Praise for (long forms)
Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Samraj
and His Wisdom-Teaching
Knee of Listening (1973, 1978, 1984 ed.)
by Alan Watts:
Although I do not know Franklin Jones [now Adi Da] personally, what he says, and says very well, is something that I have been trying to express for thirty-five years, but which most people seem quite reluctant to understand—as if it were too good to be true. The point, with which Krishnamurti and the ancient Chinese Zen masters also agree, is that there is no progressive method by which the liberated and awakened state (moksha) can be attained. This state of being and consciousness has innumerable names—mystical experience, enlightenment, self-realization, cosmic consciousness, union with God, not to mention Sanskrit, Chinese, and Arabic equivalents but none of them are satisfactory because it is altogether beyond words. Striving after this state blocks the understanding that it is already present, as does also a kind of purposive not-striving.
There are, for example, those who try to live completely in the present, the Eternal Now, by attempting to be fully concentrated on what is at this moment—as in the Theravada Buddhist satipatthana discipline or Gurdjieff's "self remembering." I am not quarrelling with this. Franklin Jones also tried many methods. But all along it should have been obvious that all consciousness, all experience, is of nothing else than the eternal present. Memories of the past and anticipations of the future exist only now, and thus to try to live completely in the present is to strive for what is already the case. This should be clear to anyone. The same principle applies to striving for nirvana or union with God by means of so-called spiritual exercises. There is no actual necessity for a road or obstacle course to that which IS.
But there are two main reasons for the persistent attachment to spiritual methods. The first is that, being ignorant of what we have and are now, we look for it in the future, and therefore can be beguiled by all those gurus who pick our pockets and sell us our own wallets. They promise marvellous states of consciousness, ecstasies, psychic powers, and transportation to other levels of being. So what? If you were managing the entire universe—which in one sense you are—it would be absolutely necessary for it to appear that a lot of things were out of control. Does the ventriloquist want to dine every night with only his dummy?
The second is the beguilement of spiritual pride, which is also the same thing as a sense of guilt. "I am not worthy to attain this exalted state unless I have suffered, unless the teacher has beaten me, unless I have sat in a cold, dark cave for three years, or practiced za-zen with my legs aching for hours." Anyone silly enough to think this way deserves all the pains he must endure. Nothing is more ostentatious than deliberate humility, nor more egocentric than projects to get rid of egotism. These are strong words, but not uttered in a spirit of condemnation, for those who undertake such projects may, by so doing, realize very clearly that they are futile. But then they may return as gurus thinking that this is the only way to realize the futility of spiritual ambition, and then "lay their trip" upon others without asking themselves, "Is this trip really necessary?"
As I read Franklin Jones—especially the Epilogue, which is worth the price of the book—he has simply realized that he himself as he is, like a star, like a dolphin, like an iris, is a perfect and authentic manifestation of the eternal energy of the universe, and thus is no longer disposed to be in conflict with himself. Dangerous wisdom—and yet fire, electricity, and technical knowledge are also dangerous. But if you genuinely know this, it is nothing to be proud of nor humble about. It is just what is so, and there is absolutely no necessity to parade it by defying social conventions, on the one hand, or by coming on as one who is extremely holy, on the other. The hapless Rasputin was, perhaps, an example of the first case, and Meher Baba of the second—though he had a jolly face and a lively twinkle in the eye.
It should be understood that none of this is to say that one should not practice yoga or any other type of meditation. I myself use some of these disciplines, not to attain anything in terms of spiritual rank, but simply to enjoy them, as if I were playing a musical instrument or preparing a Chinese dinner.
Now to say what Franklin Jones is trying to say is like drawing an asymptotic curve—a curve which is always getting nearer and nearer to a straight line, but only touches it at infinity. Perhaps it could be said that his curve is approaching it a little faster than some others, knowing, however, that there is no hurry. Beyond words, in the silencing of thought, we are already there.
Rancho Saucelito, California.
(Watts was in the process of becoming a student of Adi Da at the time of his death.)
author, [ The Way of Zen ] [ Joyous Cosmology ] [ Tao of Philosophy ]
[ Nature, Man and Woman ] [ The Wisdom of Insecurity ] [ Taoism : Way Beyond Seeking ]
[ Buddhism : The Religion of No-Religion ] [ On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are ]
This Is It, and Other Essays on Zen and Spiritual Experience
The Way of Liberation : Essays and Lectures on the Transformation of the Self
Alan Watts Electronic University
Knee of Listening (1991 ed.)
by Bill Gottlieb:
What you hold in your hands is not just a book. It is an invitation and an opportunity, a doorway to Joy. It is the Autobiography of Sri Adi Da's early Life, the sacred Story of His Birth and evolution as "Franklin Jones". Let me tell you about my first encounter with this Graceful Gift, with The Knee of Listening.
The year was 1975 and the place was the Catskills, gentle mountains a few hours north of New York City. I was living on the top of one of those mountains, at an old resort that had been purchased and renovated by a Spiritual organization, and meditating four times a day. My life—I thought—was dedicated to an ancient Spiritual goal: to move attention to deeper and deeper levels of the mind until I clearly realized the silent source of the mind, the blissful Self of Transcendental Consciousness.
There was a small library there of Spiritual and religious books, and one day while browsing, I noticed a very unusual title: The Knee of Listening. The Spiritual Teacher on the cover seemed so alive, so present—there was no anxiety or reserve in His eyes or His posture. And since I loved to read books by or about Saints and Yogis, I took it with me, looking forward to a few hours of pleasure and inspiration.
I did not know that my world was about to be turned inside out.
For I had not encountered one more Saint or Yogi or Sage, one more holy struggle to realize God. I had encountered a Spiritual Realizer Who was completely and mind-shatteringly unique. He was born in a state of perfect Divinity, a state He called the "Bright"—the living Radiance of absolute Consciousness, the living Form and Power of the formless Reality. He then intentionally sacrificed His awareness of the "Bright" and took on the human and limited personality of "Franklin Jones". And He did all of this with a great purpose, with a mission of remarkable Love: to experience every form of human pursuit and human satisfaction, from the most intense physical pleasures to the highest esoteric realizations of Yogic mysticism and even the realization of pure Consciousness exclusive of all phenomena, and to understand and transcend all of it, to reveal the limit and futility of all of it, to show that the seeker is "Narcissus", always alone, always intent only on himself. And, eventually, to re-Awaken to the present and perfect Reality, to Divine Being, to the "Bright". Yet this recapitulation and transcendence of human experience was not for His own sake, for He had been born as the "Bright". It was to Communicate the Perfect Divine Way of God-Realization to humanity—not the path of seeking for God, as if the Divine were absent, but the Way of present Communion with God.
I read all of The Knee of Listening—the Spiritual odyssey of Franklin Jones; the summary insights and ecstatic proclamations of "The Meditation of Understanding" and "The Wisdom of Understanding" (the two sections at the end of the Autobiography)—in a sweat of astonishment and joy. Never had I encountered a Spiritual Teacher with such Divine simplicity and sophistication, such clarity of understanding, and with a beauty of verbal expression that went beyond aesthetic perfection to a vibrancy, an energy, a mantric power that clearly was Communicating the Divine Itself. I knew I had found the greatest Spiritual Realizer that had ever lived—He was alive, now—mysteriously appearing as an American in His thirties. And His message that God was to be enjoyed in the present, not hoped for in the future, spoke directly to my heart.
But I did not respond, at least not right away. During the next fifteen years I developed a complicated life of seeking, eventually admitting to myself that my "Spiritual" practice was an empty ritual and abandoning it to concentrate in a life of pleasures and an increasingly successful career. But for all those years, I continued to read the books of Sri Adi Da, continued to listen to His Call,for understanding and a relationship with Him. Then, in 1990—heartsick with the mediocrity and destructiveness of my life; knowing that my job and my intimate relationship and all my other satisfactions would never create true Happiness; deeply in need of His Help, and feeling, for the first time, that understanding would not be possible without His Grace; and realizing, too, that the only reason I was waiting to respond was . . . because I was waiting—I became His devotee.
And now, to the joy of all His devotees and all who support His Work, and to the benefit of the world, there is a new, greatly expanded edition of The Knee of Listening, timed to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the beginning of Adi Da's formal Teaching and Blessing Work in 1972 and the publication of the first edition of The Knee of Listening that same year.
I can only tell you that I was even more captivated when I read this edition than when I read the first. I was so struck by the utter humanity of Franklin Jones, by how fully He had allowed Himself to embrace the ordinary and extraordinary appearances of human life. I saw more clearly, too, how "Franklin Jones" was a Spiritual epoch in the Life of Sri Adi Da. How Franklin had achieved every Spiritual experience, every sought-for insight and revelation, every goal known to the sacred traditions of humankind—and finally transcended all goals and all experiences by penetrating every illusion that limits awareness, and re-establishing Himself in the present Perfection of Divine Being. And I was moved again by the beauty of His character—by His compassion, His vulnerability, His courage, His uncompromising commitment to the Ordeal of bringing the Divine Person into the human sphere.
Yes, I fell in love again with Franklin Jones—but, really, I fell more deeply in love with my Guru, Sri Adi Da Samraj. For I have sat at the Feet of Adi Da; I have seen with my own eyes His obvious and Glorious Divinity; and I could feel more clearly than ever that "Franklin" was a paradoxical persona, the first step in the Emergence of the most beautiful Form in the universe, the Radiant Body of the Divine World-Teacher.
Reader, the true importance of The Knee of Listening is not that it is the Story of Franklin Jones. Its true importance is that, through the life of Franklin Jones, the way was prepared for the Revelation of Sri Da Avabhasa, the "Bright"—the One Who Gifts us all in every moment with the Grace of His Reality; the One Who Is the most complete Source of Divine Wisdom and Blessing in the world, encompassing and transcending all traditions and experiences in His magnificent Person. I have felt the Blessing Power of that One. He has transformed my life utterly, rescuing me from the dismal repetitions of satisfactions and disappointments, allowing me to Commune with the Love and Freedom that He Is, Giving me—and everyone—a purpose for living: to celebrate and honor the Appearance of the Divine One, the Reality of God alive on Earth.
You can begin your relationship with that One through reading this book. It was His first public Revelation, the first form of His voice to reach the world. I urge you to open yourself to the Life that fills these pages. It is a Life Lived for your sake, for your Happiness, for your Freedom. If you are wearied by what Sri Adi Da calls the "hopeful hopelessness" of life, by gaining only to lose, by achieving pleasure only to return to pain, then consider the Reality of Sri Adi Da: The Divine Person is here to Bless and Awaken you and all beings to our blissful Identity as God. The opportunity has never been so great.
editor, New Choices In Natural Healing
former Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, Rodale Press
Scientific Proof of the Existence of God
Will Soon Be Announced by the White House! (1980)
by Robert K. Hall
Adi Da talks sanely about real sanity. His subject is always the same: a way of living this human existence without fear and without obsession. He talks about surrender to God as only one who has done so can, with luminous clarity and ecstatic precision. But those are just words. To appreciate the good fortune we all enjoy from his being here on earth, one has to meet him in the heart as well as in the mind. He is a man of God and he talks of a way through the heart to direct experience of God. At times his words appear out of the murk of human ignorance like fireworks in a July night sky. It is hard not to hear him!
This is a difficult book. At times the language soars to such esoteric subtlety that only another adept could understand. In between the peaks of ecstatic language, though, are long stretches of very straight and shocking description of the human condition. Adi Da reminds us that we are declining, out of fear, to live our lives in harmony with the creative life force. He points to our obvious failure to give up the fear of living fully in the moment. Over and over he challenges us to give up the contraction of fear around the heart so we can get on with the creation of community among all people that is based on loving contact with each other and with the Divine.
In our world of political chaos and potential nuclear holocaust there must be many men and women who are awake to the madness around us and ready to hear the voice speaking in these discourses. I pray that this book inspires them to expand in love and to become guides for the millions who are still blinded by fear and mistrust. The need for truth is urgent.
Robert K. Hall, M.D.
Co-founder, Lomi School and The Gestalt Institute of San Francisco
On Heroes and Cults
by Ken Wilber
Knowledge is not democratic; creativity is not egalitarian. I realize that sounds contrary, but consider: When we want original, concise, and brilliant insights into any field of knowledge, we almost always go to the acknowledged masters of that field. In physics, we look to Newton, then to Einstein, then Heisenberg and Schroedinger and Wigner and Bohm. In biology, we go to Lamarck and Darwin and Wallace, then Morgan and Muller and Watson and Crick. In psychology, to Freud and Adler and Jung and James and Piaget. And why not? Genius is genius, and the more the better.
Although that is what we do in fact—consult the geniuses—I sometimes think we all like to imagine, on the contrary, that enduring knowledge is discoverable by all and sundry, that insight is democratic, that you and I could produce the same truths given the right opportunities. That is probably not the case, however, and the practical fact is that humanity has always relied on, and looked to, Heroes—real Heroes, men and women of great genius, men and women who happen, for one reason or another, to be able to see more, understand more, create more, and know more, than you and I can at our present level of evolution, or adaptation.
People are always the philosophers of their own levels of adaptation, and—how can we deny it?—some are more adapted to, and grounded in, the Reality of Truth itself, whatever the particular field of knowledge through which that Reality might express itself. And those individuals, so grounded, have simply been in fact the Heroes of times past and present. They were and are the Heroes of the True, or the Good, or the Beautiful—and ultimately they are all simply the servants of our own evolution.
This does not mean that these Heroes—the Einsteins and Darwins and Freuds and Nagarjunas—have a higher status than you and I, because all people are equal in the eyes of Divine Mystery. But it would be fair to say that they do serve a higher function: seeing and communicating those truths that you and I cannot or have not yet seen and understood, truths that are to you and me only potentials
And, I will soon argue, Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Samraj is a Hero—a quite extraordinary Hero at that.
Yet, in America (as well as the world at large, I think), we have an awkward stance towards Heroes. I mean real Heroes—actual geniuses, men and women of truly brilliant understanding. It is as if we all wshed to deny that read Heroes could be among us, since—I suspect—we all hold out the dream that we, that you and I, could and should be our own Heroes. To acknowledge a real Hero seems to deny our own worth, and so we are terribly suspicious and sometimes downrght antagonistic towards any who might rise up, in these democratc and egalitarian times, as a real Hero. Let our "heroes" be movie stars, let them be astronauts looking for rocks on dead moons,let them be tacky politicans—but real Heroes? real above-the-crowd geniuses? Why, we seem to say, they exist only in the past, far away from our own hoped-for heroics.
And especially religious Heroes, Spiritual Masters, true Adepts in the Divine Mystery—let them abound, we seem to say . . . but only in the past, only yesterday. I cannot be the only one who marvels at the fact that some forty million Americans accept, as absolute truth, that miracles were performed in the past, that someone way back when walked on water, healed the sick by touch turned water into wine and fish into feast, raised the dead, and healed the lame. Yet none of those Americans would accept any of that if it happened now, here, today. Oh, we all would like to think that we could recognize one such as Christ if he returned. But the sad historical fact is just the opposite: We—you and I—have from the start rejected our true spiritual Heroes when they walked among us, and, if history is any guide, we would probably do the same thing today. It seems that, while they are alive, real Spiritual Masters are met with benign neglect (or worse). The fact is that Christ (or Buddha or Moses) might already have returned—and been summarily rejected. What evidence could we offer otherwise, given our past performances?
I do not want to sound moralizing or condescending about this—I am in no position to do so. It is just that the issue of real Spiritual Masters is so complicated, so touchy, so sensitive, so complex—and I only want to set the problem in the strongest possible terms so as to point out what is involved. We seem to have mixed emotions about Heroes in any field, but we become almost hysterical in our reactions to spiritual Heroes. The point is this: All true spiritual Heroes are, while alive, by and large rejected, shunned, denied, or worse (consider the horrendous fates of Giordano Bruno, al-Hallaj, Christ, Eckhart). But while all true spiritual Heroes are initially shunned, not all those shunned are true spiritual Heroes. And we—you and I—will simply have to try to decide who is a Divinely empowered Master, and who is a fraud, or, at best, whose realizaton is incomplete.
This problem has today reached a critical point with the events of Jonestown and the growth of so many apparently strange cults. The world at large now looks with even more terrified suspicion upon any movement that appears "cultic"—that is, any group, large or small, centered around a "heroic" or "charismatic" leader.
"Cult" is the new anathema; cult is the new terror. But here again we face the same dilemma: All truthful and beneficial causes are initially "cultic," but not all cults are either truthful or beneficial. Examine any major historical phenomenon, and you will find it is cultic: headed by a Hero surrounded by devotees. This is not necessarily bad. How could the American Revolution have survived Valley Forge without the hero—figure of George Washington and his cultic followers? Where would modern psychiatry be without Freud and his slavishly cultic disciples? Or on the religious side: Christ and his cult of disciples, Buddha and his cult of monks, Krishna and his cult of devotees. Could we seriously wish that none of those cults ever existed?
Politics is cultic; religion is cultic; philosophy is cultic; even science is cultic—and cults, in the broadest sense, simply represent groups of those who acknowledge and try to follow in the steps of the Heroes of a particular field of endeavor. But, as I said—and it is worth repeating one last time—while all truth is initially cultic, not all cults are truthful. We in the West have a long list of cults and their Heroes that we generally think are harmful: Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and, closer to home, many of the new "cultic religions" that enslave rather than enlighten. But please notice: What makes these movements deplorable is not the fact that they are "cults," nor the fact that they have "heroes," but the fact that they are based on ideas or principles that reasonable men and women would eventually agree are erroneous or immoral or even heinous. But whatever you think about moral or immoral heroes, can you start to see how extremely tricky is the problem of followers, of truth, of heroes, of cults?
And so: Adi Da is a Hero and Adi Da is surrounded by devotees. What, then, are we to make of this spiritual Hero? Realize that we cannot reject him simply because he is viewed as a Hero. And realize that we cannot reject him simply because he has dedicated followers. Rather, we must look to his teaching, look to his life, look to his example, look to his message. We would not deny such "due process" even to a common criminal, so let us not deprive our potential Heroes of at least equal courtesy.
What, then, do we find? Let me offer a personal opinion. I have put forward four or five books and some thirty-odd articles devoted to a synthesis of Eastern and Western religion and psychology. Freud and Jung and Adler, Piaget and James and Sartre, Hinduism and Buddhism and Taoism, Christianity and Islam and Zen—I have spent my life studying these systems, profoundly sympathetic with their concerns, sincerely interested in their insights. I myself am no hero, but I honestly think that, by now, I can at least recognize genius, real genius when it comes my way.
And my opinion is that we have, in the person of Adi Da Samraj, a Spiritual Master and religious genius of the ultimate degree. I assure you I do not mean that lightly. I am not tossing out highpowered phrases to "hype" the works of Adi Da. I am simply offering to you my own considered opinion: Adi Da's teaching is, I believe, unsurpassed by that of any other spiritual Hero, of any period, of any place, of any time, of any persuasion.
I would hope that I would not make such a bold-faced statement without being able to support it. And so, consider: If you survey carefully the world's great and enduring religions, you tend to understand that, taken as a whole, the great spiritual paths announce four or five major themes. Islam is based on the truth of only-God; Christianity, on the truth of only-Love; Buddhism is based on the truth of no-self and no-seeking; Judaism, on the truth of the Divine as formless and imageless Creative Power and Mystery; Hinduism, on the truth of formless absorption in the unmanifest; Christian mysticism centers on the descent or reception of the 'Holy Spirit"; and Taoism grounds itself in "Eternal Flux."
From a slightly different angle, the great world religions can be divided into three major classes. The first is the "path of yogis"—the path of hatha and kundalini yoga, which deals with all the "energies" leading up to the highest centers in the core of the brain. The second is the "path of saints"—the path of subtle halos of light and sound secreted within and beyond the higher brain centers, the path of realizations apparently beyond gross mortality. The third is the "path of sages"—the path of formless absorption and meditation in the causal realms of consciousness itself, the realms of only-God, beyond manifestation and beyond any form of the subject-object dualism.
And here is my point: The teaching of Adi Da includes, even down to the minutest of details, every one of those five major themes and every step of those three major paths. I personally have found that not one significant item of any of the great religions is left out of Adi Da's teachings. Not one. And it is not just that these points are all included in his teaching: They are discussed by Adi Da with such brilliance that one can only conclude that he understands them better than their originators.
One cannot help but reflect on why Adi Da's teaching is so balanced and basically complete. I think one of the reasons is that Adi Da himself has tested, and passed through, all of the major paths as we discussed briefly above. Although born natively predisposed as the Ultimate Transcendental Consciousness, he himself underwent years of discipline in and re-adaptation to perfect Ecstasy in God, an evolutionary discipline that, because of its completeness' seems destined to be revolutionary as well. He spent years in the disciplines of the "path of the yogis," under the acknowledged teacher known as Rudi (Albert Rudolph or Swami Rudrananda). He spent years in the "path of the saints," meeting and then surpassing the well-known Master of the subtle realm named Swami Muktananda. Beyond those stages, he "met," "saw," absolutely acknowledged, and gracefully bowed to such transcendentally awakened saints and sages as Swami Nityananda and Sri Ramana Maharshi. At the summit of those paths, he seemed then to stand complete, possessed of a teaching and pointing a way that included and transcended all through which he has himself passed.
Perhaps you will disagree with my intepretation of Adi Da's life. But I think you would ae least have to agree that his intellectual brilliance and moral fortitude mark him as a true Hero—a beneficent hero, a good hero. Disagree with him if you want; fail to be moved by him if you choose—but please do not toss him off as a "weird cult hero." Besides, Adi Da himself has spoken out so often against "cultic hero worship" that it would be very odd to overlook his own thoughts on the matter.
From the start, in fact, cultic hero worship is precisely what Adi Da has tried to expose and argue againse. And he was doing this years before the present-day national hysteria about "cures" and "hero-frauds." And he has spoken out not just against the cures of so-called spiritual masters, but againse cultic allegiance in any ultimate form: scientific, political, religious. Six years ago, as but one example, he was already explaining that "the cult of this world is based on the principle of Narcissus, of separated and separative existence, and the search for changes of state, for happiness. All of the cultic ways are strategic searches to satisfy individuals by providing them with various kinds of fulfillment, or inner harmony, or vision, or blissfulness, or salvation, or liberation, or whatever. But the truth is that there is no such one to be fulfilled. Therefore, it is the fundamental responsibility of all to continually undo the practice of the cult. Such a cultic existence has no fundamental value at all. Not only hasn't it any value, it is an absolutely negative influence in the life of persons."
Adi Da acknowledges that certain (truthful) cults have an intermediate function—as we said, all truths tend initially to be cultic/heroic, so why press it? However, as Adi Da puts it, "The negative tendency in cultism is the tendency to forget that mere enthusiastic association with an object, an idea [whether of a new scientific discovery or of an evangelical revival], a person [a hero-figure] or whatever, is basically a superficial or 'beginner's' state of mind. All mere enthusiasm, or belief, or ritualized consciousness is at the novice level of human existence, and if it persists beyond its appropriate term [emphasis added], ie becomes an expression of either childish or adolescent neurosis." Such has been Adi Da's stance from the start, and such remains his stance today. In this book he states unequivocally—and probably for the thousandth time—"I don't believe there is stupidity, delusion, and casual ill-will manifested anywhere more than in the domains of religion and spiritual cultism."
Ah, we may say, Adi Da speaks against other cults—from science to religion—but what about his own? Does he not encourage his own cult of Heroism? Does he not also ask and claim followers? Is he not himself the perfect example of the new cult Hero?
Those are harsh questions, but I think they are ultimately fair, and so deserve a fair answer. First of all, Adi Da, like any genius, is and will forever be surrounded by a group of followers. There is no way to avoid that, and no reason to—any more than we would want to prevent Jung and Adler and Rank and Jones from gravitating towards Freud. Eventually, Freud was wildly praised by Jones and wildly denounced by Rank—so what? When we judge Freud, let us look to Freud, and not hold him responsible for the vicissitudes, often irrational, of his followers.
But more importantly, we have the whole example and teaching of Adi Da himself to those who would be his followers. And nowhere is he more critical of the "cultic" attitude than he is towards those who surround him. This is a short foreword, and so I will not inundate you with supporting quotes. But make no mistake about this affair: I have never heard Adi Da criticize anyone as forcefully as he does those who would approach him chronically from the childish stance of trying to win the favor of the "cultic hero." Look at his writings, and you will find the constantly repeated argument that those who see him as a personal, cultic hero do not see him at all, but are merely involved in narcissistic self-love and "movie star" fantasy-hallucinations about their relationship to him. I have seen no other Spiritual Master take that anti-cultic stance from the start so consistently, so forcefully. Fortunately, I do not need to document that point—Adi Da's writings are in print, dated from the start, and thus what he has been saying for the last seven years can only be taken more seriously—not less seriously—in light of the recent "cult disasters" and belated national panic about "cults" in general and "hero-frauds" in particular.
The last thing I would say is this: Perhaps your approach to Da Free John will not be that of a pure devotee; perhaps it will not even be that of a helpful "friend" of his work. But it is becoming quite obvious that no one in the fields of psychology, religion, philosophy, or sociology can afford not to be at least a student of Adi Da Samraj. At least confront the teaching; at least study what he has to say; at least consider his argument. Since he is indeed a true Hero—an authentic and supremely enlightened Spiritual Master—please make use of him while he is alive, while he can serve you in direct, living relationship. Do not repeat the past mistake of denying such a Spiritual Master while he walks among us. Do not meet him with benign neglect. Do not wait until decades or centuries after his death to acknowledge what he is. As a simple start, study his written teaching. And I think that if you will work carefully through even one of Adi Da's books, you will find you have been taken apart and put back together again in a form that will be only Mystery to you, only Release in God, only Radiance in the Divine, and only Joy in the obviousness of it all.
author, The Spectrum of Consciousness
One Taste : The Journals of Ken Wilber
Eye to Eye : The Quest for the New Paradigm
Sex, Ecology, Spirituality : The Spirit of Evolution
The Essential Ken Wilber: An Introductory Reader
A Sociable God:Toward a New Understanding of Religion
Up from Eden : A Transpersonal View of Human Evolution,
The Marriage of Sense and Soul : Integrating Science and Religion
The Eye of Spirit : An Integral Vision for a World Gone Slightly Mad
The Atman Project : A Transpersonal View of Human Development,
No Boundary : Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth
Quantum Questions : Mystical Writings of the World's Great Physicists
The Collected Works of Ken Wilbur; Essays on Transpersonal Psychology
Grace and Grit : Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber
editor, The Holographic Paradigm and Other Paradoxes: Exploring the Leading Edge of Science
consulting editor, Journal of Humanistic Psychology
[ Ken Wilber Online ] [ Ken Wilber's more recent essays from beezone]
Easy Death (1983, 1991)
Forward by Kenneth Ring
Just after beginning to read the manuscript of Easy Death, I had to break off in order to travel to Boston where I was scheduled to give a lecture on near-death experiences. As often happens on these occasions, there were several persons in the audience that evening who themselves had had such experiences—and they wanted to talk about them afterward. From six years of public speaking on this topic, I have learned to listen carefully to such informal accounts; there is something about these direct testimonies, heard for the first time, that compels one's total attention.
A slender, bespectacled young woman of about thirty began to describe her experience. It was at first, she told me, most unpleasant. This was because she felt that it was her ego that was dying—and that part was an extremely painful process. But once she had surrendered to it, she continued, she had experienced a feeling of transcendent bliss and supreme well-being. Concluding her narrative, she said, "If you really want to know what death is like, pay attention to yourself as you are about to fall asleep."
I must confess that, under the circumstances, I found this whole episode just a bit unsettling, for what this woman was telling me—as you will quickly confirm for yourself—seemed a perfect and succinct summary of what I had been reading only the previous day in Adi Da's book. Even more strangely, I cannot recall ever before having talked with a near-death experiencer (and I have encountered hundreds during the course of my research) who described an ego-death in conjunction with a near-death experience nor one who had explicitly recommended observing the pre-sleep state itself as a rehearsal for death.
Naturally, this little bit of synchronicity left me feeling that I had just received a gentle nudge in order to remind me that it was indeed time for me to read this book. And, as I did so, I certainly found abundant reason to feel deep gratitude for the uncanny way the Universe has contrived to send out its memos. You will of course discover your own reasons for appreciating just how this book has found its way into your hands at this particular time.
To be sure, the awareness of death is always timely, however motivated we are to avoid thinking about it. Yet in our own society it has not always been topical. It was the Thanatology Movement—now nearly a quarter-century old—that began to change this state of affairs. Gradually, the repression of death, the last taboo, was lifted, and we were finally able openly and publicly to discuss our feelings and our fears about death itself.
It was in the mid-1970s, however, that the concern with death exploded into a kind of mass public phenomenon. Elisabeth Kubler Ross, who had already won widespread acclaim for her pioneering work in the area of death and dying, began to speak in well-publicized fashion of the existence of what would soon come to be called "near-death experiences." Shortly afterward, psychiatrist Raymond A. Moody, Jr., published his enormously popular book, Life After Life, arguably the most influential book written in this century on the subject of death and dying. The work of these two physicians alone was sufficient to galvanize a good part of the Western world to become deeply absorbed with the experience of dying—and with the implications of their findings for "life after death." And in their wake, an entirely new field of thanatology—near-death studies—has surfaced to consolidate their insights and to further research and applications related to near-death experiences. As a result of these efforts and the continuing publicity the mass media have given to this phenomenon, most people—at least in the United States—now believe they know what it is like to die and what will happen to them afterward.
If one traces the history of this entire death awareness movement, then, one can discern a gradual collective progression from fear of death through fascination with death (stemming from reports of near-death experiences) to the beginnings of an acceptance of death. Despite these advances, however, it has become clear that we have yet to reach any profound insight into death. All of this indispensable insight has been blocked, at least in part, by certain distortions that have arisen from the study of near-death experiences and the popular interpretations of them that have inevitably followed.
Easy Death has been written in an attempt to expose these distortions and to offer instead not merely a corrective reading of these experiences, but a wholly encompassing teaching concerning the nature and significance of the death process. In Adi Da's vision, the meaning and implications of near-death experiences are, then, radically altered, and our understanding of these experiences is placed in an entirely new light—and quite literally, as you will see!
For example, in the essays and discourses that comprise this book, Adi Da explains why it is an error to regard these experiences as promising personal survival—and why so many people have succumbed to that interpretation; he also explains why people can be falsely beguiled by reports of these experiences into thinking that they will be permanently elevated into an enlightened state upon their physical death; and he shows, too, that the experiences people relate after coming close to death are by no means unique to near-death crises, but can occur in a variety of conditions where there is dissociation from the physical body. In addition, he provides a full account of the interplay of neurological, psychological, and psychic factors that together will determine the form of the near-death experience. The framework he offers to us here is again not to be found in either the popular or scientific literature in near-death studies. In all these ways—and in others you will discover for yourself—Adi Da undermines the conventional understanding of this phenomenon and reveals its hidden and deeper meanings.
But please understand—despite Adi Da's recurrent references to them, this is not a book chiefly about near-death experiences. It is really an extended discourse on death itself from the viewpoint of a fully realized Western Adept. Though you will have to read the book itself in order to appreciate the profundity and clarity of Adi Da's teaching here, his essential message can be summarized as follows:
To die properly, one must practice dying in every moment. It is the ego itself that must die, however, and this is effected by learning to surrender oneself fully into what Adi Da calls the Radiant Transcendental Being, or Ultimate Reality. Surrender, then, is the key both to dying and living, for only through surrender, complete and total, can one awaken to the fact that there is only the Radiant Transcendental Being. It is not merely that That is there for us at death; it is our real Ecstatic Self—our True Identity—now. Awakening to That is akin to awakening from a dream, but one cannot expect thus to awaken at the moment of death if one does not practice conscious surrender in the moments of life. For one who is Awake, the moment of death itself is, as Zen Masters are wont to say, "no big deal," since one is already fully identified with the Radiant Transcendental Being. For one who can se the moment of death to awaken, there is "easy death." For all others, there are a great variety of what I suppose could be called "lazy deaths"—deaths that bring post-mortem conscious experiences that, though they may be beautiful for some, are permanent for none and will in turn be followed by other experiences and, for most, eventual return from subtle worlds to the physical realm. Adi Da's teaching about death is, in a nutshell, about how to avoid this latter fate.
While his teaching is clearly designed to provide the student with a deep esoteric understanding of death, it is also intensely practical (as Part V in this book in particular will demonstrate). In the longest and, to my mind, the most important chapter in the book, entitled "The Cosmic Mandala," Adi Da has given a talk that contains at once the heart of his teaching and specific instructions concerning how to apply it at the moment of death:
. . . the best discipline at the point of death, or in the midst of the death process, no matter what they have done all their lives, is to relax and to release all hold on the body and the mind and states of attention. Transcend fear through surrender, and ultimately a visual representation of the Mandala [the visual manifestation of the Radiant Transcendental Being] will appear. When it does, keep your attention to the center of it. Do not be satisfied with lesser representations of the Mandala such as a golden light, or a bluish light, or any other light. Keep holding to the center until the entire Mandala appears, and keep holding to the center until you move into the white field. Even though this exercise will not be sufficient for movement into the white field permanently, it will be a purifying gesture that generally will serve your transition . . .
On that same visit to Boston I referred to earlier, my wife and I happened to stay overnight with some good friends of ours. Before we went to bed, I noticed a book of Aldous Huxley's writings called Moksha (Liberation) and asked if I could borrow it. Later, while idly browsing through it, I found myself reading an excerpt, not from one of Huxley's own books, but rather from that of his second wife, Laura Huxley. In her book, This Timeless Moment, she recounts how Huxley himself died. After she had, upon his request, administered an injection of LSD, she sat quietly with him and then intoned:
Light and free you let go, darling; forward and up. You are going forward and up; you are going toward the light. Willingly and consciously you are going, willingly and consciously, and you are doing this beautifully; you are doing this so beautifully—you are going toward the light—you are going toward a greater love—you are going forward and up. It is so easy—it is so beautiful. You are doing it so beautifully, so easily . . . You are going toward a greater love than you have ever known. You are going toward the best, the greatest love, and it is easy, it is so easy . . .
Easy Death. Again.
And, from Laura Huxley's account, it does appear that Aldous's death was peaceful indeed, with no sense of struggle evident.
So both at the beginning of my most recent journey and at its end, I seemed to hear Adi Da's teachings spoken or written through the words of others, while his own book waited for me at home. How curious, I thought. How fitting. Perhaps it is time.
I suppose I should say that I myself have never met Adi Da and am not formally associated with him or his community. But I think I will be speaking for many others who also are not themselves students of this great Adept when I express my indebtedness to him for the insights he has striven to communicate through Easy Death. In his writings and, I am sure, by his personal example, he is transmitting to us the greater meaning of what near-death research has only dimly seen.
Perhaps it is time for all of us to begin to walk the road that leads to Easy Death.
Prof. Kenneth Ring
author, Life at Death
Lessons from the Light: What We Can Learn from the Near-Death Experience
Heading Toward Omega: In Search of the Meaning of the Near-Death Experience
Since I began reading spiritual literature at the age of nineteen, more than twenty years ago, no book has changed my view of the universe more profoundly than Easy Death. Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Samraj has spoken directly to the heart of our human situation—the shocking reality of our brief and unbidden lives. Through his words I have experienced a glimmering of eternal life and view my own existence as timeless and spaceless in a way that I never did before.
We live under the shadow of death; we cannot evade it; we cannot minimize it. Science, politics, and the modern media all try to propagandize us into seeking absolute fulfillment on this plane, but any happiness achieved on that basis will be superficial and transient. We exist in preparation for an extraordinary experience that everyone has undergone, even the ordinary aunts and uncles we view in old photographs: "They have been zapped out of this experience." They have gone on this mysterious journey, no matter what and how they lived. And we will follow them, each and every one of us.
Yet Adi Da is extraordinarily thorough in his criticism of false assurances—things we tell ourselves that will make no difference in the end. The actual experience of death will overwhelm any planning, any memory. The cosmic shock of death will not suddenly enlighten us and make it possible for us to transcend. We should not rely on the inevitable improvement of our insights in a purgatory or heaven, or some vague guess of another chance after reincarnation. One may nurture the best of intentions for merging with higher planes, but under the actuality of the transition between lives, everyone will be returned inevitably to where they really are. The universe has no other way: "You cannot even hold on to your philosophy or your mantra when you pass by a crosslegged nude on a couch! So what do you think happens from life to death and back to life again . . . in the midst of such a profound event as psycho-physical death?"
The answer lies in cultivating attention and full joyful surrender before death. Adi Da's "easy death" is a willing, conscious giving back of life. You surrender not because there is nothing left in the end and you are obliterated and extinguished anyway, but because there is nothing to keep and the law that has given you life in the beginning requires surrender at its end.
In this way, death becomes a necessary experience, "a radical fast," Adi Da calls it, since it purifies us of our elemental aspect, our gross self. If we feel there is nothing other than this gross self, that does not reduce our reality; ideas can no more destroy than preserve whatever is our soul. Even if we feel we must be something more, that in itself does not create something more. "Knowledge is never more than knowledge about—and knowledge about is confounded by death. There is no knowledge about things that is senior to death. Death is the transformation of the knower.... Death is a process in which the knower is transformed, and all previous or conditional knowing is scrambled or confounded.... To 'consider' death is fruitless, since the knower is what is changed by death."
Part of Adi Da's comprehensive teaching on death is a description of the process of moving through the subtler aspects of the brain and nervous system into the source of mind and phenomena through the mechanics of attention. His teachings are an unmythologized expression of the wisdom that may also be found in ancient guidebooks such as the Tibetan Book of the Dead. He depicts the vision of the Divine "Brightness" in star-form and of the surrounding Cosmic Mandala (a vision that may serve as a guide to the newly dead person), and he presents it from a variety of angles and perspectives.
It is precisely because our attention is so stubbornly attached that great Adepts humanly incarnate that transcendent Divine "Brightness" and attract human beings to meditate upon them, realize the inherent Divinity, and transcend all of these limiting mechanisms of egoic attention and energy. And the call to devotion to him as such a window to the Divine Reality is the essential message of Da Avabhasa in his teachings, and of his devotees in their many remarkable testimonies, in Eay Death.
The book closes by showing once again that death is simply another experience in life. If one sees life clearly for what it is, then, as he points out, death will not represent a major change at all; it will be simply a relocation, as from California to New Zealand. If life is surrendered before death, it will not have to be surrendered under duress at the time of death.
I would caution the reader against assuming that what you will find here is in any way consoling assurances. Here is a matter of life and death, presented with searing absoluteness, with the only alternative requiring supreme self-sacrifice both while we are alive and when we die.
Specifically, Da Avabhasa warns us against taking too seriously the spiritual literature on life after death. After all, he points out, people brought back to life from near death give egoic interpretations of these states in order to reassure themselves that they are going to a peaceful and shining place and will be among loved ones. He offers no such consolations.
In a dream we are surrounded by people who are aspects of our own psyche. If we are told by one of them that we are dreaming, we may hear it, but it is part of the chatter of the dream and does not alter our dreaming. During waking life we are also aspects of a dream, but it is the dream of the Radiant Conscious Being. In the dream of this being we are all the same person. And so, in this book Adi Da tells us, in essence, "When you Awaken, you will Awaken to and as the very same Being that I Am."
author, Planet Medicine; The Night Sky
[ Out of Babylon ]
The Transmission of Doubt
by Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D.
No doubt about it, we are living in a time of transition. Today, we are beginning to realize that human and therefore inevitably all consciousness is itself capable of undergoing a radical evolution. And thus it is quite timely that The Transmission of Doubt appears. The originator of this volume is uniquely qualified to say and write what he does at this time. He has managed to tunnel through (a quantum-physical tunneling-through, not a classical-physical hurdling-over) a barrier that has been erected and strengthened, albeit for the "right" reasons, by the Western-Industrial-Academic-Scientific establishment to "make our lives better." The barrier that Adi Da points to, from the vantage point of one who has "quantum-physically" tunneled through and erected a signpost on the other side for all to see and understand, is the human ego.
According to the "dogma" of traditional science the universe is dead. Life arises through the setting in motion of all that has occurred, is occurring, and will occur from some central "point" in spacetime, back in time to the "Big Bang." Evolution is mechanics arising from and out of that impossibly-difficult-to-imagine earlier aeon. Thus, all life is fundamentally dead. When we die, that's it. Science as a tradition studies the physical domain of the universe and claims that all that is is physical and therefore dead.
Yes, psychologists exist. But they too are victims of the establishmentarian viewpoint. So, too, the psyche is physical and dead.
Adi Da asks us to consider the universe as a psycho-physical whole. It is simultaneously mechanical and living. From my view of modern science or the "new physics" called quantum mechanics, Adi Da's Teaching rings remarkably true. According to this view, the living observer is not passive and dead but active and participatory and always disturbing, in a non-causal manner, the mechanisms of purely physical phenomena. In other words, purely physical phenomena do not exist separate from the observer.
Thus, the ego or the artificial barrier that separates that "internal sense of I-ness" from all the rest of the processes going on in the whole, total, impossibly vast, all-time-pervading, light-like expansive YOU-NIVERSE is, in spite of its overwhelming power of submission, an illusion, which traditional science has managed to maintain erect through its adherence to the falsifiable lie that the universe is rationally dead and mechanical.
Adi Da puts down hard traditional science. Yet, this criticism is not to be taken as scientific phobia. It is more a "wake-up call" to those who are on the "edge of our time," able to realize that a transition to God-Realization as the (yours and mine) only true Condition existing both beyond and within the barriers of spacetime is occurring NOW. The simple recognition of this fact of existence alters radically the human condition and allows the mechanics of self-contraction through fear (which is the ego) to be witnessed in each and every one of us by each and every one of us.
Thus, the "wake-up" call is loudest for the rationally trained minds amongst us. The Adept's argument is radical, logical, pervasive, coherent, and certainly consistent with my view of the new physics. It even offers the chance of further scientific enquiry—a new physics of the Spirit is within our grasp now.
Of course, doubt is likely to arise in the rationally inclined reader. It certainly arose in me when I first became acquainted with Adi Da's Teaching. Doubt is a universal process which arises naturally through the quantum processes of the Principle of Indeterminism (as first put forward by physicist Werner Heisenberg in 1927), or as it is sometimes called, the Uncertainty Principle. Read on anyway. This is no usual religious espousal. As intellectual as you are you will find Adi Da's arguments compelling.
The Adept Adi Da invites us to be as intelligent as we are capable of being. He calls this "supreme intelligence." He points out that the ego and the scientific mind also want to serve humanity by conforming to reality. But the reality that ego and science conform to is a false reality. This illusion of reality is conceived through "self-abstraction and the objectification of existence," which arises from the desire of non-participation (let Johnny do it, I'm too tired) or self-contraction (which makes us all too tired because it takes up so much of our energy and time to maintain our egoic masks).
In chapter 9, "Philosophy Is a Stress-Based Activity," Adi Da speaks about control and our lack, or illusion of abundance, of it. This "control" (which arises from the concept of "counter-roll" or stopping the rolling motion of an object by one's devisal means) appears to us as "real." We talk about self-control, will power, body dexterity, etc., and dream of machines that are our willing slaves "under our control." According to quantum physics such control is clearly impossible at the most fundamental level of atomic and subatomic existence. Thus it is that the desire for more and more control must end in unhappiness and further feelings of defeat, fear, and narcissism.
Even the simple realization that we are truly incapable of controlling anything will help us to realize that that desire for control is a trap. This in itself may not awaken us to our true Condition, but it will at least appear to the sleeplike dream we all walk in as a clarion call. The universe demands egos. We have responded to that demand by worshipping them, elevating them to impossible heights of illusion supported by traditional Western thinking and rational thought all over both hemispheres.
Adi Da is not on an "ego-trip." Careful consideration will reveal that the ego that may be felt to arise while reading his writings is none other than the reader's. Adi Da is inviting us to enter the disposition of God-Realization in the "seventh stage of life," the highest Realization of humankind according to the Way of Radical Understanding as taught by him. It is then, as he puts it, that his "real Work in life begins." For, Enlightenment or God-Realization is only the beginning of the whole spiritual adventure.
I invite you to consider this profound man's wisdom, to awaken with me to hos clarion call, to revitalize the enquiry into science which will once and for all end the "transmission of doubt."
Fred Alan Wolf
author, Parallel Universes: The Search for Other Worlds
Taking the Quantum Leap: The New Physics for Nonscientists
The Spiritual Universe: One Physicists Vision of Spirit, Soul, Matter, and Self
The Eagle's Quest: A Physicist's Search for Truth in the Heart of the Shamanic World
The Dreaming Universe: A Mind-Expanding Journey into the Realm Where Psyche & Physics Meet
The Divine Emergence (1990)
by Richard Grossinger
In our usual understanding of things, spiritual biography is perhaps an implicit contradicdon. Biography represents UBios", literally the writing of a life, the same life of creatures and cells described by biology. And the journey of the spirit' if it is acknowledged at all, appears to lie outside of time and space. Its "experiences" are unconditional.
The life story of Heart-Master Da Love-Ananda "answers" (and refutes) popular abstractions about spirits and spiritual energies: Spirit is not an it. When the Divine Consciousness mysteriously incarnates in the Form of a Person, we have the special reality of a Being who is also unconditional. In this book Saniel Bonder, a devotee of Heart-Master Da, acknowledges that trying to put such a Life into a biography is "like trying to photograph a hurricane, or to lasso a comet, or to travel into the heart of the Sun". Yet this biography, while taking issue precisely with the notion of the Divine as a mere abstraction or a metaphysically conceived other-dimensionality, demonstrates that there is no inherent separation between the unconditional Spirit and Life. The "plot" of such a story is not transcendence or initiation but the universal opening of the Heart.
Thus, where Divine Energy contacts the world of history as an apparent Individual, a narrative emerges, a story unfolds as the journey of the spirit leaves its imprint on the passage of time and space. The Divine Emergence of The World-Teacher is the story of Uthe Divine Person" moving through history. We glimpse the impression on the world of "Bios" transcending conventional reality.
In the truest sense of the Avatar, the Process of the gross and deeper personalities and of the transcendent, free nature (what I would call the "Spirit-Seed") evolving from Franklin Jones into Heart-Master Da LoveAnanda has recast the latter half of our twentieth century. And the portrayal of the unique life of a Divine Incarnation as a fmite human
individual signals that it is possible for others to be drawn by grace into the same Condition of transcendent freedom.
This story weaves ordinary life experiences with extraordinary Revelation, thus providing us with a crucial understanding of not only how much love the Master of the Heart brings into the world but how much sorrow He encounters in so doing. That is the meaning of story-telling here. Reflected in His own chosen Personality as a Western man HeartMaster Da confronts precisely the depth of exile and pain present in all of our experiences. Here we have the incredible tale of a Teacher Who so loved His Disciples that not only did He choose an Incarnation in the West to meet them but when His Disciples would not adopt His Form, He adopted their Form to show them their own reflection. The result of this sacrificial effort was His Divine Emergence, which marks a new chapter in epochal Spiritual History.
author, Planet Medicine; The Night Sky
[ Out of Babylon ]
Divine Distraction (1991)
By The Reverend Thomas E. Ahlburn
After years of searching for a trustworthy Spiritual path—twenty-five years in the ministry, long walks in the sweet Kentucky woods with the late Trappist hermit Thomas Merton, wonderfully happy meetings with His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet, and countless other encounters with high lamas, monks, Zen masters, tantric yogis, nuns, priests, rabbis, and gurus—it all comes down to this: A God-Man—a human being in full conscious communion with the Divine—is alive on our planet today. This is the surprising good news. It's what this book is all about.
While studying for the ministry, I had occasion to read what I took back then to be merely "religious tall tales" or "holy exaggerations" about the great Spiritual Adepts of the East and other incarnations of the Divine. I was fascinated by this sort of thing, even drawn to it—especially to stories about the magic and mystery of Tibet—but I was full of doubt. If ever there was a skeptical star, I was born under it. Early on, I found myself at odds with the Christian tradition. It wasn't long before I began to distrust Eastern religiosity as well. As far as I was concerned, high spiritual states and meditative practices resulting in enlightenment or God-Realization sounded far too good to be true. Alas, like many of my ministerial brothers and sisters in the West—even the most highly placed and acclaimed—I was reluctantly willing to settle for much, much less in life and religion. After all, I thought, God is really only another name for human hopes and ideals. Truth to tell, it must be admitted that we human beings have created all the gods in our pathetic attempt to "save" ourselves. All religions are inescapably cultural affairs, human deliverances through and through, not transcendental revelations or windows on the Divine. At least that's the way things seemed to me.
Happily, life didn't go this way for James Steinberg, the author of this book. And for good reason. He has met that rarest and greatest and most wonderful of beings, an authentic God-Man. What is more, he has answered his Spiritual Master's pervasive, absolutely uncompromising love. As our author makes abundantly clear, responding properly to uncompromising love is not easy. Only on the strength of uncompromising responsibility can one hope to adequately respond to uncompromising love. Which is to say, the heart must always already lie open to the God-Man's call.
Difficult? I would think so. Indeed, what could be more difficult for self-cherishing beings like you and me than rightly responding to such love? Indeed, the author indicates that he is always falling short of the Divine's demand in one way or another and having to be set straight. Still, isn't opening to the Divine what human life is really all about? James Steinberg claims that it is, and this book certainly dispelled any lingering doubts I may have had about his claim. It is clear to me that he has found a gracious way leading out of and well beyond our world's spiritual discontent.
I believe that ultimately this book is for everyone, despite the doubts some of us may have at the moment. No matter who we are or what we presently say or profess to believe, we all share a deep and heart-felt pathless urge for the Divine, or what transcends ordinary life and suffering. I feel sure that James Steinberg would claim that this deep and heart-felt pathless urge is itself the Work of Sri Adi Da Samraj. I have come to believe that it is. Furthermore, I am convinced beyond any doubt that this "Divine Distraction" will finally have its way with all of us—as some of my Buddhist friends say—even to the last blade of grass. It is the way of things, and Adi Da is Himself this Way or this Path.
What a wonderful book! After weighing my words carefully, I do not hesitate to say that my encounter with the story told here has been one of the most important events of my life. I don't know how else to put it, except to say that I feel like I've come home that my long search is over. I am extremely grateful to James Steinberg for such a warm, direct, honest, and sound communication of what the Guru-devotee relationship entails—its great joys and testing trials. Of course, this book is not about James Steinberg. It is about Sri Adi Da. The Sat-Guru is the great happy and loving light shining through these pages. There's no mistaking this.
This is all we need to know and understand: This book is about the greatest Spiritual Master ever to walk the earth. Seeing this, attending to this truth, we need not walk in the dark any longer. Adi Da reveals the ultimate truth residing in the human heart and at the heart of all religions.
Rev. Thomas E. Ahlburn
Senior Minister, First Unitarian Church,
Providence, Rhode Island
[ a few sermons ]
The ego-"I" is the Illusion of Relatedness (1991)
by Gene R. Thursby
I am honored to have been asked to contribute a brief statement of appreciation for Sri Da Avabhasa's The ego-"l" is the Illusion of Relatedness. In this book, a remarkable Adept displays the revolutionizing wisdom that makes him justifiably known to the world as a "Heart-Master" who awakens others.
With a masterful skill that is engaging from the beginning and then becomes more and more deeply appealing, Sri Adi Da demonstrates how a whole range of traditional formulations of esoteric wisdom are both recapitulated and transcended in what He calls His "Way of the Heart". He reveals their inner logic and the meaningful pattern they form when they come to be understood as components of what He calls the Great Tradition of spiritual teaching.
Although not myself a devotee of Sri Da Avabhasa, I readily acknowledge His singular accomplishment in so clearly expressing this insight into the spiritual nature of reality and so effectively developing it to serve as the basis for a complete way of life. This is a framework for a vital, living, transforming practice that anyone can undertake. And if you become truly serious about it, you will be enabled to grow Spiritually to your utmost capacity within this lifetime. This point is made clearly in a testimony that opens the book, "The Key to This Turnabout", by one of Sri Adi Da's most advanced devotees, Kanya Samatva Suprithi. What she professes and He proclaims is that the one great Accomplishing Principle at the very center of His Way of the Heart is none other than the person and the reality of the Heart-Master, Sri Adi Da Samraj Himself.
In the ancient Siddha tradition—and in Zen Buddhism, Hasidic Judaism, Sufi Islam, Eastern and Western mystical Christianity, and other authentic spiritualities that participate in the timeless wisdom of the Great Tradition—the most subtle and profound transmission takes place in the direct contact between the devotee and the Adept. The remarkable book that follows here is an invitation to such a meeting. This is reason enough for it to be regarded as scripture. Weigh its words carefully, and be open to the possibility that Da Avabhasa's presence beyond the words will inspire you to choose a direct and transformative relationship to Him. Because of this book, you may be moved to change your whole way of life.
Gene R. Thursby, Ph.D.
Professor of Religious Studies,
University of Florida
author, The Sikhs
Modern Hinduism in India
Feeling Without Limitation (1991)
The Difference Between self-help and True Help
by William Gottlieb
I have spent my entire career writing and editing self-help magazines and books. From avoiding an accident to zapping a zinc deficiency—if there was a way to feel better, I did my best to let America know. But no matter how much or what kind of self-help advice I gave—no matter how savvy the expert I quoted or how practical the breakthrough I reported— I knew every piece of how-to help I offered was a bandage, a holding pattern, a brief interruption of one undeniable fact:
Everybody who read the magazine articles and the books I wrote and edited—even if they followed every word of advice was still going to be unhappy.
Sure, they might improve their lives. They might lose some weight, or be kinder to their kids, or sleep a little better. But any improvement would be like lipstick on a frown.
Because no change that anyone makes can eliminate the very thing that all of us want to change the most: the constant parade of problems through our thoughts and feelings, and the accompanying sense of never having enough, of never being truly satisfied, of never feeling really happy, our heart's hunger fed—now and forever.
That is why it is my great privilege and pleasure to write a foreword to this small book—because it truly offers Help.
I capitalize that word because the means of Help is a Person with a Message greater than any change, any improvement, any seeking for more. He tells us that there is no ultimate self-help—that the self can never become fully and finally Happy. But He also tells us that beyond this limited, suffering self there is the Divine Self—the Being of Joy and Freedom, the Infinite Consciousness that is the Very Source and Substance of Life. And He tells us each and every one of us—that this Reality, this Identity, this Happiness that He calls the Heart", is true of us now, and It can be Realized.
The Person of Whom I speak is Adi Da Samraj—the Speaker of the central Discourse of this booklet. He has Realized the Divine Self, and He Offers a way for eveyone to Realize that same Happiness. There is much written here about what Adi Da has Taught and about Who He Is (and I would like to acknowledge that the various contributions have been threaded together with commentary by my friends Saniel Bonder—whose book The Divine Emergence of The World-Teacher led me to deepen my relationship with Da Avabhasa—and Carolyn Lee). But before you read this book, I would like to leave you with this thought:
The Wisdom of Adi Da, the Wisdom of the Heart, has the Power to lead you to Happiness. My advice—the best advice that I have ever given—is that you allow yourself to explore the supreme possibility that He suggests, and to avail yourself of the true Help He so Lovingly and Freely Offers.
[former] Editor-in-Chief, Prevention Magazine Health Books and
former Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, Rodale Press
editor, New Choices In Natural Healing
Polarity Screens (1991)
by George Fritz, Ed.D.
AIthough the invention of the device known as the Polarity Screens is properly attributed to L. E. Eeman about seventy-five years ago, I am sure almost no one today would know about this remarkable tool for relaxation and energy equilibration were it not for the recommendations for its use given to us by Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Samraj. Those recommendations were given in the context of a uniquely sacred approach to life in general and to the healing arts in particular. The publication of this small volume properly situates Adi Da's recommendations regarding Polarity Screens in the larger context of His comprehensive Teaching.
It was through Adi Da's references to Polarity Screens, appearing within His extensive and extraordinary literature, that I first learned of them. Soon, not only myself and family, but also friends, and later also my patients, would try the Polarity Screens and would feel themselves—usually for the first time—as energy. It is the sort of shift in perception that can change one's life!
It certainly changed L. E. Eeman's life. He was suffering chronic pain (a condition today suffered by approximately 30-40 million individuals in the U.S. alone), and he cured himself through the use of the screens. To get pain relief, many will try anything, even techniques which to the eye of conventional perception, stripped bare of any sensitivities to bioelectric flow and balance, appear as quackery. But when they work (as often is the case, for instance, with biofeedback or acupuncture), people care only that relief may be available.
Not only do Polarity Screens work, but also, as in the previous cases of biofeedback and acupuncture, scientific studies are now being conducted which appear likely to confirm the positive anecdotal reports of the many individuals who have successfully used the screens. The applications are legion: not only as an antidote for the myriad conditions of stress and pain, but also to enhance an alternative learning process.
However, it is important to note how the prevailing culture (characterized by materialistic conventions of perception and presumption) is capable of reducing everything appearing in its field, including Polarity Screens, to its own least common denominator. Thus, acupuncture becomes merely an analgesic or anaesthetic wholly explicable by mechanisms of nerve stimulation; biofeedback becomes merely relaxation, achieved by nothing more than muscular release; and Polarity Screens become merely a stress and pain antidote, easily explained away as the balancing of skin electropotentials. The energy dimension, and by further extension the "great presumption" of Being itself, are systematically excluded.
This is where the present volume represents an invaluable service. Its emphasis is to remind us that by the use of simple procedures, like those of the Polarity Screens, we can readily feel the energy dimension. Then, it may become clear to us that we appear mysteriously in a field of energy—or, even more fundamentally, we may come to feel that we appear, as energy, in a Field of Mystery.
I confess I would not have been blessed to feel and contemplate these things had it not been for Adi Da's "Bright" Presence and His provocative Teaching literature. Therein, discussion of even the most seemingly mundane topic, such as the proper arrangement of a pair of copper plates and cables, can Open the being to a greater truth. Such opening, as can be achieved with Polarity Screens, is not Enlightenment. Still, if the energy dimension can be felt as real, then what else may be ultimately Real, even though usually eliminated from consciousness by my chronically contracted perceptions? It is important to find out.
(Dr. George Fritz is a psychologist, specializing in pain control through biofeedback and acutherapies, and maintains a private practice in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.)
The Hymn of the True Heart-Master (1992, 1995)
by M. P. Pandit
The institution of the Guru occupies a pivotal position in spiritual life. Whichever the tradition, the role of the Teacher is of cardinal importance. To the devotee as well as the practitioner of any chosen discipline, the Guru represents God, the realization of Whom is the object of every seeker. And more: In rare cases the Guru actually embodies God and facilitates the attainment of identity between man and the Divine. Such a Guru occupies the heart of the disciple as the Master of his being.
Guru Gita, "Hymn to the Guru", is an ancient classic in the spiritual tradition of India celebrating the greatness and splendour of the relationship between the disciple and the Master. It shows the Way, and if one knows how to enter into the heart of the utterance, it is itself the Way. For thousands of years it has been chanted on the lips of countless aspirants, and it is known to have dissolved many an obstacle on the Path and built up a melting relation of love between the devotee and the Lord.
Ruchira Avatar Adi Da's The Hymn Of The True Heart-Master, though originally based on the inspiration of the ancient Guru Gita, has a unique quality about it inasmuch as it has been carved out of the heart of a great, presently living Master out of compassion for aspiring humanity. Heart-Master Adi Da speaks from his transcendent consciousness and addresses himself as a Personal Form. In an authentic tone his Voice speaks: "The devotee should always Remember and Invoke the True Heart-Master by Name. The Name of the True Heart-Master is the Name of the Great One. The Great One is Present to serve devotees in the Bodily (Human) Form of the True Heart-Master.... Therefore ... meditate on His Spiritual
(and Always Blessing) Presence, and on His Very (and Inherendy Perfect) State.... And ... remain always intimate widh the True Heart-Master's Constant Blessing and Awakening-Power."
There is a state of being in which there is a mighty pulsation of Bliss and Power overruling all man-made conventions and standards. Only those who are ready to go beyond themselves and their prepossessions can taste the ambrosia that flows out of such a Heart-Master as Adi Da Samraj. This spontaneous hymn of invocation is an invitation to such privileged souls to partake of the Banquet.
I do feel this Hymn will be of immense help to aspirants for a divine life. I am thankful that I had an opportunity to read and benefit by it.
M. P. Panditauthor, TheUpanishads; Gateways of Knowledge
Traditions in Sadhana : Studies in Tantra, Veda, Yoga, Philosophy and Mysticism
[ Wisdom of the Veda ] [ Sri Aurobindo and His Yoga ] [ More on Tantras ]
[ The Yoga of Knowledge ] [ Dictionary of Sri Aurobindo's Yoga (ed.) ]
[ Kundalini Yoga : A Brief Study of Sir John Woodroffe's 'the Serpent Power' ]
[ Vedic Deities ] [ Yoga for the Modern Man ] [ The Yoga of Love ]
[ The Yoga of Self-Perfection ] [ Yoga of Works ] [ Traditions in Mysticism ]
[ Mystic Approach to the Veda and the Upanishad ]
[ Traditions in Occultism ] [ Occult Lines Behind Life ]
[ M. P. Pandit is a widely recognized scholar in the field of Yoga and the Indian Spiritual tradition. He has written or edited more than eighty books of the Spiritual legacy of India, including works on such ancient classical texts as the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Tantras, and the Bhagavad Gita. He is Secretary of Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India, and has been a practioner of Yoga there for over 50 years.]
The Method of the Siddhas (1992, 1995)
by Ray Lynch
In the fall of 1973, I walked out of a bookstore in Portland, Maine, with a copy of The Method of the Siddhas under my arm, wondering about Siddhas, their "method", and what was in it for me. I had no idea how profoundly this book would affect my life, but somehow I was ripe for its truths. At that time, I was many things: ex-Texan, respected lutenist (in New York City), gentleman farmer (in Maine), observer of life (everywhere), seeker of truth (armchair). I was thirty years old and had already achieved noteworthy unhappiness. I had also just received a warning.
One week before, while strolling across my front yard, I was surprised by a sudden and shocking vision: A gigantic pit opened up just in front of me, and, as I peered into its darkness, I knew with uncharacteristic certainty that if I didn't change the direction of my life, I was going to fall into the pit and die. The synchronicity of these events seemed meaningful, and I read The Method of the Siddhas with an intensity proportionate to my newly perceived nearness to the precipice. Halfway through the book I realized that I had found my Teacher.
The Method of the Siddhas presented something new to my awareness: a man who understood, who was clearly awake, who had penetrated fear and death, who spoke English (eloquently!), and who was alive and available in California! His words cut across years of enthusiasm, seeking, and suffering while giving the best description of my predicament that I had ever encounted. He spoke the Truth and certainly didn't glamorize or minimize the ordeal required for its Realization. I worried about that part, feeling that I would not be able to do everything that He was going to ask of me, that I was unqualified for the kind of uncompromising relationship being offered. But He was my only true option, and I soon found myself on a plane to Los Angeles, lute in hand, heart in stomach, grateful for something more real than the pit.
How can I summarize the years that have passed since then? Adi Da's first words to me, whispered in my ear as we embraced several days later, were, "Stick with Me." Later that week He did something equally straightforward but, at the time, quite inexplicable: He threw me a pear. I was sitting on the floor in the far corner of His office when He picked a pear from a bowl of fruit on His desk and, without a word, threw it across the room to me. I caught it, but I didn't understand it, so I merely smiled at Him. I had come in haste, unprepared and in great need, and I failed to notice that I had brought no gifts. Giving was something I had to learn (and am still learning). When I caught that first pear, I could have understood and given Him all my suffering then, but I didn't, and so over the years Adi Da (never reserved in His Giving) has thrown more pears my way. His Gifts, I have learned, come in many guises, some delicious and immediately edible, others much more difficult to stomach. The most nourishing and useful ones, oddly, are often the latter.
A year later, Adi Da threw me the most difficult (and most useful) such "pear" in my experience. To appreciate its effect on me, you would have to understand the overwhelming and seductive attractiveness of the Company of such a free Being, passionate in His living, completely open, totally committed to those around Him, and full of humor. I had come to Him because I wanted to be free and happy, as He so obviously was, but after spending only a little time with Him, I found that my priorities had shifted: At the top of my list was the desire to simply be with Him, Enlightenment was second, maybe third. In those early years, being with Him, being "accepted" by Him, being "liked" by Him, was everything.
Now, I had recently married Kathleen (also a devotee of Adi Da) and had begun a relationship which was proving to have, well, a lot of local color. One evening Kathleen and I were at His house when I walked into one of the rooms and saw Kathleen and Adi Da sitting on the floor talking together. Apparently they were talking about me, because as soon as I came through the door, He looked up at me and said, "I don't like him either." It was like the moment just before impact when wrecking an automobile. I felt the bottom drop out as my worst fears about myself were confirmed. My mind reeled and something in me shut down as I refused to understand what had just happened and, instead, pushed the whole incident below consciousness.
Over the years my relationship with Adi Da continued, but our physical contacts became rarer. (He had since established His residence in Fiji while I was still living in California.) Slowly, and with some difficulty, I began to understand and accept that God (or the God-Realized Adept) was under no obligation to "like" the ego. I saw that my demand to be "liked" and "accepted" was not only immature but actually insulting. How could the ego, self-contracted and deluded, maintain its position in the presence of Consciousness and expect to be congratulated Given my posture, His comment was not merely beautifully timed but truly kind. It was clearly a Gift, a pear of the first magnitude, and I had managed to suppress it for years.
As the meaning of all this was dawning on me and I began feeling the humor of the incident, my Teacher pulled another pear from His bowl and drove home the real point, rounding out the whole affair. A friend who had just returned from Fiji reported that Adi Da, in the midst of a completely unrelated conversation, had abruptly looked up and asked, "Does Ray know that I love him?"
I was so moved by this gesture on His part that I almost failed to fully consider the question, and to acknowledge that, as the ego, I was more comfortable with being "liked" than with being Loved perfectly. His love was a challenge, because it was so complete, so unreserved. It had nothing to do with anybody's preferences. It simply couldn't be contained, and it spilled out, unexpectedly, into my life.
It also spilled out into my dreams. The dreams (and there were many during this period) almost always dealt with the great theme of this book, namely the Guru-devotee relationship (or Satsang). One series of dreams, which went on for more than a year, consisted exclusively of telephone conversations. Whenever I called, Adi Da always answered and often spoke with great passion on the nature of our relationship, sometimes pleading and weeping for me to understand. "Satsang is everything!!" He shouted over and over, "Nothing else matters!"
Several years ago, after too long an absence, I traveled to Fiji to be with Adi Da once again for a short while. This time I came with my arms as full of gifts as I knew how to make them. Our first meeting occurred in formal Darshan-sitting with Him for the simple purpose of viewing Him and feeling into His Presence. I was sitting in front, eager and somewhat nervous. He came in and sat down, and I was stunned by what I saw. The mechanisms which normally filter my perception were suspended in that raw and most beautiful moment. All the old protective scar-tissue covering my heart was ripped apart. As my heart opened, I saw and felt Him fully, as Reality, and I was pervaded and unhinged by the Truth of His Confession: Love is a wound and it will never heal. It was all given in the first ten seconds. I spent the rest of the hour weeping, as did He, as the mutuality of our relationship sank into my being. I was finally understanding the "method" of the Siddhas. Satsang is Love and Love is mutual sacrifice. That is simply the way it works, and there is nothing anyone can do to change it.
Three weeks later, on the day before my departure Adi Da surprised me with another pear. At the end of my last Darshan, He gave me a framed photograph taken a few weeks earlier. The photograph showed us embracing. Below the photograph, but in the same frame, carefully dried and pressed, was the flower I had laid at His feet when I first arrived. His Gift to me was as unexpected and as powerful as the embrace had been. It summarized perfectly everything I had been shown over so many years about giving, about relationship, about love.
How can I summarize the life I live with One who Gives so much and Loves so well? I haven't the words but I can look at that photograph and it's all there. What the photograph shows is fully expressed in The Method of the Siddhas and could be grasped instantly. But we seem to need time, and so the Adept, graceful as always keeps reaching into the bowl to remind us Who He is and, ultimately, Who we are. This book is a reminder and, as you read it, my best advice to you is, heads up! You may not see it coming, but a huge pear is being tossed in your direction.
composer; Sky of Mind, Deep Breakfast, No Blue Thing
Nothing Above My Shoulders but the Evening
[ Ray's Homepage ]
Twirling & Jet Lag (1992)
Of Time Zones and Timeless Happiness
by Bill Gottlieb
Every year I travel from New York to Germany to attend the Frankfurt International Book Fair. And every year I suffer the bane and burden of international travelers—jet lag. For a few days, my body feels like a piece of lost luggage—misplaced and battered and wondering why it ever left home. When I want to be working I'm weary. When I want to be weary I'm wired. I've lost my passport to normal life.
But this year I didn't suffer from jet lag—not a bit. For all my body knew, I could have flown from New York to New Jersey. What did I do differently? Why did I feel so good?
I followed the Instructions of my Guru.
Now, that might not be the answer you were expecting. For one thing, jet lag remedies are fairly standard—move around on the plane, don't drink alcohol en route, get some exercise when you arrive. For another, people don't usually associate the word "Guru" with a treatment for jet lag. But my Guru—the Divine World-Teacher and True Heart-Master, Adi Da Samraj—is a completely unique Spiritual Personality. He has thoroughly explored every (and I mean every) area of human life and the process of Awakening to Divine Reality, and He has created a Wisdom-Teaching of unparalleled scope and profundity—which even includes specific methods for preventing and alleviating jet lag.
This year in Frankfurt I used those methods: a basic, simple exercise called "twirling"; an easy, relaxing Yogic posture; and Polarity Screens, a device that balances and energizes the body. All three of these methods are discussed in this booklet, which is offered to you as a Gift of Adi Da's Instruction—a leaf from the forest of His Wisdom.
But it is my hope that this booklet does more than help you feel better after your next long trip. It is my hope that it attracts you to find out more about Adi Da and the Way of the Heart—the Spiritual Process of understanding and transcending all the discomforts and dislocations of time and space. The Way of the Heart is lived in relationship with Da Avabhasa, Who has Realized His Conscious Unity with the Eternal Reality of Divine Being, and Who Helps Awaken His devotees to that same Realization.
Reader, I am a businessperson: I supervise a staff of 80 people who create editorial products that generate yearly sales of $170 million. I am tough-minded and practical. I am not a believer, I am a doer—which is why neither my heart nor my pen can stay quiet about Adi Da. I became His formal devotee in January, 1991, and since that time He has transformed me—His Grace has showered me with the Gifts of human and Spiritual growth For the ftrst time in my life I am capable of love—released of my obsession with the need to be loved free to give my energy and attention to others. I have easly given up various self-destructive habits like smoking. I no longer feel in doubt about life's purpose, or confused by the conflicting currents of my own desires. But more than all this—and at the source of all of these changes—is my active love relationship with Adi Da, "The Realizer, The Revealer, and The Revelabon Of The Divine Person". Yes—the Divine is here in human Form here to Instruct, here to Love, here to be "The Necessary Sign Of God, That Authenticates God and All Auspiciousness To Man".
My hope and my prayer is that you begin to respond to what you read here. That you begin to feel the beauty of His Word and His Wisdom. That you, as a weary traveler in time and space, allow yourself to feel your heart's need for a Greater Destiny—for the Perfect and Transcendental Divine Rest of Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Samraj.
[former] Editor-in-Chief, Prevention Magazine Health Books and
former Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, Rodale Press
editor, New Choices In Natural Healing
The Order of My Free Names (1995)
Swami Muktananda's "naming letter"
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