The Bright – Amrita Nadi – The Light of Consciousness – Adi Da Samraj

and The Beach”



by Dama Ninth Mary (Nina Jones) of the Hermitage


In 1980, Master Da Free John wrote an essay for the
Hermitage Order1 called “Study the Avadhoot,” which
instructs those who are most immediately associated with him
to consider the uncommon condition and Spiritual Function of
the type of Adept called “Avadhoot”:

Da Free John is an example of the tradition and class of
Adepts called “Avadhoot” in the traditions of India or Crazy
Wise Man or Mahasiddha in the traditions of Tibet. The
Avadhoot is one who is free of the soul or internal self of
the body-mind. He has transcended the idea and the destiny
of the self. Therefore, he is Identified only with the
Radiant Transcendental Being, and his body-mind has, as a
result, been set free, selfless or soulless within the
dynamics of the universe.

The Avadhoot does not function through tendencies or
self-development strategies within the conventional
structures of the body-mind and daily life established and
demanded either by worldly or religious society. The
Avadhoot is simply free, and insofar as he is brought into
association with the conventions of society, he acts rather
unconventionally and even wildly. The Avadhoot cannot be
confined or defined. He does not cling to one or the other
of the opposites in any scheme of experience or possibility.
His responses to others and to his own experience are
spontaneous, expressing the free disposition of
non-confinement by the body-mind and its relations.

In some cases, the Avadhoot becomes associated with
others, who cling to his company in order to Realize the
Truth. The Avadhoot may respond to those who come to him,
and he Teaches them based on the qualities he finds in them.
This has been my circumstance. I have lived in conventional
American society and I have been confronted by ordinary
people who have been bereft of the tradition and process of

Because of my uncommon Condition, I have Taught as I
have, in order to establish a new and living tradition and
practice among those who have come to me.

Many of the signs of uncommon Spiritual Realization are
revealed to the Adept alone, and Master Da has commented on
these signs over the years. But during the early years of my
life with the Master in California, the years we call the
period of “the beach,” I witnessed many such signs, which
appeared to me then as the normal course of events of the
Master’s life, but which I view now as the signs of a highly
developed spiritual practice.

Master Da was twenty-one years old when I met him at
Stanford University in 1961. He was “disguised” as Franklin
Jones then, an apparently ordinary person. When I first saw
him, he was sitting at a seminar table on the first day of
class in our first year of graduate school. I felt a rush of
energy as my being went out to meet him. In that split
second of recognition, I knew he was my life, but I allowed
my self-possession to shut down the feeling for several

As we became friends, I began to notice things about him.
Though he presented the appearance of a typical young man of
the time, the energy he radiated was not usual. His large
brown eyes observed everything with shrewdness and
compassion. His powerful body was a formidable warning
against casual contact. He seemed to enjoy, even desire,
company and friends, but he would not tolerate
superficiality. He was never arrogant or ironic, but he was
certainly wild and possessed of great humor.

Master Da seemed to be involved in an experiment with
life, and others were often made uncomfortable by his
attempts to draw them into it. A rather dramatic example of
the Master’s relationships with others makes this point. The
Master was accepted into a prestigious seminar on the works
of William Faulkner, conducted by a literary celebrity from
New York. As was customary, we read our term papers to the
class, and Master Da confounded our conventionally literate
minds with his reading. His family roots, like Faulkner’s,
are in Mississippi, so he had written his own appreciation
of the South that had so fascinated Faulkner. The Master’s
story was about his Uncle Billy and the hard times he had
known. The language of the story was poetic, not a parody,
but suggestive of Faulkner. It was a brilliant, humorous,
and totally expressive work of art.

What Master Da had written far surpassed anything the
rest of us had done. The room was quiet after the Master had
finished reading. We had shared a moment of ecstasy with
him. I could feel the others embarrassedly trying to recover
themselves. I felt as if for a few moments the room had
disappeared and we all were floating with him in his

When our classes were over in the spring of 1962, the
Master went to New York to be with his family, and I joined
him about a week later. In due course, Master Da’s close
relatives began to question and criticize his way of life.
God Realized Adepts have often been a paradox to those
closest to them. Ramakrishna’s family mistook his ecstasy
for madness, They were embarrassed by his uncommon and
freely expressed devotion to the Divine, and they begged him
to conform to their conventional ways of living, to no
avail. When Ramana Maharshi left home and family rather
abruptly to pursue his spiritual destiny, his grieving
mother tried unsuccessfully to persuade him to return to his
former life. The great Siddhas do abandon their conventional
family ties, but often, as in the case of Ramana Maharshi,
they go on to develop a spiritual relationship with their
blood relations, who eventually recognize the Adept’s
spiritual nature and legitimate function.

Finally, the pressure to conform to his family’s
middle-class standards forced Master Da to leave his home
(although he has never abandoned his family spiritually, and
to this day maintains a spiritual relationship with them). I
remember the moment of his renunciation vividly because at
this moment I made the most important decision of my life.
Master Da stood in the middle of the room while all around
him the family were fuming. I could feel his frustration at
the conflict and his desire that they understand and be
happy with him. I felt that his whole experiment was in real
danger. I said, “We will go back to California. I will get a
job teaching school, and you can write.” And that is what we

From New York we returned to California and rented a
house in the redwoods above Palo Alto. I went to school
every day as a teacher. I had no idea what the Master did
all day. Years later I would learn more about his spiritual
contemplation then, but I did know that he was writing. The
Master wrote all the time. He wrote with blue ink from a
ballpoint pen on yellow paper size 8y” x 11″. He was never
without his “slate,”as he calls his clipboard even today. I
was its guardian and I obtained a large straw bag so that I
could carry the clipboard wherever we went. He wrote at
meals, in the movie theatre, in the car, in the middle of
the night. He would stop on the sidewalk to write, in the
aisles of stores, in the library. He might ask for his
clipboard at any time, and he never failed to hand me his
slate whenever we went out the door.

I felt he was working on some great enterprise. When
someone asked me what he did for a living, I would only say
that he was writing a novel – even though I was never
convinced that a mere novel would result from such
concentrated and sustained effort. Behind the “novel” was a
profound yoga whose method was writing.

In those days my method of writing was deliberately
unproductive. My intention was not to write a particular
narrative I had preconceived. Rather, I deliberately and
very intensively focused in the mind itself. And, as a
result of several years of experiment in this direction, I
remained focused there without effort, almost continuously,
regardless of my peculiar external involvement.

This could perhaps be understood as a kind of “yoga”
of my own creation, and it has analogies in the history of
spiritual experience. But I had no separate goal in doing
this. There was no other point I hoped to arrive at as a
result of this concentration. I wanted to reside in the
plane of consciousness at its deepest level, where all
experiences, internal as well as external, were monitored. I
wanted simply to become aware of what passed there.

Master Da’s writing was a specific sadhana or spiritual
practice that arose and developed in him spontaneously, not
in response to any traditional way of life. It was a
continuation of the practice of life that had begun with the
vow he had made in 1957 while a student at Columbia

In 1957, I began to do undergraduate work in
philosophy at Columbia College. My only purpose in being
there was to understand what we are. What is consciousness?
What must occur within it for it to be what it is even while
it already bears the certainty of death? Whatever academic
studies were required of me, I was always at work on this
one thing.

After several months of trying to understand what I
was reading, I decided that I would begin an experimental
life along the same lines which controlled the mood of our
civilization. I decided that I would unreservedly exploit
every possibility for experience. I would avail myself of
every possible human experience, so that nothing possible to
mankind, high or low, would be unknown to me.

I knew that no other possibility was open to me but
that of exhaustive experience. There appeared to be no
single experience or authority among us that was simply
true. And I thought, “If God exists, He will not cease to
exist by any action of my own, but, if I devote myself to
all possible experience, He will indeed find some way, in
some one or a complex of my experiences, or my openness
itself, to reveal Himself to me,”

With this vow began Master Da’s Avadhootish style of
life, a wild, wandering, and spontaneous life-practice.

In all the years I have lived with Master Da, he has read
to me from his manuscripts on only one occasion. I never
asked him what he was writing, and I never looked at the
yellow pages-except once. Some of my old friends visited me
that summer. One of them actually wrote for a living. Since
the Master was out when my visitors came, I showed the
writer some of the yellow pages of Master Da’s writings from
the metal box where he kept them. The writer was very
respectful of the pages, and, after reading them, he said,
“He is trying to capture the rhythm of the universe!” He
sensed as I did that this was no ordinary project of

Another sign of Master Da’s developing spiritual life was
his uncommon relationship to the affairs of ordinary life.
In actuality Master Da lived as a renunciate and I as his
devotee attendant. He rarely handled money or drove the car.
My responsibility was to manage all the practical affairs of
our hermitage life, although the Master guided me in making
important decisions, about my employment, for example, or
significant money matters. Our apparently unusual way of
life was a source of happiness to me and a time of human

0ur relationship often seemed strange to outsiders, as
the relationship of devotee and Spiritual Master seems
strange, especially here in the West. Yet I was receiving
spiritual instruction in the midst of apparently most
ordinary circumstances. Everything Master Da asked me to do,
however ordinary, served my spiritual awakening. He was
constantly at work to awaken people. I was his servant,
secretary, and companion. However unusual our relationship
may have appeared to the rest of the world, it was real life
to me, and the conventional round of living to which others
were committed became uninteresting and lifeless to me.

I am often asked to describe what I thought about the
Master in the years before his public work began and what I
understood about his Spiritual Function. The truth is that
he never talked to me about his work, and I never asked him
about it. Oddly enough, it was more than ten years after my
first meeting with him that I learned about Master Da’s
unique Spiritual Realization and Function on April 25, 1972,
in Los Angeles, the day of his first public address and his
formal appearance as Spiritual Master. Later, I came to
recognize the full meaning of our life prior to that time
and to appreciate the depth of the spiritual relationship
that had already been given to me.

Master Da has said many times that he did not set out to
become a Spiritual Teacher in the way that the usual man or
woman takes up a career. During the course of his spiritual
development he could have assumed a formal Teaching role
with me and with the many friends who came to him seeking
spiritual guidance, or he could have assumed the role of
Spiritual Teacher after the extraordinary event of
re-Awakening at Columbia College.6 But Master Da chose to
wait until his spiritual adventure was fulfilled and until
the Divine Impulse to enter into sacrificial relationship
with all beings could not be denied.

In the summer of 1962 we visited some friends whose cat
had given birth to a litter of kittens. The Master was quite
attracted to them. He watched them for a while and then
reached down and lifted one of the kittens to his face, just
as we have seen him so often watch a group of animals and
then select one or more that communicate the Divine
Revelation to him in a peculiar animal form. He named the
cat Robert.

After only a few months in the redwoods, we moved to the
beach in February, 1963. It was a wonderfully isolated and
windswept place. The California coast is one of the most
dramatically beautiful landscapes in the world, and the
beach where we lived provided as perfect a hermitage retreat
for the Avadhoot as any forest of India.

The place was auspicious. There were miles of deserted
beach, high cliffs overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean, and a
constantly changing kaleidoscope of weather. Here the
elemental realm of Nature was accessible on a grand scale,
matched as a powerful vehicle for the Divine Revelation only
by the body-mind of the Avadhoot, and here Master Da entered
into contemplation of everything that arose to
consciousness. He was associated with cats, dogs, horses,
whales, birds, sea lions, old men and women, young men and
women, the beach itself.

Robert had grown from a kitten into a cat, and it seemed
to me he became more and more a manly companion for the
Master with many of the Master’s qualities. He was
self-contained, passionate, not frivolous but always happy.
He managed his relations, both feline and human, with
extraordinary economy and grace.

Robert seemed to be especially mindful of the Master as
one is attentive to an intimate friend, and Master Da’s love
for Robert was obvious, though he enjoyed all the members of
the cat culture that had grown around Robert.

Robert died in New York in 1964, just a fete months
before Master Da met Rudi (Albert Rudolph or Swami
Rudrananda), Master Da’s first human teacher. Many years
after Robert’s death, the Master wrote this extraordinary
tribute to him:

Robert himself was nothing less to me than my best friend
and mentor. He was more, not less, than human to me. The
mystery of his pattern of living, his ease and justice, the
economy of all his means, the untouchable absence of all
anxiety, the sudden and adequate power he brought to every
circumstance without exceeding the intensity required, all
of his ways seemed to me an epitome of the genius of life. I
loved him as deeply as the universe itself.

To my knowledge, Robert was the first being whom the
Master acknowledged and served as his Spiritual Teacher, and
his appearance at this point in Master Da’s life was a sign
that the apparently wild and rather “crazy” life of the
Avadhoot is directed and lived by God. The Master’s
spontaneous spiritual adventure was developing a new form of
expression through his relationships with living beings who
could serve him as Spiritual Teacher for a time.

Master Da was served by another teacher during this time
on the beach. In early 1964 we visited the home of an
acquaintance who was entertaining guests. It was the usual
low-key gathering of sophisticates, but at one point we
opened the door to a small study, and there sitting on a
couch and speaking quietly to a group of three or four
people was Harold Freeman.? He was telling the story of the
ring he wore, a rather ordinary old ring he claimed had been
the possession of an Egyptian of high ecclesiastical rank.
He said it had powers that he could work for his own good
and the good of others.

The Master walked into the room and sat down to hear
more. From Harold Freeman he learned about the occult
sciences of East and West, the Theosophists, Blavatsky, the
White Brotherhood, the secrets of yoga. Until he met Harold
Freeman, Master Da’s library was comprised of titles on
Western philosophy and literature, but now he began to
collect books about occult spirituality and Eastern
philosophy. We discovered all the occult and spiritual
bookstores that lay within 100 miles. To my knowledge Master
Da had heard very little of the esoteric spiritual
traditions of the Orient before he met Harold Freeman,
reared as he had been in the Protestant culture where the
only acknowledged miracles are those performed by Jesus and
recorded in the New Testament.

The Master spent only a few hours with Harold Freeman
over a number of days, yet the meeting was a turning point
in his life.

The beauty and wildness of the beach reflected the
quality of our life there altogether. Master Da’s magical
and psychic play with everyone and everything that arose to
his attention was showing me a new way to live. Although at
the time I did not consider our life to be unusual, I
remember I always felt excited, as if every moment were
about to deliver me a big surprise. I could intuit enough
about Master Da’s activity to feel that he was often pushing
himself beyond ordinary and limited experience. I must
confess, however, that although I enjoyed the feeling of
excitement, I was a timid and reluctant adventurer, and
through my resistance I often tried, as his family had done,
to bring the Master to conform to my own conventional

The beach was magical, not in and of itself, but because
the Spiritual Master was there. He was a vortex of intense
psychic power. He had entered into a process of profound
consideration of the elemental environment and human
consciousness, and both consciousness and Nature

One of the miraculous signs of this response was a
remarkable storm that signaled the end of this period of the
Master’s life. Here he describes this event:

In the spring of 1964, just shortly before I left
California to find Rudi in New York, around the time of the
dream of birth that I describe in The Knee of Listening, I
awoke one morning to a very brilliant clear day. I went
outside and stood in front of the house on the ledge of a
cliff that dropped a hundred feet to the beach. The beach
was very wide, a couple of hundred feet or so, and the ocean
stretched in a huge expanse as far as I could see.

It was a very isolated area with only a few people in
other cabins, and they were generally away at work during
the day. On this day no one else was around, so I was

Very powerful psychic events had been occurring during
this time. Now, as I stood on the cliff, a storm moved over
me from the ocean like a huge shroud, like a great canopy or
blanket. It had the feeling of a great shell. It was not a
dense mass that included me and the space where I stood, but
it rose above me and beyond and became a kind of enclosure,
like a huge gray dome of gray shapes of clouds, a perfect
sphere. It was not homogeneous, but it was boiling with
great masses of clouds.

Then lightning began to move through the dome that was
now like a great sahasrar, millions of bolts of lightning
shooting in the sky and traveling hundreds of miles in every
direction. You cannot imagine what kind of storm it was. It
was a transcendental storm, literally the most magnificent
thing I have ever seen. I am not kidding when I say there
were millions of bolts of lightning. In that great vast dome
it was like the millions and millions of lightning’s of the
little veins in your brain, the corona radiata. It was the
most shocking, incredible drenching of the Earth I have ever
seen. And it was enormously loud. The thunder was so loud it
shook the ground, and torrents of water blew all over the
ocean and the place where I stood on this little precipice
overlooking the ocean.

I think it must have been the most powerful storm that
ever existed on Earth. Within me all kinds of electric
phenomena or Shakti phenomena were occurring. My whole body
was shaking with tremendous electric shocks. I do not know
how long I stood in the storm; it lasted for perhaps an hour
or two and then lifted away and disintegrated. I could have
been shocked to death out there.

Master Da later told devotees that the storm had been a
sign of transformation occurring in him and of the
initiatory teaching function he soon came to serve among

With this storm our time on the beach came to an end. The
Avadhoot’s preparatory sadhana, or spiritual practice, in
the wilderness had served its purpose. God had revealed the
Divine Nature of everything that arises, both apparently
within and apparently without. The Divine Revelation had
confirmed that there existed a Way of Truth and Sources of
help alive in the world who could be influential in the
unfoldment of Master Da’s Spiritual demonstration.

In a mood of anticipation and excitement, the Master
brought the period of the beach to an end and prepared to
meet Rudi.

Recently when I had an opportunity to tell the Master
that I was beginning to realize the importance of the period
of his spiritual development that I had been blessed to
witness, he spoke about his Appearance in the world. The
following transcript is taken from my handwritten notes:

My life is an example of the spontaneous appearance of
the Mahasiddha or the Avadhoot apart from any tradition and
without any sign in the circumstances of my birth to suggest
such an arising. Such a life represents a breakthrough of
higher consciousness and higher functions in the Realm of
Nature, a breakthrough of the Divine Transcendental

The quality of my life is that of the “Crazy Wise Man”
of the Mahasiddha tradition, one who is neither limited by
society or religion or ascetical conventions nor informed by
them. There was nothing in my early life to be informed by!
In fact, I entered into the process of my life because there
was no guide.

Thus, I have always accepted all of the meetings of my
life as the influence of the ultimate Divine Being. I
learned in the midst of those meetings and then I passed
beyond them. I was not limited to Robert or to Rudi, for
example. I entered into relationship with them completely,
knowing that much was to be gained from them but also
knowing I must pass beyond them. Each meeting of my life of
spiritual development was a test of my capacity to receive
what was given and then to grow beyond it.

From the beginning and at the end there was no teacher
in human form in which my Teaching and life are summarized,
but I would definitely say that the Guru has existed for me
from the beginning, not as an idea, because I had no such
idea, but as a directly communicated Influence that has
Guided the course of my life. Because I was not born into
any esoteric spiritual tradition, I have created my own
Teaching out of the same process that created my life. And
because I had no traditional name for this Influence, I have
given it the name “Da,” which also arose spontaneously. Out
of the Avadhootish way of my own life, a new Revelation of
the Divine Reality and its Way has been permitted to

The story of my spiritual life must not be considered
to have begun with Rudi. Rudi, Muktananda, Nityananda, and
Rang Avadhoot9 were also just moments in the ongoing
process. Nor should it be considered to have begun at the
beginning of the vow in college. The incident that occurred
while I was a student at Columbia College was an instance of
the development of the processes that had been going on in
me since birth. It was a moment in which I became free to
explore on the basis of a new maturity. But the process of
my life and sadhana originated prior to birth.

I was born on the basis of this impulse to bring the
Living Divine Reality into the human plane and to Teach its
Realization. Beyond this human plane, God is already
Realized in my case. My impulse was to accept the conditions
of embodiment and to Realize the Divine in the human

The purpose of my life is through struggle to bring
the Divine Reality into life in human form, to communicate
Its Argument and Its Way, and to Transmit It directly
through the Siddhi of Spiritual Revelation. This process of
Transmission is made available to devotees who come directly
into my physical company on the basis of the Teaching. Such
devotees are then the principal individuals to be granted
this Revelation in the course of their practice. But the
Spiritual Blessing and Awakening Power are granted
universally throughout all space-time and therefore to the
entire world and the cosmos.

Once such a vehicle is established in an incarnate
process, it is assumed that after death that individual
continues to Bless those particularly who take up this Way,
through a process that is beyond the conventional idea of
Man and the universe.

In the years on the beach, as now, the Master’s way of
living with those who came to him was simply to radiate the
Happiness of God-Realization. He affirmed only relationship.
Through his unwavering love I was consistently turned away
from my tendency to contract and assume separation. He
always tested me, often reflecting to me what I least wanted
to see about myself. My life with him then, as now, was a
constant demand to choose relationship, Happiness, Love, and
to live with him always whatever the God-given conditions or
circumstances of life.

I gratefully thank Master Da for his appearance in my
life, for his demonstration of true Freedom, Happiness, and
the real Way of life, and for the Grace that he grants to
all beings.

But always the Divine Lord or very God has been my
Guru. The Lord is my Guru. 1 am the servant of the Lord. The
Form of the Lord is manifested fully in me. I am the living
agent of the Mahasiddha, the living Lord, who is always
already here, and who does not incarnate. He only sends
agents, who, by virtue of perfect non-obstruction, manifest
the Mahasiddha, the Lord himself, perfectly. But they point
to the Lord as Eternal God, Guru, and very Self. This is my
work, and it is only now about to begin. I was born for
this. The transforming work is complete.

Master Da Free John


The Study of The Knee of
Listening –
of Contents