Beezone Interview with Julie Anderson
(Formerly Kanya Samarpana Remembrance)
Charlie’s Place and the Fire
Inteview took place in January 2018
Ed: I have been transcribing our recent phone sessions trying to come up with a ‘theme’ for our next Beezone posting. I haven’t been able to single out one particular topic that stands out but I have managed to filter our talks into three areas.
The first area or topic that stands out in our recent talks is the importance of understanding the Emotion-Sexual Reality Considerations that you were engaged in for many years with Adi Da. Not only the importance it had for you but the extremely essential aspects it holds in understanding Adi Da and his early teaching work.
The second area that stood out was the importance of finishing or handling ‘unfinished business.’ This refers to life level responsibilities which have to do with the first three stages of life. And why one cannot avoid these life responsibilities and demands that have to do with the areas of money, food, and sex along with social responsibilities including deep karmic ties to family and cultural identities.
The last area that recurred over and over again was the notion and the importance of Grace. This area covered the subtleties of understanding Grace and errors people make about it. These subtleties stood out in two leelas that have to do with ‘holding on to Adi Da’s big toe.’ The first one told by Frank Marrero in his book, “The Monkey’s Tale for the Divine Person” and your telling of the time a fire broke out on an Island in Fiji that almost killed you and six of Adi Da’s children devotees and another female devotee.
Anyone of these areas is a book in themselves, but for our purposes with Beezone, only a brief story can be told about them. So, for our readers, I’d like to start with you telling the story about the Fire on the Island of Nananu-I-Ra at Charlie’s Place while you were taking care of Adi Da’s children in 1983.
Julie: Yes, so very much to communicate! Phew!
Firstly to clarify, from my understanding and experience, “handling unfinished business” does not only refer to the grosser life level responsibilities characterized by the first three stages of life (as Adi Da has described), but to the freeing of energy and attention from the grip of the ego act as it manifests in relation to any of the first six stages of life.
The telling of stories about Adi Da is very significant for me in so many ways. As it would be for any devotee. Doing so brings me “back”, feeling deeply into the history of my relationship with Adi Da in the context of each particular event or moment in time. Often ecstatic to do but not always easy to do. There has been so much that has transpired since these events. My relationship to these moments or events in time and understanding of them has changed in so many ways.
“When you have passed through this crisis of growth, you will begin to understand what has happened, what Force has been brought into the flesh through My Divine Avataric Birth.”
Adi Da Samraj, November 7, 1983
In relation to specific events then, as years go by, I can tell the same story over and over and tell it exactly as it happened (from “my” point of view and depending on the clarity of my memory) yet the import always deepens.. As Adi Da’s Brightness is magnified there is greater clarity about not only the event but the entire process of his work.
The reason for all this explanation is that this is important for me to say, as during this time of dialog with you this key shift has become very clear and has caused pause for me as I consider and feel into communicating in this new light.
Adi Da told me that his leela cannot be truly understood until 7th stage awakening. Our individual stories must be told, but really it is the divine leela, It is not about me and my story but the divine reality magnification, a growing temple of all inclusive love bliss. This is literally so.
In the recollection of this particular event, as I have remembered it, took place when we were traveling in Fiji searching for what eventually became Hermitage, Adidamsamrajashram. Feeling back into this period of the relationship, has previously been somewhat difficult, emotionally, for a number of reasons. As I have said earlier, I came into Adi Da’s personal and intimate company without any background in what a Guru/Disciple relationship was about. I started living in his close company in 1976, and now in this period of traveling and searching for Hermitage in the early 80’s, I would call this period a time of continuing adaptation and integration.
In my life I had never traveled much so this time of searching for Hermitage was exciting in and of itself. When we first traveled from the US and landed in Hawaii, I slept for almost two full days! I remember Nina telling me, after I awoke, that she had asked Bubba (at the time) if she should wake me up. He said to “let her sleep”. This became a common feature of my relationship to him over the years, where he was very compassionate about my need for sleep.
At this time, I was still learning and adapting to a very intense, full, ecstatic and demanding life. From very early on I was given much responsibility in relationship to his children and other devotee children, (in addition to many other collective responsibilities). I was very intimately involved in caring for them, being with them a lot and serving them. I loved being with them. In fact, in later times he used to joke and say “I have 5 Brahmachari’s”; four were his children the fifth was me! (laughter). I had the role of caring for them, helping them grow and communicating to Adi Da about them. Serving them in their growth humanly, socially, culturally and spiritually.
I was young myself, only in my mid 20s at the time and I was very much involved in my own growth process, humanly, culturally and spiritually. It is amazing to me that he would give me such a role when I was so immature myself!
When we arrived at Charlie’s Place on the island of Nananu-I-RA in Fiji Adi Da expressed a greater freedom to work with a smaller group of devotees with whom he shared a unique human intimacy. There was an ease and fluidity around him that he enjoyed. He shaved his head,
as did all the male devotees.
This was an expression of his joy and freedom. to work at a greater depth. It was such a happy time. We had very little in the way of “things” or even food we were used to. But so overjoyed to enter into this adventure with him and all the devotees there. Not to mention how open, pristine and wild the environment was there on the Islands.
When we landed there at Charlie’s Place I was involved in my function of preparing and taking care of the children and their living and practice situation along with Lynne W., a very dear gurubhai. BTW! There is a great dialog Adi Da had with the children at Charlie’s place about renunciation
Ed: This was the time of the ‘Ordeal of Being’ retreats, right?
Julie: Yes. I wasn’t involved with the retreats at that time and felt deeply about that. I was not prepared and mature enough to go on them. Adi Da did ask me to write up the daily retreat schedule for all the retreatants, based on his talking it to me. I had to do this by hand. When I showed him the schedule I had misspelled the word “wandering” and had written “wondering”. He joked with me saying that the faux pas was the precise reason I was NOT going on the retreat as I would be “wondering” rather than “wandering”; merely being! In this exchange, there arose the egoic emotional dynamic of feeling left out. “Not so funny is it!?”
I was given services in addition to taking care of the children. I was also cleaning the toilets, laundry and caring for his rooms. Of course from my continuing naive perspective at the time I wasn’t entirely understanding nor appreciating the profundity of these services. Being zeroed in on the subjectivity that I wasn’t on retreat with the “advanced ones”….need I say more? Whereas in fact in time and now, I feel incredibly blessed and know that I was so extremely fortunate to be given ANY service in such close proximity. It was a precious gift to be involved in intimate service with him and his family in that way. I was able to appreciate that more and more over time. But at that time I felt like the odd one out, you know, “I wasn’t good enough” or “mature enough” to be able to go on those retreats. (laughter). I was envious of those who were able to. So, on an emotional level that was the context within which I was struggling. It was my emotional-sexual social oedipal ego, the sense of falling short of expectations, the sense of betrayal and rejection at the time. In the midst of this, there were devotees confessing 7th Stage Realization! When I would hear their confessions I secretly felt “hey I feel and understand that too!”. But no good did that do me! This context is also important in regards to your commentary about Grace and his “big toe”, as you will hear later.
I was feeling like an outsider, and now this feeling was being magnified with the 7th stage confessions and initiations being given. Still they were amazingly happy. I remember there was a moment after Nadikanta (Navaneeta) made her confession and was acknowledged as being a significant realizer that I made a silly comment to Adi Da about my relationship to her. Walking along the beach after her imitation I danced around him and told him “Nadikanta and I are very close”! In my feelings of being an outsider, I guess I had to let him know how close I was to her. He got the biggest kick out of that, and he burst out laughing! At the time I was taken aback at his response. I wondered, “what’s he laughing about”? It hurt and I felt embarrassed. Now, there is a lot to say about his laughter. It did not always communicate a humor that was immediately obvious to me. His laugh could be hilariously contagious, liberating and it could also be seriously piercing. There were times when he laughed that I didn’t quite know which it was and it initiated a process of examination and insight, what is traditionally called tapas. This was that kind of laugh. I felt humiliated, perplexed and very low on the totem! (laughing)
Adi Da with children
It was in this context that the fire occurred. It was a night where there were important events going on. My function was to take care of the children. The building where the children slept was a long ‘L’ shaped wooden structure with a concrete floor. That night myself and another devotee were to put the children to bed and sleep with them. In the building, there were cots to sleep on, and a little kitchenette with a freezer in it kept frozen by using a motor run on an explosive fuel.
When I laid down that night to go to sleep, I decided to put on my rudraksha bead mala (which Adi Da had made for me and blessed and given to me) around my neck. This was unusual because we did not sleep with our malas on. We typically would take them off and put them on an altar because they were regarded as sacred and so should be in a kept in a sacred place while sleeping. For whatever reason, I had an intuition that I should sleep with it on, around my neck, keep it close that night as though I had to be vigilant for whatever reason. I was asleep in the bed that lay at the end of the long rectangular room and at the right angle of the ‘L’ shaped building.
With the children all tucked into bed I fell asleep with the mala around my neck and the master bead in my right-hand fist, holding it close to my heart. I held the “master bead” in my hand because the master bead was considered the Guru and I wanted to keep my focus on Adi Da and give energy and attention there, at the heart. So, I fell asleep with the master bead in my hand close to my heart and thus breathing spirit grace, deeply connected to Adi Da beyond my obvious neurosis. Later in the night, I was awakened by the pressure of the master bead on my chest, and that’s when I looked up and saw the flames to my left, in the room with two beds, four young children, the kitchenette and the freezer. There were two beds at the front of this room, one with the flames right at the head of the bed. FOUR children in the room, TWO the youngest were in bed where the flames could be seen rising at the head of the bed just in front of where the freezer was!
I jumped out of bed and ran into the room with the flames to cognize what was occurring. That’s when I realized the danger we were all in. Very quickly I grabbed the two youngest children by the feet and up into my arms and brought them to the front door and out to safety, turned around to get the other two. In doing so, I also yelled out “KATSU!” to the other female devotee sleeping: “HELP, GET ALL THE CHILDREN OUT IMMEDIATELY.” Just as we got the last two children out and stepped onto the porch, the building blew up and completely burst into flames. We were catapulted out and onto the ground. After that, much of what happened was, and still is, a bit blurry. I know many devotees came running to assist us all, pulling us away from the burning building and eventually extinguished the fire. What I do remember is the children crying and my heart pounding, being covered in dirt and ash. It all happened so fast I cannot recall exactly what had happened for a period of time.
The next thing I do remember clearly was being in Beloved Bhagavan’s bedroom. He was sitting up in a half lotus on his bed, and all of the children were huddled up around him softly weeping. His arms around all the children, swaying and caressing them. Everyone was stunned and crying as it was a very emotional and frightening event. Other devotees were in the room kneeling around his bed and leaning into him and hugging and healing one another. I was at the bottom of his bed and was in shock, and I remember everything being in slow motion still.
I was trying to process what had just happened. It was difficult to relate to the present reality, not only the event and emotions but everyone else’s emotions. Besides, there were still underlying feelings of being rejected and betrayed because I was not chosen to go on retreat. It was a very complex and confusing moment. I was observing his affection for the children as he was comforting them and also the mothers and parents of all the children. Then I noticed I was feeling unrecognized! What was coming up for me was that, I almost died too! (laughter). It’s embarrassing to say, but I wasn’t getting any attention, and a little voice came up in my consciousness and said, And I was the one who saved everybody (laughing). Those kinds of emotions were bubbling; Where is the attention I deserve?, What about me?! (laughing). Those kinds of thoughts were surfacing for some time, and then I realized I had my hand on his foot, as he had extended it to me and wiggled it forcibly in my hand! Wake up!
I don’t know if you have heard what it is like to have your hands on his feet, but he has no ordinary feet! You probably notice from videos his feet and toes are often always moving. They are moving because there is a tremendous amount of spirit energy pouring out of his feet. When I would massage his feet at times, WHOA! The force that would come out of his feet was intoxicating and purifying tapas. Often I had to forcibly push into that energy just to feel I was connecting to his physical feet. At times when I would massage him, I felt I was not strong enough to be able to meet the force that would come out of his feet. The force would be so strong at times any sense that I was doing anything to him or for him would dissolve. I was just participating with him and had to let go of any idea of what was going on with that kind of force. At other times his feet were emitting a nurturing healing soothing love. So many stories of massage I could tell! Ah…
As I was sitting there with all my emotions and having my hands on his foot feeling this very masculine and almost stern quality of force coming from his foot, everything slowly dissolved. The shock of the fire, even the emotions I was feeling, the feelings of what about me, the feelings of rejection all slowly came to rest. A rest of gratitude, fullness, and bliss. For those who have not been around Beloved Bhagavan a lot, this was not uncommon. In fact, it was very typical. In any circumstance, the kakafonie of everything occurring and arising, no matter what it was, would finally come to rest and there would merely be a fullness of his heart love. The blessing of the divine spirit and fullness would bring everything to rest. That was his darshan, his blessing. All the synchronicity of everything and the unity of it would bring us all to rest, as one.
After a time everyone dispersed and went to bed. I went back to my cabin and went to sleep, and that is when I had the dream.
In the dream, there was no particular content other than I was with Beloved flying in space. I was moving through space quickly and feeling various nuances of fear, sorrow, anger and all the possible emotions one could imagine. As I was moving through space, I realized I was holding on to his big toe. We were going up, up, up into the light. At a point, there was a dissolution, and everything came to rest. No movement, no traveling up, no anything other than rest and peace. There was a sense of everything being dissolved, and there was no problem, and THIS was HOME. This is where I wanted to be forever. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. This is the why couldn’t it always be this way, why couldn’t everything always feel this way” samadhi! It was a profoundly blissful feeling.
When I woke up from the dream, I was no longer in a state of shock. I also realized that being awakened by the master bead pressing into my chest was being awakened by HIM. He was the master bead as I had always understood it to be. That’s the way I practiced with it. That was the link, that was the sacred connection, that’s where I did japa and other forms of devotion. In that sacred object was the Guru/Devotee connection. So, I completely acknowledged that it was Adi Da awakening me that allowed the event to unfold the way it did. But the little devil in me was still saying I needed some kind of acknowledgment for this some kind of attention for my participation in saving the children, the dream, the samadhi, particularly given that I had deep feelings of being rejected and left out in the broader context of what was auspiciously happening. I did not have a Jiminy Cricket on my shoulder!
“If you want to realize me you’re going to have to do a whole hell of a lot more than hold on to my big toe!”
When the morning gatherings were assembling that next day, I wanted to tell Adi Da about the dream I had. At some point during the mornings gathering, I had an opportunity to tell him. I remember sitting right in front of him. I had my hands on his leg, and I leaned into him and told him about the dream and of the ecstatic samadhi and thanking him for waking me up in the midst of the fire. After telling him about the dream, in a very stern manner, he looked at me and with that sharp force coming through him said, If you want to realize me you’re going to have to do a whole hell of a lot more than hold on to my big toe!
When he finished saying that I felt like I got my head severed and heart pierced. I felt decimated. Here I was looking for some kind of acknowledgment like, Oh, thank you for saving the children (laughter) “amazing dream,” and what I got was my head decapitated and my heart crushed! I was floored, literally. Well, I got that reflection very quick, as it became immediately clear I was still seeking attention. Even after all the gifts of life, resolve and bliss!
In sitting back, feeling into this time (and so so many others)something he said to me has again entered my awareness, The problem with you is that you take my criticisms personally!
It was the ego. I needed acknowledgment and also as difficult as the ordeal was…. there is always more to be surrendered, more sadhana to do. And this is what he ALWAYS was pointing to more, more, more surrender of ego I required. However you approached him he would always respond to you in a way that made it clear if he was “pleased” or not by a true approach as a real devotee, for the right auspicious reasons. Otherwise, there is a ‘you’ responding to ‘him as other.’
If one responds by going beyond ego’s agenda in relationship to Him, that would be True Devotion. If you did, he would respond with his characterics “Tcha.” This would be where he would acknowledge your right response with a blessing and an acknowledgment of a right approach or right understanding. But whenever there would be an agenda with the ego he would cut that asunder and that is what I got at that moment, “Take that, and Understand.” This is how it was with him.
Adi Da could be fierce, and that was he was dealing with at that moment. I didn’t know the magnitude of what he was dealing with until he started speaking about the fire and the circumstance at Charlie’s Place. Only later did he talk about “invisible forces” that were present in the conditional realm.
“The day after the fire Master Da revealed that on the evening of the fire he had been visited by some playful but rather aggressive spirit who had been responsible for the fire and who, although not altogether demonic, were nevertheless, testy“ – Mo Whiteside – Eternal Stand
Beloved Adi Da loved Charlie’s Place, and He would have stayed there except for the fire. After that happened, He said, “We have got to get out of here.” He was very disturbed about the fire and what would have happened. It was clear that Beloved Adi Da did not think the fire was an arbitrary thing.”
Adi Da leaving Nananu-I-Ra
The Lesson of ‘The Fire’
“Take this “secret knowledge” and this Lesson of Life to your place of meditation
and to the places of your daily living.“
MO WHITESIDE: Beloved Adi Da loved Charlie’s Place, and He would have stayed there except for the fire. After that happened, He said, “We have got to get out of here.” He was very disturbed about the fire and what could have happened. It was clear that Beloved Adi Da did not think of the fire as an arbitrary thing.
Avatar Adi Da spoke at length to His devotees about the significance of the fire and the lesson to be learned from it.
The experience last evening of this fire should be allowed to function as a kind of “secret knowledge” to everyone. You should not try to hide this “secret knowledge”. You should allow it to become profound, allow it to serve your understanding, allow it to motivate you to devote yourself to this practice to the point of its fulfillment, not merely to be devoted to it as a nominal practitioner who is satisfied with a few moments of relaxation here and there, satisfied with a little relaxation on retreat, for instance.
Enjoy this “secret knowledge” to the point that you cannot be satisfied by any arrangement of conditional existence. Allow it to make you like Me. I have never been satisfied by anything. I have never been interested in the merely pleasurable arrangement of life. I have not dissociated from the pleasurable arrangements of life, but they have never seemed to Me to be ultimately satisfactory. The pleasurable arrangements of life I have encountered include not only human arrangements, human relations in the ordinary domain, but grand “Experiences” of the highest Yogic and Spiritual and Transcendental types. None of those things appeared sufficient to Me, because I was dominated by the Ultimate Disposition. Having Submitted Myself to That Disposition, having Allowed that “secret knowledge” to dominate Me entirely, I Fulfilled the course—so that others might observe it in My Case, and so that I could be of use to them.
Having fulfilled that course, I have Served people. I am not a social worker merely trying to create an idealistic community of human beings. Only on some secondary level am I doing anything even remotely like that. I Serve people with My “Reality Consideration”, with My Awakening Work. Therefore, like Me, you should allow the “secret knowledge” that comes from observing the limitations of existence to rise up in you, to well up in your being, to convict you, to convince you of the limited nature of conditionally manifested existence. Allow it to make you into a renunciate.
Take this “secret knowledge” and this Lesson of Life to your place of meditation and to the places of your daily living. You will observe, then, that no moment of human happiness is not sorrowful. No moment of pleasure, no moment of fulfillment, no arrangement is not also sorrowful, because this “secret knowledge” that you have gained is continuous. Death convicts you of this Lesson. Even if you have not had some terrible, immediate “experience” of the loss of someone through death, you do know that this is how it works here.
Particularly as you grow older, as you mature in your years, you lose the capability to distract yourself, as vital young people do, to bypass the knowledge of existence in its worst form. Particularly as you grow older, you lose the capability to blind yourself to the inherent sorrow, and then either you will be chronically sorrowful and incapable of any kind of human enjoyment or you will become devoted to the Transcendental Spiritual process in My Company and really practice it.
If you are intelligent, you will begin to do that even in your youth.
April 8, 1983
Nananu-i-Ra (Charlie’s Place) – ‘The Eternal Stand – The Fire‘, p. 76
A Note from Julie
Blessings! I am making this communication via Beezone as a means to explore, remember, understand more deeply and make available the story of my life with Bhagavan Adi Da.Its a deep samyama for me and I am grateful to Ed Reither for this auspicious opportunity and how this gift has come into being.
Coincidentally, my communication may be useful to you the reader in providing a means to reflect on your own life experiences with Adi Da or in relationship to your own spiritual practice and life adventure.
Given I am not currently a formal practitioner of Adidam, my communication is a personal one and it is not intended specifically to be a guide to anyone’s spiritual and life practice. Adi Da has made it abundantly clear that if anyone is serious about His Teaching, they should embrace the full details of practice which He has clearly communicated. Any response made or opinion formed in regards to his offering is a personal matter of responsible free choice.
Whilst I am very serious about my transcendentally spiritual relationship with Adi Da, for some time and for now, I have not chosen to embrace the full details of His Instruction in regards to participation within the formal Institution and Culture of Adidam. This is a personal matter and not a reflection about anything otherwise. There are no “sides” of any camp that I sit within. My heart is filled with great respect, gratitude and profound loving compassion for all devotees that I share a history with.
Om Sri Da Love Ananda
More on ‘The Fire’ and The Search for Hermitage
Julie Anderson, 1980