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The Fierce Woman
Frans Bakker, M.D.
Frans Bakker, M.D., is a long-time devotee of Avatar
Adi Da, who at one time served as Adi Da's personal physician.
Frans has been a principal public representative of Adidam. He
has given seminars worldwide on Adi Da’s Instruction about death
and dying. This story takes place at Da Love-Ananda Mahal, then
called “Tumomama”. It was during a time of intense consideration
of esoteric spiritual practice with just a small group of practitioners.
Four of my friends and I were on our way to “Tumomama” Sanctuary, on
Kauai, Hawaii. I felt excited about this trip. This was my first
time going there. I had heard so much about the Sanctuary in Hawaii,
and now, since Avatar Adi Da was residing there, this was a special
pilgrimage. The five of us had been invited to Tumomama because
at that moment, we were considered to represent the leading edge
“Tumomama — Fierce Woman — what an appropriate name for that
Sanctuary,” I thought. Avatar Adi Da had named His Sanctuary after
a certain quality of the Great Goddess, with something very specific
in mind. He told us how He had taken the word “Tumo” from the
Tibetan. He had explained that the syllable of “tum” means “fierce,”
signifying the direct overcoming of all that is not conducive
to enlightenment, that is, all that has to be given up for liberation.
The syllable “mo” means “mother”, or the one who bears (her child)
free awareness. In reflecting about the Goddess, I could see worshipping
the positive aspect of the Goddess: life, sex, pleasure, fertility,
children, etc. I knew I actually did worship that — not consciously,
but through all forms of attachment to the enjoyments and habits
of life. But what about that other aspect of the Goddess that
in the traditions is called “Kali”; her fierce, wrathful, murderous,
death-inciting aspect? How could anybody worship her, as such;
as the fierce, all-consuming, all-devouring woman? It seemed to
me that she would just be a cause of fear, something you would
want to avoid.
Not too long before, I had read up on the Indian tantric tradition. In certain of these traditions the fierce aspect of the Goddess itself is valued. For some people, who are considered to be real spiritual “heroes”, that particular aspect of life (or of the Goddess) is so real that to not observe, understand, master, or transcend it means to remain bound to a life of suffering and delusion.
These practitioners therefore look the Goddess, or reality, in the eye. They let the frightening, murderous aspects of their own subconscious emerge and, when brought to light, study them, observe them, and accept them totally. They don't merely indulge them, but they do accept and allow and observe them, as necessary steps in the process of transcendence.
In this way these aspects are stripped of their power to bind. The practitioner conquers these hidden matters (Kali, in other words) by giving up any self-censorship that insists on binding him or her to the realities of pain, change, and death. By completely embracing these realities the practitioner receives the gift of absolute freedom.
One of my friends sitting next to me then said, “You know, the Master has been talking a lot about the Goddess for the last few months, did you hear anything about that?”
“No, not really", I responded, "but that is very interesting. I had a very vivid dream or vision about her the other day when I was in Boston; remind me to tell you about it later. Can you tell me what he was saying?” I asked.
“He was trying to show people that all the talk in the traditions about the Goddess is not just metaphorical. He was saying that she lives and is alive as everything and that sometimes you can even actually have a vision of her and see her in human shape and form, both in her benign and in her wrathful aspect. He said that at The Mountain of Attention Sanctuary in California she tends to exhibit her benign, nurturing form, but that at Tumomama she is the Fierce Woman. Adi Da called this manifestation a “growling, murderous, fanged, bloodthirsty bitch.”
“He really knows how to paint a picture,” I said.
“Yeah. He even told everyone that He had seen her form quite a few times at this place and gave all kinds of other vivid descriptions of her: dark skinned, long limbed, emaciated, with long, wild, mussed-up hair, crazy wild eyes, fierce and frightening,” my friend continued.
As I listened to this, my hair started standing on end. I had
seen that same woman in my dream-vision! She had been there, literally.
When we arrived at Tumomama, it was only a few weeks after a
devastating hurricane (Hurricane
Iwa) had passed through. Our friends told us how, synchronously
with Avatar Adi Da talking about the Goddess for many weeks, the
storm had suddenly started. I knew from experience that when He
talks about the Goddess, then the Goddess would appear in some
shape or form. So, our friends told us how it started to storm,
really storm. “There was force and destruction all over the place,”
one of them continued. “We all became more and more terrified.
The wind would sometimes just pick you up and throw you over;
and this was only the beginning!” “That's when the Master actually
invited us to stay in his house,” somebody else said. “We were
there for days. He said it was too dangerous, and he obviously
wanted to continue his consideration of the Goddess with us. At
one point, he opened the doors of his house and stood there, his
hair flowing in the howling wind, shouting 'Give it to us, Mama!'
” “Yes, and you know what was remarkable,” another friend chipped
in, “the wind, or should I say, 'she' seemed to respond immediately.
It was like a conversation took place between the Master and the
hurricane. He would tease and taunt her, and she would respond
immediately, and He would laugh wildly again. It was a wild, strange
scene. Then he would close the doors, come in, sit down and talk
to us about her." “And what was interesting to me,” one of
the others was saying, “Adi Da was kind of a still point in the
midst of it. It felt very strange because at the same time He
was very animated standing in those open doors, His hair blowing
in the wind. It was totally paradoxical. As a matter of fact,
later we actually saw that He was in charge, the Master of her.
At one point He got up again and shouted, 'This is enough!' Then
the hurricane that was supposed to last much longer, and even
gain in strength, died down quickly.”
After this remarkable story, we walked over the Sanctuary, mostly silently, just feeling the place and taking it in.
Avatar Adi Da had also been speaking about the Tibetan Spiritual tradition and how it has produced some very great, so-called “Crazy Wise,” Teachers, such as Drukpa Kunley and Marpa who were known for their unconventional (hence “Crazy”) Teaching behavior. These Tibetan men showed people that freedom has nothing to do with exhibiting a certain “holy” (and often life-denying) behavior. They would often drink, be sexually active, and do all kinds of other things that were commonly considered “unholy” and forbidden. Through their own example, these “Crazy” Teachers showed that the distinction between pure and impure, sacred and profane, represented artificial fragmentation and duality. They affirmed in a radical way the underlying unity of all the opposites of the phenomenal world by embracing the “forbidden”, while vigorously maintaining the benign purity of their direct Realization of the Truth. They were living examples of “tum-mo”: the direct and fierce overcoming of all that is not conducive to enlightenment. They were the bearers of free awareness under all circumstances whether apparently “good” or apparently “bad.”
Avatar Adi Da had always felt akin to these Teachers and had given many discourses about their traditions in the room we were now gathered in.
Shortly after He arrived this evening He asked us how things were in the rest of the community and with ourselves, then “Has anything interesting happened?”
I immediately remembered the story of my dream-vision of Kali. I spoke up.
“Master, people have told me all these stories about Tumomama, the Fierce Goddess . . ..”
“Ah, yes, Frans, she is quite something, isn’t she ladies and gentlemen?” (loud oh’s and ah’s from the devotees there) “Well, what about her, Frans, have you ever seen her, that bloodthirsty bitch with her strange sense of humor? You can actually see her, you know. People here have seen her on the property.”
“Master, what I want to tell you is that I did see her in a very vivid dream or vision, right at the time when you were talking about her a lot.”
“OK, go ahead, Frans, tell us about that deliciously wild and weird creature!”
“I was in Boston on a lecture tour before I came out here. I was sleeping and woke up in my dream or in physical reality — I have no idea which. I could feel there was something strange in the room. I looked around and to my astonishment I saw two feet sticking out from under the end of the single bed I was sleeping in.
I crawled up to those feet and started wiggling them. They were in fact real feet. I looked under the bed and there, under my bed, lay an incredibly ugly, old hag. She was lying there totally naked with flabby, sagging breasts. She was just skin and bones, and very old, with wild hair and unbelievable eyes that looked me straight in the face!”
I heard a murmur of astonishment from my listening friends. “That’s her,” some
of them whispered. Adi Da didn’t say a thing but was leaning forward
listening to me intently. I continued: “When I saw her, I was
completely freaked out and bolted for the door. I had no idea
who or what this was, but I wanted nothing to do with her. I have
to tell you that I hadn’t heard any of the stories about what
you were doing here or what happened with the hurricane.
Before I reached the door I was halted in my tracks by a most
commanding voice saying, 'Stop!' I stopped and looked around.
The hag had crawled out from underneath the bed and had positioned
herself on it. She looked disgusting to me, more old and disgusting
than before, and those eyes were unbelievably fiery.
Then, believe it or not, she spread her legs suggestively and beckoned me by finger gestures to come closer.”
“Stop for a moment, Frans,” Adi Da interjected. “Did you see Me in that situation?” He asked.
His question threw me for a loop. I hadn’t seen anything but this woman. I said “No,” and swallowed.
“Ah” He said, throwing back his head and arms. “That was a big
mistake, Frans. You cannot handle this Woman without Me……. But
At the time, I had no clear idea what Master Adi Da meant by these remarks. But after a moment of hesitation, I went on. “She was lying there naked on the bed, motioning me to come closer. I was totally scared. But again, because it was such a commanding gesture, I came closer. I had no idea what was happening. I was spellbound. All I knew was that there was a naked, ugly, ancient woman lying on the bed who was exceedingly imperious in her presence.
Then, while I was walking closer, suddenly somehow, I don’t know how, I recognized who she was. She was the Goddess, the Mother Shakti, Kali!! I was so overwhelmed and in awe, I fell flat on my face! She didn’t even blink an eye.
When I looked up she was still motioning me to come closer. She wasn’t looking for that kind of devotion! No! She motioned me to lie on top of her!”
Master Adi Da smiled.
“Again I couldn’t help myself. I did lie down on top of her in spite of my fears. Then, as I was lying naked on top of her, she started kissing me. She kissed me so passionately. Her mouth grew bigger and bigger; it started devouring me! My whole head was taken up in her mouth! At that point I began losing myself in an unbelievable bliss of energy; wave after wave swept my body — I was caught up in the incredible embrace of the Goddess.
On the one hand, it was immensely thrilling and unbelievably wonderful; on the other, I was getting more and more terrified. The part in me that is small, uptight, and bound became stronger and stronger.
For a moment I had been without mind, then my mind started coming back. I started having very down-to-earth, Dutch Calvinistic thoughts like, “I must be a pervert — what the hell am I doing lying on top of this naked old crone?” At the same time her body movements were compelling me to enter her! I was getting more and more uptight.”
“Stop again for a moment, Frans,” Master Adi Da interrupted once more, looking at me very intently now, His own eyes on fire with the exact same fire that I had seen in hers.
“Did you actually fuck her?”
There was a silence in the room, full of expectation.
“No, I am afraid it was just too much. With a tremendous effort I woke myself
up, escaping from her embrace, and she was no longer there. I
was alone lying on the bed, my heart pounding in my throat.”
“Oh, no! That was your second mistake, Frans,” Adi Da said.
I could hear the disappointment in His voice and saw it in His face. He looked off into the distance for quite a while. We were all quiet.
Then He spoke. “This is what we have been talking about here,
Frans. This bloody bitch is Nature herself, which seems temporarily
about birthing and surviving and enjoying. But the ultimate work
of Nature is not about this at all. It is about obliteration,
not birth and survival and glorification. It is death. The Goddess
is the sign of nature. She showed you her true Form, the Form
that most people don’t want to see: Kali, the bloody Goddess,
the old hag, always reminding you of the realities of life.
“You see, one day this whole Sanctuary was in bloom with exotic
flowers and green leaves. The next day it was all gone, blown
away. It could have been even worse than that. Death and change
is what this Goddess is all about and what this world is all about.
You think this world is full of great possibilities — possibility
land — and it is. But you want to distract yourself from the Truth.
This world is about sacrifice; it demands sacrifice. She is about
sacrifice. She demands sacrifice. She is completely indifferent
to the survival of creatures. There is a school in the Great Tradition
that is negative about this Goddess power, naming her 'Maya',
or the 'Cosmic Veiling Power'. Everything created by Maya is subject
to a bewildering, unfathomable display of appearances, changes,
and disappearance. Association with manifest existence leads the
individual to become trapped and bound in the illusion of appearances.
All of this is enough reason in this tradition, to become ascetical,
to get away from life."
“Obviously, this is not the way [I Teach you] to look at it.
The Universal Energy, the Mother Power or Mother Shakti, if rightly
understood, is a great liberating Power. The play of Nature is
a kind of madness, not comprehensible to the ego, which seeks
its own survival and the survival of the things to which it wants
to attach itself. Nature, however, is a great sacrifice, a Fire
Sacrifice, a Sacrifice of selves. In that sense it serves to liberate
selves from their bondage altogether and leads from the conditional
worlds of change to absolute freedom in Consciousness itself,
Avatar Adi Da had spoken with great force, and I could now see
how I had, because of lack of understanding, resisted losing myself
in Her. I also started to have a feeling for the fact that without
His Radical Vision of prior Freedom it would be impossible to
face all your attachments and obstructions and fears and give
them up. After Adi Da had spoken to me, He was silent for quite
a while again.
Then, looking at me and smiling, He said, “Hmm . . . apparently
my girlfriend is going for my students now. At least it speaks
for you that she chose you, Frans . . . ”