"Send Him My Love and Blessings"

Angelo Druda

Angelo Druda has been a devotee of Adi Da since 1975. He is a certified practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (see his website for more), a member of the Australian Natural Therapist Association, and a senior educator in Mate Moce the Ministry established by Adi Da Samraj to instruct human beings about the death process, and serve their transition. He is the author of The Tao of Rejuvenation and The Easy Death Workbook.

This story is excerpted from the third edition of Avatar Adi Da's classic book, Easy Death.

Angelo Druda

I first met Bernie Kelly in 1999, while serving the Adidam Mission in Melbourne, Australia. There had been a sudden upturn in the number of new people attending our classes about Adi Da Samraj and the Way of Adidam, and so I made enquiries: "Where are these people coming from?" Someone in Melbourne was clearly doing effective missionary work on behalf of Adi Da Samraj and I was interested in discovering who it was.

Several members of our youth fellowship told me about a man living downtown who was actively encouraging all kinds of people to attend classes. His name is Bernie Kelly, they told me. "You should visit him. He really loves Avatar Adi Da Samraj." And so I did just that.

Bernie lived in a small, three room flat in a lovely, hip section of Melbourne. The neighborhood contained artists, musicians and a jazz club, and Bernie's place seemed to be one of the hotspots. From noon to midnight, seven days a week, people from all over the city came to hang out for a few hours with Bernie.

Climbing the stairs from his front door, I was overwhelmed when I stepped into his apartment. His walls were covered with photographs of Adi Da Samraj. New photos, old photos I had entered a photographic memorial to the Sacred History of Adidam. He seemed to own all of my favorites shots of Adi Da, and each one allowed me to remember those wonderful and profound times over the years with my Divine Guru. I liked Bernie and his flat immediately.

"I am just an old addict," he told me as I sat down on the couch. "I have tried several times in my life to not be an addict but I have never been able to do it. So I asked myself, what could an old addict like me do to serve Adi Da Samraj? So I tell everyone I meet about Him. That is the service I do." Bernie's voice betrayed a touch of sorrow, as his face and body curled down into the shape of failure. I noticed that every time Bernie took a drink, or a smoke, or popped something or other into his mouth, he first raised it in offering to the Sacred Image of Adi Da Samraj that sat on a small altar he had created in his living room.

A thought of the Indian saint Ramakrishna and his alcoholic devotee named Mr. Ghosh came to mind. Ghosh once complained to Ramakrishna that whatever he did, he could not stop drinking. "Don't worry about it," Ramakrishna told him. "Every time you take a drink, offer it up to me in devotion first." I had a humorous thought was Bernie Mr. Ghosh, back again for another drink?

I visited Bernie several times over the next year and I was always greeted with love and respect. It had nothing to do with who I was it was the love and respect that he felt for Adi Da, given to me because I was the devotee who happened to be there. I would let him know when I was coming and he would invite the people who were most interested in the Way of Adidam. We would sit around his living room, listening to music and talking about the Divine Incarnation of Adi Da and the Way of Liberation that He brings to all beings.

"One of these days you are just going to have to get down to dealing with your physical problems," I finally told Bernie. "You can't have all these gross addictions destroying your heart, constantly interfering with your devotional life."

"It's too late," he said. "They have already ruined my heart."

Bernie told me that he had suffered a major heart attack and was on a waiting list for bypass surgery. And during that conversation, he asked me to come and serve him when he died, if I was in still living in Melbourne. I told him that I would be there with other devotees, if it was at all possible. "But you are not dead yet," I said, "so it is time to start applying some boundaries in your life. Get the help you need so you don't waste this precious human lifetime and an opportunity to practice in the company of Avatar Adi Da."

It was then that Bernie opened up and confessed his secrets. There was his great regret that he had not yet seen his Guru, Adi Da Samraj. He feared that he would die without that personal connection being made. And there was that terrible sense of himself as someone who was not worthy of the Divine Company of the Great One.

There he sat, with his broken heart and his endless appetites, a fearless advocate of the Great One in the world, but afraid to show his own face to His Guru.

* * *

In late 2001, I decided to return to the Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary in northern California. Before I left Australia, I arranged a final visit with Bernie.

We had dinner with some friends and watched Bernie's favorite movie, Black Narcissus, a story about Christian nuns serving in India.

Before I left that night, I made sure to have a few private moments with Bernie. "You know, Bernie," I said to him, "if you begin to die, you should just let go into the Guru, and Adi Da Samraj will be there for you. You know that right?" He looked at me with the clear eyes of recognition. "Yes I do," he said. I knew then that he would be alright.

Several days later, while packing, I decided to give several educational videotapes of Adi Da Samraj to Bernie, who I knew would make sure that people saw them. I called him and arranged to drop by briefly and leave the tapes with him.

As I turned the corner to Bernie's street, his girlfriend ran out his door in a panic. We both ran back up the stairs to Bernie's apartment. Paramedics had just arrived. There he was in his shorts, lying on his back on the living room floor, looking cold and blue and dead. The medics immediately went about the work of trying to resuscitate Bernie's heart.

As they worked, I sat there and invoked Adi Da Samraj, sometimes laying my hands on Bernie in between the electrical shocks. At one point, the medic turned to me and said, "We don't usually get them back when they are like this." I nodded in agreement. Bernie's body looked finished.

They then made an incision in Bernie's chest in order to manipulate the heart with an experimental device of some sort. And then, suddenly, while the medic pumped his heart, I felt the profound Spiritual Presence of Adi Da Samraj fill the room.

I spontaneously put one of Bernie's feet in his girlfriend's hand as I grabbed the other one. I heard myself shouting "Come on, Bernie" as the Divine Light of Adi Da Samraj came Crashing Down — right into Bernie's chest. Bernie's place was turned into Adi Da's Sacred Domain.

The room was still and thick and "Bright" with the Divine Presence of our Guru. The medic who had been working on Bernie's heart turned around to me and whispered, as if not to disturb the peace, "I have a little heartbeat." They rushed Bernie off to the hospital, which was only a block or two away, and finally give him the bypass surgery for which he had been waiting.

Hours later, the surgeons came down to the waiting room. The operation had been a success. Bernie's heart was beating well, without any mechanical help. They feared, however, that the period of oxygen deprivation had damaged Bernie's brain. The hospital graciously provided us with a private room so that we could do for him what we do when a devotee of Adi Da Samraj is dying.

We sat by Bernie's bed and we invoked the Divine Presence of Beloved Adi Da Samraj. Our vigil continued for hours, as devotees took shifts to ensure that there were always several people there, meditating with Bernie.

That room was turned into a temple of devotion, as Bernie lay there, totally still except for the beating of his heart and the rising and falling of his lungs and chest. We couldn't tell whether it was night or day in that windowless room, but the "Brightness" of Adi Da Samraj poured in from everywhere.

We could feel Bernie's psychic presence around his body and some felt that he might be confused. It was then that I realized that I had to tell Adi Da Samraj about Bernie and let Him know exactly what was happening.

Via email, I wrote a letter to Adi Da and told Him all about Bernie. I told Him that Bernie was the best missionary for Adidam that I had ever met. The letter was transmitted to the Hermitage in the United States where Adi Da was residing. Our Divine Guru quickly sent back instructions for us to let Bernie know that He was sending him His Love and Blessings.

Beloved Adi Da's instructions were relayed from across the world and into the vigil room. A devotee leaned over and spoke into Bernie's ear: "Bernie, Adi Da Samraj sends you His Love and Blessings."

The bliss and "Brightness" in the room became magnified when those words were spoken and people began to weep quietly in the beauty and heartbreak of the event. Several moments later, Bernie's heart stopped beating, and then his chest rose and fell for the last time.

As I rode the elevator to the street, I realized that I had just witnessed a most profound demonstration of Divine Compassion. Bernie's lifelong wish had been to receive the personal Blessing and Acknowledgement of Adi Da Samraj, but his sense of worthlessness had prevented that from taking place. Yet not even death can prevent the Grace of the Guru from flowing to the one that yearns for His Blessing. Beloved Adi Da had come down into Bernie and woken his heart, for just a few hours longer Beloved Adi Da had kept Bernie associated with his body and its physical environment long enough for his life's desire to finally be fulfilled.

Bernie seemed to be "around" his body for several hours after clinical death, but by early morning it felt like he had moved on. Bernie was now off somewhere, I thought, entering into his next destiny, and deepening, I hoped, his devotion to Avatar Adi Da Samraj.

Return to Easy Death

Read another story by Angelo Druda:
Return to the Vedanta 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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