A Show of Force - by Andrew Johnson The first time I saw Master Da Free John was in 1974 at an incredibly powerful Darshan occasion during which he walked into the meditation hall surrounded by a golden aura and proceeded to blast the room and its inhabitants with a show of Force so potent it seemed as if the walls would explode. Devotees were overwhelmed with the Shakti--some swooning in bliss, some snarling like wolves, some speaking in tongues, some jerking around like Holy Rollers, and some--like myself--simply sitting immobilized, absorbed in and virtually breathless in awe of the overwhelming Display of Divine Presence. After about forty-five minutes of this extraordinary demonstration, Master Da visibly relaxed in his chair. After a brief pause as the room quieted down, he lit a Camel cigarette, blew a perfect smoke ring, shrugged and said, "Maybe I've gone too far this time."

During the four years (1970-1974) prior to my commitment to the Way, and for one year (1976-1977) during my involvement in this practice (1976-1977), my occupation and career was that of a standup comedian and comedy writer, primarily in night clubs and television. I believe this background has given me a certain professional level of discrimination with which to speak and write about what is truly funny and what is not, and who is truly funny and who is not. I have had occasion to personally witness many of the best funnymen of our time when they have been at their funniest: Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, Rodney Dangerfield, Redd Foxx, Johnny Carson, Albert Brooks, etc., etc. And I have enjoyed the elegant, droll, and often inspired wit of top comedy writers such as Monica Johnson, Jerry Bebon and Lenny Ripps.

Never mind that you haven't heard of these people. Take my word for it--they could make you laugh until your throat is raw. But as brilliant as these jokers are--believe it or not---their mortal offerings cannot be compared to the Transcendental Wit and Humor of my Spiritual Master, Da Free John. Why? I think I've just said it: mortal (and ironic) vs. Transcendental; comedy vs. true Humor. Master Da Free John happens to have at his command not only the clever wit of a Woody Allen, the facial expressiveness of a Jonathan Winters, the improvisational ability of the Second City troupe, the lack of social constraints of a Redd Foxx, and the hair-trigger quickness of a Johnny Carson, but also the Wisdom of a Buddha, the love of a Swami Ramdas, the Divine Madness of a Lama Kunley, and the freedom of an Avadhoot.

His Humor is not only brilliant, outrageous, and hilarious. . .it is also compassionate, wise, and transforming. This curious tendency of mine toward comedy has given my Beloved Spiritual Master a rather plump and juicy piece of karma with which to work for the edification and liberation of myself as well as amused bystanders.

It is well know in our fellowship that Master Da compassionately allows devotees to exercise their tendencies as forms of service to him. Thus, if a person has some talent as a silversmith, for example, and is rightly situated in Satsang, he will sooner or later find himself being asked to work on a special ornament of some type or another for Master Da. This form of personal service is most auspicious, usually "hot," always enlivening, and more often than not is made particularly memorable and enjoyable by at least one or two Holy Zingers directed at the devotee from the All-Embracing Treasure Trove of Divine Humor that Extends from Da Free John's Heart to Infinity.

My own particular form of service has included providing entertainment of the comedic variety for the Master, often in person. A limitation of space in this book of many voices does not allow me to describe the history of this service in detail, but suffice it to say that I have been on the receiving end of so many Holy Zingers that I am moved to respectfully suggest that "God's Fool" (as the Master has called himself) could also be appropriately titled "The Divine Heckler". Although some of these moments in front of him have had me squirming and perspiring, the heckling has always been directed at Narcissus, and the Heckler has always been Divine. The remarks have served my understanding, and the mood of Love in which they were delivered has always been so strongly Transmitted and so palpably felt that I could not possibly have taken them as anything less than acts of unqualified Service.

About a month after the previously mentioned Darshan occasion, I was invited to Master Da's house for a relatively small gathering of devotees. This was the first time I had been so honored, and I did not know what to expect. I was somewhat overwhelmed at the prospect of being in his Company in a small gathering. I had read his Great Dharma and witnessed his Great Siddhi and had no doubts whatsoever that he was the Divine Lord Incarnate. I did not feel worthy of being in his Presence so directly, but the invitation implied that I should go straight on over to his house ASAP. Two minutes later I arrived at the front door and timidly knocked for admittance. The door opened, I took two steps forward, and found myself in his living room looking directly at the Master in repose on his couch. He motioned me in and indicated I should sit down with the handful of other devotees. I did so. A few moments of silence passed. Master Da then turned to gaze straight at me and simply said, "Would you like a beer?" I accepted his Offering. A few more moments of silence passed. He turned to me again and said, "Andrew?" I edged forward nervously and replied, "Yes, my Lord?" The Lord of All the Worlds then Said, "How many people of the Polish persuasion does it take to build a bathtub?"

For the next hour I found myself being charmed, disarmed, put at ease, bedazzled, and made happy as the Maha-Purusha ran off a non-stop string of ethnic jokes, puns, Rabelaisian one-liners, wildly inventive word plays, and shaggy dog stories. A few hours later he gave a brilliant Dharmic exposition on Hui Neng, the Sixth Patriarch of Chinese Zen Buddhism, and everyone went home "enlightened". Master Da will say or do anything to serve his devotees, including being a zany Fool of God in one moment and a Dharmic Sage in the next. Once you have gotten hip to the Lord's Freedom and unremitting Attention to this Service, such an unlikely combination of roles or content does not even seem paradoxical.

The story I just related to you is only one minor example of his Humorous Play. Literally thousands of leelas like this abound in our culture. And, in fact, I cannot resist relating two more shorter ones. On one occasion Master Da was instructing a female devotee about her tendency toward promiscuity. The young woman launched into a rather long-winded explanation of herself, and at one point was saying, ". . .and so I began to think about my actions, and I considered the Teaching and my relationship to my husband. After awhile I realized that I didn't have a leg to stand on . . ." Master Da interrupted, "Right. Because they were both in the air at the time." And I'll never forget Paris Panico's fortieth birthday party at Master Da's house. As most members of our community know, Paris is a longtime devotee of the Lord who, prior to his meeting with the Master, had grown quite immersed in his suffering. After meeting Master Da, his heart had opened and he had been saved. On this fortieth birthday occasion, five years after that fateful meeting, a group of devotees gathered at the Lord's house to celebrate Paris's birthday. A toast was called for. Master Da raised his glass and said, "Here's to Paris!" Everyone quaffed their drink, feeling great affection for our friend and fellow devotee. Master Da continued his toast with glass raised again, "When I first met Paris, he was contemplating suicide. But now, after five years of spiritual practice in my Company, he is afraid of death."


The Way of the Heart for the most part is a profound purification. Its transformations require utter surrender, without a leg to stand on—black! You (must) go through that dark passage when you have no other resource, no information, no guarantees.

The more the heart-motive comes to the front, the more willing you are to endure this life without a leg to stand on and go through real transformation. The rest is silliness. And, talk, as much as anything else, is how you avoid the ordeal.

You must realize that real sadhana is done without a leg to stand on. This does not mean that you should dramatize. Dramatization is how you bypass it. You use all kinds of means to desensitize yourself to the darkness of the ordeal of real surrender. And this is how you prolong your beginners life. You always introduce a leg to stand on.

And death is what is required—ego-death. Just surrender to Me, allowing the One Who is Great to be the Governor of the process even though you do not know anything about it. All you have left is just that string of devotion to Me itself, no guarantees, no thoughts, no visions, no Blessedness.

You suffer the purification. Endure it, persist, discipline yourself relative to the darkness of the necessary purification—that is what is required. That is how the great transitions occur. That is how the real process develops. Not by your knowing this and that, your egoic self-possession and self-"giving"—not that. Just by devotion given to Me, surrender to Me, trust in Me, even when you do not have a leg to stand on.

Adi Da Samraj - Beezone compliation


By now, you must have understood the difference between the humor of Woody Allen, Johnny Carson, Richard Pryor, et al., and that of Master Da Free John. The Divine Humor of our Lord is spontaneously created to break our commitment to self, suffering, and mortal seriousness, and to enable us "to see the Brightness of God." It gives us insight, and it makes us happy. In essence, it is a form of Darshan. Master Da's wit and humorous actions are gifts of Love, pieces of Divinity as tangible as a Shiva Lingam. Think about it for a moment. It is really so obvious what happens when we are confronted with his Humor. The heart expands . . . the mind vanishes . . . and the body resonates with bliss. In these moments of enjoyment we are connected with the Happiness of God. Selves forgotten, we are ecstatic. Undone again by God's Fool, we contemplate the Blessed One Who Stands before us Radiant with Laughter.


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  Adi Da, Ramana Maharshi, Nityananda, Shridi Sai Baba, Upasani Baba,  Seshadri Swamigal , Meher Baba, Sivananda, Ramsuratkumar
"The perfect among the sages is identical with Me. There is absolutely no difference between us"
Tripura Rahasya, Chap XX, 128-133



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