In Appreciation of Adi Da Samraj

Honoring Guru Yoga-Satsang

"Who Is Adi Da?" and "What Is Adidam?"

– a personal response from Integral philosopher Brad Reynolds [watch the YouTube video presentation]



In God's Company – Transcending the Fear of Guru-Cults in the Integral Age

In the life of every true disciple, there has only been the sudden communication of the Heart.

— Avatar Adi Da Samraj The Method of the Siddhas

Born in 1955, I grew up a Presbyterian Christian in the Midwestern United States. By my mid-teens, I tried to dedicate my life to Jesus Christ and become “born-again,” as was recommended, but nothing happened. Then I dedicated my life to sports and partying, like most of my friends. By now it was the 1970s and the Sixties’ social “revolution” had happened so the doors of perception were wide open. I followed The Beatles, and many people around me, and explored psycho-active medicines, and even drugs, but soon discovered, like The Beatles, that at best drugs only opened the doors but were limited (and dangerous). More was needed, so I began to meditate and do yoga. However, learning about yoga in Indiana during the ‘70s was not easy.

My first yoga instructor was a good, sincere young man and his experience had led him to a Guru, so I felt that was something I needed to explore. I hitch-hiked across country to Colorado (back when hitch-hiking was fun and safe), lived in an ashram for a while and discovered they involve disciplined practices, but was unable to see the Guru I was seeking. Thus I gave up on that idea and went back to partying and working for a living—that was much more fun and involved greater self-discovery. I concluded that the “Guru was within” and I didn’t need any human Guru telling me what to do or how to find out about God, for surely God was everywhere if I looked hard enough. But God is very subtle and cannot be known by reasoning alone. I needed to experience God, to know for sure; to see God “face-to-face,” as they say in the Bible.

Unlike most of my friends, I was a real seeker for the Truth since it was obvious the Western world had little idea of what was going on other than admiring materialism and money, so I turned to the East (like The Beatles, once again). I was earnest and confused so after several years of going nowhere, I decided to lay down my life but then I miraculously Awoke by Grace and discovered beyond any doubt that I was God, that my Consciousness Itself was the very Source-Condition of the entire universe. I had to go nowhere but be here now (as Ram Dass suggested). My ego felt liberated because it was an illusion floating on a sea of bright, loving consciousness; my mind was illumined by the Heart. My life and psyche changed dramatically that still informs me to this day, decades later. There is Only God and we are That! Later, in reading a book on Zen, I discovered on that wonderful winter evening I had what is traditionally called satori, an authentic “taste” of Divine Enlightenment.

By the late Seventies, I made my way to California (in the San Francisco Bay Area) to attend and graduate from art school in the early 1980s. Although I saw the paradox of being an ego-I or feeling separate while simultaneously feeling free and one with everything (because everything was the creation of God or Spirit-in-action), I noticed I was still suffering and could not love properly; plus, meditation wasn’t really working for me. My attempts at meditation, after years of trying, were nothing but beginner’s folly. I saw I needed serious instruction beyond what I could read in books or take in classes. I was desperately seeking to find out more about esoteric yoga and spirituality, thus I was studying Taoist and Kundalini Yoga and trying to get the “serpent” to rise up my spine hoping that would stabilize my prior (yet ever-present) Realization.

In the meantime, I had always been interested in evolution, being fascinated by early hominids since I was a kid (no doubt inspired by Dr. Louis Leakey’s National Geographic shows and magazines), so I bought Ken Wilber’s new book Up from Eden: A Transpersonal View of Human Evolution (1981) and was blown away by what I was reading, unlike anything I had ever read. I told my friends it felt like Wilber’s work zipped my own research ahead by twenty years! In a footnote near the end of the book, Wilber mentioned several names of whom he considered to be some of the most advanced Sages of the past century and how their Teachings were further evolved statements of what Sages had been saying for millennia through what is called the “Perennial Philosophy.” I sought out the one name still living at the time.

Soon I bought The Enlightenment of the Whole Body (1978) by an American-born Guru with the odd name of “Bubba Free John” (who by then was named “Da Free John”). This turned out to be the man who would become known as Adi Da Samraj. In this magnificent book detailing our esoteric anatomy, Adi Da suggested kundalini wasn’t the answer, unlike most yoga texts, but said that Satsang or establishing a sacred relationship with a bonafide Spiritual Master—a Siddha-Guru—was the best Way to stabilize and realize Enlightenment (or God-Realization). He taught the Way of the Heart and present Divine Communion which is where I felt the Truth most fully lived.

After reading just two paragraphs, I immediately recognized this man to be an Enlightened human being and wanted to be in His Company because he was alive in my generation! He clearly articulated what I had realized when I had discovered God as Consciousness. Everything he said seemed like pure truth to me. No one wrote like that; not even Buddha or Lao Tzu or Jesus spoke so clearly to me (and I loved them each). I wanted to see for myself what it was like to be in the same room as an Enlightened person; I wanted to test him since I did not believe in Gurus. If I had been alive when Jesus lived, or when Buddha had lived, I was sure that to be in their company would have been my motivation back then as it is now. Amazingly, Adi Da was just about an hour or so away in northern California so all I wanted to do was go be near him and see for myself. Easier said than done.

Of course, there are many “lions” (or tests) at the gates to the temple due to my immaturity, therefore, I was not allowed to go near the Master until I had taken classes, studied, and proved my seriousness. In 1982, I immediately became a student of the Free Communion Church (as Adidam was then named). Unfortunately, for me, this was also when Adi Da left California to go to Hawaii, and then to the Fijian island of Naitauba (where his principal Sanctuary now resides), so he wasn’t nearby. In other words, when I arrived, he left town. Thus, I was a dedicated student for years learning how to contact my Spiritual Master spiritually, or inwardly via meditation, study, and daily practice. Though somewhat frustrating at the time this approach has come to serve me throughout my lifetime, especially now since Adi Da passed from his physical body on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2008, an event known as his “Mahasamadhi” (the “great” and final samadhi).

Amazingly, His Spirit-Transmission can still be contacted, then as now, if you turn to Him as your Guru or go to His Holy Sites (or see a picture or read a book, hear a talk, etc.). The genuine Guru, of which Adi Da is one, still accomplishes its sacred function of transforming consciousness since this is a spiritual matter, not a philosophical belief system. Yet, this only happens if a person consents to engage in Satsang or Guru Yoga—the “method of the Siddhas”—in Adidam Ruchiradam (his official “Church” or Holy Institution). I discovered beyond his physical body that Adi Da’s Heart-Transmission is a tangible psycho-physical Divine Presence that transforms my mind and psyche, so I submitted to “Growing Up” (and maturing) while “Waking Up” and stabilizing my previous satori or Vision of God.

Indeed, as the traditions teach, the Guru is present as God’s Grace active in this physical world, not merely an individual ego trying to be “king of the mountain” or the “queen bee” in the center of a hive surrounded by adoring bees. The Guru is an Agency that dispels the darkness of ignorance to show us the Light of God (or the Truth). For me, Adi Da magnified the truth of God I had already been shown during satori; he didn’t “own it” or give it to people, he simply magnified what is Always Already the Case (as he likes to say) for He IS It. When we become receptive, we recognize this magnification, this transmission, as being the Heart Itself.

Consequently, due to my timing (or karma), I did not have my first physical Darshan (or “sighting”) with my chosen Guru until June 1986, in a large tent (with hundreds of people) that took place after Adi Da’s “Divine Emergence” (which was a profound transfiguring event for him). It was a holy or sacred occasion (I sat with him twice) where the Guru sat on the dais radiating ineffable Love-Bliss that’s utterly indescribable and full of ecstatic God-Love and Siddhi (or Spiritual Power). Still, I could not properly conduct all the energy this one man was transmitting since it was nearly beyond comprehension to my still immature mind. Incidentally, Ken Wilber was at the same event, whom I had already met a few years earlier to personally thank him for introducing me to my Guru (in that Up from Eden footnote). We immediately became “friends” (more like acquaintances), but, of course, he was a VIP sitting up in the front row whereas I sat in the back during that ‘86 Darshan.

Adi Da’s Call to “Follow Me” with more intensified practice, dedication, and renunciation—what he called “Ishta Guru Bhakti Yoga” (now known as “Ruchira Avatara Bhakti Yoga”)—was beyond my ability at the time, so I backed away from formal membership in the late 1980s and early 90s. Yet, during these years I always maintained a deep and profound relationship with my Ishta Guru. I needed to establish a career since I had graduated from the California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC)  in 1982, so I began learning computer graphics on the new personal computers. Soon I started studying for an advanced degree in Philosophy and Comparative Religions at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco during the early-to-mid 1990s. During my Master’s program in Consciousness Studies, I met and studied under some of the world’s best professors in the field. I befriended world religions scholar Huston Smith who became an unofficial mentor to me as I visited him semi-regularly at his home in Berkeley. And I began writing.

By the early Nineties, while attending CIIS, I re-established my relationship with Ken Wilber who had read my graduate essays and invited me to come work with him, which I did. I gave up my graduate studies to become an expert in Integral Philosophy. Consequently, I published two books on Wilber’s Integral Theory and life’s work titled Embracing Reality: The Integral Vision of Ken Wilber (2004, Tarcher/Putnam) and Where’s Wilber At? Ken Wilber’s Integral Vision in the New Millennium (2006, Paragon House). I had personal access nearly daily to Ken for eight years and was able to ask him any question I wanted (we mostly faxed). He encouraged and partially paid me to write these books which were a huge undertaking but an incredible expansion of my knowledge and depth of consciousness. My relationship with Adi Da’s Teaching and Divine Presence served me immensely.

At the same time, by 1995, I finally began to have regular Darshan occasions with Avatar Adi Da Samraj, who had invited advocates (or public people) like myself to sit with him and feel (and conduct) His Heart-Transmission in person and spiritually. Finally, I was able to come into his physical Company and see for myself what all the talk was about and who had written and spoken all of this amazing Teaching-Dharma. It is impossible to describe. He is exactly Who He says He Is: an Avatar or Agency of God-Realization. I knew and felt God immediately (and truly) when in His Company, beyond any doubt. This is when it became obvious to me that I needed to write and advocate what had been revealed: somebody has to tell!

My books, to a large degree, are a response to what I saw and witnessed. Adi Da’s Presence and Teaching transformed my life for the better and continues to do so. I am a slow student, apparently, but that doesn’t matter for we each have our own process of transformation to go through. I invite everyone to find out for themselves. But I will testify that Adi Da Samraj is indeed an authentic Guru-Adept. That is beyond doubt in my mind and heart (though sometimes I do still doubt since that's the ego’s activity of contraction or avoiding relationship). However, everyone is going to doubt Adi Da until they recognize Who He really IS and what He is truly about. Go find out!

Therefore, I am presenting in this book a means of being able to recognize a genuine Guru. Wilber had published in a couple of books from the late 1980s providing an integral metric or measuring template to better judge the spectrum of Spiritual Teachers available in today’s “marketplace,” so to speak, based upon the work of several researchers (such as sociologist Dick Anthony). I have followed that lead in this book. I openly address people’s fears of Guru-cults and totem-masters and how to discern the true from the fake, the real and authentic from the corrupt and dangerous. This is critical since the modern world still needs genuine Guru-Adepts, especially the World-Friend Avatar Adi Da Samraj, more than ever before, just like it’s always been.

My previous book—God’s Great Tradition of Global Wisdom: Guru Yoga-Satsang in the Integral Age—(a “sister” volume to this current book) attempts to show that Gurus and Spiritual Teachers, as Adept-Realizers of Real God, have been around for millennia since the most ancient days. They are the founders or root source of all the world’s major religions. They are God’s Great Wisdom Tradition of humankind. They are not fake; they are as real as it gets, even in a world dominated by scientific materialism and traditional religious provincialism. They simply Teach and reveal the Real Truth and you must find out this truth for yourself; do not rely on any one person or religion but realize God to see the truth for yourself. It’s easier than it seems because God is “always already the case” (as Adi Da says). Yet, it is a hard school too (as all the Gurus say). This is their (and my) recommendation.

For, truly, to Wake Up and see and know God for real is the best thing you can do for yourself... and for humanity. Then you will be free of religious provincialisms and scientific materialism, the cultic mindsets of our modern times. After realizing God, you will simply grow in God until the day you die (and beyond). God is our only true happiness and freedom. God is the Perfectly Subjective Source and Condition of the universe and the self; God is our very Consciousness. God IS Love, just like you have always heard. God is Real. Gurus are Agents of Real God.

Real Guru-Adepts are here to teach each and every one of us about Reality, about our Divine Condition, about Real God—not the mythic God or some Parent-like Deity separate from us ruling everything from somewhere else, like a king—but God as Reality. Real God is Love and Light, as even the Bible says. Real Gurus will help Awaken you to realize that the depths of your consciousness, of your own heart, is in fact God, the Divine Truth of all existence. Once you realize this you will be liberated eternally beyond the limits and sufferings of human life and all temporary conditional forms. Real God is Eternal Love-Bliss and Conscious Light, beyond all description and words. What could be a greater message than this? There is none.

yours with bright love,

Brad Reynolds

Summer 2023