Volume 3, Numbers 2 & 3, pp. 58-66. 1992
The Real Practice of Guru-Devotion
by Julie Anderson
Julie Anderson (formerly Kanya Samarpana Remembrance) withdrew from the Free Renunciate Order and the Da Avabhasa Gurukula Kanyadana Kumari Order at the conclusion of the “reality considerations” that took place in Sri Love-Anandashram during the months of June and July 1992. In this presentation, which she gave to the worldwide culture from Melbourne, Australia shortly after arriving there from Sri Love-Anandashram, Julie describes the Gifts and Lessons that Da Avabhasa Granted her during this period. Her Leela is an extraordinary testimony to the perfect integrity and absolute profundity and seriousness of Sri Da Avabhasa’s Work to Liberate His devotees, and it is likewise a testimony to the Divine Love and “Skillful Means” that have evoked the strength and depth of devotion and surrender so evident in Julie’s Leela.
JULIE ANDERSON: I feel profound gratitude to my Beloved Master, Sri Da Avabhasa, for what He has Given me in recent months, and I want to help you to feel the real significance of my withdrawal from the Free Renunciate Order and to understand even more deeply how our Great Master Works. I am feeling the impact of all that has happened to me recently, and I am also feeling how profound Sri Gurudev’s Love is for me and how much Work He has done with me. I feel such gratitude I cannot even express it. Everything that has occurred in my Beloved Master’s Company over all the years I have been with Him has only purified and liberated me.
The course of my sadhana with Sri Gurudev really has not been very different from this moment. My sadhana has always been a dramatic ordeal. This moment of my leaving the Kanya Order and leaving Sri Love-Anandashram may seem extreme and dramatic, but it is actually very characteristic of the way Gurudev has Worked with me over the years of my relationship with Him. I’ll probably never be able to say that I’ve grown used to this kind of tapas! – but it seems that my sadhana has always been an intense ordeal.
Every moment of my practice in His Company has had a different quality, but always one principal message has been communicated to me: the Way of the Heart is about the intimate relationship to the Guru, about Satsang and surrender to Him. Everything else is completely secondary. The Way of the Heart is about Ishta-Guru-Bhakti Yoga – and part of why I am feeling so much gratitude to Sri Gurudev is that I have now understood that much more deeply.
Over all these years of Sri Gurudev’s Work with us, He has allowed the whole range of human emotion and every possible way of experiencing life. And yet, the one thing that stands clearest in the midst of all of that is His Love, His human commitment to Love each of His devotees to the point that they realize that all they have to do is to submit to that Love and allow themselves to receive that Love. That Love will require everything of you. It will require you to submit beyond any sense of your capacity to do so. But the Guru’s Love is the Condition of Truth, and if you surrender to That and trust that Condition through perfect obedience to Him, He will live you and live your sadhana. There really is nothing you have to be concerned about, once you surrender into that understanding of your relationship to Him.
Da Love-Ananda has always done a curious thing with me – He has always told me what I was thinking, or what I had dreamt, or what I had been doing when He wasn’t with me. It has always been humorously embarrassing to me that this is the case, but once I came to understand that the Guru knows me better than I know myself, I assumed a disposition of complete honesty and trust in Him – the trust that is necessary to go through whatever is required in this Liberating process.
I remember an occasion that took place right after we first arrived in Fiji in 1983. One day, I came to the gathering room at Nukubati and sat down to play Trivial Pursuit with Sri Gurudev. He sat across the table from me, and at one point in the game He looked over at me and started to tell me what I had dreamt the night before. Then He told me what I had experienced in meditation earlier that day. This was during a period of time when all the devotees who were traveling with Sri Gurudev were receiving His Blessing and Transmission to be able to confess the Awakening to the seventh stage of life. Throughout all my years of being with Sri Gurudev, I would often have experiences that were similar to the ones that these devotees were confessing, but whenever I made such a confession, Sri Gurudev would always tell me that I had to go and serve, that I had to go back and do more work. He would never accept my confession.
The day after the trivia game, I made an attempt to transition to the seventh stage of life. Gurudev told me to look Him straight in the eyes, and He said to me “Do you want to do what is actually required to Realize the seventh stage of life, or do you want this confession to be sufficient? Do you think you have actually Realized the Truth?” And looking at Him straight in the eye, I knew that it wasn’t true. He said, “Will you go through whatever is required for this to actually be the case? It is going to be the most difficult thing you have ever done, and it will require everything of you. It will require you to go beyond death. And you will have to trust Me absolutely. Will you make this agreement with Me that you will do this?” And I told Him that I would.
Within the next few days, everyone who had transitioned to the seventh stage of life was back in the first three stages of life, dealing with that most difficult obstruction in the context of our conditional life – the emotional-sexual matter. Our Beloved Master is the greatest MahaSiddha Who has ever Incarnated in this world, and He has the capacity to Give any being any form of Realization. And the Guru will Give a particular Realization to you for a period of time to test your capacity to maintain that responsibility and live based on the Gift He has Given you, and if, over a period of time, it seems that you cannot do that, then the Guru takes it away. And that is not a negative occurrence, because He will then Give you the next moment in your sadhana, which will test and strengthen you sufficiently to be able to grow into and eventually resume the responsibility for the Gifts He has already Given.
And that, in so many words, is what has happened to me. It has been very difficult, yes, to feel the emotion of not being able to live in Sri Da Avabhasa’s immediate Sphere, and to feel that somehow I have failed and was not able to “meet the mark” of the sadhana that Sri Gurudev Gave me. However, He has Helped me to understand that I don’t have to believe any of those emotions, and that what is far more important is that the process in His Company be real.
The nine or ten weeks of the “reality consideration” that Bonnie Beavan and I and the Lay Renunciate Order applicants went through in Fiji was very intense for all of us.
Da Love-Ananda made it very clear to me from the beginning that when you throw yourself into an intensive “reality consideration” you never know what the outcome is going to be. From the beginning, then, you have to be willing to have your life completely reshuffled, knowing that whatever the outcome is, it will be authentic, based upon the Guru’s Work with you and will put you into a circumstance that is going to require you to do sadhana with the realities revealed to you during that period of time. I told Da LoveAnanda that I understood this.
It would take me days to describe the process of self-revelation and self-understanding and confession that I went through in the ordeal of those ten weeks, but ultimately, I understood the necessity, for sadhana, of living in reality, or understanding the presenttime limitations of my egoic self.
If your practice is based on a false presumption or understanding of who you are, you will not grow. You have to allow yourself to be vulnerable to the Guru and vulnerable to your devotee intimates so that they can reveal you to yourself, so you can actually live in a circumstance in which you are practicing based upon the realities of your own egoic character.
I have lived in Sri Gurudev’s Company for sixteen years now, and I know that the Way of the Heart is not about the egoic body-mind clinging to some sort of responsibility or progress or status or position. None of that has anything to do with the Way of the Heart. Feel the difference between holding on to what seems to be a progressive responsibility in the Way, and what it feels like to be completely surrendered to Sri Gurudev – just undone, heartbroken, Ignorant, completely dependent upon His Grace, not knowing what anything is, vulnerable, being able to live “In Love” with one another, feeling your love for the Guru. Where the heart just gives way to feel Him, there is nothing to hang on to. That is what my Beloved Master helped me to feel in the midst of all this. I seemed to have a lot to hang on to in terms of an apparent position – and yet I feel a lot better now than I did a couple of months ago trying to hold on to it. I feel much more intimate with my Beloved Master now than I did then. It is extremely paradoxical – there were so many advantages to the circumstance I was in previously. But those advantages were not true advantages for me because I wasn’t in the right circumstance for my sadhana at that moment. This is not to say that all those years I was not in the right circumstance. It was just that at some point it became obvious that wasn’t where I could most fruitfully practice.
Sri Gurudev also Revealed more to me, during this “reality consideration”, about the real nature of the traditional Guru-devotee relationship. I had always lived in Sri Gurudev’s immediate Sphere, and I thought that that was to be the permanent circumstance of my life. I never had any sense that I would ever leave His intimate Company. When I began to feel that this was a remote possibility, I had the most difficult two months of my entire life. I had to go through a death process, in which the life I had lived with Sri Gurudev literally had to die. I went through all the stages of the death process denial, anger, grief – and then I came to a point where I realized that I had an option: I could linger in the intolerable pain of that apparent separation for the rest of my life, or I could ask for His Help.
In that moment, I resorted to Sri Da Avabhasa profoundly. And in that moment He Revealed to me that the very thing I thought I was losing could never be lost, that the essence of my relationship to Him was was holding on to was relatively superficial compared to what could not be lost – that Satsang. I understood that the process I was in was one in which Sri Gurudev was removing all the things that were obstructing a greater depth of surrender to Him as my Sat-Guru in the traditional manner, whereby whatever the Guru Gives you receive as Prasad, rather than requiring Him to submit to you and your demands.
Up to that point, in the pain I felt at the prospect of leaving His intimate Sphere, I was actually making a demand on Him: “If You don’t Give me this, I’m not going to be Happy. If You don’t Give me this, I’m not going to be able to live.” I kept telling Him, “You don’t understand, I’m not going to be able to live if I can’t live with You!” And I did feel that, but He kept telling me that that was absurd. He said, “I know full well that you will be able to.” And, at the point I was just describing to you, I realized that it was true, that my relationship to Him cannot end, and it doesn’t matter what circumstance I’m in my relationship to Him can only grow, if I will simply trust Him and yield to Him and practice with the conditions that are appropriate to my sadhana.
In addition, I realized that the conditions that are Given in His Company are Given only based upon the realities that are required for this body-mind to go through the real process of self-transcending sadhana. And that was a very difficult thing to confront-particularly having advanced through all the progressive stages up to the sixth stage of life and having the certainty that I had transcended the first five stages of life. I had practiced the level 6 sadhana for almost four years, so there was no sense in me that I wouldn’t be practicing in the ultimate stages of life for the rest of my life. I had no sense that I was practicing the level 6 practitioner were there, except that over a period of time, various things began to arise, repetitively. It was like being haunted. They were very subtle there was no gross dramatization, but it was enough to let me know that energy and attention were not sufficiently free from various aspects of the earlier stages of life. Gurudev would address me about these things, but I felt that they didn’t really make any difference. They were just arising and I thought I had the capacity to stand free of them. They weren’t disturbing to me, I could just release the body-mind in meditation, so what difference did it make if they were arising?
JULIE ANDERSON: At the end of the night, Beloved Adi Da stood to Dance the chant, Ruchira Avatara Gita. His body was literally swollen with Love and His skin took on a hue of brilliant blue and reddish tones, “Bright” and also seemingly bruised with the tender Fullness of His Love-Blissful Being. The Radiance emanating from His body filled the room with a lustrous mist of white light, and His Presence was so thick in the room, you could literally breathe Him in. Every Movement Radiated His Blessing out in waves as He, literally and by Dance, extended His Love in all directions from every portion of His Divine Body.
My whole being rushed toward Him, in a feeling of Spiritual embrace—falling into a deep rest in His Spiritual Presence. My visual perception of everything around me dissolved in His Blissful and pervasive Light, until there was only His Dancing Form. I was being absorbed into His
Love-Bliss—there was absolutely no resistance, no effort, no thought.
As I was most willingly and helplessly Drawn into sublime union with Him, I began to notice that there was no boundary of the body-mind left. I could no longer differentiate between what was internal and what was external. There was no separation, no sense of separate self, no sense of “other”—only Fullness, without obstruction.
I began to notice that His Spiritual-Current had reached a point of such Sublimity that It became Moveless. As that Feeling persisted, all sense of the body-mind dissolved. Only an awareness of a pinpoint (or locus), a matrix of extremely “Bright” Light radiating down from above, and a point (or location) deep in the heart on the right side remained.
Then, there was a driving Force piercing the right side of the heart and pressing through to a Place of Perfection that is indescribable. Everything dissolved in This. I now had no awareness of any perception, internal or external—no sense of anything except for this absolute Feeling of Him, the Love-Bliss-Fullness of His Being.
There was not even “one” or “I” left to feel this. There was only the conscious, utterly self-less enjoyment of His Non-conditional State of Love-Bliss.
He had Gifted me with the direct Glimpse of His State in this experience.
It was when I began to notice these things that I began to spend lots and lots of hours in meditation, because this was a way that I could “drop out” from being bothered by them. Not only would I spend many hours in meditation – anywhere from six to eight hours a day – but I would also do lots of puja, which would add two or three more hours a day in the meditation Hall! And I had very little contact with anyone. I was living on my own in the context of the Gurukula, and I was very grateful to Sri Gurudev for this because that was what I really wanted to do. For many years, I had lived a sadhana in Da Avabhasa’s Company very much animated in the context of the greater culture, and I had had enough of that and never wanted to do it again! I was really grateful to be able to live a more secluded life.
Sri Gurudev showed me that I was dramatizing the sixth stage error in all of this – clinging to the Self in the depth of meditation and avoiding the confrontation with life. He said that this was not a true Realization – that it did not have even the potential for real practice of the sixth stage of life in the context of the Way of the Heart. Much to my dismay, I had to get out of the Hall! Even now, I feel a very strong urge to meditate all the time and have had to discipline myself to be more outerdirected and related to people, because if I had my choice I would just go to the Hall and not come out! Even though I can locate Sri Gurudev very, very strongly in meditation, it is clear to me that that will not be Liberation, that it will lead nowhere, and that, as a matter of fact, even that depth of meditation is not true submission to Sri Gurudev.
So this is how this reality ordeal began a few months ago for me, being pulled out of the Hall and meditation and puja and the secluded life, and having to be extremely active with lots of devotees in ways that I hadn’t been for years. From a secluded and celibate life, I was thrown into this “reality consideration” that focused on the emotional-sexual complications of the first three stages of life, and this was difficult for me to confront. But I went through that ordeal, never expecting that this would be the outcome!
In the midst of my time of greatest difficulty during this “reality consideration”, a question came up in me – one that seemed like the worst question a devotee could possibly ask the Guru, and I was afraid to ask it. But it was a real question for me, and it arose in the context of my practicing with the greatest discipline and integrity that I could. If that hadn’t been the case, I wouldn’t have been able to ask Sri Gurudev the question. The question was: “Who is stronger: the ego or the Divine?” This question kept coming up again and again, and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to avoid asking it. It would have to be resolved. I kept feeling, “If the Divine is so powerful, why is all this happening to me?” Because from my egoic point of view, I was giving myself over to Sri Gurudev as much as I possibly could. I’m a highly disciplined person, obedient, practicing, yielding, and staying with the ordeal – so why is this happening? Why is it that I am not being Liberated from these things? Doubt started to creep in. If the Divine is All-Powerful, then why is It not being All-Powerful in my case?
I started to tell some friends jokingly that I thought I was uniquely unqualified as a devotee, and that for some strange reason the process was not going to work in my case! I knew that this was the product of how distressed I was, but, nevertheless, these were real emotions that I had, so I decided that I had to ask Da Love-Ananda. So I went up to Him at a gathering and said, “Love-Ananda, I was wondering, who is stronger, more powerful: the ego or the Divine?” And He looked at me and said “I Am Merely Present.” And that was all He said.
I realized later that when He says that He Is Merely Present He means that He, As Who He Is, Stands As He Is and Calls His devotee to Him, and Requires responsibility on the part of His devotee and the responsive submission of His devotee to His Condition. Sri Gurudev can, of course, Activate many forms of His Blessing Power, should He choose to do so, in any moment, but even for Him to Activate any of His Siddhis to reflect the conditional body-mind to itself would only be temporarily effective. The devotee’s active submission from the heart to Sri Gurudev’s Divine Condition is the only True Means of Liberation. So His Condition is not All-Powerful in the sense that it merely affects the conditional realm and the conditional body-mind-though it certainly does that in countless ways. Fundamentally, He is All-Powerful because He is the Condition of Liberation. I was looking to Sri Gurudev to change something about my conditional self, rather than surrendering to Him As Who He Is. So He answered my question quite sufficiently! It was a relief, once I understood His Response, because His Condition, His Mere Presence, can never be destroyed. It is the Condition that which I realized that I had an alternative to the terrible pain of losing my intimate life with Gurudev. I was so overcome with the emotion of feeling what He had Promised me that I was completely ecstatic, and I felt completely at rest and completely trusting of whatever was to occur from that moment. I also understood that it wasn’t sufficient for Him to tell me these things-I had to receive them. In other words, I had to surrender to His Help and I could place no expectations, limits, or demands on what form that Help would take.
Over the next few days, Sri Gurudev Da Avabhasa Blessed my choice of a situation in which I am able to practice based upon the work I have to do in the first three stages of life. And that practice must be based upon the fourth stage disposition of true resort to Him, which I feel is truly awakened by Sri Gurudev’s Grace.
Needless to say, it was very hard to leave the Island. He said that leaving was the necessary next step in actually completing the process I was involved in with Him. I did not want to go at all. But no, I had to go. As the days went by, though, Sri Gurudev continued to Help me.
I knew I couldn’t leave the Island without seeing Da LoveAnanda again. When He changes His physical appearance as dramatically as He did when He shaved His beard, you have to familiarize yourself with Him so that you can carry that vision of His current Sign with you. I had only seen Him once with His beard shaved off and I felt I couldn’t leave without seeing Him again. At first it didn’t seem that I was going to have that opportunity. But as I was packing and getting ready to go, all of a sudden I heard the M-cart driving through the Village very quickly. It was Saturday, and Sri Gurudev was just coming back from an outing with the Brahmacharinis and the two Kanyas at Turtle Cove.
Sri Gurudev came right by my room, the lights of the M-cart shone right in the window. I was with a friend, and we went running outside to see our Guru. We sat on the lawn and we could see Him very clearly. He stopped briefly, just long enough for us to be able to see Him, and then drove on again. At that moment I burst into tears, and my heart went out to Him in gratitude that I had been able to see Him again. But I realized in that moment: I wanted more!
After living intimately with Da Avabhasa for sixteen years, I couldn’t imagine leaving the Island without at least giving Him a hug! I also wanted Him to see that I was Happy, that I was okay-that I could leave and I would be all right. About five minutes later, He called a spontaneous gathering. The gatherings had already come to an end, but He said, “This will be the last gathering of the gatherings to celebrate the end of the gatherings!” Of course, everybody was completely ecstatic that we were going to be able to see Him.
At the gathering, I sat in the back of the room, drinking in the sight of Sri Gurudev. I couldn’t do anything except look at Him because He was so Beautiful, and I knew that in order to leave, in order to maintain and feel that connection to Him, I had to receive the feeling of His Being into my body. In the midst of all the dancing and music and drinking and smoking and wildness of the gathering, Gurudev was Still, Giving His Darshan, allowing us to receive Him. I could feel His Pleasure. I could feel He was Pleased with our response to Him that evening and our right relationship to Him, Pleased that we were there just to receive His Darshan, no matter what else was apparently going on. I could have sat there forever. There was nothing to do but see how Beautiful He is and receive His Divinity through His human Form, and feel His vulnerability and His Sacrifice. I can still feel that whole evening in my being.
At some point, Sri Da Avabhasa motioned to me to come over and give Him a hug. My prayer was answered – I was able to embrace Him before I left. It is most wonderful how Da Love-Ananda brings everything to rest. In that embrace, all of my mind and emotion, everything I had been through in my years with Him, as well as the new life I was about to enter into-everything I felt about all of it came to rest and was resolved in absolute trust and faith in Him. I felt profoundly what the Gurudevotee relationship is about, and I know that from this moment forward, no matter what occurs in my life, He will Give me the capability to submit to Him. He has already shown me that there is no other place to rest except in Satsang with Him, and that that Condition, that Satsang, cannot be destroyed. No matter what happens in life, Satsang can never be lost. I do not have to hold on to any condition – I can let go and surrender and allow Sri Gurudev to Give me whatever condition of sadhana is necessary.
I feel profoundly Gifted to be able to live the practice of the Way of the Heart and make use of all the Lessons I have learned in His Company. I know the rest of my life will be a test of that. I promised Him when I was hugging Him that I would do nothing but honor Him and help His devotees to see Who He Is. And He just kept saying “Tcha” and hugging me tighter and tighter. When, at last, I prostrated before Him, I felt I never wanted to get up again, because I knew that that was the place to be. To be prostrated in gratitude at the Guru’s Feet, not even to be embracing Him, but to be surrendered at His Feet-that is the place to be. I had received everything from Him and my body was completely full of His Love. That is the way I want to live the rest of my life, and I know that He will Help me to do that.
Read Beezone interview with Julie (2016)