D B Sleeth Letter – Praise of Adi Da





An Open Letter in Praise and
Testimony of Adi Da Samraj

D. B. Sleeth, Ph.D.

 

The following is correspondence
directed toward a particular individual who expressed
concern over my welfare because of spiritual practices
attributed to devotees taking place in the company of Adi
Da:

So, we have both had dreams of Adi
Da, pursued our own spiritual paths, and have had encounters
with many of Adi Da’s devotees, past and present. Yet, we
have each come to diametrically opposed conclusions about
Adi Da based on these events. Amazing! At best, I can only
hope to paint the picture of my own story. To help serve
this purpose, I have attached a file describing my first
meeting with Adi Da, in which I became convinced of his
enlightened state, as well as another incident in which I
was the beneficiary of a miraculous healing at his hands.
These stories go a long way toward explaining my gratitude
and deeply heart-felt appreciation of this remarkable Guru.
As you will see when you read them, I have good
reasons.

Since you have challenged me to make
the case that Adi Da is someone who should be taken
seriously, I will do my best to explain at least why I do. I
think it best to take the tiger by the tail and directly
address the issue underlying your challenge: some do not
take him seriously. Let me start with my mother. First of
all, I must say that she has passed away, about ten years
ago. For some time, unbeknownst to our family, cancer had
developed in her lungs from a life-time of smoking.
Ironically enough, she had recently quit. From there, it
spread through her body, ultimately penetrating her brain
and impregnating it with a slew of tumors. As is always the
case with cancer, they insidiously replaced living tissue
with their own. Finally, she had to give up her last-ditch
efforts toward treatment with chemo and radiation.
Surprisingly easefully, she resigned herself to the fact
that it had been a good life, and it was now her time.

One of the remarkable, certainly
unexpected side-effects of this process was a sudden
personality change right before her passing. As the brain
atrophies, so do certain of its functions. It was as if she
had adopted a shocking mantra of honesty: “Out of the mouth
of babes.” That is, she no longer possessed any kind of
filter to the remarks she made. Whatever appeared in her
mind quickly came out through her mouth, often to the humor,
or more likely horror, of an unsuspecting audience. As I sat
with her on her bed during our last visit together, having
come from out of town, we reminisced over our life together.
I had brought a recent picture of Adi Da that was noticeable
for a particular quality: given the lighting and the angle
of his face in this particular photograph, he was the
spitting image of my father! I found it really amusing.
Unfortunately, my parents had divorced a long time ago,
under acrimonious circumstances that had never fully healed.
In pointing out the similarity to her, she held the
photograph in her hands and pondered it for many moments.
Finally, she announced her recognition of my comment,
offering this insight: “They’re both bastards!”

Of course, critics of Adi Da do not
know my father, still, I’d say this pretty well sums up
their sentiments toward Adi Da. As you might expect, I was
quite taken aback, as is usually the case with conclusions
so contrary to my own. As things turned out, this was to be
the last coherent statement I ever heard from my mother, for
I was literally on my way out the door. Needless-to-say,
this is a bitter-sweet memory. Although the innocence she
had fallen into made her comment amusing and endearing, even
so, it went through me like a knife. Unfortunately, we never
had a chance for closure on this matter. However, there has
been no shortage of similar incidents over the years,
indeed, not unlike the encounter we are having now.
Consequently, I would like to use this as an opportunity to
address her concerns at last, and, hopefully, put her mind
at ease. You could think of this exercise as a catharsis for
me, whereby I exorcise some of my demons. I hope you don’t
mind.

In considering my reasons why Adi Da
should be taken seriously, it was surprising to discover how
simple they are to state. Given the acrimony appearing on
the internet, I had expected the matter to be far more
complicated. But the legitimacy of Adi Da’s work can be
summarized rather easily, in three colloquial
propositions:

1. The truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth;

2. The truth that sets the heart
free; and

3. The truth that explains every
aspect of reality.

If you were to stop right now, you
would have all you need to understand why I hold Adi Da
dear. But, in that case, you would never know the reasons
why I came to these conclusions.

I have been a devotee for nearly
twenty-five years, starting in the early eighties. At that
time I was a returning student, flush with the effort to
finish college, as you can see from the attached story of my
first meeting with Adi Da. Since that time, I have competed
two master’s degrees and a doctorate degree in the field of
clinical psychology. I have also studied seriously in the
area of comparative religion in between these bouts of
academia, while engaged in my spiritual practice with Adi
Da. Over this period I have read hundreds of books, many of
which steeped in their respective spiritual or psychological
tradition, as well as scholarly rigor. As a result of this
study, I have come to the conclusion that even the best
books are mostly untrue. Unfortunately, conventional wisdom
is inevitably compromised by a triumvirate of attributes,
which limit it in this way: redundant, erroneous, or
irrelevant.

Even on its own, the first of the
three propositions of truth mentioned above establishes that
Adi Da is someone to take seriously. I have yet to find a
single sentence in his astoundingly vast corpus of work
either erroneous or irrelevant. Redundant, yes! (I’ll get
back to that in a moment.) But in no way either of the other
two. More to the point, the nature of his work makes this
accomplishment that much more astounding, for he is not
speaking of relatively simple matters, as might be said of
one’s hobbies or current events. Rather, his work addresses
the most sublime and profound nature of existence possible,
such as nondual reality. Indeed, his work is utterly
confirmed in the most eminent scriptures and doctrines
mentioned throughout the history of the nondual spiritual
traditions. Especially early in my study of his work, I have
not always understood everything he says. Nonetheless,
everything that I have understood has in each case been
confirmed in my own experience and by my studies. I’ll never
understand why this alone is not sufficient to impress his
critics. Truth is held in the highest regard in the sanctum
of the courtroom, the standard by which testimony is
considered both admissible and meaningful. It ought to have
at least as much significance in discussions such as
ours.

In fact, the only legitimate
complaint in this regard that I can see is the redundancy of
his writing. Virtually every paragraph says the same thing!
And it can all be boiled down to essentially a single
statement: there is only God, and Adi Da is that One. Some
people find this claim narcissistic and egoic, which is
certainly ironic, given his relentless criticism of exactly
these qualities. I’ll return to the topic of his divinity
again later. As for redundancy, I have finally come to
realize how important it is. After all, the ego is a
formidable aspect of our nature. It simply won’t go away. In
my clinical practice, I work with people with mental
disorders and find that most people don’t change very much,
even despite years of constant, sincere effort. You find
that you have to repeat yourself over and over again. It
seems like you are always talking about the same old
issues-and you are! And so is Adi Da, precisely because we,
too, are geniuses of resistance. Indeed, the ego can make
even our greatest help look like evil. It is often said that
the greatest evil ever done by the Devil was to make it
appear he doesn’t exist. But this is not true. The greatest
evil was to make it appear that God doesn’t exist-especially
in human form. To my mind, the crux of our discussion comes
down to this: Is Adi Da really God? If so, then drawing
attention to himself as he does makes perfect sense-such is
simply the nature of worshiping God.

Of course, one could dismiss Adi
Da’s utterly profound utterances on nondualism as merely
abstract formulations, inapplicable to ordinary human life,
or perhaps even derivative of other sages and of no great
consequence. But this would represent a false reading,
especially in the case of the latter statement, for his work
is remarkably original and innovative within spiritual
literature. Indeed, the scope of his revelation on the
seventh stage of life and “Radical” Non-Dualism is
unprecedented. (For more information on the seven stages of
life, visit Adidam.org.) Although the language of certain
premonitory texts, such as the Lankavatara Sutra, Avadhoota
Gita, and Tripura Rahasya, sound similar, they can be
distinguished from the revelation of Adi Da in three
significant ways:

1. No historical text mentions all
aspects of the seventh stage realization,

2. Certain aspects of the seventh
stage realization appear in no historical texts at all, and

3. No historical text mentions only
the realization of the seventh stage.

Again, this alone sets Adi Da apart
as someone to take seriously. Existing texts represent
primarily what Adi Da calls the sixth stage point of view of
“Ultimate Non-Dualism”-with only certain passages within
them suggestive of the more profound and all-pervasive
realization of seventh stage “Radical” Non-Dualism. Adi Da
explains the difference between his unique revelation of the
seventh stage of life and the seventh stage intuitions of
these premonitory texts this way:

The (always potential) seventh stage
Realization and Demonstration did not Appear until I
Appeared, in order to Fully Reveal and to Fully Demonstrate
the seventh stage of life.… Therefore, relative to the
seventh stage of life, the Great Tradition of mankind
(previous to My Avataric Divine Appearance here) produced
only limited foreshadowings (or partial intuitions, or
insightful, but limited, premonitions), in the form of a
few, random philosophical expressions that appear in the
midst of the traditional sixth stage literatures.

[N]one of the traditional
texts communicate the full developmental and Yogic details
of the progressive seventh stage Demonstration (of Divine
Transfiguration, Divine Transformation, and Divine
Indifference). Nor do they ever indicate (nor has any
traditional Realizer ever Demonstrated) the Most Ultimate
(or Final) Demonstration of the seventh stage of life (Which
End-Sign Is Divine Translation). Therefore, it is only by
Means of My own Avataric Divine Work and Avataric Divine
Word that the truly seventh stage Revelation and
Demonstration has Appeared, to Complete the Great Tradition
of mankind.

To this point, all spiritual masters
have necessarily worked within the cultural constraints
imposed by their particular time and place. Only in the last
half of the twentieth century has technology and affluence
allowed for the creation of a true world community.
Consequently, the conditions have only recently occurred
whereby the provincialism of local customs and loyalties
could be overcome, and the world’s great spiritual
literature completed in a single and all-inclusive
revelation. A world teacher could not have appeared before
this time-the conditions simply were not right for it. Adi
Da has incarnated precisely for the fulfillment of this
purpose, to be the greatest possible aid to humanity. His
revelation of seventh stage wisdom is not intended to
fulfill the objectives of any particular sect or
denomination. Rather, it is intended to be a comprehensive
culmination of the entire Great Tradition of the world’s
religions. To my mind, this too is more than enough reason
to take Adi Da seriously.

Of course, one could simply disagree
with Adi Da’s assessment of his role relative to humanity
and the Great Tradition, and in that case remain
unimpressed. But to do so would be to discount the
objectively measurable nature of his spoken and written
word, as well as his more recent enlightened expressions in
the form of photographic art. Indeed, not everyone is
willing to overlook him this way. For example, despite being
an uncompromising critic, Ken Wilber has always maintained
that the nature of Adi Da’s spiritual revelation is
unsurpassed:

Do I believe that Master Adi Da is
the greatest Realizer of all time? I certainly believe he is
the greatest living Realizer.… And I have always
said-and still say publicly-that not a single person can
afford not to be at least a student of the Written
Teaching.… I affirm my own love and devotion to the
living Sat-Guru, and I hope my work will continue to bring
students to the Way of the Heart.… I send my best
wishes and love to the Community [of Adidam], and a
deep bow to Master Adi Da.

Yes, in a word, Adi Da is to be
taken seriously. But, as you say, this is not what very many
of his critics are doing. Consequently, I can only conclude
the issue is being adjudicated elsewhere-that is to say, in
the domain where the measure of Adi Da is not objective, but
subjective. To my mind, two of the above propositions can be
addressed objectively: the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth; and the truth that explains every
aspect of reality. It is the second proposition that is
troublesome in this regard: the truth that sets the heart
free. That is, whereas the objective is about beliefs and
essentially intellectual, the subjective tends to be
emotional, pertaining to one’s deepest values. It is
precisely in this latter domain that the sparks begin to
fly.

All things considered, given the
overwhelming evidence in Adi Da’s favor, I can draw only one
conclusion: the real question is not whether Adi Da should
be taken seriously at all, but rather another-why was this
legitimacy ever called into doubt? What would possess anyone
to do so? Clues to the answer, as might be obvious, come not
from the teaching, but the teacher. Unfortunately, it is at
this point that the water gets particularly murky. Bear with
me as I sort out the issues, for the undercurrents we are
about to enter are rarely what they seem.

To begin with, Adi Da is thought by
some to have crossed the line as a Guru, thereby wrecking a
kind of spiritual havoc. Objections to Adi Da come down to
this, a two-fold account of the teacher:

1. Claims on his part to be the
incarnation of God, and

2. Claims by others that he abuses
his devotees.

The latter especially is thought to
detract from his credibility, which I’ll get back to
momentarily. The former, on the other hand, will probably
never be resolved except as a matter of faith, although
being the author of such a profound and scintillating
teaching certainly suggests something similar of the
teacher. Indeed, I have to express my great surprise in this
regard. After all, the teaching did not fall from the sky.
How could such a profound and superlative teaching possibly
occur if not for an equally profound and superlative
teacher? As with us all, his words are a product of his own
being, an expression of his own nature.

But therein lies a major clue to the
mystery: if his words suggest divinity, then he must be
divine. Surely this captures the objection to him
perfectly-his critics simply don’t like the idea of him
being divine. Consequently, the underlying issue of our
discussion can be spelled out like this: if Adi Da is God
incarnated in human form, all criticisms are pretty much
rendered moot, for who is in a position to question the acts
of God? Needless-to-say, the very notion sticks in the craw
of most critics, who are not inclined to worship Adi Da. On
the other hand, if Adi Da is not taken to be God, than
nothing he says or does will ever make any sense. All of his
work relies explicitly on the fact of his divinity. There’s
no getting around it; this conundrum represents the heart of
the dispute.

In Western society, the idea of a
human being claiming to be God is anathema to prevailing
spiritual sensibilities, indeed, even blasphemy in certain
quarters. I once worked for a foster family agency and was
looking around for a suitable place to host our annual
dinner. One possibility was a church nearby in the
community. To secure the facility, I interviewed with the
pastor, who was a personable and outgoing advocate of his
faith. As I listened to his praise of Jesus and unabashed
devotion, I became more and more impressed by a commonality
between us: I love my Guru too! Finally, I could stand it no
more and announced how wonderful it was to meet someone so
similar-we each loved a Guru as our Lord and Savior, the
very presence of God alive in human form! Unfortunately, he
did not share my enthusiasm. Indeed, he was aghast by my
confession, to the point it appeared he might even leap
across the desk and throttle me. Slowly, painstakingly, he
pointed out how inappropriate the comparison was, for no
human being could possibly be God. Nevermind the obvious
contradiction, there can be only one exception. Indeed, he
ensured me I was in the grip of the Devil and should take
care, for the sake of my soul, as you likewise appear to be
doing.

To me, this is bald-faced
discrimination, pure and simple. Why Jesus but not Adi Da?
Or any other spiritual masters, for that matter? No
incompatibility exists in this at all. Even worse, in my
mind, was the destruction of something loving and wonderful
taking place between us. Whenever I go home for the
holidays, a similar pattern invariably occurs. I know my
family worries about me. My father is a devout Christian and
cannot for his life figure out my conviction that Adi Da is
the incarnation of God, although he does accept and
appreciate the fact that I love God. But we understand God
in very different ways: in his case, a discrete being,
however extraordinary and immense; and in mine, the very
nature of reality, which includes us all. This is the heart
of nondualism-not only is there no separation between self
and others, but no difference between self and God either.
So long as this conviction is in doubt, much will remain
inexplicable. One thing I know for sure: my father wants his
God dead; it is too much for him to face God alive. And I
don’t blame him. The confrontation from a living God is a
demand for love and intimacy far beyond anything any other
human being will ever ask. To paraphrase a great existential
theologian, it not only takes courage to be, but it takes
courage to love unconditionally. Probably no other axiom
more succinctly summarizes spiritual practice than
this.

Again, this brings up a crux point
in our discussion: the vision of Adi Da that his critics
paint is a caricature, created solely for the purpose of a
straw man argument. It bears no resemblance to the loving,
caring, deeply sacrificial spiritual being that I know.
Indeed, when it comes to truth setting the heart free and
taking Adi Da seriously, I can think of no better way to put
it than the old homily-the proof is in the pudding. I have
practiced the way of life he recommends for nearly
twenty-five years. How could such a wealth of testimony be
discounted? I have also sat in his company numerous times,
including occasions in which he has carried on lengthy
discourses with others, a principle means by which I have
come to know him personally. At no time have I ever observed
him to be other than utterly brilliant spiritually, often
uproariously disposed toward humor and mirth, and never
without deeply moving compassion, even at times in which
discipline and honesty are dispensed uncompromisingly. This
suggests that the character of Adi Da is impeccable,
certainly admirable.

In reading the various accounts of
Adi Da’s critics, on the other hand, I find little in the
way of positive attributes to extol. Instead, they are
routinely sensational, exaggerated, and lacking any sense of
a loving or forgiving tone (in particular, the website by
Elias, for example). I think of an elderly woman,
unsophisticated in spiritual matters, sitting slumped at the
edge of her bed, at the edge of her life, really, speaking
bluntly for no better reason than her own mental
incapacity-yet, even so, with love for me; the words
intended, ultimately, for my own good. I can find precious
little to suggest the same with most of Adi Da’s critics.
The tone of their words is not loving, but often merely
bitter and mean. My mother was disappointed in love, the
reasons for which I know only too well. I imagine something
similar must be the case for many of the critics of Adi Da.
In fact, I know this to be true. As a result, their response
is essentially unwarranted and over-reactive, at times even
guided by ulterior motives.

As far as claims of impropriety are
concerned, my mother summed up her take on it this way:
“He’s living the life of Riley, living off the fat of the
land.” I’m not sure that this technically even makes sense,
but it was always clear to me what she meant. In her mind,
Adi Da was guilty of exploiting devotees for his own gain.
Yet, even this is only one side of the coin of the
impropriety. Lurking on the darker side is the abuse claimed
to be heaped on his devotees, whereby they have not merely
sustained losses but even been injured along the way.
However, as it turns out, these claims do not actually say
anything about Adi Da at all. Quite the contrary, in fact.
Indeed, a perhaps surprising culprit is implicated: devotees
themselves. Although this appraisal can be hard to accept-I
assure you, speaking on my own behalf!-nonetheless, I must
acknowledge it is true. In fact, the nature of this
appraisal takes two parts overall:

1. Personal: devotees failing to
take responsibility for the excesses and liabilities of
their own egos; and

2. Social: devotees imposing these
excesses and liabilities on each other.

There is no question that some
ex-members of Adidam are disgruntled, upset over the way
they have been treated-in certain cases with good reason.
Yet, these reasons go both ways. That is to say, the whole
purpose of spiritual life is to transcend the ego and,
thereby, reside in the native rapture of the divine. But
doing so is no easy matter. Indeed, it is fraught with
perils of all kinds, not least of which the devotee’s own
egoic nature. According to Adi Da:

The crisis [the Guru] serves
in the individual does not negate. It illuminates,
perfects…. I have often used this image of the sunlight
over the well. When the sun shines directly into the well,
all of the creeps that hang around deep under the water
start coming up the sides. Then a few minutes after noon
they quiet down again. As soon as they can find a little
shade, they quiet down again. The time you spend in Satsang
[the company of the Guru] is like time spent with
the sun directly over the well. The more time you live in
Satsang, the more these slithering things arise, the more
you see of your egoic self, the more you must pass through
the crisis of personal self-understanding.

However, the irony is this: whereas
it is true that the creepy-crawlies only emerge in the
presence of sunlight, and their emergence thereby thought of
as caused by the sunlight, the sunlight did not create their
existence-they were there the whole time. To put it somewhat
differently, the accusations and complaints brought against
Adi Da are partly true and partly false. In the presence of
the sublime, spiritual sunlight of Adi Da, creepy-crawlies
are, indeed, stirred noticeably into life. That much is
true; and an extremely unpleasant truth it is, too. Yet,
that is the whole point of spiritual practice in the company
of a Guru. Devotees bring their creepy-crawlies with them
into the Guru’s presence, as part of who they are-for the
purpose of being purified. But the presence of these
creepy-crawlies is not the Guru’s fault, nor is the
excitation that brings them to the surface. To blame the
Guru is to be ignorant of the true nature of the spiritual
process, and irresponsible for the role you play in it.
Truly responsible men and women own up to this. It’s as
simple as that.

The situation for this aspect of the
criticism reminds me of the years I have spent working with
abused children in group homes and in my clinical practice,
early in my career ages four through twelve, more recently
adolescents and young adults. The elements of the kinds of
situations about which they complain come down to this: the
nature of the incident, over against the purpose to which it
is put. In a word, children scream bloody murder at bedtime,
or when they are asked to clean their room, or share their
toys, or even wait their turn-especially under certain
conditions: whenever they don’t want to. Getting ready for
bedtime is disappointing for any child, almost always
eliciting gripes and ungracious mumbling. But for a child
who feels unloved, the demand appears particularly arbitrary
and unreasonable. And for the child whose abuse actually
took place in their bed, well, the idea is practically
unbearable.

As can be seen, the nature of the
incident is wildly different in each case, along a continuum
of ever increasing frustration and threat. Perhaps I have
been jaded by my experience with children who have been the
subject of real atrocities, that I find the disgruntlement
of Adi Da’s critics so particularly unmoving. Although I
know it is politically incorrect, what his critics call
heinous and exploitive hardly raises any hackles for me at
all. The reason for this is simple: interpreting the
intentions and behavior of Adi Da in this way is mistaken.
And this point is pivotal, for explaining why Adi Da should
be taken seriously has a surprising, and perhaps unwelcome,
collateral effect: his critics cannot be taken seriously, or
at least taken at face value. The situation is far different
from what they represent it to be. In a word, the spiritual
master is a sacrifice for the sake of their devotees. In
return, the devotee is required to sacrifice to the
spiritual master-which the devotee is, generally, only too
happy to comply. It is a profound love, going both ways. It
is obvious to me that the Guru/devotee relationship is the
single most auspicious intimacy that a human being can
have.

Members of Adidam sometimes speak of
the improprieties attributed to Adi Da euphemistically as
“spiritual theater.” However, a better analogy would be
“spiritual therapy,” for these gestures on Adi Da’s part are
direct interventions into the devotee’s own unenlightened
state, simply occurring in the form of what is known
clinically as confrontative technique. At other times,
devotees receive supportive technique, or perhaps even
interpretive technique, as when they study his spiritual
instruction. Although not what you might expect, the
interactions of which Adi Da’s critics complain are always
intended for their most auspicious benefit. In fact, there
are spiritual traditions, referred to as “Crazy Wisdom,” in
which practices such as these are revered. (For more
information on Crazy Wisdom, visit Adidam.org.) Certain
spiritual traditions put the situation this way: suffering
can be likened to burning coals, scorching in the depths of
one’s being. If they are kept buried deep enough, perhaps
one only feels the sizzle remotely, or else coughs and gags
on the smoke, merely suggesting the presence of fire.
However, to be truly relieved of the coals, one must reach
down and grab them. To throw them out, one must pick them up
first. Although being shocked, even dismayed at the touch is
easy to appreciate, nonetheless, it only serves to abort the
healing. More to the point, it represents poor
understanding.

Adi Da is extraordinarily gifted as
a Guru, wielding interventions perfectly suited for each
person. He knows them far better than they know themselves,
and even has more concern for their spiritual well-being
than they usually have for themselves. Yet, his divine
intervention is easily misunderstood. This is because the
ego lives for only one purpose: self-fulfillment, driven to
insane proportions in the West by affluence and leisure.
Certainly, some members of Adidam have been subjected to
intensely difficult and trying circumstances-I among them.
But I know about the continuum. I know one size does not fit
all, and circumstances are experienced very differently in
each case. I also know something even more pertinent to the
issue: more than anything, the ego feels unloved and is
desperate for someone to feel sorry for them because of it.
But this only creates a difficult and unenviable situation:
as long as you retain any sympathy for the ego, Adi Da will
inevitably offend you-precisely because everything about him
exists for a single reason: obliterate the ego!

No matter what the experiences
underlying the criticism against Adi Da, the larger context
in which they have taken place is almost always overlooked.
But the purpose toward which incidents are put makes all the
difference. The whole point of spiritual practice is to
relieve one of egoic attachment. If it is clearly understood
that the manifest world is no more than an illusion, it
loses the luster of its deluding power-replaced by the
joyful and sustaining splendor of divine love. Yet, it is
easy to get confused. No one is denying the circumstances of
the grievances brought against Adi Da but, rather, this:
that they warrant grievance. Perhaps better said, the issue
is not so much whether the circumstances are true, as the
whole truth. Consider a surgeon operating on an arm, using
local anesthetic so that the patient is awake during
surgery. Suppose the patient looks over and notices their
arm, suddenly aware of the open wound, the severed tissue,
the blood leaking out. That they should be shocked by the
sight is understandable. But nobody in their right mind
would leap up from the table and bolt from the room, in the
middle of surgery, leaving not only the wound undressed but
even the original injury intact. Unfortunately, this is
precisely the case for certain former members of Adidam.
That their wounds are terrible is not the issue. Of far
greater concern, they have not finished the
healing.

Spiritual practice is serious
business, requiring real commitment and perseverance
throughout the entire course of its process. Further, it is
truly demanding. No one who has ever received a hug from an
abused child at bedtime-about to enter what should be their
sanctum, but so often the site of the worst atrocities-and
felt the welcoming, grateful squeeze of their little arms
will ever doubt that, today, you have done your job. It
still brings tears to my eyes to think of a child who can go
to bed without incident, not because they are docile or
obedient, but because they feel loved and safe, finally-and
you are the reason why. No one can ever take that memory
away from me. Nor can they take it away that I freely and
happily embrace Adi Da the same way. The only crime of which
Adi Da can rightly be accused is this: loving his devotees
enough to set some limits-even when they scream bloody
murder. There is no doubt. I know intimately,
incontrovertibly, the loving compassion within which I live
my life.

It seems that the confusion
surrounding the criticism of Adi Da stems from the fact that
the Guru/devotee relationship is so difficult for people,
both to accept and to understand. Overall, it can be
summarized this way:

1. It is difficult and demanding
beyond belief to be in the Guru’s direct company,
yet

2. All the difficulty and demand is
done for a single purpose: awaken the devotee to the same
spiritual realization as the Guru.

This is a good thing! At no point in
my twenty-five years as a devotee have I ever attributed
fault or blame to Adi Da for the exercise of his skillful
means-except, of course, those times in which I have been
overwhelmed by my own creepy-crawlies. More importantly, at
no time while a member of the community of Adidam have I
ever been abused or exploited by Adi Da. Quite the contrary,
in fact! Having been abused growing up, believe me, I would
know. And my saying this means something. To ask why Adi Da
should be taken seriously but dismiss or refuse to accept
the accounts of current members who are thriving in Adi Da’s
company-especially because their praise is thought to
indicate something slavish about their devotion, or perhaps
even more sinister, like brainwashing-is simply misguided
and improper. This gives no respect to the capacity of
honest people to make intelligent decisions, based on their
own discrimination and sensitivity. No one has the right to
take that away from them.

 

But, of course, this is merely the
personal side of the abuse issue. Those you come into
contact with will have creepy-crawlies of their own, and
many atrocities are committed for their sake. Of all the
accusations and complaints of Adi Da’s critics, this is the
only issue that has any validity, as far as I can see: some
things have been handled poorly. Yet, even the legitimacy of
this criticism is exaggerated, for his critics go too far in
wrongly accusing Adidam of being a cult-and even more
absurdly, accusing Adi Da of being a cult figure. Although
newspaper headlines can get away with malfeasance, reducing
entire communities and their way of life to a single word,
reasonable men and women are unable to be so callously
dismissive. Such appraisals are too simplistic. The
situation is far more complex than this. More to the point,
Adi Da is without doubt the most fervent, dogged,
uncompromising critic of cultism taking place within Adidam.
From the very beginning, Adi Da has warned of the dangers
and inevitability of cultism among any gathering of human
beings-including Adidam:

Over the years you have all heard me
speak about cultism in negative terms. I have criticized the
cult of the Spiritual Master, as well as the cultic
attachments that people create with one another…. In
other words, when there exists a certain hyped enthusiasm to
which people are attracted, and when those people accept all
the dogmas with which that particular group makes itself
enthusiastic, they maintain themselves as opponents of the
world and lose communication with the world in general and
with the processes of life…. I have seen you all do it.
To me, that enthusiasm is bizarre. There is something about
the capacity of individuals for that kind of enthusiasm that
makes my back tingle. It is a kind of madness. It is a
tolerable neurosis as long as people do not become
destructive…. I have had to spend a great deal of time
and energy over the years trying to break down this form of
approach.

Simply put, the worst that anyone
can rightly say about Adidam in this regard is this: members
of Adidam have tried to make it into a cult-but Adi Da has
prevented them from succeeding. For that, we own him
everything. Unfortunately, Adidam members have not always
been sophisticated and graceful in their interpersonal
relations, being in a steep learning curve involving the
spiritual subtleties of love and intimacy. Indeed, the whole
point of spiritual practice is to induce crisis, for the
sake of purification and transcendence. To be sure, it can
get the best of you. A little forgiveness is not
unreasonable in this context, for a sincere effort is being
made. Besides, precious little exists to suggest greater
accomplishment in society at large, if one were to gauge the
display offered by TV, movies, internet, and media
anyway.

Adi Da goes on to say: “This
[cultic] tendency is present in everyone, not only
in you and members of other religious groups, but in the
form of every group that exists, from political
organizations to begonia fanciers.” Obviously, this humorous
aside is meant to include even the cult of Adi Da critics.
The essence of the problem with cults is we are taught to
assign the truth, and the realization of it, exclusively to
certain individuals, often a particular individual. The
center of the cult-whether a worshipped person, image, or
idea-is considered of ultimate value, possessing a status
that no one else can attain. People are then encouraged to
be in awe of that one, perhaps even worship them, usually in
order to receive benefits of one kind or another. In this
way, you can kill two birds with one stone: feel superior to
everyone else, while getting your deepest needs satisfied.
And worse, it means you can criticize others, while
remaining immune in return-and, thereby, above learning
anything in return either. But this is a childish
orientation to life, common as it is, which Adi Da goes out
of his way to criticize, instructing us to avoid. He
admonishes: “You must not believe in me.” Rather, we are
encouraged to find out the truth of reality for
ourselves-even as we use his instruction and example for a
guide.

No other spiritual tradition
embodies these benevolent ideals so explicitly, at least as
far as I can see. Indeed, quite the contrary usually. Even
nondual spiritual traditions, espousing no separation
between self and other, often espouse segregation among
different nondual spiritual traditions-thereby necessitating
the need for Adi Da’s work. In every talk, essay, book,
poem, photograph, and work of art that Adi Da has ever
produced, a common thread of tolerance and compassion for
all living beings is present, human and nonhuman, and a
lively admonishment to transcend the limitations of the
egoic condition that prevents nondual God-Realization. Not
only is every point of view on wisdom included in his vast
oeuvre, but also the means whereby ordinary individuals
might share in the same divine rapture that he continually
enjoys. Adi Da calls his work of commentary on the history
of spiritual ideas The Basket of Tolerance, precisely
because this is his orientation toward the Great Tradition
of spiritual practices.

In conclusion, I have one final
comment to make. When I heard my mother for the last time, I
reached over and held her in my arms. It wasn’t so much that
no words were necessary for our parting embrace; no words
were possible. We simply, deeply disagreed. When I was
younger, I approached her once to resolve something in our
relationship whereby I felt unloved. But it was, as it
turned out, a part of her nature to which she was committed,
and answered this way: “Do not try to change me! I am going
to my grave just the way I am.” And so it happened. Yet, we
loved each other anyway. It is a mystery. If for no other
reason to take Adi Da seriously, consider this: only because
of his instruction and spiritual presence am I capable of
loving through rejection-indeed, even that of my mother. No
simple feat, as you might imagine. And why should I not do
his critics the same? I see no reason to let discord come
between us. In my mind, there is only one way to end this
testimonial: the presence of love is the reason to take Adi
Da seriously-for He Is that Very One. Interestingly, the
crux of the discussion seems to come down to this:
everything can be taken two ways, depending on whether you
understand Adi Da to be God or not. In the end, only the
heart can decide. For me, the matter is resolved this way: I
am attracted to Adi Da like a flower moving toward the
light, for the simple reason that love recognizes its own
source. What else is there to say?

 

Our correspondence
continues
:

Again, I can feel compassion and
regard in your words, despite, as you say, “the apparently
very harsh tone” of them. However, some of your reply is
based on mistaking what I said, so we actually agree on more
than you might realize. But there’s no point in addressing
any of that, so I will focus on the areas in which we are
really at odds. Of course, your time constraints require
that my comments be brief, so I will only address what seems
essential.

I would like to note upfront the
extraordinary polarity of our positions. How odd that we
have come to wildly divergent conclusions from exactly the
same conditions. Surely something is amiss. Of course, your
comments are quite unsparing in this regard: Adi Da has
“used every trick in the book” to blindside his devotees in
the pursuit of their exploitation, making him “an abusive,
scheming, strategizing, manipulative, narcissistic
megalomaniac,” as you put it. But, in my mind, this kind of
language could only be intended for rhetorical effect, for
such an assessment is grossly exaggerated and cannot be
supported. It is as if we are not even talking about the
same person. Indeed, in nearly 25 years of being in Adi Da’s
company, as well as the company of many of those whose
testimony you are drawing on, I can find no evidence to
corroborate the claim you are making. Therefore, I can draw
only one conclusion: you are skewing the evidence for some
reason, unfortunately, in the direction of damning Adi Da.

In my original correspondence, the
focus was on why Adi Da should be taken seriously, at least
why I take him seriously, at any rate. Disappointedly, you
did not find my confession particularly compelling. However,
it seems to me it was not the testimonial that produced your
response so much as the way in which you are related to it.
I know the possibility of this is not likely to entice you
to read further, but since it appears to be true, I must
comment on it. To begin with, I believe my testimonial
correctly identified the crux of the matter: the dispute
comes down to whether or not Adi Da is best regarded to be
God-and can be augmented further: whether or not Adi Da is
best thought of as being a good Guru. It would seem that the
latter is contingent upon the former. That is, you really
can’t have the former without the latter. So, the question
remains: is Adi Da really God? And the answer could be put
this way: it all depends on the criteria. In other words,
according to your criteria, the answer is a resounding “No!”
Consequently, the discussion must now shift to a new focus:
how valid the criteria you’re using actually are.

It is apparent to me that you employ
a double standard in the selection of your criteria, in
fact, in two different, but similar ways. First of all,
despite the generosity with which you have expressed
appreciation for the benefits I have received at the hands
of Adi Da, it is hard to believe your comments are entirely
sincere. After all, my testimony does not merely report that
my state has improved, even thrived. More to the point, it
has done so precisely because of Adi Da’s direct
intervention. In other words, you seem willing to accept the
former, but not the latter. Consequently, you are not
validating my entire confession, and not giving Adi Da
proper credit therefore. Rather, you are filtering the
evidence, indeed, skewing it in the direction of accusation
and complaint. This is the first double standard-accepting
only some testimony, but not others.

Literally thousands of people are
devotees of Adi Da, and many thousands more support his work
in some demonstrable way, even if they elect not to practice
the spiritual life he has given. But they are all
marginalized, given short shrift by your comments. The
disparity can be put this way: their testimony in behalf of
Adi Da is found inadmissible, because of incapacity in their
judgment; but this incapacity is held to result precisely
because of their high regard for Adi Da. Clearly, this is
circular reasoning. If presence on the internet is any
indicator, I can count serious critics of Adi Da on two
hands. Even accounting for those who have decided against
appearing on the internet, or elsewhere in the media, the
numbers for and against are in no way comparable. To put it
bluntly, you are fudging the data-emphasizing one, at the
expense of the other.

And the manner in which you are
filtering this data is not arbitrary, but appears directly
related to the two fundamental aspects of any Guru: what Adi
Da calls the beauty foot and the power foot-or more
commonly, the nurturing, mothering force and the
challenging, father force. I’m sure you must be familiar
with these two concepts, and how both are necessary for
growth and development, employed in concert as a kind of
dance. With this in mind, your comments appear to filter the
data toward a specific purpose: favoring one foot over the
other. In other words, the second double-standard could be
put this way: whereas good Gurus are those who employ a high
percentage of nurture and beauty foot, bad Gurus are the
exact opposite-those employing a high percentage of
challenge and power foot.

That you should prefer kinder,
gentler Gurus over challenging ones is certainly your
prerogative. God bless! After all, one size does not fit
all. Gurus who are confrontive are not for everyone-by any
means! However, you cross a line of impropriety when you go
beyond labeling Gurus merely those you don’t like, to
inherently evil or to be avoided. This suggests an agenda.
Besides, not only is such an assessment pejorative and
prejudicial, it isn’t even true. Confrontive Gurus are not
the same as bad Gurus. They simply reside at the high-end of
the spectrum of demand. In other words, all Gurus are
demanding-that’s their job. It’s just a question of how
much. Given this, the second double-standard could be
rephrased as follows: the unwillingness to acknowledge that
high-end demanding Gurus are just as legitimate as low-end
demanding Gurus.

Further, your assessment of Adi Da
isn’t true in another, equally revealing way: you are not
correctly identifying the percentage of his beauty to power
foot ratio in any event. As mentioned earlier, and which can
also be seen in countless leelas, the presence of his beauty
foot is extraordinary, even exemplary. There are endless
accounts of the compassionate, caring, purely sacrificial
nature of Adi Da’s love for his devotees-for all beings,
really. It is just a matter of whether you’re willing to
acknowledge it or not. This is why I question the sincerity
of your appreciation of the benefits I have received in his
company, for you are not giving any credence to the fact
that Adi Da is the source of those benefits-which,
obviously, makes all the difference. You are simply not
willing to give him his due.

Of course, it is your prerogative to
refuse to recommend Adi Da to others because of your
concerns. But I am asking you to reconsider. This seems
appropriate, especially in light of a particular aspect of
life in Adidam rarely mentioned. That is, there are many
different ways to live in Adidam, very few of which actually
in Adi Da’s personal company. Indeed, the opportunity of
living in his personal company requires one to forcefully
assert themself, literally solicit an invitation. This is
why alarm or warnings strike me as so absurd. To put it
simply, if you find the kitchen too hot, you can always stay
in the living room. It is entirely up to you. Or, to put it
somewhat differently, you don’t have to have your arm
operated on right away. You could put it off until you feel
more ready; unless, of course, the deteriorating nature of
your injury forces the issue.

Indeed, the metaphor of a surgeon
operating on someone’s arm, producing a wound in the
process, is not nearly so trite or cliché as you let
on. Although it is true that a sociopath could use surgery
as an opportunity to slice people up, as you say, this is a
disingenuous way of talking about what typically goes on
during surgery. Frankly, in saying this, you are playing the
maybe game. Maybe Adi Da is a sociopath. Maybe Adi Da is a
skilled surgeon. Who can say? As long as you remain
hypothetical, you can play it any way you want-which is
common enough among critics. However, reality is actually
one way or the other. That is why honest men and women take
responsibility and submit to the difficult ordeal of
determining which possibility is true. And not in a
superficial or prejudicial manner, picking and choosing the
evidence they prefer. Rather, they entertain all the
evidence. Issues as important as this can be rightly
adjudicated only under certain conditions: not just truth,
but the whole truth.

Another crucial point must be made
in regard to the medical metaphor: not everyone survives
chemo. Look at my mother. But does such a grim prognosis
reflect against the competency of the doctors? Or even
against the patient for taking their advice, for that
matter? The negative outcome is simply not their fault.
Sometimes the cure has a cost. However desirable, you can’t
always have it one way, but not the other. It is not fair to
say that a Guru has zero legitimacy, just because it turns
out that not everyone realizes the same benefits in their
company. That is all or nothing thinking. The metaphor of
surgery is far more profound than this, indeed, even
provides a means for resolving the matter: if it actually
turns out that Adi Da is a skilled surgeon, then his critics
must be misunderstanding and over-reacting to the sight of
the wound, thereby aborting the healing process.

Besides, you cannot simply make the
assertion that Adi Da is a sociopath and leave it at that.
Clearly, the appeal of this kind of assessment only exists
by stacking the deck against him, admitting certain kinds of
evidence-those that support kinder, gentler Gurus-while
excluding the Guru that Adi Da happens to be. To cut through
the rhetoric, Adi Da is not a sociopath; he’s just more
demanding than you would like him to be. And the nature of
the demand is exaggerated in any event, precisely by virtue
of reducing him to a single foot. Although I can only guess
at the reasons why you are doing this, I am definitely in a
position to observe it: you are doing this. But, for having
done so, you only end up with a straw man. Such is a
tremendous loss, and so unnecessary.

It is true that Adidam is a
difficult spiritual path, and Adi Da a high-end demanding
Guru, but to go on from there and undercut his legitimacy
because of it is unfair and inappropriate. It has been said
that Adi Da’s manner is hyper-masculine. But the truth is
actually far more formidable than this: Adi Da’s feet are
each hyper, masculine and feminine. That is, they are
extremely intense. And rightly so, for he is God
incarnate-not merely human. In a funny kind of way, you
could think of spiritual life in Adi Da’s company like boot
camp. Perhaps you prefer meditation retreats or workshops to
boot camp. But preference isn’t the same as legitimacy.
Either approach is legitimate, all depending on the
individual. However, you don’t merely issue the warning, “If
he’s not right for you, stay away,” which, in my mind, would
be honorable. Rather, you go on to condemn, “Stay away,
whether he’s right for you or not.” I can see no propriety
in this appraisal. Again, I am asking you to reconsider.
Perhaps whether or not Adi Da is a good Guru isn’t as
appropriate a way to put the issue as this: good for whom? I
am certainly one. And there are others. Even if you feel
that you cannot recommend him to most spiritual aspirants,
surely you can recommend him to at least some-those for whom
he happens to be the right one.

 

Again, our correspondence
continues:

Once more, I’ve found your
correspondence both challenging and compassionate. Although
the conclusions we’ve reached are diametrically opposed, I
find your thought process remarkable for its honesty and
intelligence, especially given the type of harangues that
usually attenuate criticisms of Adi Da. But, as you say, we
are starting to go around in circles. Yet, one or two new
points have emerged, keeping the dialogue enlivened. The
first is your objection to my characterization that you are
engaging in a double standard-accepting the testimony of
critics over advocates of Adi Da. You point out that you
have repeatedly stated something along these lines: “Da
helps some people, and you are obviously one of them. How
much help is given, and to what degree of authentic
spiritual liberation, is another question.” Another comment
goes like this:

So Daniel, why don’t you actually
present some detailed stories on how Da has actually
compassionately sacrificed and given to others in such
beautiful ways? I have now, through others’ testimony, so
many stories telling of how Da has manipulated, abused and
taken from other people. Why don’t you balance the scale
here with specific stories?

Comments such as these make me
wonder if my interpretation of your remarks pegged you
right. Perhaps you are not actually engaging in a double
standard after all, despite what your remarks seem to
indicate. Perhaps you simply have not heard the leelas of
Adi Da’s devotees and are relying too heavily on his critics
as a base for your conclusions. This thought did not occur
to me before because your original correspondence warned me
up-front: “Please know, Daniel, that I always like to be
fair and i myself remain quite open-minded to hearing some
good things from the ‘pro-Da’ camp, but it better be coming
from a place of real integrity and honesty, not slavish
devotion, heavy conditioning and brainwashing-like some of
the unconvincing stuff i’ve heard from Daists over the
years.”

See, to me, this is the crux of the
double standard: it is so easy for one person’s heart-felt
devotion to be another person’s slavish brainwashing. That
is why I mentioned my mother so prominently in my original
testimonial. She didn’t believe me either. You say you are
open-minded, yet, I can’t help but wonder-after all, my own
mother wasn’t! However, your repeated comments in behalf of
acknowledging that I’ve benefited from Adi Da certainly seem
sincere, and I am grateful for your willingness to
acknowledge that. If it is true your research doesn’t
include significant data from the advocacy side of the
ledger, I suggest this sampling of material to consider:
Love and Blessings: The Divine Compassionate Miracles of
Avatar Adi Da Samraj and The Master Dancer are both books of
leelas pertaining to Adi Da’s work with devotees. These are
all available at our internet bookstore at Adidam.org, if
you would like to take a look. Likewise, there is a website
devoted to leelas by Adi Da’s devotees: Adidaupclose.org. In
addition, Beezone.com has considerable commentary on Adi Da,
including many leelas.

One final remark is necessary, I
think. You also made this series of comments:

But what are legitimate demands? I
can think of some: That disciples love everyone and be as
fully present and available and accountable and responsible
as they can in their relationships. And that they try to
clearly intuit, feel and open up to the
Transcendent-Immanent Divine Reality in all situations at
all times. And that they engage in “right livelihood” as
well as right bodily, vocal and mental conduct for the sake
of upholding Dharma in all facets of life.

Around Da, one gets some of the
above demands but one also, by contrast, gets all these
other demands: that one worship, love and serve the
personality of Da, that one give most or all of one’s time,
energy and money toward Da and his organization, that one be
obedient to Da and to higher-echelon members of his
organization. And also, from the documented evidence, it
seems that one is at the whim of Da and his cohorts so that
one must do things like procure women or expensive drugs or
paperweights or Disney toys for him, etc.

It seems to me this summarizes the
abuse issue pretty clearly. Hopefully, the material I
mentioned above will indicate sufficiently that the
legitimate demands of Adi Da are in ample supply! If not, I
could easily show you thousands of pages of transcripts of
talks and gatherings in which he demonstrates precisely
these qualities, in spades, many of which I have attended
personally. Again, many of these talks are available on
video or DVD at our internet bookstore, so that you can see
for yourself. By the way, if you’ll notice, the first
sentence in the second paragraph already undermines this
legitimacy by stating: “one gets some of the above
demands…” On the contrary: one gets all of these
demands-and in every single encounter. Of that I can speak
with authority, based on each and every experience I have
had with Adi Da over 25 years.

As for the second paragraph, of
course, here things get a little sticky. All I can say is in
35 years there has only been one incident, involving two
court cases, in which anyone has ever come forward with any
kind of formal complaint or accusation. That incident took
place 20 years ago, was settled out of court, and no further
incidents of this kind have occurred since. You make the
following statement: “You yourself have demonstrated over
and over a remarkable incapacity to admit or consider any of
the deeply concerned testimony from longtime former devotees
of Da about a wide range of abusive behavior. You simply
ignore all of this.” To be honest, what I know about any of
this is what I read on the internet. After all, it’s not as
if these individuals and I travel in the same circles,
especially now that they are pursuing lives outside of
Adidam.

However, what I have read on the
internet is so overwrought and exaggerated that it smacks of
sensationalism, even mean-spirited gossip in some cases.
Significantly, despite certain legendary claims making the
rounds, the “documented evidence” you refer to is not
substantial enough to prompt anyone to actually act on it.
This ought to give you pause. In my mind, if any legitimate
cases of real exploitation had ever taken place-as opposed
to situations in which one is simply confronted with more
demand than they expected or wanted-much more would have
been made of it after all this time. Of course, you say that
coming forward in this way represents a difficulty for any
victim, as they must relive the trauma in order to address
it. Something very much like this happens in the case of
rape victims, who literally get blamed for the crime while
they are on the witness stand. Yet, I also know something
about emotionally disturbed children who routinely accuse
their counselors and providers of sexual abuse, when nothing
of the kind ever happened-simply because they’re mad and
want payback, using whoever happens to be near at hand. In
my experience, people genuinely pursuing a therapeutic
course of action are humbled by their trauma, desperate for
only one thing: healing, not revenge. In all honesty, I find
no evidence of the former in anything I’ve seen on the
internet.

As for claims that Adi Da is getting
rich off of his devotees, my mother used to call this
“living the life of Riley.” This is perhaps the most
difficult issue, for more than anything else, understanding
the relationship between the Guru and liberation from our
attachment to money, food, and sex requires a difficult
acknowledgement: it is all our choice. Without this
understanding, it is easy to get confused. To put the matter
bluntly, nobody has to give a dime to Adi Da if they don’t
want to. Or give themself in any other way either, for that
matter. So they have no reason to complain if they do. Being
in the exact same situation, I believe I am in a good
position to say this. It is hard to take such complaints
seriously, when I am involved in the very same process
myself, and find it absolutely necessary for healing and
liberation-even if difficult and demanding.

Besides, I have better reasons than
this for withholding sympathy, which I learned while being a
child care provider working at a group home. I began this
job with no past experience working with emotionally
disturbed children. The set-up of the group home was to
emulate a normal home life-a man and woman providing care
for up to six children at once, ages four to twelve. The
woman I worked with turned out to be an exceptional child
care provider, from whom I learned the ropes. On an outing
with the children to a nearby state park, we were climbing a
hillside on our way back to the van. As it was a pretty
steep climb, some of the children struggled a little bit.
One of the girls, an adorable, bespectacled tomboy who would
sometimes hide under a table or sofa whenever she got really
overwhelmed, heard that there was poison ivy along the path.
Almost instantly, she began complaining of itches and
stinging on her legs. I assisted her as best I could,
lifting her by one arm over some of the undergrowth, all the
while trying to maintain my own balance.

At the top of the hill, desperate
and frustrated, she plopped down in a heap, announcing
angrily that she had had enough and refused to take another
step. Feeling bad about her plight, I looked toward my
partner, who called out over her shoulder: “Leave her!
She’ll catch up.” Stunned, I watched my partner from behind,
casually walking away. I was beside myself, thoughts racing
through my head. I could barely believe what a heartless
bitch she was! So I turned to the little girl, who suddenly
began to wail at the top of her lungs, hurling accusations
and invectives toward me, seemingly imitating for all her
worth Linda Blair from the Exorcist. People who had been
milling around, enjoying the view from the hilltop, began to
turn and stare in our direction. I didn’t know what to do.
Every attempt at consolation was rebuffed, indeed, seemingly
incited further incrimination. Clearly, I was in way over my
head.

At last, I realized I had to trust
my partner and throw in with her judgment. Acting purely on
faith, against all my instincts, I stood up, told the girl
how to follow the path back to the van, and left her sitting
on her rear-end, fitfully throwing handfuls of dirt in my
direction. As you might have guessed, as I turned the bend
in the path and reached a long flight of wooden stairs on
the backside of the hill, I could hear her footsteps racing
up from behind. She was laughing merrily, full of
exuberance, happy to join our group again. Needless-to-say,
this is an example of tough love. More to the point,
especially for this little girl, it was real love. It was
the love she needed. Sweet, gentle love was of absolutely no
use to her-in fact, an insult and detriment in her case,
precisely because of being no use. Obviously, this tactic is
not going to work for everyone, much less under all
circumstances. A good clinician knows to have proficiency in
both of their feet-beauty and power. However, when power is
needed, no other foot will do. Indeed, some people need a
whole lot of power foot! That’s just the way it
is.

It is for this reason that I refuse
to feel sorry for anyone, under any circumstances. I know
something utterly pertinent at issue: more than anything,
the ego feels unloved, and is desperate for someone to feel
sorry for them because of it. But why do that? Haven’t they
suffered enough!? Without imposing that on them too?
Besides, there are good reasons to make the kinds of
sacrifice in the direction of Adi Da we are talking about,
rendering the complaints against him all the more untenable.
What makes all the generosity perfectly reasonable is the
prior giving that Adi Da does, in which he is involved at
all times. You do not appear to be aware of or else
appreciate this prior giving, the dramatic exercise of his
beauty foot, involving the transmission of darshan and
hridaya-shakti, the scintillating nature of his teaching and
dharma, the way of life designed specifically for spiritual
growth and practice, even his work with the world on subtle
levels of spiritual reality we can only guess at. Of course,
it is easy to dismiss this latter claim, especially if you
are not conversant with these levels of spiritual reality
such that you can see it for yourself. Needless-to-say, few
people are.

You repeatedly state Adi Da is a
taker, not a giver. But, once again, the double standard
rests on stacking the deck against him, not allowing the
giving he actually does admission to the conversation.
Perhaps reading the leelas I mention above will change that.
Devotees stay in his company precisely because of the
extraordinary gifts they continually receive from him.
Indeed, out of love, his devotees are utterly grateful for
the opportunity to gift him in return-and in all kinds of
ways: personal service, as well as financial contributions
to support his great work liberating all beings. What often
gets overlooked in criticisms of Adi Da is an obvious
financial reality: it costs a lot of money to do this kind
of work! And it takes considerable sacrifice to pry
ourselves loose from our egos, which only one as strong and
persistent in his demand as Adi Da could possibly be
effective in serving. Perhaps the entire dispute comes down
to a single confusion: not realizing the altruistic nature
of the work Adi Da actually does. In the end, I believe the
proper closing remains the same as before: if you truly
believe that some people have benefited from being in Adi
Da’s company, it only seems honorable to encourage similar
people to find their way into his company-precisely so that
they might benefit too.


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