Devotee's Journey into Death and Back
Tom Closser and
December 1983, two months after Avatar Adi Da's arrival at Adi Da Samrajashram (Naitauba),
in Fiji, there was an accident that would have been fatal without Avatar Adi Da's
Intervention. The story of the incident is told by two people: Frans Bakker, one
of the doctors involved, and Tom Closser, the devotee to whom the accident occurred.
story was published in The
Promised God-Man Is Here, by Carolyn Lee, Ph.D.
audio version of this story (slightly muffled in quality) is available at
the bottom of this page.
We were celebrating the Feast of
thirty of us were gathered with our Beloved Guru, who was giving trays of small
gifts to each devotee who was there that night. The gift giving had been going
on for hours. I was so moved that, at one point, I just wept out of sheer happiness.
Tom Closser was sitting close to me. He is a big muscular fellow, and to be living
as a religious renunciate was quite remarkable for this man — he had a checkered
past about which he sometimes felt deeply guilty. Tom was also accident-prone,
perhaps because of his deep-seated guilt. On this wonderful night, Tom had just
received gifts from the hands of Beloved Adi Da and had sat down again near me
when, all of a sudden, he stood up and began walking toward the door. . About
I was going to get Lynne, my intimate partner, who was with the Ashram children.
I began to feel that she had been away too long, that she should be here to receive
her gifts. I thought that she had probably fallen asleep with the children and
wouldn't return unless someone went to get her.
Adi Da asked me where she was. When I told Him, He said, "It's fine — I'll give
Lynne her gifts later." In spite of His remark about Lynne, I decided to get up
and bring her to the gathering.
had hardly turned toward the door when he tripped over one of his gifts. Down
he came on top of me, and his outstretched arm crashed through a window behind
me. The glass lacerated the upper part of his arm, instantly causing profuse arterial
bleeding. Warm blood spurted all over me. We rushed Tom out of the room, put a
tourniquet around his arm, and transported him to the small clinic. By this time,
Tom had lost a lot of blood and he was in serious danger.
Daniel Bouwmeester, the physician in charge, ministered to Tom, Beloved Adi Da
asked me to step outside and tell Him in full detail what was going on from a
medical point of view. While everyone else was panicking, Avatar Adi Da was simply
present, even matter-of-fact.
I told Him that our
friend Tom had arterial bleeding.
"What does that
"It means that we have to stop the
bleeding for now and that he has to be operated on as soon as possible."
you do that here?"
"No, it is a question of vascular
surgery — we can't do it here."
Daniel, who had
since telephoned the nearest major hospital, which was on a distant island, joined
our conversation at this point. He was very concerned. He had just found out that
there was no way to get a helicopter to Naitauba at night, as the pilots could
not navigate in the dark. I looked at my watch. It was 1:05 A.M. It would not
grow light until after five. When He heard this news, Beloved Adi Da turned to
one of the men and said, "I am going to have to do it Myself."
then accompanied our Beloved Guru into the clinic to attend to our friend. The
place looked like a war zone. Tom was lying on a table, his eyes closed, moaning
softly. Tom's intimate, Lynne, was holding his good hand, crying. Others were
milling around, trying to help out in various ways. There was a general mood of
hysteria. Beloved Adi Da stood next to Tom, leaning on His staff. He was completely
Dan reinspected the bleeding artery deep
in Tom's upper arm and discovered that he was able to apply direct finger-pressure
such that the bleeding would stop while circulation to the arm below the cut could
I looked at Tom and sensed that my friend
was already out of his body. I knew this was not good for his physical well-being.
Then, in a loud, powerful voice, Adi Da summoned
Tom, saying, "Look at Me! Look at Me! Look at Me!!!"
feebly opened his eyes.
"Good, keep looking at
Me! Do you dig Me? Do you? Do you love your Master? Come on, tell Me!"
friend said, "Yes," still faintly.
"Then love Me!
. . . feel Me! . . . breathe Me! Come on, do it!" Our Beloved Guru whacked Tom's
chest in the heart area with His hand, and vigorously moved it down toward Tom's
navel. He was saying all this over and over again, His hands passing down Tom's
body multiple times, tracing the path that, in this life-threatening situation,
Tom's breath should follow down the frontal line of his body.
could literally see Tom coming alive again. For a while, even the bleeding stopped
totally. But, once he was more fully conscious and alive, Tom's face contorted
with the extreme pain caused by the cut in his arm and the tourniquet around it.
"Look at Me. Keep on looking at Me. Keep your attention
on Me!! Is the pain really bad?"
Divine Master's questioning changed direction: "Can you feel how bad the pain
"But you do observe the pain,
don't you? You observe the pain . . . you are observing the pain, aren't
"Yes, I am, Master."
"So 'you' are in
the Witness-Position relative
to the pain. You are the Witnessing Consciousness Itself, painless, timeless,
and unqualified. Can you understand that? Are you with Me?"
I am, Master."
"Good. Now — can you find the Bliss
in Consciousness? Can you find the Bliss in Consciousness That is Prior to pain?
Can you find that Bliss? It does exist. I promise you! It does exist. There
is Bliss in Consciousness, Prior to all pain, Prior to all experience."
watched in amazement as our Beloved Guru, through His words and His Spiritual
Transmission, drew Tom into the entirely different position of simply Witnessing
and observing the pain rather than identifying with it.
Adi Da Samraj started joking around with Tom. "You ruined our celebration!
People will be talking about this for many years, even many centuries to come."
He threw back His head and laughed.
I could hardly believe what
was going on. First Beloved Adi Da brought Tom back to life, literally from the
edge of death. Then He brought him in touch with That Which Transcends day-to-day
life and bodily existence altogether. And now He started dealing with Tom's chronic
feelings of guilt, which had, I think, provoked this whole incident.
"Now, listen, Tom. You don't
have to be guilty anymore. What is guilt? Who cares about guilt? Do you really
believe God cares about your guilt? Do you think I do? Do you think you have to
pay to be free of it? No, Real God is Forgiveness. I don't give a damn
about what happened in the past. Just give it all up. Give it all to Me."
Adi Da took some surgical scissors from our tray and started cutting the hairs
on Tom's chest, cracking jokes about his hairiness — meanwhile laying
His healing hands again all over Tom's chest.
Finally, at daybreak,
we heard the sounds of helicopter blades from afar. The helicopter landed, and
we quickly lifted our friend inside. Daniel and I then climbed inside to accompany
Tom to Suva, where Fiji's main hospital is located.
As I was carried out of Beloved Adi Da's House immediately after the accident,
I became especially sensitive to noise, and could hear the voices of everyone
around me. Inside the clinic, I heard the R.N., who was holding my head, whisper
to someone that I was going into shock. Just then, I realized that I was moving
up and back, and that I was outside my body.
Beloved Adi Da
had gone outside, and I could hear Him talking, but I was still in the room watching
everyone from above. He had been talking about how serious the situation was,
but when He came inside, He started joking and making light of it.
I began to move back and forth between two vantage points: I would hear my Beloved
Guru addressing me from the point of view of the body, and then I would observe
everything from the higher, detached position again. Because this switching back
and forth was so uncontrollable, I started to get anxious. The more anxious I
became, the more I seemed to fix in the out-of-body state.
could tell that Beloved Adi Da was trying to keep me associated with Him in the
physical body, but the pain and fear kept driving me out of it. When I was out
of my body, there was no pain. It was very calm and dissociated —
even euphoric. Adi Da Samraj was moving His hand up and down my chest, and He
started kidding me about my tendency to be a "macho man". He humorously pretended
to be dealing with this self-image of mine by trimming the hairs off my chest.
He began to run His hand down my chest, snipping little bits of hair above His
fingers. A warm sensation seemed to drop from the top of my head and fall down
my throat, as if someone were pouring a bucket of warm water over my head. Wherever
Beloved Adi Da's hand would stay, this sensation, which was full and alive in
ways that were clearly more than physical, I would be drawn down into my body
to that point. I felt Beloved Adi Da literally filling me and enlivening me with
His Blessing and His Spirit, and this helped to draw me back into the physical
Beloved Adi Da also said wonderful things to keep my attention
on Him. He said, "Do you love Me? Do you really love Me?" At one point, I rolled
over and He held my face against His belly. The only thing that I could feel in
that moment was that I wanted to be with Him forever. It was not just a thought,
it was a physical sensation.
Then the doctors put a tourniquet
on my arm, and it caused incredible pain. I zipped out of my body again. This
time, I had gone even further up, so that now I was outside the room. The space-time
barrier changed in some way. Rather than doing things sequentially, Beloved Adi
Da seemed to be maintaining a conversation with everyone in the room simultaneously
— making many actions simultaneously.
image of the physical realm I remembered for a while was of my Beloved Guru talking
to some men outside the clinic about my situation. Then I drifted off further
I started to get anxious. I was trying to get a
physical reference — trying to feel my nose — but I
realized I could not feel my body at all. All of a sudden, I lost the anchor to
physical familiarity, and I began to have visual phenomena. I saw a dark background
with silvery strands (much like what you see when you press your fingers into
your eyes), and a matrix of light and dark and different shapes. Everything had
the same patina and an ocher color.
Then I remember seeing a
group of people that I had known throughout my life. I was standing around with
these people. The meeting was very warm, and full of familial emotions. It was
very happy, and I felt relaxed again.
Next, I saw what might
be described as a tunnel. I had the sensation of moving, and, as I entered the
tunnel, the people drifted behind me. I looked up and realized that I was suddenly
in a totally different environment.
This new environment seemed
to be a normal three-dimensional space at first, but I realized very quickly that
it did not have the same physical laws. It had a different perspective, or a different
dimension. It had a very familiar landscape, almost like the environment where
I grew up in East Los Angeles! I felt comfortable, but there was also something
odd about it.
Then I began shifting to many different experiences,
and I had no control over any of it. It became terrifying. In daily life, I am
physically based, and I have some control of where my attention is, because I
can focus it. But, in this circumstance, because I had no bodily anchor, I went
wherever my attention went. I had no capability to control attention. My attention
was on one thing for one minute, and that was my total reality —
and then the next moment my attention was somewhere else, and that became my reality.
When this happened, everything changed —
I did not even have a memory of the previous experience or environment. I felt
that all these experiences were in the same dimension, since they had a similar
feeling to them, but I was very rapidly switching from one fantasy to another
fantasy without any control. Later, I remembered what Beloved Adi Da has said
— "While you are alive, you make mind, but, after death, mind makes
you." It may sound interesting, but it was actually completely horrific.
became more and more terrified. At one point, I had the sense that the individuals
or entities in this environment had an intention to keep me there. They were trying
to determine what experience would keep me most solidly fixed in this condition.
There seemed to be an assumption that I would stay there forever.
this whole experience, I had forgotten my relationship with Adi Da Samraj —
or even any memory or experience of Him. I did not feel capable of resorting to
Him, and I was totally subject to this experience, which was constantly changing
and quite disturbing.
In the midst of this, two people, a man
and his son, began trying to help me. They felt very familiar to me, as if I had
been close to them as I was growing up. They were trying to help me get back to
where Beloved Adi Da was. I could see the realm where He was — it
had some of the qualities of a beautiful place in Hawaii I had visited once with
Him. These two individuals were trying to help me concentrate and feel towards
Him and this place, so that I could keep my attention there, and then I could
stay there with my Beloved Guru.
While they were trying to help
me, the other group of people finally hit upon the one experience which seemed
to control my attention more strongly than anything else — the sense
of being threatened. I was standing in the middle of a street, and a bakery truck
would drive towards me. It would slam on its brakes and slide into me. Right before
the truck would hit me, I could feel myself going into panic. Then the experience
would repeat itself. It happened repetitively — hundreds, maybe thousands,
of times. I was stuck in that experience.
In the midst of this
experience, I "shouted", but it was not a physical voice. Somehow, I could, just
for a moment, remember and feel Adi Da Samraj. Then the man and his son created
a situation to help me get out of this endless cycle with the truck, back to where
Beloved Adi Da was.
Suddenly, I felt myself enter my body again,
from the head down. I was back in the clinic, and Beloved Adi Da was there. He
was talking to me. When I saw Him, my heart burst with happiness and relief. I
had been so much in need of Him in that horrifying experience — more
deeply and more profoundly than I had ever been in my entire life. I felt what
an incredible opportunity it is to be physically embodied in a time and place
where He is alive — and what a horror it is to pass through this
life and not realize something greater than being completely controlled by your
own mind and attention. I was weeping.
Beloved Adi Da was touching
me. He was very gentle and humorous. He used whatever means necessary in any moment
to keep me relating to Him directly. He would speak with me about the Witness-Position,
and He would address my sense of guilt. It was very amusing: There I was, very
nearly dying, and He was addressing every way that I was self-contracted and defensive
and emotionally retarded! I could feel His help very directly, and I was so grateful
to be back in His physical Company.
Beloved Adi Da told me that
a helicopter was coming to take me off the island. He kept saying, "Stay with
Me." The helicopter arrived, and He looked after every aspect of getting me to
the helicopter. He asked how long it would take to get me to the hospital.
was fairly lucid at this point, and pretty wide awake. They had me in a stretcher
inside the helicopter. Daniel and Frans were on my right and beyond them was the
pilot. I stared at Naitauba as we flew away, and I felt that I could continue
to remember my Beloved Guru even at a physical distance or in a different environment.
I knew that that was my practice — I had to continually feel Him,
no matter what the experience was.
As soon as we arrived at
the hospital in Suva, they took me to surgery. A big Fijian doctor and an Indian
anesthesiologist introduced themselves. I was so tired I could not talk or move.
But I could hear, and I responded with my eyes to indicate that I understood.
The Indian anesthesiologist wanted me to count out loud, if
I could — starting from ten and going back to zero. He had a gas
mask over my mouth. He explained that it was to make me unconscious so they could
operate. I could not speak, but I counted in my mind, "Ten, nine..." to zero.
He looked me in the eyes, and I looked back at him. He smiled and said, "Okay,
do it again." I was trying to show him that I was counting, so I was blinking
my eyes with each number — down to zero again.
perception of everything was heightened. I could see more clearly than usual and
my peripheral vision was expanded. I could see in this doctor's eyes that he was
becoming concerned, but I couldn't understand what was wrong. He said, "Son, I
am going to ask you to count one more time." His voice had started to tremble,
and I became frightened. Again I counted, blinking my eyes as I did. When I got
to zero, even though I was not unconscious, I kept my eyes closed.
started the operation. I bore the pain as long as I could — but then
I started gesturing, opening my eyes, and trying to shake my head. The nurse noticed
that I was awake. They stopped and the anesthesiologist increased the anesthetic.
I started to become really terrified because I felt I was going out of my body
I was afraid to lose consciousness — afraid
that I would go back to this realm I had experienced before. People make a big
deal of out-of-body experiences and near-death experiences as if it is all wonderful
— you see God and your family. My earlier experience was pleasant
at the beginning, but the deeper I got in that state, it was just completely and
totally horrific. There was nothing that I have ever experienced before or since
that could possibly match the terror of being in that situation where you are
just controlled by mind.
It was also clear to me that it is
not just physical trauma that can knock you out of the body — any
kind of emotional trauma can do this. I realized that that is what had occurred
at the clinic on Naitauba — I had gone into emotional shock. I had
lost a lot of blood, but that was not what sent me out of the body. I was in such
a state of fear and anxiety that I was trying to remove myself from the circumstance.
I was choosing not to be bodily incarnated rather than enduring and feeling through
that strong emotion. Right in the middle of the operation, I remembered this about
what had happened at the clinic on Naitauba, and I realized that it was happening
again. I could feel myself retreating at the speed of light.
woke up in the recovery room. Later that day and over the following days, the
Fijian doctor and the Indian doctor came to see me many times, sometimes with
four or five other doctors. They would huddle around me and speak in Fijian or
Hindi. Clearly they were curious, but also I felt their anxiety, as if something
On the third day, I asked the nurse why everyone
was so concerned. She called the two doctors to explain what had occurred in the
operation. The Indian doctor indicated that they had given me a lot of anesthetic.
In fact, he humorously said, I had been given enough anesthetic to knock out a
small Fijian village! I tried to explain that I had been very anxious about losing
consciousness — but they told me that that could not possibly account
for my resistance to the anesthetic. They asked if I had a history of this kind
of thing when I had received anesthetics in the past, but I did not.
that moment, I remembered that when I was getting into the helicopter, Beloved
Adi Da had asked exactly how long the helicopter trip would be, and had pressed
His Spiritual Force into me repeatedly. I had felt this Force very physically
and very powerfully. I felt like I was hyper-energized. It became obvious to me
what had occurred. I explained to the doctors that I came from Naitauba, where
my Spiritual Master was, and that He had given me, while He was taking me to the
helicopter, enough life-energy to survive the trip. Immediately, the Fijian doctor
understood what I was talking about. He nodded knowingly and said, "Mana". The Indian doctor
glanced at him and said, "Shaktipat" (meaning the
touch of the Guru that transmits Spiritual Energy). "Yes!" I said. Here, in this
tiny third-world country, these doctors were completely familiar with what I was
During the days of my recovery, I tried to maintain
Remembrance of Beloved Adi Da always. I would still slip in and out of consciousness,
but I felt, when I would begin to lose bodily consciousness, that my only anchor
was my Remembrance of my Guru. If I did not intentionally Remember Him, feel to
Him, I would just end up free-associating in the mind-realm. So I created ways
to Remember Beloved Adi Da. I could move my left arm, so I would trace the outline
of His figure — as I remembered Him standing as I left Naitauba in
the helicopter — over and over, thousands of times, just to stay
associated with Him. It became a form of meditation for me.
weeks later, I returned to Naitauba. I heard from my friends there that on the
evening I was having the most difficulty in the hospital, Adi Da Samraj had met
with everyone and discussed my character with them. He had also pointed out that,
if I allowed myself to stay in the disposition of guilt — which is
one of my primary emotions — I would literally create accidents and
illnesses to punish myself.
On the night I returned, we were
called to gather with Beloved Adi Da. I was incredibly weak, and incredibly happy
to see Him, but I was also feeling guilty! — feeling that I had dishonored
Him and ruined His celebration. When He called me to show Him my cast, He put
His leg against the cast. I could feel Him Radiating His Heart-Force and healing
Energy sideways through my entire arm and into my chest. Then He signed my cast.
At the end of the evening, He shouted to me, "NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!" and walked
out of the room.
This story appears in the following sections:
Miracles, and Extraordinary Evidence and Easy