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Testimonials: Art and Architecture



Adi Da Samraj’s Teaching has never been limited to conceptual ideas. It has always been more of an artistic enterprise, in which He “drew pictures” of the primal truths at the heart of the Spiritual Reality. When He fundamentally completed His written Teaching some years ago (summarized in His twenty-three Source Texts), He immediately became intensely concentrated on artistic work as His primary form of communication.



 

The circumstance of existence, in and of itself, is disheartening. That is why it is necessary to do art. Art is an essential response to the conditions of existence, a means by which limitations are transcended, Reality is Realized, Truth is Realized, Light is found. Without that activity — there is nothing but this intrusion of changes and death. Participation in an art form should be at least as great as that art form. Art should change you. That is the whole purpose of it. True art heals. True art restores equanimity. Art must regenerate the sense of well-being. That is its true purpose. When art is really useful, it serves this ultimate process of healing, well-being, higher sympathy, and Spiritual Awakening.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

 


Testimonials for Avatar Adi Da Samraj's Transformative Photographic Artwork

The Bright Field Imagery of Adi Da Samraj
image from the Suite:
Quandra Loka: The Indivisible Space of Conscious Light

by Avatar Adi Da Samraj

 

Quandra Loka is a visual meditation on a very simple circumstance: a woman in and near a pool of water. Narcissus, the archetype of ego, gazes at his own reflection in a pond, never able to contact the "object" of his self-enamored affection. But Quandra, the true beloved, is one with the water itself, whether in or out of the pool.

Adi Da SamrajI shot the majority of the images in Quandra Loka underwater, or with the camera lens partially submerged in water, so that the water functions as a vast and subtly complex lens, achieving visual results not possible by any technical means. The images are made by a "technique" that requires continuous participation in the living instant of the photographic situation — sensitive to the constantly changing sunlight conditions, the ever-shifting minute movements of the subject, and even my own ability to stay submerged underwater. This "method" is beyond conceptual effort, beyond conventions of control in the ordinary sense, beyond point of view. This process of generating images — involving absolute awareness of every detail of what is occurring and (simultaneously) an intuitive trust in allowing the ultimately unpredictable process to take place — is a means of allowing reality to be self-manifested.

I intend these images to "picture" the unity of the undifferentiated reality from which all appearances emerge in a constant flow of changes. The entire span of human possibilities is reflected in these images — both "positive" and "negative." But all possibilities are seen in the context of that inherent unity or indivisible space. The positives and the negatives are all transcended, rather than any attempt being made to render them acceptable in and of themselves.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

Avatar Adi Da Samraj's statement about His Art

The premiere exhibition of Avatar Adi Da Samraj's Art was recently on display at Louis Stern Fine Arts Gallery, in West Hollywood, California, from April 8 through May 10, 2003.

The Art of Adi Da Samraj on display at the Louis Stern Fine Arts Gallery

 

Donald KuspitDonald Kuspit is a professor of art history and philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is also "one of the best known and most highly regarded critics in the world," says Victor Kord, Cornell art professor. He received the 1997 Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Contribution to Visual Arts from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. He is a 1983 recipient of the College Art Association's prestigious Frank Jewett Mather Award for Distinction in Art Criticism. He is a contributing editor at Artforum, Sculpture, and New Art Examiner magazines, the editor of Art Criticism, and the editor of a series on American Art and Art Criticism for Cambridge University Press. He has been awarded fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Fulbright Commission, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation, among others. An author of numerous articles, exhibition reviews, and catalog essays, Kuspit has written more than twenty books, including Redeeming Art: Critical Reveries, Daniel Brush, Joseph Raffael, Chihuly, and Idiosyncratic Identities: Artists at the End of the Avant-Garde.  

I'm with Adi Da: this issue of life — and art — is how to enter "the domain of intimacy — where people are involved with the profundity of fundamental human existence" . . .

How is one to separate the dross of life from what is essential to it? In Heideggerean terms, how is one to achieve authenticity in the midst of everydayness? . . . Adi Da shows us one way: by returning to the sensory self, in effect renewing it. I am suggesting that, whatever else they mean, Adi Da's photographs convey a radical consciousness of the primal body, which is invariably woman's body. It is the truly first body, the original body — the body in which we originated, in which every human body generates . . . Recovering one's sense of being a lived body through the living body of woman — indeed, by vicariously living the body of woman through Adi Da's photographs, which show just how successfully art can be an instrument of intimacy — one leaves the familiar everyday world behind to enter an unfamiliar paradise of the senses, which have a wisdom of their own . . .

Indeed, again and again Adi Da's photographs convey a sense of aesthetic as well as physical ecstasy. Virtually all of his images are masterpieces of abstraction — ecstatic visions of the female body that are simultaneously formal epiphanies. . . .

At once classic and iconoclastic, Adi Da's female nude becomes a spiritual emblem . . . She is that rare thing in modern art, the female not simply as seductive body, the victim of the so-called male gaze, but the female as a spiritual presence, embodying consciousness of "the profundity of fundamental human existence", to again quote Adi Da's words . . .

It is a rare artist who can convey, convincingly, the sense of being face to face with the source of being. Adi Da can clearly live in the depths without succumbing to their pressure, bringing back pearls of art to prove it. . . .

Adi Da's photographs are not only seductive but enlightening: contemplating them, we become conscious of the avatar that informs them, and with that our own inner light and depth.

Donald Kuspit
excerpts from his introduction to
the
Quandra Loka exhibition catalog

The experience of Adi Da Samraj's work is not photographic in the traditional sense. Yes, the camera has a lens — that is its point of view, its point of you. But suppose the point of you disappears, for a sixtieth of a second. What happens?

His photography is about the time it takes for you to discover, to walk through, to lose balance in, the intrinsic architecture of his frames. Like music, it requires time.

The "instants" recorded by Adi Da Samraj are the clicks of a train leaving the station of the familiar. As you travel with him, you might lose yourself in the midst of blacks, of grays, of whites; and as you do this, you will recognize the space of his images as one of your own. The center has shifted. You are in the "bright room". We always were.

Michel Karman

  Michel KarmanMichel Karman, who heads A & I Xibit, is world-renowned as a master printer. His services are in great demand by many well-known photographers including Helmut Newton, Sally Mann, Nan Goldin and Greg Gorman. Recently, The Corbis Collection invited Michel to hand-select and print 75 of the archive's most striking (some never before) images, and give them new life in a special limited-edition presentation, "The Living Lens: 75 Limited Edition Prints from the Bettmann Archive." Michel's work is currently on exhibit at the Louis Stern Fine Arts Gallery, West Hollywood, California.

David T. Hanson is Professor of Photography (retired) at the Rhode Island School of Design. His recent book of photographs, Waste Land: Meditations on a Ravaged Landscape, illustrates how beauty can be used to arouse our social conscience.


 

Adi Da's work breaks the traditional rules and conventions of standard photographic practice — not as a formalist exercise or to participate in the (conventional) games of the avant-garde, but rather as a means of creating true visionary art. There is in this work a refreshing sense of play, of experimentation, of pushing the medium to communicate the ineffable. Alchemical transformations are at work here.

I see these images as dreamscapes, as manifested ecstatic visions, as rich mythologies intricately weaving together the world and the Transcendent. Glimpses into a mysterious, enchanted world, these transformative visions are an answer to the question of how one might create a truly sacred art in our time.

In stark contrast to the cynicism that dominates much contemporary art, Adi Da's art is a deeply generous and compassionate gift to its viewers. Through his artwork, Adi Da is redefining the nature of art, returning art to its ancient, sacred origins. In his remarkable, transformative artwork, viewers are being given an opportunity to experience the ecstatic unity of creation. His images offer a truly rare opportunity for revelation.

David T. Hanson

Looking at this work, it seems to become possible again to raise the issue of an identity between truth and beauty, without the embarrassment this might normally cause in what we like to think of as a hardheaded and realistic age. This beauty is not seducing us into any kind of sentimentality or escapism, but is demonstrating its power to undo our ordinary objective thinking and to confront us with a sense of awe and mystery.

I can sum up the total effect this work has had on me in terms of a comparison with brilliant and warming sunshine flooding over the predominantly bleak landscape of contemporary culture, bringing with it a positive sense of release from the confusion and anxiety engendered within this environment. Adi Da Samraj has given us a new vision of what is possible with photography.

Adi Da is inviting us to see that art is capable of relating to the world in a way that reflects a truer understanding of reality than our present culture is willing to acknowledge. It is also clear that the spiritual nature of His art lies not in any idealistic consideration of what ought to be, but in its insistence that we open our eyes and see what is; that that requires us to enter into a relationship, one in which we accept the fact of mystery, but gain a greater sense of meaning, and of affirmation.

Jan Taylor

 

Jan Taylor is Professor of Art (retired) at the University of Ulster.

Dean Foster is an artist and graphic designer with George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic. He has worked on the digital effects of such Star Wars movies as The Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace.  

Whether you are looking at a landscape or closeup of a woman's face, Adi Da's rich and subtle black & white photos speak volumes about the human condition. His spontaneous and masterful use of in-camera multi-exposure allows his subjects to dissolve into luminescence or to cubistically shatter apart. In particular, his series "The Virgin Suite" literally moved me to tears. All non-essentials have been removed, except for three naked humans and a chair and ladder in a bare white room with an open skylight. Adi Da has stripped away all pretense from his subjects, as he leads them through a stunningly composed dance of longing, ecstasy, and pain of separation. His pictures of people are vulnerable, warm, and smooth, exuding an ethereal vitality that, combined with an exquisite sense of composition and a deep love of his subject, cross the boundaries of mere design into Great Art.

Dean Foster

My self-constricted ego bristles at the implied Messianism of the title, "The Promised God-Man. . ." — yet if God-consciousness is fully present as a liberating force in human form, why should there by any equivocating?

I've been inspired by Adi Da's writings for many years. He is a contemporary spiritual Hero, offering his transcendental gifts to a culture without a tradition for or even "taste" for Avatars . . . yet he bears the burdens of sagehood with persistence and love. . . .

Adi Da's photographic art explores an exciting new way of being through seeing!

Alex Grey

Alex GreyAlex Grey is a renowned artist, and the author of Transfigurations and Sacred Mirrors and The Mission of Art. His work has been included in the album art of such popular rock groups as Nirvana and the Beastie Boys and a book of songs by the Talking Heads. Healers, body workers and "new age" figures including Matthew Fox, Joan Borysenko and Deepak Chopra have all used his work to describe the dimensions of body, mind and spirit. Grey's artwork has been exhibited worldwide, including Stux Gallery and the New Museum in NYC, the Grand Palais in Paris, the Sao Paulo Biennial in Brazil, the Centro Culturale Zittele in Venice, Italy, University Galleries of the University of Illinois, and La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles.

 
Adi Da Samraj by Alex Grey
Alex Grey's esoteric portrait
of Adi Da Samraj
from Transfigurations
Ron Fouts is a Fine Art Publisher of Custom and Limited Editions.  

Adi Da's Art is a paradoxical experience, a multi-dimensional one, a revelatory one, a liberating one, an ordeal also, a participation that is extraordinary. . . . In my opinion, this is utterly a Work of great genius, completely original and inspiring, a great gift to humanity, human culture and the world of art.

Ron Fouts

 
More Testimonials, Recognition, and Response
 
Wild Heart JournalWild Heart Journal — "The home of Art, Creativity and Spiritual Life". The Wild Heart Journal grew out of the work of Eliezer Sobel, author of Wild Heart Dancing: A Personal One-Day Quest to Liberate the Artist and Lover Within, which in turn grew out of his workshops and retreats on creative expression which he led at Esalen Institute, the Lama Foundation, the Open Centre, and other conference centers of this nature.  

The Wild Heart Journal recently featured an article on "Art is Love", that communicates Adi Da Samraj's Wisdom on art and love.

An artist must learn his or her craft and then must be able to do that mysterious something that connects the viewer with the Divine Reality, or the Numinous Reality, the spiritual feeling associated with loving, and with experiencing feeling that goes beyond the contracted state of life — as you do when you're in love with someone.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

Art Is Love article:
       web page          pdf file

Nick Poutsma — Freelance photographer Nick Poutsma's online gallery includes images of nudes, landscapes, people, travel, commercial, infrared, and other unusual photos.

Poutsma's current photographic work has been greatly inspired by the photographic work of his Spiritual Master, Adi Da Samraj.

 

Nick Poutsma

 

Nick Poutsma's Photography

  In 1985 at the age of 30, I began my second overwhelming life-experience: the discovery of the spiritual realities of existence. I discovered this through the teachings and person of the Adept, Adi Da Samraj.

By 1989, after having spent some years studying Adi Da's teachings and having grown utterly weary of the commercial photography scene, I closed my studio and moved to the Fiji Islands in the South Pacific, to live and practice a spiritual way of life under the direct guidance of Adi Da Samraj. I remained there for ten years, which were the greatest and most valuable years of my life to date. My principal work while I was living in Fiji was photography, shooting for the many publications and books of Adidam.

 

In 1999, I returned to California at the same time as Adi Da returned to another of His ashrams in California. Here, Adi Da began taking photographs for the first time, as a means of granting spiritual instruction through images. Within a few short years, he had compiled some 5000 extraordinary art images. It was His work that inspired me to once again take up my own photography, this time approaching it purely as a form of art and pleasure and making them available to others.

Nick Poutsma

Bindu Jewelry — Bindu Jewelry is the culminating work of over thirty years creative endeavor of artist jeweler Candace Stolley. From 1966 the artist worked primarily in welded bronze because of the creative freedom this medium gave her. In 1991 Stolley spent a year on retreat with Adi Da Samraj at the Hermitage Ashram in Fiji. Shortly thereafter she noticed a great deepening in her creative process and a heightened sensitivity to every element of her jewelry design. This spontaneous refinement of her artistic sensitivity called for refined materials, new techniques and an intensely transformative process. The resulting metamorphosis into precious metals produced Bindu Jewelry. Bindu Jewelry was featured in ORNAMENT, America's top art jewelry magazine, Fall 1997.




Bindu Jewelry

 

Candace Stolley tells of visions that she had over thirty years ago:

I saw Holy Places and a community of very ordinary looking people with whom I experienced non separation and the same self forgetting swoon of Love. I longed to know that Love always, and would often put my head down on my work bench and cry in longing. Then in a most unforgettable dream I met an American man who was short, round and in His mid 30's. It was Adi Da Samraj, still unknown to me. His Embrace drew me into a profound state of spiritual unity and then showed me that nothing in any dimension of existence could compare. At the end of that dream the Spiritual Presence and Power, I would later become more familiar with in the Company of Adi Da Samraj, descended into me and concentrated in my hands.

It was the late 60's as I began my art jewelry in earnest. When at last I found and came into the Company of Adi Da Samraj in 1979, my heart was spiritually blasted open at its deepest core. I saw clearly that all is God and perfect already. And as Adi Da walked slowly away, the Presence and Power of God Walked before my eyes.

Soon I was using my jewelry skills to serve Adi Da. I was thrilled to have finally found such as a potent way to feel the Love-Bliss-Happiness with which I am in Love, that had first come to me as the 'Conscious Light' of the Maha Bindu, but now came as Adi Da's Blessing with each service offering of my work . The exchange has grown my work greatly as Adi Da constantly guided me to out-grow limits in my work. Eventually (never having heard the story, but knowing my heart perfectly), Adi Da offered the name 'Bindu' for my jewelry.

Color and Substance — Color and Substance is a portfolio of custom jewelry and original art. Jeff Polson is a goldsmith who creates jewelry and adornments made of gold, platinum, and gemstones. Nara Wood paints watercolors on silk, and oils on canvas. They have created a special line of Adidam jewelry for remembrance of Avatar Adi Da Samraj in the traditional devotional manner.

 

Nara Wood and Jeff Polson

 

Color and Substance: Adidam Jewelry



 

ON SACRED ARCHITECTURE

It should be a fundamental part of devotees' lives to pay attention to My Instruction to them about how structure, housing, and so forth, is a controller of life. It patterns your life. And if you just move into places made by others, then your life is architecturally programmed according to the way others live. People do not, generally speaking, live cooperatively and in the sacred manner. And so when devotees simply rent houses and rent buildings and so forth, they're adapting themselves to patterning through architecture that is not specific to this Way, and not even profoundly congenial to this Way. So they must re-construct these places, or make places from scratch, and so forth. It takes real architectural and practical "consideration" to make the spaces right for devotees to function in. There is no real community development and there are no significant community facilities in the United States. There are facilities elsewhere, but they were basically just acquired from the world, as it typically is. And where are the artisans guilds of people who could do the construction work and practically fulfill architectural ideas? Where are the architects establishing My Principles based on My Word? For the Sanctuaries, but also for the community altogether?

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

 


I looked for the truth about Religion and Spirituality over 23 years ago and found a living Spiritual Master of the highest order. . . Adi Da Samraj.

Mark Stewart

Stewart has been moved to help further Adi Da Samraj's work in the world by creating some extraordinary architectural designs for his Spiritual Master. Stewart follows in a longstanding tradition of beautifying sacred places to enhance their spiritual potency.

He is the designer of a strikingly beautiful sacred temple located at the breathtaking Adidam sanctuary, Da Love-Ananda Mahal, in Kuai, Hawaii.

 

  Mark Stewart and Associates, Inc. — Mark Stewart Home Designs is a world-renowned architectural firm. It has been chosen for many prestigious honors, including Home Magazine's "Well Crafted Home", and the Easter Seals/Century 21 sponsored Lifetime Homes™ series, among others. The architectural designs of Mark Stewart have become a trend-setting standard throughout the world, and can be found not only throughout North America, but also the Czech Republic, Japan, Russia, Malaysia, and Germany.
Stewart has also created a design for Waoli Gardens, near Da Love-Ananda Mahal:

 

Stewart has also proposed a similarly styled redesign of another Adidam Sanctuary, Tat Sundaram.

Richard Stodart — Richard Stodart is a renowned artist and illustrator. He has illustrated books that include: The Essential Tantra, A Fragile Tree Has Roots, Developing Your Intuition with Magic Mirrors, Sensual Ceremony, The Astrological Moon, and The Tao of Sex; and album covers that include Ray Lynch's Billboard award-winning Nothing Above My Shoulders but the Evening, and David Dykstra's A Gazelle Hunter's Weekend. Over the years, he has also created a large number of paintings and drawings on spiritual subjects. His works have been exhibited around the country, and have inspired other artists, including sculptor Darcy Sears.

 

As part of his series on "Spiritual Teachers", Richard Stodart created this painting of Adi Da Samraj, as He looked in the 1970's:

Adi Da Samraj by Richard Stodart

 

Stodart cites the following quote from Adi Da Samraj on true art:

True art should not have anything to do with the discursive mind. It is a different kind of inspiration, not seated in the body or the apparent personality. It is a motion to which one must submit oneself so that the body is made to endure physical and emotional pain in the spontaneous and psychic process of being overwhelmed, of being radiant. It should be a sacred incantation of involvement with Transcendental Consciousness, the creative resource of Being.

True art has a purpose for others, not merely for the artist. The purpose of art is to enliven, heal and positively transform the participants in a process of self-understanding. That means that for an artist to be effective he must submit to the process of self-undestanding. The need for the personal discipline of self-understanding is as important as technical understanding in order to serve the higher purpose of art.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

Sculpture of Adi Da Samraj: by Peter Lennon

Bronze of Adi Da Samraj
by Peter Lennon

 

 

 

Peter Lennon — Peter Lennon was born in New England in 1948. He spent his early years on the New England Coast, enjoying the freedom that only the salt water ocean provides for an artistic spirit. Peter studied at the New England School of Arts. He is an accomplished sculptor, with clay, wax, wood and ivory and also in figure drawing. Peter spent a great deal of time in the South West, particularly Arizona. The desert of the South West always provides an atmosphere of inspiration and solitude in which the creative soul awakens.

sculptor, Peter Lennon

Kerwin WhitnahKerwin Whitnah — Artist Kerwin Whitnah studied art under Henry Schaefer-Simmern, a distinguished art educator and the author of The Unfolding of Artistic Activity and The Essence of the Artistic Form. Schaefer-Simmern founded a children's art school in Berkeley, where he studied children's untutored drawings and works of primitive and prehistoric art, in a search for the principles of that visual conceiving which most vitally affect artistic activity. In 1965, Whitnah took over from Schaefer-Simmern the teaching at the children's school.

Whitnah was also a lifelong spiritual seeker, whose personal voyage included dialogues with Aldous Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, and Jiddu Krishnamurti, until he found his Spiritual Master, Adi Da Samraj.

 

The Voyage: by Kerwin Whitnah
The Voyage
by Kerwin Whitnah

 

I felt as if I had been given an archetypal vision to paint, and so I seized the day, and set about bringing that vision into painted form. But about that time, I discovered Adi Da Samraj's The Knee of Listening", read it intensively, and then wrote to the author, thanking Him "for a gift I could not yet comprehend!" And soon got a letter back from the Ashram Manager saying: Adi Da "has read your letter completely and He sends you His Blessing"; which moved me deeply. Still later, after I had been to Los Angeles for an interview, I had the opportunity to meditate with Him. The sitting was a revelation of His Compassion, and I saw His undefended purity, and radiance of Being.

When I had finished the painting I knew it was the best I had done or might do, and I must give it directly to Him without delay. He received it most graciously, and, with many jests (and much hilarious laughter!), asked me if I would put a wide-painted frame around it and expand the very picture onto that frame. This being done resulted in the current complete work, which is 78" x 56", done in casein paint on a gesso panel.

Kerwin Whitnah



Adi Da
You can find this article at this web address:
http://www.adi-da.org/art_architecture/index.html

All excerpts from the works of Avatar Adi Da Samraj and pictures of Avatar Adi Da Samraj © 2002-2004 The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd, as trustee for The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam. All rights reserved. Perpetual copyright claimed.