Extraordinary Evidence > Adi Da & Elemental Forces > Look the Fire in the Eye

Look the Fire in the Eye

Ben Fugitt 



On September 17, 1979, a hot and dry day, fire threatened The Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary. Ben Fugitt, a caretaker of the Sanctuary, noticed the initial tuft of smoke, and sprang into action. He soon discovered that the fire was out of control, and heading on a direct line for the Sanctuary. He never anticipated the adventure Adi Da would involve him in that day.

This account is from The Promised God-Man Is Here, by Carolyn Lee, Ph.D.

Ben FugitBen Fugitt: During the summer of 1979, I was a caretaker at the Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary. It had been a very hot summer, with a number of forest fires in the surrounding country. On this particular day in September, I noticed a small tuft of smoke down the canyon. It looked like it was very close to our property. I immediately ran to the nearest car and raced down the canyon. A fire could be seen going up over a ridge to the northwest. This was an ominous location, practically inaccessible to fire-fighting equipment, due to the rough terrain. It was also in a direct line with the outer Sanctuary. Seeing that the Sanctuary was threatened by this already out-of-control fire, I jumped into the car and raced back.

I had the fire department notified, then ran out to the back of the Sanctuary, where I had sent a few men with hand-tools to see what they could do. By now, the smoke had grown to a large cloud. This was obviously a big fire. I had run about three-quarters of a mile toward the fire to check out the extent of the blaze when I received a call on my walkie-talkie to meet Beloved Adi Da at the Sanctuary zoo, as He wanted to ride out to the fire on horseback. I ran back, calling requests and orders over the walkie-talkie in preparation for His ride. I found myself in a frenzy by the time I got to the zoo.

Ben Fugit

I hastily saddled the horses. Adrenalin was coursing through my body as never before. I was very much afraid for our Sanctuary. The area that was immediately threatened by the fire meant far more to me than simply outlying trails and manzanita bushes. It was the Holy Site of Red Sitting Man, which was an area of the Sanctuary where I had spent many hours meditating and serving. I knew this Site had great Spiritual significance, and that it was extremely important that it not burn. And then, of course, there was the obvious threat to the residences, Holy Sites, and Meditation Halls at the heart of the Sanctuary.

As Beloved Adi Da approached the horses, His fierce determination and concern for the Sanctuary were obvious to me, but He was also completely calm. His simultaneous Intensity and Freedom immediately drew me out of my fearfulness.

As we mounted the horses, I wondered exactly where we were going, not remotely expecting what was about to unfold. As soon as we began riding down the back road, a fire engine careened around the corner behind us and turned on its siren to alert us. The horses bolted, not about to be caught by this screaming machine. I could feel Beloved Adi Da's equanimity as I held on for dear life. The truck finally outran us, and the horses relaxed their mad gallop. We rode on to find a spot from which to view the fire.

Beloved Adi Da was dissatisfied with the distant vantage points I took Him to, finally asking to get close to the fire. I took Him out through the outer Sanctuary to the spot where I had been earlier, but still He wanted to get much closer to the fire. I told Him there was an old fire road that would take us right to the fire. But I was hesitant to go there, feeling I should not take Him into such a dangerous situation. I warned Him that the horses would probably refuse to get close to the fire because of all the smoke. But this was the route He wanted to explore, and so we made our way up the steep, overgrown fire road. I cautioned Him again about the horses, feeling my own apprehension growing.

As we made our way over the ridge, it looked as though we were riding into a different world. The atmosphere was thick with smoke. The ground and trees were red with borate fire retardant, and planes were continuing to drop fire-retardant right over us. Once again, I cautioned Beloved Adi Da about the horses, as it was obvious to me we were approaching the "head" or "lead" of the fire. He simply replied, "Don't worry about it."

We wove through the trees toward the roar of the blaze. The wind was coming up and fanning the flames. Spot fires burned on either side of us. The main part of the fire was roaring through the more dense forest directly ahead. I had finally found the right spot! This was where He wanted to be, right in the path of the fire.

I was afraid. It seemed to me that we could easily be trapped by the fire it was moving so quickly. The spot fires behind us could seal off our escape. The horses might bolt. My body was again charged with adrenalin, pumping with wild, terrified energy. Once more, I warned Beloved Adi Da of the possible danger.

He looked at me intensely, asking if I was frightened, and I told him honestly, "Yes". His response was, "Why do you think I wanted to come up here? I have to look the fire in the eye."

Beloved Adi Da's communication was so full of Force that it was incomprehensible to me. I could feel that His complete, free, and uncompromised attention was on the blazing fire.

In that instant, I was relieved of my fear. Suddenly, instead of feeling overwhelmed by terror, I was released into love, and I only wanted to Contemplate my Beloved Guru.

Beloved Adi Da then turned toward the advancing flames, moving within thirty yards or so of the advancing blaze. The roar and force of the fire was amazingly powerful. Flames exploded up the sides of two enormous trees directly in front of us, as if to confront Beloved Adi Da. I could feel this great force of Nature over against the Master of Life. I also noticed, much to my amazement, that the horses were completely calm, almost as if they were out grazing in a pasture. They were obviously feeling Beloved Adi Da's calming influence as much as I was.

I was sitting to the side and slightly behind Beloved Adi Da, watching Him regard the fire. The magnitude of the fire appeared to increase significantly, as the wind came up suddenly and the fire engulfed the area directly in front of us. Facing the fire's new rush of force and fury, Beloved Adi Da sat completely still in His saddle. His only movements were the spontaneous motions of His face and hands in various mudras, very much the same as I had seen many times during formal Darshan or meditation occasions. I felt Him radiate Divine Fire in the face of that forest fire. Whatever else He might have been doing, Beloved Adi Da was Radiating the most benign and yet fierce and awesome Power I had ever known.

After what must have been only a few moments (although time seemed to be suspended and warped), the fire receded and then died down. The winds stopped. The consuming power of this fire seemed to be bowing down to the Divine Heart-Master. I am sure that it is difficult for the reader to picture this moment but that fire had been transformed! I can only say that it was a mysterious and awesome moment to see and feel the Divine Adept change the course and magnitude of a raging forest fire. I sat still in mindless wonder.

Beloved Adi Da then turned back toward the Sanctuary, moving slowly through the trees, stopping to talk for a time. We looked over the scene the fire was still moving, but much more slowly now, and not directly toward the Sanctuary boundary.

When we arrived back at the main Sanctuary complex, I was surprised to find all of Beloved Adi Da's belongings, all of the Sanctuary files and records, library books, and machines being packed into waiting vans and trucks. Apparently, no one had remembered my instructions to wait until we returned before deciding to evacuate. Beloved Adi Da just laughed as he dismounted and sat down on the steps of His residence amidst a sea of packed boxes. He kidded me about our trip up to the fire, and teasingly told everyone, "Ben was so afraid, he almost shit in his pants!"

I always tend to withdraw in the face of anything that is frightening to me. Beloved Adi Da has pointed this out to me a number of times over the years, and He would use this event for years to come to remind me of my tendencies, and how I must go beyond them. During this incident, He had simply drawn me out of my position of fear and agitation, into trust and the capacity to love and serve. I felt through Him what it is to move in this world, even in the most dangerous circumstances, as a free man.

Later that evening, we rode out again to survey the neighboring areas. Then Beloved Adi Da asked me to call the neighbors and make sure everyone was all right. In doing so, I found out that, although about one thousand acres had been burned, no buildings had been lost, no one had been injured, and even our neighbor's orchards had only been slightly scorched.

A few days later, I walked back to the spot where Beloved Adi Da had worked with the fire, reflecting on all that had occurred there. I thought about how confounding and amazing the whole event had been, feeling humbled and full of love. The area was still smeared with red borate dust and ash; the strong smell of smoke lingered. The fire, I discovered, had stopped short of the Sanctuary boundary by only a foot!


This story appears in the following sections:
Extraordinary Evidence and
The Mountain Of Attention


Quotations from and/or photographs of Avatar Adi Da Samraj used by permission of the copyright owner:
Copyrighted materials used with the permission of The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd, as trustee for The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam. All rights reserved. None of these materials may be disseminated or otherwise used for any non-personal purpose without the prior agreement of the copyright owner. ADIDAM is a trademark of The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd, as Trustee for the Avataric Samrajya of Adidam.

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