Finding Adi Da > Tom Jacobs

He Is God!

Tom Jacobs

Tom Jacobs has been a devotee of Adi Da since 1983. He is currently a resident of Adi Da Samrajashram. He manages the shipping and travel of goods and pilgrims from over the world who come to Adi Da Samrajashram on retreat. He also manages the island's fruit tree resources: the pruning, harvesting, replanting, etc.

video supplement below

Tom JacobsHow did I get here . . . living on the sacred island of Naitauba in the South Pacific?

It's a long story. But people seem to find it interesting, so here is the last 30 years or so.

My family and I moved from Europe to the US, where I lived from the age of 13 to 17. During that time, I became fascinated with the North American Indian culture. Their ways of living in harmony with nature intrigued me. When we had to move back to Europe, I swore to my self that I would move back to the continent, but have "the continent" be the Yukon or Alaska, as that was the last frontier — and to my adventurous spirit, the wilder the better. I had this ideal of seeking out the native people and learning their ways. My parents thought that I would grow out of it . . . But I never did. (Then, at least.)

My family perished in the late 1970's. A tanker truck loaded with 23 tons of highly flammable liquified propylene exploded near the Los Alfaques campground in Spain. 217 people were killed, including my parents, my younger brother Paul, and my younger sister Sylvia. My older sister Monique and I were not there.

I spent a year in a forestry school in Velp (in the Netherlands). Now a person of means in my early twenties, with government support, being on a foster pension, I saw my chance for a radical change in my life. Little did I know where this would lead! That summer of 1979, I flew out to visit colleges in Ontario and British Columbia (Canada) to see if I could get enrolled. It was very hard, but one man in Selkirk College in British Columbia — the man who ran the forestry program there — took me under his wing. He was very sympathetic with my plight and my yearning for a change in my life circumstance. With the help of the Canadian and Dutch consulates, I was granted a student visa.

So I immigrated to British Columbia, Canada. The town to which I moved was Castlegar, 800 km east of Vancouver, with a small population of 10,000. Wild mountains, glaciers, wolves, reindeer, moose, elk everywhere. I was in my element!

After two years in school doing the usual stuff, I got more and more disillusioned with the system and with society altogether. What was my place in this all? Everything seemed to be only valued in monetary terms. My original passion had been to enroll in a course in wildlife management, but that was full. Even so, I was not going to lose the opportunity to stay in Canada so I joined the forestry program. Forestry is a necessary industry, but also a very destructive industry. And over time, I felt increasingly frustrated.

In my time off, I made contact with native American friends who lived on reserves in the northern part of Canada. (People still live off the land out there in the wilds.) One of them was a native American girl who, one day, told me that, just south of where I lived (across the border, abut 30 miles from Spokane in Washington state) was a sort of community run by a native American medicine man named Sun Bear. She said I should go there sometime, as she thought I would really dig it there.

I found out where this community was located and drove there one weekend. After a three-hour trip, I drove onto this twenty hectare property. I had not announced my coming at all. As I parked my truck, a native American-looking fellow in his mid-sixties walked up to me.

"Hi, my name is Harley Swiftdeer. I know what happened to you and your family, and they want you to know that they are okay."

I sort of stumbled. "Excuse me, say that again?"

He graciously repeated what he said again.

I was in shock. Here I was, a Catholic boy from Holland. I never had met anyone psychic before, and did not even realize that such a thing existed until that moment.

I guess I was a bit green and naive. In any event, a lot went through my mind that weekend! Some of the people there had come to participate in sweat ceremonies, and were being healed of major, life-threatening diseases. Some people there told stories of shamans that could alter the weather, from utter blue sky to drenching rain, in a matter of minutes. I came to witness some of these things first hand. Other stories were first-hand accounts. The long and short of it was that magical events were very obviously happening all around me. But I had no place of reference from my background to be able to make sense of them. (For instance, my parents certainly never told me that there is an "aura" around the human body; or that the body is energy, and there are energy centers in the body called "chakras".)

Up to that point in my life, I had been determined to head into the wilds of the Yukon at some point and learn from my native American friends how to trap, hunt, and survive in the rough North. I wanted to prove to myself (or was it my father?) that I could do it! My wild idea was that I was going to canoe down the Yukon River with a Husky sled dog as companion until the river came out in the Bering Sea. Fish, hunt and stay over winter in a log cabin out in the bush. That was my day dream, anyway, and a pretty serious one that I had harbored since my late teens.

Now all of a sudden there was another thing I wanted to explore as well. What was all this magical, psychic stuff that I had come into contact with? How were these shamans able to do all this stuff? They knew ahead of time who was coming. They could hold any plant (from anywhere in the world) in their hands and feel what its medicinal use was, or whether it was edible or poisonous. They could talk to animals and, without seeing them, were aware (through some kind of visionary ability) of animals who were in the vicinity. On and on.

I started reading a number of books on native American spirituality. I also went on what is traditionally known as a "vision quest", trying to find answers. My main query was: why was it that these shamans were psychic and I was not? How could they do what they did? How did they "know" the things they did? There was obviously missing something in my education and what I had been exposed to in my informative years. They certainly did not teach this in biology class at the VD Putt Lyceum in Eindhoven!

When asking the native Americans around me I was told, "Oh that is Indian medicine. You have to be a native American to be able to experience this." Somehow I did not really believe that, and so my search for answers intensified. All this happened over that summer holiday I was in Canada. I was only in Canada on a student visa. I had failed a few courses and was supposed to go back to school, or leave the country, I guess. The latter was unimaginable and doing these courses also made no more sense to me in the light of everything that was happening around me.

I did have some money. So I talked to some lady friends and was able to find someone who was willing to get married to me for a price, so I could get my green card.

One weekend when I was over at Sun Bear's place, he asked me, "What are you up to?" I told him about my marriage situation. He replied, "So you are living in Nelson? I have a friend in Nelson. Her name is Robin. She is a white woman, but she smokes a strong pipe." (I was later to find out that Robin had a traditional native American clay pipe that she would ceremoniously smoke and offer to the Divine.)

Well, once back in Nelson, I was curious who this "Robin" lady was. As it turned out, she lived just two blocks from me. Nelson is a beautiful town in the Kootenay Rockies of British Columbia. The entire town is built from the river at the bottom right, straight up the mountain side. Robin's house was right at the very top end of the village, where the tree line started. I knocked on the door. She opened it. We recognized each other from Sun Bear's place, but we never had spoken before. She invited me in.

In the following weeks, I came several times to hear her fascinating stories about how she lived with different shamans, and to hear of her early life escapades in magical, sacred places in the desert.

During my first (or maybe second?) visit, I pointed to a picture of a man on her wall. She said that she respected her native American friends very much but that the (non-native American) man in the photo — Adi Da . . . Da Free John, as He was called at the time — was now her teacher. He had written an autobiography, The Knee Of Listening, which I took home with me.

Adi Da's story was amazing. It was told in terms related more to Eastern spiritual traditions, which were utterly unfamiliar to me at the time. Nonetheless, I was fascinated by His life story. After the "life story" part of the book, there was a section of Adi Da's core Dharma (or "teaching") about the nature and truth of existence. But because Eastern spirituality was so foreign to me at the time, I didn't understand a word of it, and only read a few pages.

In those days, Adi Da was living in California (at The Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary). To my understanding at the time, He was like a shaman, like the ones we talked about at the campfires at Sun Bear's. At this point I was not sure which of my two pursuits was going to come first: learning and mastering survival skills in the wild; or exploring magical experiences and people with psychic and spiritual abilities. But I added Adi Da to the "list" in my mind of people I might want to visit.

I had met Robin around the end of 1982. By now it was early March, 1983. Still cold in British Columbia, with plenty of snow on the ground. One day, Robin came over to my humble basement apartment where I was co-habiting with my "wife". I had gotten rather impatient with my waiting for the residency permit to come through, and had decided to get the ball rolling, one way or the other. I had decided to at least start to get rid of my few belongings and start to look for my rifle, Husky sled dog, and canoe for my adventures up north. At just that point, Robin gave me another book from her collection of books by Adi Da.

This one was called The Way That I Teach. Now mind you, I was still very much puzzled by the question: why were these shamans psychic and having all these mysterious powers, while I did not? I started to read this new book. It was more accessible than the previous book, because it was a compilation of talks Adi Da had with His students. As I started to read, one strange thing I noticed immediately was that I had this pleasant flow of energy flowing through me every time I picked up the book. I did not understand this, but remember looking forward to reading the book just because the book itself made me happy!

I also sometime would experience myself what I was reading about in the book. Early on in the book, Adi Da explained a number of things that were real eye-openers to me. He explained that the body is energy, and has seven different energy centers called chakras. These chakras are largely blocked or shut down in most people raised in Western civilization. Through spiritual practice, these subtle energy centers can open. When they are open, one can be more aware of the psychic nature of things, or be more clairvoyant, or be able to heal in a way that conventionally cannot be explained.

However, for most of us raised in Western civilization, our materialistic viewpoint and the lifestyle that follows from that viewpoint have corrupted our bodies, so that we are no longer sensitive to those non-material things that are the common experience of members of indigenous societies around the world. Adi Da has said something like we are only living as if we were 20 watt lightbulbs, rather than 10,000 watts. Our Western lifestyle toxifies us. The food we eat desensitizes us. Living in the fast-moving Western world of dollars, survival, and career, we are no longer available to a "depth of feeling" that should be a true capability for all of us, and a means for exploration of the spiritual nature of Reality.

Another key communication of this book was how we all live a "life of Narcissus" as a contracted (self-centered) being. Searching to become happy rather then simply being happy. All the time desensitizing ourselves with money, food, sex, and whatever else, so we do not have to feel. Feel what? That we are vulnerable and are going to die. We do not want to feel this reality. It is too scary — so all our lives, we are constantly doing things to immunize ourselves from this awareness and this pain.

So what is real Love? Love with a capital "L"? What if you no longer live as just the 20 watt lightbulb, but are utterly vulnerable, open and feeling at every level, down to your very cells, physically, emotionally, psychically? Adi Da described how each of us is presuming that we are a separate "I" . But how, in Reality, there is no such thing as a separate being — there is only God, only One Being. That we ourselves are contracted upon ourselves, no longer aware that we are God. Identified instead with a limited, mortal pattern we call "I", but all the while, in truth, there is only Light, only God. That everything only exists as Light. As a modification of Light. GOD = LIGHT = E= MC2.

Wow! Everything Adi Da said made sense. I could not get enough, and was soaking this all up. All my questions were answered, and it all made such perfect sense.

Then, still early on in the book, there was a chapter called "I Will Do Everything" [1]. In this talk, Adi Da speaks ecstatically of His state. At one point, He says something like this (I am paraphrasing here): "I am the Divine Person, alive in bodily human form. I have come so you can see what That looks like, when one is utterly free, one with everything and everyone. But you are no different then Me. My state is your state as well, if only you would Realize it. That state is the truth of every single living being, human and non-human."

Time stopped for me in that moment. In a flash, like a movie flashing at super-fast speed, everything was instantaneously clear. God, Reality, Real Love was at the root of everything.

God was not a person in the sky, or something to be believed. God was a Condition or State that I myself and everyone had the opportunity to realize. That Condition was already the case, but we had to realize that this was so in order to be free and happy.

I could see that, for my entire life, I had been seeking, I had been searching for happiness, but that this search itself was the very thing that was preventing me or anyone to Be that which is the deeper truth resting at the core of all of us. In that moment, I realized that I did not need to go north in pursuit of — what? Native Americans? A proof of my manhood? I realized that Adi Da was living in a different state then the one I was identified with. That there really was such a thing as Enlightenment. That He was alive and I could go and see Him. So as we say in English, "The Penny Dropped" — big time.

At the same time that this incredible series of Revelations, emotions, and thoughts were washing over me, there was a Force like an enormous bolt of electricity entering through the top of my head and pinning me utterly to the ground. It was incredibly forceful, but also very blissful. At the time I had no idea what it was. But in time, I would recognize it to be the Divine Transmission of Adi Da, and I would experience it many, many more times.

This experience I just described happened early in the evening around dusk. I was in a T-shirt in my warm apartment. Ill-dressed as I was, I was beside myself, and just ran outside through the snow, up the hill and to Robin's house. I burst through her front door. She was standing in the kitchen.

I yelled, "He is God!"

She looked at me and said, "Yes, I know."

And overnight, my life changed.

Since the perishing of my family, I had become a chain smoker and lived on hamburgers and Kentucky Fried Chicken. I had not had a piece of fresh fruit in years. I stopped smoking and drinking alcohol overnight. I started eating healthy, and within weeks, I moved in with Robin. I started reading everything I could get my hands on from Robin's vast library of Adi Da's books. Here were just a few of the books I read at that time (to give you some sense for the comprehensiveness of Adi Da's teaching):

  • Easy Death — An in-depth explanation of what happens when you die (and after), and everything about the death process.
  • The Enlightenment of the Whole Body — What happens to the body-mind as the moment-to-moment practice of Communion with the Divine transforms it to the point of total Identification with the Divine.

  • Eating Gorilla Comes In Peace — Comprehensive wisdom on diet and health in the context of an Enlightenment-Realizing spiritual practice.

  • Love of the Two-Armed Form — Everything about a life of "sinless sex". How to truly love another emotionally and sexually, and have it be regenerative (rather then degenerative), and serve Communion with the Divine.

  • And much, much more.

In August of that year, I crossed the border to the United States for the last time, to live in Adi Das spiritual community in California for the next three years. Then, in the summer of 1986, I moved back to Europe: the Adidam community had opened a centre in Amsterdam just four months earlier.

I started and ran a New Age wholesale business in Europe for fourteen years, and then immigrated to Australia in 1999.

In 2010, life in Australia had become very difficult for me financially. My intimate partner wanted me to pursue my life-long dream to live at the most sacred place in our culture, Adi Da Samrajashram — the island of Natauba in Fiji. We loved each other dearly (and still do), but she herself was not quite ready to embrace the life of a renunciate celibate spiritual practitioner, which is a requirement for residence at this holy place.

I have been here since September, 2010, and I would not change it for the world.

More from Tom about his life with Adi Da in this video interview:

This story appears in the sections
Finding Adi Da
and Blessings, Miracles, and Extraordinary Evidence


Currently available as a chapter in the book, "Radical" Transcendentalism.

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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