by Aniello Panico
The Way of Adidam can be described in many ways, but for me it always comes down to its essence: the Way of Adidam is the relationship with Adi Da. It is a Spiritual relationship, not a meditation technique or a system of beliefs.
In the early months of my relationship to Adi Da, after I became His devotee, I started to teach a course on The Knee Of Listening, my favorite book. I consider myself extremely fortunateAdi Da spent many, many hours helping me prepare for the course, going over each paragraph in the book and explaining in more detail what He meant, what the import of the book was. I told Him then that it was clear to me that the brilliant process of understanding that He describes in those pages (and in the more than fifty books He has published in the years since) can only come alive when you are established in that Spiritual relationship with Him. It is through that relationship that Adi Da Works a transformation in you that awakens real understanding, and that affects every area of your life.
How does that relationship work? In some ways, it is very much like meeting someone and falling in loveyou encounter Adi Da, you are attracted by what He has to say or something about Him strikes a chord in you, you want to spend more and more time with Him, reading His books, thinking about Him, applying what He has said to your life; you are being affected by Him. You notice, as all this happens, that you are getting happier, saner, freer. You are more capable of learning from crisis and difficulty, more intelligent about how you approach life, more certain of the Divine Process that He embodies and that we are all part ofyou are being drawn into the Spiritual relationship with Him, and His Grace is starting to influence you in all kinds of ways.
As with every other serious relationship, at some point you are ready to commit yourselfthat is when you formally become His devotee. Then the Way of the Heart really begins for you.
What does the Way of the Heart involve? It involves your whole life. You take on practices that orient everything you do to the Realization of Truthhow you spend your time, how you eat, how you meditate, how you relate to others, how you work, how you understand yourself, everything. But even though the Way of the Heart is complex (because it touches every single aspect of life and Spiritual growth), at the same time it is extremely simple. Fundamentally, it is about living your relationship to Adi Da, exercising it, using it as the great advantage that it is. And because Adi Da has Realized the Divine Unity That knows no separation, the Oneness That underlies every one and every thing, you can always contact Him. He is Spiritually available to you in a way that can never be limited by geographical distance or by time or by any other temporal factor. Adi Da has gone to great lengths to describe how everyone, no matter who they are or where they live, can live a Spiritual relationship to Himanywhere, at any time.
In my own case, after that first meeting with Him, I became His devotee and took up the practices of the Way of the Heart. Instantly, and more and more over time, my relationship to Adi Da opened my eyes to a very different reality than the one I lived in before I met Him. He showed me that the Spiritual process is real, and that Divine Grace is real. He has helped me to examine every assumption I ever made about who I am and what the purpose of my life is, about what the universe is and what God isand He has helped me to shed my limited point of view and grow in my ability to rest in the Source, in God, and to allow His Grace to open me up and transform me.
He also showed me that you do go through very real changes as your relationship to Him begins and as it develops. As you practice the Way of the Heart, you go through changes in your way of thinking, changes in your perception of things, changes in the literal chemistry of your body.
For example, once, about seven months after I met Him, I went on a trip to Mexico with Adi Da. We were there for two weeks, just the two of us. On about the third day of our trip, I got very sick. Adi Da decided to send for a doctor because I was really in bad shape, lying in bed with a high fever. The doctor told me I had "Montezuma's Revenge", a form of dysentery. I took the pills the doctor prescribed for meand I got much worse! I became so ill that I could hardly move.
Adi Da would sit beside me and feed me soup with a spoon. He also tucked me in bed. After about four of five hours of this intense fever and sweating and delirium, He began to read out loud to meHe read a passage about Spiritual practice from an ancient Tibetan text that He had brought with Him. In this text, there is a detailed description of what can occur in the devotee when he or she meets the Spiritual Masterthe book actually listed physical changes and the kinds of purifying episodes that the body of the devotee might go through. As Adi Da read these symptoms to me, I realized that this book gave a perfect, exact diagnosis of my ailment. Each of my symptoms was elaborated, literally word for word, in this ancient text! Adi Da finished reading, closed the book, and said, "So I didn't want you to think it was only Montezuma's Revenge!"
Since I had absolutely no experience with having a Guru or a Spiritual practice before I met Him, I had a lot to learn. In fact, the learning curve was pretty steep in those early months! Basically, I had to learn what an unbelievably powerful and important impact Adi Da could have on my life if I would let Him. I saw that if I cooperated with Him by practicing His Way of the Heart, changes would take place in me that were far, far greater than I could ever bring about on my own.
I also saw that He would literally give me every kind of Spiritual help and guidance I ever needed. Observing all this, I understood that the relationship to Him is the most valuable thing there is. I felt so much love and respect for Him, and I knew that He was the key to all the changes I had been through. He was the Source of the Spiritual Happiness I felt flooding my life. I cannot begin to describe how much that meant to me. Because of this, it didn't seem right to me to keep calling Him "Franklin". It was clear to me that He is not an ordinary man, so I spontaneously started calling Him "Guru". ("Guru" is a Sanskrit word from the religious and Spiritual traditions of India meaning "the one who leads you from darkness to the light". And that is exactly what I felt Adi Da was doing for me.)
When I called Him "Guru", it sounded funny sometimes, because I used it in my New-York-street-talk way of speaking, but I meant it from the heart. It was only because of Him that I was even interested in religious life at all, and knowing that helped me to understand why having a true Guru is so necessary.
DEVOTEE: In Your Teaching, You tell us that God is always already here. If that is so, then why is the Guru necessary?
AVATAR ADI DA SAMRAJ: Because you do not see it. You do not know God. You think you are someplace and God is someplace else.
DEVOTEE: You actually make us see?
AVATAR ADI DA SAMRAJ: It is absolutely impossible to believe that there is only God, to assume it, to think it, to gather it. You cannot, through effort, realize your non-separation from God. In My Company, you begin to intuit the Dimension in which you really exist. But without My Help, you perceive this world with unconsciousness, without any idea whatsoever of what your true Condition is. So I work to produce a crisis in consciousness in which you break away from your identification with the limited conditions that are arising, and begin to fall in on your true Nature. And by that process you begin to intuit and then cognize where you really are.
So I do not operate by giving you a method to realize oneness with God. That is a hopeless task. A process must be created wherein the Divine can enact Oneness with you. That is why I offer you a relationshipnot merely a technique. And that is how the principle of your relationship to Me is different from the conventional approach to Spiritual life.
In the usual approach to Spiritual life, you begin separate, or at least considering yourself to be separate, or un-Enlightened, and you strategically work to realize oneness, identity, union. You essentially do this by methodically duplicating the experiential path whereby some other individual realized such oneness, or felt he or she did, or intuited something about it. All the paths generated in the traditions are essentially means for duplicating the experience of some extraordinary person who claimed to have realized the Divine by that very path of experience.
But in the Way of the Heart this dilemma, this search for union, is undone from the beginning. The Great Process occurs when the Divine Intervenes, Appears, Incarnates, Blesses, Teaches the understanding and transcendence of the self-contraction so that the direct Divine Blessing may be received. This is what I do. That is why I am here. I am here for this Great Spiritual Process and Purpose, which requires the transcendence of the self-contraction from the beginning, not just at the end.
If transcendence of the self-contraction occurs only at the end of the Spiritual process, then the search is justified. But if you are to Realize the Divine, the Divine must kiss you, embrace you, take you over, vanish your illusion of separate self. The traditional Yogas, or forms of practice, whatever the tradition in which they may appear, are about returning to God, finding God again. The practice in My Company is about receiving God, knowing God, from the beginning. Therefore, a new Condition has been established from the beginning of the Way of the Heart. That Condition is in itself without dilemma, without any separation to begin with.
The whole affair of this relationship to me and the apparent transformation of an individual is an immensely complex and paradoxical business, because I appear in human form and so do you, but there is only God from the beginning. There are many things that can be said about this process. The usual Spiritual seeker, who is motivated by his dilemma, assumes that he or she has started out to find God, or realize the Truth, or get free, or whatever, and he or she is going to do certain things to bring that about, and eventually he or she is going to get there. This is absolutely false. There is nothing anybody can do to get free. Nothing any human being has ever done has ever liberated him or her or anybody else. Liberation is God's business. I am here to Liberate My devotees.
How does Adi Da liberate His devotees? To put it as succinctly as possible, He attracts you beyond yourself to feel and know the Divine Reality. After I met Adi Da, I started reading some of those Eastern books I used to carry in my bookstore. They used all kinds of metaphors to describe how this worksthey say that devotees are drawn to the Guru like iron filings to a magnet, like rivers flowing to the ocean, like moths to a flame. In other words, the force of attraction that the Guru holds for the devotee is both natural and extremely powerful.
For example, after I sat with Adi Da for the first time, I found that all I wanted to do was be with Him. I remember once on my way to a very important appointment, I said to myself, "Hey, I don't want to do this. I want to go and see the Guru." I just veered off the freeway, jumped into a telephone booth, canceled the appointment, and went down to see Him. I had been so involved with money and so forth, and here, suddenly, I didn't care about any of it. I just wanted to be around the Guru.
Adi Da was completely different from anyone I had ever met. Being around Him literally put me in touch with my True Being. Sometimes He did specific things that helped me feel that Greater RealityHe would say or do something that was obviously intended to wake me up. But mostly, I was attracted to Him because of what He is. Even without doing anything special, He was so obviously free, so present, so perfect in how He related to every person, every moment, so full of Divine Love and life and humor. Without doing anything at all, He radiated the most impressive strength of utter self-transcendenceyou could feel that He was free of all limitations, all problems, that He was rested in a way that is utterly beyond this world or any other world, and yet you could feel such a potent force of Love emanating from Him. It was clear that His transcendence didn't remove Him from lifeit made Him more capable of life, more committed to loving and serving others, than anyone I had ever met. What could be more attractive? All I wanted to do was to feel that feeling more myself, to be around Him, to let go of all my egoic baggage and be in that freedom with Him.
Years later, I had the most potent glimpse of His State that I have had yet. I was sitting in meditation with a group of fellow devotees, waiting for Adi Da to arrive. As soon I as I heard His footsteps approaching, I started falling into a diffuse, blissful state. As soon as He opened the door, I was "gone", dissolved in His formless, unqualified Love and Bliss, like a salt doll would be in the ocean.
I had no sense of myself as "Aniello", no awareness of the body or the room, no sense of time or space. This wasn't frightening or disorienting at allit was blissful, fantastic. I wasn't subject to the discomforts of the body, or its limited perceptions, or its mortality. I was still awarein fact, "I" seemed to be Consciouness only, a universal Consciousness that was not separate from anyone or anything. I had the most profound sense of intimacy with Adi Daintimacy to the point of complete non-separation, as though we were One Seamless, Feeling Being. And that intimacy wasn't just about the two of usit included absolutely everything; it was infinite and eternal. It was terrificI wasn't bound by anything and I didn't need to seek for anything, because I was already enjoying perfect Fullness. And that Fullness was HimI could feel more clearly than anything else I have ever felt that He is the Divine Identity or True Condition that is the True Heart of everyone and everything. I have never experienced anything more powerful.
That is why, to me, Adi Da is the sublime Agent of God. He is God, the Truth, Reality-As-It-Is before we mess it up by presuming that we are separate, limited, dying. And He is here to draw everyone to Realize that same Truth, that same eternal Happiness, which can be Realized here and now, by His Grace.
Once, in 1973, I went to talk to some of His early devotees living in a different city. They asked me, "What do you think He is?" And I said, "I think He is God." There was a period of silence. I was surprised that I even said it. I had never thought of it that way before, but that is exactly how I felt. And all the years with Him have only confirmed that feeling to me more and more.
How can I describe it to you? I can tell you that He is Pure Love, because that is how I experience Him, but how can I explain that? I remember in 1973, not long after I had come to Him, I was alone with Him one night and I said, "I don't like to use the word "love", because it sounds like bullshit."
He corrected me, "No, when it is true, love is never bullshit." And I felt His Love in that moment penetrating my cool, superficial attitude, restoring me to genuine feeling in that very moment. And, true to His word, I have never seen Adi Da do anything but demonstrate Love. When you get to the root of the matter, that is what He is offering you, me, everyonea love-relationship, a Spiritual love-relationship. And I have to tell you the truthI have never loved anything or anybody as much as I love Him.
That is not to say I haven't tussled with Him. I have, and I still do. I am no saint, and true religious and Spiritual transformation is not an easy, overnight process. But even in my worst moments, when the tests of life and the trial of growth seemed unbearably difficult, He has always been there for me, in the most perfect and Spiritual sense. And that has made all the difference. I have found that you can always contact Him, you can always call upon that relationship. Because He is Love. And His Love is the most real and attractive thing there is.
AVATAR ADI DA SAMRAJ: Attraction commands attention. If a man walks into a room and notices the most beautiful woman there standing over in a corner, he does not have to force himself to turn from the others to look at her. Likewise, for women, there is no effort involved in discovering the most attractive man in a room. You know how easy it is to give your attention to somebody you are in love with. That is how easy it is to enter into Divine Communion with Me.
There is no effort in giving your attention to that which is itself Ultimate Fulfillment, Inherently Perfect, More than Wonderful, Beautiful, Eternal, Divine. Therefore, what is supremely attractive in the manifest universe is the God-Man. All beings, male or female, must become attracted, distracted by That One. That is the ultimate means, the supreme means, the supreme Yoga. It is for this reason, you see, that I have appeared in manifested Form, in the likeness of those who are to be drawn out of bondage.
Those who are distracted by Me are not merely distracted by My physical Form. My physical Form is simply an Agent for their attention. What they are distracted by is the Divine Presence, the Divine Condition, and they enter into Communion with That, into Union with That, into Unity with That, through the real process of the Way of the Heart.
I am your advantage, not because I Give you a process that you can apply to yourself successfully if you bear down and give it enough effortI do notbut because I Offer you a relationship with Me.
I do not merely Instruct you and leave you on your own to fulfill My Instruction. I function as an Agent of Liberation for My devotees, those who submit to Me in love. I Awaken My devotees with the Heart-Power of the Divine Person. The Divine Influence I transmit makes the practice of Spiritual life in My Company into something altogether different from the self-generated, ego-based mechanics of all the conventional Spiritual techniques.
I do not mechanically enlighten you, or give you something to do to enlighten yourself. I assume your Divine Enlightenment. I absorb you. I am you to begin with, and I consciously assume your Divine State in every function in which you appear. I assume it in your very cells and literally, actively Live you. I literally meditate you. I am in a position to do so, since I am you. The mystery of that process is how this kind of Spiritual life is generated and fulfilled. It is fulfilled from the beginning. My relationship to you is perfect. My devotee, a piece at a time, begins to become aware of the perfection I have already generated in his or her case.
Fundamentally, that is all I do. I enter into relationship with living beings in that spirit, and assume the Divine in them, and live all their functions, so that complex things begin to occur. Complex things begin to occur always as a result of very simple things.
Look at all the complex things that occur when you drink a glass of water! It is a very complex affair, but that act itself is very simple. The manifestation appears complex, but the condition itself is simple. If you turn a light on in a room, it falls on everyone, on everything. Basically, I do something very simple, but the evidence of that is as complex as you are, as complex as the number of places and qualities and functions in which you read your existence.
Aniello's story continues on page 4:
previous pages in this story:
page 1: Anyone Can Be Transformed
page 2: Meeting the Man of Understanding