Divine Distraction

Invoking our relationship to Adi Da Samraj

Month: March 2016 (page 1 of 2)

Sacred Environments, Agent-Objects and This Moment in Adidam

1, “Frogs and Walls”

Chapter 15 of the book Love of the God-Man, is entitled (using current language) “I Give The Gift That Is The Heart Itself: Adi Da Samraj’s Transmission of Ruchira Shaktipat”.  The ninth section of that chapter is subtitled, “Other Forms of Initiation: Initiation through Speech, Laughter, and Leelas, through Objects Associated with the Sat-Guru, and through His Mere Regard”.  In this post, I would like to focus on “Objects Associated with the Sat-Guru”.  Hurricane Winston, did devastating damage to so many aspects of Naitauba. But perhaps the most difficult and tragic 081118loss was to objects associated with Bhagavan Adi Da.  So as a means of our processing and discussing this, I would like to speak of this dimension of Adi Da’s Gifts and Blessings and Avataric Appearance.

Objects associated with Adi Da are many and varied, and to write a full description of all of them would be more than a post, but a book itself.  There are many different types. I will describe some of this below. What is understood is that the Spiritual Realizer has an influence or an impact on everything with which He or She comes into contact. He does not merely work Spiritually with humans, men and women. He or she also works with “frogs and walls” as Adi Da descriptively put it in a talk from 1975. I was present that afternoon, and He was sitting on a chair in what was then called Great Food Dish, now Darshan Adytum, at the Mountain of Attention (then Persimmon). His back was against the windows that face Temple Adi Da, and it was the afternoon, and He spoke these words:

“The human Guru has the vehicles useful to humanity and so he seems apparently to be serving human beings perhaps exclusively.   But basically He is serving all beings. And not even individuated beings essentially. He serves the world-manifestation in total on every level. Above the world, within the world, in the lower dimensions of the world. And literally, not as a matter of amusement or an amusing metaphor, the walls do sadhana. Everything does sadhana. The particles of the air do sadhana. Plants do sadhana all creatures, inanimate things, material things as well as human beings, and beings beyond the human, within the human and so forth.

All of these dimensions are available to the Guru’s Siddhi and the Guru function. But that Guru function is in Satsang.  It is silent, not apparently active. Activity is generated towards specific conditions, specific kinds of reception and so forth.

And that is one of the reasons why I’ve thought it useful for us to find a permanent place for our Work. Because the places in which this Satsang is generated in which it is lived and so forth become the very manifestation, the very form of that Siddhi.

So we’ve had many locations for the Ashram and have abandoned them one at a time. Persimmon [now the Mountain of Attention, which was the only Sanctuary at that time] is the only thing like a possible permanent location. And it is useful to have such a permanent location wherein this Siddhi is invested. Where it is made apparent. Just as it is made apparent through the Instrumentality of disciples and devotees.”

_E4Q3166_webHere Bhagavan Adi Da makes it plain that He Worked on all levels. Just as He is describing Working with the Mountain of Attention, He later, of course worked with Naitauba and all of the Sanctuaries of Adidam, which He said, in fact, could be considered His Very Body Itself because of their intimate association with Him. And He Worked with the buildings themselves. I was present, along with others, with Adi Da in what is now the Sukra Kendra at the “Brightness” when He first stepped into that room on November 19, 1993. When He went into that space I saw Him looking up and down the walls, and in the corners of the room, Blessing them and associating Himself with them. He has told us that the “secret” of this process is that He does not see these rooms, or objects, or even people as “other” than Himself. But He immediately and fully Recognizes them as a transparent and non-binding modification of the same Divine Reality that He Is and that is Only God. And the mystery of it is, that once Bhagavan Adi Da has made that intimate association with any object, or space, or person, then that Sacred Link is established. And continues Always, Eternally, as part of the sphere of Blessing that Is Adi Da Samraj’s Avataric Appearance itself.

Adi Da strengthened this Sacred Link through continued association with places and things. Places and things (and people) that He spent a long time with, if they were receptive and if they did the “sadhana” of that relationship, became stronger and potent and more full. Many of us witnessed how when Bhagavan Adi Da sat at Seventh Gate Shrine at the Mountain of Attention, that He would time and time again, place His Staff on the Shrine containing the Murti images of His Hands and Feet. IMG_2204He would touch them directly with His Cane, or He would splash water on them, or simply gaze at them. Each time He was strengthening that connection and that link between Himself and that place. And Bhagavan described in the talk excerpt quoted above, “Frogs and Walls”, that such places do their own form of “sadhana”. He spoke of how when He returned on one trip from Hawaii to the Mountain of Attention, how He was interested to see what would be the quality of His Siddhi that remained Alive and present in His Office/Sukra Kendra behind Temple Eleutherios. And He said that He was pleasantly surprised to see how potently that place had maintained His Blessing Force. In other words the place itself, in a mysterious fashion, had done “sadhana” of remaining true to Bhagavan Adi Da, had remained receptive and embracing of His Spiritual Blessing, which He could tangibly feel on His return  from Hawaii.

His Work, living at the various Hermitages and Sanctuaries of Adidam, has become effective in the sense that those places, all in their unique way, hold or maintain or are Alive in relationship to Him. And this relationship to Him is direct. It is not mediated through anything else, but itself is what allows these places to be His Agency. Of course He spent special time at Naitauba, and He described it as unique home or seat of His Work. But He described that all of the places were the same, truly.

IMG_2233This is from “The Universally Consequential Event at Ruchira Dham Hermitage” (The Aletheon, pg. 1721-3)

“I Am Eternally Seated in each and every one of My Directly-by-Me Transcendentally-Spiritually-Empowered Sapta Na Sannyasin Hermitages and Ruchira Sannyasin Sanctuaries—and Most Potently in each and every one of the Sukra Kendra I have Established in Those Hermitages and Sanctuaries.

Adi Da Samrajashram Is My Principal Seat of Transcendental Spiritual Presence and “world”-Work—but all of My Directly-by-Me Transcendentally-Spiritually-Empowered Sapta Na Sannyasin Hermitages and Ruchira Sannyasin Sanctuaries are Unique Agents of My Divine Avataric Transcendental Spiritual Presence and “world”-Work forever.

All of These Most Sacred Places must be preserved as the Great Divine Avataric Holy Places of Adidam Ruchiradam forever. …..

Just as This Body is, in due course, to Be Placed at Atma Nadi Shakti Loka, I Have, by Bodily Means, Transcendentally Spiritually Established Myself forever in every Sukra Kendra……

My Sukra Kendra at Atma Nadi Shakti Loka Has a Unique Primacy among all My Sukra Kendras.

However, in some sense, all of My Sukra Kendras Are the Same Place, and, therefore, all of My Sukra Kendras Are Equal.

My Sukra Kendras Are simply My Room.

Adidam Ruchiradam must be always expanding, always extending to everyone.

Adidam Ruchiradam must never be self-enclosed, or turned in on itself.

All My devotees must be activated in their whole bodily devotional recognition-response to Me….

On that basic, all My devotees must go out to all others, and live in relation to all others—rightly participating in the mission to all others by having become right themselves. “

So here Bhagavan Adi Da speaks of the unique Empowerment that He has by “Bodily Means”,  Accomplished, that is present in all of the Hermitages and Sanctuaries.  And then immediately next, He makes it plain that all of this is not to be a process that becomes “self-enclosed, or turned in on itself”.  I find that just after the most profound description of the most profound places that exist in the world, His Sanctuaries and Hermitages, and specifically the Sukra Kendras in each of them, which are all essentially the same place He says, He tells us to be “always expanding, always extending to everyone”. I will come back to this point in another post, but I want to continue now to talk about the places and objects Empowered by Bhagavan Adi Da by His “Bodily Means”.

Obviously by Bodily Means, Bhagavan Adi Da is not talking about a mere materialistic process. He is referring to the fact that the Avatar takes Form Bodily, concretely and specifically manifested in an Avataric Body. And creates Agency through many forms by means of that Avataric Appearance down to His Toes in Bhagavan Adi Da’s case.

  1. The Sacred Environments of Adidam

Fun house Laughing Mama

What I want to talk about here, because I feel that it is part of all our heart-wound at this moment, and because I feel that we need to culturally discuss and consider this entire matter, is the fact many Spiritually Empowered places and objects at Naitauba were “insulted” by the Laughing Mama. (Adi Da’s term for the Shakti power itself, “who” is signed by carnival island “fun house” lady). She acted as if they didn’t mean “shit”, but simply washed a tidal wave upon the beach at the Matrix and crashed into one of the most Sacred Spaces in Adidam and the world.  I will go into this more fully, but first a little more about Sacred objects.

It is probably true that many if not most of the devotees in Adidam have not had the opportunity to go into the intimate environments of Adi Da. Many of us perhaps had the opportunity to go into the entry room at The Manner of Flowers and then into the Darshan Hall to sit with Bhagavan. It is likely the case if you had this opportunity, that you were not looking at the objects in the room, but only either at the “Bright” Beloved One before you in Darshan, or focused on preparing to see Him, or leaving His Company so full of His Divine Siddhi from having been with Him that you did not notice much.  Likewise, if you were at Naitauba and had the opportunity to go into Bhagavan’s Bedroom at Aham Da Asmi Sthan when His Body was sitting there after His Mahasamadhi, it is unlikely that you would have noticed or “seen” much besides the Form of His Body Sitting there.

So I would like to say something about these places from the perspective of having had the Gracious opportunity to be in these places numerous times, and to have in some small way been involved in serving Bhagavan’s Establishment of the objects in these spaces.

IMG_2193Bhagavan Adi Da environments were extraordinary fields or realms of Blessing, in a perfect Harmony and Aliveness that cannot be described in words. They were so full of His Siddhi. As I write I am thinking primarily here of His Bedroom at Aham Da Asmi Sthan, which of course was so ravaged by Cyclone Winston. But I am also thinking of the bedroom at the Manner of Flowers, which during the Valley Fire, myself and many others, helped to completely empty into Bright Behind Me to safeguard the objects. All of Bhagavan’s Environments are so special that devotees referred to them as the Divine Domain spaces. This includes places like Ordeal Bath Lodge at the Mountain of Attention which Bhagavan used, or His Library in Bright Behind Me which was maintained for Him. It includes Indefinable, His Residence in Qaravi Village at Naitauba, and His Bedroom at Tat Sundaram and “My House” at Lion’s Lap in which He spent a great deal of time in, during the very last years of His Life. The list could go on and on. But so primary among them are the bedrooms at the Manner of Flowers and at Aham Da Asmi Sthan, where His Physical Body lived the most time.

The Sacred environments in these places included His Personal Objects such as His Bed of course. And close by were His Clothes and His Canes and His Grooming supplies. All of those things so associated with His Body. All of these are treasures. They are Agents of His in the sense that through contact with them, and the Transmission that is Alive in them, we are put in contact with Bhagavan Adi Da. They bear a Transmission almost like a scent. (And His Oils were so present at Aham Da Asmi Sthan as well. Bhagavan had, during the last years of His Life, used scents so strongly. He had remembered how potently the scents were associated with His memory and remembrance of Swami Muktananda. And asked what were those scents that Swami Muktananda used most prominently.  He used some of these scents, but also gathered about Himself and used so many scents during those last years.)  All of the senses were engaged when you would enter into Bhagavan’s Environments. They were beautiful beyond measure to the eyes. They enveloped your feeling so immensely that at those times when I was in these spaces when Bhagavan Adi Da was not physically present, I would sometimes look around the room for Him, because it felt that He was there. You felt and feel “touched” in these spaces, because the feeling of Him in them is so profound.

And now I am coming to the objects themselves that were in the room. As devotees know, Bhagavan had many collections of objects that were special to Him. There were traditional objects, such as Tibetan Thangkas and bronzes and Indian paintings and bronzes, and things from all traditions of the world. (He valued in particular the pieces that showed the disposition of self-transcendence.)  There were Disney objects, “icons of happiness” that were full of joy and laughter and transformed by His Transmission into Radiance. There were Teddy Bears, symbols of the illusion of relatedness, and paperweights, which Bhagavan intensely collected and used during the time when His Own Eyes were being stabilzed after glaucoma surgery. Fijian objects were particularly in Hermitage, and many of them collected in the front room of Da Asvamedhanath Bhavan. There were natural objects of beauty and Sacredness , golden cowrie shells (held sacred by the tuis of Fiji) and lingams and saligrams The spaces in Bhagavan’s environment were full of all these things and more.

Bhagavan used the objects in His Environments as “coins” for His Work altogether. Just as Shirdi Sai Baba had a bag of coins and would take them out late at night when others were sleeping. And the Hindu-Muslim Saint would run them through his fingers. The big five rupees coin–that was Shama. And the old 25 pice coin was Mahalsapathy.  And he would use the coins as a way of remembering all of his devotees and working with them all one by one. Bhagavan Adi Da used the objects in His room that way. First of all, any gift given to Him by a devotee or a group of devotees was a way for Him to connect or link up with that devotee or group of devotees. He would often leave it for some time in a special place, until He had finished doing a particular “puja” with that object, and then He would put it in some other more “final” place. It was always very important to Him where He placed any  object for He used them as a way of setting up a force-field or mandala of Blessing which He Himself knew and the rest of us could only guess or marvel at. Woe unto the devotee who unconsciously moved or misplaced one of the objects in Bhagavan Adi Da’s Environments. We learned back in the earliest years at the Manner of Flowers, when we were invited into Bhagavan’s House, or had the opportunity to serve it when He might be temporarily elsewhere, that we had to very carefully watch to not interfere in any way with the very specific placement that Adi Da made of the objects in His Environments. His Placement of them was extremely intentional, and He felt interfered with or violated if we unconsciously changed in any way the pattern which He had established. When Bhagavan Himself would decide to go through His Rooms and move things around and alter the pattern, it always felt to us that somehow the cosmos itself was being rearranged. It was something that felt to be of massive significance, when He would move around the objects in His Rooms.

Bhagavan Adi Da’s relationship to these objects was not how we would ourselves conventionally relate to them. No one could fully understand what they all meant to Him, and what the specific pattern was. Sometimes He would tell us some things. Sometimes if we had personal knowledge about a particular type of object or class of objects then we might have some insights into it. Often it was my service to write to Bhagavan Adi Da about the traditional art which He acquired. He would have questions about specific things within the picturings.  It was a great pleasure to provide Him with some traditional understanding of the objects which He had. But He always cut right through any myths, trappings, or sentimentality relative to the objects He had around Him, and incorporated them into His Sacred Vision in a way that was true, right, aligning, and purifying for the entire world.

  1. “I want Indian bronzes”
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Four-armed Durga

I was involved in the last few years of Bhagavan’s Lifetime with being an intermediary in providing Indian bronzes for Him. In 2003, He had verbally expressed His Desire to have more of these. In the middle of His planning for Danavira Mela gifting for His Intimates, Adi Da had, with a humorous twinkle in His eye, asked, “What am I getting for Danavira Mela?” Gina Macione, who was working with the gifting at that point (and told me this story), replied to Him, “What do you want?”  He answered, “I want Indian bronzes”.   And so as part of that Danavira Mela, some Indian bronzes were given to Him. Soon after this I was asked by one of the Samrajya servers (Subra Sundaram) who knew that I was going to India each year, to start to learn how to provide these to Bhagavan  so that He might receive them more directly from India, cutting out a level of middlemen that was raising the costs. So I invested myself in learning about them and finding them, and having them be sponsored so that they could be “enjoyed” by Bhagavan Adi Da. Besides many other items, in the last years of Bhagavan’s Life many of His spaces were filled with these small images of gods and godesses. Adi Da was and is the Master of the Great Tradition. He confessed to us that He and She Is Me. He did not worship these figures, but instead incorporated them into His overall Work of Blessing.

I would learn the traditional iconography of these figures, but how the Divine Person would use them, of course, is a tremendous and wonderful Puja that was mysterious beyond my knowledge. But it was clear that everything that Adi Da used was not for any personal reason, but for the uplifting and Spiritual liberation of everyone and everything. I could have my speculations. For example, Annapurna, the goddess of food, perhaps Bhagavan could use that in a way that was about feeding everyone. Did Bhagavan have such a statue to aid with world hunger.  Siva and Durga and her family (including Santoshi) were about self-transcendence. So all of the objects represented either an individual devotee, or a part of the world or a traditional culture, or a Sacred archetype.  Adi Da did not “say” much about this particular puja, so when He did talk about it, it was always wonderful to hear His description.

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Small, primitive Durga Mahishasuramardini

On January 5, 2005, He received a small Durga in the style called Mahishasuramardini. Mahish is the water buffalo. Asura is a demon. Mardini is the liberator or Spiritual conqueror. So this image is Durga who liberates or Spiritually conquers the water buffalo demon, or the demon who has taken over the water buffalo. Here are Bhagavan’s Words speaking about receiving this gift from a discourse from Samraj Mahal:

“I received one gift today. It was a material gift from a couple of devotees. It’s a small old figure from India, a little bronze of a form of Durga, Devi figure, or if you like Universal Shakti figure, myth of the cosmic force, and this particular mode of the Durga is always shown standing on a water buffalo and usually driving a spear through it, or something like that – that’s the typical icon.

In this case the Durga was holding a kind of short sword or dagger, standing on the water buffalo and the water buffalo, instead of just being a natural looking water buffalo, was a water buffalo at the hind end and then there was a human torso at the front end with arms and a head and little fangs to show that this is a really stupid or demon-like character, stupid demon, not just a demon, and the Durga is holding this humanoid water buffalo by the hair, the top knot, it had long hair, and you can guess what’s going to happen next, you see, off with his head and, but that’s just presumed if you know the story.


Mahish demon being grabbed by Durga

It’s a sculpted image, so you don’t see the taking off of the head, but you can guess probably what’s about to happen there. She’s going to slay this demon and the story is that this demon is ignorance. It’s a stupid, low-minded demon, just as you even use the word demon in your, in the words you said to Me a few minutes ago. And so I received this, and I put it on the table next to Me as I received the reports and had to be put through some phone call with some people. Which was lucky for them because they weren’t in the room with Me and they could only hear Me raise My Voice rather than dispense the usual volley of rocks which might be traditionally expected or, well it’s certainly something to make envisioned momentarily [laughter]. Why not off with their heads, well, nah, but, [laughter] at least it was suggested by the little figure I received there. What was that supposed to be? The agenda for the day. Symbolically. So you all tend to come to me as stupid demons. Low-minded and ignorant….Something that needs to be transcended or overcome.” January 5, 2005

So it was rare that Bhagavan spoke of His relationship to these bronzes.  Here He shows how He integrates this traditional image of Durga Mahishasuramardini into what is actually happening in His Own Life.

By having a whole galaxy of Sacred objects in His Environments and working with them, moving them, viewing them, adding to them, He was Working and arranging the entire Cosmic Mandala of forms. They were coins for Him. Adi Da really preferred the Siva/Durga side of things when it came to the statues, rather than the Lakshmi/good luck god or goddess. The self-transcending quality. We being the supercriminals, the ego, the Mahish. And these gods and goddesses were not simply myths, but living Realities to Bhagavan. It was not the technicalities of the iconography–although He noticed things in a way that was amazing. He had the Eyes to see. Bhagavan, by virtue of His total ego-transcendence, Knew somehow everything and could See it, and notice things that someone else, who might have handled that piece many times, had never noticed.  But He invoked into them the Living Quality of the Spirit Force, the god power and goddess power.


Old bronze Ganesh

So Ganesh, who traditionally brings auspiciousness, and is invoked at the beginning of any puja, we can imagine to Adi Da was about Embracing everyone and everything. Durga, who bears all the weapons to destroy demons, was about the Shakti or Spirit Force Itself destroying the egos of all living beings.  Mahakala, the Tibetan fierce “Lord of the Tent”, was one of Bhagavan Adi Da’s favorite images. He was a guardian figure in Tibetan Buddhism. One who, in the entourage or Spiritual galaxy, protected the Divine, by destroying the ignorance and egoity of anyone who approached full of themselves or with negative intent.  Bhagavan Adi Da’s Circumstance was always vulnerable to negative forces, for whom the Supreme Lord of All the Worlds, as we knew Adi Da, was their opponent, and the Mahakala we can only imagine was Bhagavan’s Strength and Power of resoluteness. As He has told us, no one can stand up against the Truth, and that He could not in ultimate terms be Touched. To invoke Bhagavan Adi Da truly provides protection from all negative forces. But in conditional terms, there was and continues to be, a struggle for the Divine to continue to emerge. The Valley Fire and Cyclone Winston can be seen in these terms.



10-armed Ganesh with faced rubbed smooth through devotional rubbing

The people who made these objects were trying to reach to the Sacred. They were invoking the Spiritual archetypes. And Adi Da appreciated seeing signs of devotion on objects. Hindu statues that have been handled for hundreds of years, often lose their features. They have been rubbed and held and adorned with kumkum and ash, so often and so fully, that the features on certain parts of the stautes, most often the faces, are smoothed out. Literally rubbed out. And instead of that being something that detracted from the “value” of the piece, as might be considered in the “marketplace”, Adi Da preferred these images, loved the quality of devotion that was evident in this type of patina or surface look.


Painted bronze image of Padmasambhava

Traditionally statues in India are “brought to life” by the ceremony of “prana pratistha”, generally by a priest anointing its third eye or adding a touch of paint to the eye of a statue. Bhagavan, by virtue of His Divine Siddhis, invoked the prana pratistha or bringing to life of His Statues, spontaneously, by merely handling them. When Bhagavan received such an object He would pick it up and look at it Making comments about it Smiling at it. Speak to it. Handle it in all sorts of ways. In early years, when we would be in a discussion with Adi Da at the Manner of Flowers or Bright Behind Me, and we were not forthcoming with an answer, I remember Him humorously asking, His Padmasambhava statue, “Padma, what do you say about it?”  He would often oil them, or arrange them in such a way in relationship to each other, that they became rested in the space of the room. And then henceforth they were part of His Sphere of Blessing. His relationship to time and space was such that when He handled them and associated Himself with them, then they were incorporated into His Sphere of Blessing.

It is said that the Divine Realizer is the center of the universe. By virtue of His total surrender of the ego, He has become One with All and all. So as He sat in His Room, He would have these objects surrounding Him which became part of His entourage, literally part of His Household.

  1. Adi Da Samraj’s Rooms

Bhagavan also spoke of Living in Rooms. And wasn’t the room at Aham Da Asmi Sthan the main room in the entire cosmos where He Lived, even if He wasn’t there physically? Archetypically, Adi Da has said that the Taj Mahal is the primal room. But _E4Q3166_webin Living Terms, what other space was more associated with Bhagavan’s Body than the bedroom at Aham Da Asmi Sthan, and the entire living process. Spiritually, yes, the Sukra Kendras are the senior spaces, but in terms of the room or space where Bhagavan Lived.  I am just thinking aloud. That was a primal room for Adi Da, where He was eternally Living, at the Matrix there, surrounded by all of those objects. And He established Himself there, even though at the end of His Life He was mostly living at Lion’s Lap, Spiritually He never left the Matrix. Just like He is living in all of His Bedrooms at all of His Sanctuaries. He had not left the Mountain of Attention, but was Alive there in His Bedroom at the Manner of Flowers, if we understand and relate to that space rightly. But most primally, as a living Space, His Bedroom was a Temple, a Sacred set apart space, where Bhagavan used these objects to create an environment of inclusive Blessing of All and all. And so these objects rounded out the picture.


James Steinberg at Tao Books bookstore

Bhagavan made it plain that we ourselves should not presume a relationship to traditional gods and goddesses. Because of my service to Adi Da, this point was made to me over and over again. As I have mentioned previously, when I came to Adi Da I was already employed at Tao Books, a Spiritual bookstore on Newberry Street in Boston. I had a collection of photographs of different Spiritual Masters. I had been looking for a Spiritual teacher for some time—had already been to Hasidic Jewish summercamp and seen the head of the Lubavitcher sect of Chabad Hasidism, Menachem Mendel Schneerson. I had seen Buddhist Teachers and Hindu Teachers and Sufi teachers and Shamans, etc. Tao Books itself had been started by students of Michio Kushi who was head of the Macrobiotics community in the United States, and I was part of this community for a couple of years. I am only saying this to tell you that I had a lot of “spiritual baggage” when I came to Adi Da, and continued to serve Him by starting the Dawn Horse Bookstore on Polk Street and being His librarian at the Mountain of Attention, and being a “diplomat” in meeting with other Spiritual Teachers. Literally some other devotees felt that I was a “traitor” to Adi Da because of my interest in all of these things. (Luckily a couple of members of Bhagavan’s Household saw my service to Him in a most positive light and helped encourage me.) But Adi Da over and over again “kept me straight” relative to all of this, by jealously guarding my attention. He always made it plain to me that I should be able to do my work within the various aspects of the Great Tradition, but never look to the left or the right, but only keep my attention on Him. He was and is all the Gods and Goddess, all the Spiritual Teachers that I might need. Everything was and is summarized or Realized in Him. He is my Ganesh, who I invoke for auspiciousness. He is my Siva, who destroys my ego. He is my Shirdi Sai Baba, who grants my prayers. There was no reason to turn anywhere else. As I wrote Him once in devotional fervor, all of the Realizers in the Great Tradition were just a speck of dust underneath one of His toenails.  If ever I did not express to Adi Da that I understand this, He would correct me again. Over and over again, year after year. I sometimes joke and say that there is not a spot on my body where His Stick has not hit me for my Indian festishism (as He called it) or my obsession with the Great Tradition. As this process continued it became clear to me that every spark or fraction of any Realizer or figure of God or Goddess in the Great Tradition was simply part of the same Flame or Great Fire that is Adi Da Samraj.

So these objects that Bhagavan had in His Room were not for us important because of their traditional references, but because they were filled with or bearers of Adi Da’s Transmission.

The point being that we do not have a relationship to Ganesh or Durga ourselves. Perhaps if we were a Hindu-raised devotee we might. Bhagavan Himself did, and that relationship was His Alone.

  1. Relics in the Great Tradition

In the Great Tradition of humankind various objects, by their association with Spiritual Realizers or a presumed assthCA7ORWUVociation with various gods and goddess have been venerated and worshiped as Sacred. Such objects, called “relics” in the Western context, have been used to empower or Spiritually enliven the temples, churches, and stupas in which they were enshrined.  In Kandy, Sri Lanka there is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Gautama Buddha that has had wars fought over it.  In Kashmir there is a Mosque that is renowned for holding a single hair of Muhhamad.thCA0M6BLP Christian cathedrals all hold some sort of relics of various saints, some of them rather ghastly (cut off fingers of saints with rings on them), and there are more pieces of wood from the holy cross upon which Jesus of Galilee was crucified than can be imagined. People would visit these places to have association with the relics there and every great Cathedral had some sort of relic in it. In fact they would boast about the relics they held to attract pilgrims.

It was traditional in some places and times to allow the relics to be viewed. At the Potala, the famous seat of the Dalai Lama, in Lhasa, Tibet, on special days a relic such as the Phurba (or Sacred Dagger) of Padmasambhava would be taken out to be viewed. The Phurba was taken out on the same day once each year. And devotees would line up in great lines to have a moment directly in front of it. Sometimes the relic or box containing it, would be touched to the head of the devotee. At the Vedanta Society Temple in Los Angeles, there are relics from the cremation remains of Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, and Sarada Devi. These are kept downstairs. But one day a year they are brought upstairs and the devotees are allowed to be in their company. There are right and wrong associations with relics or presumed Sacred objects.


Mary on tortilla

Adi Da was highly amused by accounts of the face of the Virgin Mary “miraculously” appearing on a corn tortilla, or on the wall of a home of a devout Catholic believer. Even at the Mountain of Attention, there was a tree on the pathway up to Fresh Milk that had a configuration in the moss that made it look to be the face of Meher Baba. Adi Da humorously considered this with us. There was the “talking rock” that was found up near Red Sitting Man holy site, that was brought to Bhagavan’s Residence, then Bright Behind Me, in a basket, so that He could Himself “meet it”.  There is a movie that Bhagavan Adi Da has put on The Basket of Tolerance called Picking Up the Pieces. 220px-Picking_up_the_piecesIt stars Woody Allen. In the movie a blind woman stumbles over the severed hand of a previously murdered woman, and has her vision “miraculously” restored. She proclaims that this is the hand of the “Virgin Mary” and the entire village starts to revere the hand and it continues to perform miracles on the villagers until the origins of the hand are revealed.  Bhagavan Adi Da clarified this process of relics and miracles in an essay He has written for The Basket of Tolerance, which has been published as a small booklet, number 10 in The Basket of Tolerance booklet series, entitled “The Shroud of Turin and the Cult of Relics”.  Here is an excerpt from that booklet:


The “Shroud of Turin” and the “Cult” of Relics


the Shroud of Turin

Although relics (or objects associated with a Transmitter of Spirit-Baptism) have a proper function in the real process of Spiritual Transmission, the “cult” of relics (or the pursuit of egoic consolation through the veneration of holy “things”) is (and has long been) a kind of craze in the Christian tradition (and popular religious traditions in general). And, since the late nineteenth century, the “shroud” itself has become the “scientific” subject of a uniquely modern “cult” of “belief-and-doubt”. Indeed, one of the principal (and entirely exoteric) functions of popular religion (whether before or during the age of the “cult”, or mass culture, of scientism) has been to periodically create this kind of “thing” mystery. And the difference between mere belief and mere non-belief in a mysterious “thing” is merely the difference (by comparison) between comfort (or consolation of the ego) and discomfort (or non-consolation of the ego). Therefore, neither Spirituality nor Truth Itself (nor ego-transcendence itself) has anything to do with either belief or the absence of belief.

If the authenticity of the “shroud of Turin” (as the actual–and, necessarily, two-thousand-year-old–“burial shroud” of Jesus of  Galilee) is (at some point) generally accepted as having been clearly disproved, many may tend to be terribly fallen to their doubts (or, otherwise, to their materialistic and worldly minds) again, feeling they have been duped to hope by the perennial bunk of (“official” and “unofficial”) exoteric religious inventiveness. Indeed, these doubts (or even doubt itself) may dare to say religion itself is disproved and false–but true religion never was a “shroud” of hope (and even doubt and belief are merely an ego’s opposite states of mind).

True religion was–and is–the real and (more and more) ego-transcending Process of Real-God-Realization, or the Way of the progressive dissolution of all illusions (in the Self-Existing and Self-Radiant Truth and Reality that, in their most basic disposition, even all religions proclaim). And that Process (or Way) has been proved authentic again and again by the Realizers who (each in his or her own manner and stage of Demonstration) have become a self-yielding sacrifice to (and in) the Only One Who Is.


Here Bhagavan Adi Da points to the fact that relics, have a “proper function in the real process of Spiritual Transmission”.  Rather than a cultic attachment to any particular object and its traditional associations. And that genuine process is what has been interfered with by the loss of objects in Adi Da’s Environments in the wake of Cyclone Winston.

  1. Agent-Relics in Adidam

378625_2781822231068_377411412_nThere are many different varieties of Agent Relics that were associated with Adi Da.

1)  There were relics that were personal to His own Bodily Human Form, or circumstance that are part of the general Empowerment of His Sacred Environments. This would include the Wisdom Teeth, hairs and fingernails, containers of blood, etc. Occasionally these items were used in Empowerment Vessels in establishing Temples (hairs and fingernails). These are not generally to be taken out or viewed by devotees in any way, but simply to be used in the Empowerment of a Sukra Kendra or a Temple. These types of relics or Sacred objects were not kept in Aham Da Asmi Sthan and were not lost. They  were typically kept in Sukra Kendras.

2) Sacred Objects  that were specifically Empowered by Bhagavan Adi Da to be used Spiritually. This includes the Sacred Padukas. It would also include Blessed Malas or Lingams that He Touched with the intention of Blessing, such as the lingam at the Manner of Flowers, etc.  Any object which He Specially Touched with the idea of Empowering or Blessing it as a form of contact with His Presence. With lingams, Adi Da felt that devotees often made the mistake of thinking that the lingam stone itself was special and therefore should be worshiped just as a stone. No, it was the fact that a lingam is a “vessel” or “holder” of Adi Da’s Transmission and that is why it is special. He pointed out that we would not make this same mistake about a photographic Murti, understanding that it was not the photograph itself that was important, but only as a means to contact Bhagavan Adi Da Himself.

3) Sacred Objects Empowered or used by Adi Da in His Own Sacred Spaces that were for His Own use, and not associated with devotees.  This includes the Durga Shakti Ma Sacred statues and all of the statues on Bhagavan’s Altars in His Sukra Kendras. He made plain that these had nothing to do in association with devotees and that our relationship was to Him, not to these objects. That their use was His Own Business and not ours. But because Bhagavan used them Sacredly and Intimately they are a special category.


Adi Da wearing the One-Faced Rudraksha Bead and other Sacred Malas

4) Sacred objects that were used by Adi Da in His Sacred association with devotees. This would be like the One-faced rudraksha mala and other malas that He Wore Personally.  Or Shawls He Wore   Or Canes. These are items that Bhagavan used in the Sacred occasions when He was specifically granting Darshan or Blessing with devotees. And therefore bear that kind of energy. It would feel to me that these objects could be viewed by devotees on very special occasions.

5) Sacred Writing  Of course anything that Bhagavan Personally Wrote, the physical page upon which He Wrote it, has a special Transmission. These are sometimes taken out of the Archives at the Mountain of Attention and viewed by devotees.

6) Sacred Paintings/Art Creations.  Any item which Bhagavan created digitally bears a special Blessing, as do His Published Books. But I am speaking here of the items that Bhagavan Adi Da created with His Own Hands, such as the Transcendental Cartoons, the She Paintings, the Orphic Fonts, etc.  Again, the originals of these could be taken out and shown to devotees much like Bhagavan’s Own Writings, on very special occasions and in a special manner.

7) Objects that Bhagavan Adi Da Wore or Touched or were in Adi Da’s Environments.  Here we are talking about the clothes that Bhagavan wore, as well as earplugs, sunglasses, etc. Or things which He Touched, such as His Cameras.  This includes the books that He Touched. But virtually all of the Objects in Bhagavan’s Intimate Environments were Touched by Him or had association with His Body.


Anandamayi Ma Museum in Khankhal


Objects used by Shirdi Sai Baba

Now these were not things that Bhagavan used with any specific intention to Empower them in themselves. But by association with Him they all have Sacred significance. I have been to the Museums at the Ashrams in India.  The one at the Belur Math associated with Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda is quite spectacular. They have the robe that Swami Vivekananda


Ramakrishna Museum, Belur Math, India

wore when he spoke at the Parliament of Religions. (Incidentally, they also have objects associated with his devotees, such as Sister Christine and Sister Nivedita.) But all Ashrams have these types of displays–every year I see the objects associated with Swami Nityananda, and two years ago I visited the Museum associated with Anandamayi  Ma. There is a small group of items associated with Shirdi Sai Baba. Relative to books, as books in themselves, most of the damaged books that were in Indigo Swan can be purchased again (although there are perhaps 200  books that are rare, scarce, or simply unavailable).  But because these books were touched by Bhagavan Adi Da, and sat in His Office at Indigo Swan, they are Sacred by association with Him. (Of course when the library in Word and Mirror burned down in the wake of Hurricane Tomas in 2010, we lost an entire collection of books that Bhagavan Adi Da had associated with.)


Rang Avadhoot


Narayan Maharaj

This area of objects that were Touched by Bhagavan Adi Da is very large. Of course we will have lost many items from Bhagavan Adi Da’s Bedroom at Aham Da Asmi Sthan, which was so full of items. I know how many very small statues and objects there were–literally hundreds.  At some point, if it can be done, re-creating an environment for the Sacred objects in another place, created in the way that Bhagavan Adi Da arranged His rooms, would be optimum. In other words, Adi Da’s Bedroom would be re-created in a higher location and the Sacred objects put there. The re-creation could not be complete, but the general feeling could be re-created. I have been into Rang Avadhoot’s Bedroom at His Ashram in Nareshwar, which is quite powerful. Narayan Maharaj’s room at Kedgaon in Maharastra is also quite impressive and maintained now decades later. Bhagavan Adi Da visited this room on His trip to Narayan Maharah’s Ashram in 1973. Ramakrishna’s room is left essentially as it was at his death. People are allowed into it, but there are now guard rails that mark off the location and a priest is in attendance at all times when people come. I am not suggesting that simply anyone would come into Bhagavan’s Bedroom, but I believe that it should be available for some devotees for an initiatory occasion of simply sitting there. I believe that these spaces have to be actively used as they would be in any living culture. Bhagavan’s principle was never no access, but always right and appropriate access.

And at the location where Aham Da Asmi Sthan bedroom is, if there were sufficient funds, perhaps we would recreate that space with not the original artifacts, but replicas. Now there could be a few original special items that were originals, but they would be limited such that they could be removed easily and simply in the event of dangerous weather. But that would be very limited.  And if we had sufficient funds, we could replace the objects in the room with replicas that were very good, rather than simply cheap items. They should be prepared as fully as possible with the limited finances available.

7) Items of traditional Sacred significance owned or associated with Adi Da. These includes the objects that were associated with the Gavdevi Temple in Ganeshpuri, India. It also includes the Sacred objects associated with traditional Teachers, such as the shirt that had been worn by Rang Avadhoot. These objects are typically honored in the Sukra Kendras.

8) Sacred spaces or environments of Bhagavan Adi Da. Such places of course were also Empowered by Bhagavan Adi Da, both intentionally and then simply by association with Bhagavan.

So when we lose Extraordinary Eyes, then this is a space that Bhagavan Adi Da had Empowered both intentionally and by association. Whereas a space such as Word and Mirror Pavilion was Sacred by His association with it over many years (working in the library, painting the She paintings) rather than by intentionally using it as a Sacred space. However, it is my feeling that the outlines or perimeters of all such places should be set apart as fully as possible.  Now some places may be lost to us at the moment, such as the Franklin Square house in Jamaica New York, where Bhagavan Adi Da lived as a boy, or the house which we called the Reed House in Marin where Bhagavan Adi Da spent a great deal of time. But all such spaces should be eventually, as fully as possible, acquired by Adidam. A traditional example is what is called the Ancestral Home of Swami Vivekananda. For many years, this home was not owned in any way by the Vedanta Society, and even after it was acquired, it took many years for the families that had been living there to vacate. But now it has been restored, as fully as possible, to how it was when Swami Vivekananda grew up there.  Another example was in Vrindavan where they re-created the office room of Swami Prabhupada, who brought the Hare Krishna movement to the West. Not only have they re-created the office room, but he sits there as a wax figure sitting behind his desk.And in his bedroom space as a younger boy. The Ramakrishna temple has re-created the hut that Ramakrishna was born in. Ridgely Manor, where Swami Vivekananda spent several weeks on his visit to the West, has been acquired by the Ramakrishna Mission as has the Thousand Island Cottage where he instructed devotees.

5615_53017_0So it is my feeling that the location of the Extraordinary Eyes meditation hall should be marked and memorialized. Obviously, if we were strong and large as an organization, we would immediately rebuild it as closely to the original as possible. Even knowing that eventually it would be impacted by rising tides. It was there when Bhagavan Adi Da acquired the island in 1983 (it was the place where Raymond Burr used to show 16mm movies), and was a principal place where Bhagavan Adi Da Sat on so many Sacred Occasions. So if we had the finances, it would be worth re-creating such a Sacred spot. At the same time moving the Sacred items to higher ground. Certainly some sort of memorial, in other words a bronze plaque with appropriate wording should mark the place of Bhagavan Adi Da’s Chair, and people should not be walking over that space as a thoroughfare, etc. But it should be marked off.

9) Sacred objects gifted by Bhagavan Adi Da to devotees. These are typically owned by devotees. Many devotees lost some of these in the Valley Fire. Devotees own malas that were personally Blessed by Bhagavan Adi Da and many have special objects purchased in “Pazooza pujas” or gifted by Bhagavan Adi Da personally. So there should be some protocol for cataloging and willing these to either Adidam, or to relatives who will eventually will them to Adidam. This is also traditional. A pair of padukas Blessed by Akkalkot Swami will be in a family and go their children, and their children, until at some point they are no longer really devotes or do not feel that they can care for them, and so the padukas are given to the Akkalkot Maharaj Ashram.

7. The Psycho-Physical Nature of the World

When we consider the Valley Fire and Cyclone Winston, it is important for us to remember that the world is not merely materialistic.  Bhagavan Adi Da expressed that we live in a world that is psycho-physical. He began to discuss this with our community in more detail when we began to do puja in Adidam. True puja is a psycho-physical process, and a genuine pujarist is aware that puja exists in a world that is responsive to prayer and actions calling upon forces, including the Blessing of Adi Da Samraj Himself. Bhagavan has always made it plain to us that we must accept responsibility for our actions and our thoughts and our behavior, and that we create our destiny and the destiny of Adidam through them. On October 21, 1980, I was present for a beautiful discussion with Adi Da, a portion of which was later published and now available as the CD, “The Bridge to God”.

Bridge%20to%20God%20DETAILThe more psychically awake you become, the more you are aware of the psycho-physical nature of what you call the objective world.
Once you see that the world is psycho-physical in nature, you begin to appreciate the living condition of everything that arises in the field of experience — not living, perhaps, in the sense that a chair can get up and walk out of the room, but living in a magical sense. Your association with so-called inanimate objects can go through many changes. Association with an inanimate place, even just a room, can change. There are feelings associated with it, a sense of energies, emotions, moods, influences, all kinds of factors to which you become sensitive relative to so-called inanimate things, just as you can be sensitive relative to moving and living things.
It is not that you should just arbitrarily take up a view that everything is alive, as if everything were a creature. Rather, you must develop and mature in your psychic sensitivity to things and then begin to appreciate just in what sense everything is alive, and in what sense everything has effect and should be acknowledged as a force. Living things are significant to us because a force is associated with life. Inanimate things are also living in the sense that a force is associated with them. They are living in this sense rather than in the sense that they are mobile. Perhaps it is also true that they can move around. This is not totally out of the question, but it must be observed. At any rate, so-called inanimate objects are alive as forces and influences, and the forces can change and vary in our association with them.
This, then, is part of the magical consciousness that is natural to us: to awaken to this sense of the total cosmos as a living presence, a circumstance of forces. At the root of all these things, animate and inanimate, is Radiant Being, the Utterly Living Conscious Reality. Inanimate things, lower creatures, Man, Nature, the Earth, everything is a modification of That Which is ultimately perfectly Alive, Radiant, Forceful, Conscious, Existing. Thus, to have this sense that everything is alive is not illogical or somehow strange. Everything is alive as force, as energy, as psychic reality.

Adi Da had Himself made a point about this relative to purification and even natural disaster in the talk “The Urgency of the Teaching” which was published in Scientific Proof of the Existence of God Will Soon Be Announced by the White House. image

“The world, even the Realm of Nature as a whole, is founded on a righteous Principle. Therefore, the world will be purified without a doubt. The Force of the Divine pervades everything, and therefore, It also purifies everything in one way or another. If human beings, while they have the benign capacity to enter into God-Communion, will not do so, but instead create a corrupt culture, a subhuman order, then the purification will not occur within the ordinary and benign course of natural processes. It is then no longer a matter of some Adept’s saying a holy word or speaking the Truth whereupon everyone changes his or her approach to life. It would be good if as many as possible could hear the universal Teaching of Truth and respond to it.  But if the Teaching alone is not sufficient then great upheavals necessarily occur. This is how the righteous Law works. It is not just that we pay our dues for past activity. A righteous Principle is positively at work, constantly to purify and to reestablish order.

Thus, there are periods of great negative upheaval in the world, including natural disasters, wars, and conflicts of all kinds. On the one hand, during these periods, the world pays its dues for failing to live by the Law. On the other hand, these times of upheaval are the evidence of a continuous process of purification. They are themselves a demonstration of the Law. At the end of these periods the Law is reestablished in righteousness.

proof0It is very likely that we are entering into such a time of upheaval, because of the extent of the failure of human culture. There is simply no light in the world abroad today. There is nothing but corruption, nothing but the failure to accept the Way of God. ..There is absolutely no sign of the Way of Truth, except in rare instances of individuals and small groups of people. The Truth is essentially hidden and secondary. There is a long history of corruption in every area of human life, and the entire social structure of the world is devoted to subhuman ends and forms of self-indulgence. There are no signs of an imminent Golden Age in the disposition or the condition of humanity at large. Rather, the signs are of the necessity for a great purification, a great reestablishment of order, a righteous readjustment of the whole world.”  Avatar Adi Da Samraj

Bhagavan Adi Da made it plain that the actions of human beings contributes to these events, these natural disasters. He spoke of this often in the wake of the great tsunami of December 26, 2004. Bhagavan Adi Da was heart-broken, angry, greatly involved in response to that event. He had in fact “seen it” even prior to the event itself happening. The gathering just before the tsunami, He told us “Blessings on those who pass today”.  And I asked Him  how He could have said that

JAMES STEINBERG: Beloved, on Saturday night, when You were blessing the Prasad, and You said “Blessings on all those who pass”, was there any conception in You of something specific that was going to occur, or did You just know …

AVATAR ADI DA SAMRAJ: Well, it would be impossible for Me to tell you how I work, but did that have anything to do with this event that was going to happen? Yes. And there were also all kinds of modes of knowing it, including the way elephants know it, and there are also just ordinary reflections- ordinary meaning I see TV programs before I watch them and so forth, you see. There’s all kinds of modes of seeing and perception and so on that I could describe to you. There’s also just passages of mind and forms of all kinds that I read off, off the flow, you see. And so there were pictures and scenes including exactly the situation of some of these people, including things like being stuck in a situation where you have to choose among your children about which one you are going to hold on to and which one you are going to let pass into hell, you see. Seeing that, feeling it before the event. So there were things like that. And there were other dimensions to it that had a different characteristic altogether, but just that level of thing, you see. Why would I be seeing that? Where’s this coming from, you see? Some things like that are just at an ordinary, more ordinary psychic level that, after things happen, I look at those things like anyone might who had premonitory kinds of things happen and so forth, and say “Oh that’s why that was”, or else why else would it be? It wasn’t a premonition of a TV program, you see. But it was exactly the pictures.

You have to see My casual footsteps and hear My casual words. December 30, 2014

But relative to the tsunami itself, He was passionate about it, and talked about how it happened and what must be our response in terms of genuine practice afterwards.


Adi Da Samraj in midst of Discourse of December 30, 2004

So if you see the sorrowful, torn-apart faces of the people on television after the tsunami, you see, that’s not Jesus there. Take a moment! You can’t dismiss it. It’s not TV. It’s very impressive reality-TV, if you’d only get it. It’s a lesson for the world. This is the greatest disaster in history, in the particular terms of this immense, large area and all that it is going to require. There is no preparedness for it. And it is only the beginning of what is potential in the world. You pick up the news, newspapers any day and you’ll you’ll hear news about various things in the environment changing and so forth, and don’t you get the picture of what’s happening – the deaths, the diseases, the wars, the absurdity of politicians, just winging it on one another and using up the people like cockroaches? Don’t you see what’s happening?


Adi Da Samraj in midst of Discourse of December 30, 2004

And it’s not merely about becoming political. Everybody’s political in the sense that they live among human beings. Compassion, fellow sympathy should be inevitable if you are not armored. So everybody has political obligation, just face to face. You don’t have to become politically active in the larger public sense, but altogether all of humanity must become political. You are being used by politics. So it’s time you realized it. It’s not done between armies any more. The people are the fodder of war now. Don’t let it happen! Don’t agree to it! You are being propagandized into accepting a future that no one will survive. It’s not about becoming negative in the world. It’s about becoming entirely positive, but it’s about not just spouting slogans about it. It’s very straightforward.

Enter into co-operation, establish means that acknowledge the connectedness of mankind, and get on with your business. This isn’t just a game for gain, a competition like a sporting event. That’s for stupid people who don’t see what’s in front of their eyes. Wake up and see the suffering, feel it yourself, enter into a sympathetic disillusionment, a positive disillusionment. Then you will do the necessary things in the human scale, but you also practice the profound way of Truth, and not merely be true believers fighting for your tribal deity and your right to be false and murderously righteous. Don’t allow it! It’s up to you.

Be a renunciate and live to Realize Me. That’s My recommendation. It’s up to you. December 30, 2014

Here is another important comment, from January 14, 2005


Adi Da Samraj in midst of Discourse of January 14, 2005

I made Myself very clear, I think, in the time of this terrible disaster, which is still ongoing, that which happened as an event, you see, in the Pacific areas, terrible earthquake and tsunami event, in which 155 or so thousand now are counted as—more, presumably–and so on.  But just all the other suffering of it, all of it. I suppose I made it clear to you something of what the implications of that really are, and how it affects the illusions in which you are living and the illusions in which you are even presuming to be devotees of Mine, you see. A lot of God talk, you see.


Here is a last comment in which Adi Da again speaks of the human element that brings about these natural calamities, this is from December 30, 2004, just four days after the tsunami:

Can you find any deity idea that would justify this, you see? It is inconceivable. You can’t attribute this to some Divine cause, absolutely not. It’s a terrible natural event, and whatever else is involved in it, human causes of whatever kind – energies of humanity or just every kind of environment and this and that and whatever somehow affecting the earth crust. Whatever you can theorize about or think about the maybe’s of it, it’s not completely off the wall to wonder about the human effect, however.

8. Causes for the Valley Fire and Cyclone Winston and our own self-inspection

The culture of Adidam is weak right now, the culture is not living as it should be altogether, and most of the current membership is rapidly reaching the elder years.  I am listening today to one of the Avataric Revelation Discourses from 2005 as I am writing this post.  It is just one picked at random, because I was looking for the comment about the Durga Mahishasuramardini which I quoted above.  In this discourse, Avatar Adi Da was already criticizing our culture as a Mummery at that point, and calling for us to transform everything. He was already speaking of Himself as being a “prisoner” of devotees who were not practicing rightly. He said that this was often done unconsciously because we simply did not know how to relate to Him and were not relating to Him rightly. He says that we have already exhausted His Body through our non-response. He says that this is not a threat, but the statement of a fact.

 I’ve exhausted Myself raising My Voice at you. It’s not worth My doing it anymore. It’s all up to you now. I just mustn’t do this anymore. I can’t survive it anymore. I’ve told you This Body is ill, it’s been made ill. You have to understand, I CANNOT continue this Incarnation much longer, strained as I am. You can take that as serious as you like or not. I am not threatening you, I am just telling you plain that I know you have exhausted Me, exhausted This Body and I cannot do this anymore and so that means this is finished.

This mode of association with Me in which you don’t have the obligation of practice and do not have the obligation of gifts or rightness and can simply relate to Me casually and act like the dumb buffalo demon, you see, and just talk absurdities at Me and carry on your absurdly ordinary subhuman existence, even your lowness, non-devotional, undisciplined, lives obsessed with money, food, sex, and social ego and social religiosity.  January 5, 2005



Of course, things did not really change, and of course Bhagavan Adi Da took Mahasamadhi at the age of 69, a very young age considering how long people can live these days.  I think that we have to confess to the fact that we did not allow His Body to continue because we did not bring Him real Gifts. And this confession is the beginning of a rightening that I feel that we have to allow.

Photo AThis, of course, has continued after Bhagavan Adi Da’s Mahasamadhi. I am not in this post pointing any fingers. All of us who are devotees of Adi Da should take responsibility each individually. But I feel that we need to discuss this openly. Even after the earlier post that I have had pinned to the top of this website, “what is happening in Adidam?” we have had the really terrible news about the injury of a temporary staff member at Naitauba. Again, we should see this as a sign that something is amiss. Not to feel guilty or to point a finger at someone. But so that we can honestly look at the pattern and see where we need to change. As we can see, the pattern that we have established so far is one in which there is a destructive force that is being allowed to demolish Adi Da’s Environments and the Sacred spaces that He so painstakingly invested Himself in and established with the intention that they would be present forever.

It should be obvious to anyone who looks at Adidam that it is time for us to righten ourselves. The fact that our culture has been in such disarry creates a psychic vacuum which leaves Bhagavan’s environments unprotected by the psychic force of a true culture. Very far above in this post, I put in the sentence from The Aletheon:

 All of These Most Sacred Places must be preserved as the Great Divine Avataric Holy Places of Adidam Ruchiradam forever. …..

So we obviously have failed in this in terms of the destruction that has been caused in some of these natural disasters. And to feel that it was just a practical failure is to only look at the situation very superficially and defensively.

We need to look at our own practice, at the structures of Adidam and how they may be misaligned. We need to all involve ourselves in the transformation of Adidam, rather than having all of the important decisions made by a small group that “know”. Bhagavan Adi Da was always critical of the “wolves and sheeps” phenomena, in which somehow a few of us think that we can make all the decisions for all the others, who seem to be or are assumed to be happy to sit on the sidelines, and perhaps complain or get upset, but altogether are reduced to inaction. All of us have to assume responsibility for this circumstance.

After the Valley Fire here there was an opening for a time where we were so shaken and stirred up that we allowed Bhagavan Adi Da to “come in” for a while. More deeply and truly. But it solidified again pretty quickly and within a month or two–by the time I came back from India in early December, 2015, I saw that things had gone back to business as usual for most of the devotees–particularly those who had not lost much or went back to circumstances that were congenial. The pattern really did not change–and the pattern now with Hurricane Tomas and the Valley Fire and Hurricane Winston is not protecting Bhagavan. What kind of a bead do we need on our malas to remember this? It would likely have to be pretty big.

In some of the reports we are hearing from Naitauba we are again hearing that things are opened up and Bhagavan Adi Da is “coming in”.  That is wonderful. But a couple of things need to be said about that.

There is some counseling that is going on for some devotees who are still feeling the effects here in Lake County of the Valley Fire.  (and truly—who isn’t?  just drive from Loch Lomond down to Middletown and it is impossible to immunize ourselves from the vision that you get).

070107_ds_IHTI_08The counselors passed out a handout which describes the phases after a natural disaster. After an initial heroic phase where there is a lot of activity to get the basics Disaster Recovery Phasestogether there is what they call the “honeymoon phase”. Here assistance is now readily available (water and food and electricity and shelter, etc.) and there is “optimism that everything will return to normal quickly”.   It said that this phase does not last that long, but that afterwards there can be a longer period of disillusionment.

Obviously, this is a conventional model.  And I do feel, as I expressed in the previous post, “What is happening in Adidam?” that Bhagavan’s Embracing Arms in some sense are being felt, and not just a conventional honeymoon.

We need to use this time, when things are still feeling shattered open and a lot of the normal self-enclosure is not in place to have a real conversation and to make changes. Obviously and always this should not be done as “case talk”. It should be done in the context of our whole-bodily devotional recognition response to Bhagavan Adi Da Samraj and our turning to Him. But He has always told us that there were times when we needed to take a good hard look at ourselves. This is one of those times. Otherwise, things will just shut down again, solidify again. And we will be telling ourselves a story or myth of how special it all is, when in truth there has been no change in the underlying pattern, and only temporarily getting through it all.

This post is certainly way too long and if you are still with me here, let me not presume any negativity about this. But instead to say that this necessary time of “consideration” and the ability to inspect ourselves, and to admit to our “pit of snakes”, is one of the great Gifts of Adi Da as the Avatar of Brightness, who incarnated down to His Toes. It is our virtue as a community when Bhagavan Adi Da was Alive that we were a Reality community. When things were right we did not live on the basis of myth, or “spin” or disembodied words, or any version of Adidam speak. Devotees truly practicing always have a healthy suspicion of themselves.

On September 23, 2004 Bhagavan said this in one of the Avataric Revelation Discourses

Part of the integrity of being a devotee of Mine is to have a fundamental and very serious mistrust of yourself. Don’t really take anything you say or think seriously. At least in absolute terms. Be true. Speak true. But, understand your experiences are all occurring within the context of bondage. And your thinking is all occurring within the context of egoity and presumptions that are virtually totally untrue. The entire mind is based on no true anything.  [Laughter]So,whatever you’re thinking, they are the thoughts of a fool and a fake [laughter]. Once you’ve grasped this and accept it, you see, it’s very easy to be humble because you have a great deal to be humble about. [Laughter] And you’re freely capable then of observing yourself without any blinders on, you see.


All of us, myself especially included (suspicious for just having written such a long post) need to be willing to observe ourselves 080425_WHARF_03without any blinders. We are a community that is in the midst of a crisis.

Of course all devotees know that Bhagavan’s Teaching is eternal, and that He is the greatest Adept that has lived, and so forth and so on. And I have faith in His Accomplishing Power. But we, as a community have just witnessed two natural disasters within six months, and then one of our temporary employees having his leg severed.

In an Avataric Revelation Discourse, when Adi Da Samraj was talking with Reuben Weiss I believe, He told us that we might come to a time in practice in which we realized the fault of what we had been doing. He said that we might notice that everything that we had been doing for the past twenty years was off. That all of our practice was fruitless. Bhagavan Adi Da told us that even then, the only response that we could make at that point was to change everything and to start again. I believe that as a community we are at such a point.

Let’s have a real conversation, with humility, about what we might need to change? Can we not all take responsibility, instead of leaving Adidam in the hands of a few that obviously cannot handle the situation by themselves? These and many other questions are, I hope, raised by the events of this last period.  I would like to hear what people are feeling?

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sleeping and getting up in the morning

Dear James

I hope you’re doing fine! I write to you from our little  home at the lake here in Europe.

I wanted to ask you something i got curious about: Are there special instructions of Bhagavan Adi Da considering sleep and waking up in the morning?~Is there something like a sleep sadhana in Adidam?~What is there to consider?


080113_Veranda_06Great to hear from you as always.

1) sleep

Bhagavan Adi Da basically recommended sleeping on the right side. He said that this was better for the heart. And He also said that it opens the left nostril, which in general is the one of rest rather than activity.

He once told us privately that we could actually go to sleep with the intention of going into His Circumstance. This was not a formal recommendation. It was just something that He told us more in the oral tradition way. It was just passed on.  He said that we could do this by using our malas and invoking Him on them as we went to sleep. Going into the space of the Guru is a traditional practice.

IMG_2189There is a book called  Acting as a Way of Salvation: A Study of Raganuga Bhakti Sadhana, by David L. Haberman that Adi Da once recommended that members of what is now called the Sacred Theater Guild to study this book. It is a rather technical book, and I don’t think that everyone needs to look at it or read it. But in the raganuga bhakti tradition there is the practice to go where the Spiritual Master or Ishta Deity (Siva, or Durga, or Rama, etc.) to take a role or place in circles around the Guru or God and in meditation to imagine oneself in that role. For example, serving Him His meals in His House, or sweeping the grounds around His House, or driving Him in His Car, etc. Or simply to put yourself in front of Him in a Darshan occasion. But again, this is not a formal practice that Bhagavan recommended. Simply turning to Him is the basic practice for all times, and would be the basic practice when going to sleep.

He said that evening meditation can either be at the end of the day’s “work” activities, before dinner and the evening program, or just before retiring. So it is not necessarily that one will meditate before going to bed.  I personally like to always read a little bit from one of Bhagavan’s books and to bow to Him just before I turn off the lights. But again this is not a formal recommendation.

I know some devotees who listen to tapes of Bhagavan Speaking as they go to sleep, and I will sometimes do this especially if I am not sleeping easily anyway.

thCAFVKXRU2) awakening

Bhagavan was very specific with us that the time when we awake is such that the entire day can be influenced by what we do in the early morning.

So first thing is that He said that when it is time to get up, we should just arise. And not let ourselves drift back into sleep. He said that the kind of sleep that you get when you go back to sleep casually in the morning, a kind of reverie, is rather tamasic or sluggish and sets up the day in the wrong way. So when you wake up, you should just get up. Of course, if for some reason you get up in the middle of the night or too early, and it is really not the time to get up and you need more sleep then that is a different thing. But the falling back into a few more minutes of sleeping when you are up at the normal time, was what He was saying not to do.

The next thing is that He told us is to allow ourselves to awaken naturally once we get up. Not to stimulate ourselves with music or really bright lights. But just to allow the waking up process to proceed in quiet and slowly. He said that we could put water on our faces, and engage the “gag” response. I think that this is described in The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace but it is putting your fingers down your throat such that you gag a little. And it opens things up before meditation. It is not something that I do all the time, but Bhagavan did describe it.  But again this should be done in a rather gentle fashion.

080216_Veranda_08And He said that there should be no conversation or discussion or having to do anything when arising, but just after washing your face and perhaps using the toilet, proceeding to meditation. And then after meditation, comes the puja. Where the lights come on more, and there is recitation.

He said that it was best after this for there not to be much conversation until we had studied His Teaching for a brief period in the morning. He said that all of this would set up the day in a proper orientation and mood.

He told us that if we did not take the time for meditation and puja, that we would go through the day with the feeling that we never had any time. There would be the psychic sense of rushing and having to handle things, because we had not done what was most important and truly needed to be done in the early morning.

I find that if I sleep in too late, or notice that it is getting too late in the morning, that I do not feel that I can meditate fully or do the Ruchira Avatar Puja, because the day is getting on too much. Sometimes then, I will not even check the clock to help myself not to go into that kind of a space. Even if one cannot meditate for the full space, it is best to at least take a few moments to establish oneself in meditation. And even if one cannot do the full Ruchira Avatara Puja, it is best to at least wave lights and incense and do some recitation (such as the full-feeling prostration verse from the Ruchira Avatara Gita—“My Heart-Master, Divine and True and Free…..”) and a full prostration.

Another thing that comes to mind, and this happens with me a lot because I travel to India or other time zones with a lot of regularity, is relative to adapting to a new time. Bhagavan Adi Da Himself would try to stay up until the normal time to go to bed when in a new time zone. Or alternately, He would get up at the normal time and then go through a normal first day rather tired, until it was time to go to bed. This is to help in the transition process to the new time zone. There is nothing about this that is a hard and fast rule. I just wanted to point out what Bhagavan Himself used to do and His most general recommendation to those of us around Him. This was not a formal recommendation or anything like that.

Tell me if this is what you were asking or if you actually were asking about something else.

with love to you my friend,



Divine Distraction–the talk

IMG_2144This website is named “Divine Distraction” which refers to the basic principle of the Way which Bhagavan Adi Da Samraj has given–the relationship to Him. From the earliest days He has made it plain that the Divine-Realizing process is not about any techniques or methods. It is about the relationship to Him lived always in the present moment. When Adi Da began to Teach in 1972 there was in His Teaching communications more of an emphasis on self-understanding. However by the end of 1975 He saw that the unique process of the Way of Radical Understanding was not something that most of His devotees were able to practice with simplicity.  Thus on December 1, 1975, Bhagavan passed on to His devotees a letter which announced the Way of Divine Communion.

This letter sent a shockwave through our community, with great clarification and Grace given simultaneously. Here is the first paragraph of the letter which Bubba Free John (his name at that time) called “The Way of Divine Communion”.

IMG_2178“For all who are only now becoming available to the process of transformation in the Divine, I have established the Way of Divine Communion, which is the simple way of living submission and attention to God. Many will respond to My Teaching, and all are welcome to approach The Free Communion Church, who are simply suffering the common failures of life. To all of them, I simply say, come happily, with the urge to happiness, to peace, to love, and to a better realization of your born life. The Lord of all the worlds is Radiant before you. If you will direct yourself, with whatever power or capacity you can find within yourself, to the service and awareness of the Divine, the Services of God will be given to you.”  pg. 15, The Way of Divine Communion: The Foundation Practices of the Free Communion Church, by Bubba Free John

As soon as this letter was made available to us, all of us became focused and absorbed in considering this new way. And in the midst of this time, Adi Da decided to take a vacation with a few members of His intimate household. He first traveled to the Caribbean. And it was there, on December 16th, that He gave the talk that was titled, “Divine Distraction”. This talk used the metaphor of Krishna and the gopis to describe the overwhelming attraction of the God-man as the basis of all practice.  The consideration of the Attraction to the Guru as the Graceful foundation of Spiritual life remained forever after a cornerstone of Adidam.

However, even though the talk was given on December 16th, it was not heard by devotees until a couple of weeks later. Of course in those days there was no internet. And the talk itself was recorded manually in Bhagavan’s Company and was only available to hear once Adi Da had returned. He had continued on to Mexico on this trip and then returned to Persimmon.  We had heard of this talk which we were told was very important and a key consideration for all of us. But we had not heard what it actually said, nor heard the tape itself.

So  towards the very end of December, when Adi Da was back at what we now know as The Mountain of Attention, we all gathered one winter afternoon in Land Bridge Pavilion to hear this talk. There was plastic on the side walls of the Pavilion that used to go up for the winter, and then come down in the summer. All of us knew that we shouldn’t miss this talk, and that it was a really important communication.  We all sat on the floor facing Bhagavan’s Chair, while the cassette tape was put in the machine and then we heard Bhagvan’s Voice from a ten days or so before speaking these words:

Krishna_with_flute          The ancient legends of Krishna and his gopis are an allegory of Divine Distraction. As Krishna wandered about in the fields, the women who tended the cattle would see him from day to day—and, in spite of themselves, they would wander away and leave their posts. They completely forgot about the cattle. They forgot to go home and cook for their husbands. They wandered about where they thought they might find Krishna—and, when they found him, they gazed at him as he sat in the distance somewhere. This legend is a play upon the Love-“Bonding” between the Divine Manifested in human form and ordinary people. The gopis became madly involved in an absolute Attachment to Krishna—and, as a result of this Attachment, they became more and more ecstatically absorbed in Divine Communion.

            The foundation of the practice in My Avataric Divine Company is exactly that Attachment. If such Attachment does not develop in relation to Me—not cultic attachment, but Divine Attachment—if that Attachment is not the case, completely overwhelming your life, and Distracting you from the conventional destiny to which you are otherwise disposed (in your patterned tendency to seek the fulfillment of your desires, your inclinations, and the ego-consoling opportunities inherent in your existing circumstances), then the practice of Real devotional and (in due course) Spiritual life in My Avataric Divine Company cannot exist.

        Bodleian_Library_Indian_paintings_MS__Douce_Or__a_3_fol31r    The gopis simply left the cattle. They did not say, “I’m not going to tend cattle anymore! I’m not going to submit to my desires, my tendencies, my job!” They did not make any such decisions. They simply forgot about the cattle. They were so Distracted, so in love with Krishna, so ecstatic, that they just forgot to go home. It never even occurred to them to go home. They never worried about “Should I go home, or should I stay here? Should I watch the cattle, or should I go look for Krishna? Should I discipline myself?” They did not create a problem out of their sadhana or out of their relationship to the Divine.

       thCARWO6I7     My devotee is involved in just this kind of ecstatic devotional relationship to Me. When that devotional relationship to Me becomes the condition of your conscious existence (fully, under all the conditions of life), then the force of limiting tendencies is weakened—not by your doing anything to your tendencies, but by virtue of the fact that you are no longer even involved with them. If your relationship to Me is essentially ordinary, mechanical, mediocre, not a form of devotionally turning to Me, then you are not doing the sadhana I have Given you. In that case, you may (perhaps) be intending to do some other kind of conventional sadhana, but you are not doing this sadhana (of the devotional and, in due course, Spiritual relationship to Me). In that case, you are not involved in the sadhana of Truth, you are not involved in Divinely Self-Realizing sadhana, you are not involved in the Opportunity that is made available in human time through My Function As the Divine Siddha-Guru.


As the tape was played, all of us fell more and more into our love for Adi Da, our attraction to Him, and our distraction by Him. We all started to feel Him strongly as if He were in the room with us. These words penetrated us deeply and made us happier and happier. And as the process was growing and we were falling ever more deeply into our relationship to Bhagavan Adi Da, He suddenly IMG_2146Physically, in His Body, walked into the Pavilion. But He did not walk to His Chair in front of everyone. It was almost like He did not want to take our attention away from His Communion, His Talk. He came into the room and sat directly on the wooden floor with all of the rest of us. With His back to what was then called Great Food Dish, now Darshan Adytum. He was wearing a yellow kaftan.

Needless  to say, with His Arrival our devotional fervor and ecstasy took leaps and bounds. We were melted in our love for Him. He sat there, and simply smiled and beamed His Divinity to us.  It was so amazing, that this one to whom we were all Attracted was here with us now. In the Body. He simply Sat there and allowed us to gaze at Him while the tape continued to describe the relationship that we must enjoy with Him in order for Spiritual practice to be effective. Yes, it was attraction, but we were all so attracted. No one had to tell us to be attracted. He was just so attractive that it blew our minds. At one point He actually says that the attractiveness is not His physical features, but His Divinity. As were listening to the talk, at one point Bhagavan Adi Da  says, “I’m not even pretty”.  And devotees protest that–they affirm that He is pretty. And then He sings a bar from the song from West Side Story, “I’m so pretty”.  As we sat in the room with Adi Da, His humor and liveliness just melted us more.  He sat there, not saying a word, while these words by Him continued to played on the tape:

            “I am not present here merely in order to “rap out” a philosophy or to distribute techniques that you may apply to yourself, depending on your intelligence. I Am Present in the world in order (now, and forever hereafter) to Offer a (most ultimately) Divinely Liberating relationship to all those who are willing to assume such a relationship with Me, to all those who have the capability to be Distracted by Me (in an absolute love-relationship that is more and more Distracting). But, if that love-desire-Distraction is not present in an individual’s life, then this sadhana of the heart-relationship to Me cannot begin.

          IMG_2145 The foundation of the sadhana in My Avataric Divine Company is precisely the kind of Distraction that is allegorically described between Krishna and his gopis. You must flee to Me from all your life—not from your obligations, that is not what that allegory is all about—but from the fundamental distraction by yourself, your own tendencies, your own conditions, your own belongings, your own relationships, your own hopes, your own beliefs, your own thoughts, your own reading, your own mystical intentions, your own philosophical presuppositions. You must flee to Me from all that. It must be completely uninteresting to you. It is certainly not interesting to Me!

            Just as you cannot argue someone into loving you, so human beings cannot be argued into the Distraction of Divine Communion. The Opportunity to enter into Divine Communion can be offered, and a circumstance can be provided in which people can approach (and become sensitive to) That Communicated Presence, That Divine Power. But, apart from making the Opportunity openly available and providing a circumstance of approach, there is no argument whatsoever.

            I am completely without argument. There is nothing I can do to convince you of the Truth of the Way I have Revealed and Given, nothing I can do outwardly or verbally that would (in and of itself) fundamentally convince you of the relationship you must enjoy with Me in order to fulfill the practice of the Way of Adidam.

            Falling in love with someone is not something you can argue yourself into doing. Initially, falling in love is a form of distraction, of absorption, without any reasons—and, if you were to examine it in order to find a reason for it, it would (perhaps) seem unreasonable to you, not justified. . . .

The_Gopis_Search_For_Krishna            Once there is that Distraction, the theater of your development is in the hands of the Divine.

              Krishna taught the gopis by playing upon their Attachment to him—and, by Grace, they learned. But all they learned was to be more and more absorbed in the Divine. Their minds were overwhelmed by this Distraction, and all their petty tendencies to return to their secure positions in life were constantly undermined. . . . There is no insurance, there is no guarantee, there is nowhere to go. There is no end-phenomenon in the love of Real God. That love is, in and of itself, the Truth.

            The same approach is necessary for all, and it is represented in the allegory of Krishna and his gopis. Without that distraction by the Guru in God there is no sadhana in any form in anybody’s case. Once that distraction exists and the movement of the individual begins to become governed by the intuition of the Divine, the enjoyment of the Divine, then all the disciplines, the theater, the lessons, the responsibilities, the Teaching, and all the rest begin to appear, according to the individual’s capability and state of existence.”

IMG_2181IMG_2182In the late 1980s Adi Da asked me if I could prepare a book on the Guru-devotee relationship based on His Instruction. This was published as Love of the God-Man. However, because it was so large, again at Adi Da’s specific Request an abridgement was prepared which we named Divine Distraction. It came out in 1991, and was reprinted once. All copies are now sold-out from The Dawn Horse Press, although it can be found as a used book on Amazon and from other sources. Adi Da asked for Divine Distraction and Love of the God-Man to be brought up to date and reprinted. It is a project that is underway.

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Woodstock (and People’s Park), 1969


Commercially sold Woodstock poster

In the summer of 1969 I heard about this big rock concert that was going to be happening in upstate New York.  My friend Steve Rubenstein and I drove across country in his Volkswagen beetle. It took about 53 hours. We perfected the technique of switching drivers and catching some sleep.

First we went to the Atlantic City Rock Festival, which was a kind of buildup to Woodstock itself. Then we spent some time in New York City, and we bought our Woodstock tickets there.  I don’t think most of the people who ended up going to the concert ever actually purchased tickets. At some point, the fence came down and people just came in for free. But we had come across the country for the Festival and we had no idea what Woodstock was going to become, so we did all that was required like going to any concert. In New York City I met up with my other friend Ken Hammermesh, who I knew from the dorms at Berkeley.

We were at Woodstock so early that we had our choice of any seat. There was a high fence right up on the side of the stage, so the best seats were back just a little, so that you could see over the fence. So we found a perfect place at the right distance and in the middle, and essentially never left there for three days. I must confess that the entire three days I was high on MDA, the early form of manufactured mescaline, an early cousin of MDMA or ecstasy.  So food was never a problem, and we just left periodically to pee.

The “Are You Ready for This?” poster came out in 1970 just after the concert. No one expected that half a million people would show up for a music concert. It was a sign to all of us in what was then called the “counter-culture”, that we had tremendous strength in our numbers. Individually and in small groups having  males having long hair and using drugs was pretty “radical” behavior back then.  We were called “hippies” or “freaks” of course. Neither name did I feel negative about–I was proud to be a freak compared to what I saw in the general culture. When everyone was together, it was clear that this was not crazy behavior. And the conventional establishment was pretty blown away at the numbers of us–it was a moment of the whole nation awakening to the strength in numbers of the Flower Power generation, the Summer of Love hippies, the counter-culture altogether.

IMG_2118IMG_2121IMG_2120Bhagavan Adi Da pointed out that about half of the early devotees in Los Angeles had come out of this counter-culture in one way or another. And He did not feel that there was anything negative about it. He talked about how the opening that using drugs and alternative lifestyles had brought had allowed people to have sufficient availability to find Him. So it was part of what was necessary for Him to have a gathering of devotees in those early days.

I heard about the poster from friends before I ever saw it. People told me I was in the front of a Woodstock poster, really big.  So at one point I went to the Print Mint or a similar place in Berkeley and there I saw the poster.  And there in the front is myself and Ken.  Here is a closeup.IMG_1114  I had graduated high school that January, and had not cut my hair since. In those days, long hair was not allowed in high school, and so now I could let it hang out.  It was to get the length of the middle of my back before I finally cut it off.

I bought three copies of the poster. I showed my parents and they had to have one. And they framed it, and it is sitting still on the living room wall in the house I grew up in, in Los Angeles. I had two with me when I became a devotee and one day showed one to someone at the Mountain of Attention. They said, “We have to show this to Bubba.” And so He saw it and was highly amused. He said that we had to put that picture into the Adidam Archives. He said that it should be there because He wanted history to know that so many of His devotees came out of that hippie generation and even had attended Woodstock. Of course, during the time of the Woodstock Festival, Adi Da Himself, was precisely in Mumbai in the temporary Ashram of Swami Muktananda. He was there at Captain Ram Pratap’s apartments where Swami Muktananda was staying all through that August of 1969.

Many times I  heard Adi Da talked about the openness that was characteristic of the late 1960s and the early 1970s. He would say, “What happened to that large mass of people who were part of the hippie generation?”  He commented that almost all of them had become conventional, and forgotten the ideals and openness and freedom and willingness to break boundaries and taboos that was alive in the 1960s-70s counter-cultural movement.  And He would say, “It is not like no one continued on with all of that. I did. I still am, I am never abandoned all of that, but have continued with it all along.”


Screenshot from Woodstock film

Another note along this line. The next year a movie made about the Woodstock festival, called just Woodstock and directed by Michael Wadleigh.  It was shown in movie theaters all over the country–I saw it first run in a movie theater in Tucson in 1970. But then years ago, when it came out on DVD, I thought it might be fun to look at it again. I had found that anytime there was a closeup scene from the crowd in front of the stage at Woodstock that I could often find myself. And so I thought that maybe I could see myself in the movie. There is a scene where the farmer who owned the land upon which the Woodstock Festival happened (actually Bethel, New York), speaks. His name is Max Yasgur. And during his little talk they zoom in on the audience and sure enough, they zoom in again on me and my friend Ken.


17 year-old version of James during People’s Park protest parade

IMG_2116Please excuse my indulgence but I will chronicle one more little piece of the old history. Just before Woodstock, that spring, I had been attending the University of California, from January 1969 through June 1969, and mostly lived there all summer as well. This is what was known as the People’s Park time. A group of students and Berkeley residents, started to use as a park, an abandoned lot that the University owned. People had meals there, played music there, danced there, smoked dope there.  One night the police came and put a big fence around the whole park, so that the next day, it was not usable to anyone. (That evening, I happened to be in the Park when the police arrived, and went around informing people everywhere to come to the Park because it was being “taken over”.)  This started a wave of protests against the University and then a response from the police. People were beaten by the police, tear-gassed, arrested, and actually every single day there was a protest of some kind or other. I was happy to participate every day, as a 17 year old freshman just out of high school. And noticed when I looked up on You Tube about People’s Park recently that there was a video of the kind of protest I would have been at. And then, sure enough, there I was.

As might be expected, in my life, peace and understanding only came when I read The Knee of Listening and The Method of the Siddhas and came to Adi Da Samraj’s Feet.

Question about The First Great Invocation and full cycle of devotions

IMG_2092Dear James,

A group of  us here in Europe would like to ask you a few questions regarding the Great Invocations. During our last study group session (last Monday), we considered the Dutch translation of these Great Invocations, and the eventual use (in our study group only) of the Dutch version. Considering the Dutch translation, we came more in touch with the profound meaning of these Invocations. One of us noticed the mantric force in the Invocations, which should also be there in the Dutch translation. And for some it was not clear what is really meant by “all pervading Spirit-Life”.

Also, earlier, we heard a long time devotee say that these Invocations where created by devotees themselves, but she was not really sure about it. So, last Monday,  it was suggested we should ask you, as you have been very close to Beloved Bhagavan for many years, and can probably give us clear answers.

So, our main two questions are:
1. How came the Great Invocations into being? What had been the impulse? And who formulated them?

Dear Gurubhais,

sorry for this extended answer but I got into it a bit.

Of course Adi Da and only Adi Da wrote the First Great Invocation and the Second Great Invocation.  (There are other parts of the of the daily puja cycle that Bhagavan Adi Da did not Himself write–such as the Arati song, or the paduka chant, etc.  But this is not the case with these Invocations.) The First Great Invocation was given to us on March 23, 1978. Adi Da was at the Mountain of Attention when this was given to us. He was still Bubba Free John, not yet even known as “Da”. So when it was first given to us, the first Great Invocation began, “Radiant God”  rather than “Radiant Da”. We henceforth began our meditation session or any group gathering, such as a devotional group, with this Invocation.

Prior to 1978 we did not have a cycle of daily devotions. Of course we meditated and offered a gift and bowed, and received Prasad afterwards. That was the Sacrament of Universal Sacrifice, giving and receiving of gifts, although I don’t think we used that term. I think it was just the giving and receiving of Prasad.  There was no other formality that we had. And so during that year, Bhagavan Adi Da, one by one, gave us what became known as “the full cycle of devotions”. It was the development of our fuller devotional life, giving us much needed form and means by which to invoke and commune with Bhagavan Adi Da.

He taught us very concretely how we should live our devotional life.  Getting up in the morning and immediately meditating without distraction. And after meditation, studying Bhagavan’s Word, in silence, without outside stimulation. And how to spend our time in the meditation or communion hall.

1978 was mostly about the things that we do individually and in the hall in our recitations and also the group devotions while sitting together in the hall.

This was the cycle as it was in 1978 and 1979 and for sometime after that:

  1. The  Divine Invocation
  2.  Then we recited “The Song of the Heart of God” which we all memorized. It is now called “My Divine Disclosure” and much elaborated. It is freely developed by Bhagavan Adi Da from selected verses of the traditional Bhagavad-Gita
  3.  Next was the Great Confession, which again we all memorized and Bhagavan Himself wrote and  gave us on September 27, 1978
  4.  Then we chanted the Great Chant, which was “O Radiant God, I hold up my hands to Thee”. Later of course to be changed to “O Radiant Da”
  5.  Then we offered our gifts at the altar
  6.  Then there was a Call to Prayer which went like this:

“We do not know what any thing is.
We do not know what the body is.
We do not know what a thought is.
Therefore, let us pray in Divine Ignorance.
Let us surrender body and mind into the Living Presence of God”

7.  And then we did the Prayer of Remembrance

We were given the practice of the Prayer of Remembrance on May 20, of 1978. Bhagavan Adi Da had been at the Mountain of Attention when He began Giving us and Working with us on this full cycle of devotions. But He moved to Hawaii, to the residence known as Muliwai. Here Adi Da lived a very formal life, and there he was celibate personally, and the whole circumstance was pure and clear. Adi Da always remembered this as a good time and much was developed during this time both in terms of developing the practice within His own Personal Circumstance and household and within the larger Community of devotees. It was from here that He sent back the Instructions about the Prayer of Remembrance.

When we were told to get a mala and to engage the Prayer of Remembrance, it was quite a shock for all of us. You may remember that Bhagavan Adi Da and said in the original version of the book The Method of the Siddhas, that He would rather “beat us with a stick than give us a mantra”.  He had always criticized rote practice of devotion, and doing devotion as a form of Spiritually “showing off”.  But now He gave us a practice of remembering Him through invocation using the mantra.  We did not yet have the name Da when we were initially given this practice. And so with each bead, as we pulled the mala, we invoked the Spiritual Presence that we knew as our Master with the name “God”.  It was not until the next year, on September 13th, that Bhagavan Adi Da wrote what we came to call the “Beloved I Am Da” letter. And then He announced that to all of us in the landmark Day of the Heart talk on September 16, sitting in what has now become the Paduka Mandir at the Mountain of Attention.


Tulsi bead mala

So that everyone could have a mala, I went out and bought over 200 tulsi bead malas. And the announcement and full presentation of the Prayer of Remembrance was made at Talking God Seminary, in Clearlake, which we were using for our Sunday Da Guruvara days.  Of course not called Da Guruvara at that point. I found that in India that Thursday was called Guruvara, and was the day that was Sacred to the Guru. And so in 1989 I suggested to Bhagavan Adi Da that we should call the Sunday retreat day the Guruvara. He accepted this and later it was made more specific to Bhagavan Adi Da by calling it the Da Guruvara  day.

So getting back to the Prayer of Remembrance, everyone bought a tulsi bead mala for just $2 so that we could begin the process of the Prayer of Remembrance immediately. And later Bhagavan recommended using rudraksha or sandalwood malas.

8. And then, in the full cycle of devotions, we would receive Divine Gifts, or Blessed Prasad.  I am not sure when we were given the Second Great invocation. I need to do some research on this.


1978 Celebration with Bubba Free John, the “white period”

So this was the practice as it was given us to do in 1978.  In mid-July of 1978 Bhagavan Adi Da returned to the Mountain of Attention for a ten day period, and we had the chance to perform this full cycle of devotions with Bhagavan Adi Da Samraj both in Temple Adi Da and in Land Bridge Pavilion. It was a wonderful ten days time. We all dressed in white clothes and maintained a pure and pristine formality. Sometimes we refer to it as the “visit of Adi Da during the white period”. Bhagavan Adi Da spoke with us during this time and Sat with us many times . He wrote this beautiful essay prior to arriving that set the tone for that time, which we read to each other in the days previous to His Arrival at the Mountain of Attention. It is titled, “I Have Come to Accept the Worship of My Devotees”.  Here is the key conclusion to the essay:

“Know this: I appear among My devotees to receive and accept their Sacrifices, their Worship and Remembrance, their Surrender, their Requests, their Love, their explicit Devotion of body and mind. When I visit the community of My devotees, they should spend that time in every kind of devotional association with Me, in order that I may Respond to them from My Heart, Granting them the Blessings of all My Blissful Excesses.

Through this Lawful Worship, I am able to do My Work. If I am not Worshiped by My devotees, My Heart is not touched by them, and my Blessings are not Communicated to them. Therefore, when I come to visit with all of you, create that time as every kind of Worship of Me. Bring your bodies to Me as I bring this body-mind to you. Then you will be given the Realization of My All-Pervading Person, and you will find Me always present under the conditions of all experience and in the company of all beings. Then, even when I am not bodily with you, you will Worship Me and Surrender to Me via every state of body and mind, and I will always be with you. At last, you will be drawn into the Eternal Identity, so intimate with Me that no essential difference is noticed by you. Then you will abide in Me forever, whether or not the worlds of experience arise to your notice.”

1979 was the development of the more active Sacramental activities. We learned what a picture of Adi Da as a “Murti” meant, and how to treat them, and how to engage the “theater of Divine Association” with Bhagavan Adi Da through puja or Sacramental Services.

2. What is exactly meant by “Spirit-Life”? We would be very grateful for your clarification.

When Adi Da gave us these practices, they were very basic, very primal. Long before the language in Adidam had become more formalized. And so Spirit-Life is an early description of what might later be called Conscious Light, or Radiant Transcendental Being, or the Divine Presence, or any of the names one might give for the basic and primal feeling of Divine Reality Itself, which we feel in Adi Da’s Company when we Recognize Him.  Spirit-Life  is descriptive of the Presence of the Divine or Bhagavan Adi Da or the Spirit in Life itself, which is not abstract or elsewhere or floating in the vapor. The All-Pervading is showing us that Bhagavan Adi Da, if we will recognize Him, is everywhere! There is no limit to the Spirit-Life, but it embraces and includes All and all (as Adi Da has put it).

Hoping this helps




Adi Da Samraj and the sixteenth Karmapa, Ranjung Rigpe Dorje

220px-Karmapa16_3_grossIn November 1980, Craig Lesser and I visited the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, Ranchung Rigpa Dorje, in Boise, Idaho.

It was arranged as a formal meeting between Adi Da Samraj (then Da Free John) and Adidam, (then known as the Advaitayana Buddhist Fellowship), and the 16th Karmapa, Ranjung Rigpe Dorje and the Karma Kagyu tradition. Adi Da Samraj asked us to have this meeting on His behalf. The 16th Karmapa was known to be a very great Realizer, with a broad sense of humor and one the greatest Spiritual Beings of the 20th century.

Craig Lesser was friends with a woman named Barbara Pettee who lived in Palo Alto and worked with many lamas (Skt.  gurus) of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The meeting was arranged by her.

Boise, Idaho was chosen specifically because we felt that because it was a smaller city, not as much would be going on with the Karmapa, and therefore he would have more available free time.

It was a cold and icy time in Boise, with white snow on the ground all around. We arrived by airplane and spent the night at a local hotel.

The next day we traveled over to a house that was the Center of Namgyal Rinpoche, known as the Open Path Dharma Centre.  The Karmapa was not staying there, but was using it as a place for meetings.

thCA74KHXCAdi Da Samraj had Requested that we make this contact and connection. He had been speaking a great deal about Buddhism and its three yanas, and He had dubbed the Reality-Way of the Heart, Advaitayana Buddhism. This is of course described at length in the book Nirvanasara.  It was the fourth turning of the wheel of the law or dharma, a new and unique Revelation by Him. But He felt that it could be seen as a form of Buddhism, a new and unique form, and therefore He felt that it was appropriate for us to visit with Buddhist leaders to discuss all of this. He wanted us to make links.

A full outline or “script” for the meeting was prepared by me, and the typed version of this was given to Adi Da for His Approval and Blessing. There were many Notes and discussions about how the meeting should be conducted, and I felt well-instructed and prepared to represent Bhagavan Adi Da and to present His Wisdom Teaching.

Adi Da had a great regard for the Kagyu tradition, especially in relationship to the Spiritual Masters,  Marpa and Milarepa.


Bright Behind Me

As a major gift, a hat was prepared that was made entirely out of white silk and that included a very large diamond right in the center. Joan Hammerschmidt made the hat. One evening, just before leaving for Boise, Idaho, Craig Lesser and I met with Bhagavan Adi Da  in Bright Behind Me, where Adi Da was then residing, to go over the trip with Him. I had brought a picture of the Karmapa for Adi Da to view. He looked at it intently for quite a while and then He said very pointedly, “I am the kind of person who can tell that he is the kind of person, who will be able to tell who I am. The secret is that you bring his attention to it.” Adi Da looked at and admired the white hat, and then for a moment put it on His Head. It was clearly His Blessing of this gift for the Karmapa. He gave a big warm smile as He looked at Craig and I with the hat on His Head. And then He took it and placed it in the square white box that was prepared for it.

This was wonderful Instruction, which allowed me to understand a great deal about how such great beings, including Adi Da operated. They might hear about something in passing only, and therefore not put sufficient attention on that matter to “get” its significance. So many things might come their way in the course of any day, and because they were alive on many levels and not just the material dimension, they would notice things that a normal person might not. But in order to full receive the import of many things, what was required was their focus be brought directly to that matter. The extraordinary awareness that they had to see the deeper levels of things required that they really give something their attention.

First%20Paduka%20Puja%201979We brought with us to Boise, also a very large framed 16″x20” murti photograph of Adi Da, so that in viewing Adi Da’s Picture, he would have the opportunity to really see Him.

Until the Valley Fire I still had the script which outlined the introduction to Adi Da and Adidam that I verbally presented to the Karmapa.  (However, it was very much like the script that was used when we met with Chogyam Trungpa just weeks later, and that script I still have.) We spoke through a Tibetan devotee of Karmapa who served as translator. And also there was Jamgon Kongtrul, a great lama in his own right, and a principal lineage holder in the Kagyu tradition. So there were the five of us.  We were on the second floor of the Open Path Dharma Centre. Karmapa sat on a raised platform-like chair, and the rest of us sat on the floor before him.

The meeting took place on a Saturday in the afternoon, and we had told Adi Da the exact time of the meeting so that He could have His Attention on it.

When we presented the Murti of Adi Da to the Karmapa, He did a double take. In other words he looked at it, and then he turned his head away, and then he turned and looked again at it with great intensity. It felt like he could not believe what he was looking at at first, but then got it, received the Darshan of Adi Da. It felt like the moment where his attention was brought to Adi Da. As Adi Da had told us he would, he could tell who Adi Da was. Because he became immediately very happy, and began laughing and smiling as he continued to look at the picture. Very animated and alive. He was totally energized by seeing Adi Da’s Picture, and of course at this exact time, Adi Da had His Attention also on the meeting and on Karmapa. The whole room was filled with wonderful Presence.

From that moment on, the mood of the meeting was everything for which we could have hoped.  The Karmapa very eagerly listened to all we had to say. It felt like a real and genuine connection was being made between these two extraordinary beings.GyalwaKarmapa_disneyland

His laughter and happiness was infectious and he gave instructions as the meeting went on, for the other monks that were with him, to also view Adi Da’s Murti. They were in a room just adjoining the room we were in, but around the corner. When the Murti of Adi Da was brought into the room where they were sitting so that they could view it, we could hear their “oohs and awes” and happiness, and they also were laughing.  They too could feel that something really special was happening with this meeting with this Master, and Karmapa was including the lamas who traveled with him into this remarkable event and its energy.

There was a great deal of very high Dharma described in my presentation. I went through Adi Da’s Own Sadhana and Life. And also the Sacred History of His Work. I described His Realization in terms that were very akin to highest Buddhism. I talked about the transcendence of attention itself.

His Holiness Received all of this very warmly and with what appeared to be full comprehension. He made periodic comments as the presentation was being made. When He received the white hat, he really lit up, especially when he noticed the large diamond. He immediately also put it on his head for a moment, smiling and beaming with reception of Bhagavan Adi Da’s energy that came with the hat.


16th Karmapa with Swami Muktananda

As Adi Da Requested, we invited him to see Adi Da at the Mountain of Attention. Adi Da had given already lots of instructions for hosting the Karmapa and the monks in his traveling party there when He was also present. He suggested in these notes that there was nothing that He and Karmapa had to “do” with one another. It was really more just like being in the same space.  Maybe we should just “watch TV together” Adi Da joked.

The Karmapa immediately and warmly accepted the invitation to come to see Adi Da. He was very definite about it, and very happy. At Adi Da’s Instruction, we also mentioned that Adi Da might be at Da Love-Ananda Mahal at some times, and that this was our second Sanctuary, and that he was invited to visit there as well. The Karmapa immediately said that would also come there, for sure. He said that this particular tour that he was presently on, was already fully arranged with all of its itinerary. But the very next time that he came to the West, he would come to see Adi Da in both places. You could feel how he relished this idea.

We also asked Karmapa a question about Adi Da’s past lives. The Karmapa has the role within the Kagyu tradition of identifying tulkus (lamas who have intnetionally reincarnated from a previous lifetime) and is known to have that particular psychic skill. We told him that Adi Da had suggested His deeper personality pattern connected with Marpa Lotsawa, and asked him if he had any feelings for this, based on his own function as an identifier of past life connections.



His response was very simple. He said that his own knowledge of individuals only went back so far, and that he was not alive at the time of Marpa and therefore he did not know. This was a very literal response. The first of the sixteen Karmapas, Dusum Khyenp


Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa

a, was a disciple not of Marpa or Milarepa but of Milarepa’s disciple Gampopa. Therefore, the Karmapa himself extended back only so far, and not to Marpa’s time. This whole discussion was very straightforward. It was clear that the Karmapa had accepted Adi Da and His Realization at such a depth of recognition, that it was not unusual to ask him about Adi Da’s possible identity with one of the greatest figures in his own tradition. It just felt like an interesting question. But it felt that the relationship between the Karmapa and Adi Da had already been established at a depth deeper than any kind of verbal discussion.

It was clear to Craig and I that the real meeting had happened at a level prior to our verbal discussion, but directly, between Adi Da and the Karmapa in the Spiritual dimensions. This was confirmed when we reported to Adi Da. He said that the meeting had gone well at the deeper level connection between Himself and the Karmapa. This was not something that Adi Da often said. He listened to the details of the meeting, but said that He already knew what had happened. He was pleased with the meeting.

What it felt like to me as one participating in this meeting, was that the Karmapa was free enough so that he could “meet” or connect with Adi Da prior to human politics, or lineages, or religious or Spiritual Institutions. His involvement was simply at the level of direct recognition of Adi Da and connection to Adi Da. It felt to all of us that something very simple but really profound had happened at this connection being established. It was happy and positive, like it should truly always be, but usually wasn’t. By the end of the meeting the Karmapa referred to Adi Da as, “my good freind”.

thThe next morning, Sunday,  we were invited to attend a Black Crown ceremony with the Karmapa in the same house. It was downstairs in the main Shrine room, and there were perhaps 60 people there. Even with this small group for the Black Crown ceremony, it was done with full pomp and show. The highlight of the ceremony is when, with Tibetan trumpets blaring, the Karmapa takes the Black Crown from its box and puts it on his head.

After the Black Crown ceremony, we flew by airplane back to San Francisco. Adi Da asked to meet with us there at Andrew Johnson’s house, to continue the discussion about the meeting with the Karmapa.

Adi Da had been in the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco during the early morning and we were all gathered waiting for Him in front of His Chair in the living room. As He walked past us to go into His room to get changed He said, “What are you all doing here? You were supposed to come tomorrow not today.”


Da Free John (Adi Da Samraj) on porch of Bright Behind Me

And as He said it, with an edge of criticism, He “got me” for an instant. Of course, after that first second I realized He was joking around, but He had undermined me and put me beyond any fixed orientation. And having just seen the Karmapa that weekend, and even that morning, I realized that the Karmapa could not have done this with me. He was just too Tibetan. I had read a lot of Tibetan books in preparation for meeting the Karmapa and the teachings, translated into English and often explained in easy ways to receive. This all made it seem to me that Tibetan Buddhism was simply another Spiritual offering. But when I met with the Karmapa himself and heard him speak, in the Tibetan language and with his Tibetan mannerisms, I realized that he was from a completely different and foreign culture, a totally different idiom of expression. And I knew that I needed a Teacher or Master who was going to be able to know me and understand how I operated. Only in that way, would he be able to serve me and deal with me where I truly “lived”.


16th Karampa and Jamgon Kongtrul

Sadly, the Karmapa never made a “next tour” of the West and so the physical meeting with Adi Da Samraj never occurred. He was to pass away still in the midst of the same tour the next year, in Chicago on November 5th. A letter and gifts from Adi Da were sent to be used in the cremation ceremony of the Karmapa. They were delivered into the hands of Jamgon Kongtrul, who had been in the meeting in Boise, and had seen something of the relationship between Adi Da and the 16th Karmapa. He received the gifts and letter from Adi Da in the airport in Chicago, as Jamgon Kongtrul was waiting to board an airplane going back to Rumtek Monastery, in Sikkim, where the cremation ceremony was to occur.  (Jamgon Konrgtrul himself passed away in car accident in 1992. )

At Poolside with Bubba Free John

YE4Q5810In September of 1974, I was sent to Boston to do advance work in promotion of the film A Difficult Man.  We chose Boston as the premiere spot, because I had a lot of contacts in the Boston area which the Dawn Horse Communion would be able to use in promoting the film.  That story  can be the subject for a future post.


Example of cover of “New Age Journal”

Today I want to focus on one  particular day during this promo work for A Difficult Man in Boston.  One afternoon I went to visit the offices of the New Age Journal to see my old friends there. This included Robert Hargrove, the editor in chief.  According to Robert my visit was on Columbus Day, which is the second Monday in October, and would have been on the 14th that year.  Leslie Smith, who had been my girlfriend for several years, was the office manager of the Journal, and also prominent on the staff were Eric Utne (who later started the Utne Reader and Peggy Taylor, who I had also lived with at the Brookline East-West Journal house. The  New Age Journal was begun by former staff members of the East-West Journal, who felt that the strict Macrobiotic policies of the East-West Journal were preventing them from covering a wider range of topics. I had lived with Robert Hargrove in the Macrobiotic house that he oversaw in Brookline in 1972 for a good part of a year, along with Eric Utne and Peggy Taylor—it was The East-West Journal house. I had gone to high school with his wife Cindy, although we were only acquainted. I had written a few articles for the Journal—book reviews and interviews, and had been the distribution manager for a time, dropping off hundreds of free copies of the Journal at local colleges out of my green Volkswagen bus. So that is some background. It was like a homecoming to visit my old friends at the New Age Journal, who I had not seen since I had left to become a devotee of Adi Da (Bubba Free John), and I was full of anticipation about how they might respond to Bubba.


Currently available CD version of “Garbage and the Goddess”

I had the cassette tape “Garbage and the Goddess” with me. When I arrived at the Journal I first met with Robert in his office and we caught up for a while. And I told him about the tape and said that he “had” to listen to it.  We walked out into the central office space, where the cassette player was. This central office space was a square and all of the side offices were attached to it. I popped the cassette into the player and turned up the volume.  Bubba’s Siddhi descended into the room—His Laughter was infectious. Robert had not asked his staff to come and listen to the tape. But one by one the side office doors opened and people came out to where Robert and I were standing by the cassette tape. The energy and feeling was just too much–within a very few minutes, every single person in The New Age Journal office emptied out of their side offices and came into the central room to listen to the tape. I turned up the volume really loudly. People were laughing and smiling and being moved. We listened to a good portion of the tape before it was time to turn it off. It became an event, a happening! Everyone, the entire staff,  was deeply affected by Bubba’s Communication, even though many of them knew very little or even nothing about who Bubba Free John was. After the tape ended I chatted with everyone for a while. Something profound had occurred, and everybody felt it, although we weren’t quite sure where to go from there. After a few minutes Robert ushered me back into his office and I gave him a copy of the Garbage and the Goddess book.

That day was October 14th, 1974. When the second issue of New Age Journal, Volume 1, Number 2, was published in December, 1974, the  lead article in the books section was called “Poolside with Bubba Free John”. It was a two page spread just on the book, with a large picture of Bubba with Aniello Panico and Sal Lucania with their heads in his lap that took up half of the second page. (I lost the physical copy of the magazine in the Valley Fire, but there is one in the Adidam archives. I had, however, typed it out previously, and here is the text of the article.)

(beginning of article)

At Poolside with Bubba Free JohnIMG_2044



by Bubba Free John

Dawn Horse Press, 1974

391 pages. $4.95

It is 6:30 AM as I write this. I have been up for hours reading Bubba Free John’s new book, Garbage and the Goddess. I am on page 86 and I can’t read another word. I am embarrassed to say that I feel like getting up, driving to the airport, and flying to Bubba’s Dawn Horse Communion.

Do I try to make intellectual sense out of this carefully written book? That would be inappropriate. Here are all these people talking about having their minds ripped out of them, and about the entrance of God into their psychophysical beings. And here I am trying to say something intelligent about spontaneous kriyas. Forget it. Start with something easy and then get into it.

The artwork in this book is the perfect complement to the teachings it includes. There are many pictures of Bubba and his disciples; a combination of photographs and line drawings to depict dramatic moments. Since much of the book is a running commentary on a particularly active period in Bubba’s work, the pictures make you feel that you are right there—at poolside with the community.

Here is a quote from the book:


Picture that was published in original article

While he was speaking about his past lives, Bubba was sitting on the edge of the pool with one hand on Sal’s leg. Suddenly he made a few cryptic comments to Sal. A devotee sitting nearby overhead Bubba ask Sal, “Are you ready?” Sal replied that he was. Then Bubba said pointing to Sal, “You see this body? You see this self-sense?” Bubba’s eyes rolled up, and his lips pulled into a sneer. His hands formed mudras as he slumped against Sal, who also fell back against other devotees sitting behind him. Almost immediately, many of those present began to feel the effects of intensified Shakti, through the spontaneous internal movement of the life-force. Their bodies jerked or shook, their faces contorted, some began to cry, scream, and moan. The whole bathhouse seemed to have slipped into another world.

Later that week in a group discussion, Greg Purnell, who had been present at the pool described what he saw.

“. . . Bubba just suddenly came out of his own body. I didn’t see it but I absolutely knew it was happening. I saw Bubba just enter Sal, just go right into Sal. From there he went out over everybody else, and then everybody else just started going crazy. . .”

Sal describes his own experience:

“At that point he entered the body completely, down to the cells. I could feel the entry taking place. It was a form of possession. . . almost like anesthesia, or like a form of radiation. After the entry was complete, he put his head against mine, and I couldn’t feel my own head anymore. Then the body went into a yogic process, and we drifted out of the body together. . . moving through empty space. In this vision he said to me, ‘See Sal, what does it all amount to?’”

(end quote)

The Buddhists among you might say that there is a lot of spiritual materialism in this book. But that is not where this book or Bubba is at. There is much talk about the difference between one who has a deep inner experience of Shakti and a man or woman of radical understanding.

As Bubba says, “There have been many people who came to me. . . They had all kinds of experiences. But it didn’t change them one iota. They were just as stupid, just as committed to their asshole destiny in the midst of kriyas, blisses and visions as they were before they ever heard of kundalini.”

It should be mentioned that only a small part of Garbage and the Goddess is devoted to “the last miracles” of Bubba Free John. The rest is spiritual instruction; and since I haven’t read it yet I won’t comment upon it. I will say that I am also quite impressed by the clarity of thought in Bubba’s first two books The Method of the Siddhas, and The Knee of Listening. (All three books are published by the Dawn Horse Press, one of the businesses that the community operates.)

If I say anything else about this book, I am going to have to give everybody and his guru equal time. I would like to conclude by telling you how Garbage and the Goddess fell into my hands.

I was sitting in my office on Columbus Day. We were less than a week away from press time and there was a lot of scurrying around. In the midst of it all, in walked an old friend who had recently defected from the macrobiotic movement to join Bubba as a disciple.

Jim Steinberg had lived with my wife and I at the EWJ community house for about six months. He was a nice guy and everybody liked him, but he was completely hung up about food. He had seeds and nuts hidden in every pocket, drawer, suitcase and closet in his room; and he munched on them continually. We called him “squirrel,” because he looked like a squirrel when he ate.

But the person who stood in front of me yesterday afternoon was not the being that I had known. A group of people had gathered around him. He was talking about “the work” that was being done at Dawn Horse—drawing everyone into his considerable but centered enthusiasm. He had gone through a complete metamorphosis; and I was really glad to see him.

DSC00049When he left the office, the whole place was buzzing with energy. As I returned to the scurry of my work I said to myself that I was going to write a letter to Bubba Free John and the folks at Dawn Horse—thanking them for all they had done for Jim. One way of evaluating a teacher is by the students that he sends into the world.

(end of article)

Andrew Johnson was the head of the “Public Education” promotion for the community, so he went in and showed Bubba the article at his house,  when it came out in December. Andrew told me that Bubba was very pleased with the article. Bubba humorously said, “This isn’t an article about me. It is an article about James!”.

I have talked to devotees who have told me that they read this article back when it was published, and it was part of what interested them in Adi Da Samraj!

P.S. I never heard anyone call me “squirrel”. It must have been a private nickname.  And I did keep nuts in my pockets sometimes. In fact even today you might find me with some food item squirreled away in my pockets or bags.

PPS. Robert Hargrove came to California to see Bubba Free John in 1976. Again a story to be told later.


A Photograph from 1974

305828_2460896288640_1439166930_32854670_1556203057_nIn late August or early September of 1974, I was on an education committee with several devotees and also with our Beloved Divine Master, Bhagavan Adi Da, known then of course as Bubba Free John.   Nina Jones, and a few other devotees were on the committee.  It shows you the submission of Bhagavan Adi Da during those years, that He would be part of this committee with us. Beloved Bhagavan was so involved in  all areas of the Dawn Horse Communion, including the Mission or “Public Education” department as it was called then, and the correspondence department–well literally everything. When the committee was formed we were to meet every Sunday afternoon.  However it did not  meet too many times before it was disbanded,  One Sunday afternoon we met at the house Mill Valley house where Bhagavan Adi Da stayed when He came to the Bay Area. During the meeting we all sat at round low table in Beloved’s living room. He was completly involved in every detail of the discussion about the educational process for all devotees in the community. He not only was brilliant in His suggestions and guidance, but also always humorous. At one point I remember Him getting up and going outside through a sliding glass door. He stood on the wooden deck looking off into the distance. He was dressed in a flowered black kurta top, with a Tibetan necklace on and His hair was blowing in the wind, his hands down below His waist, clasped together behind His back. He looked so beautiful that it took our breath away. Every moment as He stood there was a Divine Tableaux, each moment another Revelation of His Divinity. He had submitted so ordinarily during the meeting, but now, just moments later, He was the Divine Person, Beauty Incarnate. It is not surprising to me that one of the pictures taken on that day has become one that is often used from the early days. (Nick Elias was the photographer.)  It appears as page xxii in Garbage and the Goddess, just opposite the frontispiece that says, “The Last Miracles of Bubba Free John”. I have seen it somewhere in color, but not sure where.

“The world calls me mad” a poem by Rang Avadhoot

Maharaj_30The world calls me mad. I am mad, you are mad, all the world is mad. Who in this world is not mad? Still they call me mad.

Some are mad after name and fame. Some are mad after money. Some are mad after skin. But blessed is he who is mad after God Rama.  I am a madcap of that type.

Those who were mad after the world, did not get the world, though they wondered for ages.

He, who was mad after Ram, merged into Ram and was overflooded by Rama’s delight.

I liked not name and fame. I liked not wealth. I liked not fair skin of a beautiful damsel.


Rang Avadhoot sitting before images of his Guru, Tembe Swami and behind him, the three-headed Dattatreya

In every pore of my being, I liked the Naked Avadhut, Datta and breathed out his name every second of my life.

That path is found only by the guidance of the Teacher. Books are of no avail there.

Rang is mad after the grace of the Teacher. He got incomparable relish in his grace.


from Songs of the Avadhut, translated by Shri Shantilal Thaker, published by Avadhut Parivar, Kampala, 1972


Adi Da’s Look

I am writing today already seven years past Adi Da’s Mahasamadhi and now in my mid-sixties.

And yet I am remembering the “Look” of Adi Da.

DSC0083aDSC0083bDSC0083cHow in Darshan He would simply be present and look around the room. Now I am going to write my best understanding here, but I don’t “know” about any of this. But as Adi Da looked around the room there would be a time when He would look at each person. And if you could hold His Gaze, if you were present, He would look at “you” and continue to look at you for some time. And there were those occasions, if you really felt Him deeply, then He would turn and He would “zoom” right to you, no matter where He had otherwise been looking. And He would hold that Gaze until your attention wandered. He would look away and you would realize that you had been thinking or elsewhere somehow.

During one period, in 1975, Adi Da would sit in what we now call Temple Adi Da, but then called Western Face Cathedral. He would sit in the mid-day, around 3 o’clock on Saturday and Sunday. The sitting would last for an hour or so and the Cathedral would be filled with over 200 of us.

What incredible occasions! What extraordinary Grace!  I would prepare myself all day long. All day long, no matter what I was doing, I would be getting ready for the Sitting with Adi Da. I don’t think we called it Darshan, I think we called it Sitting with Bubba in those days. And when it got to be about 2 o’clock on, then I just wanted to be alone and quiet and really just focus on getting ready. I understood this to be the greatest opportunity and also each occasion was an incredible test. I would go be by myself up in the library and sit in a corner and just ready myself.

Now I heard that Bhagavan Adi Da told us that He had a Siddhi whereby many people could all think that He was looking directly at them at the same time. No matter what it might have seemed like to a camera, the perception of many individuals after the Sitting was that Adi Da had been looking at them for a long time. Now sometimes, it was literally that way, Bhagavan would look at some particular individual for a while–I have known Adi Da to look at people for an extended period in such Darshan or meditation occasions. And there are various Sittings with Adi Da where He looked at me for extended periods of time. In 1992, on retreat, in the retreatant Hall, Mindless Company, there was a sitting occasion where Adi Da Gazed at me for what was at least one half hour. Another time at the Manner of Flowers, in 1980, Adi Da looked at me for ten minutes at the beginning of the occasion. Those are both stories to tell in themselves.

DSC0083fBut there were these times in Western Face Cathedral, where it seems that He would look at me and look at me and look at me. Well let me explain. I would sit usually in the same place. About half way back in the room or a little further, and right in the middle. And it was like waiting for my lover to arrive. I would sit awaiting a moment when He might Gaze at me. And I was so in love. I am speaking of the Look, but I might just as well speak of the Love. It was the same. The Look was Love Incarnate. And He would look, and I would just be there. I would let go of absolutely everything. Myself as a person. The room and the body and the setting. I would just enter into those eyes, and whatever arose was not the point. Let it go, but don’t even spend any time letting it go. Just maintain the Look. Be there with Bhagavan. Be there with that Love, those Eyes, in that moment, and this moment, and this moment, always now. Match the Love with my love. Let the natural motive of the heart leap forward and be forward. And now in this moment return to that look. Not even return, just be there. And allow myself to be carried anywhere and anyplace, but wherever I was, just be there with that look. And it would seem that for eternities I would be held in that Gaze of Love. Always fresh, always now, always immediate. I felt that I was “hogging” all of Adi Da’s Attention sometimes. But any thought like that, just let it go, and be there. But I also knew that it was 100% lawful and that I could not for one second trick Adi Da into looking at me. When He looked away, sometimes, there would appear to be a look of displeasure that somehow I had broken the Gaze through my inattention, my being distracted. He was wanting absolute Fidelity. And it was more intimate than any lovemaking that I had done with a woman, any moment of hugging or embrace with my parents or my friends.  It was the deepest intimacy that I had ever known,  and have ever known.

Of course I am writing of this now because that Look, that Love is timeless and it is NOW also. And it has never left, but is always there. Because it was Divine or Reality, it was not limited to any time or place. I understand intellectually and also have intuited in my life with Adi Da Samraj, that the Divine Being that He is, that He has Incarnated, that is the Nature of Reality and is the Truth of all of us also, is a seamless unity with everything and all and transcends everything and all. So this look in 1975 in Western Face Cathedral is what I was just feeling on the cot a minute ago, as I lay contemplating Adi Da. It is that Look, that present time Embrace of Love.

DSC00101As I would enter into Western Face Cathedral I waited for His Look just as one would await the embrace of one’s lover, or the meeting with one’s deepest intimate, or the refrain in a song, or the healing presence of nature, or the thrill of orgasm, or the satisfaction of anything that is pleasurable. But it was the THING itself, not a substitute. I guess this is another way of saying that Guru is God, in other words, what I know as God is what I have seen in Adi Da’s Eyes.  And it seemed that all He was doing was looking for people that would be present with Him, that were ready and available for actually meeting and being with Him. He was Always Already in that space. And He would simply sit there as Love and being Who He Is with you in that Space and that place and a moment there was already to have contacted Eternity which is full and enough for Always just in a moment, except that there is now this moment and it requires again that we be THERE and who would want to be anywhere else or do anything else. And He would continue to look at you as long as you were present. And there was no “enjoying” or “basking” or “gloating” or “triumphing” in that look. There was only being present. It is Love but not an emotionalism because with any of these things that we might be feeling, then already we are gone from the moment itself. And yes, it is SATORI, or SAMADHI with open eyes, and as great as anything that a yogi or saint might struggle to achieve their entire life. Except it is given in the moment.

And so it felt to me that I spent a good part of the entire sitting many many times just looking at Adi Da and receiving His GAZE. It may have been that He was just generally looking in my direction, and not at me. It really doesn’t matter. What was important was that I was there with Him in each moment when I possibly could be. And I was THRILLED to my core by that Divinity. It was a vibrational tuning, a resonance, an embrace that was so vast that I would be stunned after each occasion. All of us were. We would leave the Hall and when we caught each other’s eyes we would acknowledge our awe at what we had seen.  These days the word “awesome” is used casually. A good tasting meal is “awesome”–trivial things. But these occasions were truly AWESOME. We left in a place beyond words. And we would hug each other, or want to be alone, or just wander off. And try to reintegrate with our normal state of being while somehow holding on to this Darshan, this Blessing, this Vision.

Now of course each meditation with Adi Da, each puja, each moment of our life of turning, should and could be this same moment. And there is nothing that I am speaking of that every one who has recognized Adi Da Samraj has not also experienced.


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