the First Public Center of Adidam in 1972
told by Gerald
Avatar Adi Da fixing up the
bookstore with devotees, 1972 By January of 1972, Avatar Adi
Da Samraj, then “Franklin Jones”, had begun to sit in
Silence in His rented Laurel Canyon home with the small
group of students that had formed around Him over the
previous year. In that same month, a storefront was rented
on Melrose Avenue, in Hollywood. Here, on April 25, 1972,
“Shree Hridayam Siddhashram”–the first public center of
Adidam–was opened to the world.
Gerald Sheinfeld, one of Beloved Adi
Da’s first devotees, tells the story of the opening night of
GERALD SHEINFELD: I first heard
about Beloved Adi Da in March, 1972. After spending several
weeks in His Company, I decided that I belonged with Him.
Nowhere else had I felt or even heard about the Love and
Happiness that He was so freely Giving me. I had left most
of my belongings behind when I came to Him, so one day I
told Avatar Adi Da that I was going to go back to the Ashram
where I had been living, take down my tepee, and gather my
belongings, because I wanted to be with Him.
He asked when I was going. I said I
was leaving on Friday and would return on Sunday or Monday.
He said, “I was planning to open the Ashram on Monday night.
I guess we’ll just wait until you return and do it Tuesday
night. That way you can have at least a day before the
opening.” As a result, the opening of the Ashram was
scheduled for April 25, 1972.
None of us with Beloved in those
days understood the significance of the opening of the
Ashram and the beginning of His public availability, nor did
we truly understand who “Franklin Jones” was. We sincerely
wanted people to come and meet our dear friend and Teacher,
and to share our happiness. So we put up posters all over
Los Angeles and invited everyone we knew.
One day, while the few of us who
were already students of Beloved Adi Da’s were working full
speed to get the bookstore and the Communion Hall ready,
Beloved and one of the students came into the center with
two very large wooden objects: the letter “C” and the symbol
“&”. They had found them in an alley, where an
advertising company had thrown them away. The symbols were
both quite large–five or six feet tall and three or four
Beloved asked us to clean them up
and paint them white so that He could use them in the
bookstore. The “C”, lying flat, was perfect as a check-out
counter. The ampersand was placed in front of the entrance
to the Communion Hall. It was a most unusual object to
encounter before entering the Hall! When we asked its
significance, Beloved Adi Da said, “There is Only God! The
‘and’ is the problem.”
Avatar Adi Da with devotees, 1972On
the morning of April 25, Beloved Adi Da was talking with a
few of us in the “back room” (the office behind the
Communion Hall). He sat on the desk, as was His custom, and
joked about the Ashram opening, which He referred to as
“Opening Night”. He would say, “Maybe we shouldn’t go
through with it. Maybe we’re making a mistake and should
call the whole thing off.” We would respond, “Yeah, maybe we
should call it off.” Then He would say, “No, I guess we’ve
gone too far. We’d better continue with our plans.” He asked
us to come early that evening to prepare for the
It seemed to me that we all felt
this night would clearly mark a change in our Master’s Work,
and we hoped this would not change our personal intimacy
with our dearest friend, “Franklin”! Of course, over the
years Beloved Adi Da’s commitment to relationship has never
faltered, and the intimacy with Him has only been
strengthened. And to this day that relationship, though
outwardly more formal, remains the very foundation of my
submission to Beloved Adi Da as the Divine
Tuesday evening, April 25, was upon
us. Two of Adi Da’s devotees, Nina and Patricia, prepared
the meditation hall for the occasion, lighting incense and
placing it in the bowls on each side of the dais and putting
finishing touches on the vase of flowers at the altar, and
looking over our preparations one last time before the
visitors began to arrive.
There was a great air of
anticipation and excitement. I was in charge of the
bookstore, and so I greeted people when they came in,
directing them to the Communion Hall, where the gathering
was to take place. A few people thought we were an “adult”
bookstore, and they left when they discovered that “Franklin
Jones” was a Spiritual Teacher! Some who came had heard of
“Franklin Jones” but had never read anything by Him, as none
of His books had been published yet. The man who later asked
the questions that are recorded in the Talk “Understanding”
in The Method of the Siddhas looked around the bookstore for
quite a while before the event and told me that he had read
many of the traditional books we carried.
After the last people had arrived, I
closed and locked the bookstore and entered the Hall. A
total of twenty people or so, including those of us who were
already students of Beloved Adi Da, were present. To begin
the evening we all sat quietly for about twenty or thirty
minutes, waiting for Adi Da, directing our attention to His
Chair at the front of the Hall. Everyone was relaxed and
quiet, and I was surprised that our guests were able to be
so calm and quiet.
Generally, Beloved Adi Da entered
the room that was now our Communion Hall through a curtained
doorway to the left of His Chair. That night He entered
through a doorway directly behind the Chair. When He came
in, there was a little stir amongst the group as we shifted
positions on the carpeted floor to make ourselves more
comfortable. Once seated, our Master silently looked around
the room, making eye contact with everyone present. Then,
after some time, He closed His eyes and sat quite still.
Altogether, He sat with us that evening for about an hour.
He looked young and “Bright”. He Radiated simplicity and
ease. As He sat before us, the room took on the feeling of
Fullness, which was typical in His Company.
Some people closed their eyes, while
others looked at Avatar Adi Da. Everyone showed their
respect by remaining silent and attentive. After a time, Adi
Da stretched from left to right in His Chair, as He
characteristically does. Then He said, in a voice so quiet
that almost no one heard Him, “Who will cast the first
stone?” There was silence. And, then, in a completely
engaging manner, He asked, “Are there any questions?” Again
there was silence.
Avatar Adi Da Samraj sitting at the
Ashram, 1972″Everyone has understood?” He asked.
“I haven’t understood,” said the man
I had talked to earlier about his familiarity with many of
our traditional books, “Explain it to me.”
And so it began. Avatar Adi Da
Samraj began His first public Communication of the “radical”
Dharma of no-seeking and Prior Happiness.