Grinnell became a devotee of Avatar Adi Da Samraj in
1975, at the age of 24. She grew up on a dairy farm on the coast
of Massachusetts, and studied creative writing as well as receiving
eight years of fine arts training at several art schools. Emily
lived and served at Adi Da Samrajashram for 10 years, participating
in hundreds of hours of considerations of the practice of the Way
of Adidam in Adi Da Samraj's personal company. Over the years she
has focussed her energies in the Sacred fine arts of painting, design,
and decorations, as well as priestly services, service to the Sacred
Archives of Adidam, and writing.
worship the Lord, who has thousands of heads, thousands of eyes,
who is the source of happiness in the world, the Eternal God. All
this is nothing but the Present God. All this lives by Him. . .
." Avatar Adi Da's voice, rhythmic and toned like a great temple
bell, drew us deep into His Heart-Space. We were listening to His
recorded recitation of the Narayana Sooktam
late one evening while gathering with Him.
In His Free Rendering of this
traditional devotional hymn, Beloved Adi Da proclaimed His Ecstatic
Oneness with "the Truth, the Absolute Supreme Being . . . with
extraordinary eyes, who has assumed all forms".
As the recording played, Avatar
Adi Da seemed to be studying the floor, His hands and arms supporting
Him at either side. He leaned slightly forward. He looked almost
fragile. Then, in the silence that marked the end of the recitation,
He began to speak about the Mahanarayana Upanishad, the
ancient text from which the verses of this hymn were taken.
As Adi Da spoke, He seemed to
be growing more and more "Bright" and transparent. His voice became
soft, barely audible. Boundaries of time and space disappeared,
and I was drawn into the vision of His exquisite Rapture of Divine
Love-Bliss. His words ended in deep stillness. He rose slowly
from His seat and left the room.
When Beloved Adi Da returned less
than a minute later, this great silent Space had vanished. Suddenly,
He was most "ordinary", joking, laughing, gesturing, as if to engage
in His human play with us with extra intention.
I felt I had been shocked awake
In this moment of sudden contrast,
Avatar Adi Da Gave me the direct awareness that He is not like
me. He is not the "ordinary man" at all, but He only appears to
be "human", to be "like" His devotees in order to Instruct us.
He reaches to us through the Paradox of His human Appearance.
I saw that He Perfectly Transcends this experience, this life,
even while He Appears within it, animating His Divine Play.
Soon, those of us who had been
taking notes on His Discourse closed our notebooks, and we all
turned to face the back of the room as Avatar Adi Da walked to
the stage. The large, screened room, open to the warm night air,
was resonant with His Spirit-Force. He looked at all of us, His
eyes moving from face to face with an uncommon Intensity, and
then He motioned to us to dance with Him.
After the first few dances, Avatar
Adi Da motioned to me and six others to join Him.
He moved among us with springing
steps. He looked piercingly at each of us, and through us, to
everyone everywhere. I felt possessed by His Divine Passion, and
I danced for Him as if everything depended on it.
On so many nights, Adi Da's dance
had been an occasion of Instruction. But on this night, I felt
His dance was a Puja, a sacred ceremony of Divine Worship. He
used every gesture, glance, step, and muscle with one Intention
— to Transcend the limits of time and space and mind, and to Awaken
the heart of every being. As the music played, the Guru's
"personal" human signs and playfulness gave way to a greater Intensity.
His eyes grew wide. His attention was moving beyond the human
And then a recording of "The
Hymn Of The True Heart-Master"
was played. This sacred text, written by Adi Da, had been
sung by devotee Stephan Blas.
And Beloved Adi Da began to dance.
His eyes, always so full and deep, grew even wider, open, staring,
bulging as though they were about to fly out from His face. They
radiated spirals of light. His mouth pulled back in an agony of
Bliss. His hands and arms stiffened with the Force of spontaneous
His left foot was poised above
the wooden floor. He was No One, and Every One. He looked out
above and beyond our heads in His Oblivious Mudra, arms outstretched,
balanced and rooted on one foot. His "Bright" Fire of Love-Bliss
filled and outshined the room. Every motion was Perfectly Still
but set in explosive force. He Stood, as the Divine Being "Who
has assumed all forms". As He turned to face
Stephan, the man who was singing on
the recording, who was standing beside Him on the stage,
His "Brightness" exploded in a Blast that shook us all.
of ecstasy rose from deep within my being, carried by the shock
of Love-Bliss, in which everyone and everything were brilliantly
charged and continuous with His Spirit-Current of Divine Force.
As the song came to an end with
the words, "This is the 'Bright', More Than
Wonderful, and Really Perfect Truth," Avatar Adi
Da stood at the edge of the stage a few feet in front of me. The
vast blaze of His Initiation-Dance had subsided. His face was
soft and trembling. His feet shifted slightly as He rocked gently
from side to side. He shook His head, trying to find the means
He was so
vulnerable, more than human, barely embodied. Somehow I moved to
bring Him a pillow from His Chair so that He could sit down comfortably.
But He just stood, rocking slightly. At last, with great effort,
He turned without another look to walk slowly out the door into
the darkness, across the grassy expanse of lawn to His home.
A few minutes later, as I brought
His meal to the back door of His Residence, I heard the sounds
of a videotaped boxing match coming from within His room, and
His amused cheers for the contestants. I laughed out loud at the
When we gathered with Avatar
Adi Da two nights later, we were spilling over with praise of
Him and with Stories of the Spiritual Heart-Transmission and Initiatory
Force He had Granted during that Dance. We stumbled over ourselves,
eagerly telling Him how remarkable that event had been.
He listened to us for a while
and then spoke, Calling us beyond mere talk, memory, and the deluding
potential of even that great moment of experience. "What did you
do since the other night?" He asked. When we confessed
to Him that we had not continued to live in the ecstasy of that
event, He told us, "Then be quiet, and go into ecstasy again!"
Adi Da with Emily Grinnell in 1978