Finding Adi Da > Sonia

The Fulfillment of My Heart-Longing,
and the Fulfillment of an Indian Prophecy


Sonia has been a devotee of Adi Da Samraj since 1996. In 1972, her parents migrated into the U.S., where she was born and raised. After graduating from Harvard University in 1997, she worked as a Human Resources Director for five years and then as a Waldorf teacher for two years. Currently she is living and serving in India.

Outwardly, everything in my life was going well. I was 19 years old. I had a loving family and friends, I was attending Harvard University with the intention of becoming a physician, and I could see myself living a life of contemplation and service. Still, I felt like something was missing. No matter how balanced and idyllic my life appeared to be, I felt a sense of limitation and a fear of death.

During the summer of 1995, I volunteered in a health clinic in Gujarat, India. The place where I worked was very inspiring — there were illiterate villagers treating each other for common ailments such as tuberculosis and malaria, and even the poorest children had the most beaming smiles on their faces. Later that summer I visited the sacred mountains of Rishikesh in the Himalayas. I stayed in an ashram for a week and lived out another ideal — of living a secluded, contemplative life in the mountains.

However, I was also feeling more and more wounded by the suffering I saw everywhere in India. It was very difficult for me to walk down a street being approached by beggars and lame individuals, women and children in abject poverty, sleeping on the streets with no food and no hope. It was such a stark contrast to the life I was leading back in the U.S., or even the life my middle-class relatives were leading in India. Such immense, inevitable suffering… I remember many times crying and calling out to God, “He prabhu, ye teri kya maya?” (“Oh Lord, what is this incomprehensible paradox of Yours?”)

A couple of years earlier I had been introduced to the Teaching of Adi Da Samraj, and during my trip to India I was reading The Incarnation of Love, a selection of excerpts from His Teaching. I began to recognize the futility of my search and how no object or experience (even if it were spiritual) was entirely satisfactory. I really needed help and guidance now, because the ideas and experiences I had been holding on to up until now were breaking down and I did not have much ground to stand on. I had been on a spiritual search for five years and after meeting many pundits, yogis, and gurus, I began to recognize that Avatar Adi Da Samraj was the one teacher who spoke directly and poignantly to my heart: “Even The Fullest Realization Of Love Is A Wound That Never Heals…”

I was still not clear why guru-devotion is necessary in spiritual life, but I felt it was something I should explore. This is when I began to approach Adi Da as His devotee. The first time I had darshan of Avatar Adi Da Samraj was in November of 1996, a few months after being formally initiated as His devotee. I was sitting in a large room at the Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary along with other devotees, chanting and waiting for Avatar Adi Da Samraj to arrive. When He walked into the room, my heart leaped with the recognition “He Is Here!” — the one whom my heart had been yearning for — for eons, it seemed, since ancient times. All the pain of life seemed to be resolved by His Appearance here, as if I could now rest my heart in Him.

Beloved Adi Da Samraj walked into the room with a regal elegance and sat down gently in His chair. I was still in awe, but I managed to go up near His chair, offer a flower at His feet and prostrate in front of Him in devotional surrender to Him and then sat back down. During the darshan occasion I could not take my eyes off of His beautiful Face — He was so utterly vulnerable. He looked around the room at each one of us, His eyes looked full of compassion. While sitting there, the cells of my body seemed to be melting and dissolving in an indescribable happiness. Then, the sense of “me”, that separate self sense, was utterly vanished, without any effort on my part.

I had been practicing meditation, pranayama and yoga for a few years now and begun to experience greater balance and peace in my life — as if I were a balloon being blown up more and more. But in the company of Avatar Adi Da Samraj, it was as if the balloon had popped and I could finally breathe freely! I had never experienced anything like this, and was so happy and grateful to be so released, and to also feel so intimately embraced in His Heart.

A few months later while driving near my house, I had some profound experiences that I can only attribute to Avatar Adi Da’s Grace, since they appeared and disappeared without any effort of my own. I felt a shift in my ordinary awareness, almost a kind of disorientation. I could not feel my usual mind, my usual sense of limitation as the body. Instead, “I” was everything and everyone and this was incredibly blissful. Every gesture or movement was full of ecstasy, even the blinking of my eye or the turning of my head. Everything seemed to be Shining and there was only Love-Bliss-Radiance. I realized through direct experience, in those few moments, that the world was not “maya” as I had thought it to be. Rather, its substance was only this bright, radiant blissfulness that I also felt was identical to Adi Da Samraj.

Of course, I tried to “hold on” to this experience — it was so deeply intoxicating and profound. I wanted to stay in this state forever, but as soon as “I” tried to hold on to it, it disappeared. Adi Da Samraj writes about this in Da Love-Ananda Gita, “Total psycho-physical oneness (or inherently Love-Blissful Unity) can be (apparently) lost, by the total psycho-physical act of self-contraction (and, thereby, of apparent separation, separateness, and separativeness).”

In the years following that first darshan occasion and that experience of “Love-Blissful Unity”, I went through an ordeal of purification at the foundation human level of life, what Avatar Adi Da Samraj calls “the first three stages of life”. During this time of purification and strengthening, I did not practice as a formal devotee, although I still felt devotion to Adi Da Samraj. I continued to practice meditation, study, right diet, and yoga while working and living an ordinary life. But no matter how hard I tried, I could not duplicate the state of Love-Bliss that I had experienced in Adi Da's Company, and I realized the sheer futility of trying to achieve such a state by doing sadhana on my own, without my Beloved Guru’s Grace and the Guidance of the community of His devotees.

It had been almost seven years since I had darshan of my Beloved Guru and my heart was aching to see Him. I was given the chance to have darshan of Adi Da Samraj at Da Love-Ananda Mahal, His Hermitage Sanctuary in Hawaii, in March of 2003, so I traveled there for a weekend retreat. During the darshan occasion, a classical Indian musician was playing a beautiful, somber melody on the sarangi, and when I saw my Beloved Guru I began to weep uncontrollably. Deep in my heart I was so grateful to see Him again. At one point in the darshan occasion He stood up and looked at each person. He looked at me directly in the eyes for a few moments, and I felt an intense, laser-like spiritual force enter my eyes and descend down into my heart. But the intensity of His force was overwhelming, so I put my head down in a gesture of collapse. At the end of the darshan occasion, Adi Da Samraj put His hands over a bowl of dates. When He left, the dates were passed out to each person as Prasad [a Blessed gift]. I saved my dates to take back to Chicago where I could share them with my family.

About a week later, I took a date out of my purse, and as soon as I touched it a current of spiritual power entered my arm and “I” began to melt in Love-Bliss! I had been raised Hindu and had eaten prasad hundreds of times before but never had it contained spiritual power. My heart deeply bowed down to Adi Da Samraj in that moment. I now understood the true esoteric significance of “prasad”. Who can transmit Love-Bliss so freely and potently, even through a piece of fruit, that it dissolves the ego-“I”?

Growing up in the modern world, I had dismissed the ceremonial puja [sacramental worship] and bhajans [devotional songs] that I had seen my mother do as merely empty rituals. They were beautiful and I knew that she was doing them out of devotion and faith in her idea of God. But it seemed to me that hers was conventional religious practice, focused on the “outer” forms of worship and not on developing the “the inner life”, which I was more attracted to. Basically, I had dismissed Hindu religious ceremonies as empty outer rituals, a hopeful attempt to please deities and receive material fortune in life.

More and more, however, I am beginning to realize that there is no real difference between “outer” and “inner”. The material world is not maya (illusion) from which we need to dissociate. Rather, it is progressively outshined in the “Bright” Love-Bliss Radiance Transmitted through the Grace of Avatar Adi Da Samraj. As devotees, our sadhana is focused on devotional remembrance of Adi Da Samraj and surrender to His Eternal “Bright” Love-Bliss State, while the “material” world (and even all of conditional existence) is understood to be a modification of His Divine Conscious Light. This is certainly not my daily experience, because usually I wake up feeling identified with this mortal body-mind. But the experience of “Love-Blissful Unity” and many similar experiences in Avatar Adi Da Samraj’s Company serve to remind me of this truth.

My heart is beginning to flower in the recognition that Adi Da Samraj is the one who was prophesized by Upasani Baba. He is re-establishing in me, through Spiritual means, an esoteric understanding of my own Vedic heritage that I had previously dismissed.

I have no idea what good karmas I must have done in my previous lifetimes to be born as His devotee while He is alive in the body, but I am eternally grateful to my Beloved Guru, Avatar Adi Da Love-Ananda Samraj.


Quotations from and/or photographs of Avatar Adi Da Samraj used by permission of the copyright owner:
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