(Adi Da Samraj) is an enigma, a paradox, for which there may be no solution other than the nonsolution of enlightenment itself.
Holy Madness: The Shock Tactics and Radical Teachings of Crazy-wise Adepts, Holy Fools, and Rascal Gurus
Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D
(27 May 1947 – 25 August 2012)
Discusses the “crazy wisdom” of adepts, spiritual teachers, and gurus from all of the world’s ancient spiritual traditions and explores the relationship between radical teachers and their disciples.
The Many Faces of Da Love-Ananda (Da Free John)
1. The Early Years
“On November 3, 1939, at 11:21 A.M., in Jamaica, New York, I was born Franklin Albert Jones.”1 With this prosaic sentence begins one of the most fascinating autobiographies of our time. Its author, who now goes by the name of Da Love-Ananda, is revered by his followers as an avatara, an incarnation of the Divine. They and some readers of Da Love-Ananda’s works see in him a genuinely enlightened adept—perhaps even the first fully enlightened being to appear in our Western civilization. They share Alan Watts’s sentiment, as expressed in the foreword to the autobiography, that “he has simply realized that he himself as he is, like a star, like a dolphin, like an iris, is a perfect and authentic manifestation of the eternal energy of the universe, and thus is no longer disposed to be in conflict with himself. ”2 Yet even for those who remain skeptical about Da Love-Ananda’s authenticity and stature as a spiritual teacher, he is a larger-than-life figure. David Christopher Lane, who is critical of many of Da Love-Ananda’s actions, has made this comment:
There are very few spiritual teachers in the 20th century who could be termed religious geniuses. Da Free John [Da Love-Ananda] is one of them. Since the beginning of his formal ministry in 1972 in southern California, Da Free John has produced a body of work which is unparalleled amongst western philosophical thinkers for its radical insight, comparative depth, and force of expression.3
The first page of Da Love-Ananda’s autobiography, enigmatically titled The Knee of Listening, already makes it clear that the life revealed to the reader is as extraordinary as that of any hero in the mythical past. We are told:
The sign of my birth is Scorpio, marked by the images of Spirit and of Sex, the eagle and the crab. It is the sign of internal warfare, the problem
and perfection. I have played in the dilemma of my natural alternatives, but from my earliest experience of life I have enjoyed a condition that I would call the “bright. ”
As a baby I remember crawling around inquisitively with an incredible sense of joy, light and freedom in the middle of my head that was bathed in energies moving freely down from above, up, around and down through my body and my heart. It was an expanding sphere of joy from the heart. And I was a radiant form, a source of energy, bliss and light.4
This preindividual conscious condition, Da Love-Ananda explains, began to recede in his second or third year, and he became aware of himself as an individual facing an objective world. It was this loss of the “bright,” which the adept later equated with nirvikalpa-samadhi,5 that motivated him throughout his earlier life to recapture the paradisiacal state of wholeness. From the time of his undergraduate studies at Columbia College, New York, where he majored in philosophy, he was preoccupied with finding a way back to the primal condition he had enjoyed in his infancy. As he desperately tried to understand the psychic mechanism that blocked the experience of the “bright, ” he began to see that the ego itself is a process of psychosomatic contraction, by which Reality is constantly kept at bay. He linked this idea to the image of Narcissus, the self-adoring youth of Greek mythology.
Da Love-Ananda experienced a temporary reawakening in college. Then, while engaged in graduate work at Stanford University, where he produced a master’s thesis on Gertrude Stein, he had a series of additional psychic and spiritual experiences and formative insights. These led him, at the end of his graduate studies in 1964, to Swami Rudrananda (“Rudi”), a disciple of the famous Swami Muktananda. From other students of Rudi we know that Da Love-Ananda submitted himself to his new guru in exemplary fashion. At Rudi’s request, he cleaned up his life, got a regular job, and later even studied at a Christian seminary, though he had no interest in doing so. Yet after several years of diligent practice and wholehearted application to guru-yoga, he found Rudi’s “muscular” way of teaching kundalini-yoga too limiting.6 He consequently turned to Rudi’s teacher, Swami Muktananda.
During his very first visit to Muktananda’s ashrama in India in 1968, which lasted only four days, Da Love-Ananda experienced the state of objectless ecstasy (nirvikalpa-samadhi) for the first time in his adult life. This experience was confirmed in a letter from the Swami that was handed to Da Love- Ananda on his second visit, in 1969, in which he was given the initiatic name “Kriyananda” and was formally empowered to teach in his own right. In later years, Da Love-Ananda made much of this letter, having it repeatedly translated by different linguists, perhaps because this document sets the record straight: Although his teaching is in many respects innovative, Da Love- Ananda is not, as has been suggested, a self-proclaimed teacher. Rather, he comes out of the lineage of what is known as siddha-yoga.
On returning from his first visit to India, he separated from Rudi, who apparently failed to understand Da Love-Ananda’s inner development. From then on he regarded Swami Muktananda as his guru. His second pilgrimage to India consolidated his yogic attainments, and when he returned a third time, in 1970, he did so on the assumption that henceforth he would be living as a renunciate in Muktananda’s ashram. But again his own inner development dictated a different course. While meditating one day, he had a powerful vision of the Virgin Mary, to which he, by then an unchurched Protestant, had a peculiar reaction. In his own words:
My first impulse was huge laughter. I had spent years of total nonsympathy for Christianity. I felt I had paid my religious dues. I saw that whole religious tradition as merely a symbolic and ritual communication for what were really matters of direct consciousness, pure self- awareness, and Vedantic conclusions about reality. Now, as if I were faced with a cosmic joke, I stood in the living Presence of Christ’s Mother!7
Da Love-Ananda understood the Virgin to be a manifestation of the cosmic feminine principle (shakti). It became apparent to him that he had to drop all attachment to an external teacher, and so he left Muktananda’s ashram. For several months, his visions of the Virgin guided him to various holy sites in Europe and then back to the United States. Specifically he was drawn to the Vedanta Temple in Hollywood, which he recognized as a potent site of the Mother-Goddess.
Now the visions of the shakti progressed into the experience of her permanent inner presence. And, in a final ecstatic climax, he realized his perfect identity with the cosmic creative principle. As he put it:
Then I felt the Shakti appear against my own form. She embraced me, and we grasped one another in sexual union. We clasped one another in a fire of cosmic desire, as if to give birth to the universes. Then I felt the oneness of the Divine Energy and my own Being. There was no separation at all.8
When next he meditated in the temple, he fully expected the same mystical fireworks, but nothing happened. He found that there was no meditative process even. He simply was aware of himself as pure Consciousness.
I simply sat there and knew what I am. I was being what I am. I am Reality, the Self, and Nature and Support of all things and all beings. I am the One Being, known as God, Brahman, Atman, the One Mind, the Self.
There was no thought involved in this. I am that Consciousness . . . Then truly there was no more to realize. Every experience in my fife had led to this.9
From that moment on, we are told, Da Love-Ananda’s sense of identity underwent a permanent shift, from conditioned ego to transcendental Self.
He referred to this state as sahaja-samadhi or the “ecstasy of spontaneity. ” In Hinduism, this state is also known as the “Fourth”—the transcendental plateau condition beyond the phenomenal states of waking, sleeping, and dreaming—beyond even temporary peak states of consciousness.
Da Love-Ananda’s account, as given in the original published version of his autobiography, has the ring of authenticity and can be appreciated as a remarkable mystical document. As Alan Watts, who was not known for his generosity toward other teachers, remarked: “It is obvious from all sorts of subtle details that he knows what IT’s all about … a rare being.”10 Later autobiographical presentations, regrettably, tend toward mythologization, as does indeed Da Love-Ananda’s entire self-presentation in recent years.
When enlightenment occurred in September 1970, Da Love-Ananda’s odyssey as a spiritual seeker had come to its successful conclusion. Little did he know, however, that enlightenment does not signal the end of spiritual evolution. He learned later that the destiny of the enlightened being continues to unfold. Da Love-Ananda felt compelled to communicate his newly gained inner freedom and wisdom to his teacher. But Swami Muktananda was less than receptive to his disciple’s ideas. Judging from the transcripts of the clinching conversation between them, he was in fact elusive and not a little petulant.
Da Love-Ananda believed that his guru was settling for less than the ultimate, while Muktananda dismissed Da Love-Ananda’s disclosures and arguments as pretentious. As so often happens, a breach between guru and disciple occurred that was never formally healed. However, there is some evidence that Muktananda never bore any real grudges against his former disciple. As for Da Love-Ananda, he continued to criticize Muktananda’s position in talks and in various publications, while at the same time acknowledging his own indebtedness to that formidable siddha.
Da Love-Ananda began to teach shortly after his enlightenment. At first, he met relatively informally with whomever expressed an interest in spiritual life. Gradually, however, he insisted on certain formalities, including abstinence from illegal drugs, as well as certain dietary and health disciplines. Casual visitors became rarer as the conditions for seeing and meditating with him became tighter. He opened his own school (ashram) in 1972, complete with elevated chair, carpets, and an abundance of flowers—the style adopted by most Indian gurus. This was also the inaugural year of his church, The Dawn Horse Communion, which is now known as The Free Daist Communion. In the beginning, he was addressed as “Franklin, ” but after his visit to Swami Muktananda in the summer of1973, he asked to be called “Bubba Free John.”11
As “Bubba” he enacted the role of spiritual friend toward his growing group of disciples. However, at that time his “friendship” was already interlaced with formality—a formality that would, in the course of time, grow into a somewhat stilted and almost formulaic affair, making a simple, personal approach to him virtually impossible. He felt that his Western contemporaries had little or no understanding of the role of the spiritual teacher and, step by step, had to be taught the fine art of guru-yoga, submission to the Divine by means of surrender to the teacher.
2. Crazy Wisdom and the Futility of Experience
In December of 1973, Da Love-Ananda’s teaching work acquired a new dimension. After demanding from his students strict adherence to a fairly ascetical life-style, he suddenly initiated a cycle of “celebrations. ” One devotee recalls:
They used the traditional intoxicants, such as alcohol and cigarettes, meat, and “junk” food—all the things they had rigorously avoided for so long. Bubba [Da Love-Ananda] participated freely in these things, even after what had been a prolonged period of natural abstinence. He and his devotees drank and sang and danced—and suddenly, in the midst of these festivities, Bubba unleashed his spiritual Power with awesome effect. While his devotees were relaxed from rigid concern and self-discipline, he spontaneously raised them all into higher states of psychic and mystical awareness.12
These celebrations were comparable to Tantric feasts, where a small group of initiates, always under the guidance of the guru, break major taboos of the traditional Hindu society as part of a ritual intended to bring about a change of consciousness in the participants. From my many conversations with longtime devotees, it appears that for several months Da Love-Ananda did indeed use his yogic abilities to affect the psychic lives of literally hundreds of students in often very dramatic ways. They experienced visions, spontaneous body movements known as kriyas,13 bliss states, heart openings, and kundalini arousals.14 Several were ostensibly drawn into the mystical unitive state or even into temporary sahaja-samadhi.15
This important phase in Da Love- Ananda’s teaching history is recorded in a long-out-of-print book entitled Garbage and the Goddess.16
The book’s title was meant to epitomize the specific lesson of that period: that everything in the finite realm is “garbage,” and that even the most elevated mystical experiences must be surrendered. So long as there is an experiencing ego, unreality persists. Enlightenment, by contrast, can no longer be called an experience, because the gap between subject and object that haunts the ordinary mind is fully bridged. Da Love-Ananda told his devotees:
I spend a lot of my time packaging your garbage, trying to get you to recognize it. You’ll throw it away as soon as you see it. You can’t surrender something that you don’t recognize to be garbage. You intuitively hold on to it. So you’ve got to recognize it.
But I’ll tell you right now—it is all garbage! Everything the Guru gives you is garbage, and he expects you to throw it away, but you meditate on it. All of these precious experiences, all this philosophy . . . None of them is the Divine. They are garbage.17
Da Love-Ananda here equated experience with the Goddess, the feminine or dynamic principle of existence. He noted:
Everyone succumbs to the Goddess on one level or another . . . So, the Guru’s perfect function is to undermine all this, to make the world show itself. He makes the Goddess pull down her pants, and then you see her asshole. I shouldn’t be saying these things.18
The pivot of Da Love-Ananda’s “way of radical understanding” is to recognize the “Goddess” in and as all experiences and to develop the cool disposition of nonattachment toward everything that has been recognized as a manifestation of the Goddess. In his view, the traditional orientation is to worship and surrender to the Goddess. He argues that this is all nonsense but occasionally concedes, tongue in cheek, that he may just be mistaken. In his own words, which flowed easily from his lips in a state of ecstatic inebriation during one of his celebrations:
What do I know? This could just be an aberration. Must be. No one agrees with me . . . They all tell me that I’m mad, that I’m undeveloped . . . Muktananda used to say, “Yield to the Goddess, ” and that is not the principle. The Goddess used to say, “Yield to me,” and I fucked her brains loose. I’ve never listened to anyone. Perhaps I should have!19
However, the Goddess is not all vacuous pomp and circumstance. By Da Love-Ananda’s admission, she is also the instrument by which we learn to turn to the suprapersonal Divine and thereby become enlightened. In Jungian terms, she serves the function of an archetype. But while we may accept and respond to an archetype, we do not surrender to it. As Da Love-Ananda put it graphically, “The true way is not grasping onto the bangles of the Goddess and letting her lift you up into her crotch through the spine until you realize God. The true way is to realize God in Truth. ”20
In other words, for Da Love-Ananda, self-surrender must always occur in relation to the ultimate Reality, which he calls the Divine, God, or the “Radiant Transcendental Being. ”
An important manifestation of the Goddess is sexual experience, the play between the sexes. This lies at the opposite pole from mystical experience. However, these two extremes of human experiential possibility are not as separate as they might seem. At any rate, in Da Love-Ananda’s teaching, they are simply experiences and as such deserve to be transcended. Hence, appropriately, during the “Garbage and the Goddess” celebrations, his devotees were not only exposed to the upper end of the experiential scale; they were also obliged to inspect and confront their sexual and emotional fixations in very concrete ways.
In March of 1974, in what has come to be known as the “Saturday Night Massacre,” Da Love-Ananda initiated a consideration about sexuality, marriage, and emotional attachment that left his disciples reeling for months, sometimes years. Commenting that relationships like marriage are generally entered into in order to create a sense of security and immunity for the ego-personality, he called on his students to disrupt their cultic association with one another. In particular, he challenged them to break through their marriage cults and discard their sexual attachment and jealousy. “One of the ‘secrets’ of spiritual life,” he observed, “is continually to violate your own contracts. ”21 True to the logic of his radical argument, he also asked devotees to desist from turning him into a “golden calf” Instead, he invited them to participate in his freedom and humor—an invitation that exceedingly few of his followers have accepted over the years, perhaps because they got caught up in the web of hierarchical formality surrounding the adept.
He reminded them that the guru is, by virtue of his function, a “dangerous person.”22 He has reiterated this caveat many times during his teaching career. The danger of the guru lies in his or her commitment to the disciple’s radical psychospiritual transmutation. The guru is forever on the disciple’s case. As Da Love-Ananda explained:
The Guru is a kind of irritation to his friends. You can’t sleep with a dog barking in your ear . . . The Guru is a constant wakening sound. He is always annoying people with this demand to stay awake, to wake up . . . Therefore, he doesn’t satisfy the seeker. Those that come to be satisfied are offended, they are not satisfied.23
When he first started to teach, Da Love-Ananda good-naturedly but naively presumed that others would attain enlightenment simply by grasping and applying his teaching argument and by occasionally being exposed to the spiritual presence of his own awakened body-mind during satsanga.24 Gradually he acknowledged that few people possess the necessary qualifications for this shortcut and that most are in need of a prolonged period of intense preparation in which they must learn to discipline their attention and energy. Thus, partly in consideration with his students, he developed an entire way of life, comprising physical exercises, sexual practices, meditation techniques, religious rituals, and much more.
Most of the time, his cultural innovations were presented as recommendations, but, of course, they always had the considerable weight of his charismatic leadership behind them. This was certainly the case in 1974 when he started his “sexual theater, ” involving the switching of partners, sexual orgies, the making of pornographic movies, and intensified sexual practices— all of which led to the temporary or, in some instances, the permanent breakup of relationships. As “contracts” were voided, emotions ran high in the community. Some people were unable to handle this emotional roller coaster and left; a few still bear the wounds today. Most stayed and braved the upheaval, and subsequently learned to live with their traumas or, perhaps more rarely, truly go beyond them.
Da Love-Ananda, who is no mere theoretician, was often found in the thick of the tumult. He had come fully alive in his crazy-wisdom function. That he was not made of the stuff of saints should have been clear to anyone who had read his spiritual autobiography carefully. Already, in The Knee of Listening, he had told his readers how, in his student days at Columbia, he had explored all possibilities “high and low.” In his own words:
No experience posed a barrier to me. There were no taboos, no extremes to be prevented. There was no depth of madness and no limit of suffering that my philosophy could prevent . . . Thus, I extended myself even beyond my own fear. And my pleasures also became extreme, so there was a constant machine of ecstasy. I could tolerate no mediocrity.25
More important, Da Love-Ananda also mentioned that he went to Swami Muktananda’s ashram with his wife, who is now legally divorced from him (at his instigation) although still a devotee, and another young woman, who has not been a formal student now for several years. The trio raised eyebrows in the ashram, but Muktananda apparently never made any comments to his disciple about this unusual living arrangement.
During the “Garbage and the Goddess” period, Da Love-Ananda “married” numerous female devotees, leaving their husbands or lovers to sort out their wild emotions and confusion. These quasi marriages were by no means all platonic. On the contrary, his disciples encountered their teacher as a passionate man. Many of them understood for the first time the full significance of his description of the “man of understanding,” the enlightened person, at the end of The Knee of Listening:
He is a seducer, a madman, a hoax, a libertine, a fool, a moralist, a sayer of truths, a bearer of all experience, a righteous knave, a prince, a child, an old one, an ascetic, a god. He demonstrates the futility of all things.
Therefore, he makes understanding the only possibility. And understanding makes no difference at all. Except it is reality, which was already the case.26
These words, written in 1971/72, were really a self-portrayal. Da Love- Ananda is a man with many faces, many roles, many masks, and many moods. His chameleonlike play is, as he insists, for the sake of his devotees. He claims he wants to give them nothing to cling to. As David Christopher Lane notes:
Da Free John [Love-Ananda] is, without question, the most iconoclastic teacher I have encountered. Not that his fundamental teachings change (they haven’t), but that he continually upsets every model/label that he assumes. Da Free John is literally like a Cracker Jack surprise in the religious world. Just when you think that he has run out of new guises, Da Free John comes up with some bizarre clothing to startle you.27
Even some of his closest disciples have been constantly baffled by Da Love- Ananda’s trickster nature, and they continue to be mystified by the strangeness of his life. This, however, appears to be one of the marks of a good crazy-wise adept: to be able to surprise, startle, bombshell, or shock his disciples. So the theory goes: In those moments when we are jolted out of our complacency, we can inspect the whole structure of our conventional existence and open ourselves to something greater.
There are countless anecdotes about Da Love-Ananda’s Zen-like shock tactics. Often these maneuvers revealed as much about his students’ self-limitations as they did about their beliefs, especially their preconceptions about what a guru is or is not. One longtime student proffered the following, account in 1975:
[When I first met Da Love-Ananda,] Bubba appeared almost cold and businesslike to me. I felt crushed and disappointed . . . My growing contact with Bubba continued to frustrate and disappoint me. I had expected that he would at least be “holy, ” but this hope was dashed when he instigated a series of wild parties which were to last for over a year, providing me with some of the most outrageous and uproarious experiences of my life, and undermining both my expectations of him and my own sense of propriety . . .
About three months after my first meeting with Bubba, he invited me to join his household as his cook and chauffeur. Murderous rages would grip me as I stood chopping vegetables. It required steely control to refrain from running amok in the house with the meat cleaver … If I had well-bred (read “fearful”) ideas about politely paying whatever price a seller asked, Bubba would force me to bargain relentlessly, far below the price at which the poor man could even save face. If I had commonsensical (again read “fearful”) notions about what it meant to have a good time through moderate and sensible celebration, Bubba would take me on a six-week drinking binge, starting every day with a triple Bloody Mary before breakfast and settling into really serious drinking around noon, all the while devising an inexhaustible variety of games, escapades, practical jokes and general outrages.28
Another disciple of Da Love-Ananda, who has since left, related this incident to me:
A bunch of us were washing dishes in the kitchen when Da Love-Ananda sneaked in and started to squirt devotees with the water pistol he often carried around with him in those days. Most ducked or ran off For some reason, one girl squirted him back. He laughed but then he returned with a container filled with water, pouring it over her. Now everyone began to participate and take sides. Soon things got out of hand. Everyone tried to find the biggest containers around.
At one point, Da Love-Ananda was trying to fill a five-gallon container, and I playfully turned the tap off He pushed me out of the way, but I persisted. Laughing wildly, he suddenly picked me up and deposited me on top of the stove. Before I knew it, he had lit all the burners. I seem to have sat there speechless, looking in amazement at the flames below me. Miraculously, I didn’t get burned.
From then on, this hilarious skirmish escalated quickly into an outrageous food fight in which every single food item in the kitchen—from mustard to sauerkraut—was sacrificed, leaving the place and us in a disgusting mess. I didn’t get harmed in any way, but the incident left me completely stunned. I knew I was dealing with a “crazy” adept, who really pulled out all the stops to teach one a lesson. We always put limitations on everything. For him, it has always been no holds barred.
One devotee, now in his middle age, wrote about a moment when, while hugging Da Love-Ananda, he felt as if he were tumbling into the void—an experience that is not uncommon among devotees. That voidness, the absence of all conventional reference points, appeared to this student as a form of madness.
When I opened my eyes, the thing I recognized when I looked at Bubba was that he is totally mad, absolutely mad—but that madness is absolute freedom. I realized that he could and would do anything, absolutely anything! I laughed uproariously and called him a madman. “You shape shifter! You madman! I’ve been busting my ass doing all these disciplines, and they have nothing to do with Truth! It’s all futile!” I said, “What do we do now?” And he said something like, “Stay here and eat till we die. ”29
The “Garbage and the Goddess” period ended on July 7, 1974, leaving in its wake a debris of emotional confusion. This is how Da Love-Ananda explained that period of teaching theater and his participation in it:
What I do is not the way I am, but the way I teach. What I speak is not a reflection of me, but of you. People do well to be offended or even outraged by me. This is my purpose. But their reaction must turn upon themselves, for I have not shown them myself by all of this. All that I do and speak only reveals men to themselves.30
Da Love-Ananda then charged his devotees with using the lessons learned during the preceding years and assuming responsibility for themselves individually and collectively. He declared his intention of retiring from his teaching work; he said he hoped that his disciples had the maturity to make use of each other and the cultural disciplines he had given them and to resort to his spiritual presence rather than crave his physical company.
Da Love-Ananda has apparently from the beginning felt some ambivalence about teaching. He has explained that the “guru function” came alive in him of its own accord, and he has made many attempts since then to withdraw from his responsibilities and obligations as a teacher, longing to be simply present as a spiritual beacon or transmitter. However, again and again, what he has perceived to be the needs of his disciples have pulled him back into his teaching mode. In practice, this has often meant entering into what he called “emotional-sexual considerations” with his disciples. Thus, the sexual theater enacted during the “Garbage and the Goddess” period was repeated on many other occasions, though never again on such a large scale nor with the flashy demonstration of yogic powers. For the most part, these sexual considerations, which were never merely theoretical, were confined to the inner circle of practitioners. But occasionally some relative newcomers were included. This happened to one couple; the husband provided the following extensive account of a fascinating incident that occurred in 1982:
I had been a formal student for only a few months when, one night, my wife and I were invited over to Da Love-Ananda’s home. Both of us felt an inner need to make personal contact with him, since we had only seen him in quite formal situations. So we were understandably very excited about the invitation, but also a bit terrified, because we knew that our teacher was a “difficult man” and we could expect to be tested by him.
I found my spiritual hero sitting on his big bed, holding a glass of beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He was enveloped by a cloud of cigarette smoke. My heart sank. In that moment a cherished image in me was destroyed: my ideal of the guru as a gentle, Jesus-like helper.
We all bowed, and I awkwardly placed a small blossom near him on the bed. No sooner had we sat down before him than I was handed a can of beer. I politely refused. I had done without alcohol for years, and I figured I wouldn’t start drinking beer now. Da Love-Ananda playfully teased me about it. I noticed myself getting uptight and in an instant saw that my refusal was simply an egoic program. So, I chucked my resistance and had a beer. And another. And another.
Meanwhile Da Love-Ananda was talking to us, puffing cigarette after cigarette, and downing one drink after another. His conversation got increasingly animated, amusing, but also barbed. He had his talons in me. I knew this was to be “my” evening. I answered his various questions respectfully but guardedly, listened to his barrage of good-natured criticism, told my story in as humorous a way as possible, laughed with him and at myself, and even risked quibbling with him a few times, but all the while stayed carefully defended. Despite large amounts of beer, I remained relatively sober.
As the evening progressed, and everybody got more inebriated— except myself—Da Love-Ananda heated things up a little. Perhaps he had done whatever “damage” he wanted to do in his conversation with me, and so he had someone put pop music on. Then we all started to dance, with him rhythmically swaying to the blaring sounds. The psychic energy in the room was phenomenal. It seemed to increase whenever he raised his arms. I began to feel an incredible wildness inside me, which was scary. There was a strange inner drama unfolding between him and me. He wanted to break down my walls, and I badly wanted them up. Yet, there was something deep within me, a still observer perhaps, that wanted to see them crumble as well.
I found myself in a real crisis. The music and movement kept on hammering in on me, while strange waves of energy welled up inside my body, threatening to explode my mind. I was feeling manipulated and feared that I had become involved in a terrible cult. Yet, the voice of reason in the back of my mind always convinced me just in time that these feelings were all nonsense, products of my paranoia. Each time I talked myself into hanging in just a bit longer.
In our earlier conversation, he had asked me many times what it . was I was after, and I had repeatedly told him I wanted to attain enlightenment. His response had been to call me a benighted individual and to remind me of the rareness of such an eventuality. But I had persisted. Now that I had made my choice, he felt free to really teach me a lesson.
In front of me, my wife was being sexually prepared for the guru. I coped with my violently irrational feelings by going into emotional numbness. Happily, I did not have to witness my teacher bedding my wife. We were all asked to leave the room. I was sent to a different building where I sat for several hours in the dark, dealing with the emotional hurricane that had been unleashed in me. Finally, I got a handle on my feelings. I realized that one of my greatest attachments was to my wife, and that the guru was doing radical surgery on me for that. I had asked him, indirectly but loudly and clearly, to help me in my struggle for enlightenment. That night he was doing just that.
The day after my personal massacre, Da Love-Ananda got into my wife’s case for a while and then he returned to me, presumably because I was the more defended. This traumatic episode left both of us raw for several months, but it also proved a valuable initiation. We both had been skinned to our bones and were allowed to look into niches of our respective characters that we previously had chosen to leave in the dark. We were also very clear on another point, namely that our guru meant business. He was no mere cosmetic surgeon; his knife cut deep.
I have often wondered whether that crazy-wisdom episode was really necessary, or whether I could have learned the same lessons in another way. There is one thing that has persistently bothered me about the incident, and that was the pressure on me to drink alcohol in an attempt to get me drunk. I still feel I was being manipulated on this count. I also never quite understood why we were asked to keep the whole incident quiet. In the aftermath of the experience both my wife and I would clearly have benefited from talking to our close friends about it. Also, this secrecy smacked of elitism and hypocrisy, because while we were busy partying, the rest of the community was living a fairly strict daily discipline of diet, exercise, meditation, and service.
Tantra-style encounters of this kind occurred periodically and more or less secretly certainly until the end of 1985 and led, in 1986, to a renewed outbreak of legal difficulties with “dissident” students. Da Love-Ananda has always been well aware of the perils of teaching in the crazy-wisdom mode and of teaching Western spiritual seekers in general, since they tend to have little preparation or understanding of the guru-disciple relationship. He once commented:
My life is a little bit like going into the world of enemies and dragons to liberate somebody who has been captured. You cannot just sit down and tell a dragon the Truth. You must confront a dragon. You must engage in heroic effort to release the captive from the dragon. This is how I worked in the theatre of my way of relating to people, particularly in the earlier years, and in the unusual involvements of my life and Teaching. You could characterize it as the heroic way of Teaching, the way of identifying with devotees and entering into consideration in that context and bringing them out of the enemy territory, gradually waking them up.31
3. Crazy-Wise Chaos and the Community of Devotees
Burned out by months-long partying, during which he dealt with the “shadows” of his disciples’ psyches, Da Love-Ananda suffered a sudden collapse at the beginning of 1986. On January 11, he underwent what he described as a literal death experience. This was one of many experiences of this kind that he has undergone since his days in college. However, this particular incident has subsequently been greatly elaborated and invested with special significance, and it continues to shape his relationship with devotees into the present.
We have Da Love-Ananda’s description and interpretation of the occurrence, which is now referred to in the official literature of The Free Daist Communion as his “Divine Emergence.” In a talk given at the end of February 1986, he explained that on that eventful morning in January he had spoken to his close devotees of his grief, sorrow, and frustration at the seeming futility of his teaching work. He had told them that he could no longer endure their rejection and abuse and that he wished to die quickly. Apparently, the death process was initiated almost immediately. He experienced numbness in his arms and spine, followed by convulsions. Then his consciousness faded from his body. Doctors worked feverishly on resuscitating him, and finally their efforts bore fruit. This, in his own words, is what happened next:
Eventually, I began to reassociate with the body, although I was not aware of the room exactly, nor of who was there. I began to Speak of My greater concerns and impulses and of My great sorrow for the four billion humans and the rest of the beings everywhere. I cannot endure such sorrow very well—I have never endured it very well. I have had to bring My Self very deliberately to this Work. And in this Event, I was drawn further into the body with a very human impulse, a love-impulse. Becoming aware of My profound relationship with all My devotees, I resumed My bodily state.32
Da Love-Ananda further explained that most adepts are only partially present in the body. In his own case, his consciousness prior to the “death event” had been associated more closely with the body but had still only been more like a “shroud” surrounding it (a statement that seems to contradict what he has said elsewhere). According to his testimony, the “death event” changed all that. He descended fully into the body, becoming utterly human, yet without forgoing his enlightenment. Da Love-Ananda understands this as a great victory, which holds greater importance for him than even the event of his enlightenment in 1970. As he sees it, his body has become a perfect vehicle for spiritual transmission, so that it is now sufficient to contemplate, or tune into, his bodily state in order to participate in his body’s enlightenment. This does not really differ substantially from the views he expressed in his spiritual autobiography shortly after his enlightenment two decades ago.
Da Love-Ananda’s larger-than-life explanations of this event, like so many of his comments about the inner workings of his mind and life, are fascinating but less than illuminating. They give one the impression of a quite extraordinary individual who, nonetheless, is overly preoccupied with his own evolutionary mystery. From childhood on, Da Love-Ananda has had a flair for drama, and he has been successful in keeping the attention of a few thousand people focused on his dramatic life for a good many years. This certainly is one way in which the alchemical process of guru-yoga can be made to work. But it is evidently not a way that holds an attraction for larger numbers of spiritually motivated people.
The “death experience” had far-reaching repercussions in Da Love- Ananda’s spiritual community. As one community member described it to me:
No one was quite sure what that death event meant. I am still not altogether clear. Love-Ananda himself wasn’t right away aware of all its implications either. What became clear as time went on was that he had changed dramatically. His demand for us to take responsibility for our own spiritual practice became almost overwhelming. He just wouldn’t stand for a halfhearted response any longer. He started to criticize everyone and everything even more fiercely than usual. He tore into the community and the institution, bringing it to the brink of bankruptcy with his demands. He had become a formidable Shiva the Destroyer, causing tremendous chaos in our lives. He was “cult-busting.”
It was almost as if he wanted all old forms and attitudes in the community to die as he had died, so that they could be reborn in a new way. In fact, things became so chaotic that I and many of my friends just fled. I am actively involved again as a student, but for over two years I kept my distance because I was unable to face the craziness of it all.
One of the casualties of Da Love-Ananda’s iconoclasm in that year was the mandala of nine women who had composed the innermost circle of his devotees. Ruthlessly he began to dismantle this elite group, which had been inviolable until then. Five of these women devotees and longtime lovers— spiritual and sexual—of Da Love-Ananda were asked to leave his hermitage in Fiji. One of them was his former wife, who was also his very first devotee. From then on he focused on working with the remaining four women renunciates, who are now reported to be in advanced spiritual states.
Such female mandalas, which act almost as protective circles around the guru, have been associated with a number of adepts, past and present. The esoteric explanation for their existence is that such groups of devoted women serve as conduits for the adept’s spiritual transmission in the world. We have also seen, in the case of Bhagwan Rajneesh, how such mandalas can be channels of political power, corruption, and destructiveness. Many students took the dismantling of Da Love-Ananda’s mandala as a promising sign.
Unlike some modern gurus, Da Love-Ananda never concealed from his students the fact that he is sexually active. For many years he was married, and he also has three children (by different women). In various books, he has reiterated that his attitude to spiritual life is entirely sex-positive. At different times he has openly discussed the option of polygamy with students, usually recommending against it. Yet, being an intensely private person, he has understandably discouraged publicizing his own polygamous relationships.
For many years, members of The Free Daist Communion have suffered from feelings of guilt and shame about their experiments and excesses during the “Garbage and the Goddess” period. Many have felt especially embarrassed by their guru, as Da Love-Ananda himself has noted on many occasions. This became apparent when, in 1985, a lawsuit was brought against The Free Daist Communion by a group of disaffected members, which caused sensationalistic and disruptive media attention. Members were at a loss about how to deal with the situation emotionally and politically, and many stepped back or left.
For years, community representatives did their best to clean up Da Love- Ananda’s talks before printing them, and in general they tried to tone down the crazy aspect of his behavior and teaching. Da Love-Ananda, on the other hand, constantly criticized them for presenting a distorted public image of him; he wanted to be portrayed as the wild man he is, despite the possible dangers resulting from such a public image. He wanted to be free to teach in crazy-wise fashion and he felt that people approaching his community were entitled to know that he is no mild-mannered teacher but, as he once put it, a “conflagration,” in which the ego inevitably gets scorched and consumed. He likes to compare his work to the crazy-wise teachings of some of the great adepts of the East. In particular, he once remarked “I am Drukpa Kunley. This is exactly what I am in your time and place. ”33
It is difficult and superfluous to determine what might have happened if his followers had chosen to represent him more faithfully over the years. It certainly would have been fairer at least to give newcomers more of a sense of the crazy-wise ways of their chosen guru. Instead, there were and presumably still are many marginal friends of the community and even formal disciples of Da Love-Ananda who have no concrete idea of the precise nature of his past crazy-wisdom exploits. Many students do not really want to think about them, preferring to remain ignorant of the details lest they should prove too upsetting.
The current policy of the community’s representatives is to affirm that Da Love-Ananda has definitely retired as a crazy-wisdom teacher and that he is now engaged only in “universal blessing work. ” But this asseveration may be founded in the same kind of deep denial that has proven so destructive to the community in the past. Regardless of his own explanations, which are known to be less than final, Da Love-Ananda continues to interact with disciples. So long as this is the case and so long as men and women relate to him as devotees, they must expect him to interfere with their lives, and this is bound to cause real tempests and problems on occasion.
It is positively naive to assume that Da Love-Ananda’s crazy-wisdom days are over. For instance, his continuing production of an ornate spiritual literature of gothic proportions can be seen as the elaborate play of a crazy adept. In fact, to assume anything else would leave us with only one alternative explanation, which is quite unsavory and tragic in its implications: that he has lost his sense of humor and is beginning to mistake his own mythology for reality. Why should his present role-playing be the last word? If there is any certainty in his work with disciples it is that nothing around him stays the same for very long.
Most recently, Da Love-Ananda’s irrepressible holy madness has surfaced in a new name change, with all its attendant shifts of emphasis in the Free Daist institution and community. This time he appears as the avatara “Da Kalki.” Kalki is the prophesied future tenth incarnation of God Vishnu. He is supposed to arrive at the end of the present dark age, the kali-yuga, riding on a white steed and swinging his sword to bring down all his enemies. He is perhaps the most fundamentalist of all the incarnations of Vishnu. That Da Love-Ananda should have chosen to make Kalki his symbol is significant. He could have opted for Maitreya, the prophesied reembodiment of the Buddha.
But Maitreya represents compassion rather than divine justice, as does Kalki, and compassion does not play an important role in the theology of Da Love- Ananda, nor does it seem to be an ethical practice emphasized by him or his community.
There are several other ways to read this latest addition to Da Love- Ananda’s long string of self-bestowed names. We can see it as a specimen of the peculiar crazy-wise sense of humor by which he thumbs his nose at his disciples and the world. As he must know, Kalki is not due to come for another 129 million years or so, according to Hindu computations. Like some of his other names and titles, the name Kalki is another straightforward adoption from Indian sources, with the added twist that it is quite anachronistic. Surely there is great humor in this, providing it is understood as not a literal but a metaphoric statement.
Many critics would undoubtedly proffer a different analysis, namely that the name change is yet another indication of an inflated personality and perhaps a symptom of growing self-delusion. If the latter is the case, his disciples are truly imperiled. Da Love-Ananda tells them that he can do no wrong, and they, in all seriousness, see in him God incarnate. History is replete with instances of such claims and the dire consequences when they are taken literally by a sufficient number of people. The self-delusion of a charismatic leader tends to infect his or her following with the same disease; the resulting closed worldview regards the surrounding world as inimical to the purposes of the charismatic leader, and hence as enemy. From there to active aggression is, as we have witnessed in the case of the Rajneesh movement, a dangerously small step. Or, as in the case of the People’s Temple ofjim Jones, the aggressive instinct may be turned inward, leading, in that instance, to enforced mass suicide.
Da Love-Ananda is a born shape shifter, the proverbial protean man, who is his own caricature. He has at one time or another assumed all conceivable roles of a crazy-wise adept. He has acted as a loving friend, a belligerent madman, a boisterous clown, a sorrow-stricken individual, a smitten and jealous lover, a peremptory king, a remorseful confessor, an oracle of doom, an arrogant dilettante, a drunkard with slurred speech, an inspired poet filled with wonder, a proud father, a stern disciplinarian, an incorrigible imp, a solemn sage, an uplifting minstrel, a sexual obsessive, a perceptive philosopher, a childlike person, a decisive businessman, a frail mystic, a tormented writer, a tireless preacher, a man of immeasurable faith and confidence, a ruthless critic, a wiseguy, an enlightened beast, a generous giver, and a formidable avatara. At times, he has switched from one role to another so quickly that devotees found themselves in trouble because they failed to notice the change in his mood.
Yet, somehow, behind all these theatrical masks of his persona one can sense the irrepressible Promethean impulse to teach. Even in his most drunken
moments—perhaps especially in those moments—Da Love-Ananda has been known to burst into sublime eulogies on the Divine or gripping exhortations to his students to be compassionate, forgiving, and loving. It is his identity with the incommensurable Being that he has always consistently affirmed beyond all his countless roles. He has likened his existence to a screenplay, which has no consciousness in and of itself The play itself, his activity, is the argument. As he put it on one occasion:
The conventional sense of identity is in some way inoperable in me. It does not have the force it has in your case. It is very much like having been beheaded . . .
I am the headless horseman. If you put me on the Dawn Horse, I will hold my hat in the air because there is nothing above my collar but the evening.34
This lack of a stable human identity permits Da Love-Ananda tremendous flexibility in his roles and his crazy-wise behavior. He has often remarked on his “madness.” Here are two characteristic comments:
I have always been Crazy, from the moment of my birth. I have been Crazy my entire life. This is the only way that the Great One can intervene in your midst, you see, because you all get very serious about all of the bullshit of your appearances.35
I have always been insane since the day I was born, mad with this Formless Condition that is only vaguely associated with my body-mind . . . God is crazy just like me. In fact, God is crazy just like you 36
The “madness” of the Divine is a recurrent theme in Da Love-Ananda’s metaphysics. He uses this radical concept as a counterpoint to the Judeo- Christian Creator-God, the heavenly “father, ” who is essentially benign and protective. For him, the Divine is the utterly incomprehensible and unpredictable totality of existence, which ultimately does not favor the conventional ego-personality but forever seeks to supplant it. From the point of view of the finite human mind, therefore, the Divine is a threatening chaos, or madness. The only way to meet that universal madness is by consciously sacrificing the ego-illusion, which gesture is madness in itself. For Da Love- Ananda, God-realization is the ultimate madness because it involves the complete renunciation of the ego-identity.
The function of an adept, as Da Love-Ananda affirms, is to break the spell of conventional consciousness, which is constantly building protective walls around itself, trying to ensure its own immortality. Since convention’s magical spell over the conditional personality is so profound, adepts have historically resorted to particularly drastic measures. As Da Love-Ananda has stated:
Everyone is enchanted with unreality, enchanted with the conventional appearance of every moment, and merely talking to them does not break the spell. Talk is not sufficient because they are not merely thinking wrongly. They are altogether associated with this moment in a fashion that renders them incapable of being Awake to their actual Condition. In effect, you must cut them in half with a big sword! You must blow their minds. You must shake them loose. You must wholly divert them. You must trick them. To truly Enlighten human beings you must be wild.37
Elsewhere he said:
My Work takes many forms, but the import of it is to drive everyone Mad. It is not to make them clinically insane—that is a devastating, subhuman disorder. Clinical insanity is not Craziness, is not Wisdom, is not the Awakened State . . .
Thus, the fundamental Work of the Adept is spell-breaking. It is a wild, paradoxical exorcism of Narcissus, a terrible Interference in your life, and it must be understood, valued, and appreciated.38
Ever since his Columbia days, Da Love-Ananda has had strong leanings toward Hinduism; hence his attraction to Rudi and Muktananda. Over the years, but especially since his death experience in 1986, his teaching has become increasingly Hinduized. Many of his disciples have found this turn of events difficult and alienating. Da Love-Ananda’s literature and community jargon brim with Sanskrit and Hindi terms—or highly idiosyncratic versions of them—and many of his numerous self-bestowed names and titles are directly derived from the Hindu tradition.
From the outside, all of this seems needlessly obfuscating. From the inside, however, these curiosities provide students with a never-ending stream of diversion. Their own lives are, on the whole, as dull as the routine existence of most people. But then, spiritual practice is not meant to be entertaining. So the guru’s life and deeds hold an all-absorbing fascination for devotees; they live vicariously through him. Each event in Da Love-Ananda’s life is greeted as a moment of historical magnitude. While he does not mean to entertain his devotees, he certainly has every intention of holding their attention, because that is how, in guru-yoga, the process of spiritual osmosis is thought to take place. However, instead of using the adept’s spiritual transmission to duplicate his Awakening, disciples generally end up merely imitating him.
Robert Augustus Masters, the iconoclastic “guide” of the Xanthyros community in Canada, has harshly criticized this attitude among the students of Da Love-Ananda:
Da Free John … is a lucid wonder of a man, effortlessly radiant, overflowing with sublime intelligence and heartfelt wisdom, teaching through his example the transcendence of all reactivity. Nevertheless, he sits at the center of a hive abuzz with rabid earnestness, misguided loyalty, and fetishistic preoccupation with him and his every move. He has eloquently criticized such foolishness again and again over the years, but to little avail; his devotees are far too busy telling themselves how wonderful he is, and how wonderful it is to have a Master like him, to really face their cultic obsession with him . . . They compulsively and almost constantly express, or intend to express, their gratitude for him with incredibly naive sincerity and disgusting adulation, robotically convincing themselves that they are doing the right thing, rarely noticing that they’re just making real estate out of a moment of light.39
In all the excitement that Da Love-Ananda’s constant shape shifting provides, his disciples regularly miss the point: Instead of understanding the play between guru and disciple as a metaphor that is meant to disenchant, they take it literally and thus are enchanted by it, possibly sinking deeper into the morass of egoity from which they are so desperately trying to escape. Captivated by the latest emphasis, they typically fail to see that Da Love-Ananda’s teaching has from the beginning been the same. Plus change, plus c’est la meme chose. Translated into the language of holy folly, this means: “The more housebroken the adept appears to be, the greater is the wildness that lurks beneath his placid exterior. ”
Da Love-Ananda has created an entire cultural apparatus for which he reluctantly but persistently functions as the perpetual motor. Everything revolves around him, which is the gist of traditional guru-yoga. He once described himself as the queen bee in the hive of devotees. He is nourished by all of them and in return gives life to the hive. This is a horrifying vision to anyone who values his or her independence. But for Da Love-Ananda and his devotees, independence is ultimately illusory and therefore constantly to be undermined. Yet, as Masters rightly points out, guru-yoga tends to lead to a dependence that is equally neurotic—simply the obverse of egoic independence.
In his somewhat mistitled book The Way of the Lover, Masters wonders out loud why adepts of obvious integrity, like Da Love-Ananda, seem to permit and even encourage guru-devotion to the point where it flips over into mere adulation. Masters rightly notes that most people need to play out the guru-devotee drama in terms of the father-child archetype before they can proceed to a freer and less neurotic form of interaction. But then he remarks:
Unfortunately, Da Free John [Love-Ananda] doesn’t use devotionalism in this light, but rather encourages its continuation far past the point where it ought to have served its purpose, instead of employing it as a psychotherapeutic purification. He denounces cultism, yet tacitly supports it, letting himself be surrounded by ritualized guru-worship…
To make wise use of someone like Da Free John, whatever his failings, we must not submit to devotional fervour, nor simply stand back, taking notes. We must feel him, empathize with him, receive him, give to him, losing face without losing touch, giving our love without giving ourselves away. We must remain centered yet not impermeable, strong in our very vulnerability.40 (R.A.Master, The Way of the Lover: The Awakening & Embodiment of the Full Human).
Masters’s observations are for the most part astute. We may, however, question his statement that we can love “without giving ourselves away.” Self-surrender is, after all, the quintessence of the spiritual process and of love. Probably what Masters means is an immature self-denial through an idealized love. At any rate, Da Love-Ananda’s apparent encouragement of cultic devotionalism is indeed puzzling, given his periodic trenchant criticisms of cultism. But this is only one of numerous puzzles confronting both the outside observer and the faithful devotee. Da Love-Ananda is an enigma, a paradox, for which there may be no solution other than the nonsolution of enlightenment itself.
Note to reader
Although this article is highly charged and critical of Adi Da some things need to be clarified. First, yes, beyond a doubt Adi Da was a ‘crazy,’ ‘wild,’ and at times a terrifying individual to be around as other Guru’s:
Those who are not devotees of Meher Baba should not be foolishly overcritical of his “Mad” paradoxes.
He was not the “Avatar of the Age” (except to his devotees), but he was a true Spiritual Master (in the context of the fourth and the fifth stages of life), and, therefore, he was a legitimate Guru for some. And even all true Gurus are (if truly Awakened to any degree of Real-God-Consciousness) at least eccentric and paradoxical, often rather “Mad,” and not necessarily very comfortably conformed to social conventions and conventional expectations–for the true Guru is a living Sign of Real God, and a Window and a Door and a Way to Real God (and, therefore, the true Guru is not merely a guide or a path to convention, or the “civilized” world of egoic body-consciousness).
This is not to justify any of the difficulties or minimize the trauma individuals who were part of his ‘crazy shenanigans’ suffered. But as you can read in this article, no one was forced – yes, pressured (psychologically and socially) but not forced as was in the case of one case I’d like to reference:
“Chogyam Trungpa, at a Halloween party (1975), ordered everyone to undress. Merwin and Naone refused. Trungpa’s bodyguards tried to batter down the door to their room. “I was not going to go peacefully,” Merwin recalls. “I started hitting people with beer bottles. It was a very violent scene.” Trungpa’s bodyguards stripped them”
This incident almost shut down Naropa Institute in 1975.
I’d be a fool to try and “justify” any of this behavior and try to uplevel it to a form of ‘teaching demonstration .’But I did write a piece on ‘Crazy Wisdom’ behavior to try and put it in a context – not explain it away – but put it in a context. See it here: Paradox of Morality – Unfortunate Dilemma.
A Sad Moral to this Tale
I knew Georg personally for well over ten years many of which were in the Adi Da community. My wife, Liisa took Geoge in 1996 out of his little trailer in Lake County (figuratively) and put him “out there” for the first time in his life. Liisa set up Georg’s first public talk at the ‘Yoga Garden’ yoga studio in San Anselmo, California. He called it ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ From that talk Georg and Liisa started working together and in a short period, set up Georg’s first ‘Yoga Research and Educational Center’ teacher training program at Mount Madonna in Santa Cruz, California. Georg worked with Liisa at our home in Fairfax, California for over a year, every Wednesday for 3-5 hours, going over and imparting his knowledge of yoga to Liisa. It’s worth noting that Georg was not without a ‘promiscuity’ tendency even though he was married at this time to Trish Lamb ( IAYT.org by Trish Lamb). I’m happy to say that Liisa did not yield to any of his subtle gestures this tendency of his eventually brought him ‘down’ and forced him to leave the country after his affair with Brenda (now Feuerstein), who now runs the ‘Traditional Yoga Studies’ (Traditional Yoga Studies (TYS) is dedicated to promoting authentic yogic teachings and solid research, and to bring out their relevance in all aspects of life in the 21st century. We offer online courses, trainings, workshops, and classes.).
Georg had founded a very successful ‘Yoga and Research Educational Center’ located in Santa Rosa, which had a major benefactor and, in hindsight, could have been a major educational resource for many thousands of people interested in Yoga at the turn of the century. But unfortunately, Georg fell through the ‘trap door’ that he is alluding to in his chapter above. A sad tale with an ironic moral to what could have been an excellent learning institute and a learned voice in the yoga world.