Excerpts from letters from an old SFZC student about ZC and Adi Da Samraj:
Zen practice turned out to be too harsh for me - I did not have the maturity to know what I should have done and what I could bypass. Especially monastic living doing Zen practice was too harsh. I have a long-term spiritual (but not personal) relationship with Adi Da Samraj which seems to be bearing fruit after many years. Yet, it has been very difficult because no one has ever replaced Suzuki Roshi in my heart. He did a few things for me that I can never forget.
When I first saw Beloved Adi Da Samraj I wasn't a student. I had read a couple of books, and I hadn't liked them that much. I couldn't relate to all the talk about God in the books, having come from practicing Zen Buddhism. Zen practice is a bare bones, rigorous form of asceticism which gets down to it. I still have a lot of respect for that practice and the people who do it: monastic training with lots of formal meditation, lack of sleep and few consolations. Cold meditation halls in the winter. Lectures about practice every night.
And Suzuki Roshi was the head master at Zen Center when I arrived there at the age of 18. He died three years later when I was 21. During those three years Zen Center grew from a few students to several hundred, drawn primarily by Suzuki Rosh's great example of clarity, compassion, fierce discipline, humor, and love. He was physically beautiful as well, slight in stature, usually formally attired in dark Buddhist robes, with a perfectly round shaved head. His eyes were clear, and he looked right at you, often with a quizzically raised eyebrow. Suzuki Roshi was loved and even revered by his students, myself included. He also functioned as a substitute father for me, and asked about my well-being from time to time, making sure I was okay.
But I was not okay. My parents both died within five years of each other, my mothers death in an airplane crash particularly shocking.
Nonetheless, I fiercely threw myself into this rigorous practice, hoping to attain spiritual growth and development, even enlightenment! The end result was an apparent disaster. I came down with a flu in the spring of 1971 from which I did not recover. My health continued to decline and I developed chronic fatigue syndrome. I had severe symptoms including extreme hypoglycemia, and crushing fatigue. By the time I stopped doing Zen practice my health was gone, and I was an emotional wreck. Several months later Suzuki Roshi died and the light that drew me to Zen practice was gone as well.
I lay in bed. I slowly improved. I moved to Berkeley and finished my bachelors degree through Antioch/West. I began receiving acupuncture treatments for my health. At the urging of my acupuncturist I went to acupuncture school and got two degrees. None of this was easy since my health was so lousy.
I moved back to the San Francisco Zen Center neighborhood where I still had friends. The neighborhood was rough and crime-filled. I got my acupuncture license in California and treated a few people. I did secretarial work and a little housecleaning for money. I read a couple of books by Adi Da Samraj, then known as Da Free John. Even though I couldn't relate to the books, I felt I wanted to check this teacher out. I had seen other famous spiritual teachers in lectures, and so forth, since Roshi died. None of them measured up. Often I would walk out, close to tears, missing Roshi.
A friend of mine, formally a student at Zen Center, now a devotee, lobbied for me to attend the fortieth birthday celebration of Beloved, in November l979. I was invited to attend, even though I was not a student. A couple of weeks before the celebration I smashed my car, so I had to depend on my friend for a ride to the Mountain of Attention Sanctuary.
I arrived not knowing what to expect. A huge tent was set up on an old tennis court area, and inside about a thousand people were sitting on folding metal chairs. Presentations began. Each presenter extolled the virtues of this wonderful teacher, Adi Da Samraj. After a while I got bored.
I was also cold, since I had not dressed warmly enough. I got more and more grumpy as time dragged on, and I asked my friend to drive me to the bus station. Luckily, lunch intervened, which perked me up a little.
After lunch I went down to the bookstore. On the tables were many Murti photographs of Adi Da Samraj giving Darshan. I was really offended by these photos and I poked my friend in the ribs, saying (loud enough for everyone to hear), "This person must be on a big ego trip!"
After lunch the presentations wore on, driving me to further levels of irritability. I begged my friend to take me to the bus station, but no luck.
An announcement was made that people could file out to view Beloved giving Darshan through the doors of a large meditation hall called the Cathedral.
The attendants slowly began moving people out in small groups from the back of the tent. Since I was sitting close to the front toward the dais I figured my turn was hours away. I was really cold. I stood up and jumped up and down to get my circulation going. Devotional singing began, which I joined in on just to boost my circulation. I began calculating my departure, figuring I could hitchhike to the bus station. Phooey on my friend.
All of a sudden I felt something. I looked toward the door of the tent and saw a man in a white robe walking in. The instant I saw this man I recognized him. I felt all the events of my life move in a river toward him.
He walked to the dais and sat down, and I realized it was Adi Da Samraj who had walked in. I sat down. A huge wave of blissful energy rolled from Adi Da Samraj and hit me. I burst out crying, then began laughing. The vibrational level in the tent went way, way, way up. It felt like 10,000 lights were turned on, even though the actual physical light in the tent was the same.
Adi Da Samraj looked fiercely around the tent, gazing at people first on one side, and then on the other. My heart felt wide open and I sobbed and laughed, feeling great love for everyone, and especially for this man. The blissful waves of light and the feeling of love emanating from Adi Da Samraj were unbelievably strong, and I could barely sit in place. It felt like Beloved was acting as a transparent window to the Divine Realm, and the qualities of this Realm - love, light, bliss, pure consciousness- were pouring into the tent. The cells in my skin began vibrating at a very, very rapid rate, as though my body was blissfully scorched by white light.
Finally, Adi Da Samraj stood and walked from the tent. I had no idea how much time had passed. I sat on my metal chair and sobbed. Attendants came around and gave out a little gift of incense, and then a date. It was dark by then, many hours later. I walked up to the parking lot, careened around in the dark, stumbled in the pot-holes, looked up at the stars and the moon, and sang devotional songs at the top of my lungs. I looked down the hill to His house and sang right to Him. I smelled my incense over and over like a mad person, and fell into a swoon of love for Him. I fell down on the ground for a time.
Finally my friend took me back to a hotel and then in the morning back to the Sanctuary. I ran right down to the bookstore and bought a Murti. I was a different person and it was a new life.
Since that day I have received Beloved's Darshan many, many times. I can say without a doubt that He slaked my thirst for God. I was thirsty for God, and I didn't even know it. Beloved transmits the power of God so forcefully that seeing Him broke my spiritual yardstick. Although I still revere Suzuki Roshi, I recognize that he was not the Realizer that Adi Da Samraj is.
My life has improved markedly since being in the community of devotees.
I live a better life, in better environments. I have grown and matured as a human being and I have also become very psychic, as a result of Beloved's Darshan. My capabilities as a healer have grown exponentially because of this psychic capacity. I have suffered the sometimes harsh politics played out within the community of devotees, but Beloved has not failed me.
When He moves His head and gazes across the room, I feel a wave of Divine Bliss move through the room and beyond. I feel His Realization has cracked and opened the universe, and nothing will ever be the same. I feel Him when I go where He has gone. I feel God in those sacred rooms. Where else can I go? Who else could give me what He has given me? There is no other One. I love Him.
I found in Suzuki Roshi a teacher, but also a friend and almost a father substitute...for the father I never had on an emotional level. All of that is fine and good. Adi Da Samraj has functioned for me in a much more demanding way...He has ignored me on occasion (staring in the opposite
direction when I was in the room for example) and doled out (what I consider) stinging personal criticism. All of this while constantly transmitting the most potent blissful spiritual transmission I have ever experienced. He has not functioned for me as a father and a friend...which I chronically have looked for consciously and unconsciously. Thus, he has not replaced Suzuki Roshi in a certain way for me, however, he has been for me the authentic teacher that I wanted. I would hesitate to post that e-mail as it is, for that reason, as it is really only part of the story. Look up your
Our spiritual teacher Adi Da Samraj has been here on Kauai for over four months, living on Love-Ananda Mahal Sanctuary, which is about a seven minute drive from our place. We have received many blessings since he has been here...He has given us Darshan, or his spiritual transmission, many times in formal and less formal sittings during these past months. These occasions are marked by feelings of great peace and bliss, boundless love, and a sense of un-attached freedom from everything conditional in this world. One of the things that I commonly feel during these sittings is a sense of thick honey-like nectar literally pouring down through my crown chakra (top of the head) into the rest of my body. (In traditional spiritual literature there are references to this nectar as an aspect of divine transmission received from spiritual adepts.) We have always felt that receiving the spiritual transmission of Adi Da Samraj has helped us to grow and realize more than we might have been able to without his help.
Adi Da Samraj was on Kauai for about ten months...He left about two months ago and is now again in Fiji. I had many, many, many Darshans during that time. It was great. I had several "sliding" Darshans where I raced full tilt down the block and got in just at the last minute and threw my cushion down and slid to a stop just as Adi Da was taking his seat and turning around. Great timing. It's tricky to calm your breathing down in those moments, but I did a good job. Also, the pillow slide has to be quite accurate.
These Darshans were very, very, very powerful. One time in particular I was invited to a musical occasion/Darshan event and it felt like literally being in heaven. The feeling in the room was not of this earth. Another time I was sitting so close to him (about ten feet away) that I felt like my hair was all standing straight up and all my clothes were blowing off. His transmission is so blissful, powerful, pure consciousness, and also fiery...an incredibly strong transmission wind blowing non-stop. A lot of times when he stood up after the Darshans, he would stand and gaze at people for a few minutes. The gaze, when it came in my direction...it's like the whole universe turns toward you and you fall into it. Sometimes it was hard to get my normal bearings afterwards. Hard to describe, but maybe you get the feeling of it.
By the way, I am aware of the controversial reputation of Adi Da Samraj...I have come to the conclusion from my own experience that he is authentic.
Also, I grew up somewhere along the way...and I am less swayed by what other people think I should be doing because I have a sense of my own limits...strengths and weaknesses, etc. So I have gotten along well in the Adidam organization...never got badly burned by anyone because of doing something I really didn't want to do. I read accounts about people being "forced" to eat a certain way, or "forced" to give money...certainly hasn't been my experience. Of course, I learned the word "no" when I grew up and became more of an adult.
Got hurt terribly doing Zen practice...can never recommend it to anyone, really...because of the harsh (unnecessarily so) ascetical style of it. But it was my own lack of a core and knowing myself well enough that created that situation for me...so I don't blame anyone, really. Even though I lost my health, which is a big loss. I just didn't know myself well enough and pushed myself to extremes, which was not too smart. These things happen in spiritual communities, because of the extreme nature of (some) spiritual practices.
Well, anyway...those are my thoughts on it...I hope you enjoy my descriptions of Darshan because I really enjoyed them.
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