On one particular day, a member of my parish gave me a copy of The Enlightenment of the Whole Body, one of Avatar Adi Da Samraj's earliest books. I read it, and something about it rang true — true in a very different and unique way. What was unsettling about it was the intuition that this person was "the promised one." On the one hand, I did not want it to be true, and on the other hand, there was something about His Wisdom and Understanding that was fundamentally different from anything else I had read.
The question I kept asking myself was, "How do I know that Adi Da Samraj is the Divine Person?"
Now my basic answer to that question is, "I know it to be so because of His Divine Self-Revelation." But a great many more events and experiences in my life than I can describe in this short space point to that conclusion.
When I was in the eighth grade, I attended the Christian Church (Presbyterian) and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. My feelings for Him and my commitment to "spread the gospel" were so strong that, by the time I was in my second year of college, I decided to pursue the Ordained Ministry. So, I attended San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, California, where I received a Masters of Divinity, and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1971.
Afterwards, for several years, I served in churches in southern California, finally finding my "home" in the Episcopal Church, and later, I attended The General Theological Seminary in New York City (1975-76), receiving a Masters of Sacred Theology (1983). I took Holy Orders in 1976, and from 1971 to 1996, served Jesus in five different parishes, experiencing the power of Jesus' presence through the sacraments and in the community of faith — the Church.
My last parish was on Martha's Vineyard and it was truly a "Spirit-filled" congregation. The joy, humor and love of that congregation touched the lives of thousands of people who visited the parish during the summer, and brought healing to many who had lost hope.
Through my experience of Jesus, I knew that God worked through all kinds of people, and people in varieties of circumstances. I experienced the Divine through people who embraced Mohammed and lived in West Africa. I felt the Divine in people whose attention was absorbed in drugs and sex. I knew God to be on the streets, as well as in the church, and I knew that God was not limited to any particular socio-economic or racial group. The idea that a particular denomination had greater access to God through Christ made no sense to me, and; the idea that Jesus was the only means for salvation created a severe limitation on the power of the Divine. I knew that God was interested in everyone's "liberation." And for me that meant the freedom to love and to be loved, because that was the basic principle established in Jesus' death and resurrection.
During my time at the seminary, and through Biblical studies, I became aware of the "Son of Man" and "Son of God" traditions. I was particularly interested in the idea that Jesus was to return someday, in order to establish His eternal kingdom, a kingdom of peace, justice and compassion.
There have been many times throughout human history when people's suffering caused a great desire for "the promised one" to return. History, made it clear to me that the concept of a "promised kingdom" was basically a tool used to exploit people, since their "rewards" would be given in the "next life" or "promised land," while demands could be made on them here and now. It also became apparent through my studies that the idea of the "coming of the Christ" or the "promised one" carried with it certain images and expectations. For example, when Jesus came, he did not fit the image of what the Messiah was to look like or do.
Today, within the Christian sphere there is a clear image about how the "second coming" will take place and what the "Christ" will look like. And it struck me that because Jesus did not fit the image, people could not accept Him as the messiah; so today, if such a person were to incarnate, probably people like myself (as a priest) would be the first to scorn and mock Him. There was also something sobering about this possibility, given that every Sunday I proclaimed that "Christ will come again."
On one particular day, however, a member of my parish gave me a copy of The Enlightenment of the Whole Body, one of Avatar Adi Da's earliest books. I read it, and something about it rang true - true in a very different and unique way. What was unsettling about it was the intuition that this person was "the promised one." On the one hand, I did not want it to be true, and on the other, there was something about His Wisdom and Understanding that was fundamentally different from anything else I had read.
In an effort to relieve my fears that "He was the One," I kept reading His various works, looking for something to disqualify Him and His Teaching.
He said that our identities — human identity altogether — is predicated on a "search" for happiness, which keeps us locked into a point-of-view whereby each of us feels that he or she is a "separate" individual or ego, basically unloved, looking for unity and love, and for God. Hence, we are looking for some future time or circumstance when we that we are finally happy. And He said that this keeps us from realizing that we are "already happy." He said that this sense of being separate was an illusion carrying the power of reality and truth, and that He was here to teach whoever would listen, to see through that lesser reality and truth. He said that our "search" is a search to end our suffering and be restored to the Divine, and that we need to stop being what He described as "self-contracted."
My difficulty with His Teaching was that He said that a fundamental change had to occur within the human structure and psyche (mine included), and that He was the Source of the change; that is, if I would turn my attention to Him in feeling-contemplation, He would do the rest. He was a Spiritual Master.
Being a "man-of-the-cloth" and rooted in the Christian tradition and doctrine, affirming Adi Da as my "Master" was a major conflict of interest. For a long time, I made the whole thing a problem and indulged in the dilemma that resulted. Yet, I also knew in my heart that there was only God and the conflict was of my own creation. I could not see anyway through the dilemma, since I was totally vested in the Church and I knew that I had to respond to what my heart knew was Truth.
Adi Da wrote: "You (necessarily) become (or conform to the likeness of) whatever you Contemplate, or Meditate on, or even think about. Therefore, Contemplate Me, and transcend even all thought by Meditating on Me."
It was clear that I could not use my mind to move through this dilemma, because my mind was the dilemma. So I gave Adi Da my attention and read His Teaching with less resistance and more openness to the unknown. I accepted the truth of my heart-response, and breathed my way through the fear that rose as self-contraction. What happened was amazing.
The church I was serving grew, I found preaching easier and more playful, and there was a clear sense of the Presence of the Spirit whenever we gathered. I found that Adi Da's wisdom teaching worked in very practical ways, and I found that my experience of Him opened an understanding of both Jesus and the Scriptures that was truly amazing. Things that I wrestled with for years intellectually, I understood emotionally and could communicate because they were living truths and not just belief structures. Slowly, what seemed to be impossible in terms of reorganizing my life started to happen, and it was through no effort of my own. In fact, all I did was keep my attention on Adi Da and life really started to work and worked gracefully. Then in 1995 a dream came true: I was invited to sit in meditation with Adi Da for the first time.
Seeing Him on that Sunday afternoon was a "beatific vision." His descent broke my heart wide open and there was "heaven" or "paradise." It was the gift of a life time!
It is always a challenge to speak of religious experience, since it falls outside of conventional time and space, yet, for me, it was an experience of God. In a brief moment, all doubt vanished, all questions dissolved, and I knew I was seeing the Divine with my own eyes. In that moment humor, love and profound joy was restored to me, and I knew that liberation was given and that the challenge came in accepting it.
Since that day, I have been blessed to sit with Beloved Adi Da on several occasions, and each time brings its own unique blessing. The greatest of these blessings is the gift of "true self-forgetfulness." It is a moment when all time and space stops and there truly is "no difference" or "separation," when fear is put to flight and "eternal" life is as obvious as the nose on my face. It is an experience that confounds the mind, sensitizes the heart and realigns all the cells of the body.
The pattern of our body-mind is strong, and it takes practice to conduct Adi Da's Transmission of Grace and remain in feeling-contemplation of Him. We are patterned to "search" for happiness and fulfillment, and we live in a culture that glorifies self-fulfillment, where growth is measured by how I am different today from yesterday. We desensitize our selves to the reality of death, whether the death of leaves in the fall or the death of our own body and mind. There is virtually no cultural support for living what Adi Da teaches: a self-transcending pattern of life. However, in heart-communion with Him, in the context of His community of devotees, there is the opportunity to adapt to such a pattern and realize the Divine.
With Adi Da's incarnation, a new moment is here, a moment for all peoples of the world. He Is the door to self-understanding to which the great mystics could only point, and the Means by which the human family can be realigned to the Divine pattern. His Gift Is Liberation from fear, anger and sorrow, liberation from bondage to the "search" for temporary fulfillment and happiness. We have the real opportunity to live as love, hearts overflowing with joy, living each moment fully.
When I began this piece, I asked the question, "How do I know that Adi Da Samraj Is the Divine Person?"
That is the experience of my heart. From my past, I think of it as any of the epiphanies that happened in the Judeo-Christian scriptures, the Divine breaking into our world and literally giving us Divine Revelation. Adi Da's Word communicates that Revelation. I have seen it time and time again. I feel His Spiritual Transmission at heart.
This is my experience. I invite you to discover your own epiphanies in the Gracious Gift of Divine Heart-Communion with Adi Da Samraj.