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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.