What about all of the happenings in the "Garbage
and the Goddess" period. Are you denying that quite a lot of drug and sexual
abuse went on there? Are the lawsuits
that came out of that time false? Or did Adi Da really do the things listed in
the complaints, but as "Crazy Wisdom", and the people who filed the lawsuits were
just "resisting relationship" with Him?
can read much more about these topics in the sections of this site entitled, Crazy
Wisdom and Lawsuits,
Countersuits, and Media Circuses.]
Steinberg: I was a devotee of Adi Da Samraj through the "Garbage and the
Goddess" period. Likewise, I know most of the individuals, and was quite intimate
with many of them, who later became disaffected and critical of Adi Da.
is no denying that our community had great periods of experimentation
in the emotional-sexual area. I never witnessed nor heard of anything I would
describe as “sexual abuse”, and I have been to many, many gatherings.
During the Garbage and the Goddess period, the guiding principle was that
we were involved in all of this as Spiritual aspirants, and that everything that
was done was considered from that perspective. In other words, how does this action
affect my own Spiritual practice? I spent a chapter of my book, Love
of the God-Man, talking about this. It is titled, “Crazy Wisdom: The Free
and Spontaneous Teaching Work and Blessing Work of Adi Da Samraj and the Great
Tradition of Unconventional Wisdom”. It is the longest chapter in the book, over
mean that the allegations in all the lawsuits that came out of that time
are false? Well, first, it is not like there are lots of lawsuits. There was one
major lawsuit, and perhaps one other peripheral one. I want that to be clear.
People may be familiar with the fact many great realizers faced court trials —
Upasani Baba, for example, and also Ramana Maharshi (they sent
someone out to deposition him), as they did with Shirdi Sai Baba. And this is
in India where there is a much stronger tradition of understanding about such
God-men and women.
So the Realizer tends
to be made into the “man in the middle”, the “scapegoat”, the target, as Adi Da
describes in First
My experience with virtually
every story or “allegation” that I have heard about Adi Da Samraj is that they
may have some kernel of truth to them, but they are twisted or distorted in order
to support an attitude of disgruntlement or upset. Sometimes the original person
in the story is shocked to see how what they view as a benign event has now become
a negative incident because of a funny slant. For example, the woman who filed
the primary lawsuit took back all her
charges a few years later, explaining that most of them were made up by her
lawyers. You don’t find this fact on the negative websites.Real
practice is a matter of intensity and struggle. There is a lot of difficulty and
sometimes hurt. Another chapter in Love
of the God-Man is called “Sadhana Hurts”. Adi Da Samraj’s Way is about
undermining the ego, or the presumption of being a separate “I”. That’s a big
deal, don’t you think? In the midst of that, if the ego chooses to be “offended”
rather than to appreciate the undermining, then there is the potential for the
individual to get upset with the Realizer.
metaphor in the traditions is that the teacher throws rocks. In some cases, for
example with Swami Nityananda of Ganeshpuri, or Upasani Baba, it
is a literal matter. Hakuin was thrown
off the porch by his teacher for proclaiming his own realization. In other words,
you cannot simply kiss someone into realization. Sometimes what is needed is a
good swift kick in the ass.
also be noted that Adi Da Samraj occasionally has appeared to be physically forceful
with His devotees, but then when you speak to the devotees, you will see that
it was nothing like it appeared to be.
Adi Da's "rocks" are generally verbal criticisms. During the early and wilder
teaching days, there were teaching lessons. And right from the beginning, Adi
Da made it plain that He was not a Sunday school preacher, but out to truly point
out and undo the egoic presumption of His devotees. And if the undermining of
the ego of the devotee was not appreciated, well, that is the origin of the negative
stories that have been posted on those various websites. They no longer could
see that what was happening in relationship to Adi Da was Spiritual Instruction,
there for the devotee to grow with. Instead they got offended and withdrew. I
have always been careful to remember why I have come to Adi Da — not to have a
social relationship with Him, but for the sake of Divine Realization.
Alwood: When Avatar Adi Da began to
teach, those who came to Him were basically out of the sixties, and they were
very much into "sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll", as the saying goes. His first year
of Teaching was very simple, comprised of straightforward but profound Discourses
on the nature of seeking and the need for self-understanding. He Offered His devotees
the life of Satsang (the traditional practice of living in the Company
of a Realized Master). To really be able to make use of such an Offering, you
have to really be prepared and understand the nature and subtleties of the Guru-devotee
relationship. (To give you an idea about this, there are numerous books from
all over the world in the Great Tradition that are just listings of “rules” that
one should follow when approaching any authentic Realizer — because there
are all sorts of subtle Laws that you need to be aware of to make right use
of such sublime Company.)
To make a long
story short, Avatar Adi Da came to the firm conclusion after that first year,
that He was going to have to “get into it” with His devotees in order to grow
them to where they could actually make right use of His Company. In 1973, He went
to India as “Franklin Jones” and came back as
“Bubba Free John”.
“Bubba” is a nickname from the American South that means “brother”. So Avatar
Adi Da was Indicating He was going to become everyone’s “elder brother” now as
means to Instruct devotees about the nature of conditional existence and Spiritual
experiences and the dead-end of all our secret desirings and wishes.
during the “Garbage and the Goddess” period, beginning in late 1973, everyone’s
fantasies began to uncork. Not only did everyone begin to indulge their sex,
drugs, rock and roll fantasies to the max, they were suddenly having the most
extraordinary mystical and Spiritual experiences — all the kinds of experiences
ever reported in the religious and Spiritual traditions of humankind. During this
time, Avatar Adi Da was intentionally magnifying the "yogic" aspects of His Spiritual
Transmission to make a specific Lesson about seeking in all of its forms. Thus,
people were madly partying and sexing while simultaneously imagining they had
suddenly become "yogis" and the general mood was that "Enlightenment" was just
around the corner.
Avatar Adi Da kept asking people in the midst of it all: “Is this Happiness?”
“Is your experience Happiness Itself?” There was a fundamental lesson to be learned:
All seeking, high and low, is suffering.
This lesson cannot
just be mentally grasped. You must come to see it directly. And Avatar Adi Da
was letting people play out all their hidden (and not so hidden) motives to the
max so that they could see themselves clearly, so they could really come to understand
themselves, understand what the ego-“I” is and what the ego-“I” does.
“lawsuits” did not occur at this time at all. It was over a decade later, in 1985,
that a group of dissaffected devotees crystalized around a bitter divorce case
in the community. A number of these former devotees had been part of the “inside”
crowd and were now “out” of the inner circle. The woman who initiated the main
lawsuit withdrew it completely a few years later, admitting in a formal letter
that the contents of the lawsuit were basically fabricated
by her lawyers.
There is something very important that must
be understood here. There is a hidden presumption that if someone feels like they
were hurt by a Spiritual Master, that that somehow brings into question the Spiritual
Master Himself or Herself. All throughout history, Realizers of every kind have
been suppressed, attacked, vilified, and treated basically like scum or social
“outsiders”. Realizers disturb egos. That is Their job. That is
what They do. Egos do not like to be disturbed. Egos sometimes fight back
viciously, usually reacting to the Realizer as if He or She were a “Dad” or a
“Mom” that failed to console them, or failed to protect their precious “egos”.
You see very messy, essentially “oepidal” dramas
by devotees and public against Realizers throughout the Great Tradition. Some
simple examples: Socrates (condemned to death for “corrupting the young”), Jesus
(betrayed by His closest disciple and handed over to political authorities), Buddha
(His cousin and once disciple attempted to have Him assassinated by a rogue elephant,
tried to get local authorities after Him, and went off and became an independent
teacher taking a number of the formal renunciates with him), numerous Hebraic
prophets, Sufi prophets, “heretical” Christian mystics — all attacked, jailed,
or executed by public authorities; and on and on and on.
back to those “rule” books about the Guru-devotee relationship . . . They all
basically try to prepare the devotee to understand that entering into relationship
with a Realizer is about the undoing of the ego. And they all say that
it is a dangerous process and relationship that should only be entered into soberly
and responsibly, because you are going to have to deal with your ego getting
very, very disturbed. Realizers must do this or they can’t help their
devotees get beyond ego.
it is much more dangerous for the Guru than the devotee. Can you even begin to
imagine the heroism required for Avatar Adi Da to “get into it” with hundreds
of devotees? Do you think He did not know how “dangerous” it was to engage such
life is a little bit like going into the world of enemies and dragons to liberate
somebody who has been captured. You cannot just sit down and tell a dragon the
Truth. You must confront a dragon. You must engage in an heroic effort to release
the captive from the dragon. This is how I worked in the theatre of my way of
relating to people, particularly in the earlier years, and in the unusual involvements
of my life and Teaching. You could characterize it as the heroic way of Teaching,
the way of identifying with devotees and entering into consideration in that context
and bringing them out of the enemy territory, gradually waking them up.
Adi Da Samraj, "I
Enter the World of Dragons"
was clearly one the most heroic actions by any Realizer ever. The most dangerous
“dragons” we each possess are those around our precious sexual egos, and
Avatar Adi Da went there to Free His devotees.
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