Crazy Wisdom Magazine, August September, 1983
“The Ordeal of Being” (3/21/83), (3/26/83).
At Charlie’s Place on the “Isle of Dreams” (Nananu-i-Ra) the untouched natural world displays the cycle of fish and water and sunlight. To devotees the Adept is the Water of the world. The Great Friend, now tranquil, now tumultuous, always Teaching, shifts shapes like the ever-changing sea, yet he is always the same Water, while the world and even devotees phase in and out of love. It is the ego in Man, Narcissus, who is countered by the World-Friend, the Adept, armed with inconceivable love and haunting laughter, who breaks down the Goddess, the ego-nature, with his love-embrace of all beings.
Throughout the world, beings are suffering from the loss of Wisdom, and the Adept not only brings this Wisdom in the form of Teaching, but incarnates that Wisdom. The universal religion of seeking is mocked by a God-Man disguised in ordinariness, a man of understanding, who, like a mountain hermit, shuffles enigmatically through this Maya. Such a mad lover is the shaven-headed God who resided at Nananu-I-Ra.
A dramatic sequence of events would soon change our life at Charlie’s Place and move us on our way to our next abode.
Dama Remembrance was caring for the children and had been sleeping in the same building with them. On April 8 before falling to sleep she psychically sensed danger, but dismissed it as a trick of the mind. At one-thirty she was awakened by a popping sound like a small explosion. A child lay with its head a few feet from a burning kerosene refrigerator. Dama Remembrance dragged the child by the feet to safety and shouted to another woman, the only other adult in the building, to wake up and get the other children out of the house immediately. The last person to cross the threshold was blasted out of the house by another explosion, and the entire house burst into flames. No one was injured, but everyone was shaken. All the children and some of the adults lost all their possessions, passports, clothing, school supplies, and sacred articles, some of which had been gifts from Master Da.
The building was not salvageable. Devotees gathered and sat with Master Da while the fire continued through the night. By morning nothing remained. Even the foundation had been cracked by the intense heat. For the next few days Master Da spoke about the significance of the fire and helped devotees to gain a deeper understanding of true renunciation. He said that the fire, which nearly took the lives of the children, had communicated a secret knowledge.
The experience last evening of this fire should he allowed to function as a kind of secret knowledge in 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 he 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 he satisfied by any arrangement of conditional existence. Allow it to make you like me, you see. I have never been satisfied by anything. 1 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 religious and spiritual type. None of those things appeared sufficient to me because I was dominated by this 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 1 could be of use to them.
I have served people, then, as Gautama did, having fulfilled that course. 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 this consideration, this Awakening Work. Therefore, like me, you should allow the secret knowledge that comes from witnessing 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 conditional existence. Allow it to make you into a renunciate.
Take this secret knowledge and this lesson of life to your plan of meditation and 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 you have gained is continuous. Death convicts us 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 ham it works here.
Particularly as you grow older, as you mature in your near., non lose the inability 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 capacity to blind yourself to this inherent sorrow, and you will either then be chronically sorrowful and incapable of any kind of human enjoyment, or you will become devoted to the spiritual process and really practice it. If you are intelligent, you will begin to do that even in your youth.
April 8, 1983
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 spirits who had been responsible for the fire and who, although not altogether demonic, were nevertheless testy.
Daji Udi, returning from a neighboring village, reported that a Hindu man, acknowledged to be 115 years old, had died on the night of the fire. A relative whom Daii Udi had met at the old man’s funeral, had left his worldly duties eight years ago and had since dedicated his life to japa yoga.* He told Daji Udi that in meditation he had seen a spiritual Teacher, a white man, surrounded by light and with a serpent beneath him. He told Daji Udi he had taken it to be an auspicious vision and a sign of success and blessing for his country, and he said that the man in the vision was with our group.
The time had come to leave Charlie’s Place. The fire was a sign, and as Master Da said, we had “used up every drop of the place, everything it had to offer.” Three days later we were once again on the road, this time to a plantation named “Namale,” on the island of Vanua Levu.
As we left Charlie’s Place on the island of Nananu-I-Ra, Master Da looked back on the island and said: “Soon everyone will have heard of the legendary baldies of Nanauni_I-Ra”.
From the unpublished The Light Is On!
From Kauai to Charlie’s Place, March – April, 1983.
The Ordeal of Being
Even in the relative seclusion of Kauai, Avatar Adi Da was too crowded in by the world. And so the search for Hermitage went on, now focusing on Fiji. Fiji had been identified as a potentially desirable location for a Hermitage because it was very remote and quiet, and because the population was predominantly a mix of native Fijians and Indians, both of which groups had strong traditions of respect for individuals of Spiritual power.
While this search was under way, Bob Sabatino, a devotee who had been part of a group that went to Fiji to explore possible sites for Hermitage there, returned to Kauai, bringing with him an offering of kava to give to Avatar Adi Da. Kava is a slightly intoxicating drink (made from the powdered root of the piper methysticum plant) known in many island cultures of the Pacific. In Fiji (where it is called “yaqona”, pronounced “yahng-GOH-nah”), kava was traditionally imbibed as a means of communicating with ancestral spirits. And in modern times, the kava ceremony continues to be frequently observed in Fiji, with precise formality, on all kinds of important occasions–for example, when there is a coming together of dignitaries for a significant meeting or celebration, or when there is a meeting of parties who intend to cement a relationship of trust and cooperation. Thus, the drinking of kava has traditionally been, and continues to be, a quintessential part of Fijian life.
When Avatar Adi Da received and drank the kava, He said, “Now I know the spirit of Fiji.” In that moment, He made His first tangible connection with the island nation that was eventually to provide His Hermitage.
For many months, no suitable Hermitage site that was for sale could be located in Fiji. Finally, in March 1983, unable to wait any longer, Avatar Adi Da Samraj decided to leave for Fiji anyway and wander there with the esoteric order until the right Hermitage was found.
The wanderings of Avatar Adi Da Samraj and His renunciate order began at “Charlie’s Place” on the tiny island of Nananui-Ra. Brian O’Mahony, who visited them there, describes the realities of life at Charlie’s Place:
BRIAN: It was a situation of extreme simplicity. There were three small bungalows, without running water, electricity, or telephone. All the men lived in one bungalow, and all the women lived in another, and Beloved Adi Da lived in the third. Avatar Adi Da’s daughters and the children of some of the members of the renunciate order lived in the bungalow of the owner (“Charlie”) a little further away.
In the mornings, the women all went to the well to wash, and then the men went. We installed a generator and built a coconut-frond shack to house the transcribers. Beloved Adi Da spoke constantly during that time, and the transcribing was done on two old typewriters about two hundred yards from where Beloved Adi Da was staying. And whenever communications needed to be made, Mo Whiteside went on a punt and then took a taxi to a place called Raki-Raki to get to the nearest telephone.
As soon as He arrived at Charlie’s Place, Avatar Adi Da immediately started functioning as if He were already in Hermitage. He led His devotees into a “consideration” of the “Perfect Practice”–the ultimate stages of practice in the Way of Adidam. To intensify their “consideration”, He sent several devotees on a four-day solitary retreat, which He called the “Ordeal of Being”. As they began their retreat, He Gave them this Instruction:
Enter more and more deeply into the Well of Being, Where you Always Already Stand.
Feel the Feeling of Being, without the slightest regard or concern for attention and its objects.
Be Immersed in the Conscious, Native, and Original Feeling of Being, until It Is Realized to Be Happiness Itself, or Freedom Itself.
Be Thus. Dwell in That, As That–unperturbed, Free, Self-Radiant as Love-Bliss, without qualification, beyond all need to notice the body-mind and its objects.
Practice this constantly on retreat.
This is true and free devotion to Me.
This is true and free renunciation.
Therefore, this Retreat is the “radically” simple, or most sublime, practice of devotion and renunciation.
If you practice this Retreat most fully, then you will know that just this practice is the Way to which I Am always Calling you.
[March 21, 1983]
In this retreat, Avatar Adi Da was Calling His devotees to enter into the “Bright” Divine life that transcends the ego-patterning of the body-mind altogether–at the gross level of ordinary mind and desiring, at the subtle level of dreams and mystical experience, and at the causal level, the root of attention itself. Avatar Adi Da Samraj had first spoken of the “radical” understanding that directly Realizes the “Bright” at the very outset of His Teaching Work, and then, beginning with the “Garbage and the Goddess” period, He had “illustrated” in the body-minds of many of His devotees the range of experiences potential in the subtle and the causal dimensions of the being that must be transcended through “radical” understanding if Divine Enlightenment is to be Realized. Now He was asking them to most intensively exercise this “radical” understanding and to feel the Radiant Feeling of Being (the “Bright” Itself) that is to be “Located” Prior to the root-act of attention. This “radical” understanding had nothing to do with mind. Avatar Adi Da was Drawing the retreatants into the depth of their devotional and Spiritual relationship to Him, where He alone could Awaken them to What Is, beyond the vagaries of attention.
As the retreat began, the weather suddenly changed. High winds ripped across the island day and night. The usually calm inland sea was turbulent, and the morning’s tide left jellyfish stranded on the shore. The rains were constant and the sun remained hidden.
On the second day of the retreat, Avatar Adi Da remarked: “Today will be the best day if the retreatants are really practicing, the most difficult day if they are not.” On the third day, the storm was growing to hurricane force, and Avatar Adi Da remarked, “If I call the retreatants off retreat, the storm will stop.” By this, He was hinting that the Force of the Spiritual Transmission He was investing in His retreatant devotees was encountering resistance in the conditional world.
On the fourth day, Avatar Adi Da decided to recall the retreatants. That morning, He greeted them with a huge laugh and embraced each one. At the same time, the winds began to subside and a wide rainbow appeared above the sea. As the retreatants began to confess what had occurred in their retreat process, it became obvious that the Divine Siddhi of Avatar Adi Da had deeply affected all of them. Some had experienced “Cosmic Consciousness”, dropping spontaneously into deep states beyond peripheral awareness and Realizing ecstatic Oneness with all existence.
But Avatar Adi Da closely questioned each retreatant: Were they already Abiding as Consciousness Itself, in a Fullness of Love-Bliss that could not possibly be diminished by any arising event? If so, then truly there was nothing lacking in their Realization.
Some weeks later, after many more hours of such “consideration” and testing dialogue, Avatar Adi Da had a group of seven devotees who were actually confessing to the state of “Open Eyes”, or Divine Enlightenment. Avatar Adi Da received their confessions, perfectly willing that it be so. But He also told them that it would now be up to them to demonstrate the truth of their Enlightenment during the coming months. He said to them: “Consider that you are walking with a bowl of water on your head, followed by a man with a large sword. If you falter in your step and lose one drop of the water, he will wield the sword with absolute swiftness, and your head will fall to the ground! The Divinely Enlightened One never misses a step. Such is the Nature of Most Perfect Enlightenment.”
These were very testing months�and the ego-patterning of each devotee who had confessed to being Enlightened came up with tremendous force. Eventually, all heads rolled. Avatar Adi Da had been engaging His devotees in another Teaching Demonstration, both to give them a glimpse of Perfect Freedom, and also as a lesson in how much sadhana they still had to do.
The Struggle in Fiji
For many people in this day and age, the idea of spirits, ghosts, and disembodied entities is a fascinating possibility, but one that has little or no basis in their daily experience. People in many traditional cultures, however, tend to be more sensitive to the dimensions of life and energy that are subtler than the physical. In fact, many traditional cultures presume that the dimension of spirits (both benign and threatening) is as real as–or even more real than–the physical dimension.
Avatar Adi Da Samraj takes the spirit-dimension fully into account, and works with that dimension as powerfully as with any other plane of existence. There are many stories of His dealing with spirits–attracting them, disciplining them, freeing them from limitations and illusions so that they can move on in their process. Avatar Adi Da has said that at all of His Sanctuaries there are spirit-beings, some of whom are actively involved in the process of sadhana. Others, who are acting in interfering ways, He will reprimand and send away, because they are not yet ready to associate with His holy Places. Devotees have frequently felt or seen spirit-beings in the Communion halls and in all kinds of circumstances.
Less than two weeks after the conclusion of the “Ordeal of Being” retreats, signs of spirits began to manifest dramatically around Avatar Adi Da. In this case, the spirits were showing their resistance to His establishment of Himself and His Divine Work in Fiji. At the time, Avatar Adi Da’s daughters and the children of the devotees traveling with Avatar Adi Da were staying together in a small building of their own, attended by two of the adults. Remembrance, one of the adults, recounts what happened on the night of April 8, 1983:
REMEMBRANCE: Katsu (the mother of one of the children) and I had put the children to bed–five girls and one boy, ranging from the ages of two to nine years old. As I prepared myself to go to bed, I decided to do something unusual. Devotees of Adi Da Samraj wear a mala, a type of rosary used for meditative and devotional practices. I did not generally wear my mala to bed, but would place it on a small altar in my room. On this night, however, I felt I was being inwardly instructed by Beloved Adi Da to wear the mala to bed.
As I lay down to sleep with the mala around my neck, I grasped the large “Master bead” (the center-piece of the mala) firmly in the fist of my right hand and placed it on my chest. With this I dozed off.
During the middle of the night, when I rolled over to my right side, the large “Master bead” was now positioned such that it pressed deeply into my chest and woke me because of the discomfort. As I sat up to take the mala off, I saw bright flames of fire flickering against the wall of the bedroom just adjacent and forward from my left side.
I jumped up out of bed, ran into the next room to find the head of Neem (the boy) about six inches away from the flames that rose up and around a storage freezer. Foot to foot with him was Naamleela, whose head was at the opposite end of the same bed. Without a moment’s thought, I yanked Neem’s right foot towards me and pulled him up onto my left hip. With my right hand, I pulled Naamleela up to my chest. Simultaneously, I yelled out to Katsu to come and get the children out of the building. Just as I turned the corner with the two youngest in my arms, I saw Katsu at the speed of light swifting Shawnee and Tamarind out the door.
When I got to the door, I handed Neem and Naamleela to Katsu and went back in to get Nara (Katsu’s daughter) and Io, who were still asleep in the bed across from the fire. I grabbed them both out of bed, and ran with them, holding their hands. Just as we reached the entrance, we were catapulted out the door and across the outside steps by an explosion of fire. The force of the explosion lifted us right off our feet. We landed in front of the building about ten feet away, only to turn around and find the entire building in flames.
There we were, shocked and fearful, in tears, and covered with dirt. The children were all screaming, but we could hardly move. Scarcely had we caught our breath, when other devotees came leaping toward us to move us further away from the burning building.
We sat at a safe distance now, with all the devotees in the Ashram, amazed that we had escaped the inferno. No words were exchanged for what felt a long time. Time, it seemed, had gone into slow motion. It was only about ten minutes before the entire structure was nothing but a cement base. (The next day, we saw that the foundation itself had been cracked in the intense heat.)
Very soon, we all found ourselves in the bedroom of Beloved Adi Da, Who had been awakened by the voices of His terrified children and devotees. Beloved Adi Da held the children in His arms, and we all huddled together on and around His bed in tears. He was silent and still, His body gently rocking as He stroked the faces and bodies of His loved ones. At the same time, I felt an almost stern, manly quality about Him and the awesome Spiritual Force in His Presence.
The love exchanged in that moment was inexpressible. There was pain in it, a wound–the feeling of the preciousness of life and love, and its fragility. On the one hand there was death in my face, and on the other, the Master’s Grace.
I knew that a miracle had just occurred. What if . . . . ? Intolerable to think about that! I knew it was the Grace of Beloved Adi Da that had awakened me and saved us all. What infinite gratitude I felt! But I could not express it yet. I was still in the shock of deep, primal fear. As I finally fell asleep in the early morning, I simply felt that immense gratitude, and the deep heart-wound.
The next day, Avatar Adi Da said that, on the evening of the fire, He had been visited by some aggressive spirits, and He could now tell that it was they who had subsequently been responsible for the fire. It was shocking and disturbing to everyone to feel how disastrous the consequences of this “black magic” could have been. The fire was a forceful indicator to Avatar Adi that it was time to move on, and the next day the whole party departed for Namale Plantation on the island of Vanua Levu.
Interview Table of Contents
The Real Practice of Guru-Devotion
Julie Anderson, 1980