Growth as a Patron
(an interview with Zoe Sander)
Duff was one of Avatar Adi Da's earliest devotees. It was Dennis
who provided the funds for the purchase of the Mountain Of Attention
Sanctuary. In the early years, Dennis was one of the principal missionaries.
More recently, Dennis has become one of Adi Da's patrons and a supporter
of His Image Art. He is the former CEO and owner of a nationwide
US internet marketing company.
I thought Iíd start by talking about money and the benefits that
Iíve received from my association with Avatar Adi Da. Shortly before
becoming a devotee of Adi Da Samraj, I received an inheritance.
And when I received the inheritance, I had a very unusual feeling
that I hadnít received money that was my own. I wasnít elated by
suddenly having a lot of money. Rather, I had a sense that it wasnít
really mine, and that it would have to be used for positive purposes.
But it wasnít something that was for my benefit. So it was an unusual
feeling talking to other people about it, because they now perceived
me personally as being a "rich person". I was fairly young. I was
in my twenties. The expectation seemed to be that Iíd go out and
immediately spend a lot of it, which I didnít do. I held on to it.
It felt like it was given to me for some future purpose that I was
as yet unaware of.
I became Beloved Adi Da's devotee in January of 1973 and
shortly after that moved to Los Angeles, where the Ashram was, and
lived there for a while. It was at the end of 1973, around December
I think, that Avatar Adi Da decided that it was really time to leave
Los Angeles. I think He started considering it in October or November
of that year. He felt like for His Work to continue properly and
appropriately it needed to be in a more rural setting. So we started
looking at different property options and found the Mountain Of
Attention Sanctuary in northern California. I felt like purchasing
this property was what my inheritance was actually for, and so I
just offered it as a gift to Adi Da, and He gracefully accepted
After I gave the money for the purchase
of the Sanctuary, I still had a little bit more. But I had donated
the bulk of it. I remember at the time having some conversations
with some other devotees about what itís like to inherent money
at a young age and what kind of impact that has on you. One of the
things that I realized was that I was not going to be able to develop
the kind of skills and strengths that I wanted to as a man as long
as I was holding on to money and trying to live off just that and
not really going out and developing some real-world skills. So at
some point I just felt like I needed to give the rest of it away--that
that was the appropriate thing to do. And I did. And it really changed
me, because I was now forced to go out and make a living.
Zoe Sander: Who did you give your money to?
Dennis: I gave it to Adidam. It wasnít just like one
lump sum, but I started making more and more contributions and supporting
the publication of Adi Daís literature. I started sponsoring a lot
of different projects. That was in í74 or í75, I believe, something
Anyway, it was very interesting because it really freed me
up from a whole kind of emotional and monetary dependency and childishness.
At the same time it brought up a lot of fear in me, because now
I was going to have to go out and make it on my own, so to speak.
I wasnít really dependent upon my fatherís money. It was actually
really good for me. And for the next few years I lived
at the Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary, or lived in a region and
supported myself through my service efforts.
And then at one point I realized that I really needed to
develop additional skills, particularly business skills. So I went
out and started working as a salesman with a number of companies,
including a devotee-owned internet marketing
company. I worked there for about six years as sales manager
and recruiter. Then the owner of the company decided that he wanted
to sell, and he basically made me an offer I couldnít refuse. I
really wasnít interested in buying the company, but when I looked
at it I thought, ďThis will be an excellent opportunity for growth.Ē
I felt like I could take the company to a new level,
and it could be more successful. And then I would hopefully turn
around and sell it in five years at a much greater profit.
So thatís what I did. And this was also scary, because I
was jumping into a new situation ó Iíd never run a company before.
It was an internet company. It was a little daunting. But I felt
that I knew everybody, I knew the business, Iíd hired all the sales
people, so I felt confident that I could do it. And I did it. I
ran the business. I was the CEO and president and majority owner
of the company for five years. And then I
sold the company after five years, which was my goal. In fact, in
the end, the growth of the company and its sale exceeded my original
goals. It was extremely auspicious, because it allowed me
to continue being very active as a patron, which I really enjoy
Zoe: Can you say a little bit more about that, about
being a patron and what it feels like?
Dennis: Well, being a patron is that you support Avatar
Adi Daís circumstance financially and with gifts. And itís a real
joy to do that. I have felt this from when I first
inherited that money and felt like it was for another purpose, not
my personal purposes. It was for a greater purpose. And once I became
involved in Adidam, I recognized what that purpose was. And so I
became a patron, probably the first major patron when I bought the
Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary as a gift for Adi Da. This
was a level of sacrifice and service from which I felt like I received
tremendous Blessings in my own life and my practice. It is something
that I have never regretted.
There were a number of years when I couldnít provide the
patron service because I didnít have any money and I was basically
serving Adidam full time. But then I reached that point where I
felt I needed to go out and take responsibility for generating money
in the world and to really understand how the business world operates.
I was given some great opportunities to do that. A
lot of doors, opportunities, were opened to me. Buying the internet
company and then selling it when we did was one of those. And I
felt all that was part of the Grace. I was able to
give very large bonuses to all the employees. Everything
about the sale was very benign.
I think it says in the Bible that whatever you give is returned
a hundred-fold, or something like that. I feel that in my service
as a patron, thatís exactly whatís happened. Even when I didnít
have any money, I never felt I wasnít taken care of, and I never
felt like I had any worries financially, even without anything really
in the bank. And so I felt that if I hadnít gone through
that process of actually giving it away, I would never have gotten
into the situation where I learned all the skills and developed
all the business skills I did, and ended up buying a company and
growing it, and then selling it for such a sizable profit. So all
that to me was just a sign of the grace of having been a patron.
So being a patron is offering to sponsor and support different
aspects of Beloved Adi Daís circumstance and of Adidam. Itís been
a real joy to do it, and it has tremendous benefits associated with