Spiritual Recognition of Adi Da > Some Initial Stories

Spiritual Recognition of Adi Da:
Some Initial Stories

Chris Tong, Ph.D.

Adi Da

A man of realization alone can know a realized soul.

Kirpal Singh, Jap Ji

This section has the following subsections:
  1. Spiritual Recognition of Adi Da by other Spiritual Realizers and Teachers
  2. Spiritual Recognition across cultures
  3. Wordless (Pre-Verbal) Spiritual Recognition
  4. Spiritual Recognition of Adi Da by His devotees as the basis for Seventh-Stage, Divine Recognition of everything

1. Spiritual recognition of Adi Da by other Spiritual Realizers and Teachers

Swami Muktananda. In 1964, Adi Da began a period of intensive spiritual practice under a succession of spiritual masters in the United States and India. In 1968, He went to India and approached the renowned spiritual master, Swami Muktananda of Ganeshpuri, who immediately responded by saying that Adi Da was a spiritual master at birth, and "the most extraordinary Westerner" Swami Muktananda had ever encountered. One year later, in a unique letter of acknowledgement, Swami Muktananda made an open public declaration that Adi Da, by virtue of His evident spiritual signs and demonstrated states, was inherently qualified to teach others independently, and to awaken others by direct Spiritual Transmission.
Swami Muktananda

Chögyam Trungpa
Chögyam Trungpa
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. In 1980, a number of Adi Da's devotees visited the well-known Tibetan Buddhist Master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (who, along with the Dalai Lama, has been most responsible for spreading the wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism to the United States). They described to him Adi Da's Divine Life and Work, showed him video footage of Adi Da, and described Adi Da's own perception of Who He Is and His Work. Trungpa first acknowledged that Adi Da was indeed "genuine". He then made a very astute comment: "It is tremendously difficult to begin a new tradition." To that we might add: "particularly in a time given over to materialism (or as Adi Da refers to it, 'the Kali Yuga')."

Ranchung Rigpa Dorje. "Karmapa" means "Activity of All Buddhas". The 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, Ranchung Rigpa Dorje (1924-1981) was "a very great Realizer, with a broad sense of humor and one the greatest Spiritual Beings of the twentieth century" (James Steinberg). He was the spiritual leader of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. As with all other karmapas and tulkus, he is accepted by Tibetan Buddhists as a manifestation of an enlightened being. During his lifetime, he made great efforts to keep the spiritual traditions of Tibet intact and to preserve the identity of Tibet as a unique and individual culture. He led the reconstruction of many ancient temples and meditation centers, and had thousands of Dharma texts printed and distributed.
Ranchung Rigpa Dorje
Ranchung Rigpa Dorje

In November 1980, two of Adi Da's devotees — James Steinberg and Craig Lesser — visited the Gyalwa Karmapa in Boise, Idaho as Adi Da's representatives.

When we presented the Murti of Adi Da to the Karmapa, he did a double take. He looked at it. Then he turned his head away. Then he turned and looked again at it with great intensity. It felt like he could not believe what he was looking at at first, but then got it, and received the Darshan of Adi Da. It felt like the moment where his attention was brought to Adi Da. As Adi Da had told us, the Karmapa would recognize who Adi Da was. He immediately became very happy, and began laughing and smiling as he continued to look at the picture. Very animated and alive! He was totally energized by seeing Adi Da's Picture — and of course at this exact moment, Adi Da had His Attention also on the meeting and on Karmapa. The whole room was filled with wonderful Presence.

James Steinberg
Adi Da Samraj and the sixteenth Karmapa, Ranjung Rigpe Dorje

Osho. A film professional who was a devotee of Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) and had done almost all of the filming at Osho's ashram in India had this to say: "I remember one day someone showed Osho Adi Da's book, The Enlightenment of the Whole Body. Osho examined it and the pictures of Adi Da, and then said, 'If you can be with this man, you are with a true Buddha.'"
Alan Watts. In 1972, the well-known spiritual teacher, Alan Watts, wrote the original introduction to Adi Da's autobiography, The Knee Of Listening. In it, he wrote: "It is obvious, from all sorts of subtle details, that he knows what IT's all about . . . One who knows that he is the Godhead from the beginning doesn't have to use any kind of force to be that — whether spiritual, moral, or material. . . a rare being."
Alan Watts
Alan Watts

Another initially dubious observer of Bubba [Adi Da] was the popular Zen scholar, Alan Watts. Not a man to be caught with his comments out on a limb, he wrote a carefully worded foreword to The Knee of Listening which would leave him unbesmirched if Bubba subsequently turned out to be a charlatan. However, a year later, when he was invited to contribute a foreword to The Method of the Siddhas, he had an opportunity to study Bubba on videotape. The encounter left him shaken and in tears, overwhelmed by the gestures, voice, and humor of what he felt was an obvious godman. "It looks like we have an avatar here," Watts is said to have commented. I can't believe it, he is really here. I've been waiting for such a one all my life."

Jack Garvy, "American-born guru, Bubba Free John, retires"
East West Journal, July 1976

Swami Siva Kalki
Swami Siva Kalki
Swami Siva Kalki. In 1977, Adi Da's fellowship of devotees learned of a remarkable statement from Swami Siva Kalki, a Spiritual teacher from Sri Lanka, who had seen one of the Adidam publications. In the course of being interviewed by a scholar, when asked to comment on Adi Da (then known as Bubba Free John), the Swami's acknowledgement was somewhat cryptic, but unequivocal: "To understand Babu (sic) Free John one should know the Vedas, for unless one understands the Vedic Horse, one cannot understand the implications of what his appearance truly means." When asked by the scholar to explain further, the Swami only said, "It means that someone's Vedic Yajna has been successful. More than that would require an initiate to comprehend. It is enough to say that Babu Free John is the Dawn Horse Himself."[1]

Baba Hari Dass
Baba Hari Dass

Baba Hari Dass. Baba Hari Dass is a renowned yogi and master of Ashtanga Yoga. He is the author of commentaries on the principal yoga scriptures, including the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. He has maintained a vow of silence since 1952, and uses a chalkboard to communicate.

Marvin Carpenter is a devotee of Adi Da who had an opportunity to "talk" with Baba Hari Dass about Adi Da.

I told him at one point that I was studying the teachings of Franklin Jones. He immediately wrote, "Good, you should go be with Him. He is very good."

Marvin Carpenter

Another devotee, Randall Moffett, also had an opportunity to "talk" with Baba Hari Dass about Adi Da. Randall had attended one of Adi Da's early sittings at the Melrose Ashram in Los Angeles many years before visiting Baba Hari Dass:

I sat down in the main area. Franklin was sitting by Himself, in a chair on a platform towards the back of the room. And He had a bright orange aura around His Head! My first thought was: they must have put an orange floodlight behind His Head.

While I was sitting, I thought to myself, "this place is going to close in a few weeks." Just as I was in this doubting mood, Franklin stood up and left His Chair. The bright, vivid halo followed Him, as He walked around the room!!!!

Years later, I was with the silent yogi, Baba Hari Dass, up in Santa Cruz. I described my experience to him, and asked him what an orange aura means. He wrote on his little chalkboard around his neck: "What you saw was not orange — it was a combination of gold and red. It is extremely rare, and is the sign of total fearlessness."

Randall Moffett

Irina Tweedie
Irina Tweedie
Irina Tweedie. Irina Tweedie is one of the most respected women realizers and women spiritual teachers of the twentieth century. She was the first woman to ever be trained in the yogic Sufi lineage. She moved from England to study and live with her Teacher, a traditional Naqshbandi Sufi Master, in India for five years, until his death in 1966. Her book The Daughter of Fire is written in the form of a spiritual diary of her training. It is a most profound, remarkable, and timeless classic in the field of journal literature and especially of spiritual training.

Before I came to Adi Da in my early twenties, I visited Irina Tweedie many afternoons in her living room in Willesden Green, London. The first day I went she asked me in front of the others present, "Why have you come to see me?" I answered "Because I am suffering." She went into an ecstasy and said "What a glorious state to be in." Another time she said "If you come to see me more often I will infect you with my bliss."

She was an incredible beautiful, radiant loving being who poured love on me. She lived and breathed God. When Adi Da’s Dawn Horse Testament came out in 1985, I gave her a copy. She read it during the night, all night for three night's running. By this time I had accepted Adi Da as my spiritual master. She said to me, "He is a Great Master".

Simon Pritchard

I regard Heart-Master Adi Da as one of the greatest teachers in the Western world today.

Irina Tweedie

"The Mad Monk" (Jung Kwang). Jung Kwang was an unconventional Korean Buddhist monk, and, to some, a living Buddha. He was also an artist and calligrapher renowned for his mastery of brush painting and the spiritual, "Zen" quality of his brushwork. (For more, see The Mad Monk: Paintings of Unlimited Action By Jung-Kwang.)

Jung Kwang
Jung Kwang

In the early 1980's, one of Avatar Adi Da's devotees, James Steinberg, visited Jung Kwang. James explained, through a Korean interpreter, Who Avatar Adi Da is, describing His Divine Enlightenment. Jung Kwang listened politely and agreeably.

However, moments later, when James presented the "mad monk" with a portfolio of Avatar Adi Da's ink paintings, the mad monk became ecstatic. Jung Kwang laughed and ran around the room. He jubilantly placed the ink paintings on his head and on his heart, exclaiming with joy, “Now, I know that what you are saying is true. The One Who made these drawings is clearly Enlightened! I could not tell by your words, but now I can. I have looked at the art of all the great Masters. This Man is Enlightened!”

My Friends

"Losing Face"
by Adi Da
Brush and ink on paper

(click picture for enlargement)

2. Spiritual Recognition across cultures

In section 1, we presented some examples of spiritual recognition of Adi Da by Spiritual Realizers or Teachers associated with Eastern (or Middle Eastern) spiritual traditions. But because Adi Da is the very Divine, incarnate in human form, everyone — regardless of their cultural background — is able to recognize Him, if they have the necessary spiritual sensitivity.

Floyd Hand
Floyd Hand
Sioux medicine man

Floyd Hand is a Lakota elder and shaman of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, and the author of the book, Learning Journey on the Red Road. His tribal name is "Looks For Buffalo". In November 1994, an interchange between Floyd Hand and Adi Da took place over the birth of a very rare white buffalo calf, which had portentious significance in the Native American traditions, and whose appearance had been prophesied by Floyd Hand.

The interchange was conducted via devotee Stuart Camps. Floyd had never heard of Adi Da until his phone conversation with Stuart. As Stuart was speaking to Floyd on the phone, Floyd had a vision that he asked to be passed on to Adi Da:

Tell him to watch the left side of his body and his left hand, for a serpent is crawling, and the serpent is not a snake. He goes to a small hill, with trees, where he meditates. A person will approach him from his left side, and it will be a female. Tell him to watch, to be careful.

Stuart asked Floyd to explain the vision to him, but Floyd said Stuart didn't need to know anything about it. He said that Adi Da would know what the vision means and that Stuart should just pass on the message.

Adi Da responded to Floyd in a very unusual manner: He wrote a letter to him. (Adi Da had written letters in response to other people only a few times before.) Here is that letter:

If you see right visions, then See Who I Am. I Am Adi Da, the Expected One, Named John by Birth. The Woman you see on My left Is Not here to do harm. I have Husbanded Her, So That the coming events May Be Made "Bright". She Is the One you see Appearing As the White Animals, but She Is Only My Own "Bright" Spirit-Power. What you see as the serpent of harm Is Only the Rising of My Own Spiritual Energy, to Purify and Control the earth and the ego. The white tribes, and every tribe, of every color, must be Purified at heart, or all will suffer. I Am the Sun of the Heart. I Stand At the right-hand side of every one. Therefore, do not meditate on harm, or on what you see to the left. Keep your eye to the right, and only meditate on Me. Every one must meditate only on Me, for the Sake of "Brightness". Ask Her, and She will also Tell you This of Me.

Another devotee, Crane Kirkbride, called Floyd, and read Adi Da's letter to him. Floyd listened quietly to Adi Da's communication. He was quiet for a while. Then he said, "This is a good letter. This is a letter for the whole world to hear."

[Note: Floyd is not a devotee of Adi Da. He lives his traditional ways within his ancient traditional culture, and within its changing context in the modern world.]

James Steinberg, devotee and author of Divine Distraction, elaborates on the esoteric references that appear in Floyd's vision and Adi Da's response:

When Adi Da points to His Name, "John by Birth", He is referring to auspicious Native American prophecies of the appearance of a white-skinned God-Man named "John" who would come for the spiritual benefit of the world. At birth, Adi Da's given name was "Franklin Jones", and for many years during His Teaching Work He was known as "Bubba (or 'Da') Free John". "Free John" is a rendering of "Franklin Jones", which means literally "a free man (Franklin) through whom God is Gracious (Jones is a variation of John)". The "Woman" on the left whom Adi Da says He has Husbanded is the Divine Goddess, or the very force of cosmic nature and all conditional manifestation. When the Goddess is un-Husbanded and independent, she is out of control, birthing and deathing living beings indiscriminately. In the Hindu Tantric traditions, the woman on a man's right is independent, un-husbanded, therefore randomly available to others. When a woman submits to be husbanded by a man, she stands on the man's left and he stands at her right. Thus He says that the Great Woman Stands at His left, which is what Floyd saw in the vision. The "serpent" in Floyd's vision indicates, in traditional imagery, Adi Da's Divine Spirit-Power. In the Yogic traditions of the East, the spiritual energy, or "kundalini", that is said to rise in the body-mind is likened to a serpent. Thus, Floyd Hand rightly saw the "serpent" of Adi Da's Divine Spiritual Energy. The cultures of mankind in all times have contained prophecies expressing the hopes of all humans for a Divine Intervention to restore the world to Happiness. Such is the prayer expressed by Native Americans in their prophecy of "John" and in the legend of the white buffalo. Avatar Adi Da concludes His letter by speaking to Floyd Hand, a shaman who is in touch with greater energies and powers that the ordinary man is not normally available to. . . . He invites Floyd to, "Ask Her, and She will also Tell you This of Me."

This story illustrates how a profound sensitivity to greater-than-material forces, energies, and beings allows someone from a culture with completely different traditions, visionary iconography, etc. to recognize Adi Da.

3. Wordless (Pre-Verbal) Spiritual Recognition

In 1973, Adi Da visited India, for a variety of reasons associated with empowering His future Spiritual Work. One of the striking aspects of that visit was that many Indians directly recognized and responded to Adi Da as a great Spiritual Realizer, without any kind of verbal exchange whatsover. Devotee Gerald Sheinfeld, who accompanied Adi Da, tells of the response from Indians in general:

. . . Throughout our trip, people would show that they were very aware of Bubba's presence. Wherever he walked, people would look at him. They would approach him. They wanted to be around him. When we would go into temples, the people meditating and the devotees that served the temples would acknowledge Bubba as he came in, by smiling at him or nodding reverently. They would make room for him to walk through and to sit down. He would shine. Wherever he went, you could pick him out immediately. There was a physical radiance to him.

Jerry Sheinfeld, "The Trip to India: Taxis, Temples and God"
The Dawn Horse Magazine, Vol 2, No. 2, Jubilee Issue August 1974

Gerald then describes the response of one man in particular:

Hindu sadhu
Hindu sadhu who recognized Adi Da

Gerald: From the first time Beloved Adi Da arrived at the Maha Samadhi Hall, an old, skinny sadhu [a Hindu renunciate spiritual practitioner] was moved to come near Adi Da. He followed Adi Da into the Hall and sat as close as he could without intruding. I noticed this, but did not feel anything inappropriate about it. The man was very humble, very quiet, and almost not noticeable.

Each day Adi Da arrived at the Maha Samadhi Hall at a different time, but each time the same sadhu was standing or sitting on the steps, seemingly waiting for Adi Da, no matter how long the wait might be. As soon as the sadhu saw Adi Da, a soft smile would come over his face, and without a word he simply followed Beloved Adi Da into the Hall and sat fairly close by. When Adi Da finished His Work in the Hall, the sadhu just remained in the Blessing he had received from Adi Da. He never followed Adi Da anywhere else, just into that one Hall. It was obvious that this wandering, skinny old man felt Adi Da's Radiant Spiritual Presence and was heart-moved to come close, but not so close as to be intrusive. He asked nothing, but he just surrendered in Adi Da's Presence and stayed there without looking for any social contact of any kind. He was not interested in following Adi Da into other Temples or in making any other form of contact.

Longtime devotee J.S. gives another example of spiritual recognition of Adi Da that is wordless — because the recognizer is only 18 months old.

When I was viewing photos of Adi Da's Mahasamadhi Procession [2] on my computer, Ginger was sitting on my lap. When she saw the first photo of Bhagavan's Form (completely covered in orange cloth — and, therefore, visually unrecognizable) she raised both hands in a spontaneous gesture of Heart-recognition of Adi Da.

Devotee Brian F. tells a similar story of a young person's recognition of Adi Da, prior to having any conceptual means sufficient for communicating it:

The first time my niece, Megan (who was about 5 or 6 at the time) saw Adi Da, I asked her "Who's that?". She picked up the framed photo and looked at it very intently and continue to look at Him in silence for a long few seconds and then asked, "Harry Potter?"

I told her, "That's Adi Da!"

I didn't say anymore.

A few hours later when I was eating lunch (I was at home visiting my parents), she came bounding down the stairs from my room, shouting very excitedly, "Grandma! Grandma! Adi Da is here! Adi Da is here!"

My mother and I were speechless in wonder. Megan was ecstatically Happy.

Pre=Verbal Recognition of Adi Da

click picture for enlargement

4. Spiritual Recognition of Adi Da by His devotees as the basis for Seventh-Stage, Divine Recognition of everything

Ruchiradama Nadikanta
Ruchiradama Nadikanta
All of Adi Da's devotees recognize Him as a Spiritual Transmission Master: It is the basis of our practice. A major part of His Work with most of us spiritual beginners by and large is to draw us beyond this beginning stage into recognition of Him in even more profound terms: as the Incarnation of the very Divine. Many of us have had glimpses of that in one or another moment. And for a few of us, not surprisingly the most advanced practitioners, their recognition of Him as the Divine Incarnate is more profound — it is a continuous, unbroken recognition of Adi Da as the Divine in every moment, not just in a few rare moments). It also is the very basis for their more advanced practice: recognition of Adi Da as the Divine ultimately enables the recognition of everything as the Divine — the seventh stage Realization, “there is only God.” Ruchiradama Nadikanta illustrates, as she describes a period of Adi Da's Work with devotees that He called the "Overnight Revelation of Conscious Light":

Ruchiradama Nadikanta: The crux of this profound investigation is the apparent "difference" between Consciousness, on the one hand and Energy (or Light), on the other. The rare few Realizers reported in the Great Tradition of mankind to have been genuinely involved in the contemplation of Consciousness (rather than merely engaged in philosophy about Consciousness) have effectively presupposed an absolute "difference" between Energy and Consciousness, or Form and Being. Therefore, such practitioners seek to cut off the world, or eliminate form, so as to be able to concentrate in exclusive meditation on Formless Consciousness. When there is only Formless Consciousness, Jnana Samadhi has been attained. This Samadhi . . . has been variously described in the traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Taoism.. . .

Adi DaMany times, my Beloved Guru has Drawn me into this formless Space through His Divine Heart-Transmission. . . For many years, both Ruchiradama Quandra Sukhapur Rani and I have had numerous experiences of the traditionally sought Jnana Samadhi, but we always felt the unsatisfactoriness of the moment of transition out of that Formless Depth and back to conditional everyday awareness. The chaotic display of conditional phenomena the world, in other words feels like an intrusion. . .

Again and again [during this period of His Work with us], as [Adi Da] spoke or sat silently, His Own Spiritual Person Crashed Down into our body-minds and Drew us into a Sea of Divine Light. . . . Then within this Sphere of "Brightening", Beloved Adi Da would Reveal the Secret of the Non-"Difference" between Consciousness and Energy (or Light). Suddenly not only Beloved Adi Da, but the room, the objects, the persons, and the entire pattern of arising would appear as a Field of Light and be Recognized as Conscious Light, as Self-Existing and Self-Radiant Consciousness Itself. This is Divine Recognition . . . and our Beloved Guru was allowing us a glimpse of that. . . There was no "difference", there was no separation. There was only the Love-Blissful Being of Beloved Adi Da, in Person. The Divine had descended to this realm. And Beloved Adi Da had Revealed Himself to be not "different" from this realm. The mind of "difference" was washed and healed by that Vision, not merely of Unity (as though there were two to be united), but of Only One. . . . This is the Miracle of the Divine Revelation of Adi Da Samraj.

in Carolyn Lee, Ph.D., The Promised God-Man Is Here

For more stories from Adi Da's devotees about spiritual recognition of Him, click here.



Comments by Swami Siva Kalki were recorded by A. M. Verreyen, and communicated by him to the Laughing Man Institute on August 12, 1977.


"Adi Da's Mahasamadhi Procession" is a reference to when, at the end of the vigil following His death, Adi Da's body was transported in a formal procession to its final resting place at the Outshining Brightness Temple.

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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