This letter was written by Ken Wilber to the community of the Adi Da church in July 1998.
to Ken Wilber on the Beezone
I have been asked, on numerous occasions, to clarify the comments that I made about Master Da, posted on the Shambhala website. the critical aspect of those comments was obvious enough, but I think it led many people to misinterpret my overall stance towards Master Adi Da. I have not, and have never, renounced Da as Realizer, nor have I in any way abandoned my love and devotion for Him. The thrust of the criticism-meant as much for His devotees and advocates-was that the status of World Teacher carries the burden of opening to, and meeting, the World; and that, therefore, an even more aggressive outreach program needs to be taken seriously by the community. I understand full well the necessity to shield Master Da from the toxic shock of merely skeptical and cynical nonbelievers, as well as the completely appropriate preparatory stages requisite to receiving the Grace of His Company. Nevertheless, this does not relieve the Community from a more graceful outreach than has been demonstrated in the past. Truly, the insularity of the community has resulted in an extremely negative public image, quite beyond that which would be expected from a generally nonspiritual world toward a truly realized Adept. The general consensus, believe me, is that the Community and its final Authority have demonstrated a genius for negative public relations. As a longtime and devoted friend of the Community, and as a devoted student of the Master, it is my obligation to point this out. Which I did. And I did so in a way that I thought would rattle the Community out of a certain complacency, which apparently it did. But that's the extent of those comments.
Do I believe that Master Adi Da is the greatest Realizer of all time? I certainly believe He is the greatest living Realizer. Anything beyond that is sheer speculation. How could any of us judge? Who among us has met Gautama Buddha? who has experienced Satang with Sri Ramana Maharshi? Who has lived in the company of Padmasambhava? I have sat in satsang with Master Adi Da, and with numerous other great Adepts, and my own opinion is that Master Adi Da is the living Sat-Guru. Beyond that, how could I say with any personal authority?
If Da is the living Sat-Guru, then why did I say that I can no longer automatically recommend people to his Church? Only because, in this culture-where the guru principle is mightily feared and resisted, and where strategic legal and political forces are dedicated to its eradication-I cannot, as a blanket and public statement, recommend to people that they pursue that noble Path without also informing them of what a culturally and personally hazardous course it is indeed.
Many people have made their way to Master Da because of my own writings. I am completely happy about that, and I hope I can continue that positive influence. At the same time, I have received an enormous amount of grief, from personal and professional quarters, for my endorsements. I do not regret those endorsements, nor do I retract them. But blanket, public statements of endorsement are simply no longer a diplomatic, intelligent, skillful way to steer people to Da. And therefore I have requested that the Community be selective and thoughtful in how they use my endorsements.
But for those students who are ready, and who fully understand the gravity of the decision, I speak of Master Da as the Sat-Guru, and recommend that they pursue that Way to the extent that they are capable: student, disciple, devotee. And I have always said-and still say publicly-that not a single person can afford not to be at least a student of the Written Teaching.
I affirm my own love and devotion to the living Sat-Guru, and I hope my work will continue to bring students to the Way of the Heart. I hope, as well, that the Community on the whole will take seriously a more gracious and graceful outreach program, and thus begin to reverse the powerfully negative images of the Master and His Community, images much more negative than they need to be, even in these God-forsaken times.
I send my best wishes and love to the Community, and a deep bow to Master Adi Da. I hope to be able to get out to the Mountain of Attention in the near future and say hello, again, to many of you in person.