Originally published in ‘The Holy Jumping Off Place’
An Introduction to the Way of the Heart
Heart Master Da Love Ananda (Adi Da Samraj)
“The true holy jumping off place, or the edge of the cliff, is this transition from attention in all of the body-mind to the Position of Consciousness Itself. it’s an unfathomable leap, different from any leap ever taken previously. It is the Ultimate one. And yet it’s not a leap. But you can see the difference between the two positions, infinite difference. So relative to that true jumping off place, you have to do it”
Adi Da Samraj, 1996
A Silent Conversation of the Heart
At seven I began my study of music by learning to play the cello. I was taught by my father, a life-long professional musician and successful music teacher. At age eight I started piano lessons, and a year later I began studying music at the university nearby. I studied composition, went to special music camps, and won competitions.
By the time I was thirteen I was committed to a life’s pursuit of artistic excellence. I sacrificed much to develop my music, practicing long hours, giving up athletics, social occasions, sometimes even friends. And I was constantly confronted with the intense frustration of this effort.
Out of this ordeal has grown a real passion and love of music, and a professional career in music, but also a great obsession. In the early 1970s I was working for the Metropolitan Opera Association, playing frequent concerts in the U.S. (in places such as Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall) and abroad (including Brazil,where I was first cello in the Orcestra Estadual do Sao Paulo). I was always working to forge my artistry.
But while I developed as a musician, I began to have a peculiar feeling that this great passion and love for music would not be the sum total of my life. Even as a child I had an intuition, which became stronger in my late teens, that something was going to enter my life that would change it completely. I did not know what it would be, but I knew that I would give myself to it totally.
In 1974 a friend of mine called me late one night and excitedly praised a man named Franklin Jones (Da Love-Ananda’s given name). I was attracted to something I sensed in my friend’s communication that was different from his usual talk. He sent me a copy of The Knee of Listening. I loved this book so much that I would not part with it even when I slept. While I was reading it, I had experiences of forceful energies and feelings of love. I felt an uncommon sympathy with this biography of Da Love-Ananda. So I decided to write a letter to him. In that letter, quite spontaneously and to my surprise, a deep passion began pouring out. I even said in the letter that I did not understand why I was expressing my deepest feelings to him, except that it felt very important to me. I pleaded with Da Love-Ananda to not disregard this letter but to respond to it because it was very important to me.
Little did I realize how fast the Guru responds to the heart of his devotee. That night in a dream, Da Love-Ananda told me that I should come and see him right away, and that all of the practical matters that I was worried about would work themselves out naturally. He told me that I should just relax and come as quickly as possible.
Within a day I had made all of the necessary arrangements and was on a cross-country bus headed for California, where Da Love-Ananda lived at the time. In my diary I wrote that I felt I had embarked upon the great adventure of my life. Shortly thereafter I met Da Love-Ananda.
Nearly two years passed. During this time I was involved in Da Love-Ananda’s historic Teaching Demonstrations, while living in the community of students and practitioners who surrounded him. These were wonderful, albeit difficult, times for me. A great learning process was taking place on every level of my being.
In 1976 I offered to play for the Heart-Master as part of the program for a major celebration. I rehearsed for weeks, wanting to do my very best. Secretly, I worried that I would not be good enough, and when the day of the celebration came, I was quite anxious. It seemed to me to be the most important performance I had ever given.
I had prepared two works. After the first piece, the audience applauded enthusiastically, and I plunged into the next work, much relieved. The second performance was also going quite well. I was really “on” and excited to be playing so proficiently. But about halfway through the solo, several loud explosions brought my playing to an abrupt end. Someone had tossed a lighted string of firecrackers at me and my cello! I was disoriented by the noise and felt confused, angry, and helpless at the interruption. I was totally offended that some ill-mannered crazy person had done this to me.
But then the stage manager waved me off stage, and I listened, still dazed, as he informed me that it was the Heart-Master who had thrown the firecrackers at me and my cello! More perplexed and bewildered than ever, I wondered, “I know he loves me. Why would he do this to me?”
As Grace would have it, while working at the Communion’s bookstore in San Francisco a few nights later, I was invited with another musician to play again for Da Love-Ananda. This time the Heart-Master asked me to finish the piece that had been interrupted by the firecrackers. I played what I could remember of it, but my playing was not very good. My timing was off and my performance was limp. Da Love-Ananda laughed at my attempt and said, “You really can’t stop showing off, can you?” Then he took my cello like a violin under his chin and pretended to play it. (Since then, Da Love-Ananda has blessed my cello by handling it on several occasions. The instrument actually played differently after he touched it.)
I was invited to stay for dinner with Da Love-Ananda that night, which was a great honor for me. As I moved to take my seat at the end of the table, Da Love-Ananda said, “Byron, why don’t you come and sit next to me?”
I was ecstatic. During dinner I conversed with Da Love-Ananda and another devotee whom I knew well. As we talked about other devotees and the events of our lives, I was able to ask the Heart-Master some questions I had wanted to ask him. But at the same time a certain frustration began to grow in me. The seemingly lighthearted nature of the conversation and the circumstance appeared to be preventing me from asking the Heart-Master some deeply personal questions. It was the frustration of being with a God-Realized Being and yet not feeling free to ask him the questions that had troubled me for years.
Suddenly, however, I became aware that two conversations were going on simultaneously. Coincident with the apparent small-talk of the dinner conversation was a silent conversation of the Heart. It was a literal conversation. Though it was not spoken, or even thought in the head, it was as tangible as the usual spoken word. I was happily shocked by this psychic phenomenon, and overwhelmed by the great opportunity it afforded me. My heart flooded out to the Heart-Master as I asked him my most secret, intimate, and heartfelt questions about the nature of existence, true Bliss, and true Ecstasy. Were they what I had always intuited? And in this silent conversation Da Love-Ananda revealed the Happy Truth.
I was overwhelmed.
I realized at one point that Da Love-Ananda could not know these questions unless he was me. This thought was amazing to me. And as the thought occurred to me, I looked up at him, and he looked me right in the eye and roared with laughter. Immediately I knew it was true. It was a miracle, a great mystery! And the Adept had revealed it to me with the playfulness of a child, delighting in my revelation. At this point I felt madly in love with him.
Eventually the evening drew to a close, and Da Love-Ananda left. As his car pulled away, I rushed toward it, reached out, and kissed him through the open window, proclaiming my love for him. Da Love-Ananda acknowledged me with “Tcha”, his characteristic expression of Blessing, and the car pulled away into the night.
Many years after this event, I reached a point at which I felt, moved to make a big change in my life. Spontaneously I decided to begin a long fast as a gesture of renunciation of my egoic tendencies. During the fast, I had a profound experience. One night my father telephoned me. He wanted me to send him some music that we had recently discussed. As I searched through my files, it occurred to me that this was the very piece that I was performing when the Heart-Master had thrown the firecrackers at me. I began to recollect and reflect upon that event once more. I also remembered other incidents with Da Love-Ananda. He had praised my musical service to him. He had threatened to throw water balloons at me while I was performing. He had had me play in an airport. He had once pretended to be a psychotic, mock-attacking me with a butterknife in the midst of a performance! He had broken out into ecstatic speech in the middle of a piece, telling me to let go of my social consciousness and keep my attention in God. He had served me in so many ways!
By pointing out that I always show off when I perform, he immediately put me in touch with all the painful motives of self-seeking underlying my musicianship. By constantly disrupting my performances and jarring me out of self-possession, he helped me to understand myself better and thus awakened me to the Heart. I began to remember many other instances of his serving me, events that had nothing to do with music. I marveled at how perfectly he had reflected me back to myself. He had always been completely in touch with my real feelings.
I sat there amazed. I had been utterly unaware of Da Love-Ananda’s great compassion and submission to devotees, Now I felt free. There was no dilemma. I felt my usual limitations, but they did not matter. I began laughing. At that moment, I saw and felt a golden light. This light was coincident with the intuition of freedom I was feeling. I sensed that only from the point of view of this freedom could I or anyone else see or experience this light. It seemed to be Happiness itself and appeared to be coming from the Heart-Master as I looked at a picture of him on the wall of my room. It was coming through an invisible hole in the universe that was miraculously simultaneous with this world. It was as though there were two worlds coincident with each other, one limited and the other absolutely free—as in the silent conversation of the Heart with Da Love-Ananda in 1976.
I stayed awake long into the night contemplating this liberating intuition and the adventure of my relationship with the Heart-Master. I saw that the period following those incidents with Da Love-Ananda had been a time of rapid musical and spiritual growth. It was not an easy time musically because I was constantly thrown up against my limitations. I felt that the Teaching Argument had made its mark in me, and now I was seeing all of its practical applications in my art. I kept feeling that I had run into a brick wall musically. But then I would apply what I had learned from Da Love-Ananda and the Teaching Argument, and that action would take me beyond myself.
At one point I remembered I had hit rock bottom. I had no money, and I could not see any way past some real limitations in my music. Then I remembered that the Heart-Master had written, “If it has become complicated, return to the basics.” So I went back to the most basic elements of my craft and began reexamining them in detail.
This was the beginning of a whole new approach to music for me. I met various teachers in New York who helped me, and they were amazed by my rapid development. I made one quantum leap after another in my understanding and performance of music. I was learning things that both my teachers and I thought were impossible for me. I did not feel that “I” was doing it. It was the Heart coming forward. It was a miracle.
In recent years all of these events have come into still clearer perspective for me. During his Teaching Demonstrations, Da Love-Ananda had shocked, coaxed, taunted, jarred, and attracted me out of all my preconceived and conventional ideas of what it is to be a musician. Through his actions, he stripped away my false notions about art, leaving me in a vulnerable position, able to observe my own limitations. Then I began to observe the difference between my conventional or egoic involvement with music and how musically to express the feeling of the Heart that Da Love-Ananda had awakened in me.
In ‘The Knee of Listening’ Love-Ananda states:
Creativity is the idol of the West. All its activities and knowledge, even its obsessions, are a worship of creativity, the source and force of generation (p. 246).
Creativity is the symbol or meaning of life. No creation is the symbol or meaning of truth. They are only intuitions of reality itself, which is neither one nor numbered, but coincident with all that appears and is known (p. 246).
Narcissus is an idol of creativity, of source. … He is the reduction of the world to the form of his own separate person (p. 254).
I had made creativity rather than Truth or Love my idol. I thought creativity was Happiness. But “I” was always the one being creative—the ego was always active. Thus, even though I sacrificed myself to my art, it remained a limited activity. It was just a grand obsession. I came to realize that present Communion with the Heart or the Spirit was the only way to be free of my egoic obsession with music. I saw that creativity in itself is nothing special. I didn’t need my music as a means to attain Happiness—Happiness was, and is, already the case. My deep love of music became much simpler—music became a means to express that native Happiness. I found that in this freedom I started to really get into music. It was an ordinary occupation, but a happy one. Why not?
This has been a great lesson, but it is really very simple. As Da Love-Ananda used to shout at me when I would play the cello for him, “Byron—play from the point of view of God!”
More from Bryon and his relationship to Adi Da Samraj