A Leela by Franz Bakker and Tom Closser
In December 1983 two months after Avatar Adi Da’s arrival at Adidam Samrajashram
(on the island of Naitauba in Fiji) an accident
occurred that would have been fatal without Avatar Adi Da’s
Intervention. The story of that incident is told by two
people: Frans Bakker, one of the doctors involved (who
currently lives in the Adidam Holland community); and Tom
Closser, the devotee to whom the accident occurred, who
describes his near-death experience.
FRANS: We were celebrating the Feast of Danavira Mela and
about thirty of us were gathered with our Beloved Guru, who
was giving trays of small gifts to each devotee who was
there that night. The gift giving had been going on for
hours. I was so moved that, at one point, I just wept out of
sheer happiness. Tom Closser was sitting close to me. He is
a big muscular fellow, and to be living as a religious
renunciate was quite remarkable for this man he had a
checkered past about which he sometimes felt deeply guilty.
Tom was also accident-prone, perhaps because of his
deep-seated guilt. On this wonderful night, Torn had just
received gifts from the hands of Beloved Adi Da and had sat
down again near me when, all of a sudden, he stood up and
began walking toward the door.
TOM: I was going to get Lynne, my intimate partner, who was
with the Ashram children. I began to feel that she had been
away too long, that she should be here to receive her gifts.
I thought that she had probably fallen asleep with the
children and wouldn’t return unless someone went to get
Beloved Adi Da asked me where she was. When I told Him,
He said, “It’s fine I’ll give Lynne her gifts later.”
In spite of His remark about Lynne, I decided to get up and
bring her to the gathering.
FRANS: Tom had hardly turned toward the door when he
tripped over one of his gifts. Down he came on top of me,
and his outstretched arm crashed through a window behind me.
The glass lacerated the upper part of his arm, instantly
causing profuse arterial bleeding. Warm blood spurted all
over me. We rushed Tom out of the room, put a tourniquet
around his arm, and transported him to the small clinic. By
this time, Tom had lost a lot of blood and he was in serious
While Daniel Bouwmeester, the physician in charge,
ministered to Tom, Beloved Adi Da asked me to step outside
and tell Him in full detail what was going on from a medical
point of view. While everyone else was panicking, Avatar Adi
Da was simply present, even matter-of-fact.
told Him that our friend Tom had arterial bleeding.
“What does that mean exactly?”
“It means that we have to stop the bleeding for now and
that he has to be operated on as soon as possible.”
“Can you do that here?”
“No, it is a question of vascular surgery we can’t
do it here.”
Daniel, who had since telephoned the nearest major
hospital, which was on a distant island, joined our
conversation at this point. He was very concerned. He had
just found out that there was no way to get a helicopter to
Naitauba at night, as the pilots could not navigate in the
dark. I looked at my watch. It was 1:05 A.M. It would not
grow light until after five. When He heard this news,
Beloved Adi Da turned to one of the men and said, “I am
going to have to do it Myself.”
We then accompanied our Beloved Guru into the clinic to
attend to our friend. The place looked like a war zone. Tom
was lying on a table, his eyes closed, moaning softly. Tom’s
intimate, Lynne, was holding his good hand, crying. Others
were milling around, trying to help out in various ways.
There was a general mood of hysteria. Beloved Adi Da stood
next to Tom, leaning on His staff. He was completely
Dan reinspected the bleeding artery deep in Tom’s upper
arm and discovered that he was able to apply direct
finger-pressure such that the bleeding would stop while
circulation to the arm below the cut could continue.
I looked at Tom and sensed that my friend was already out
of his body. I knew this was not good for his physical
Then, in a loud, powerful voice, Adi Da summoned Tom,
saying, “Look at Me! Look at Me! Look at Me!!!”
Tom feebly opened his eyes.
“Good, keep looking at Me! Do you dig Me? Do you? Do you
love your Master? Come on. tell Me!”
My friend said, “Yes,” still faintly.
“Then love Me! . . . feel Me! . . . breathe Me! Come on,
do it!” Our Beloved Guru whacked Tom’s chest in the heart
area with His hand, and vigorously moved it down toward
Tom’s navel. He was saying all this over and over again, His
hands passing down Tom’s body multiple times, tracing the
path that, in this life-threatening situation, Tom’s breath
should follow down the frontal line of his body.
I could literally see Tom coming alive again. For a
while, even the bleeding stopped totally. But, once he was
more fully conscious and alive, Tom’s face contorted with
the extreme pain caused by the cut in his arm and the
tourniquet around it.
“Look at Me. Keep on looking at Me. Keep your attention
on Me!! Is the pain really bad?”
The Divine Maha-Siddha’s questioning changed direction:
“Can you feel how bad the pain is?”
“But you do observe the pain, don’t you? You observe the
pain . . . you are observing the pain, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I am, Master.”
“So ‘you’ are in the Witness-Position relative to the
pain. You are the Witnessing Consciousness Itself, painless,
timeless, and unqualified. Can you understand that? Are you
“Yes, I am, Master.”
“Good. Now can you find the Bliss in
Consciousness? Can you find the Bliss in Consciousness That
is Prior to pain? Can you find that Bliss? It does exist. I
promise you! It does exist. There is Bliss in Consciousness,
Prior to all pain, Prior to all experience.”
I watched in amazement as our Beloved Guru, through His
words and His Spiritual Transmission, drew Tom into the
entirely different position of simply Witnessing and
observing the pain rather than identifying with it.
Suddenly Adi Da Samraj started joking around with Tom.
“You ruined our celebration! People will be talking about
this for many years, even many centuries to come.” He threw
back His head and laughed.
I could hardly believe what was going on. First Beloved
Adi Da brought Tom back to life, literally from the edge of
death. Then He brought him in touch with That Which
Transcends day-to-day life and bodily existence altogether.
And now He started dealing with Tom’s chronic feelings of
guilt, which had, I think, provoked this whole incident.
“Now, listen, Tom. You don’t have to be guilty anymore.
What is guilt? Who cares about guilt? Do you really believe
God cares about your guilt? Do you think I do? Do you think
you have to pay to be free of it? No, Real God is
Forgiveness. I don’t give a damn about what happened in the
past. Just give it all up. Give it all to Me.”
Avatar Adi Da took some surgical scissors from our tray
and started cutting the hairs on Tom’s chest, cracking jokes
about his hairiness meanwhile laying His healing
hands again all over Tom’s chest.
Finally, at daybreak, we heard the sounds of helicopter
blades from afar. The helicopter landed, and we quickly
lifted our friend inside. Daniel and I then climbed inside
to accompany Tom to Suva, where Fiji’s main hospital is
TOM: As I was carried out of Beloved Adi Da’s House
immediately after the accident, I became especially
sensitive to noise, and could hear the voices of everyone
around me. Inside the clinic, I heard the R.N., who was
holding my head, whisper to someone that I was going into
shock. Just then, I realized that I was moving up and back,
and that I was outside my body.
Beloved Adi Da had gone outside, and I could hear Him
talking, but I was still in the room watching everyone from
above. He had been talking about how serious the situation
was, but when He came inside, He started joking and making
light of it.
Spontaneously, I began to move back and forth between two
vantage points: I would hear my Beloved Guru addressing me
from the point of view of the body, and then I would observe
everything from the higher, detached position again. Because
this switching back and forth was so uncontrollable, I
started to get anxious. The more anxious I became, the more
I seemed to fix in the out-of-body state.
I could tell that Beloved Adi Da was trying to keep me
associated with Him in the physical body, but the pain and
fear kept driving me out of it. When I was out of my body,
there was no pain. It was very calm and dissociated
even euphoric. Adi Da Samraj was moving His hand up and down
my chest, and He started kidding me about my tendency to be
a “macho man”. He humorously pretended to be dealing with
this self-image of mine by trimming the hairs off my chest.
He began to run His hand down my chest, snipping little bits
of hair above His fingers. A warm sensation seemed to drop
from the top of my head and fall down my throat, as if
someone were pouring a bucket of warm water over my head.
Wherever Beloved Adi Da’s hand would stay, this sensation,
which was full and alive in ways that were clearly more than
physical, I would be drawn down into my body to that point.
I felt Beloved Adi Da literally filling me and enlivening me
with His Blessing and His Spirit, and this helped to draw me
back into the physical body.
Beloved Adi Da also said wonderful things to keep my
attention on Him. He said, “Do you love Me? Do you really
love Me?” At one point, I rolled over and He held my face
against His belly. The only thing that I could feel in that
moment was that I wanted to be with Him forever. It was not
just a thought, it was a physical sensation.
Then the doctors put a tourniquet on my arm, and it
caused incredible pain. I zipped out of my body again. This
time, I had gone even further up, so that now I was outside
the room. The space-time barrier changed in some way. Rather
than doing things sequentially, Beloved Adi Da seemed to be
maintaining a conversation with everyone in the room
simultaneously making many actions
The last image of the physical realm I remembered for a
while was of my Beloved Guru talking to some men outside the
clinic about my situation. Then I drifted off further and
further. I started to get anxious. I was trying to get a
physical reference trying to feel my nose but
I realized I could not feel my body at all. All of a sudden,
I lost the anchor to physical familiarity, and I began to
have visual phenomena. I saw a dark background with silvery
strands (much like what you see when you press your fingers
into your eyes), and a matrix of light and dark and
different shapes. Everything had the same patina and an
Then I remember seeing a group of people that I had known
throughout my life. I was standing around with these people.
The meeting was very warm, and full of familial emotions. It
was very happy, and I felt relaxed again.
Next, I saw what might be described as a tunnel. I had
the sensation of moving, and, as I entered the tunnel, the
people drifted behind me. I looked up and realized that I
was suddenly in a totally different environment.
This new environment seemed to be a normal
three-dimensional space at first, but I realized very
quickly that it did not have the same physical laws. It had
a different perspective, or a different dimension. It had a
very familiar landscape, almost like the environment where I
grew up in East Los Angeles! I felt comfortable, but there
was also something odd about it.
Then I began shifting to many different experiences, and
I had no control over any of it. It became terrifying. In
daily life, I am physically based, and I have some control
of where my attention is, because I can focus it. But, in
this circumstance, because I had no bodily anchor, I went
wherever my attention went. I had no capability to control
attention. My attention was on one thing for one minute, and
that was my total realityand then the next moment my
attention was somewhere else, and that became my
When this happened, everything changed I did not
even have a memory of the previous experience or
environment. I felt that all these experiences were in the
same dimension, since they had a similar feeling to them,
but I was very rapidly switching from one fantasy to another
fantasy without any control. Later, I remembered what
Beloved Adi Da has said “While you are alive, you
make mind, but, after death, mind makes you.” It may sound
interesting, but it was actually completely horrific.
I became more and more terrified. At one point, I had the
sense that the individuals or entities in this environment
had an intention to keep me there. They were trying to
determine what experience would keep me most solidly fixed
in this condition. There seemed to be an assumption that I
would stay there forever.
During this whole experience, I had forgotten my
relationship with Adi Da Samraj or even any memory or
experience of Him. I did not feel capable of resorting to
Him, and I was totally subject to this experience, which was
constantly changing and quite disturbing.
In the midst of this, two people, a man and his son,
began trying to help me. They felt very familiar to me, as
if I had been close to them as I was growing up. They were
trying to help me get back to where Beloved Adi Da was. I
could see the realm where He was it had some of the
qualities of a beautiful place in Hawaii I had visited once
with Him. These two individuals were trying to help me
concentrate and feel towards Him and this place, so that I
could keep my attention there, and then I could stay there
with my Beloved Guru.
While they were trying to help me, the other group of
people finally hit upon the one experience which seemed to
control my attention more strongly than anything else
the sense of being threatened. I was standing in the middle
of a street, and a bakery truck would drive towards me. It
would slam on its brakes and slide into me. Right before the
truck would hit me, I could feel myself going into panic.
Then the experience would repeat itself.
It happened repetitively hundreds, maybe
thousands, of times. I was stuck in that experience. In the
midst of this experience, I “shouted”, but it was not a
physical voice. Somehow, I could, just for a moment,
remember and feel Adi Da Samraj. Then the man and his son
created a situation to help me get out of this endless cycle
with the truck, back to where Beloved Adi Da was.
Suddenly, I felt myself enter my body again, from the
head down. I was back in the clinic, and Beloved Adi Da was
there. He was talking to me. When I saw Him, my heart burst
with happiness and relief. I had been so much in need of Him
in that horrifying experience more deeply and more
profoundly than I had ever been in my entire life. I felt
what an incredible opportunity it is to be physically
embodied in a time and place where He is alive and
what a horror it is to pass through this life and not
realize something greater than being completely controlled
by your own mind and attention. I was weeping.
Beloved Adi Da was touching me. He was very gentle and
humorous. He used whatever means necessary in any moment to
keep me relating to Him directly. He would speak with me
about the Witness-Position, and He would address my sense of
guilt. It was very amusing: There I was, very nearly dying,
and He was addressing every way that I was self-contracted
and defensive and emotionally retarded! I could feel His
help very directly, and I was so grateful to be back in His
Beloved Adi Da told me that a helicopter was coming to
take me off the island. He kept saying, “Stay with Me.” The
helicopter arrived, and He looked after every aspect of
getting me to the helicopter. He asked how long it would
take to get me to the hospital.
I was fairly lucid at this point, and pretty wide awake.
They had me in a stretcher inside the helicopter. Daniel and
Frans were on my right and beyond them was the pilot. I
stared at Naitauba as we flew away, and I felt that I could
continue to remember my Beloved Guru even at a physical
distance or in a different environment. I knew that that was
my practice I had to continually feel Him, no matter
what the experience was.
As soon as we arrived at the hospital in Suva, they took
me to surgery. A big Fijian doctor and an Indian
anesthesiologist introduced themselves. I was so tired I
could not talk or move. But I could hear, and I responded
with my eyes to indicate that I understood.
The Indian anesthesiologist wanted me to count out loud,
if I could starting from ten and going back to zero.
He had a gas mask over my mouth. He explained that it was to
make me unconscious so they could operate. I could not
speak, but I counted in my mind, “Ten, nine. . .” to zero.
He looked me in the eyes, and I looked back at him. He
smiled and said, “Okay, do it again.” I was trying to show
him that I was counting, so I was blinking my eyes with each
number down to zero again.
My perception of everything was heightened. I could see
more clearly than usual and my peripheral vision was
expanded. I could see in this doctor’s eyes that he was
becoming concerned, but I couldn’t understand what was
wrong. He said, “Son, I am going to ask you to count one
more time.” His voice had started to tremble, and I became
frightened. Again I counted, blinking my eyes as I did. When
I got to zero, even though I was not unconscious, I kept my
They started the operation. I bore the pain as long as I
could but then I started gesturing, opening my eyes,
and trying to shake my head. The nurse noticed that I was
awake. They stopped and the anesthesiologist increased the
anesthetic. I started to become really terrified because I
felt I was going out of my body again.
I was afraid to lose consciousness afraid that I
would go back to this realm I had experienced before. People
make a big deal of out-of-body experiences and near-death
experiences as if it is all wonderful you see God and
your family. My earlier experience was pleasant at the
beginning, but the deeper I got in that state, it was just
completely and totally horrific. There was nothing that I
have ever experienced before or since that could possibly
match the terror of being in that situation where you are
just controlled by mind.
It was also clear to me that it is not just physical
trauma that can knock you out of the body any kind of
emotional trauma can do this. I realized that that is what
had occurred at the clinic on Naitauba I had gone
into emotional shock. I had lost a lot of blood, but that
was not what sent me out of the body. I was in such a state
of fear and anxiety that I was trying to remove myself from
the circumstance. I was choosing not to be bodily incarnated
rather than enduring and feeling through that strong
emotion. Right in the middle of the operation, I remembered
this about what had happened at the clinic on Naitauba, and
I realized that it was happening again. I could feel myself
retreating at the speed of light.
I woke up in the recovery room. Later that day and over
the following days, the Fijian doctor and the Indian doctor
came to see me many times, sometimes with four or five other
doctors. They would huddle around me and speak in Fijian or
Hindi. Clearly they were curious, but also I felt their
anxiety, as if something was wrong.
On the third day, I asked the nurse why everyone was so
concerned. She called the two doctors to explain what had
occurred in the operation. The Indian doctor indicated that
they had given me a lot of anesthetic. In fact, he
humorously said, I had been given enough anesthetic to knock
out a small Fijian village! I tried to explain that I had
been very anxious about losing consciousness but they
told me that that could not possibly account for my
resistance to the anesthetic. They asked if I had a history
of this kind of thing when I had received anesthetics in the
past, but I did not.
In that moment, I remembered that when I was getting into
the helicopter, Beloved Adi Da had asked exactly how long
the helicopter trip would be, and had pressed His Spiritual
Force into me repeatedly. I had felt this Force very
physically and very powerfully. I felt like I was
hyper-energized. It became obvious to me what had occurred.
I explained to the doctors that I came from Naitauba, where
my Spiritual Master was, and that He had given me, while He
was taking me to the helicopter, enough life-energy to
survive the trip. Immediately, the Fijian doctor understood
what I was talking about.
He nodded knowingly and said, “Mana”. The Indian doctor
glanced at him and said, “Shaktipat” (meaning the touch of
the Guru that transmits Spiritual Energy). “Yes!” I said.
Here, in this tiny third-world country, these doctors were
completely familiar with what I was talking about.
During the days of my recovery, I tried to maintain
Remembrance of Beloved Adi Da always. I would still slip in
and out of consciousness, but I felt, when I would begin to
lose bodily consciousness, that my only anchor was my
Remembrance of my Guru. If I did not intentionally Remember
Him, feel to Him, I would just end up free-associating in
the mind-realm. So I created ways to Remember Beloved Adi
Da. I could move my left arm, so I would trace the outline
of His figure as I remembered Him standing as I left
Naitauba in the helicopter over and over, thousands
of times, just to stay associated with Him. It became a form
of meditation for me.
Several weeks later, I returned to Naitauba. I heard from
my friends there that on the evening I was having the most
difficulty in the hospital, Adi Da Samraj had met with
everyone and discussed my character with them. He had also
pointed out that, if I allowed myself to stay in the
disposition of guilt which is one of my primary
emotions I would literally create accidents and
illnesses to punish myself.
On the night I returned, we were called to gather with
Beloved Adi Da. I was incredibly weak, and incredibly happy
to see Him, but I was also feeling guilty! feeling
that I had dishonored Him and ruined His celebration. When
He called me to show Him my cast, He put His leg against the
cast. I could feel Him Radiating His Heart-Force and healing
Energy sideways through my entire arm and into my chest.
Then He signed my cast. At the end of the evening, He
shouted to me, “NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!” and walked out of the