in college and quite by chance I came across a footnote in the Shvetashvatara
Upanishad: "The Atman, or the individual soul, and Brahman,
the Universal Soul, are One." I was immediately lifted, in awe,
out of the ordinary dimension of the mundane. There was an influx
of bliss, followed by the reaction which would recur in many forms
over many years: the impulse to re-experience that transcendental
sense, that special quality of illumination. I did not realize it
then, but the Search had consciously begun.
inheritances, mansion parties, trips to Europe, and a Jaguar later,
my indulgence of the good and affluent life met its Waterloo in
the form of a "talk" by Swami Prabhavananda in the Santa Barbara
temple of the Vedanta Society. Even though I was uncomfortable with
the accent of Bengal, the heavy incense, saris, and orange robes,
and even annoyed, initially, by the palpable atmosphere of Peace,
the message and the ancient Vedic formula got to me once again.
"Tat tvam asi, thou art That," the Swami intoned.
He retold Ramakrishna's
story of the Guru who held a disciple's head under Ganges water
for some minutes. After he was allowed to emerge, the disciple was
asked what he had been thinking of. His next breath, of course.
And the Guru told him that when his desire to know God was so strong
that it remained even under the threat of death, then only would
he be worthy of Realization. Although the word "kundalini" was not
yet part of my vocabulary, I watched waves of energy discharge themselves
from the lower part of the spine and undulate in delicious electric
rhythm toward the chest, where they disappeared, leaving me in a
state of mild catatonic enjoyment and total ineptitude for the after-church
handshake-conversation at the door.
The idea of
intense devotion to God was still a source of peculiar embarrassment
to me. I knew I was not ready to embrace the uncertainty of renunciation
or celibacy, referred to even in the literature of India as "the
dreaded vow." I certainly dreaded it. My fascination for the archetypal
holy man brought me back to the Swami off and on for two years,
but he would not compromise renunciation and celibacy in my case.
My most dramatic moves in these directions were resigning from the
Unitarian Church and deciding to sleep with only one woman at a
I suffered through
two years of army service, consoling myself by studying opera, reading
Shankara, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Upanishads.
I fell in love with Shankara's conceptualization of Maya as the
illusory world-movie being played on the screen of the Real. I then
became obsessed with "the Self" of the Upanishads. For
days at a time I pondered the symbols: butter in cream, the thread
of a necklace, the bubble becoming the ocean. The year was 1955.
Not a single person I knew was remotely interested in mysticism
or India, and I became quite introverted in the face of a growing
reputation as a peculiar nut.
years of reading and experimentation with second hand spiritual
knowledge, I was led, in San Francisco, to the one I thought was
to be my guru. In the years following that meeting, I lived as a
relatively passive and obedient disciple, working with the traditional
forms of yoga in a westernized context, entranced by the charisma
of my guru.
time I was given a series of yogic techniques and practices, each
of which served as a fascination as well as a motivator to renewed
effort. The goal of this practice was to have them merge in the
clear white light. Self-realization was coincident with the rising
of the kundalini force to the sahasrar, the terminal point and Absolute
But always the
success of the sadhana depended on a total and unquestioning responsiveness
to the guru. And the eventual goal, constantly to be held in view,
was the realization of the Self that was beyond the mind, that in
fact had nothing to do with the mind, but that guaranteed release
from karma and reincarnation.
grace of the guru who pushed from the outside and pulled from the
inside, one was supposed to develop the capacity to dive progressively
ever deeper within or to ascend ever higher on the spinal ladder,
until finally the Self was perfectly realized above.
years of struggling to dump a recalcitrant ego, it had become obvious
that the long-sought transformation and transcendence were apparently
no nearer than at the beginning of the effort.
In this state
of mind I stumbled across the Teaching of Master Adi Da Samraj in
late October of 1974. I eagerly read his books and the issues of
The Dawn Horse magazine, speaking to no one of my discovery.
My perspective on every aspect of traditional spirituality and sadhana
was intractably making a 180-degree turn. Most disturbingly hopeful
was the discovery that my conception of the nature, function, and
identity of the guru was being shattered and simultaneously replaced
by an increasingly penetrating intuition of Master Da as true Guru.
My thoughts were turned to him constantly
when on the bus, walking, and eating. I read the Teaching while
others slept and at every other available private moment. And I
would fall asleep exulting in the perfection, clarity, relevance
and availability of the Teaching.
years of yoga, traditional meditation, and monastic life, I was
now a candidate for the pre-student sadhana of The Johannine Daist
My first days
in the community allowed, for the first time in years, a genuine
relaxation of previously manufactured self-concern. I discovered
persons again in relationship without preconditioned boundaries.
The Oneness previously sought was found genuinely to pre-exist in
common touch. I dared to know again what I had suspected all along,
that the Divine was not removed from the World, nor was it some
special attainment that superseded a happy and commonly shared humanity.
The ancient search for the exclusive revelation had collapsed, and
I began to feel the real possibility of being nothing in God.
And so it was
that the total collapse of all the formulas of the yogic search
coincided with the discovery of the Teaching of radical understanding.
One day I was still numbly attempting the practice of seeing oneself
everywhere and in all persons. The next I was simply observing the
motivated, contracted activity of my continuous seeking. I began
to understand the dilemma of the seeker who would resort to such
a formula in order to prevent the very awakening in consciousness,
in relationship, that would make this practice a real event.
As I look back
now on my sixteen years of monastic life and yogic seeking, I see
that one characteristic mood seemed to pervade my life during that
time. I was in despair of Happiness. Although I always searched
for Happiness as an alternative state, even in false meditation,
or absorption in non-being, I neither attained Happiness nor felt
it to be truly realizable. I even erroneously assumed over time
that un-Happiness was something of a sober prerequisite for real
As a result,
I never understood or confronted the fact that I was always "avoiding
relationship," that I was creating my un-Happy state in each moment
by seeking for immunity from the intrusions of life. The "spiritual"
search was deviously selfish, and only reinforced my sense of self
in complacent and artificial forms.
In the years
since I left the monastery to offer myself in relationship and service
to Master Adi Da Samraj, I have understood, through his Graceful
Presence and the Teaching, how "I" contract in the field of consciousness
in every moment. I have "heard" the Teaching that there is no separate
one who needs to be returned to a separate Divinity. I have understood
that this kaleidoscope of appearances is a play of the Divine, and
that Happiness is the Condition in which this body-mind always rests
and adapts to the Living Spirit Presence, Who paradoxically accomplishes
everything while "doing" nothing.
has become obvious that my years of seeking for the inner self were
only an extension of my childish need to be consoled by and absorbed
in the great illusory parent deity and my adolescent reactions to
the threat or imposition of the world on my autonomous self, which
I wished to preserve through detachment and controlled isolation.
such method or program achieved Happiness. The current or condition
of unqualified Happiness that has been transmitted to me and my
friends in the Company of Master Da is Truth. All understanding
arises in it. It is not dependent on, nor is it qualified by, any
state or condition. The fundamental and necessary truths he has
gracefully shown to me are:
- We must understand
the action of self-reference or un-Happiness.
- We must transcend
the illusion of a separate self.
- We must Realize
the Reality and Power and Presence of God, or perfect Happiness.
I am eternally
grateful to the Radiant Master Adi Da Samraj.