar Adi Da Samraj
Editors' note: The following is an updated version of the Talk originally published in Vision Mound magazine (Volume 2, Number 9, May/June 1979), and also in Laughing Man magazine (Volume 5, Number 4, 1985).
Avatar Adi Da Samraj: The most ancient consciousness of human beings is the etheric consciousness. Therefore, the ancient "religions" are all forms of connection to the etheric dimension of existence, which is emotional in nature.
You are already connected to it via your emotional-sexual functions, through which you "experience" the functional energy of the etheric dimension. Furthermore, the elemental body is connected to an etheric energy-body that is its life.
Thus, you participate at all times in the etheric dimension of existence — but, because it is more subtle than the physical "world", you tend not to be completely conscious of it and responsible for it.
However, in the most ancient times — and in the earliest stratum of human consciousness, the earliest stratum of human culture — there existed a great culture of the etheric being.
The "religion" of the etheric being still survives in many parts of the "world", even in a certain primitive level of every individual's consciousness. It is the tribal "religion".
Wherever remote tribes of people are discovered who are isolated from conventional civilization, they are found to be involved in the "religion" of right relationship to the etheric dimension of existence.
That same primitive consciousness makes human beings aware (in themselves) that the gross physical body thrives upon, depends upon, and is lived by an energy-body — the etheric dimension of existence — and that the material (or gross elemental) realm in which all beings live is pervaded by this energy.
When people begin to become a little psychic, they begin to "experience" intuitions (and even perceptions) of the realm of energy in which this elemental realm is floating.
Thus, for instance, psychics are able to see the dead and fairies and other etheric spirits associated with the elemental realm. These beings do not appear in elemental form — but they exist on the "other side" of the elemental realm, and monitor the "play" of the elements.
In fact, they are the lower powers of nature, the powers behind the elemental form. These energies are not visible in themselves, but they pervade and control the elemental "world".
Thus, the oldest stratum of human consciousness, the earliest level of human culture and awareness, is the awareness of the etheric dimension — which is the next subtler (or higher) level of existence beyond the gross elemental "world" in which human beings are bodily present.
The principle of etheric "religion", then, is the connection with the etheric "world". By the practice of etheric "religion", people sought to loosen their consciousness temporarily from the rigidity of the fleshly life — through magical exercises, rituals, and tribal activities of all kinds.
One does not have to go to the Amazon or deep into the heart of Africa to find people involved in the old etheric "religion". Everybody is involved in it — to one or another degree.
The oldest level of human consciousness operates in the etheric manner. Everybody has little superstitions, little ritual activities. You may say, "Oh, there are no such things as ghosts," but there is still a primitive, etheric level of your own consciousness, and you always accommodate it in one way or another.
Under the circumstances of danger, stress, and other kinds of intense emotional "experience", you tend to lapse into your etheric "religion", your rituals of subconscious activity.
Your dreams are part of that "religion". And your primitive emotional awareness — your life of fear and sorrow and anger — is, essentially, a life associated with etheric (or emotional) energy.
In the ancient etheric "religions", however, one of the primary means of connecting with the etheric realm is to commune with the personalities of the dead.
The members of etheric cultures were always very careful to maintain good relations with the dead, each honoring his or her immediate ancestors, the dead personalities of the family's own bloodline. The tribal dead — the significant chiefs and shamans — were likewise placated, in order that the tribe survive and prosper.
Just as the ancestors would be remembered quite frequently in ritual observances, etheric powers and personalities apart from the dead were also remembered — personalities who never have been born, but who exist only in etheric form.
Each etheric "religion", then, was a complex "religion" of deities, of dead personalities, of nature spirits and influential powers of all kinds. Each of these influences possessed a persona, a unique quality, an individuality, and each was identified with the symbols of its personality — figurines, totems, amulets, talismans, and fetishes.
Putting attention on these objects in the appropriate manner enabled the practitioner to commune with the etheric powers.
Such fetishistic means of establishing a right relationship to the etheric powers through ritual activity is the basis of etheric "religion", and there were always some individuals — the shamans or seers of the tribe — who had a gift for entering into communion with the etheric "world". Members of the tribe approached these people, always respectfully, to ask for special help.
The etheric realm is senior to the elemental, just as the emotional body (or energy-body) is senior to the fleshy body. The breath (and its energy) control the physical, pervade it, and give it life. But the etheric realm is itself pervaded and transcended by higher dimensions of existence.
The dimension of etheric energy is a fairly low level of manifestation. It is transcended by the astral dimensions of mind and the causal dimension (or "seed"-dimension) of "self"-awareness. The etheric dimension is simply the instrument for managing the elemental dimension — but the etheric dimension is (itself) controlled by and dependent upon the astral dimension.
Thus, at a certain point in what are called "ancient times" (though it is a relatively recent moment in terms of the great span of human time), another culture began to appear in the human "world": the culture, or several cultures, of the astral reality — the reality of the higher mind, which pervades, monitors, and controls the etheric as well as the elemental.
In India, for instance, the Aryan culture appeared and began to replace the older, primitive, etheric levels of culture. At the same time, great "religions" appeared all over the East and the Middle East.
The "religions" that are dominant in the "world" today are the remnants of these great astral "religions": Christianity, Judaism, Islam, much of Buddhism, and many of the forms of Hinduism.
These "religions" seek to turn the attention and consciousness of human beings beyond the elemental and beyond the etheric into the astral dimension, which is senior to the elemental/etheric "world", or the realm of energy and of solid form.
Thus, some 2500 to 3000 years ago, there was a movement toward astral "religion" and the development of a form of culture based on the intuition of this dimension that transcends, pervades, and controls the elemental and etheric realms of "experience".
Next: Etheric Culture and Astral Culture
The "Perfect Knowledge" Reality-Teachings
of His Divine Presence, Avatar Adi Da Samraj
HARDCOVER limited edition with dust jacket
SOFTCOVER standard edition
This book was conceived by Adi Da Samraj at the end of 2005. He was first moved to make His own rendering, or "interpretive translation", of a traditional Advaitic text, The Heart of the Ribhu Gita, in order to elucidate (and thereby honor) its full meaning.
Adi Da Samraj then did the same with other great teachings from the traditions of Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism. In each case, He brought the essence of the instruction to the fore, with elegance and Illumined understanding.
Texts whose meanings were only partially (or cryptically) expressed even in the original — let alone in translation — suddenly shone forth, like rough gems cut by an expert hand.