The time was
1986, and the place was Maria Hoop, a village in southern Holland.
I was in my late thirties. I had an academic career. From my childhood,
I had traveled widely and I was familiar with the highest intellectual
and artistic achievements of Western civilization. But I was quite
unprepared for the power of what now occurred.
I was seated
in the chapel of a former monastery with about one hundred other
people, waiting for Avatar Adi Da to come into the room and take
His seat in front of us. He was offering Darshan — a traditional
word for the sighting of a Spiritually Awakened being. I had no
experience of Darshan, or any real sense of what to expect. I was
there because I had already read some books by Avatar Adi Da, and
His Teaching had moved me to want to see Him in person.
Adi Da came in, we waited a long time — hours of devotional chanting
and listening to recitations from His Teaching. This is how such
great beings have been honored by their followers for centuries.
But I had no real framework for that tradition of devotion to the
Spiritual Master — except as it was reflected in Christianity, where
the Master had been alive two thousand years ago. And so it felt
somewhat strange to me.
Adi Da entered the room, the whole room changed. He was of another
Place, not of this place. At the same time, He seemed extremely
human, and almost frail. He was dressed very simply in indigo, with
His hair down to His shoulders.
I had never
had a Spiritual experience in my life, never seen anything except
the ordinary material reality. But the minute He sat down, His eyes
held me and His face began to "melt". Another Reality was unveiled.
Apparitions of Spiritual Masters of different times and places flowed
over His features. I had no idea who these beings were, but I could
see their distinct qualities — Chinese, Tibetan, Indian.
the faces passed, and there was just His face. No more apparitions.
But then I became aware that His whole body was a locus of Light.
There was a Radiance around Him — but it wasn't just an aura. His
body was dissolving in the Light. The Light seemed to be the source
of His body, not an emanation of the body.
I blinked numerous
times, but the process continued. It wasn't something happening
inside me, a kind of mystical experience within, or a meditative
vision. This event was happening right there in the room. The Light
filled the room, and the shape of Avatar Adi Da's body disappeared
and reappeared in the brilliant golden and white Light. The Light
was not like ordinary light — electric light or daylight. It was
infinitely more refined, and it seemed alive. It was Bliss, Radiant
Feeling — heart-Feeling to infinity. The room was full and deep
and bright, an unbounded space of Joy. And everything in the room
had a fluid quality, not solid at all. I lost my sense of being
located at a particular point in space, and I seemed to be viewing
Him and everything else from different places in the room.
I was "gone"
in amazement, and my heart was on fire. I was undone with a force
of recognition. My heart said, "You are God" — the Divine Light
in human form. And I loved Him — I felt that I had always loved
Him, had always known Him, and yet not until now. I wept with an
aching ecstasy in every cell of my being. And that was the real
beginning of my relationship to Him as His devotee.
The next day,
Avatar Adi Da sat in Darshan again. This time, there was no noticeable
magnification of Light but just the vision of His Form, as tender
and exposed as that of a baby lying in its crib. I was shocked at
His vulnerability. I could not comprehend the paradox. The previous
day, I had seen His body as an appearance coalescing into Form out
of pure Light. And now He was almost painfully present as a totally
vulnerable human body, simply Radiating Love.
I felt unable,
in that moment, to receive that intensity of Love — and immediately
my life flashed before me, as people say happens at the moment of
death. I saw everything unloving about my life from my earliest
memories to that moment. I saw what I had done in all my relationships
— with friends, family, lovers — that was all about my own satisfaction,
my own agendas, the competitiveness, the anger, the heartlessness,
the failure to be sensitive to anyone except myself. The intensity
of this reflection grew and grew, until I felt I would explode.
I wanted to run from the room.
Then I looked
at Avatar Adi Da. His eyes were half-closed in Bliss, and it was
obvious to me that He "knew" everything about me. And He did not
care how it looked. He was there to Draw me beyond all of it. I
knew that some profound, pre-verbal longing in my being had been
boundlessly answered and satisfied — and that the rest of my life
would be devoted to the Revelation that had just been given to me.
It was the undoubted Revelation of God, yes — but not the "Creator-God"
of my childhood religion. The "God" that had been shown to me on
these occasions was not apart, not separate, not a great "Parent".
That One was simply Light, the inseparable Source and Substance
of everything. He was Bliss, Love, and Joy — humanly Present and
yet Radiating from Infinity.