Many emails have come because of this series. I wish to share some of these with you all and insert my response:
Very much appreciate the balanced view of your comments on Adi Da Samraj. I have been his devotee for 30 years, and have been a blindly believing cultist at times, and have made most of the other possible mistakes in the guru/devotee relationship as well. However, Adi Da never settled for egoity in any form, even when disguised as devotion. He served beyond human capacity in his absolute commitment to the liberation of his devotees, and all beings. I am profoundly grateful to have been alive while he was.
From my own experience of the master-disciple love affair I have with Osho, one passes through blind love to conscious love of a master, just like one might start with what Tom Cruise once famously — and honestly — quipped was “lust then trust” for his love process with Nicole Kidman.
Forgive the vulgar metaphor but I think it is necessary for those who have not yet enjoyed the higher relationship of love of a master. There is a kind of emotional euphoria that one has in initiation with a master. It is a higher initial “lust” — it is a yearning for the higher, a thirst for the light. One sees that light shine radiant in one’s spiritual teacher. If it is true light then this spiritual lust, to be close, to be merged with the teacher becomes “trust” in the process of being “taught” to travel the same road, eventually on one’s own merit by that teacher. As anyone who has loved a master knows, the honeymoon of initiation is followed by the work on one’s self under a master’s compassionate and sometimes-hard instruction. Osho was ever subtle in his spiritual hits and hugs. Love hurts. Higher love hurts deeper, but it is unutterably sweeter than mundane love.
We disciples used to laugh at ourselves and sing the Roberta Flack song “Killing Me Softly With His Song‚Äö?Ñ?? as our theme song:
Strumming my pain with his fingers,
Singing my life with his words,
Killing me softly with his song,
Killing me softly with his song,
Telling my whole life with his words,
Killing me softly with his song…
Here is a second emailer who I felt voiced honest skepticism about his master. The kind that all disciples from time to time might feel:
Interesting comments. As a full Adi Da retard, who first became interested in spirituality through J. Krishnamurti, I find your comments interesting. But it sort of brings up a few questions, such as how Adi Da and J.K. could be put in the same grouping, in that Adi Da was precisely the kind of authoritarian Guru J.K. spent much of his life railing against, and Adi Da was an outspoken critic of J.K. as¬¨‚Ä† “talking school” figure of no real spiritual force.
I sat before J. Krishnamurti three times, in Ojai, California in the spring of 1981. I had the pleasure of conspiring to create a situation that made him laugh in public — a rare thing! That’s a story for another day.
There’s a long held tradition in the East that teachers publicly criticize each other. If they are authentically enlightened, they do these slams on each other not to get one-upmanship on the other, steal, and convert followers. Real teachers are not politicians. Real teachers criticize each other for us.
They throw us into a reevaluation of why we are here with them. Every enlightened being, it seems, comes to their revelation upon their own unique path and authority. They then perhaps become many unique doorways for us to enter into the same mystery room of eternal life. In their criticism, they better contrast the different doors, not because theirs is any better than others. It is done all for you to find the right “door.”
On the other hand, if masters, including your own, start to kick the doors, know well whether they do so to deepen your understanding of the door you have already chosen in which to pass.
I wonder what your make of Adi Da’s rampant megalomania and narcissism. It’s certainly not unprecedented in spiritual types, but doesn’t it seem very “old school”, and not the harbinger of some new form of spirituality, but rather the death of something long since discredited?
The only “rampant megalomania” we can deeply encounter and transcend is within us. Have you understood your own ego? Can a right choice be embarked until you understand this ego in “you”? Are you saying this about Adi Da after discrediting your own ego? It’s your ego that’s the point. Is it not? Maybe your master was an egomaniac and a narcissist and profoundly blind.
Is that your problem?
What about your blindness? Can you see yet? Isn’t your seeing more important than Adi Da’s blindness, if he was indeed blind?
Our true teachers are a paradox dancing in a mystery. It takes guts to be with them for they may be false, or, they may play false to test our truth, each moment ‚Äö?Ñ?¨ what Gurdjieff called our “living faith” rather than some robotic faith borrowed from others. Osho used to call it our “trust.”
Likewise, I much appreciated Da’s breaking of taboos when I was in Adidam, but really, is there no discrimination allowed in this?
A true master teaches that your discrimination must come from your own inner witnessing consciousness. Whatever they do, even if it is shocking, is done to awaken this inner intelligence. Only false masters have followers.
In the beginning, we are not true to ourselves. Why then do we seek the help of a teacher? Moreover, when we begin the path with a master, we are all to some degree false, because we want to follow them. They even let us worship them according to our falsehood, so that we might come closer and see that falsehood burned away by a conscious process of birthing ourselves with the master as midwife to the mystery.
Are we really to assume that every Zen teacher whacking his students is actually enlightening them, or are some just assholes who like to take out their frustrations on others?
That is the danger. They may be as big an asshole as you or I. That’s why it takes guts to seek a teacher. If we do so to seek ego nourishment, we find egoistic masters. If we are seeking something beyond ego, we may sit at the feet of the egoless.
Surely, you are aware of the “Dark Zen” scandals of the 1930′s and 40′s, when supposedly enlightened Zen Masters not only approved of the Japanese military conquests of that time, but actually encouraged the slaughter of many innocents, saying that death by the sword was some kind of profound spiritual practice that should be regarded with appropriate awe and respect. So we had zen military officers running around Nanking cutting off the heads of civilians to demonstrate their transcendence of these mundane matter of life and death. I take it you heartily approve?
Never assume anything. Who promulgated this “dark Zen” story? Upon what basis do you assume I approve or even know about such a story? A real master teaches us to be spiritual skeptics in the purest sense of that ancient Greek word, which means, “to investigate” and not with prejudice for or against. When a meditator simply witnesses the body, mind and world around him or her, he or she does so without judging. Even the thoughts of judgment that arise are allowed simply to be around one, like a cloud in the sky as the watching continues. Eventually the cloud moves off and there is sky.
The issue with Da is, sure you gotta break some eggs to make an omelet, but what if all you get are burned omelets? Don’t you at some point have to question the skill of the chef?
At some point, will you question the skill of the recipient of the meal? Do you have a good sense of taste in masters? Isn’t that more important? Just what do you “eat” from others?
In Adi Da’s case, he sure did do a lot of crazy things, and if he’d enlightened a bunch of people, well, that’s probably all be understandable and forgivable. But by his own admission, he’s never enlightened anyone, and hasn’t even produced any mature spiritual practitioners by his own standards, so you gotta ask, what the fuck was the point? Or am I just being bitter and unenlightened to even dare ask these questions?
Your question is honest and disciples have asked such questions since the first master taught one. This is the Zen “koan” to meditate upon. Real masters say many things. It is up to the disciple to understand when what is said is a device or provocation or when the words of a master are a frame for something unsaid that you experience.
Do you “know” if anyone was enlightened with Adi Da, or Osho, Or Krishnamurti, or Buddha, or Christ?
Unless “you” are enlightened, how then will you “know”?
Who cares what Adi Da said? What is important is your enlightenment, not his. Bring yourself back to your enlightenment.
Look to what a master says or does that resonates with you beyond your mind, your emotions and your gut.
A real master teaches you to walk without feet. Fly without wings and think without mind.
(24 December 2008)