to Beloved Adi Da Samraj, Who, Through Skillful
Means, finds His devotees and serves their Liberation.
I was the second
child and first son of a tool-and-die machinist father and a wonderful stay-at-home
mom. I was born May 7, 1955, in the small town of Bristol, Connecticut, which
is close to the center of the state, just a few miles southwest of the capitol
city of Hartford. I had one sister and three brothers.
We lived one block
from the Roman Catholic Church and School that predominated our French-Canadian
speaking neighborhood. I was raised Roman Catholic and attended the Catholic school.
became disillusioned with the Catholic religion when I was about thirteen years
old. I felt that most of the representatives of the Church whom I knew (the nuns
and priests) were unhappy, frustrated and often mean people, and despite their
efforts to recruit me into seminary and missionary work, I decided against it,
after a long courtship on their part.
I found the method of "belief" as
a means of permanent and ultimate Salvation, to be ridiculous. But unaware of
any alternative, I embraced a childish love and devotion to Jesus and the Christian
myths, until I felt strong enough to abandon them.
But having abandoned
them, I needed to find a new meaning in my life. I entered a crisis that would,
in essence, come to end when I met Beloved Adi Da Samraj in 1975, although this
was just the beginning of the crisis of my sadhana in relationship to Him, which
From age 14 to 18, I read Krishnamurti's writings, along
with Alan Watts and others. I read everything I could about Hinduism, Buddhism,
and Islam, to see if perhaps there was some Truth that Christianity had missed,
that could speak to my deep sense of suffering, bewilderment, and my yearning
for happiness and the real knowledge of God, Truth, Reality and Love. I also read
humorous books to stay sane. I read Mark Twain and James Thurber in particular.
I did have normal interests, like sports and girls and drug-taking, but I was
pretty consumed by my suffering and seeking for truth, although I didn't talk
about it much. Seeking for truth wasn't socially acceptable.
got an opportunity to hear Krishnamurti speak in public in Santa Monica in 1973.
Though he spoke with a real conviction and certainty, I was unimpressed with him
as a person. He seemed unhappy and frustrated. I was pretty devastated to see
my idol in such a mortal state.
I began to think that I would have to go
to India to find "my" spiritual master. I wanted to find either a teacher, or
a community with values that I felt were genuine and worthy of a human life. I
began mentally to prepare for such a journey to India, and whatever life changes
were in store. I thought that if I should find a genuine spiritual master, I would
give my life over to him or her. And if I could not find one, I contemplated that
perhaps I would take my own life. I don't know if I would have actually done this,
but I contemplated it. I could not rationalize living a life based merely on the
pursuit of self-fulfillment. What misery.
I visited various Hindu and Buddhist
Ashrams in California, and saw teachers, such as Hari Das Baba, Swami Satchidananda,
and Swami Kriyananda. I attended lectures and devotional singing occasions. I
considered joining various groups such as the Hari Krishnas, but I was wary of
making the wrong choice. I lived at The Ananda Retreat Center in Grass Valley
for a summer.
Miraculously, after just this brief period of a few months
of searching in California for a teacher or spiritual community, I encountered
two men who had spent time with Adi Da Samraj, then known as Franklin
Jones, in Los Angeles. These men both had a power, a certainty in their voice,
when they spoke of Franklin. It was unlike anything I had heard about other teachers.
One of the men I met said "Without a doubt, He is a Siddha, a Completed
being, one who has Realized the Truth." The other man never had a definitive statement,
but everything in his communication was that, in his humble opinion, Franklin
was a Realized Being, one who had realized "God". This fellow only carried books
by Muktananda, Ramana Maharshi and Nityananda. I began reading
the books that this man had introduced me to: Swami Muktananda, Nityananda, and
Ramana Maharshi. I also read books by and about Sri Ramakrisha and Swami Vivekananda.
life-changing and wonderful day, I saw in a bookstore in Santa Cruz that Franklin
Jones had written a book called The
Knee of Listening. The photo of Franklin on the cover portrayed a very
enthusiastic young man, and I doubted that a real spiritual teacher could be living
in Hollywood, but I had to buy the book. I was happy to have found it.
reading The Knee of Listening, and practicing a beginner's form of His
recommended practice of Self-Enquiry (which is epitomized by the phrase, "Avoiding
Relationship?"), I was overcome with a continuous state of bliss for three days.
Everything somehow became obvious to me . . . As He said, "There is no dilemma!"
I was creating my own suffering! This was a remarkable revelation.
time I felt that I was 'contracting', I would enquire "Avoiding Relationship?"
and I could see how I was doing the suffering, I was creating the self-contraction,
moment to moment, and the contraction would 'vanish'. (Of course, this was never
the practice of Adidam in its Ultimate Sense, nor is it the practice that Adi
Da recommends currently. It was not a method, in any case. As He has pointed out
over and over again, Spiritual Life is about a relationship, not a method. It
is about our relationship to Him.)
However, what Franklin was saying was
not just a catch phrase. It was truth. This was too good to be true! Who was this
being, this teacher?! How soon could I meet Him?
I began to wonder if He
was a genuine Guru, or just a philosopher — or worse, could He be a charlatan?
Could I have been lead astray by a false teaching? I prayed that this was not
All the words in this amazing book communicated happiness, truth,
what Franklin called 'the force of reality'. I decided to go to San Francisco
and see if this person was the one I was looking for.
I met Jim Steinberg
at the Dawn Horse Communion Bookstore on Polk Street. He told me that I needed
to get a job, find a devotee household to live in, and attend classes. I was surprised
that there wasn't some kind of communal living situation out on a farm, in the
woods somewhere, but I was willing to do whatever it took to see Franklin, now
known as Bubba Free John.
happened, there was a devotee in the bookstore who invited me to join his household.
I found a job and began going to the Dawn Horse classes. When I saw the first
moving images of Adi Da on a film projector, I knew this was a significant holy
man. I had never seen anyone move with such grace and beauty. It just wasn't humanly
possible without some higher Realization having occurred in Him. In my humble
opinion, this was a being of the highest order, someone moved by God, someone,
who very well may be enlightened, even though I wasn't qualified to know that.
Within a few weeks of attending class, our classmates were invited to come
to "Persimmon", the newly found rural spiritual Ashram in northern California
(now known as The Mountain Of Attention). We were invited to sit in meditation
and/or Darshan (spiritual sighting of the Master) with Bubba. I remember traveling
to Persimmon with a few devotees and stopping off at a market to buy a fruit as
a gift to Bubba for the occasion. I bought the best-looking pineapple I could
find. I thought this would be a good gift.
We arrived at Persimmon on Friday
evening, with plans to stay for the weekend. I think I stayed in a room complex
called Spirit Vase. We were given an informative and humorous orientation to Persimmon
and were told what to expect during our stay. The next day we were told that Bubba
would sit with us in Temple Eleutherios. Temple Eleutherios is one of the most
potent Communion Halls at The Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary. It had been a small
movie viewing room during the heyday of Seigler Springs. About fifty people can
fit in it.
I was one of the last ones to enter the Hall, and I was seated
in one of the back rows. I could see a large chair at the front of the Hall. I
don't remember all the details, but I remember thinking that it was a classy hall,
and that people had taken a lot of care in preparing the environment. Beautiful
plants and flowers adorned both sides of the front dais where Bubba Free John
I realized that in order to have a better view, I would need
to sit on my heels, Japanese-style, so I folded my knees and waited with the rest
of the group, which was quiet, and respectful. Within a relatively short time
of being seated, all was quiet in the Hall. People were relaxing and all had their
eyes on the front of the room. Some closed their eyes, some not. After about fifteen
minutes, we heard a door quietly open behind the dais, and Bubba Free John came
into the room. As He did so, everyone bowed, and I did likewise.
gracefully seated Himself, we began to sit back upright. I was familiar with sitting
with a spiritual teacher, as I had done so with several in California, but this
was very different. This was no skinny, smiling yogi in the front of the room!
This was a young, robust, white-skinned, fully life-embracing man of unusual quality,
character and humor. I thought that most likely He would not fit in a normal social
scene. He even seemed perhaps dangerous — meaning in a wild kind of way,
not threatening, just unpredictable, intense, humorous and intellectually brilliant.
I remember feeling uncomfortable physically, as it was not my usual meditation
posture. This was interesting enough, but nothing much seemed to be happening.
Some people began to make noises and move about in strange ways that I would later
recognize as kriyas and mudras (spontaneous physical movements caused by spiritual
energies moving through the body).
It was perhaps about thirty minutes
into the sitting, when Bubba's face suddenly began to take on the forms of other
spiritual figures I had read about. I saw Him alternatively become Swami Nityananda,
Swami Muktananda, and Ramana Maharshi. I tried to 'snap' myself out of this occurring,
but it persisted over and over again. And I felt it was not something either He
or I were intentionally doing. But it was a forceful communication occurring.
I had to relax and look away at some point, because it became exhausting to continue
looking at Him.
At some point, a deep recognition of Who He was began to
register deep in my being. My chest began to feel warm and like it wanted to open
up, even explode. I began to feel my chest 'pressing' towards Him, like He was
pulling my heart towards Him. I remember a deep recognition come over me very
strongly, very intensely. It was a recognition that this was my Master, this was
my Guru. And I remember feeling very deeply that this was a relationship that
had gone on for aeons of time. He had been my Master, and I, His devotee, for
aeons of time.
I felt that He fully knew what I was experiencing and likewise
He knew what everyone in the room was experiencing. Maybe He knew what everyone
in the world was experiencing. His simplest mannerisms and glances seemed to confirm
that He knew what I was feeling.
His very being began to communicate a
Boundless Love and Compassion. I felt a Tangible Love-Bliss emanating from Him,
almost as if He was Gracefully oozing Compassion and Love out the very pores of
His body. I felt rushes of Blissful energies, but it wasn't twinkie, peculiar
stuff, like I had experienced with yogis. It was powerful and overwhelming, manly
and real. I began to weep and I wept uncontrollably. I was extremely happy, I
was completely overwhelmed with joy and profound bliss.
I knew I wasn't
just manufacturing this. Everything I had read in His books, The Knee of Listening,
The Method of the Siddhas,
and Garbage and The Goddess was
true. I recognized him as the Maha-Siddha, the completed one. And I was experiencing
first hand what it is to be in the Company of the Master.
I wasn't sure
what others were experiencing in the room, but I didn't much care. I felt my weeping
was perhaps a distraction for some, but I could not stop. Others were having profound
experiences, it was clear, by their mudras and noises, heavy breathing and kriyas.
I began realizing that now my life was over. My egoic life was at an end.
The being and the community I sought were in front of me and all around me. At
the same time that there was great joy, there was a seriousness and a kind of
sorrow. My life of individual freedom was over. I knew I must be committed to
the Way He is offering. I began to think that this Way would offer eventual liberation,
but the sadhana must now begin. I kept alternating between the joy and the sorrow.
I wept and wept, and then the occasion was over. Bubba got up, and went
behind the dais. We were shown out of the front door.
As I went out of
the Hall, I embraced the man who had helped coordinate my stay at Persimmon. I
didn't have anything to say, I just kept weeping. He hugged me for a bit, then
pulled me back, looked me in the eyes and humorously said something like, "Yes,
He is all that He says He is, but He is also a son-of-a-bitch!"
took me back to reality. I didn't know what to make of what he said. He said it
lovingly and with humor, but also forcefully, and I could tell that he really
meant it. It sounded blasphemous at the time, but over the years, I have come
to understand why he said it, and what he meant by it.
In my time as a
devotee I have never known Adi Da to be a lightweight, airy-fairy, twinky kind
of Spiritual Master. I had been looking for the sweet, kind, gentle sort of figure
that Jesus seemed to be. Someone to 'love' me, just as "I" am. But Adi Da is not
such a one, and this, as it turns out, has been of great Help to me. As He has
said on occasion, and I paraphrase, "Any other Guru would be happy with your response.
I am not. I am only here to serve your Liberation. Only that will be pleasing
My life as a devotee has been full of the grace and the love and
blessing of the Guru, Adi Da. Through both His demands and love, He has grown
me as a human being. My life with Him has truly been a miracle.