The opportunity to communicate with Beloved Bhagavan Da Love-Ananda is a great Gift and Blessing. It is a means by which devotees may enter into direct and personal Spiritual relationship with Him. In the traditions, all actions in relationship to the Realized Guru are understood to be charged with great profundity, and the process of communicating with the Divine Guru is a test of the devotee’s devotion and discrimination. It reflects his or her practice altogether. Right communication with the Divine Realizer requires of the devotee great care and attention, for the Realized Master is very vulnerable when He Graces devotees by reading their cards, letters, and reports, and has none of the conventional armor or shielding of an ego to protect Himself from any angularity or disrespect. Thus, the devotee must use this Gift of the opportunity to communicate with the Divine Guru’s Condition. It is an opportunity to rightly and truly express devotion and gratitude for the ceaseless Blessings Given to him or her by the Beloved Guru. It is a means by which the devotee may directly and verbally express his or her worship and praise of Bhagavan Adi Da.
—Always and Only Write in Feeling-Contemplation of the Divine Guru
Before you start writing, feel Who you are writing to—a fully God-Realized Divine Guru. Feel your living relationship to Him. Imagine that you are speaking to Beloved Bhagavan present before you in His bodily (human) Form, if this helps you to make a living connection with Him, rather than remaining abstract. Feelingly Regard Beloved Bhagavan before you, and only begin writing when you are truly in Communion with Him. Surrender yourself to Him, and lovingly Regard His bodily (human) From. If you are not so rightly associated with Bhagavan Adi Da when you are writing to Him, then whatever you write will inevitably not express your real relationship to Him as your Beloved Guru, but will miss the mark of right response in any one of hundreds of ways. As Beloved Adi Da has Said, only if you are actually practicing self-surrendering, self-forgetting, and self-transcending practice in feeling Regard of Him will you be exemplary in your practice. In every moment or circumstance in every letter or report or card you write to the Divine Master, there is a different attitude or behavior or communication that is right and appropriate. The ability to know what is such a correct attitude and to demonstrate it is found on such moment-to-moment practice. Although many practical guidelines will be described in this booklet, this real practice is the mark of whether you are prepared to communicate rightly with the Divine Guru. You can self-consciously seem to be manifesting the right attitude and behavior, and communication, but it is not true unless there is such active self-understanding and self-transcending practice.
In order to serve this right orientation it is helpful to have a photograph of Beloved Bhagavan Adi Da before you as you write, so that you may feelingly Regard His bodily (human) Form occasionally during your writing. Sometimes it is useful begin the occasion or writing to Beloved Bhagavan by waving a stick of incense around the photograph of Adi Da, or otherwise making a simple offering, or doing a simple puja, all with the intention that your letter will rightly reflect your true relationship to Bhagavan Adi Da as your Divine Master, and will please Him, and serve His Work. But it is important to understand that this right attitude and behavior cannot be “dummied up” or created in the moment. It is a reflection of your entire practice. And necessarily coincident with your being able to be in the right attitude or relationship with Bhagavan Adi da so as to correctly communicate to Him is your coming to Him with your hands full.
If you do not have real gifts to bring Bhagavan Adi Da, if there are not the fruits of your practice expressed in practical and tangible signs, then there is no right attitude that will suffice. We will speak more of this later, but it I s necessary to say from the start that the right relationship and orientation to the Divine Master cannot be manifested by the devotee unless he or she is truly living it, and demonstrating this in fulfilling the Divine Master’s explicit Directions and Instructions. Theses involve not only what the Divine Guru has asked to be done explicitly by the devotee in his or her own practice, and in his or her personal service and collective service in cooperation with all other devotees—but such right relationship to the Spiritual Master also must necessarily involved real care for the Spiritual Master’s Circumstance. Unless there is the demonstration and real evidence of practice in life, then practice is not authentic, and any communication you make to the Spiritual Mater will inevitably convey emptiness and false orientation.
The written communication that you are sending to Bhagavan Adi Da, whether it be a card, or letter, or report, will presumably be put in Avatar Adi Da’s hands to read. At that moment His complete Attention and Blessing will be focused on you and your words to Him. He is the Divine Person, alive in bodily (human) Form, and in His Submission to you, and for the sake of, He will be Giving Himself over to read what you have written. You should feel the significance of every communication t hat you make to the Divine Master. Bhagavan Adi Da has Said that every word that is said to Him communicates something, and there should never be a casual statement made. Be intentional and conscious in the choice of every word you write to Him, so that it communicates directly and precisely what you want to communicate to Him. The Divine Master transcends time and space and your communication to Him is I n some sense already felt as you are writing. There are many cases in which Bhagavan Adi Da has responded to reports or letters that have been written to Him, even before they have been put in His Hands. What you write to Him is more than just the words—it is a psychic communication. You cannot hide anything from the Divine Master through a play or words, or a style of writing, or by deliberately leaving something out. To do so even to the slightest degree is to presume that the Spiritual Master is an ordinary man and to live your relationship to Him based on a lie. The karmas of such actions undermine what is the most precious treasure in our lives—our relationship to the Divine Master. The Ruchira Avatar Divine Guru feels beyond what is on the page. It is said traditionally over and over again that in relationship to the Spiritual Master, one should be straightforward, humble, and direct. Therefore, truly consider: What are you trying to communicate to Him? What is your intention? What emotion are you offering at His Feet in your letter or report? Want gift are you bringing Him through your communication?
To write to Bhagavan Adi Da should be to enter into His Sphere in this moment, and to write from that directness of your relationship with Him. Therefore it should be understood as a form of entering into feeling-Regard of His bodily (human) Form, His Spiritual (and Always Blessing) Presence, and His very (and Inherently Perfect) State, and as a specific sadhana or practice. Like any other practice, it must be learned, and you will grow in your capacity to write the Divine Master. But the mark of your devotion and surrender to Bhagavan Adi Da must be there in every communication, or you ware not writing as a devotee, but are becoming conventional in some way. If at any time in your writing you feel yourself no longer connected with a depth of feeling to Bhagavan Adi Da, then you have lost the thread or your feeling-Regard and you should inspect what you have written for the last period of time. You will generally find that those sentences or paragraphs are abstract, or indirect, and miss the mark of Guru-devotion. If you are writing as a form of true sadhana, or feeling-Regard, then you will remain associated with Bhagavan Adi Da the entire time of writing to Him. You will feel the characteristic signs of feeling-Regard of Him, and you will find yourself getting more and more connected and wonderfully associated with Beloved Bhagavan—you may be moved to tars while you write, or you may find yourself remembering things He has Said, or leelas that you have been involved in or have heard about. You may experience the purification of tendencies, and a rebalancing of your feelings. You will find in your writing to Bhagavan Adi Da that you may have reflected back to you practical things which you must do immediately in your service to Him. You may have revealed to you wrong attitudes which you must a t that moment and henceforth redress. Ad you will undoubtedly feel more deeply, in the process of writing Bhagavan Adi Da, the Truth of what He has been Communicating. If you do not finish the letter intensified in your relationship to Beloved Bhagavan, then most likely your letter will not be appropriate or express the right mood of the devotees gratitude and devotion.
—Beloved Bhagavan Adi Da Reads Everything That You Write and Everything That You Do Not Write
Everything that you communication to the Spiritual Master should be an expression of your relationship to Him as a practitioner. Besides the content of the letter written to Him, Sri Da Love-Ananda looks for the quality of devotion in the letter. If there is not the expression of a devotee there but there is instead inappropriate address then the obstruction that this represents will prevent the Divine Master from truly receiving whatever else you are trying to communicate to Him. He cares more about His devotee’s real relationship to Him and to the practice than any information that you might be conveying to Him. Always write with the “devotees’s voice”—the quality of turning, submission, and surrender to the Divine Master, or self-transcending, self-surrendering, and self-forgetting feeling-Regard. When Beloved Bhagavan is reading your letter, He is literally reading you, and He reads everything that you say, and everything that you do not say. Therefore, really communication with Bhagavan Adi da as a devotee, not feeling reluctant to express yourself fully, and yet also not allowing yourself to fall into emotionalism or mere pedantry.
Bhagavan Adi Da once told us that every letter should begin and end such that it could be read at a Ruchira-Avatar Puja. Always put everything you are writing in the Sacred context of your relationship as a devotee to Bhagavan Adi Da. Don’t just jump into the “business” of your communication. Begin by simply telling Beloved Bhagavan about your gratitude for whatever it I s that you are writing about. Establish yourself as a devotee in relationship to Him first, and then communicate whatever must be practically said. Likewise, always end by affirming again your relationship to Bhagavan Adi Da. You can view this process as similar to the Full Feeling-Prostration that the devotee makes before the Divine Master on first entering and then formally leaving the Divine Master’s Company. It is formality that expresses our right and true relationship to Bhagavan Adi Da as His devotees.
Always address Bhagavan Adi Da from our heart when you begin a letter. Let Him know that you are His devotee in the style of your writing, and communicate that the relationship with Him is the foundation of your life. This fact should mold the manner in which you address Him. No matter what the subject, there is never any reason for your letter to be a reflection of what Adi Da calls “the religion business”, or communications that are abstract from the real practice of the Guru-devote relationship.
Understand that His Regard of your letter is a form of Darshan, a Blessing. When the Divine Master Gives anything His attention, He absorbs it and Transforms it. Therefore, it is a Sacrifice on His part, always. He must bring His Samadhi into association with the body-mind. Do not imagine that the Divine Master is like you, fixed or rooted in the verbal mind. His Samadhi Transcends the mind and all verbal expression. He is reading your letter or report as a form of Blessing or Regard for the sake of your practice, and for the sake of the magnification of His Divine Work altogether. The opportunity to communicate with Him is a great Gift, and provides you a living link with Your Spiritual Mater. You are writing the Divine Person, Who in His Sacrifice and Compassion will review your letter for your sake, and for the sake of His blessing Work with all beings.
The traditions speak a great deal about the attitude with which the devotee must approach the Spiritual Master in any circumstance and any situation. The greatest sin in relationship to the Divine Master is to approach Him or regard Him as an ordinary man. From the beginning of His service to devotees, Avatar Adi Da has reminded devotees of this most basic admonition, which was often also enunciated by Sri Ramana Maharshi. To approach the Divine Master in this manner is to miss the mark of Who the Divine Master Is, and thus inevitably and always means that your relationship to your own greatest Help will be founded on a false premise, and all of your behavior will be inappropriate. The same principle is expressed in the traditional warning never to treat the Divine Master as an equal. If He is treated in this manner, there is no Spiritual submission, no humility, and therefore no ability to receive the Gifts Given by the Divine Master. There are numerous traditional rules to aid the devotee in always rightly maintaining this attitude of prostration and surrender in relationship to his or her Divine Master, such as never sitting on a seat at the same level as the Spiritual Master, always coming with hands full of gifts, etc. Likewise, in speech and communication to the Divine Master, this attitude of submission and service to the Spiritual Master is rightly expressed in every aspect of writing. For example the devotee would never express himself or herself as equal to the Divine Master in a phrase such as “as You and I both know. . .”, or include the Spiritual Master along with oneself in the pronoun “we”, as in “as we both know. . .” The devotee would never write the Spiritual Master is he or she were telling the Spiritual Master what He or She should do, appearing to be directing the Spiritual Master’s life, or ordering the Spiritual Master around. Everything the devotee does is done with the permission of the Spiritual Master; therefore, in writing to the Spiritual Master it is essential to always write in such a style that He is given the Freedom to direct His devotee in any way that He chooses. Thus, the devotee always expresses the disposition of devoing everything in direct accountability and under the Spiritual Guidance of the Spiritual Master.
For example, writing about a forthcoming event in his or her region or at a Sanctuary, the devotee would say, “With Your Blessing, forty people will be hearing the communication of Your Instructions on. . .”, or “With Your Permission . . .” or “If it pleases You, we will invite. . . .” It is not that this should or must be done with every sentence, or even very often throughout a letter—this would be unnecessary, and even become patronizing and burdensome. But this attitude of submission and openness to the Divine Master’s complete Mastery of you, to His Interference and Blessing, must be there throughout any communication you make. Your Divine Guru is Your Spiritual Master, and the willingness to be so Mastered should always be reflected in everything you write. The devotee is always resorting to the Spiritual Master, and never telling the Spiritual Master what to do. Even though the devotee may be telling something to his or her Spiritual Master, he or she must never become enamored of his or her knowledge, feeling that he or she “knows” something which the Spiritual Master does not. Even though the devotee may be committing himself or herself to some service or the fulfillment of some apparent need of the Spiritual Master, the devotee must never feel that he or she is “needed” by the Spiritual Master. The opportunity to communicate or to serve the Divine Master is a Gift in itself. As Adi Da Samraj States in The Love-Ananda Gita:
I Am (My Self) What you Require, and I am here to Require every “thing” of you.
You must relinquish (or surrender) your self (your experience, your presumed knowledge, your separateness, all your “things”, within and without) to Find and Realized the Fullness That Is Me.
(Verses 91 and 92, p. 235)fn1.
Practically, there are a number of guidelines about speaking to the Spiritual Master. The traditions advise that the devotee should always speak “gently, sweetly, and truthfully before his Guru and he must not use vulgar or harsh words.” The Divine Master is in an equanimity and peace that is far beyond the devotee’s capacity to even fathom. To disturb the Spiritual Master’s peaceful state through bringing Him inappropriate communications is a sign of the devotee requiring the Divine Master to conform to himself or herself, rather than the devotee conforming himself or herself to the Spiritual Master in the practice of whole bodily devotional recognition-response to the Spiritual Master, and genuine service to Him. He is the sacred Incarnate, set apart as the Divine Murti in bodily (human) Form. He cannot be “polluted” by such inappropriate speech, however, to address Him in inappropriate terms prevents you from rightly relating to Him and being available to receive His Gifts.
There is no reason to use conventional reference to the Spiritual Master. Instead, use Sacred address. For example, it is a convention in the West to begin personal letters, “Dear _______”, and to end them, “Love”, and then to sign your name. Address Beloved Bhagavan Adi Da as a devotee always, not only in your opening address and your closing comments, but throughout the letter, card, or report. There is no prohibition against the word “Dear”, but this should be what you mean to say, rather than merely a convention. Ganapati Muni, the famous poet and devotee of Sri Ramana Maharshi, generally began his letters to the Sage with the word “Bhagawan” (or “Lord”), followed by ever different words of praise such as “Lord, Teacher Universal”, “Lord, Grace Itself”, or “Lord, Full of Compassion for devotees”. Any of Adi Da Samraj’s Names or Titles are appropriate addresses—as well as any words of praise, love, or gratitude.
Never presume that it is your right to have the Spiritual Master read your letter or report. It is a privilege to communicate to Him. For this reason, it is often asked of the Divine Master at the outset whether you might have permission to address Him further. In this light, traditionally it is said at the beginnings of letters to such Divine Beings, “Please accept this letter . . .” or “May You Grace me by reading this report. . .” or “Be pleased to receive this communication . . .” You need not, of course, do this in each letter or report you send, but always keep in mind that you are actually using the time of the Spiritual Mater when you put a communication before Him. In this regard, always be brief and to the point. Do not stray from the subject. Never waste the Divine Master’s time. Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, a contemporary Iranian Sufi Master, writes in the essay “Master and Disciple”, “the disciple must not speak of worldly affairs or those involved with them in the presence of the master, and thus waste his time with useless chatter.”fn3.
One of the traditional rules in writing the Divine Master is always to tell Him immediately what it is that your letter is about, so that He may choose to go on to read it or not, based on His Kheyala or Spiritual Movement in the moment. He may have already heard what you are saying, or not want to consider it today, or, for any number of reasons, might not want to continue if He knew what your letter contained—so tell Him immediately, rather than require Him to ferret out the substance of your communication. Do not make the demand on Him to find out what your letter is about. Tell Him directly—for example, “Please accept this letter of love about my personal practice. . .”, or “Please know that this letter is a response to Your communications given yesterday about the daily schedule . . .”
When you write to Bhagavan Adi Da, it is also important to always communicate to Him that you understand the Sacred Principles, Callings, and Agreements which He has elaborated (now given in one summary known as “The Nine Great Laws), and which form the underpinning of your consideration. This relieves Him of the burden of feeling that He must again describe these, and also makes it easier for Him to consider the issues involved without Himself being burdened to remember everything.
—Every Communication to the Divine Master is a Sacred Vow
Anything which is communicated to the Divine Master must be understood as a Sacred obligation or Vow. The Spiritual Master takes you at your word, and assumes that what you write Him is what you want or are intending to communicate to Him. He responds to you on that basis, and will address and regard you based on what you say. When you tell the Spiritual Master something about your relationship to Him, or your practice, or what you will do in your service in relationship to Him, He takes seriously what tell Him. And anything that is promised or expressed to Him, He receives as your Sacred commitment or Vow. Bhagavan Adi Da has noticed that in general Westerners, and specifically those who have come to practice in His Company, have tended to give their word casually or frivolously. And such communications abuse Him. Devotees must understand this essential matter, and only communicate to Bhagavan Adi Da based on an appreciation of the seriousness of everything that they say. The Buddhist text Fifty Verses of Guru-Devotion states, in its nineteenth verse, “Always keep your word of honor [with your Guru” fn3. And likewise it is enjoined in the Shree Guru Gita: “Wise disciples should never . . . tell a lie before the Guru”. Fn4 Swami Sivananda writes similarly: “Admit your faults plainly before the Guru who is the embodiment of compassion and love . . . When you deal with your teacher, be honest and sincere. No Spiritual progress is possible without honesty, in the Yoga of Guru-Bhakti.”fn5 Whatever is promised to the Spiritual Master must be fulfilled with the solemn force of a Sacred vow. Only in doing so is there the seriousness of the true demonstration of the Guru-devotee relationship. The Divine Master understands such a commitment made by the devotee as a promise to Him, and for the devotee to break such a promise is to betray his relationship to his Spiritual Master. Bhagavan adi Da calls a devotee’s failure to fulfill his or her responsibility a lie—for they have previously vowed to do. A lie is not simply something which is a deliberate miscommunication of facts—is also anything said to the Spiritual Master which proves over time to be untrue. Therefore, do not make promises you are not certain you can fulfill, or communicate statements about which you are unsure. Based on what devotees tell Bhagavan Adi Da, He changes His whole life. Avatar Adi Da functions taking everything into account, including the past and the future. If you do not maintain an agreement with Him, you disrupt what He is intending to do based on that agreement.
Another version of this is what Avatar Adi Da refers to as a “snow job“. This occurs when the devotee says something to the Divine Master in a big way, but it is obvious that it is simply not going to happen. As Swami Sivananda admonishes in the book Guru-Bhakti Yoga, “Do not boast or make sure [much] of your ability with your Spiritual Teacher. Be simple and humble.” Fn6 Self-glorifying promises or affirmations are an offense to the Spiritual Master, for they indicate the lack of real submission and surrender at the Spiritual Master’s Feet, and the practical embodiment of such self-transcendence in life. Great care and seriousness must be taken by the devotee in addressing the Spiritual Master. Bhagavan Adi da has often quoted from Fifty Verses of Guru Devotion this traditional admonition (here quoted with the relevant preceding verse) which He once called “The Most Basic Principle” in the Guru-devotee relationship:
“Be diligent in all actions (alert and) mindful never to forget (your word of honour) [to the Guru]. . . . What need is there to say anything more. Do whatever pleases your Guru and avoid doing anything he would not like. Be diligent in both of these.” Fn7
The necessity to directly obey and follow the Spiritual Master’s Instructions is spoken of throughout the traditions of the Guru-devotee relationship. This is from Javad Nurbakhsh’s Sufi description of the duties of the devotee:
The disciple must follow the directions of the master. Although the master is tolerant, patient, and forgiving, the disciple must not take his instructions lightly, for disobedience to the master will adversely affect the disciple’s progress. Fn8
The textbook of devotion Guru-Bhakti Yoga describes such obedience pithily in many aphorisms:
Direct passport to t he hell is to disobey the Guru’s commands. Fn9
Obedience should be very practical, whole-hearted, and actively persevering. Fn 10
Be exact in doing even your little duties towards your Guru. You will derive much joy and peace. Fn 11
True obedience to Guru is the performance of what is commanded by him and abstaining from what is prohibited. Fn 12
Better not to have a Guru and to wander in the desert of life, than to have a Guru and deceive and desert him. Fn 13
To deceive Guru is means to dig one’s own grave. Fn 14
One who does not serve and obey his Guru is really a fool. Fn15
Don’t complain to your Guru that there is no time for Sadhana due to overwork to him. Reduce sleep and tall talk. Eat a little. Then you will have plenty of time for Sadhana. The highest Sadhana is service of Archarya [Spiritual Teahcer]. Fn 16
Service of Guru from beginning to end becomes the sweet honey to the disciple who has real devotion to His Guru. Fn 17
Practice of Vedanta without Guru-Seva makes one a lip Vedantin. Therefore, serve, serve, serve your blessed Acharya. Fn 18
The highest Yajna or sacrifice is the hospitality shown to the Guru. Even Asvamedha and other great Yajnas are nothing before this Guru-seva Yajna. Fn 19
Obedience means trying to act in the way in which the Guru would like one to act. Fn20
The Guru does not require any service or help from the disciple, but he gives a chance to the disciple to evolve by serving him. Fn21
The Guru Gita admonishes:
One should never disregard the orders of one’s Guru. Fn22
Finally, this description is from Fifty Verses of Guru-Devotion:
(A disciple) having great sense should obey the words of his Guru joyfully and with enthusiasm. If you lack the knowledge or ability (to do what he says), explain in (polite) words why you cannot (comply).
It is from your Guru that powerful attainments, higher rebirth and happiness come. Therefore make a whole-hearted effort never to transgress your Guru’s advice
Obeying your Guru’s orders and following his advice are more important than making countless offerings. Entrusting yourself fully to him, he will guide you along the path to Enlightenment. If with haughty pride and stubborn closed-mindedness you think you know what is best for your own spiritual progress, how will you be able to learn anything from him. . .What he asks may be difficult and its immediate purpose may not be obvious, but you should receive his advice joyfully and with deep gratitude for his concern with your welfare.
Examine yourself honestly to see if you can follow his wishes. If there is no way in which you can comply, do not be rude or arrogant. Explain politely and with extreme humility what the difficulty is. Your Guru will not be unreasonable; as a Buddha he is filled with great compassion.
If, however, you can avoid transgressing his advice, this is best. Fn 24
Another form of the devotee’s wrong relationship to the Divine Master is to assume that the Spiritual Master’s anger or criticism relative to a devotee or a report is a mark of the Spiritual Master’s own upset or disturbed condition. Nothing could be further from the truth, for the Spiritual Master is Enlightened. Rather, the Spiritual Master’s anger and criticisms are for the devotee’s benefit. They are a “modulation of the same force of Blessing “ that is the mark of every action of the Divine Master. To make such an error in understanding of the Spiritual Master’s actions is an indication of a devotee’s adolescent response to the Spiritual Master. It shows the confusion of the Spiritual Master’s Conditions and Actions. Such a devotee may try to “calm the Spiritual Master down“ with patronizing words and comments, as if the Spiritual Master had a personal problem. In such a circumstance, the devotee is defending himself or herself from literally and directly understanding and receiving the Spiritual Master’s fiery purification of his or her own tendencies. The devotee is refusing to look at what he or she has failed to do in his or her own Spiritual practice and service. The devotee is assuming that the Spiritual Master is an ordinary man and in so doing is abandoning the true Guru– devotee relationship. An extension of this is to quote to the Spiritual Master from the Spiritual traditions, or from His own Teaching, as if He needed the traditions or the Teaching Itself brought to him, is a form of arrogance, and a mark of competition with the Spiritual Master, rather than reception of His purification.
The Sri Guru Gita address is this tendency very directly:
One who speaks to the Guru in rude insulting terms or who wins arguments with him is born as a demon in a jungle or in a waterless region. FN25.
Likewise, the modern Tibetan Vajrayana practitioner Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye speaks of such a wrong approach in his poem “Intensifying Devotion in One’s Heart: The Supplication “Crying to the Gurus from Afar”:
The guru is the buddha in person, but I regard him as an ordinary man.
I forget his kindness in giving profound instructions. . . .
I give lip service to dharmic action and spiritual practice,
But they become routine and I’m not touched by them. . . .
As each day passes, my death is nearer and nearer.
As each day passes, my being is harsher and harsher.
Though I attend to my guru, my devotion becomes gradually obscured.
Love, affection, and sacred outlook toward my dharma companions grows smaller and smaller.
Guru, think of me; look upon me with compassion. Grant your blessings, so that I tame my stubborn nature. Fn 26
Such a devotee must more deeply consider his or her relationship to the Divine Master. As is said in the traditions, “Can there be anything wrong in what the Guru says? There is some reason for it. The human intellect cannot reach there.” Fn 27 The devotee must act with obedience and faith, not doubt. Writes Swami Sivananda, “When Guru points out your mistakes, do not justify your actions. Simply obey him. Fn 28 Or as it is said in verse thirty-eight of Fifty Verses of Guru-Devotion:
Whatever you do to serve (your Guru) or show him respect should never be done with an arrogant mind. Instead you should be like a newly-wed bride, timid, bashful and very subdued. Fn 29
In the traditions, the devotee is often admonished against using the first person in writing to the Divine Master. In other words, it is suggested that the devotee minimize references that use the word “I”, or too much such self-referring language. Instead of saying, I did this, and then I did that,” it is recommended that the devotee write his or her Spiritual Master with the words, “This was done, and that was done.” This is not a hard and fast rule, and itself can become a technique, rather than an expression of genuine humility. However, the devotee should always write from the disposition of surrender, looking only to give to the Spiritual Mater, rather than looking for the Spiritual Master to give the devotee attention or regard for anything that he or she has done or is communicating.
One of the most casual things which a devotee can do in writing Bhagavan Adi Da is to use His Name inappropriately. Even excessive use of pronouns in referring to the Spiritual Mater is admonished against—and this admonition applies both in letters written directly to Bhagavan Adi Da and to letters written to others, but referring to the Spiritual Master. The devotee should always use a formal reference to Bhagavan Adi Da and never cut any corners in the right expression of Guru-devotion.
—The Devotee Never Brings a Problem to His Spiritual Master
Maha-Siddha Da Love-Ananda has Said that when He asks about a devotee, what He is looking to hear in response is that he or she is practicing and happy. Further Bhagavan Adi Da also looks to see the real and tangible gifts that are the sign of that practice. In asking for a report, or to hear from devotees, Bhagavan Adi Da is not asking to be involved in devotees’ own business or affairs. Do not bring the Spiritual Master a complaint. Your complaints and difficulties, if they need to be discussed, should be discussed with your Gurubhais (fellow devotees), and understood in the light of your own practice. Bhagavan Adi Da in the later years of His Life, stood Free in the Blessing disposition, no longer submitted to or required to deal with or address the personal problems of His devotees (unless for some reason He choose to do so). Devotees should pre-solve all the personal and collective difficulties that face the as the creative work of their own practice and service. It is the duty of the devotee to shield the Spiritual Mater from problems, and to deal with them creatively. If the Spiritual Master has to deal with the problems, then He is not free to do His Real Work of Blessing. It not the right use of Him in doing so, He must draw back from His real Work.
When you are writing your letter you will be amazed at how much of the problem-mind is typically evident. Narcissus is the mind, and the mind is doubt and difficulty and limitation. It is a wrong attitude to feel you have to communicate all of the “hidden realities” of your practice, telling the Spiritual Master your darkest secrets, and all of the difficult aspects of a situation you are dealing with. In the mood of complaint or self-involvement you may feel that you should communicate to the Spiritual Mater such matters in order to be “honest”. But consider if this is truly what should become the “meal” of the Spiritual Master. Why must you burden the Spiritual Master with your own problems, as if He were your parent, or a supermanager? Consider if you are trying to be relieved of your own sadhana and your own responsibilities by passing on the burned to Bhagavan Adi Da. Instead the traditional adage is to never say anything to the Spiritual Master that will disturb His mind. Or, as is said in the Sufi tradition, “The disciple must place the master’s peace and tranquility before his own.”
Problematic language is so common to our ordinary life that it can creep in unnoticed, or we may think we need to express it to show the difference that Bhagavan Adi Da Samraj’s Grace has made. But just bringing up such problems is really a demand for Beloved Adi Da to hear of our difficulties , and to enter into our own subjectivity. For example, consider this fragment of an imagined letter:
All week I felt this tremendous fear of I don’t know what. I felt paralyzed and unable to make any response. Then on the Sunday retreat morning, we saw a Darshan tape of You, and it opened my heart again, and connected me to You. Thank You so much for Your Grace, which is always present in my life.
In such an excerpt, although the writer’s intention is benign, Bhagavan Adi Da has had to absorb the subjectivity of a very difficult week. Whatever Avatar Adi Da puts His attention on He immediately purifies. To require the Spiritual Master to receive and address our ordinary difficulties like this is to fail to understand Adi Da’s Own Condition, His extraordinary Vulnerability, and His Blessing Work. Instead, the same thing could be said as follows:
The Darshan videotape of You which we viewed on the Sunday retreat morning opened my heart, releasing self-concern. I felt an immediate response to seeing Your bodily (human) Form in Darshan. I am very grateful. Thank You.
Another thing that requires real attention is hidden meanings which might not be evident if you did not truly look at the words you are saying. For example, Bhagavan Adi Da finds the following language, use by us often, to be “sinister”:
Today many of Your devotees were moved by the videotape of You, and it found it an extraordinary Revelation.
Bhagavan Adi Da’s response to this kind of communication is, “Yes, many did, but what about the rest? Did they not have a positive response to the videotape, but were unmoved?” Always review your own letter or report to Bhagavan Adi Da, and show it to a friend, or a member of your devotional group, so that you will make sure that you are saying just what you want to say. Some devotees find that it is useful to read their letter or report aloud to another devotee. You will most likely find that the more fully you have your letter reviewed, the more clearly it will express your exact feelings, without ambiguity or meanings that are different from what you might have intended. It is the experience of those who are most skilled in writing to Bhagavan Adi Da that often letters or reports to Him have to be rewritten once or even many times. Similarly, you may have to consider a single word or sentence for many minutes, thinking through what you are saying.
The general adage is never to bring anything to the Spiritual Mater that is “Bad News”—and bad news includes anything that is unfinished business, a responsibility that has not been handled. Only “Good News”, or the signs of the devotee’s real response, and real gifts, should be brought to the Spiritual Master However, if the Spiritual Master asks for an immediate response about something that is not yet a truly considered gift, or if for some reason it is absolutely necessary to tell something to the Spiritual Master which will not in itself be pleasing then tell Him in the very same letter what will be done to straighten the situation out. Do not leave Him feeling only what is wrong, but make sure that He also feels how you will correct the situation. If applicable, let the Spiritual Master also know who will do this and when it will be accomplished. And also be specific, without requiring Bhagavan Adi Da to be a manager. To tell Him that something will be done “as soon as possible” is to tell that you are working on your own time, rather than making a real commitment to actually completing it by giving the Spiritual Master a deadline when the project at hand will be done. And communicate to Bhagavan Adi Da what the Sacred Principles, Instructions, Callings, and Agreements involved are, and how they apply to the situation, so that such a disturbance will not have to be repeated in the future. When you have fulfilled what you have told Bhagavan Adi Da you would do, then write to Him and tell Him so, without His having to ask you again.
As mentioned above, Avatar adi Da has said that Good News is finished business, or a real gift brought to the Divine Master, and that unfinished business is not Good News. In other words, always bring to the Spiritual Master the real gift of your service, not what you are going to do. The Spiritual Master is not pleased by your simply making affirmations to Him or praising Him. It is said traditionally, “Obedience . . . is better than reverence.” Fn 30 Beloved Bhagavan Adi Da looks for the signs that show your real practice and service.
Adi Da Samraj is an Avadhoot. He does not want to have to be concerned that something is still under consideration, and is still being worked on. Then He feels that He must keep His attention bound on the body-mind in anticipation of this situation being fully resolved. Rather, the Divine Master wants to know that whatever is there to be considered and done has been successfully completed or is fully in operation, and that He can relax His attention from it. Then He is Free to Wander and do His real Blessing Work.
It is also traditionally recommended never to make the Divine Master wait or ask a question. If Bhagavan Adi Da asks for a report or a response from you, answer it as quickly as possible. This is the principal of Ruchira Avatara Seva. To make Bhagavan Adi Da wait, without a response, only leads him to feel that there is a problem, or that something is sinister. It is the experience of devotees that when they have made the Divine Realizer wait, then psycho-physically the whole matter under consideration gets more complicated, harder to resolve, and more difficult altogether. But when things asked for by the Divine Master are addressed immediately and responsively, they are handled more easily. When the Divine Realizer asks for something, a window in space opens up, which includes the Divine Realizer granting the accomplishing Power to bring what is asked for into reality. As Amma writes in her essay, “Guruseva”:
Not for a moment should the disciple doubt his own ability to carry out the Guru’s orders, because along with the orders the Guru also blesses him with the power to fulfill them. Fn31
Likewise, when you write your response letter or report, consider if what you are writing will raise more questions in the Spiritual Master’s mind. If it might, then answer these questions now, so that He need not be burdened with having to ask that question and waiting for a reply. Always answer all of Bhagavan Adi Da’s questions explicitly, and do not selectively answer some and avoid others. Do not take for granted that He has or remembers the same information that you. Lay out all the necessary information. Do not respond about something else as a substitute for what He has asked for. Give Him whatever statistics or facts are necessary for His real participation or involvement in the consideration, but do not burden Him with unnecessary details. Again, a careful balance is required here. The Divine Realizer should never be required to read all sorts of descriptions or elaborations as if He would be inherently interested I n the things of the world. And He must never be drawn into concerns about money, or business itself. (In some traditional circumstances, the Divine Realizer is pained even by the sight of money, or having to deal with it in any way. The Condition of the Divine Realizer is rarefied, and He should be protected by devotees from any worldliness or angularity.) On the other hand, there are times when if the Divine Realizer is not the essential facts of a situation, He cannot truly feel that He is receiving a real letter or report relative to the issue involved. And therefore, what called Him to ask for the report in the first place—a feeling that some area of His Circumstance or the institution, the culture, and the community was not handled—is not addressed. Also, when Beloved Bhagavan Adi Da Samraj asks a question, His asking is full of psychism and precognition. Whenever He is asking a question about something, He is also asking you, through His “casual words” to reconsider what you are presently creating, or about to create. His questions are a time for devotees to immediately study His Principles, Instructions, Callings, and Agreements, and to further intensify the alignment or conformance of what is being considered to His Directions.
Take into account what will put the Spiritual Master at ease, and what will make Him feel, as He finishes reading your letter or report, that He may relax into simply living in His Blessing and Transmission Asana, without worldly or practical concerns. In this regard, the Spiritual Master is sometimes likened to a child who should be protect and taken care of by the devotee. Truly consider what your communication to Bhagavan Adi Da will make Him feel like, and if it requires anything of Him, or instead protects and serves Him, and grants Him His Freedom.
It is also important to consider what the Divine Master does need to hear about in the positive sense. The Divine Realizer is Incarnated with great Siddhis in order to Bess and Empower the creation o f agency for His bodily (human) Form, His Spiritual (and Always Blessing) Presence, and His Very (and Inherently Perfect) State. The principle is that when there are matters of great importance that affect His Spiritual Work, they should be brought to Him, so that He may combine Himself Spiritually with such matters, and bring His Accomplishing Power naturally and spontaneously to bear on them. This is not a call for bringing the Divine Realizer diverse matters which are actually institutional, cultural, or community business. It is an address to devotees to become sensitive to the true function that is the Spiritual Work of the Divine Realizer, and to communicate to Him everything that He should rightly be involved with. There are also things in devotees’ lives and service that the Spiritual master should be informed relative to, or else He will likewise not be allowed to do the service that is truly His Own. For example, Bhagavan Adi Da wants to hear about illnesses or accidents that threaten the lives of His devotees, and a bout things that affect the Hermitage Sanctuaries, or have to do with the Sacred development of the Sanctuaries. And as indicated above, it is appropriate for him to hear truly “Good News”, so that He may Bless the service of devotees, and the right development of the Mission of His Work. In order to evaluate what things it is appropriate to inform Beloved Bhagavan Adi Da about, remain communicative with those in the line of direct communication to the Spiritual Master. Through this means, Bhagavan Adi Da will be ensured of hearing what is appropriate, auspicious, and pleasing for Him to be informed about.
One of the best responses that Bhagavan Adi Da can make upon receiving a report is simply to Say, “Tcha,” and to not be required to Say anything else about it. Then He is put at rest. To hear that Bhagavan Adi Da made “No comment””, or that He simply “Received it”, is often a positive response. In general, the devotee should look for this, rather than look to be involved in a continued dialogue, requiring the Spiritual Master to put His Attention on words and the “shuffle of white pieces of paper”.
Bhagavan Adi Da should never be required to use His Mind in association with business, or what is devotees’ own work to handle. The devotee should always do everything possible to guarantee that the Spiritual Realizer can simply remain in the equanimity of His Samadhi Itself, without the burden of making sense or being “functional” in any way. Try always to bring the practical conversation to a point where Bhagavan Adi Da need no longer be burdened by it or feel that He must continue it. Instead, the Divine Realizer should always be rightly informed by His devotees that they are handling their business and truly serving Him with the gifts of their accomplishments. As is said in the Kularnava Tantra, the well-qualified disciple is one
. . .(W)ho grasps what is said but once . . . achieves the impossible . . . carry out the command of the Guru; [and is] sillful in all action. . . . fn 33
Devotees should also carefully consider the actual physical qualities of the letter, card, or report which is being presented to Bhagavan Adi da. What you put into His Company physically should also be a gift, and is a communication in itself For example, is the ink dark enough for Him to read? (Do not generally use pencil.) Are there typographical errors? These annoy Beloved Adi Da, not so much because a word has been misspelled, but because they represent lack of attention in your presentation and regard of the Spiritual Master. You are telling Him in effect, “I don’t care, or have not taken the time to give You a rightly prepared response.” If you are handwriting (as in a card or letter written to be sent to Bhagavan Adi Da to read directly) always write legibly and neatly. Everything that you present to Him should be a gift.
Another thing to always keep in mind is not to use abbreviations, and to use the full names of things when writing to Beloved Bhagavan Avatar Adi Da Samraj. It is even said traditionally not to use contractions such as “don’t”, “can’t”, or “wouldn’t” in address the Divine Realizer, but instead to spell out the words. Likewise, spell out numbers. Always use correct capitalizations. For example, it is The Knee of Listening, never the Knee, or even the Knee of Listening. It is Ruchiradama Quandra Sukhapur not Quandra Sukhapur. Likewise in referring to Spiritual figures formal names should be used, such as “Swami Muktananda”, not just “Muktananda”. You should also make sure that the names of Holy Sites, or places which Bhagavan Adi Da has personally Named are exact and correct. All of this is a matter of attention to detail. Always capitalize all references to the Divine Realizer Himself, and consider capitalizing other words which refer to “His Divine Work”. You can look at the published literature for examples of the ways that Adidam terms are spelled and used.
Writing to Beloved Bhagavan Adi Da is a great opportunity and test of every devotee’s practice and relationship to the Heart-Master. To write to Bhagavan Adi Da truly requires whole bodily devotional recognition-response of Him, or self-transcending, self-forgetting, and self-surrendering practice. If the devotee is related rightly to the Divinely Realized Guru in love and feeling-Regard his or her communications will always be expressions of gratitude, devotion, and worship of His bodily (human) Form, His Spiritual (and always Blessing) Presence and His Very (and Inherently Perfect) State. Such cards, letters, and reports to the Realized Divine Master are at the same time both a gift from the devotee to his or her Heart-Master, and a means by which the devotee is Blessed by the Divine Realizer through His Regard and mere Attention. They are a living link and Graceful formality through which the Guru-devotee relationship, the most profound Spiritual Relationship in any and all words, may be rightly and lawfully expressed
Om Sri Da Love-Ananda Hridayam
- Heart=Mater Da Love-Ananda, The Love-Ananda Gita (Oakland, Calif.: The Dawn Horse Press, 1989), p. 235.
- Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, “Mater and Disciple”, In the Tavern of Ruin: Seven Essays on Sufism (New York: Khaniqahi-Nimatullahi Publications, 1978) p. 133.
- Asvaghosa, Fifty Verses of Guru Devotion (Dharamsala, India: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1976), p. 17.
- “Shree Guru Gita”, The Nectar of Chanting: Sacred Texts and Mantras Sung in the Ashrams of Swami Muktananda, rev. ed. (Oakland, CA: SYDA Foundation, 1978), verse 103, pg. 45.
- The Guru Gita. Translated by Sri Swami Narayananda (Rishikesh, India: The Divine Life Society, 1972), p. 96.
- Sri Swami Sivananda, Guru-Bhakti Yoga. Compiled by Sri Swami Satchidananda (Rishikesh, India: The Yoga-Vedanta Forest University, 1959), p. 95.
- Asvaghosa, Fifty Verses of Guru-Devotion, pp. 28-29.
- Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, “Master and Disciple”, p. 134
- Sri Swami Sivananda, Guru-Bhakti Yoga, p. 47.
- Ibid., p. 36.
- Ibid., p. 62.
- Ibid., p. 65.
- Ibid., p. 66.
- Ibid., p. 66.
- Ibid., p. 71.
- Ibid., p. 95.
- Ibid., p. 67.
- Ibid., p. 90.
- Ibid., p. 97.
- Ibid., p. 37.
- Ibid., p. 44.
- Sri Swami Narayananda, The Guru Gita, verse 146, p. 56.
- Ibid., verse 137, p. 54.
- Asvaghosa, Fifty Verses of Guru-Devotion, pp. 20-21.
- “Shree Guru Gita”, The Nectar of Chanting, p. 46.
- Chogyam Trungpa, Journey Without Goal: The Tantric Wisdom of the Buddha (Boston and London: Shambhala, 1985), p. 14.
- Sri Swami Sivananda, Guru-Bhakti Yoga, p. 71.
- Ibid., p. 86.
- Asvaghosa, Fifty Verses of Guru-Devotion, verse 38, p. 25.
- Sri Swami Sivananda, Guru-Bhakti Yoga, p. 15.
- Amma, “Guruseva”. Shree Gurudev-Vani Annual (Guru Purnima), No. 7 (July 1970), p. 15.
- M.P. Pandit, Kularnava Tantra, 2d ed. (Madras: Ganesh and Co., 1974), p. 89.