Adi Da > Anthony Costabile
The Book Landed on the Floor in Front of My Feet
Costabile has been a devotee
of Adi Da Samraj since the mid-1970s. With an M.A. in Education,
he has been a professional school teacher and administrator. Anthony's
principal services within the community of devotees have included
spokesman for Adi Da, writer, educator, and missionary. Presently
Anthony is one of the principal missionaries and communicators
1974, Anthony Costabile was a young seeker, living in the Denver/Boulder
area, and given to browsing spiritual bookshops. As he was browsing
in the yoga and spirituality section of one of those shops, Adi
Da's The Knee Of Listening
suddenly "fell" off the shelf, landed on the floor in front of
his feet, and changed his life.
never forget my very first meeting with Avatar Adi Da Samraj.
It wasn't at His Ashram. Nor was it during a scheduled personal
audience with Him or some other pre-arranged engagement. In fact,
it wasn't even a meeting with Him in person. But it was the defining
moment of my early adult life. It happened in 1974.
I was living in the Denver/Boulder area, which, at the time,
was a virtual Mecca of the new age movement. Ram Dass, Swami Satchidananda,
Chφgyam Trungpa, and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi were all approaching
superstar status, and Eastern mysticism and spiritual seeking
had become a thriving sub-culture among Western youth. I was in
the habit of browsing the spiritual bookstores and frequenting
the ashrams and new age centers that proliferated during the era.
I found the scene fascinating, though I was also put off by the
pretentious attitudes and spiritual posturing I encountered.
I, too, was looking for something beyond the insular emptiness
of middleclass life. But I was not about to settle for anything
that could not reach to the depths of my heart and satisfy my
intense spiritual longing. Nothing I came across on the new age
circuit, and nothing in all the philosophical and spiritual books
I read at the time spoke convincingly to me. I was acutely sensitive
to the disparity between the intuitive spiritual paths of the
East with their subjective and inward focus and the outwardly
focused paths of the worldly, materialistic West. None of this
was abstract to me. I was emotionally and spiritually torn between
my own inclinations to retreat from worldly life and the urges
I felt to exploit and indulge myself in every way possible. At
last I saw no clear way to reconcile these opposing impulses.
It was in that mood that I chanced upon two books by Avatar Adi
Da Samraj (then known by the unlikely name of "Bubba Free John"):
The Knee Of Listening and The
Method Of The Siddhas. I had seen these books side-by-side
in several bookstores, and presumed them to be companion volumes
about Adi Da and His Teaching, but I had never examined either
one. I remember the striking cover photos, however, and recall
their impact on me. The Knee Of Listening photo captured
Adi Da's youthful, radiant face, the certainty and happiness of
His demeanor, and the clearest, most wide-open, and brilliantly
compelling eyes I had ever seen. But The Method Of The Siddhas
cover struck me as ostentatious and offensive. There was Adi Da
dressed in white and seated cross-legged on an elevated dais,
a flower lei around His neck and enormous arrangements of flowers
on either side of Him. He sat in an ornately carved chair and
gazed into the camera with, it seemed to me, immense arrogance.
I passed both books by, feeling attracted and curious, repelled
and skeptical all at once.
Then one day in a small bookshop, as I turned my attention to
other books on yoga and spirituality, The Knee Of Listening
suddenly fell or did it leap? off the shelf, landing on the
floor in front of my feet! I picked the book up in surprise, and
with a sigh of resignation, as if to say, "All right, all right,
you win," I began to leaf through it, at last turning to the middle
section, which contained a series of black and white photos.
I was immediately struck by a silhouetted profile of Adi Da,
His right hand open and upraised, His fingers spread and extended
in an obvious gesture of blessing. The caption underneath simply
read, "I Am the Loved One, I Am Shakti, I Am He." The photo and
caption were a complete communication. It seemed to me that Adi
Da was innocently contemplating the incomprehensible Mystery of
His Own Divine Being. And I felt an inexplicable penetration in
my heart, as if I had just been touched at the deepest level of
my feeling. I did not, in that moment, consider what had happened
I simply bought the book.
In the days that followed I often returned to that page to ponder
the staggering profundity of the caption and silhouette. Together
they communicated a Mahavakya [literally a "Great Statement
or Pronouncement"], that amounted to Adi Da's Original Avataric
Divine Self-Confession to the world. Intuitively I knew that if
this Statement were actually true and my heart deeply affirmed
to me that it was then I had chanced upon the most Miraculous
Spiritual Gift and Treasure the human world has ever known.
Somehow, that photo, those simple words, and the whole circumstance
of my strange encounter with this book registered as a sudden
piercing deep in my heart. I also noticed a responsive current
of energy surging throughout my whole body. It was the body's
means of expressing a sudden intuitive recognition: "My God, He
IS here! Yes! He IS Really Here!" All of this occurred instantly,
as an Epiphany. I knew that because of Adi Da's appearance here,
my own spiritual destiny and perhaps that of the entire world
was forever changed and blessed.
I was soon to discover that Avatar Adi Da truly was a genuine
Guru and Spiritual Master of ultimate stature, deeper and more
profound than any of the ancient teachers I had read of in college
or in the course of my own private spiritual quest. He was also
more contemporary, more informed, more humorous, and infinitely
more hip than any other spiritual teacher of the time (and I had
seen a good number of them on their speaking tours through the
Denver/Boulder area). In Adi Da Samraj, the ancient cultural divisions
between East and West (and the corresponding dilemma in my own
life) were resolved. He offered a Teaching and Way of life that
embraces and transcends both world views, both parts of the body-mind,
both contradictory impulses in the being.
I began reading Adi Da's Teaching voraciously, marveling that
His understanding of the human condition was more incisive and
penetrating His description of the nature of God, Truth, and
Reality more cogent and straightforward than any religious or
spiritual teaching I had ever read, past or present.
There was, I'm convinced, something far beyond the merely serendipitous
in that first encounter with Adi Da. It was Divine Grace Itself
responding to my inmost plea for spiritual help. Later I discovered
a single sentence in one of Adi Da's Discourses that summarized
the significance of that meeting not just for me, but for anyone
who is suddenly introduced to Adi Da and His Divine Teaching.
It simply read, "Realize what it is that you have stumbled upon
while wandering in the wilderness: I, Appearing here in your own
likeness, Am the Liberating Function of Real God."