Sacred Literature and Theater > The Orpheum Triology > Askold Skalsky

Transcendental Realism and Radical Narrative
in Adi Da Samrajís The Orpheum

by Askold Skalsky

Askold SkalskyAskold Skalsky has taught English and German at Hagerstown Community College. In 2005, he was honored by the Maryland State Arts Council for his poetry, which has appeared in numerous small press magazines and journals, including Southern Poetry Review, Oregon East, Northeast Corridor, and Chiron Review. Skalsky's work has also been published in Canada, England, and Ireland. It incorporates many themes from his childhood in the Ukraine. Skalsky wrote the introduction to Adi Da Samraj's The Mummery Book, A Parable of the Divine True Love, about which he said, "It was an honor to be asked to write the introduction to this highly original experimental work in the vein of James Joyce and Gertrude Stein."

This paper was presented at the 2009 CESNUR Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 11-13, 2009.

Abstract. Cultural critics often try to make sense of the present moment of global turmoil by employing strategies of modern literary theory, which sees the blurring of boundaries between literature and modes of discourse in non-literary areas. In this view, human beings are “story-telling animals” depending on the logic of narrative for their most important actions and attempts at generating coherence and constructing  a meaningful universe. Yet in postmodernity’s drive toward total openness, freedom, and a context in which all values are questioned, there is no longer adherence  to any stable foundational truth but only competing narratives in constant collision. Macro-narratives like globalization and consumerism are in conflict with micro-narratives of local cultures or long-established values, and all of them in competition with other narratives ranging from national and ideological issues to personal and everyday ones. Consequently, the world is seen as a set of narrative texts reflecting the beliefs of human beings organized into institutions powered by competing ideologies of every shade and subject to close reading with the aim of exposing operations of power at all levels of society, leaving us with the fundamental predicament of postmodernity as the difficulty of living with difference and diversity in which fear of the dominant and destructive certitudes of the past is palpable, and yet a longing for some kind of absolute still persists. At this critical world-moment, Adi Da Samraj (1939-2008) provides a radical perspective in his literary trilogy The Orpheum, showing that the presumption of a separate “I” is an illusory category that distorts human consciousness and very language itself by falsifying the prior unity of reality. In his call to understand humanity’s bondage to fictional self-identity and to transcend egoity’s destructive search for narratives of self-protection and self-satisfaction, he transforms the separative premises of both the language of narrative and the givens of experience, reconnecting them with reference to reality itself. His revelatory writing, which he calls a mode of Transcendental Realism, articulates with poetic power the liberation inherent in an understanding released from the constructs of fixed attention and separate point of view and capable of non-problematically addressing the dead end of the postmodern and post-human global conflict in which societies currently find themselves.      

Post-Enlightenment modernity with its drive toward total openness, freedom, and blurring of traditional boundaries has heralded an era in which old values are thrown into question and everything has become permissible. Yet despite unprecedented technological advances, globalization, and growth of consumerism as a lifestyle, the advent of postmodernity has seen the rise of worldwide secular and religious conflicts, terrorism, social unrest, and general dissatisfaction as adherents of numerous ideologies compete and collide with one another, taking their dismal toll on the environment, peace, and human rights, and leaving us with the fundamental predicament of postmodernity as the difficulty of living with difference and diversity in which fear of the dominant and destructive certitudes of the past is palpable and yet a longing for some kind of absolute still persists.

Many cultural critics make sense of the present moment of global disorder by employing the strategies of literary criticism after the “linguistic turn” in philosophy in the latter half of the 20th century and developed by students of theory.[1] The term encompasses a blend of disciplines from various fields, with the result that, while literature itself has diminished in importance, not in the least because the blurring of boundaries between itself and other modes of discourse, the practices dealing with literary texts and their interpretation have proliferated into other disciplines and areas of society, making “literature” the presiding discourse of postmodern culture. That has especially been the case with one of the formal properties of literature, narrative, and the role it has assumed in non-literary areas. In this view, human beings are “story-telling animals” depending on the logic of narrative for their most important actions and attempts at generating coherence, making it the prime candidate for every construction of a meaningful universe.[2] Consequently, the world has become a set of narrative texts reflecting the beliefs of human beings organized into institutions powered by competing ideologies of every shade and subject to close reading with the aim of finding and exposing operations of power at all levels of society. Thus, one may speak of a postmodern world in which such macro-narratives as globalization and consumerism are in conflict with one another or with micro-narratives of local cultures or long-established values, and all of them in competition with other national or ideological myths or language games, from political legitimization to purely personal and everyday concerns.[3]

At this critical moment of global narrative welter, Adi Da Samraj provides a radical perspective on narrative and reality in his literary trilogy The Orpheum, combining the traditions of the philosophical and experimental novel. Written from the standpoint of what the author calls Transcendental Realism, or the “Direct (and Inherently egoless) artistic Self-Presentation of Reality Itself,”[4] the title uses the ancient myth of the poet-seer Orpheus’ descent into the underworld to bring back his beloved Eurydice from death as an archetype of the human condition: the longing for a  happiness beyond all possibility of the usual narrative scripts of human limitation. The Orpheum shows such a condition of prior freedom and happiness to be our very nature but one of which we are oblivious, choosing instead to wander through states of experience—narratives of “God,” “world,” and “self”—as the unnecessary adventures of the presumed “ego-I” in a realm of insubstantial reflections that we misperceive to be real. As such, the work depicts a  wisdom-teaching in the form of a “radical,” that is, “at-the-root,” narrative in three books of unparalleled depth and originality about the one, non-separable, and indivisible Reality of Being and in the mode of a vast parable “to be understood as the heart alone is able to interpret it.” Such understanding has broad implications for informing and even transforming the basic presumptions of human experience and the present global conflicts in which societies currently find themselves.      

The Orpheum is a series of narratives embedded in the biography of a spiritual teacher, Raymond Darling, in which each book’s narrative of limitation is transcended by revealing a state of liberation beyond narrative and its components.[5] The three books refer to a series of merely imagined realities at the same time that they are embedded in the Real, the “First Room,” prior to the point at which one seems to leave this Original Room for the “rooms” of separated and illusory adventure, represented by the individual titles of the three books, which collectively refer to how humanity operates under “the three root-conventions of the common mind: the idea of "God" as separate from all "creation," the idea of the world as separate and composed of separate "things" or absolute and inherent differences, and the idea of a separate self, in one’s own case and in all cases.[6] The Orpheum’s subtitle, “the  recent tragic history of the return of Orpheus,” refers to the sage’s return in modern times to once again impart his wisdom-teaching to a Eurydice-humanity in order to save it from the end of suffering and death in all conventional or unconventional narratives in a world of separation from Reality Itself. The return is tragic because Orpheus, as the Great Sage Raymond Darling, is misunderstood, his teaching rejected, and he himself suffers  imprisonment and ostensibly dies at the hands of the very people whom he has come to help. The text develops its radical multi-dimensionality, plumbing levels of consciousness in a wholly self-contained way while placing itself at the end of a long line of both literary and non-literary history, and ultimately at the beginning of a new paradigm illuminating the nature of human existence at the deepest levels. Archetypically, Orpheus’ narrative is fundamentally contrasted with that of  Narcissus, a traditional symbol of separation and self-enclosed attention, and implicitly with that of Ulysses, as in the famous work written at the beginning of the twentieth century and depicting the wanderings of the main character through the chaotic phenomenon of the modern cityscape, a scenario which, a century later, has enveloped the whole globe and the spaces of individual consciousness.[7] 

This state of  confusion and limitation is the “mummery,” the world of experience and seeming knowledge into which Raymond Darling is born. A realm of suffering, it mirrors the enclosed room of the mind through whose shadowy illusions human beings struggle in the bewilderment of their existence as presumed separate “selves” and without the knowledge of their real nature. Already in his father’s attic room, young Raymond writes an instructive “little” play-parable titled “The Ego and the God-Idea” about a ventriloquist and his dummy, in which the dummy plays a nude and big-bellied Divine Lord and the ventriloquist a cute but poisonous creature, who confronts the Divine Lord and asks to be saved. But after the Divine Lord bores the poisonous cute creature with the “woozing ooze of Divine doctrine,”[8] the creature bites the Divine Lord to death. This grandest of all grand narratives relates individual awareness to what is outside and beyond it: “God” as separate deity variously believed, or disbelieved, to create, sustain, or pervade the universe—along with the contradictions such beliefs raise.

Since God is conventionally viewed as separate, when the creature asks him for salvation, it is aware that it can manipulate or disagree with the Divine Lord. This Lord replies to the creature’s garbled plea with a succinct esoteric communication but still from an abstract and separate position rather than from the state of their inherent unity. It is only when the Divine Lord refers to separate beings in the form of men and women, beings that the creature nowhere sees and that to some extent are negated by the Divine Lord’s words, that the creature puts an end to the charade of separate duality and bites the Divine Lord to death, or into the nonexistence of illusion, because “There Is Only One,” an assertion true not only of the show put on by the ventriloquist in the book, but also of the conditions of narrative itself as originating in an individual consciousness. And because there is “Only One,” after the act of biting the Lord and putting an abrupt end to the fiction of duality, the creature finds itself to be always “very OK!”  despite its smallness, odd appearance, and simultaneously poisonous but self-pitying nature, an assertion that the condition of unity is one in which, as the ground of existence, nothing is lacking, and the usual signs of limitation and difference make no difference. The creature, whose name is Meridian Smith, already assumes a mysterious and paradoxical identity in Raymond’s book, but especially when he interacts with Raymond as a character in his own right in later chapters of The Mummery Book.[9] Nevertheless, this initial narrative disposes of one of the false convention of the common mind—the idea of a separate God—which already implies the other two, that of a separate self and that of a separate world, but also seems to call into question the separate elements of plot common to stories.[10]

Immediately after having written his little book, Raymond discovers on the reverse side of the pages his Dad’s “great” tragic play, a “mini”-narrative based on the particulars of every individual life—“The Quandra and the Raymond,” a scripted love story about Raymond and his beloved, but also about Mom and Dad and everyone else, and representing the universal desire for the attractive “other,” the beloved of the heart, assumed to be separate and longingly pursued with dreams of union and bliss. Quandra also signifies one pole of a basic duality always registering as a primal difference in the very nature of human experience: energy and consciousness, object and subject, observed and observer, body and mind, not-I and I. Dad’s play, described as a “Great Play,” written in passionate, elegiac verse and three times the length of Raymond’s little book, already betrays its flawed vision, not only in its title but in its subtitle, “For Two Principles and Many Voices,” which marks the “play” as conforming to the false principle of two-ness and the many voices of the men and women. Yet this narrative is cast in the compelling poetical language of spellbinding human voices with all the pathos of literary art that draws the reader poignantly into its fictions as it reaches into the most cherished core of the ego’s mummery-ridden archetypal illusions. Narrated by the chorus in the past tense (the closest that Raymond and Quandra are shown together occurs when they speak to each other on the telephone about their wedding preparations), the chorus ambiguously describes the consummation of their love, followed by Raymond’s heartbroken declamation of their separation, his loss of Quandra, and her death. This master narrative describes the problem inherent in every relationship, the “terrible secret” of inevitable separation from the beloved  through change and death, as in the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, the very dilemma of existence itself in the “natural, dying world, of Mom and Dad” (TMB, 33). And because every narrative traps human lovers in this confining script, the distinction between Raymond’s narrative of separate God and Dad’s narrative of separate lovers—indeed between all narratives—breaks down, since both plots originate in the same basic fault in consciousness, ultimately unable to satisfy the deep urge of the human heart for a happiness that is beyond narrative, separation, and bondage.[11]

But what exactly is the fault generating these narratives? After having written his book and read Dad’s play, Raymond waits until dark and crawls down from the attic to a hall door where he listens in on Mom and Dad’s conversation as they lie in bed. In this primal scene both Mom and Dad, now a degraded version of Raymond and Quandra, speak past each other in mournful surrealistic imagery recalling that of Dad’s play and ending with Dad’s pushing Mom out of bed and her weeping as a result. To her question, “What are you now?” Dad replies, in a moment of insight, “The pastimes of Narcissus” (TMB, 48). The name has already been mentioned in Dad’s play, when the voices describe Raymond as fallen out of the original unity of the Brightness of the First Room and become “the separate Narcissus,” and over the course of The Orpheum the reader begins to understand exactly who “Narcissus” is: the figure of Greek myth who fell in love with his own image, even to the exclusion of his beloved, he is the symbol of what Raymond calls the “self-contraction,” the presumption of separate ego-”I” active as chronic unease in the body-mind and constricted in attention. He is the symbol of the fragmentation of prior unity and the “schism” in consciousness of one’s own activity that alienates human beings from the “First Room” of their own intrinsic condition. It is this separate one who creates the countless “pastimes” of suffering that drive the unreal contents of every mummery’s plot line in search of some ultimate fulfillment of the presumed self in ignorance of its true nature.[12] As told in The Happenine Book, Raymond, beginning in his childhood to observe everyone around him, gradually reaches a mature clarity of insight: Narcissus, as the root activity of the self-fascinating ego-“I”, is the “principal psychological and philosophical illusion” of mankind.[13]

After Mom hears Dad’s confession of Narcissus, she asks him how he will survive, and Dad answers, “He cannot survive. His business is death!”  (TMB, 48). As Narcissus, a separate ego inhabiting a separate universe of separate “others,” Dad will die physically, but in his separateness he will also be the personification of unlove, sorrow, and despair to himself and to “others.” Therefore, in the sense of the narratives he tells and lives, with their preclusive plots and as exemplified in his play, he is in the business of death. But both statements contain another meaning: he cannot survive in the sense that he must not, and his business is death in the sense that the illusion that he represents must die. The pastimes of Narcissus, the countless mummery narratives of the troubled and troubling separate self, are all the same; the only important narrative is the one that brings an end to itself and the complication in consciousness that generates its own delusion. In The Orpheum, therefore, there are only two main narratives, one that marks the emergence of Orpheus, and the second one, which the triumph of the first one guarantees, that puts an end to the pastimes of Narcissus, or, as the voice of the Epilogue states, Orpheus has come into the hell of mummery, in contradistinction to all Dads, to provide a “New Play—/in Which Narcissus,/and not you/must die” (TMB, 236).

After Mom and Dad finish speaking, Raymond hears them turn in the opposite directions, as they have done in Dad’s play (subtly echoing the mythic Orpheus’ failure to save Eurydice from the underworld), in order to sleep. The emblematic exchange between Mom and Dad is repeated verbatim toward the end of The Mummery Book along with Dad’s play when Evelyn Disk, the insidious head priest of the Raymondite Church, has Raymond recite from  Evelyn’s “Mystery-Book” a ludicrous ceremony meant to bring Quandra back to life as she lies in her coffin. That self-deluding ritual script is brought to an end when Raymond, refusing to participate in its ritual, drops the egg of the ego as the spell of the merely human mind, bringing to an end its faulty symbols[14] and precipitating the “schismatic disaster” in the Church of Saint-and-Ear and his subsequent imprisonment in a mental institution for his radical certainty that Quandra is not dead. The dropping of the egg, containing the image of an eternally approaching Quandra in a boat on a lake, and constituting a never ending story always postponing their actual embrace into the future, is one more hopeful script that keeps everything the same in its separation from the truth, and, analogous to Meridian Smith’s biting of the Divine Lord, puts a symbolic end to the ego’s endless potential of generating its illusory narrative pastimes.  The ego-egg is also an iconic representation of the mind as a camera obscura into which light comes from the outside only incompletely, as does the sunlight through the windows in Raymond’s attic room, the particles of light that Raymond feels constitute the “Basic Form of Reality”  but which can only be perceived through a narrow window “point of view” aperture instead of in its totality.

That totality, which the shattering of the confined ego-egg mind realizes, is what Raymond calls the “Bright!”, the “The Conscious Light,” or “Love-Bliss Itself. Free Standing. Self-Existing. Self-Radiant. Indivisible. Only an Enjoyment” (TMB, 228). It is the paradoxical assertion of embodied freedom: of matter as light, of the non-necessity of limitation, and of supreme human happiness.[15] And, as in the Orphic tale, even the underworld of the “dead” and its tormented inhabitants can, if only briefly, be gracefully transformed and liberated by it. In the realization of the “Bright,” Raymond and Quandra are already one, as are—unlike in the traditional account—Orpheus and his beloved. Having passed through and transcended the illusions of the mummery-world, Raymond, as the “Darling Friend” of suffering human beings, now instructs them about the “schism” that is their own activity.  

In The Scapegoat Book, Raymond as he is Himself, the “One and Indivisible Light That Is” (TMB, 210), explicitly transmits that instruction in the context of the struggle between Orpheus and Narcissus in a series of dialogues in the state mental facility between himself as prisoner and his captor-priest, Evelyn Disk. The setting of The Scapegoat Book is literally a room, simultaneously the First Room of Raymond and the room of mind of Evelyn, both sitting across from each other. Instead of the adventures of mummery and its various settings, the drama consists in the back and forth of the dialogue, which itself constitutes the chief narrative of The Scapegoat Book, in the case of Evelyn, as the seed activity of the mind before it engenders the play of narratives. In the next twenty chapters in a series of verses and numbered sections, as in a Platonic dialogue or a sutra, Raymond instructs Evelyn in the traditional devotee-master relationship involving a life of practice and devotion to Raymond as spiritual teacher, who transmits the force of Reality Itself and the esoteric teachings about the function of attention, the feeling of relatedness, the self-contracted ego-I, and its transcendence in the Perfect Realization of Non-Difference. Evelyn, referred to by Raymond as the Great Fool, at the end of book rejects both Raymond and his revelations.   

The title of The Scapegoat Book singles out Raymond’s captivity as the most fundamental act of human beings by which they seek, through ordinary knowing, and by the narratives inscribed by such knowing, to scapegoat, that is, to enclose, control, and finally to destroy, the “other.” Because the individual ego is afraid of being controlled by everything that is not one’s own ego, once the ego brings the “object” or “other” under its power by learning its “secrets,” it systematically destroys the “object-other” through enclosure and limitation by means of any cultural, social, or political mode of systematized or strategic action. Thus, the objectifying activity of egoity, both active and passive, obstructs the  “inherent pleasure in the Infinite” (THB, 200) by reducing the “Bright” to “object,” “other,” or “thing” as captive “rooms” that trap the fixed perspective of their inhabitants within a center, or the “middle,”[16] by manipulating these via attention, like the sight in the crosshairs of an optical instrument or of a prisoner in the middle of a cell. In terms of narrative, once “point of view” targets an object, the pattern of plot complication and dénouement immediately follows: for every detail that the story highlights, other details are made peripheral or omitted, in effect making the story an exercise in selective and therefore distorted attention as well as resulting in the impulse to fill in the gaps by generating more stories.[17] As Raymond states, “Objects arise by apparent contraction of the one Self-existing and Self-Radiant Field of Being (Itself), and contraction of the Single Field (or any single field) always results in dynamic perturbation (or an apparition of opposing forces)” (TSB, 99), and this resulting play of opposites leads to separateness, lovelessness, and the obsessive search for happiness, inevitably resulting in suffering. Describing the self-contraction’s superimposition of difference on Reality (TSB, 82), Raymond admonishes Evelyn to locate Reality Itself by releasing the feeling of difference and relatedness, which is self-contracted attention, and then “Locating” What Is There prior to that rather than “locating” what is standing as object before attention (TSB, 85). But Evelyn, who as ego is “sized-down to the smallness of a mind and a body in a world” (TSB, 8), also sizes-down Raymond to that same smallness, not only holding on to the “smallness” of his heart’s response to Raymond but also to the “fractions” of objectifying mind and its ego-magnifying language in the verbal duel between them.  

Like a facsimile machine, Evelyn replies by parroting words, phrases, and statements  of Raymond’s that have no basis in Evelyn’s actual experience, suggesting the ego as nothing more than a farrago of intertextual scraps, having no substantial core. At other times Evelyn apparently believes the statements he appropriates, such as “I am only Consciousness itself” and “I am inherently pure, free, and at peace” (TSB, 10), words that merely indicate the indefensible claim of “instant perfect knowledge” (TSB, 17) and a mere reproduction of patterned sound. And when not reproducing Raymond’s words, Evelyn slyly alters or expands them, as in his defining statement, “I am wonderful! And I am large with always more!” (TSB, 13). The first clause brings the image of Narcissus at his pond; “large” and “always more!” suggest the search for, and accumulation of, experiences even by the propensity of the ego’s language itself to objectify and drive narrative, suggesting that, in a fundamental sense, words create “objects,” which then move to populate the world with scripts,[18] always emplotting themselves into scapegoat narratives and their confined rooms.  Evelyn also uses “more!” as a reflexive turning inward on the supposed immensity of his mind as a great arena mirroring the universe of opposites in playful commotion, “like a child-book illustration” in which the expansive self sits contemplating “its own equation” and multiplying in endless patterns in search of release and pleasure in a fun utopia “with great pavilions—and many separate rooms” (TSB, 52) through which  the ego wanders as the hero of its own grand narrative on a never-ending adventure. Even the “room” of language itself is one more fixation of illusion that the ego projects, reducing reality to what Raymond will later call a “cube-o-sphere of mere ideas,” comparing language to the cubing of a sphere, an impossible task generating an abstract “theme park of mere words” (THB, 274), only trapping the fascinated “objects” in their minds and “failing to come up to infinity” (THB, 272).

But Raymond’s realization of the “Bright” paradoxically makes the body-mind articulate, and The Orpheum creatively defamiliarizes the objectifying medium of language by the striking use of hyphenization, capitalization, underlining, and quotation marks to distinguish the uppercase “free mode” discourse of Reality Itself from the lowercase reality of ordinary speech.[19] Thus, Evelyn’s assertion of “more!” can immediately be seen in its stripped down poverty when compared, for example, to such utterances of Raymond’s as “I Am the Avatarically-Born, Avatarically Self-Transmitted, and Avatarically Self-Revealed Divine Self-Revelation of the “Bright”” (TSB, 76). Evelyn’s statement divides one sentence into two, exaggerating both with exclamation points in addition to aggressively underlining the self-absorbed yet uncapitalized linking verb and also the final adjective, which emphasize the outer-directed meaning and potentially unending narrative engorgement and excursion out of the First Room. Raymond’s utterance, on the other hand, has a stately and heightened cadence, the capitalization giving an absolute fullness that is visually felt. The hyphenated “Self” adjectives confer a peaceful unity that Evelyn’s statement lacks. In a kind of transcendental orthography already seen to full effect in The Mummery Book, this Orphic metalanguage serves as a conceptual interrupter through which the truth beyond the captive-room of “point of view” that Evelyn occupies can be suggested by a visual correlative of the First Room that Raymond Is. Raymond’s language brings its referents to rest; Evelyn’s is additive and addictive, engendering ever more narrative pastimes, more dream scripts from which he does not want to be awakened, so that at the end of The Scapegoat Book, he tells Raymond,  “And, please, forget us here — and do not ever come to ‘visit’ us again!” (TSB, 103).

Whereas The Mummery Book ends with Raymond dropping the ego-egg, The Scapegoat Book ends with Evelyn in effect dropping the wisdom-teaching, the very help that he needs, by giving a poison apple to Raymond as a false gift, ironically still following a traditional script between realizer and devotee but corrupting it in the process. Raymond, undeceived, accepts the scapegoat apple in a compassionate act of self-sacrifice, and, after uttering a last rebuke, disappears in the First Room of “only whitest white,”  leaving behind no “shadow’s fall” to darken the mummery with another deceptive narrative. That act is left to Evelyn, who, declaring himself to have won the “Terminal” debate, now holds Raymond’s discourse captive as a rewritten and bogus version, and goes on to become a TV “Avatar of Consciousness” with one more! “terminal” text of limitation.

Yet Raymond has acquired a devotee in the mysterious Meridian Smith, who has  preserved a true account not only of Raymond’s last night of captivity but also of his last discourse, and who  has compiled a posthumous collection of the Great Sage’s disparate manuscripts and tape recordings, augmented by his paintings, drawings, and photographs, the whole making up The Happenine Book,[20] which Meridian now passes on to the reader with Raymond’s “forever Blessings to all” (THB, 4). Whereas the first two books of The Orpheum have narrated Raymond’s life from an outside third-person perspective, The Happenine Book retells the biography of Raymond again but this time in his own words through incidents related from his earliest “Childhood Teachings” to his mature years as spiritual teacher and his disappearance. For 34 of its 36 chapters, The Happenine Book presents the language of experience, as though duplicating Evelyn’s need for “more!”, in all its possibilities as the tantalizing “lure” of narrative[21] in an explosion of literary forms: short stories, memoirs, talks, aphorisms, journalistic descriptions, anecdotes, surrealist fantasy, and poetry. It is as if the “Mystery of Living Light,” scattered as knowledge and experience by the multi-planed “angularity” of the “Captive-room” of space-time, or the mind’s “packages” of unreality (THB, 49), were presented as each complete in itself and yet as each making up and admitting a different “point of view” angle on Raymond’s life as the embodiment of his teaching. Left behind “for all of us to find,” these encapsuled space-time bits of life-experience are called by Raymond “happens,” at the same time that the identification with such experiences in our own mind is an illusory presumption of the separate “self” and therefore a fundamental error of human beings, which must be transcended, even as moment to moment instants.[22]

Accordingly, in the first chapter Raymond tells us that “Raymond Darling” is a consciously created fictional character whom he invented. Born as the “inherently egoless Divine Realty Itself” (THB, 7), whose consciousness is not bound by “point of view” or complications, Raymond soon understands that in the world of his parents he will not be allowed to live as that which he already is. He must become his parents’ child and accept the experience of a limited life in order that, by living as a fictional persona, he can do his spiritual work as Avatar and let his assumed life become a great revealing lesson for others. He does this intentionally for a great purpose, the very purpose of the mythic Orpheus, but, in fact, Raymond states that everyone in the world also lives as a fictional character by donning ego-costumes, except that human beings do not know this yet. The root of mummery becomes clear: whenever there is an imagined “I,” the narrative game of unreality results. Fictional characters inherently play fictional games. Or, as Raymond says in a chapter titled “A Child’s Guide to Happiness”: what you do is games. Games are life,  inherently unsatisfactory and painful. But you are Happiness, the non-narratival “Bright,” before you do anything, before anything “happens.”[23]  Therefore, the cessation of the mummery narrative follows: “Be As you Are” (THB,47).

The previous two books have, in various modes, shown how to Be, from the iconic dropping of the ego-egg to the practical understanding of the scapegoat mechanism of the ego. In Orpheus’ archetypal struggle with Narcissus, The Happenine Book now recasts the discourse in The Scapegoat Book by two of Raymond’s most radical teachings, one from his “childhood” and a final one from his “End-of-Childhood Revelations,”  both illustrating the “madness of dissolution” (THB, 31) into all cessation of narrative games, or into the Bright Reality of “As you Are.” The first forms the basis of Raymond’s esoteric teaching of Radical Ignorance, or the “Unknowability Principle.” In a series of recommendations ostensibly directed at “children,” Raymond tells them that the first thing they must do, when they are awake, dreaming, or in whatever other state, is to remember to feel the Mystery, and thus feel Reality: “Feel that you do not know what even a single thing Is. You may know the name of something or someone. You may know about all kinds of somethings and someones. But you do not—and you cannot—know what anything or anyone Is. Nobody does—and nobody can.” And Raymond states that it is important to remember to do this often: “As long as you go on feeling this Mystery, you feel free and full and happy — and you feel and act free and full and happy to others. This is the secret of being happy from the time you are small until the time you are old” (THB, 55). One feels calm, stops thinking, and forgets to be afraid. But Raymond goes further in his instruction: “You are not anything you know or feel or see or hear or look like or name or think. All these things just happen — and you get to watch or know or think them” (THB, 58).[24] And then he asks: “Well, what are you, if you only watch all of these things?” And answers: “You Are the Mystery! Yes! And you do not even know what you Are, either. Yes! There Is Only the Mystery!” (THB, 58). The non-engagement of knowability, or all sense of “normal” orientation of familiarity, is now “radical” in both meanings: established as a “root”-reality, because it states something about the very origin or nature of human beings and consciousness, yet also that of being drastic or extreme regarding the usual ideas about oneself and reality “out there” by stripping the self of all points of reference and undermining fundamental notions of narrative coherence and meaning by which people order their lives.[25] As Raymond states in a later chapter: “You do not get ‘It’ … There Is no answer … There Is nothing to ‘get’… There Is nothing to seek …  ‘It’ Is Always Already The Case” (THB, 245,254,255,265). And Raymond returns to the instruction to feel the Mystery that he gave to “children” but this time in words directed to adults: “Before you take the time to perceive, before you take the time to think, notice ‘It’” (THB, 270).

The direction to “Notice ‘It’” foreshadows the seminal 35th chapter of The Happenine Book, titled “The Teaching Manual of Perfect Summaries,” which is at the opposite end of Raymond’s “childhood” revelations and at the conclusion of The Happenine Book, the only chapter with its own introduction, and one by  Meridian Smith, in effect a book within a book in the trilogy comprising The Orpheum. Consisting of  a five-page summary in handbook form of partly numbered instructional statements of Raymond’s preliminary “Perfect Knowledge Teachings” given to all his devotees from the beginning of their devotional relationship to him, Meridian’s introduction tells us that these are Raymond’s “most fundamental and essential Teachings” (THB, 282) to be always practiced moment to moment in every stage of the “Heart-Way of ‘Radical’ self-Understanding.”[26] In contrast to the titles of the three books of The Orpheum highlighting the egoic mind’s enclosure in narrative “books,” or “rooms,” of mazelike limitations, the  Manual is a concise and literal instruction restating the ultimate wisdom revelation contained in each of the three books. The Manual also illustrates the esoteric idea of the whole as contained in the part, or the “ocean in a drop of water”—and, of course, vice versa.

The first part of the Manual, subtitled “The Five Reality-Teachings,” begins with the first injunction: “Notice this: 1. You are not the one who wakes, or dreams, or sleeps” (THB, 285). This startling summary statement pertains to the three traditional states comprising the progressive in-depth divisions of the human psyche, the first two containing the most potentially disturbing experiences and narratives while the last one, the deep sleep state, temporarily relieves us of the other two, thus refreshing us at depth and the one to which we must return daily.[27] The other four declarations and the further  summary statements in the Manual elaborate on this first directive, ending with the call to “consider and directly prove” the truth of its assertion and its elaborations in every moment of our experience. We recall that the injunction expands Raymond’s instruction to children about what to remember to be happy. There he had said that “you” are not anything you know or feel or see or hear or look like or name or think, in other words, not the one who wakes, dreams, or sleeps. “You” only get to watch these things as the Mystery, not as a separate one who actually does these things, though “you” are, mysteriously, associated with him or her. In other words, “you” are only conscious of these states, as a  witness, and the witness, as Consciousness, neither acts nor thinks.[28]

Thus, the Manual addresses the reader as witness by focusing on the faculties by which the mind-body mechanism associates itself with every experience. Everything that happens registers in attention, emotion, mind, and breath, that is, as something that is knowing or known through these means. In a practice called “Reverse Enquiry,” the Manual instructs the reader always to notice the knowing and the known, and to remember, or to know “in reverse,” the knower—the Mystery, the “Bright,” Reality Itself, or “As you Are”prior to separation and therefore to all objects and states of experience, that is, before the familiarities of time and space arise to set the causal wheels of narrative in motion through the modes of waking and dreaming, and even that of deep sleep. Raymond compresses the Manual’s five-page instruction into a striking declaration: “When you uncurl/’Narcissus’,/ at the root/of ego’s ‘I’/of self-contraction/here …then,/You will Know Me,/Perfectly,/by/Heart’s One Means,/of/“Perfect Knowledge”/of/the Heart Itself” (THB, 239-40). 

The image of “uncurling” Narcissus “at the root” undoes every variant of narrative in all its forms and its basis in language itself, reinforcing the imagery of Reverse Enquiry in spatial terms as a kind of “re-turning” or a “backtracking dissolution” into the Prior Unity of Reality Itself, or, as Raymond puts it in the varied language of his Orphic teaching, “Infinity Is simply where there Is no ‘point of view’” (THB, 270). The “point of view” is another aspect of the consequences of the self-contraction, which the Manual proceeds to address in the next two sections on the direct transcending of the “fault of objects” and the “fault of knowledge and the known.” The title of The Scapegoat Book, for example, refers to the appalling work of the ego in obstructing our “inherent pleasure in the Infinite” (THB, 200) by reducing the perception of the “Bright” to “object,” “other” or “thing.” Every chapter of the work reinforces that obstruction by the image of Raymond as captive in his cell at the mental institution with his ego-jailer Evelyn sitting across from him even as Evelyn also objectifies Raymond’s discourse, not allowing it to penetrate his feeling heart and reducing it to the “little arithmetic” of the mind as Evelyn throws it back at him. The practice of Reverse Enquiry for transcending the fault of “objects” therefore states that, when any “object,” or anything, apparently arises, one “Be Whatever is not-an-object” (THB, 289), thus radically abridging Raymond’s more traditionally spiritual discourse in The Scapegoat Book and joining it to The Happenine Book's admonition to Be “As you Are.” And it follows that knowledge and the known are to be similarly transcended by locating “the knower” and only Being “That,” the “Bright” Radiant Ground after the “de-objectification” or “de-fixation” of the ego, leaving only What Is Always Already The Case, inherently not knowable and beyond understanding. The Manual ends with a mahavakya, a great utterance from scripture or a holy person: “Is Happen That Is,” where the Is, the indivisible simultaneity of “Already The Case,” prior to the fractioning point of view in time and space, encloses the “Happen” of seemingly fractioned appearances and motions, like a sphere. But the counterintuitive and unspeakable paradox of the Manual consists of not being that to which you mysteriously seem connected as “that”; the mahavakya thus restates the paradox in its elliptical language by the separate word “Happen”—states of waking , dreaming, sleeping—indicating two separate conditions, and inexplicably connected to “That,” a substantive pronoun yet at the same time a conjunction,  relating Happen to Is, the egoless and Self-Radiant Reality Itself, out of which and upon which the happens arise and ride.[29]

With the conclusion of the Manual, the “happens” comprising the chapters of Orphic biography come to an end, marking Raymond’s disappearance, or “reversal,” as in the Aristotelian terminology regarding one of the key elements of tragic plot, and echoing the narrative endings of both The Mummery Book and The Scapegoat Book. The text continues for the last two chapters speaking in a voice of highly charged free verse similar to the prologue and epilogue of The Mummery Book. The penultimate chapter, titled “The Fall of Happen’s Text,” uses “fall” to signify the liberation in the form of the ultimate “downfall,” or release, of knowledge and experience as the irreducible bottom-line constituents making up any meaningful text by which human beings guide their lives and which have now been shown to be a “fall” into a “fault” and the false foundation of any thought. “Fall” also has an ultimately Orphic significance. Recall that the first chapter of The Mummery Book began with Raymond’s “Falling! Down, to all his life,” marking the descent of Orpheus into the underworld to save his beloved from the preclusive text of separation and death. And this sacrifice of descent points to the profound connection between the Realizer and Reality: the Realization of the Divine cannot occur by any willful method or manipulative egoic agenda, as in the case of Evelyn’s attempts; it involves submission at the heart to the Divine via right life and devotion, and is ultimately a gift of Grace.  As Raymond has already stated to Evelyn in his captive cell, “If only My heart were touched to sympathy, by the true heart’s wound and plight and wanting need” (TSB, 17), or if only Evelyn had approached Raymond with a “mindless and unfractioned heart” (TSB, 40) and with true feeling devotion, he would already occupy, by Grace, the First Room of Consciousness Itself. As the speaking voice states: Raymond himself constitutes his claim to the truth of his teaching and the reason that he is here: “I Am/The True Heart’s/Explanation/of/Reality” (THB, 426).

But already in the same chapter, the voice of the text prepares the reader for its last reality and literary revelation in terms of the plot of The Orpheum by asking, “How Real/too/was This Raymond/now/that He is gone?” (THB, 308). And the very last chapter states that Raymond and Quandra were only a myth, “Invented” just for “Teaching’s/Purpose/here” in “Mighty Fiction’s Best” (THB, 431,434). By calling attention to itself as a work of fiction, the text also calls attention to its vertiginous self-reflexivity: a myth in the terms of the Reverse Enquiry’s “uncurling” of the waking, dreaming, and sleeping Narcissus; in terms of humorous allusion to a reversal, or “catastrophe,” of the tragic hero, usually resulting in his death; and in echoing Raymond’s key statement in The Happenine Book's first chapter about everyone’s living under an assumed identity.[30]  We remember that Raymond and Quandra are characters in Dad’s play, but they are also first-order characters appearing as “real” characters in the work even as Raymond utters his revelations about the nature of reality “outside” the work, which are unconditional assertions yet which point to exactly the same fictional situation.

But if Raymond is just a myth, like Orpheus, who exactly is speaking in the last two chapters of The Happenine Book? The disclosure comes in the middle of the last chapter: it is Meridian Smith, who announces that he himself is the narrator of the three books of “Happen’s Text” and that “Raymond Darling” is his “Life-Long” pseudonym. We recall that Meridian Smith is a fictional creation in Raymond’s book “The Ego and the God-Idea” at the end of which he bites the Divine Lord to death precisely because a separate God is a fiction of the separate ego; it now appears that Meridian has done something similar to Raymond. Meridian appears as a character in subsequent chapters of The Mummery Book, and he is “inexplicably present” as the head psychiatrist during Raymond’s dialogue with Evelyn, preserving an authentic account of Raymond’s discourse. He has also organized the materials of The Happenine Book. Therefore, a fictional character created by another fictional character, who is the main character of the trilogy, reveals himself as the true narrator of the work, which throws the whole matter of persona into question as already announced by Raymond’s assuming his persona in order to participate in the human mummery of other unknowingly assumed personas. As the “Bright” Divine Reality Itself,  Raymond states that he assumed the fiction of “Raymond Darling” when he was about two years old. Previous to that moment of “conscious, responsive, intentional beginning,” says Raymond of himself in the third person, “He has no existence” (THB, 9). But one should see this assertion in the light of Meridian’s statement that he has survived Raymond’s “disappearance” after his captivity in order to display the “Happens” in “Life’s First Room,/Within/the every mind” (THB, 436). 

The last chapter confronts, once again, in terms of literary “space,” the paradoxical yet liberating nature of Reality and the obstacle presented by the mind of Narcissus. The title of the chapter, “Sphericus (The Root of Happenine),” suggests Raymond’s sphere, a circle, circularity, no beginning or end, a seamlessness traditionally connoting the indivisible Divine Reality, the matrix from which all things arise, including the “objects” of the states of waking, dreaming, and sleeping—bodies, minds, the ego and its narratives—therefore, the roots of all experience and knowledge in any state whatsoever. But the reverse is also true; as Meridian states: “All/ Happenine/Is/Sphericus/Enacted/As/world-Mummery/of/Circularity” (THB, 440).  In Reality there are no egos, no separateness, no objects, no “points of view”; there is only indivisibility, only Totality, only “God,” only Reality Itself, inherently unknowable by the mind. But how is that to be understood by the “objectifying” inherently dissociating mind, through “objectifying” and therefore inherently dissociating language? If there is only One, as stated in Raymond’s “Little Book,” then what is the status of the boundaries that generate such fundamental distinctions as the difference between Raymond and Meridian in the first place? And if there are no differences in reality, how can such a “thing” even be stated, let alone comprehended in terms of the usual explanatory apparatus of narrative, concept, or even language itself?

The three books of The Orpheum take us through a process that ultimately confounds “point of view,” separate “one,” and separate “other” because they transcends the limits of realistic representation or imitation. We have, like Evelyn, “objectified” Raymond even while receiving his revelations, only to find out at the end that he doesn’t exist, that he is another character that we have also “objectified” and who also does not exist. As a matter of fact, we, as egos, do not exist either, having only our fictitious personas that we play in the game of egoic mummery in the same way that Raymond tells us he didn’t exist before he put on the personality of “Raymond Darling.” And yet there Is  Radiant and Transcendental Being Always and Already. The interlayered and multifaceted biography of Orpheus, neatly contained in a “book,” has erased itself in the loss of the identity of its protagonist—and of its readers—in the very process of the revelation of the truth of the “Bright” he has come to make known. Just as the bite that Meridian inflicts on the “Divine Lord” vanishes him as an illusory creation of the mind, which Meridian is also, just so does it vanish everything else, including the “countless men and women merely ‘existing’” that the “Divine Lord” seemed to see (TMB, 32-33).  Orpheus has vanished in all his “objectifications” as Narcissus must vanish if “he” is to realize the nature of Reality Itself. It is that paradoxical “spherical” space of  Reality, the First Room of Absolute Indivisibility, that we enter in the last chapter, but where we have actually always been in the previous books and chapters of The Orpheum. Narcissus in his mummery is in the First Room too; he cannot not be in It, though in his ignorance he “objectifies” It, separates from It, makes It different from himself, and the resulting suffering of this mumming “game” is his unconscious abstraction from It. He is mysteriously connected to and in the Divine. That is why Meridian can talk of  Sphericus being enacted as “world-Mummery/of/Circularity,” where the capitalized “Circularity” refers to the First Room as the already ecstatic freedom in the spherical endlessness of the Divine Reality from which, and as which, “one” cannot dissociate.[31]

Every ego-room longs to be outshined and thus dissolved in absolute light, the Limitless Acausal Self-Radiance, or the room as it really is, in the present fullness of total illumination, “without a defined center (or an egoic and conditional self), and without any limits, shapes, or boundaries” (TSB, 92) and merely brightly Conscious as All, free of egoic knowing—or any separate knowing. And The Happenine Book has already prepared us for the final paradox of its last chapter. When Raymond describes his own search for the Bright during the years when he was exiled from its original intuition, he first describes it in spatial terms as being on the outside; then he speaks as it, from the inner position but ultimately beyond spatial terms: “It was as if I always saw the ‘Bright’ from some position within the conditionally apparent form of My own living being—but outside of its Perfect Self-Center,” or “as if I was constantly beholding My own heart from some position outside” (THB, 30). Yet after the apparent barriers of ego were finally transcended, there was freedom from “point of view,” and all the parts of the mind were “transposed and dissolved in a Most Fundamental and Indivisible Singleness ... There was no longer any Presence ‘outside’ Me. I no longer ‘observed’ My Own Self-‘Bright’ Self-Nature … as if from some position external to, and separate from, It. I [was] Reality Itself. There was no ‘Presence’, no Other’. I Myself had ‘become’ Perfectly Self-Present … “  (THB, 31). “Perfectly Self-Present” in the “Perfect Self-Center” is the “Perfect Knowledge” of “Sphericus,” the heightened language of The Orpheum  after one resolves its functional references to the three common states, the states we are not, as instructed in the Manual of “Perfect Summaries.” The language pushes to its limit by turning back on itself and re-turning again, sphering the cube into

Divine Unknowability while cubing the sphere into a tacit comprehensibility. Yet, as if to illustrate the connection between the realm of “Happen” and the It of Reality, or between mummery and the Bright, as the “That” of the Manual’s mahavyaka shows, a version of the above passage is given in lower case:  “I Realized that I was not in any sense ‘in’ a body — not only a physical body, but any body, or any psycho-physical function, or even any subtle function, form, or state. Nor have I ever been in a body, or in any function, or in any condition, or in any conditional state or experience. All such things are merely apparent, and not at all necessary or inevitable” (THB, 30).

A further illustration of the above passage and the “merely apparent” status of the relation of the  “Bright”  to an “other” or “not-I” is provided by a striking experiential instance of “Perfect Knowledge”  in Chapter 33, appropriately titled “Two Happens One Is,” when Raymond, in love with a young woman named Mai Tock, describes standing on her doorstep in the evening and looking up at her. Suddenly she would become totally unknowable: “It  was not merely that Mai Tock became unfamiliar and unrecognizable to Me as a particular woman. She suddenly was not familiar to Me in any sense at all! No name, no thought, no known bodily ‘who, no face I knew, no ‘who’ of My in-love. I did not feel dissociated from Mai Tock in the Sudden Events of non-familiarity. Instead, there was a tacitly obvious profundity, that was inherently and self-evidently beyond all familiarity, and prior to all feeling of relatedness. There was not even any separate sense of ‘I’ at all. And noother,’ too. And no ‘idea’ of what is ‘human.’ And no ‘idea’ of body, or mind, or place, or time, or world. There was no separateness, no ‘difference,’ no ‘thing,’ no ‘other,’ no ‘she,’ no ‘me’ of ‘Me’” (THB, 276).  

In such a sphere of unknowability, the radical ignorance of and from all narrative conditions, yet one which is at the root and the periphery of happenings, Raymond and Quandra now “reverse” to something like the status of a myth within a dream about which it can be asked how real they were now that they are “gone.” As Raymond says, we are combined as egos in the dream of mummery, but if, with the help of Raymond’s revelation and his actual person, mummers can awake from their dream, they can notice that they are not actually “either the dream or the dreaming or the active dreamer of the dream” (THB, 278). Then they simply feel “a mysteriously detached association with the whole process”—detached but still associated, not separate or divorced from. That is the graceful curvature of “Perfect Knowledge,” and something like it is suggested by Meridian’s assertion that he is actually Raymond. In fact, that assertion may be a cosmic joke in the context of Reality Itself and in terms of narratives of assumed identities in the realm of mummery, the kind of joke perhaps inherent in Meridian’s biting to death of the Divine Lord himself, after which everything is “very OK” even as the desperate excursion into Dad’s play and the pastimes of Narcissus are still to be experienced. The representation of this paradoxical connection can conceivably only be made non-iconically in terms of an unrepresentability that makes no sense and that may be equivalent to the dismantling of iconically representative language,[32] so that the  lucid waking from the dream narrative is the ultimate “unrepresentability,” and its dissolution in the radical nature of the “Bright” undoes itself in the sheer liberation of its own blissfulness.

Such a state carries with it not only the basis of all true humor, but the “madness” of true sanity inherent in the “uncurling of Narcissus” from all his scripts, so that ultimately all one can be is Happy.[33]  Similar to the reputedly ancient initiations into Orphic mysteries, such intervention of radical non-familiarity brings with it the ecstasy already present prior to all wandering in all the states, even as the world continues its games. In that dissolution of “self,” a “Divine Gift” in a “Happenless Place,” one is One—full of Love-Bliss with “no ‘reasons’ for it” (THB,120), the “Bright” mystery of confounding joy always at the ground of our unconfounding familiarity:

But Happiness is always already the only Real option you have. I am telling you that, when you get through with all of the heroism of your seeking, and you are at the end of all your life of suffering—you will simply Realize that you should have been Happy, instead. Then you will know that you have no knowledge whatsoever—and that you Are Always Already in the Infinite Desert of Consciousness Itself, Always Already One with What Is Divine …. When I Realized That, I discovered I Am Happy. And everything became plain,   after That … I am telling you, Happiness Is the Truth That Is Always Already Native to you. (THB, 161)  

This discussion began with the premise of  postmodernity as a global phenomenon, the world as a community in which the diversity of its groups and individuals is acknowledged and sustained by the whole yet in which no single shared or unified narrative, whether religious or secular, exists so as to give ultimate meaning to the life of the whole. There is no agreed upon knowledge; there are merely stories constructed to satisfy the human need to make some sense of the flux and chaos of the world but which themselves reflect the apparent absence of ultimate knowledge and even obscure the knowledge of Reality Itself. Although it is a literary work of fiction, Adi Da’s The Orpheum offers a radical perspective on the issue of the entanglement of world and fiction by, paradoxically, its call to go beyond humanity’s bondage to its fictional self-identity and fictional “other.” Since all art is a representation, all art is only a reflection of Narcissus, and therefore all literary art is a reflection of the mind’s illusions via the medium of conceptual or perceptual meaning, or meaning as an illusory ego-based “point of view” “objectification.” 

But Transcendental Realism is that mode of literary art which communicates the “Direct (and Inherently egoless) artistic Self-Presentation of Reality Itself via (or in and as) the medium of conceptual meaning”[34]  rather than the indirect or reflective “point of view” experience stemming from the presumed separation and separativeness that is the ego-act.[35] Just as the dummy Lord, generated by the ventriloquist “self” and bitten to death by Meridian, does not exist, either at the end of Raymond’s little book or in Reality Itself, so neither do Raymond and Quandra in their much more commonly generated play of two-ness, a true grand narrative of egoic bondage we all live through every day. Indeed, Meridian’s bite, which puts an end to the duality of a separate god and separate everything else, is the mirror image of the same bite that craves adventure in a world populated by seeming differences. That egoic bite is driven to consume experiences and accumulate their separative knowledge in an expansion of itself into the space of world-mummery—the limited identities of national, racial, religious, ideological, and personal histories we act out when we confront the separate “world” with our separate “selves” and whatever “God” we have on our side.

We are all living through the last two chapters of The Orpheum where, for the first time in recorded history,  all narratives are compressed and in proximity to one another, face to face, and in one’s face, as each of their “points of view” are found to be partial, wanting, and confused; the “fall of happen,” of experience and knowledge, has already occurred, though we have not yet noticed it, and the fall of everyone’s egoically presumed identities must surely follow. The games of fear, sorrow, anger, and unlove that comprise the daily pastimes of the self-contracted Narcissus do not, as Raymond disarmingly says, look happy, masking as they do our inherent existence as the “Bright.” If we are not the ones who wake or dream or sleep, what is left except to allow our “selves” and our “happens” to fall out of the fictions of two-ness and multiplicity into the profundity of “Sphericus,” the Root of Happenine—or all experience—the not-two of prior unity and that unspeakable Oneness that reveals itself as the basis of a new way of life. What Is Always Already The Case, Reality Itself, or not separate “self,” exists as ecstasy and humor whereby we already can freely demonstrate the cooperation, tolerance, and peace inherent in the “Bright.”[36] Then our actions are not a matter of any dogma, ideology, or program of beliefs but of what is inherently egoless Conscious Light, the “Indivisible, Absolute, and Infinite Reality Itself.” For only without  the egoically self-generated identity of separate self, separate other, and separate “God” can common problems be effectively addressed in a spirit of non-confrontation. And although true art cannot by itself righten the chaos of world mummery, the genius of Adi Da’s The Orpheum is to make us aware of at least the possibility of an era of post-difference and post-mummery in which we can wake in the midst of our sleep to the radical narrative of a triumphant Orpheus in whom we recognize our true nature, and so can receive his words in true happiness and freedom:

I Am The Darling Friend

of yours,

Who Mocks! and Weeps!

the Narcissistic Mummery

from your life—

and "Brightens" you,

within the timeless Space

of Unexplainable,

That Is

the Irreducible

of Mystery

That Is

Reality Itself.  (TMB, 234)


[1] The phrase generally designates an appeal to linguistic description as the limits of philosophy. For a critical overview see Michael Roemer, Telling Stories: Postmodernism and the Invalidation of Traditional Narrative (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 1995), 195-201.

[2] On literature and culture see Jay Clayton, The Pleasures of Babel: Contemporary American Literature and Theory (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 10-11;on narrative as a “basic principle of mind” see Ray Lubeck, “’Talking Story’: Narrative Thought, Worldviews, and Postmodernism.”  National E.T.S. Meetings, Orlando, FLA  Nov. 20, 1998.

[3] Mark Curie, Postmodern Narrative Theory (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998), 1-4, 106-13 passim.

[4] Adi Da Samraj, Transcendental Realism: The Image-Art of egoless Coincidence With Reality  Itself (Middletown, CA: The Dawn Horse Press, 2007), 34.

[5] The title The Orpheum combines the Latin suffix –um, a place of an activity, and the Greek –on, being, or, as in “odeon” or “odeum,” a roofed building for the performance of vocal and instrumental music in ancient Greece and Rome, and “orphion,” or “orpheon,”  a keyboard instrument or the name of a choral society—and, of course, Orpheus himself, who simultaneously is the state of Reality Itself and one who has temporarily lost that state as he initially wanders through the chaos of a typically bewildered life and world. In this latter case, and to the degree that the word recalls a performance hall, the –um in “Orpheum”  echoes the –um in “mummery,” a ridiculous performance, or narrative, by actors or mimes, and the main word in title of the first book of the trilogy.

[6] Adi Da Samraj, The Orpheum: The Happenine Book. Review copy  December 5, 2007 (The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd., 2007), 19 (hereafter cited in text as THB).     

[7] On the interpenetration of fiction and world in general, see Steven Connor, “Postmodernism and Literature,” The Cambridge Companion to Postmodernism, ed. Steven Connor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 69, 70-79 passim.

[8] Adi Da Samraj, The Orpheum: The Mummery Book. Review copy March 1, 2007 (The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd., 2007), 37 (hereafter cited in text as TMB).

[9] In Chapter 6 of The Happenine Book, Meridian Smith is described by Raymond as a “special” boy, who one summer day participates with Raymond and his childhood friends as they play games in the neighborhood.

[10] For the existential implications of narrative plot, see Roemer, 51-56.

[11] For the preclusive and limiting aspects of narrative, see Roemer, 3-9, and 11-56 passim. Raymond and Quandra’s union as a "Single, Breathing Consciousness” in actual time is beautifully and erotically described later in the book, yet afterwards they weep, for they have discovered the “secret” of all lovers—the simultaneous realization of love and the knowledge of its inevitable ending as in the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. But at this point, unlike in the Orpheus myth, Raymond violates the obligatory script of Dad’s play and the traditional one of Orpheus. Instead of looking back and losing Quandra again, as in the ancient myth, and committing what would constitute only a temporary variant in Dad’s play by postponing the inevitable ending, Raymond leaves Quandra and walks away. He has found the “terrible secret of the human heart”—and it is unacceptable to him. His search for the satisfaction of his feeling-heart’s great primal need for a happiness beyond all limitations, narrative or otherwise, a state where Quandra and he “Are Ever-One” in the ultimate and never-to-be-lost realization of their embrace, will constitute his revelation gift to human beings and the reason for his birth into the human  mummery.  

[12] Another example of Narcissus that involves Raymond’s parents is described in the third chapter of The Happenine Book and called by Raymond an “archetype of all conflict” (THB, 14-15).

[13] Adi Da Samraj, The Orpheum: The Scapegoat Book. Review copy September 28, 2007 (The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd., 2007), 94 (hereafter cited in the text as TSB). See also the passage beginning “That was it! That was the essence of My understanding!” (THB, 23).

[14] Raymond purposely violates the cultic rite of his church by dropping the “egg of attention”  that holds the form of the dead Quandra. With this gesture he demonstrates his freedom from egoic mind and its illusions of separation and duality and therefore freedom from every kind of narrative of search, attention constituting the egoic seed of narrative plot. Unlike the mythic Orpheus' failure, this act marks the beginning of Raymond’s Perfect Realization of non-separateness, fully elaborated in the rest of the work. Thus, The Orpheum echoes the traditional story but also transcends it by the ultimate resolution of the "Orpheus" problem, or "Raymond's problem," the problem of mortality and the inevitable death of the Beloved—and everything else

[15] Its key description occurs in the third chapter of The Happenine Book.

[16] Adi Da Samraj, Perfect Philosophy: The “Radical” Way of No-Ideas (Middletown, CA: The Dawn Horse Press, 2007), 54-55.

[17] J. Hillis Miller, “Narrative” in Critical Terms for Literary Study. Ed. Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1990),  72.  

[18] Andre Brink, The Novel: Language and Narrative from Cervantes to Calvino (New York: New York University Press, 1989), 9, 5.

[19] The “Bright,” for example, is in quotation marks to indicate Raymond’s special use of it; “point of view” is in quotations and lower case to indicate that it doesn’t exist in Reality; and the capitalization and underlining of “Is” indicates that it is not used conventionally, is not a link to something else, is the opposite of the separate “I”, and is indicative of Reality Itself, a shortened version of “What Is Always Already The Case.”

[20] “Happenine” is a play on “happening” and a combination of “hap,” “happen,” and “happy,” among others, suggesting experience as defined merely from the illusory space-time “point-of-view,” which is the essence of human egoity.  The suffix “-ine,” however, also suggests that each bit of experiential space-time occurs in the context of the Divine, or What Is Always Already Happy, a “Hap-in-[Div]-ine.” Thus, the introduction to The Happenine Book can speak of the “Gift of Happenine” to the reader “by sending you to wander in the Infinite Space of His Happenine,” or the “Inherently egoless Divine Reality Itself” (THB, 1,7). 

[21] On the inability of the modern novel to do away completely with the traditional function of “telling a story,” see Brink, 207, and see Vico’s suggestive statement that every metaphor is a fable in brief, Robert McGahey, The Orphic Moment: Shaman to Poet-Thinker in Plato, Nietzsche, and Mallarme (State University of New York: State U of NY Press, 1994), 140n.

[22] If we recall Raymond, in his attic room in the third chapter of The Mummery Book, blowing about the particles of sunlight that constitute the basic forms of reality, and their material equivalent in the following chapter of scattered sheets of papers on which both Raymond’s book and Dad’s play are written, we see figuratively how these discrete building block of light congeal into forms of controlling narratives lived out by mummers captive in their scripts, and even by Raymond himself, until the dropping of the “ego-egg.” Similarly these scattered particles of light “thicken” into the individual discourses in The Scapegoat Book, assuming the false discourse of the Great Fool as well as, of course, the free revelatory one of Raymond. The Happenine Book it is as if each separate particle of light contains within it a slice of narrative in Raymond’s life experience at the same time that it dissolves itself, as light, of the implication of that experience in terms of time-space causality and from the “point of view” of mummery, or in terms of conventional material existence.  

[23] One of Raymond’s signature arguments is to undermine the self-contracted ego’s experience of present time.  Because the perception of anything is mediated by the body’s nervous system, it follows that to perceive or know something  always takes time, if only a fraction of a second. Therefore, all conditional experiencing is always in the past, and there is no present time. To know the present in Reality is a different kind of knowledge, and what Raymond means by Perfect Knowledge. It is not in time. As egos or difference-registering mechanisms, we are all living our stories in the past. This time-lagging aspect of mummery gives another  meaning to Dad’s phrase, “the pastimes of Narcissus,” now literally the “past times” of the contracted ego and its accumulation of never-presently-known experience as a goal of life’s “theme park” of illusory history. See THB, 269.

[24] This is the “mysterious conjunction” of which Raymond speaks in the 35th chapter, and an aspect of the radical and paradoxical Way that he teaches: one does not scorn, or dissociate from, the world, the watching, knowing, or thinking. One participates as the Happy “Bright” witness of the “world.” 

[25] See the exchange between Raymond and a devotee, when Raymond asks him if he is afraid of actually becoming anything, a duck or an orange, for example: “Me: ‘Can you imagine yourself being an orange? I mean, completely being an orange — and nothing but an orange? Can you imagine being an orange to the point of actually becoming an orange? You are a little afraid to do that — are you not?’” (THB, 157)

[26] The reader is told that the Manual is a distillation of Raymond’s final discourse, given on the last day of his life, of the Perfect Summary of the “Perfect Practice” of “Perfect Knowledge,” which Meridian Smith presented in its original form in Chapter 18 of The Scapegoat Book. The Manual is thus an elliptical text,  the summary of a summary, collapsing all egoic narratives and texts into one discourse, and the final answer to Evelyn’s counter-arguments of refusal.

[27] See Chapter 23: “An Address to the Annual Meeting of the Worshipful Transgalactic Society of Somnambulists,” in which the waking and dream states are called “aberrations” on the ground of the deep sleep state, which is called the “root-condition” that enlivens the other two and is the reason one spends as much as a third of one’s lifetime in it. Nevertheless, that which is to be realized, Reality Itself, is deeper than the sleep state. (THB, 124, 126)

[28]Adi Da Samraj, Reality Itself Is The Way: Essays from The Aletheon (Middletown, CA: The Dawn Horse Press, 2007), 77.

[29] Adi Da Samraj, The Self-Authenticating Truth: Essays from The Aletheon (Middletown, CA: The Dawn Horse Press, 2007), 59.

[30] See Chapter 1, “’Raymond Darling’ Is Fictional Character,” and  the statement in Chapter 26: “We are all under cover of an ‘assumed’ identity” (THB, 8,158).

[31] See the statement “All experience, then, is Divine Samadhi” in Adi Da Samraj’s “The Knee of Listening: The Divine Ordeal Of The Avataric Incarnation Of Conscious Light. The Spiritual Autobiography Of The Ruchira  Avatar Adi Da Samraj. (Middletown, CA: The Dawn Horse Press, 2004), 370.

[32] Raymond suggests such linguistic dismantling  by “talking wild,” a method of teaching that he at one point affirms when he asks his devotees to imagine what it would be like to be duck or an orange (THB, 156-57 ), or when he recommends ecstatic babbling because it demonstrates true speech anchored in the “Matrix of unitary not-of-mind” (THB, 251), or singing the numbers one through ten squared “all at once” (THB, 273).

[33] For ecstasy as the fundamental human motive and purpose and its connection with true art, see Adi Da Samraj, Aesthetic Ecstasy (Middletown, CA: The Dawn Horse Press, 2007), 24-25.

[35] For Adi Da Samraj’s  photographic and image art as examples of Transcendental Realism, see  the website Da Plastique: The Art of Adi Da Samraj, <>.

[36] See the chapter “C+T=P: Formula for World Peace,”  in Adi Da,  Not-Two Is Peace: The Ordinary People’s Way of Global Cooperative  Order (New, Expanded 3rd ed. Middletown, CA: Is Peace 723, 200), 99-101, and also the website Da-Peace, <>.


Quotations from and/or photographs of Avatar Adi Da Samraj used by permission of the copyright owner:
© Copyrighted materials used with the permission of The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd, as trustee for The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam. All rights reserved. None of these materials may be disseminated or otherwise used for any non-personal purpose without the prior agreement of the copyright owner. ADIDAM is a trademark of The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd, as Trustee for the Avataric Samrajya of Adidam.

Technical problems with our site? Let our webmaster know.