Adi Da > Greg Wells
How Total Satisfaction Found Me
Greg Wells, MBA, is an African-American
devotee, who was born into a large family of eight children in
one of the worst ghettos in Philadelphia. He has been a mechanical
engineer, school principal, a minimum wage parking lot attendant, and a computer consultant,
and is a father of four grown sons. Since becoming of devotee
of Adi Da Samraj in 1990, he has lived in Washington DC and New
Zealand, and is presently living on Adi Da Samrajashram.
This story was published in The Adidam Revelation
magazine, No. 2 (Fall 1999).
a little boy, I grew up in one of the worst ghettos in Philadelphia,
sitting daydreaming on the top of my bunk bed, and realizing in
utter terror that I was this physical body, and that this body
was going to definitely die — that it could die in any moment,
that when you're dead, you're dead.
Back then, this realization had driven me to find an answer
to the problem of death, and I had gone to the premier book I
had heard about, the word of God, the Bible. In fact, by the time
I was a teenager, I had read the Bible at least three times, from
cover to cover, seeking a satisfactory answer to the problem of
death. I would gang war during the day, and read the Bible at
night! But neither gave me any ultimate satisfaction, or solved
the dilemma that plagued me.
I eventually gave up on religion (and gang warring) and
joined the "black power" movement: I became a black revolutionary,
a cultural nationalist and Pan-Africanist; a Black Panther and
Nation of Islam sympathizer. And I did not get back into religion
until my sophomore year in college, when I took a course called
"The Black Experience," taught by a brilliant black professor
who was a legend on campus, and learned about eastern religion.
Truly a master, this teacher integrated the black experience and
Black Nationalism with the more public-oriented teachings of Hinduism,
Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucius. In fact, he was sometimes known
as the Chinaman, since he loved Lao Tzu and Confucius so much.
This was his last teaching semester, and like Lao Tzu (the founder
of Taoism), he was going to "ride off on his water buffalo" to
The primary text for his class was Huston Smith's The
Religions of Man, and my favorites were Hinduism and Buddhism.
One Hindu teaching really grabbed me. It was called the "Four
Wants of Man."
The Hindu tradition states you can have whatever you want.
The first want is pleasure. But pleasure is always associated
with some pain, doesn't last long, and diminishes in satisfaction
the more you indulge it. The second want is success, or fame,
wealth, and power. Worldly success lasts longer than pleasure,
but requires competition — while wealth and power decrease when
they are shared, and you cannot "take them with you" when you
die. Those were the partial wants that concerned me at the time.
The "Four Wants" concluded by saying that what Man truly wants,
deep in his or her heart, is unlimited Being (Sat), unlimited
Consciousness (Chit), and unlimited Joy (Ananda), or, when combined
in one word, Satchidananda.
This spoke to exactly what I had wanted as a small boy,
on that day when I sat on top of that bunk bed in terror. The
paradox was that Hinduism also said you cannot "get" Satchidananda
since it is Unconditional — beyond the realm of cause and effect.
Like Grace, it has to "come" to you. So how do I get Grace, or
Unconditional Love-Bliss-Happiness to "come" to me? Now I knew
exactly what I wanted, but had no means on my own to get from
bondage to Liberation.
Since Chinaman was the wisest man I knew, I joined his
philosophic company and dedicated my life to the goals of his
prestigious group for over ten years. But still, I found no real
Once, I got a taste of this Free condition while singing
"He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," with a group called the Acappellas,
when the audience started chanting. I was leading this call and
response chant, and decided to just let myself go. I became more
and more ecstatic as I was improvising, and soon lost virtually
all sense of separateness! My Consciousness and Happiness greatly
expanded, and the "audience" and "I" became one.
Then, in this ecstatic state, one of my brand new contact
lenses popped out of my eye. I knew that about a third of my monthly
income was on the floor and would be stomped to pieces. But I
didn't care, for now Total Satisfaction, or Satchidananda, was
no longer just an idea. I felt something of what it was, and it
totally changed my life. I wanted to live in that state forever
and nothing else would do.
My chanting experience revealed to me the stark limits
of our ordinary mental state--full of self-preoccupation, anxiety,
doubt, desire, and unrest. So I started studying positive mental
attitude (PMA) and read many books and listened to hundreds of
tapes. In the end, I found them to be largely superficial and
Then I came across a book about Ramana Maharshi, a great
Indian sage who had died in 1950. I loved everything he said,
and he revealed a great secret!
It was to meditate on Real God or the Perfect State of
Satchidananda as Guru. It was to form a devotional relationship
with a "person" who had already realized Satchitananda, and who
constantly transmitted that Reality. The Guru was the Means, the
Way to get from "here to there."
So I proceeded to read every book written by, or about
Ramana Maharshi that I could find in the local bookstores. I even
wrote to Ramana Maharshi's ashram in southern India. But the nearest
center was in upstate New York, and the fact was, that was just
not good enough for me. So, in despair, I kept on reading the
Maharshi books, over and over again. But just by studying, I was
not growing to realize what Maharshi taught. I had no Guru, and
therefore no agency for the kind of transmission he described.
One day, mysteriously, a catalog came to my house from
the Dawn Horse Book Depot. I did not know how it got to me. And
in it, various people and scholars were praising and reflecting
on the teaching of a Guru called "Da Free John" (Adi Da Samraj).
I really liked the name, Da Free John. So I looked on the cover
of one of the books called The
Method of The Siddhas and who did I see? I didn't see
a Guru, I saw a white man!
I thought to myself, "Who does this white man think he
is? White men can't be Gurus. They are good at making war, technology,
and business, but authentic spirituality is the exclusive domain
of 'people of color.' And not only is this man white, he was born
near New York City (the big 'rotten' apple), and he started his
teaching work in Hollywood, California (the place of show business,
fantasy, fakery, and façade!) The audacity of this 'guy' with
all this big talk seemed unbelievable! What an ego!
You see, when I took the "Black Experience" class in college,
and then joined this society composed of some of the most brilliant
black people in America, I was taught, and fully believed, that
white people were black people's (and other non-white people’s)
"natural enemy". There was no need to be in despair or to hate
white people. It was just part of the natural order of things.
Like water and fire, there was black and white; you could not
change it. And even though Ramana Maharshi had greatly undermined
this presumption for me — because he said the great error was
presuming you were the physical body, emotionally and in depth
— when I saw that picture of Adi Da Samraj, I rejected him outright,
simply because of His skin color.
Now, the Dawn Horse Book Depot also had some books on Ramana
Maharshi that I didn't have. So I ordered them all. Only, what
happened was, I read those books repeatedly, and still, I could
get no closer to Love-Bliss Itself, Satchidananda — the object
and goal of the Yogic tradition.
At the same time, I knew that I needed a living Guru to
"get from here to there". So, after two more years of dissatisfaction,
I reread all those claims about Adi Da Samraj and looked at his
photo again. I decided I would order the smallest and cheapest
of the books he'd written, The
Four Fundamental Questions. After it came and I read the
first page, I slammed the book down in utter amazement! I stood
up and walked around the room. I thought to myself, "This white
man is God! God dammit! He's God! He's Real!"
I did not want to believe it, but I could not deny it —
this white man was Satchidananda in Person! And the more I read
the book, the more it was confirmed for me that despite what Adi
Da Samraj looked like, He was the most authentic, articulate,
and penetrating Guru I had ever read. Adi Da Samraj said everything
Ramana Maharshi had (and Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tzu, and
Swami Muktananda) — but he Spoke with much greater depth, detail
and clarity, in His own words, and without any translation. Everything
He said included and completed all the other teachers and spiritual
masters I had ever studied. Not only that, the Spiritual Force
coming from this book would sometimes spontaneously move my head
around, blissfully and slowly.
After my initial joy of finally finding Real God in the
Agency of Adi Da Samraj (not "God, the Creator", but the Feeling
of Existence Itself), I thought in despair to myself, "Why did
God have to come in the form of a white man?" But, I had already
recognized that Adi Da Samraj was Truth Itself in human form.
And how suitable and "strategic" it was that Infinite Being, Consciousness,
and Joy (Satchidananda) would use as "Its" human Agency the physical
form of a Western (white) man. For the Western white man has mostly
destroyed the planet. He rules, and everyone else is trying to
emulate him. Also, it was the perfect insult and liberator to
all the people of color (like me) who presumed that the white
man was inherently evil, and that only people of color had souls,
innate "goodness" and real spirituality.
So, recognizing Adi Da Samraj to be Reality Itself, appearing
mysteriously in human form, I studied His books like a starved
man who was finally getting some deep nourishment. And I became
his formal devotee.
In the words of Adi Da Samraj:
|No one should misunderstand
Me. By Avatarically Revealing and Confessing My Divine Status
to one and all and All, I am not indulging in self-appointment,
or in illusions of grandiose Divinity. I am not claiming the
‘Status’ of the ‘Creator-God’ of exoteric (or public, and
social, and idealistically pious) religion. Rather, by Standing
Firm in the Divine Position (As I Am) — and (Thus and Thereby)
Refusing to be approached as a mere man, or as a ‘cult’-figure,
or as a ‘cult’-leader, or to be in any sense defined . . .
— I Am . . .Most Perfectly (and in an all-Completing and all-Unifying
Manner) Fulfilling the Primary Esoteric Tradition (and the
Great Esoteric Principle) of the collective historical Great
Tradition of mankind — Which Primary Esoteric Tradition and
Great Esoteric Principle Is the Tradition and the Principle
of devotion to the Adept-Realizer [or True Guru] As the Very
Person and the Direct (or Personal Divine) Helping-Presence
of the Eternal and Non-Separate Divine Self-Condition and
Source-Condition of all-and-All."
"All of My devotees are a delight
to Me. I truly do Love you — and I Am you. I Inherently
Love My devotees. You must be one-pointed in Me — but I
Am Always Already One-Pointed in each of My devotees.
Avatar Adi Da Samraj, First
And so it was that I came to find myself in a place
that was a far cry from the ghettos that I grew up in. I was in
a huge meeting hall overflowing with people chanting
to the Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Samraj, and I was swooning. The hall
was thick with the Transmission of Adi Da's tangible, body-invading
Love-Bliss. I was so happy that I hardly noticed I was injuring
my knee as I swayed to the feeling of Adi Da Samraj as Love-Bliss.
I felt that I was finally home, and
was intuiting a place that is utterly beyond this temporary, limited
This is my story of how Total Satisfaction
(Satchidananda), Adi Da Samraj, found me.
Adi Da, with Greg Wells and Ruchiradama Quandra Sukhapur