My root-guru, Adi Da Samraj, passed a year ago this Thanksgiving in Fiji. He was 69. I was a devotee of this great God-realizer from the age of 22 until I was 37. He not only profoundly transformed my life and consciousness, but, I think, helped transform the entirety of contemporary Western spirituality, even though he is not nearly as widely known as he is influential.
On this anniversary of his passing, I remember him with gratitude, and look back in amazement at his legacy. Please know, words fail here. To speak about Adi Da is to nominate oneself as one of the blind men reporting on the elephant. Adi Da was one part Jesus Christ, one part Picasso, one part Nagarjuna, one part Marlon Brando, and one part Genghis Khan. And more…
In recent years Ken Wilber has offered well-reasoned criticism and chose to be judiciously circumspect on the subject of Adi Da (after enduring extreme opprobrium for his previous high praise) but he never disavowed what he had previously written about Adi Da’s remarkable body of original Dharma. “Da Free John’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” and “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 Da Free John.”
Think of ideas such as “the self-contraction,” the idea that “the ego is not an entity but an activity,” the phrase “always already,” the idea that “the end of the path is the Way from the beginning,” the idea of the “paths of yogis saints and sages,” and his “seven stages of life.” All these seminal phrases and insights entered our contemporary spiritual conversation through Adi Da. Not to mention his remarkable Sacred Image Art.
So I invite you to take in (and be uplifted by) a blast of unparalleled spiritual transmission by contemplating the teaching and person of this awesome and challenging God-Man. Here is a very brief selection of some of my favorite excerpts from his writings and videos.
Carl Binder says
As a devotee of Adi Da
As a devotee of Adi Da during the late 1970’s and early 80’s, I very much appreciate your acknowledgement of Master Da’s influence on your life and on the evolution of spiritual teaching in our time. He taught me more than I can possibly recount, and I am, too, profoundly grateful.
another processing the years with Adi Da
I have just read a great ( I feel) book called THE GREAT FAILURE by Natalie Goldberg- about her relationship with her parents and Her Zen Teacher Katagiri Roshi, and the “rules” they all broke. I recommend this book! I wish someone wrote a book about Adi Da’s life and the community struggles in an attempt to really understand it somehow, and not just be “black and white” about it. Compelling stuff,to many.
books by devotees of adi da
Hi there! Just read your comment about wishing someone wrote a book about their life with Adi Da. There are a few out now..”Love’s Sacrifice and Ordeal to Become Human – 30 Years with Adi Da” by Leroy Stilwell and “Taste the Moon” by Meg McDonnell and I think others are about to be published too. Have read the first one and I think you will enjoy it!
Steven Elliott says
Much appreciated to hear your acknowledgment of Adi Da and the profound Wisdom He has brought to bear upon humanity. May more beings come to the Great One. Da!
Bubba Free John
I remember when he lived in Bob and Kay’s garage on Swett Road in 1971… It always amazed me that he was able to intentionally elevate himself to avatar status….
Ed Hirsch says
The phrase “always already” is often attributed to Adi Da (my guru in the early 1970s). It is probably true that the phrase, understood spiritually, came into the vocabulary of the contemporary American spiritual movement through him.
However, I was told that it originates with Ramana Maharshi. I found the following online (no reference given other than Ramana):
“One day–perhaps this moment now–you realize that you are searching for us what is searching. There is always nowhere to go. You are already home. You are always already home”
This phrase was found prominently in the teaching of Catholic progressive theologian Karl Rahner, S.J. His use is probably the earliest documented one.
Dhymitruy Bouryiotis says
Wilber on Adi Da
I’m sure you mean Ken Wilber experienced “extreme approbrium” from people outside the Adidam communion for his praise of Adi Da–but perhaps you could clarify that, or be more specific on who or what groups did this censure of Wilber. Thanks,
avatar adi da samraj
As one who is abnormally born (st paul on his conversion and the apparent difference btween those who had seen the living christ and paul who had seen only the risen christ in a vision) I can testify to the trancendental risen qualities of adi da samraj. It is quite clear to me that the inner knowing of the Guru is only by divine grace and that this Grace is given freely and can penetrate any circumstances as it does not rely on any condition other than Grace.
so, it is with my ‘vision’ of the avatar. I never saw him and indeed did not know of him until after his earthly physical existence had ended, yet, I feel I know him abd he has become the Guru of the bright and awakend my heart to a new life.
Thanks Terry for expressing your appreciation of ADI DA.
I to have found the great drive, honor, commitment and genius of him to have changed this life toward the recognition of the essential nature of existence.
Sage lee One
…sad news – it would have
…sad news – it would have been great to have sat with such
a historic figure….
…there is something about the early Da – he did have some charisma about him – the seeker who studied the problem of life. One thing that resonated with me is that he talked about “relationship” – we came to believe that we are separated “egos” – but this is only temporary – we are really and have always been in relationship to everything – relationship to the Divine…separation is only a temporary state..this is similar to what the dalai lama says is interconnectedness or interdependence…
Da then – and Now
You have a good grasp of the “paradox of relatedness” – but I would have to add that now, after His Mahasamadhi, is the Great time to sit with him. His lifetime was all about getting the Teaching down, establishing His Spiritual Seat in the Sanctuaries, so while it was evidently very wonderful to be with Him (and also profoundly difficult) it was a constant maddening test for devotees to try to “relate” to–or practice— what He really Offers, which is pure and true Consciousness.
All of that play is now over and one can–indeed MUST–practise with His Spiritual Presence. This IS the time to practice. before was essentially a charade.
…very interesting – the young da definately had spontaneous joy as bubba – almost like a “friend” – his later years more an expression of his whole realization – his whole life…what you say about the “charade” is interesting – maybe it was “all” a Big game – a play – or Lila…is this what you mean ? There is no doubt he was a beautiful manifestation at times – very funny ! It seemed to be some kind of display…
allister lehan says
adi da – da love ananda
Hi Terry – I’ve been doing a lot more reading on adi da – I had a friend who loved books – he would collect as lot on Tibetan Buddhism and many gurus – Among them was Adi Da – who I became fascinated with -He had “the knee of listening” and “garbage and the goddess” – and many of the early works. I was trying to figure out what he was teaching – The Gurur relationship – advaita – yoga – union with the Divine .But I also wondered why the “community” was so “exclusive” – the essence of the Guru relationship – is the relationship itself – free of limitations and obstructions – friendship itself – as I have come to understand it – avoiding relationship was the problem of Man – the “self – contraction”. The divine distraction is really – the divine “attraction” (think of Krishna…I realize we make a mistake – blaming others – blaming the world – when its something we are “doing”..Early adi da explained it simply and clearly…
It’s a profoundly worthy exploration! Adi Da, the role of the Guru, the avoidance of relationship, the self-contraction, the Heart. The community was a cauldron that served me, and really did transform and challenge that self-contraction. And it was also dysfunctional in many ways.
I resonate with much of what you say here. You may enjoy my later blog post on the anniversary of Adi Da’s passing (if you have not yet read it) https://www.terrypatten.com/blog/on-the-7th-anniversary-of-adi-da My friend, Frank Marrero, is posting many beautiful Adi Da videos on YouTube, and my friend Ed Reither has created an amazing Adi Da archive at beezone.com. You may want to check them out.
the source condition
I realize there were difficulties – we had them in the buddhist communities – they were seen as the very nature of life – problems. The great thing about about adi da is that the “problem” is ok – as the dillema of separated life. But as the source condition is divine- this doesn’t matter – the divine is “already the case” – a non-binding modification of consciousness – a state of freedom ..of relationship to the divine itself…
The search for the Divine is that when one finds such an adept it seems obvious – there is great attraction to the Divine itself – the spiritual domain. I felt this with adi da – but it must have been much the same with muktananda and ramana – jesus etc There is a great need to come to a state of union with the realized adept – a beautiful relationship of the student / devotee – relationship with the cosmos – the individual beings and the universe itself – is a state of union though it is “obscured” by seemingly individuated separate existence – this is not actually the case – we are one with everything…