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Wisdom > The Call To Be Love > Part 4: Personal
is Part 4 of Michael Costabile's seven-part article, The
Call To Be Love: (And To Live As Love In All Relations).
concretely illustrate the paradoxical nature of Adi Da’s compassion in the modern-day
context of His own Work, let me quote here the personal experience of Frank (Cheech)
Marerro, who has been with Adi Da for more than thirty-five years. Frank writes:
the early years of my association with Adi Da, a small group of us regularly gathered
at His residence to consider with Him the personal details of our lives and practice.
In the course of these gatherings tobacco and alcohol were used. The alcohol served
to break down our inhibitions, so that we would speak more candidly about our
most basic problems and preoccupations. Almost invariably, the subject would soon
turn to our interests and concerns about sex. In these small, intimate gatherings,
Adi Da would surgically address all of these concerns, freely dealing with every
question that came up and every motivation and interest that were uncovered in
the course of an evening with Him. Nothing whatsoever was taboo to examine.
turned out that everyone was suffering from emotional-sexual complications of
all kinds, including secret feelings of latent homosexuality or bi-sexuality,
machismo, fear of sex, promiscuity, aggression, impotence, frigidity, infidelity,
lustful obsessions, and more. With amazing compassion and insight, Adi Da considered
all these things with us, pointing out their roots in the emotional-sexual make-up
of each individual. And He would teach us how to understand and be free of them.
He pointed out, for instance, that whatever one’s personal background — whether
one was a “goody-goody”, raised by really nice, loving parents, or whether one
had a terrible childhood full of abuse and tragedy — behind every individual’s
social persona there is a powerful emotional-sexual drama being played. And to
be honest, what was revealed in those gatherings with Adi Da was not a pretty
For example, my own history of intimate relationships with women
was of me always being “a fucker” as Adi Da called me. I learned how to satisfy
women sexually and bring them to orgasm, but I would never enter into a loving,
intimate relationship with them. Many times, I was being unhappily loved by them,
but I could not bring myself to truly love any woman. It was all about “me”. By
thoroughly considering this matter with me and through sexual exchanges with some
of the women who were involved in these considerations, Adi Da helped me to understand
that behind my sexual personality and character was a man who was deeply afraid
of women. I was using sex as a way to control and keep them at a safe distance
from my own feelings of vulnerability as a man.
Adi Da asked me, “Why would
you want to control women through sex? Why?” And He pointed out that it was because
I really was fearful of women and that I was in fact a loveless man. I had a childish
need for attention and love, but I myself simply did not love. I did not know
how to love a woman or anyone, really.
This was an immense and shattering
revelation, and it eventually served a major purification and healing in my relationships
with women — in fact, with everyone I knew, including men. Without Adi Da’s compassionate
help and intervention, I would still be a loveless and very unhappy man.
has been attacked and publicly criticized for the sexual incidents and consideration
that some of us went through at that time. People have a take on this aspect of
Adi Da’s Work that is so far from the nature and truth of what was actually occurring.
In fact, a wealth of wonderful instruction was given and many incredible healings
took place during Adi Da’s Teaching years. He entered into profound considerations
about the causes and limitations of our wrong and unhappy adaptations to life,
helping us to see that we did not have to live that way anymore. It is miraculous
in retrospect how He knew exactly where each and everyone of us were at, at the
most intimate and hidden levels of our lives.
Of course, those involved
had to be willing to see and confront the destructive effects of their own narcissism
to get the lessons and benefits of Adi Da's consideration. They had to endure
the painful process of self-revelation. Those who were not so willing, reacted
and left. To me this reflects on them alone and not on Adi Da, because I have
always seen Him only loving people, only Working to free them up, make them happy,
and require of them what was necessary for their human well-being and spiritual
It is for this reason that I feel it important to tell the truth
about Adi Da’s Work, especially since it has been, and continues to be, grossly
and wrongly communicated about and not rightly understood or represented. Adi
Da did this kind of Work with very willing people. It was in fact, miraculous
and extraordinary — a gift of profound instruction, emotional healing, and life-changing
lessons for those involved and willing to see their own emotional-sexual consideration
through to its conclusion.
testimony of Katsu, who has been a formal devotee of Adi Da since 1973:
the very early years of Adi Da’s Teaching Work He helped me to affirm a wholly
life-positive attitude and a sex-positive disposition. I accepted “permission”
(meaning not that Adi Da granted me “permission” in some parental fashion, but
that He helped me to acknowledge and accept my own impulses, interests, and desires)
to experience everything, high and low — not only with sex, food, money, but also
with spiritual discipline and spiritual experiences. He humorously called all
possible experiences in this world, “availability land”. He put me in touch with
the aspects of my bodily functioning and emotional character that I was tending
to suppress or ignore — this is one of the ways that He Worked with me in the
When we began to drink and celebrate together, Adi Da’s Divine
Humor and Enjoyment of everything and everyone was pervasive. His Perfect Freedom
opened my heart. His incredible Humor, which used to cause me to sit in the front
row so I could hear His quiet “one-liners”, was now freely filling the entire
Ashram with laughter. I felt a great swoon of pure enjoyment. Truly, Adi Da’s
Happiness dissolved all my concerns.
At one point during a spontaneous party
in 1973, Adi Da Samraj turned to me and asked, “Would you like to take off your
blouse?” I was shocked! This social time with Him was great, but now He was getting
personal! About five major questions invaded my mind at once: “Does He want me
to take off my blouse? Do they (the devotees here) want me to take off my blouse?
Will He like me if I take off my blouse? Will they like me if I take off my blouse?”
And finally, “Do I want to take off my blouse? What do I want to
This was my first encounter with Adi Da’s “Crazy Wisdom” Teaching.
Instead of lecturing for hours on the puritanical tendencies inherited from our
upbringing — and how these not only obstructed the feeling dimension of our being,
but limited our reception of His Spiritual Transmission — He was asking me one
question that convicted me of my body-negative, sex-negative, fearful, and self-suppressed
point of view. It took me some years to realize that there was no “right answer”
to His question. He in fact didn’t really care what I did in response, but valued
above all the self-inspection and confrontation this question brought up in me.
This was the first of hundreds of questions He would spontaneously ask me (and
many others) over the years. It quickly became obvious that I had an internal
conflict about my body, about pleasure itself, and about sex.
As it turned
out I did take off my blouse, to the loud cheering of the others gathered there.
Within minutes everyone was unclothed. For me this began several months of open
experimentation, during which I was involved in a number of emotional and sexual
possibilities, which I had previously thought about, but had always been afraid
to actually engage. He never told me what to do. It was always up to me to freely
decide what I would do or not do.
I had suffered all my life from a negative
image of myself. I also felt in conflict about bodily pleasure, feeling drawn
to it, but at the same time feeling there was something wrong with it. During
this early period of Adi Da Samraj’s Teaching Work, I came to accept my body,
and the fact that I was a woman, and attractive (as I believe all women are),
and that I could give pleasure to others and receive pleasure from them. I came
to feel, very deeply, that this was simply ordinary and positive, and that there
was nothing inherently wrong in any of that.
Everything I did during that
time I did with the benefit of Adi Da’s “consideration”. I never did anything
secretly or independent of His Help. Devotees talked about everything with Him.
We had no secrets, from Him or from one another. He helped us to see where we
were bound. We saw how sexual suppression indicates emotional rigidity, and how
this clamp on feeling affects not just ordinary human expression, but also the
great capacity for feeling that is required for true spiritual practice. Adi Da
Samraj called all experience into consideration to Instruct us about the transcendence
of every thing and to develop the ecstatic process of devotional heart-recognition
and heart-response to Him, which is the true foundation of the Reality-Way of
To me this period of my life was purely Adi Da’s Grace. I actually
feel that lifetimes of fear, withholding, and un-love were passed through in a
matter of months in His Gracious Company. Later I realized that during all this
time I was participating in a unique process of “Teaching-theatre” in Adi Da’s
Company that was done with a few devotees for the sake of all. This is absolutely
And finally, the testimony
of Eileen McCarthy, who initially came to Adi Da in 1978:
1982, I was part of a small group of devotees living and serving the retreat sanctuary
in Hawaii where Adi Da was residing. At that time, Adi Da was focused on establishing
an order of renunciate devotees that would be the cornerstone of his Divine Work
for all time. I had been his devotee for four years and had heard stories of the
wild and unreserved manner in which He often worked with devotees. But I had never
presumed that I might participate in such direct and free considerations with
Him. Then in early September of 1982, I was invited to the gatherings that Adi
Da was having.
Adi Da would spend hours discoursing and asking questions
of devotees. Various things were discussed, but Adi Da would always return to
whatever He saw in us that was obstructing our one-pointed devotion to Him as
our chosen Master for the sake of spiritual awakening. When I first arrived, Adi
Da was intensively considering how and why it is that human beings suffer “boredom,
doubt, and discomfort”. These, He said, were among the principal moods of egoity.
He pointed out all the things we do to avoid these moods and how we dramatize
our reactions to them. In other words, instead of turning to the Divine Being,
we use all kinds of seeking-methods in order to feel good, when, in fact, we are
living an ego-centered life that is inherently unsatisfactory and full of “boredom,
doubt, and discomfort”.
The gatherings went on for hours, during which we
drank beer and smoked cigarettes. Adi Da pointed out — and it was clear to me
— that alcohol was needed, because we are all committed to maintaining our social
face, rather than being revealed for what we truly are. After a time, the discussion
moved beyond just talking about our limits. We needed to see what we actually
do. And as it turns out, the area of emotion and sexuality is the “what”, “where”
and “how”, of what we do. It was with this acknowledgement that the “reality consideration”
with Him began.
I entered freely into this consideration with Adi Da and
the other devotees there. I saw how self-suppressed and hidden I was as an emotional-sexual
being. Social attitudes and my Catholic upbringing combined to mold an outwardly
contained individual, but underneath was another side of me — the sexual and promiscuous
side. I was driven to express this “side” of my character, but always in superficial
and covert ways. All of this made for a person who was very disconnected from
feeling or emotion — a person who protected herself by always affirming that no
matter what occurred, everything was always “OK” or “not that bad”. Adi Da spent
many years helping me to feel that everything is not “OK” and that things
really are “that bad”. I am going to die, and those I love are all going
to die too. With great passion, He would call me to feel this reality, then ask,
“How can everything be OK, or ‘not that bad’”?
As the weeks went on, everything
was openly expressed and confessed with real seriousness. There was nothing frivolous
about considering any aspect of one’s life, one’s emotional-sexual history and
inclinations — except perhaps my own tendencies in the face of such a confrontation.
I began to see my reluctance to be open and honest. I much preferred to be hidden.
But the purpose of a “reality consideration” is to reveal yourself to yourself.
It is to be exposed, so that you can take responsibility for your actions and
live differently on the basis of what you have observed and understood.
was given every opportunity to express my promiscuity just as I had done since
I was a teenager. I was free to be sexually involved with other men, which I did,
and which I enjoyed. I was feeling very sexy, very attractive, and very “free”.
I cut loose openly. I became quite fascinated with it and with my desires, my
impulses, my fantasies – “my”, “my”, “my”. I gave no regard to others’ feelings
or to the effect my promiscuity had — especially on my husband of thirteen years.
It was just about me: “I” was seeking to feel attractive and acknowledged.
“I” was not experiencing any boredom, doubt, or discomfort.
consideration extended for some weeks. And it became clear to me that I was really
only about superficial and promiscuous sex — totally unable to engage emotional-sexual
love with any depth or real vulnerability. It was the ultimate confrontation to
see the depth of my emotional dissociation. I felt exposed, revealed, and very
humbled. I felt all the self-doubts I always had about my womanliness, my attractiveness,
and my search for men’s approval. I felt the suffering of my lovelessness. I felt
Adi Da knowing me perfectly, without judgment, and calling me beyond these tendencies.
occasion, over the next many years, I participated in similar considerations with
Adi Da and His devotees. There was never the feeling that I was being taken advantage
of, nor was I ever coerced into anything. Yes, it was always an ordeal. And I
learned so much from Adi Da’s direct instruction. I grew in my self-understanding
of the body-mind as the vehicle that conducts Adi Da’s Divine Transmission.
I first came to Adi Da, my “vehicle” was full of knots and complications that
were rooted in my emotional-sexual patterning. I was a hidden character, unwilling
to be a responsible and committed adult. I learned about the depth of human intimacy
and the profound effect my actions have on those I love. I learned about love.
I learned about vulnerability and trust. And I learned that the body-mind is an
instrument to receive and conduct love and Divine Grace. Through Adi Da’s Work
with me, I understood that spiritual life was not an abstract or ethereal process.
I understood the connection between emotion and sex. As I learned to open the
body physically, I was able to open emotionally. And I was able to sit in Adi
Da’s company and feelingly receive His Divine Transmission.
In looking back
over all my years as His devotee, I am in awe at the commitment Adi Da has made
to liberate His devotees and awaken all beings. But even more, it is almost incomprehensible
to me that Adi Da Samraj submitted Himself to every facet of egoity in relation
to those who came to Him — always in order to teach and love them beyond it. In
whatever mode Adi Da has appeared at any given time, my love and trust in Him
as my Spiritual Master has only deepened. He has shown Himself in many ways, but
always He offers the means to realize our true condition of freedom, non-separation,
and prior unity. And that, not anything else, is real Happiness.
5. Disaffection and the Scapegoating Ritual