On the 7th anniversary of the final transition of Adi Da Samraj

Yesterday was the 7th anniversary of the final transition of Adi Da Samraj, my root-Guru, to whose Radiant Awakened Consciousness I conformed myself, as much as I could, 24/7, for fifteen years, from the age of 22 to when I was 37. What was at the Heart of that revelation, I still resonate with. I will always resonate. What I encountered is not something anyone would or could willingly "leave". I witnessed a miracle—a miracle that exceeds anything I can describe in words.

Paradoxically a big part of what Adi Da gave me only became perceptible after I "left" Him. It was as if a secret teaching had been inscribed on the inside of the wrapper I thought I was discarding when I tried to separate the wheat from the chaff and walk away. Doing so had nearly killed me. I had been forced to find balls I didn't know I had. That's what it took to stand up to the strongest will I expect I'll ever feel. What it took to reclaim my autonomy, my authenticity, my self-authorship. In some ways I had not really fully arrived in myself until I "left the cult".

For a few years, I couldn't stand to read Adi Da's books. I was very angry. I went to therapy. I had to dare to fear that I'd wasted the first half of my adult life. I went through hell. And I felt like I had to fight Adi Da, like an animal with its back against the wall, not to lose contact with the Grace I had been shown. I had to fight to leave with my relationship to the Mystery intact. I had to summon resources, to "get down" radically, to fight for what is even more precious than life itself. It felt like it nearly killed me. But then Grace reappeared. I'd sometimes feel the very Beingness of Life luminous and effulgent. It would break through and Shine astounding bliss, just like Adi Da's transmission had. On these occasions I would even discover that the thunderous Brightness of Adi Da was still present in the world, still present in me. I was reminded that, at least in principle, it was never not here.

And I started to oscillate between two completely incompatible states.

There was a state of fierce autonomy in which I had the balls to reclaim and save "the only life I could save", to show up fully, to see directly, to trust the heart of my own knowing and feeling, and to choose, and to love.

And there was a state of ecstatic devotional recognition in which I was in love with God, and all my time with Adi Da seemed obviously to have been a great wave of Grace through which God had given Him/Her-Self to me via my Guru, and in that state I was only full of gratitude and recognition.

And I had many state-specific memories, two huge, non-intersecting domains of my life. Each state accessed an enormous body of my life experience. But the two states were mutually exclusive. So I oscillated between devotion and defiance.

After oscillating for a long time it dawned on me that the fact that there was no single state in which I could access all of my most important and existentially profound life experiences was *itself* a profound teaching. I was being shown something radical about the nature of perception and perspectives and reality. My 'point of view' melted in the heat of a light "brighter than a thousand suns."  

Adi Da called himself "a difficult man". And he has continued, long after his death, to be a great source of difficulty to me. On one hand, it was in my falling-in-love, and in my life-and-death battles with Him that I was turned inside-out. That process is what forced me, years later, even against my preferences, to teach spirituality and practice. And on the other hand, he attracted scandal and became popularly perceived as the epitome of the great narcissistic guru, all during a time in which it is almost universally understood and agreed that "the age of the guru is over", that sanity and self-responsibility requires individuals to become free from external sources of spiritual energy and truth. In fact, I am even now feeling some disquiet as I write this, knowing that posting it publicly will probably attract some scorn, voiced or unvoiced. The animosity toward the guru could scarcely be stronger in this time.

And yet I'm on a path that requires integrity, and acknowledgement of my primary sources. And Adi Da is my Root-Guru. He combined Himself with me, and I combined myself with Him. And that cannot be undone. Even though I am in dialogue now in a public conversation with many people to whom he simply seems strange, and even though I am unwilling to be confined by the cultic dynamics that tend to accrete around him. Adi Da still shines brightly in my heart.

I remember him today, seven years after He left the body, and I'm suffused with grateful gladness. A brightness that can't be captured in words outshines the heart and mind. Six years ago, I created this page with some selected writings and photos from my teacher I repost it now: http://www.terrypatten.com/adi-da-samraj-1939-2008



One with your Guru

Dear Terry,

Thank you for your heart felt sharing about Adi Da Samraj. I love the the facial quality of love and wisdom captured in the picture that you posted. Early on in my spiritual seeking I ran into a book by Adi Da entitled: “ Scientific Proof of the Existence of God Will Soon Be Announced by the White House! ”. What I remember most was that his style of writing seemed unique to me in that he would write tremendously long sentences describing nuanced aspects of the human dilemma that were clear and coherent from beginning to end unlike most other writers. It was not only what he said but how he expressed it that book that caught my attention. He went by the name Da Free John in those days and I understand why you and many others were attracted to his teaching.

I also want to say that you are not alone in the Guru-Disciple/Student-Teacher dynamic that rolls on long after an apparent separation.

I took the path of Zen and studied for a short time with Roshi Philip Kapleau and then his dharma heir, Bodhin Kjolhede for a total of 13 years. I was a lay student with a full time job, wife and children. Daily meditation and participation twice-a-year in week long retreats bore fruit. But there came a time when this practice didn't feel right for a number of reasons and eventually I left this form of Zen practice behind. For me there was some guilt, fear and repeated internal stories about why I had to do this. Eventually, by following my heart, I found myself in a new and better place. However, it also become clear that my training under these two men had matured me from the adolescent male that I was and allowed me to release my heavy grip on life and leap from the hundred foot pole of the Zen koan.

One of my teachers is now deceased but it is clear that the two of them were really one and I am part of them and they are part of me. I owe them my life in one sense and my gratitude knows no bounds. Oneness knows know bounds!

With hands palm to palm,

Dennis Hohman

I found more than that you

I found more than that you described about him in this post. Thanks for the facebook page through which i got many magical photos of Adi Da. He was the great teacher of my life. RIP!

adi da

I understand more the more i read - thanks Terry. I see you had a deep experience of adi da. I think what helps me is that i take what is useful and leave the rest - as buddha advised. I can take the general principles and contemplate these...Adi da was interesting in that he talked about this phenomena - what i would call "avoidance" nowadays.. I take that to mean - between a man and creation (and thus the Divine).. the "apparent" separation - which he said is something we "do". This is probably why the krishnas only care about krishna..a state of attraction to the divine..

Reality vs Distraction

Terry, if your experience with Adi Da is any kind of reference point for spirituality or truth, then you are in trouble.

Instead of being fascinated with your experiences around Adi Da, you should focus on your motivation for seeking and cherishing those experiences. Also, you should focus on your assumptions about your pre-spiritual state and your new spiritual state.

Until a person fully understands their motivations and assumptions, every activity will be a leak of energy into illusion.

the search

Myabe that search IS the spiritual reality for the individual - remember the 60's - everyone was going to India to sit at the feet of the guru . adi da went to swami muktananda and ramana ashram - i beleive the journey can be the goal . Bothe the Buddha and adi da talked about the search actually being the goal (and lao tzu ?) Desire or the seeking impulse reaches its zeneith to the spiritual seeker - one who has looked at his whole experience for answers - for The Answer - is a spiritual "seeker" - by logic - when he/she reaches the destination there is not such a strong impulse to go anywhere else - as when meets one's Teacher - or a great Adept..seeking comes to an end.

Liberation from illusion

Our only problem is that we were born into an ignorant world. It distracts us away away from the innate happiness of being. So our goal should be liberation from the world's ignorance rather than pursuing some romantic spiritual quest. In fact, the spiritual quest with it's supposedly great adepts is a part of the world's illusion.

Can you imagine what life would be like if we were born into a wise world?

the search

Maybe that search IS the spiritual reality ..for the individual - Remember the 60's - everyone was going to India to sit at the feet of the guru . Adi da went to swami muktananda and the ramana ashram - i beleive the journey can be the goal . Both the Buddha and adi da talked about the search actually being the goal (and lao tzu ?) Desire or the seeking impulse reaches its zenith in the spiritual seeker - one who has looked at his whole experience for answers... for The Answer - is a spiritual "seeker" .When he/she reaches the destination there isn't such a strong impulse to go anywhere else - as when one meets one's Teacher - or great Adept..seeking comes to an end.

illusion maya and lila

Yes - adi da said the effort of the search was like this - the hope for a goal distracts us from that goal. The buddhists call this dukkha while Desire or thirst still exists. The Gurus are just "close" to the goal - the end of the path - is the end of the search - the end of seeking (logical). You get that close when you meet a soul mate or aquire a Fortune - or some other kind of Big Heart release...I think adi da and many others were like this - Maybe in the end the greatest release is that it is all maya - these goals empty of importance. Wasn't that one of adi da's last statements - indifference ....


He was right about the importance of understanding. But he focused on things like seeking and identity, which were really about answers, rather than questions.

It's much better to engage in a deep personal enquiry about immediate and relevant issues such as current motivations, assumptions, and context.

the search takes many forms

I am saying the great gurus were pointing out the nature of the Heart - the heart is about love - desire - the cosmic search for perfection - for delight - for union with the absolute...a pathway or journey - the search takes many forms for a living being - money - wealth - a soul mate. These gurus lived that relationship with the Divine - as we really all do in a sense - with the universe..Its just that many of the lesser goals turn out to be just that - lesser - than the totality of the spiritual goals - they turn out to be illusory...

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