Stanley Krippner (born October 4, 1932) is an American psychologist, parapsychologist, and an executive faculty member and Professor of Psychology at Saybrook University in Oakland, California. Formerly, Krippner was director of the Kent State University Child Study Center (of Kent, Ohio), and director of the Maimonides Medical Center Dream Research Laboratory (of Brooklyn, New York).
God is love. Perhaps that is one religious sentiment about which we can all agree. And, if so, it just might provide the common ground for an open and frank discussion about the true nature of God. Yet, odd as it might sound, a full understanding of the Bible requires one to look elsewhere than the Judeo-Christian religion. The issue at stake is better addressed by nondual spiritual traditions, especially as revealed by the great nondual adept of our age, Adi Da Samraj. (For more about Adi Da see the Epilogue.) In the astonishingly insightful gifts to humanity contained in his summary works, The Alethon and Not-Two Is Peace, Adi Da warns of the inherently misguided nature of human culture. Although virtually unknown by contemporary society, our innate nature perpetuates not one but three false ideas:
1. Myth of separate “self” (or ego-“I”): the humanly-fabricated idea that the human being is rooted in an independent and definable “subjective” conscious or “inner self.”
2. Myth of separate world (or cosmos): the humanly-fabricated idea that the totality of everything is “objectively” existing, independent, outside, and in relation to the “internal self.”
3. Myth of separate “Creator-God” (or “Deity”): the humanly-fabricated idea that “self” (or ego-“I”) and “not-self” (or world) are dependent upon an “Absolute Other.”
But the ultimate nature of all that exists is actually a single, supreme state of Oneness, profoundly blissful and alive, radiating infinitely as Divine Conscious Light. This is the true state of reality and who we are, at the greatest depth of our being—not any one of these myths.
The first two myths can be summarized altogether as “duality,” the baffling dynamic whereby the native bliss of Oneness is seemingly split asunder, watered down into our ordinary lives. This illusory activity is defined by “egoity,” for the second myth is never found without the first—perhaps even at the mercy of the first.
Adi Da describes the trouble with egoic duality this way:
This craving (or obsessive motive of “self”-preservation and “self”-glorification) in turn yields inevitable conflict, fear, sorrow, anger, and all kinds of destructive acts in relation to “others” as well as to “self” (because the extreme exercise of “self”-preservation is, ultimately, an aggressive and “self”-defeating motivation that destroys “self” in the final effort to dominate “not-self”). Therefore, all egos (or un-En-Light-ened centers of identity, whether individual or collective) are in aggressive conflict with all other egos…. Human beings must abandon their ancient egoic principles... (2009b, pp. 105-107)
The third myth can be summarized as “deity.” The common error is to mistake deity for divinity. But the true nature of God is solely divinity. Indeed, deity is nothing but more egoity, taking place on its own level of being. In truth, duality leads to deity and deity requires duality, for deity is the Great Other the egoic self worships.
Only nondualism can overcome the twin perils of deity and duality. Yet, to appreciate nonduality requires great insight and an uncommon willingness to go beyond accepted boundaries; no easy matter. The intended audience for this work, therefore, is simple enough: those dissatisfied with Christian faith. Of course, one could be dissatisfied in all kinds of ways. This little expose focuses on any uneasy feelings associated with the cross and creation, which are intimately related. Consequently, this work is relevant not only to all Christians but Jews, or anyone else wondering what all the fuss is about. No doubt, there are many who suspect something is surely amiss.
Although God is love, illustrating both Christianity’s resplendent offering to humanity and its enduring value for the world, certain scriptures remain profoundly disturbing, reaching far back to their ancient roots in Old Testament Judaism. Take for example a sticky issue familiar to most people by the time they reach adolescence, that could rightly be called the paradox of Unholy Genesis:
who created all that exists,
how did so much evil come to exist?
Unholy Genesis is a devastating quandary, for which Christianity simply has no answer. Clearly, maintaining the sanctity of divine love is impossible if continually undermined by a corrosive influx of evil. This impasse represents an intolerable dilemma for Judeo-Christian faith, for which any thoughtful person will want some resolution.
The trouble with Unholy Genesis is most people don’t follow the dire trail of implications to their rightful conclusion. Yet, relying on faith alone is no less dismal. Regardless of biblical scripture, a vexing dilemma is the case either way. If it turns out that evil does result from a Creator deity, two unspeakable deficits potentially follow:
1. either God is not all-powerful, unable to prevent evil; or
2. God is not all-loving, willing to stand aside as his beloved creations suffer, perhaps even intentionally sent hurling into the abyss of eternal torment and damnation in some cases.
Not being all-powerful is no sin, even if a quality rarely attributed to God. Not being all-loving, on the other hand, is the very essence of sin—the true nature of the Creator. This ought to give you pause. If God can’t be evil, then the Creator can’t be God. Precisely because the Creator is evil, the one disseminating suffering through creation. Some question whether, at the heart of reality, there is a just or loving God. What they really question is the moral character of the Creator—not God. And entirely right to do so. Only one deserves the blame.
Devout Jews and Christians aren’t likely to appreciate these comments, which is fair enough. There is plenty of merit to biblical scriptures. People have relied on their faith for centuries. But these merits are a two-edged sword, with considerable downside. Yet, even so, truth goes both ways, the opposite of Unholy Genesis posing a dilemma every bit as perplexing: How can all the goodness, truth, beauty, and love that exist in the world come from an evil Creator? Clearly, the Creator cannot be solely evil, much less merely ego.
A world does exist that is divine creation. However, for this to be so it must necessarily exist in a different mode than usually perceived, that perfectly coincides with the “Indivisible Acausal Divine…Prior to all identification with the separate body-mind-‘self’, Such That The Intrinsic Self-Nature, Self-Condition, and Self-State of apparently conditional existence Is Tacitly Self-Recognized to Be Divine” (2009a, pp. 1123-1124). That is, the world can only be a divine creation to the extent that it is indivisible and literally inseparable from the divine.
Adi Da calls any other orientations about the matter into question with a compellingly blunt assessment:
Do you think the “world” that Is The Divine “Creation” murders 300,000 in a tsunami? Such “darkness” has nothing to do with The Real (and Perfectly Acausal) Divine. That always “dark-time world” is always dissociated from The Acausal Divine—always dissociated from The Perfect Conscious Light That Is The Indivisible Acausal Divine. It is only the “world” Tacitly and Divinely Self-Recognized that Is The Divine “Creation”…. It is simply that, in The Context of Reality Itself (Which Is Divine), the “world” Coincides Perfectly with The Divine Conscious Light. (2009a, p. 1125)
By the idea of “coincide,” Adi Da means something like the well-known Buddhist aphorism: nirvana and samsara are the same. However, this traditional view suggests a kind of identity between nirvana and samsara—the two the delight of Divine Reality and “dark-time world” in which evil prevails, respectively. Yet, clearly, they cannot be identical. Downplayed in this traditional proposition is its flipside—samsara and nirvana are the same—which is, disappointingly enough, not true. In fact, this statement is tantamount to claiming the devil is divine.
In Adi Da’s version of creation, samsara is coincident with nirvana, not identical, such that creation is ultimately in tune with or immersed in the divine. In being thus aligned, the “world” partakes of the divine, sharing in its sublime nature. Unfortunately, for most people, this represents an extremely unfamiliar state: “The ‘World In God’ Is The Acausally Self-Existing and Self-Radiant Divine Self-Domain—Perfectly Prior to (and Perfectly Transcending) separate ‘self’, separate ‘world’, and all ‘difference’ (or…otherwise ‘two’, or a pattern of opposites in mutual competitive opposition)” (2009a., p. 1122). Put a little more succinctly, the creation of God is God. Any other kind of creation is actually not of God.
Therefore, our situation is a paradox—God and ego intermixed. God draped in ego, as it were, fitfully at odds as rueful lovers. In this sense, we have dual-ancestry: whereas God is nonseparate self, ego is separate self—exactly the same self, just in a different state. We can go either way. This God/Ego Paradox is something like driving along a beautiful country road, only to suddenly smell a skunk. Even the least bit of suffering permeates and disturbs everything. But don’t be fooled. God cannot be expunged, even by as wily a hand as the devil. Ego is only accomplished as an illusion. However superimposed on God, it lacks even the slightest reality—nevermind how seriously the apparition is taken to be. Such is the true nature of creation.
All along, the world is not other than the divine. However, this is only the case at the root, or the greatest depth of our being. At the superficial level in which we ordinarily live, samsara is not nirvana. This is the egoic level of the God/Ego Paradox. Yet, at our greatest depth, nirvana is samsara, the two inexplicably nonseparate from one another. Put simply, God is not apart from us; we’re apart from God. Therefore, humanity can never evolve into or develop within itself the Divine State—sadly comprised of samsara the way we are. Instead, humanity must accept both an unfathomable and infinitely sublime condition: our Divine Nature is already the case. We are even now arising as Divine Reality. It’s just a matter of accepting that fact.
Only the tenets of nondualism—specifically the “Radical” Non-Dualism of Adi Da Samraj—can sort out this paradox. Adi Da is well suited to provide such a revelation, being the incarnation of God; a position also attributed, of course, to Jesus. (Their relationship, and the great affinity between them, is discussed in more detail in the Epilogue.) Jesus’ views about creation are strikingly different than the claims made of him after his lifetime, by a string of questionable interpreters. Adi Da speaks in behalf of the message about Divine Reality given by this remarkable spiritual master:
The “God”-idea of Jesus is the idea of the Divine As Spirit (or Spirit-Breath) “inside” (and, thus, Prior to) both the “world” and the human psycho-physical form. That is to say, As Spirit the Divine Is the Prior Reality, and, As Such, not “Creator” (or “Cause”)—but, rather, the Divine Spirit Is Source and Refuge. The Divine As Spirit, Prior to the body-mind-“self” and the “world”, Is (Itself) the “Goal” of humankind, whereas the “God”-idea of the Divine as “Creator” tacitly subordinates the Divine to its “creations”—and, thus allows human beings to embrace the illusion that conditions in and of the “world” and conditions in and of the body-mind-complex (or egoic “self”) itself are the “Goal” of “religion” and of life. (2011, p. 258)
Ideas of the Creator as God get the cart in front of the horse, confusing people into thinking that our needs, dreams, and aspirations take precedence over God—in fact, subordinating God to them, as if existing solely for the sake of answering our prayers.
According to Adi Da, Jesus was a simple itinerant, or renunciate wanderer, who spoke critically of the many improprieties taking place around him. Even so, he spent most of his time blessing people. A tradition of Christianity claims that Jesus transmitted spiritual baptism to an inner circle of disciples, happily prepared to receive this esoteric instruction and directly commune with his divine state. Jesus taught no inherent separation or obstruction exists between people and Divine Reality. He taught that divinity is a living presence, in whom all exist and live out their lives. Therefore, Jesus is best thought a nondual spiritual master, whose spiritual revelation Adi Da strongly endorses.
Unfortunately, this wisdom contradicts conventional orientations to Christianity. Jesus spoke of an egoless, self-evident, Divine Reality, now nowhere seen or known, much less worshipped in churches on earth. Adi Da is uncompromising in his assessment of the Christian religion and the bleak role it continues to play in undermining its own nondual heritage, heartily advocating in behalf of a revival:
I say, without the slightest ambiguity or irony, that it is now fully and critically the time for a true Christian “revolution”. The necessary Christian “revolution” must not merely be another divisive exoteric “Reformation”, but it must be a true and most fundamental “revolution”—one that renounces merely “official”, and conventional, and “this-worldly”, and exclusively exoteric, and “salvation-myth”-based Christianity, and that re-asserts the full exoteric-and-esoteric tradition and practice of the original first-five-stages-of-life Spiritual “Christianity” of Jesus of Galilee. (2011, pp. 289-290) (For more on the nondual nature of Jesus and how the stages of life relate to him, see Stages of Life.)
It is time to restore Christ to Christianity and, in so doing, revive the nondual roots of Jesus’ divinely ordained ministry. The trick is locating which faulty items need discarding, likely for some an onerous task: separate Christ from the cross. Christianity has a difficult load to carry in this regard, for the cross just cannot be taken seriously. If you delve into its meaning at all the fallacy becomes clear. Jesus couldn’t have died for our sins, for two simple reasons:
1. he didn’t actually die—and, even if he did,
2. the arcane practice of human sacrifice simply doesn’t work.
The very feature that sells the sacrifice, making it acceptable—the survival of Jesus—negates the sacrifice! Negating salvation into the bargain. Yet, the truth has always been right before our eyes: If Jesus is God, that makes him eternal; and, if he is eternal, he cannot die. Therefore, he did not die. Jesus’ divine state was never put at risk by the demise of his body. Although imbued with divinity, the body was never his identity, mere elements returned to the soil. God would know that. Clearly, the cross was not God’s idea. The hopeful refrain that Jesus died for our sins is only accomplished through smoke and mirrors, hiding a terrible truth in its sleight of hand.
There is only one reason anyone could worship something so heinous as the blood sacrifice of Jesus: deep down, they know it isn’t true. This subterfuge has to be the single most astonishing instance of Emperor’s new clothes ever to go unnoticed. However strange it sounds, two religions are at work here: Christ-ianity and Cross-tianity. Whereas Christ provides a fuller, more nuanced spiritual account of Jesus’ ministry, the cross comes off merely a grim placebo—ensuring solace, but not salvation—slyly imposed after the fact. It’s simply a matter of which is more important—the life of Jesus, or death.
The great irony of Christianity, in all fairness to Jesus, is that those who killed him went on to make his Church, as the cross was accepted as the state religion of the Holy Roman Empire, and most of Western civilization in turn. Although Christians typically regard this a victory, their beliefs have been subsumed in primitive motives for survival. Holy wars have been fought to ensure that its consoling message not be taken away or called into question. Huge missionary campaigns have ensued as well. Eastern spirituality, on the other hand, is quite comfortable espousing the doctrine that human beings are literally God and potential purveyors of Divine Love, with no need to destroy God’s human incarnation to do so.
But this is simply how the ego operates. Like all great spiritual adepts, Jesus brought forth a stinging condemnation of evil (ego), as when he entered the holy temple and overturned the tables of the moneychangers. Yet, acts of this kind were no small feat or minor incident eliciting disapproval. In the end, “presuming” to be Divinely Incarnated put him decisively at odds with the prevailing authorities, leading to his arrest, conviction, and execution for crimes against the state, all of which under the most dreadful conditions.
Worse, and generally unacknowledged, Jesus suffered an ignoble slight. While dying on the cross that day, not only did his life pass from him but his identity as well. In its place, a far different image of Christ appeared, deeply appealing to citizens among both the Jews and Romans, albeit strangely unrecognizable. Even as he presided over the last supper, no mention was made of the destiny on the cross he was supposedly about to fulfill. Still, although Jesus did not actually die for our sins, that is only half the truth. The greater part is far more profound: Jesus would have died for our sins, gladly it seems, his heart full of love and compassion, if it were only that simple.
MEMOIR OF A DEVOTEE
My moment of truth with Christian faith came along early in life, amusingly enough, around third grade. I was in Sunday school at the time, receiving spiritual instruction on the happy news that Jesus loves me, which seemed a reasonable enough example of something auspicious. But the crucifixion and salvation never offered quite the same soothing, as indicators of that love. What I found fascinating had much more potential: the mystery of resurrection. It was Jesus’ life that held out promise of something hopeful, not his demise.
On that eventful Sunday school morning, I went up to the Bible studies teacher and shared the wonder of a momentous discovery. I confided that I could duplicate Jesus’ resurrection, secretly hoping for her approval. She appeared to find my enthusiasm endearing, for the moment accepting the pretentiousness of such a claim. In fact, she challenged me good-naturedly to demonstrate. I had brought a copy of the Bible, in which the ribbon of the page-marker was placed at a full-color pastel picture of Jesus, gazing serenely out amongst the blurry pages of text. I had her look at the picture, and then closed the book, declaring solemnly that the crucifixion had been done. Waiting monumentally for just a hint of impatience, I revealed the miracle. Opening the book again, the exact same picture of Jesus appeared! I happily announced his resurrection.
Astonishing, she was not amused. Hushing me, her nails gripping me firmly at the shoulder, she wagged a threatening finger my way. She made it clear I had committed blasphemy, playing with the sacred ordeal of our Lord and Savior. Apparently, I had no appreciation for the great enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice made on my behalf. Thinking it over, attempting to fathom her anguish, I quickly became flustered, made all the worse by a startling discovery: she was right! I really didn’t appreciate the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior. In fact, it made no sense at all and never had. Even at that tender age it seemed to me an utter waste of spiritual succor had surely taken place. With this act, clearly, humanity had committed an egregious offense against God. And worse, as far as I could tell, felt compelled to complicate matters by setting up Sunday school classes like this one, where teachers announced with solemn giddiness that all was O.K.—for Jesus still loves us, secretly in on the plan the whole time.
It never occurred to me that anyone could be kicked out of Sunday school. But I was a troubled child in those days, so really wasn’t all that surprising, looking back on it. As a young boy, I was trying hard to sort things out, make some sense of why people hold onto ideas that are clearly incomprehensible. Shockingly, I could see that adults didn’t have the answers. In fact, they were more likely concerned about consolation as anything. I could have easily joined the crowd then but opted for honesty instead. Indeed, it has been my life-long goal to discern truth, starting I suppose from that day.
Much has happened following this innocent vignette, of course, not necessarily all that memorable to spiritual life. I was dutifully educated, year after year, as a juvenile, then adolescent, and finally adult. Honestly, I didn’t learn at half the rate as I was educated. Worse, much of that had to be unlearned. Like most young people, I took turns falling in and out of love. However, I stopped loving altogether for a full ten years, fallout no doubt from the excess of my youth and early adulthood. My heart was broken, certainly. But more, it started to seem as if life was set up that way. I could discern no way to turn things around, by which to plot an escape. Finally, all of this came to a head, and any abstract pondering firmly put to rest.
It was a difficult winter for me. Someone very dear spent those drab few months considering whether they should commit suicide. In the end, they didn’t do it and I was glad. But the two of us were so much alike, virtually twins, that I had to face the awful truth: there was no way I could expect to survive. Life simply didn’t make any sense. I spent most of my time confused, alone, and just about completely fed up. I didn’t fit in. But then, I never did fit in all that well. The truth is I was used to being alone. It was my choice in fact. I had arranged for it. Life had not treated me kindly, in my estimation, and I was paying it back.
But now things seemed so tenuous, so flimsy. Little appeared to stand between me and a bad end. I could feel the life slipping feebly through my fingers. More than the pain, my suffering frightened me. I could see where it was headed. I knew that I had to change. So I quit smoking, just to prove I meant business. And I developed my physique working out with weights, to improve my self-esteem. I returned to school as well, to study religion, philosophy, and psychology. It was my intent to benefit from the wisdom of my culture. I was turning to it for answers. I even thought that it might save me.
But I found no remedy at the university for what ailed me. I had always taken it for granted that our lives were founded on truth. It never occurred to me that anyone would settle for less. Yet, so much had been written of no use. A staggering edifice had evolved in fact, a gesture of our genius. And it kept me busy. My mind throbbed with points of view. Still, no matter how ingenious, none of it made the slightest difference. It even seemed the argument itself was all that really mattered. Complexity and abstraction passed hands like a ritual, yet nothing like ultimate truth. As much as I needed to believe in them, a dismal realization slowly came to me—they were only guessing.
After school, mulling things over, I would catch the bus a couple of blocks from the campus. It was down the street from the main avenue of the university district, a popular viaduct for the swarm of earnest young students getting a head-start on their own, budding careers. A kiosk was nestled at the bus-stop, underneath a blunt overpass, out of the way and sheltered. It was a favorite spot of mine. After the demand and disillusionment of school you could take it easy until the bus came. It was a place to catch your breath, to stand and lean up against the wall, maybe just have a smoke and look around.
Outside was a wooden telephone pole, visible even through the graffiti scrawled across the frayed Plexiglas. One day I noticed a poster was tacked to the pole. On it was displayed the photograph of a lively young man. His face was boyish, round, and soft. He was leaning forward, intense. His expression was lavish, full of anticipation. He held up a clenched fist that was positioned in the photograph at his chin, creating a benign impression of thoughtfulness. He seemed both having just transgressed some secret boundary and on the verge of doing so. His face was an outrageous contradiction, and intensely appealing. He seemed thoroughly happy. I couldn’t help but wonder why.
Intrigued, I stepped out for a closer look. However, what I found was completely unexpected and discordant. The print beneath the picture contained quotes and a description of him. I learned about his self-proclaimed enlightened state and that he went by the name of Da Free John, which was apparently his choice. I found this appalling, deeply offended not only by the magnitude of his claims but sheer preposterousness of the name. Who calls themself that? It sounded like a rip-off of native people. Looking back at his picture again in disbelief, I noticed the boyishness and the longish, casually brushed back hair. I immediately felt duped and wondered why I hadn’t seen it from the start. Obviously, he was just another California beach-boy on the take, trying to pass off his hustle to the locals with good-looks and charm. It seemed so obvious. I couldn’t believe I had almost fallen for it.
Even so, each day I would return to the kiosk and reprise the exact same ritual. Getting a faint glimpse out of the corner of my eye, I would instinctively lean over, immediately attracted. But just as quickly I’d catch myself, not to be done in. Shaking my head disdainfully, I’d look at his picture. “Who was he trying to kid?”, I’d ask in amazement. For days this went on. I’d look over at his picture, again and again. It started to get annoying. “Who was he trying to kid?”, I’d ask myself in disbelief. I was not fooled.
But I was followed. His image appeared in my mind, away from the kiosk. On the bus, I saw his face out the window, beside himself with joy and laughter. I had no idea why. In class, I couldn’t concentrate. I would think of him, forget about the professor, his surreal image even hovering in the open space of the lecture hall, a phantom, covering up the chalk on the blackboard. This wasn’t normal! It started to go beyond annoying. I began to really worry about my health, wondering what to do. Finally, I developed a plan. Committing myself, I made a decision. Right after class, I would have it out with him.
Bounding down the steps at the edge of campus, I headed toward the kiosk. I felt relieved, walking with purpose, my course firmly in hand. I was eager to put this episode behind me. I strode right up to the poster. There was no turning back. We squared off—eye to eye, body to pole. I scanned the boundaries of his face first, but found nothing there, nothing to indicate the incredible fascination he held for me. I overlooked his smile intentionally, not to be so easily undone. I was determined to learn his secret, knowing that any fool can spread his mouth, and many do. But this was far too important to take chances. So, carefully, I scrutinized his eyes. I was not to be denied. Something was going to be revealed, certain that lies cannot hide in the eyes.
At first I was sorely puzzled. His expression conveyed a wildness and unrestraint that didn’t seem revealed in his eyes alone. The lids were arched and poised around his pupils in serene curves, exactingly precise. They lay upon the arc of each eyeball unconcerned, almost indifferent. No effort suggested the intensity radiating out from them. On the one hand, they appeared flung open, unabashed, wildly tossed asunder. Yet, all the while, they remained rested, immaculate, in repose. No mistake; there was much paradox in those eyes.
Standing there, I was perplexed, my purpose thwarted. Its being enjoyable was just that much more odd. After a while, a realization occurred truly unexpected. It suddenly struck me, their cause. Those eyes were open. Not just lifted, or raised—but open. No pinch of skin showed any trace of distress or concern, as might be said of a tent, the blunt sag of weathered canvas straining against wearied ropes. Instead, they were unfettered, aloft, devoid of aversion. I was captivated by a remarkable activity taking place in those eyes. Tissue spread, soft and incessant. Through this lucid opening his eyes leaned over, familiar. Surprisingly, they likewise seemed to ascend, flawlessly, like innocent bubbles, forcing the water at its surface—suddenly free. Their gaze came spilling out, secrets shared, blatantly on display. They were abrupt, shocking, boldly shouldering through this fluid passage, without the slightest presumption, explicit as birth.
I stared in amazement, beside myself. Such odd eyes could not happen by chance, I was certain. Eyes that open happen, not by force or effort but by the sheer courage and unimaginable suffering that will see anything—immune to preference, vulnerable, exposed. Before such eyes all is revealed, there could be no doubt. These eyes had to have looked upon truth. They were embracing, poised, pure. No fear or compromise had ever settled in to occlude them. They were unwary, at ease, serenely forthright, wiped clean. Without the slightest hesitation, his eyes emerged. They seemed to accept the world implicitly, absent of regret, shaped in the phases of its vicissitude.
I marveled at these eyes, happy even to be amazed! Then a startling realization came. Not only had he seen—he was in fact seeing now. His face was alive, bending over, reaching toward me. I could feel his presence, a person standing before me—looking at me. His eyes were a gauge of regard, rapt with notice. I felt gripped in their gaze. They were insistent, assertive. They would not go away. The implications of this realization were enormous. In the presence of such generosity, I felt profound debt. To be sure, company that great obliges greatness in turn. I was simply overwhelmed. There was no way to resist his magnificence. I was taken over by the sheer capacity accomplished in those eyes. They broke in on me, brazen, relentless with integrity.
I stepped back. This was far more than I had bargained. Casting about, I sought any crease or fold, any misplaced edge of feature with which to question what I had just seen and clearly perceived. I tried, but it was a wasted effort. Undaunted, his face dared the truth. Having endured innocence, I could not deny him now. I saw his smile anew, dimpled, a dent of inquiry hanging in anticipation. There was so much to understand. Laid open and impertinent and vulnerable as a wound, his mouth waited, ready, crooked by the easy delight of the obvious. Full of warmth and quizzical whimsy, he gave the secret away. And that, too, was the secret—that it was given away. It was a mouth playing outlandish love-songs, silent laughter lilting without end, formidable and sweet.
My awareness was in a swirl, sifting out any sense of a usual frame of reference. All I could notice was the gentle intensity of this face, touching me from the poster. It was literally a living person, and that new relationship brought with it certain responsibilities. There was no way to be casual or indifferent. Something inexplicable and ecstatic was now taking place. I deeply felt his presence of love, lifting me out of my usual place in this world, transporting me to an entirely other domain. There was no mistaking the mystery of it. And in it, all was relieved. I felt utterly beholden to that undeniable delight! Nothing remained but a billowing surge of gratitude and longing, irresistibly drawn to its own embrace.
It was too much to know then that I had fallen in love. Stunning and exquisite, the truth was clear—God is here!—alive and among us, realized in His human form as the Divine Adept of the Heart: the Divine Avatar, Adi Da Samraj. No honest man could deny those eyes. Out of intimacy, integrity; out of integrity, truth. Although the mind casts a shadow, the Heart still shines. It has its reasons. Irredeemably, the mind is a fool. Even so, love is not fooled, for truth leaves its trail. No mistake; I say now, as I realized then:
“Those are the eyes of an Enlightened man!”
This is the picture that appeared on the poster, art from the cover of the first book published by Adi Da in 1972, The Knee of Listening, his spiritual autobiography. (The Knee of Listening has since been revised and newer editions are also available.)
Needless-to-say, this encounter was light years away from anything available at the university and required considerable processing. Yet, it was not without some precedence. Astonishingly, a little earlier in my studies, a bewildering epiphany had abruptly flashed in my mind out of nowhere—a unification theory of psychology—virtually fully formed. It was amazing to behold, dumbfounding in fact. I was staggered by the sheer improbability. No less shell-shocked I imagine than even St. Paul, sent sprawling from his horse outside Damascus, so caught up in a breathless swoon from his own apparition. However, in my case, the vision besetting me was a bit more mundane than that of Christ, chastising St. Paul for belligerent behavior. Rather, a full, albeit crude diagram of the psyche billowed inside my head, like an incandescent billboard, in the end forming the framework for the ideas of the Nondual Matrix and Integral Love.
Until then, scholarly matters had never particularly interested me. In fact, I questioned those caught up merely in belief. Yet, something like the character portrayed by Richard Dreyfus in the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I was struck by an image I couldn’t get out of my mind, both eerie and hopeful, oddly alluring. Dreyfuss tried to share this curiosity with his family but could find no words in their vocabulary to reach them. So he was forced into using an alternative medium, sculpting the image, his first effort gripping a pile of mashed potatoes in both hands at a family dinner. Out of this inspiration, quite pleased with his work, a billowy white tower rose from his plate, only to be met with stunned looks from around the table.
He tried again later, this time with a flourish so articulate he could not be denied. First, he smashed in a basement window. Shoveling dirt, he deftly piled the refuse inside until plenty was at hand. Then he climbed in. Pushing and prodding, an imposing peak slowly began to emerge, reaching nearly the ceiling. When his wife came home he took her by the hand, happy and exhausted, smudged with swipes of dirt, eager to share his vision at last. Beholding the sight, she slowly turned and said: “I’m taking the kids.” Needless-to-say, her rebuke was incomprehensible, hard to accept.
I imagine Noah probably experienced something similar. I can see his neighbors, noticing the enormous bulwark of wood looming overhead as they walked by, calling out friendly enough, “Nice arc you have there, Noah!” Only to mutter under their breath to each other as they passed by, “Doesn’t he know he lives in a desert?” But what can you do in the face of such an epiphany? Except build it, exactly as directed? It was not for some time that I was able to appreciate my own inspiration had to come from somewhere—in all likelihood, Adi Da, I can only imagine, urging me on. So I persisted in my studies, although little seemed to suggest it could ever amount to anything, indeed, in the end, taking just over thirty-five years to complete.
Returning home after my initial encounter with Adi Da, my head was swimming. Implications and possibilities darted back and forth I could not even begin to fathom. Not least of which, I immediately began to doubt the revelation given. It is an interesting function of the mind to question whatever doesn’t fit into its orderly summation of life. I thought I must be going crazy! However, I saw the same poster in another part of town somewhat later and took advantage of the opportunity to conduct the experiment again, getting identical results. I knew something remarkable was going on.
I went to the bookstore advertised on the poster and began attending events. Before too long I was a formal devotee of Adi Da Samraj. However, I was as much looking for ways to fill in and finish the as yet makeshift epiphany as take up the daunting disciplines of a genuine spiritual life—for which I had absolutely no preparation. Coming from an upbringing that stressed Christian moral values, uneasily steeped in the larger context of a Western philosophical agenda, the notion of something so far-fetched as God-Realization was utterly unacceptable. In fact, at the time, if anyone bothered to ask, I would inform without the least irony my faith was Existential Psychoanalysis. Like my great heroes, Nietzsche and Freud, religion seemed nothing more than a crutch for weak-minded souls, under regression to infantile wish fulfillment. I much preferred those willing to torment earnest Christians seeking to convert us, going so far as to knock the good books from their hands.
Consequently, a few years after this, I was surprised as anyone to be visited with a series of monumental dreams involving not only Adi Da Samraj but another highly-regarded nondual sage, Sri Ramana Maharshi, whose own teaching has striking similarities to Adi Da. The dreams with Adi Da have added up to perhaps a couple dozen. Usually, I find myself unexpectedly in his company, irresistibly drawn toward an unbearable vision of beauty radiating from him, attracting me. We engage some physical encounter, a tangible touch by which the ecstatic delight of Divine Love is imparted. A sudden infusion of intense pleasure ensues, enveloping my entire being, overwhelming the senses. A familiar world of reality abruptly fades, replaced by all-pervading white light, an inherent, explicit presence of “Brightness”, extending without end in every direction. At the same time, a serene state of calm and equanimity occurs, alongside the utter intensity of sublime joy. No sense of being a discrete or separate entity exists; only the radiant expansiveness of ecstatic “Brightness”.
During the sole dream in which Ramana Maharshi likewise brought me to a nondual state, something similar happened. However, in this case, he was lying supine on a bed, humorously enough, inside a tent amidst a bustling, chaotic circus going on outside. In our meeting, he gently extended his hand, slowly raised from his lap, indicating that I approach. Brushing his knuckles lightly across my brow with an effortless, seemingly fond indifference, he lifted me out of separation into virtually the same “Brightness” as Adi Da—except for a notable difference. Somewhere was a subtle, nearly imperceptible scrapping sensation, like traces of sand rubbing in hidden, out of reach places. As a result, his “Brightness” was just the slightest bit gritty, an ethereal yet noticeable irritant dragging vaguely at the periphery of awareness—apparently indicating just the slightest residue of sixth-stage egoity.
In either case, the wonder of the “Brightness” in these dreams is utterly beyond any ordinary experience, so exquisitely delightful, in fact, my only thought is despairing its loss. Consequently, I attempt to press against the joy to possess it, ensure that it remains. But, unfortunately, desperately holding on only guarantees the loss. Invariably, at some point, an oddly shaped protuberance abruptly extends out sideways from the indefinable mass of light. Scrawny and angular, in the shape of a single chicken leg with claws, it pokes out from the “Bright”, as if a twig from a wad of cotton. At first, the bony extremity is delicate and light, even whimsical in its awkward suspension, only to gain weight all at once and descend with great force, like an anchor, jerking downward. But the reemergence is not so much a landing as mere fleshing out of the carcass of bone, whereby I am suddenly standing upright, my legs under me, once again the bodily form with which I am familiar—merely a human being.
I have also come to appreciate another notable affinity, this time between Jesus and Adi Da. Rather than ephemeral dream, the shared trait involves a concrete, miracle healing similar to those lauded in the Bible, given on a meditation retreat in Adi Da’s physical company. Unhappily, I made the pilgrimage feeling something of a fraud, in that I could ascertain no real evidence of profound spiritual practice on my part. Yet, I was elated all the same, anticipating the upcoming encounter with my spiritual master, genuinely committed to receiving whatever blessing might be delivered.
While waiting with other devotees for darshan (sighting of the guru) in our new temple hall, built specifically for just this occasion, I could feel Adi Da’s ecstatic Spiritual Presence enter my body almost immediately. It was overwhelming, taking over all sense of my usual state of mind. I slowly noticed a peculiar sensation occurring in my hands, a tingling feeling like the scruffy prickling of bees, crawling all over my fingers. It was quite disconcerting. Before long the swarming even extended beyond my hands, becoming as if mittens made of bees. More, they were stinging me in the most peculiar way—their little punctures imparting sweet bliss! Exquisite pleasure came over me, undulating across my hands in a rapid, startling boil. The delight seemed so preposterous, located in my hands, of all places! Laughing to myself, I found this notion extremely amusing.
After awhile, the ecstatic swarming migrated, travelling outward from my hands, which were lying in my lap, until it enveloped my entire belly. It was like floating inside an inner tube, buoyed by a bubbly mass of bliss-rendering bees, mingling furiously throughout the bulge of my torso. Thoroughly caught up in a bobbing swoon of pleasure, I was oblivious to any other activity taking place in the hall. In fact, I never even noticed Adi Da arrive and enter the room, taking his seat on the dais, even though I was nestled in the first row of devotees, no more than a few feet from where he sat.
The sensation at last died away and then, all at once, an intense sorrow welled up within. I was heart-stricken with deep longing and loneliness, utterly beside myself, like you might see on the news of peasant women in war ravaged countries, overcome by the grim sight of loved ones either maimed or destroyed. I began to wail outloud at the top of my lungs, arms repeatedly flung upwards to the ceiling, out of the most desperate, overwhelming loss. It seemed I was directly experiencing the true state of my being. A horrid image suddenly took shape in my mind: my heart a still-born baby, buried deep inside my chest, like a sullen corpse. It lay there silently, coarse and rigid, a blackened, spent casing of charcoal consumed by fire.
Toward the end of the sobbing, something began to squirm in my belly. At first, it felt like cramps, but the clench quickly became more active, undulating repeatedly as if a pile of tiny pistons jabbing inside my belly, bulging out. All at once this machinery began to crawl, the sheer enormity sucking my breath away. Meandering haphazardly throughout my torso, at last it entered my throat. Suddenly, I was howling again with utter abandon. But this was different from the supplicant wailing of before. I felt indifferent, like an innocent by-stander to the guttural lament lurching from within. The sounds felt torn from my intestines and sent scuttling out through my lungs in a gruff and horrific shriek. It was obvious that something was being drug from the depths of my being, perhaps even demonic. I could literally feel the blackness, coarse and oily, like a mechanic’s rag, gagging as it slid through my throat. Without doubt, I was being purified of some horrible foulness which I could not even name.
Shortly after that, I was sent into convulsions of an unfortunate seizure. I began flopping around on the floor like a fish on the dock, my arms and legs flailing—which was certainly uncomfortable for the devotees around me! I might have questioned whether outlandish behavior such as this had actually happened if I didn’t see pictures of it later. The spiritual energy was a dynamo, recklessly twisting me askew. I felt not much more than frail cloth, flapping hapless in the wind, oblivious to the possibility of any repercussions.
Finally, the intense spasm passed, leaving me spent on the floor. Sprawled limply like a lump against the firm wooden slats, I laid surprisingly transfixed. No matter the exhaustion, a joyful serenity came over me. At last, I was able to pull myself from the floor and sit upright. I looked toward my Guru. Watching him in that moment was surely the most deeply in love I have ever been. I was immersed in a great heart-breaking intimacy. I was so happy. It seemed that an unspoken, tacit understanding existed between us—we were in this together, each doing our own part; him granting the most exquisite spiritual transmission imaginable and me doing everything in my poor power to keep up. As the entire room erupted on all sides in a wild bedlam of jubilant, spiritual purification, he sat nonetheless unperturbed and serene, overseeing the event with sublime mastery. It was thoroughly unimaginable. There was no question he had just saved my life—while simply sitting in his chair!
The next day, walking along a path, I began to notice something very strange in my posture. All my life I had been slightly bent over, in deference, I always presumed, to abuse received as a child. I had grown up wary and quick to cover, to deflect any blows coming my way. I always felt the presence of this contracted sensation, a grip clenching in my belly—not my physical torso but etheric belly, my naval chakra. It was as if a lesion or scar literally wrenched my body downward, crimped like the cloth of a twisted rag. But it was gone, its absence a stunning revelation. I could truly walk upright, without cowering. It was amazing! I felt free, unburdened of enormous stress, anxiety, and loneliness. My lesion was purified and healed. It was a blessing beyond compare—certainly beyond anything I have ever received by human hand. It is only from the point of this miracle healing that I can truly say I have finally been able to love.
Meditation retreats have always promised ecstatic encounters with Divine Reality. A more direct example took place many years later, silently contemplating a picture of Adi Da known as a murti—in the very same hall, as it turns out. Out of nowhere, Adi Da’s Divine Person simply happened. If only for a moment, I was brought to an enlightened state, fully revealed. The murti instantly “Brightened”. It was as if pausing at a knot-hole in a fence to spy on a ball game or circus on the field—except, all at once, I was within the photograph, the fence dissipated, no longer on the outside looking in. Adi Da was suddenly an absolute embrace of infinite, sublime beauty rushing out at light speed in every direction, all-pervasive, the innate joy of which utterly sufficient. Everything continued exactly as before, except now there was only Resplendent Divinity—Adi Da—devoid of any lack or alternative, nothing left out. All was happily alive as love, the literal Divine Person, the only true measure of God.
Simultaneously, an equally astonishing reality occurred: the absence of me! What joy!! At last, nothing was happening to me. No grandiose experiences, no salvation of soul. Enlightement was simply, literally the case! Leaving only God—who I am. I always thought happiness was a matter of finding myself, getting in touch with myself, being the most genuine and authentic me. But it is about no me at all!! In that moment I could see why Adi Da talks about the joy of finding a 10 lb. diamond on the beach. His Divine Presence is precious beyond words, love and life itself. Nothing but mere Radiant Consciousness was happening, utterly apparent, beyond the slightest doubt. I wanted to leap from my seat and not only throw my arms around him in ecstatic embrace but throw myself at his feet. To this day, I am still filled with the wonder of having received the greatest gift of all.
Indeed, with this Divine Grace, I have happily become an apostle of the living incarnation of God—Avatar Adi Da Samraj—stopped in my tracks no less than James or John of the Gospels, casting aside their nets in response to Jesus’ divine attraction, walking off the job with no looking back. Perhaps more improbable, I have been called on to be a prophet of Christianity as well. In fact, it seems I have even been a saint, for three days anyway, about a year and a half ago as I write, embraced by an unimaginable spiritual encounter.
In that moment, my entire being glowed effortlessly in a soothing bath of Love-Bliss, dipped deeply into an intimate pool of radiant water. From these depths, the supple balm of what seemed a sinewy serpent rose briskly up my spine, its flickering tongue at last licking the forbidden fruit lodged in the boughs of my brain core, sublime realms of joy upward turned. That is, however odd to say, my head was inserted into a kind of “hat,” the brim midway up my forehead, curving around just above my ears all the way to the back. It seemed obvious this was the halo depicted in sacred paintings—except it was not flat like a disc, apart from the brim of course, but concave, like a cup or bowl. The top portion of the hat was turned inside-out. In fact, a cup and saucer would also be a good metaphor, except that my head fit so snug it felt like I was wearing it.
For several days I could easily return to this delightful state at any time. Since then, I have often touched the brim but not again the entire hat. Still, even a mere glimpse or brushing up against this spiritual reality is ecstatic joy, carried throughout the day, deepening my devotion to Bhagavan Adi Da and resolve to truly realize His Divine State, not to say serve His Great Work. In 2006 I sent the first draft of this manuscript to Adi Da. In reply I received a succinct message on his behalf, who, I was told, “sent His Love and Blessings to Dan Sleeth and Blessed him to do his work.” He had asked previously that his spiritual revelation be made available to all people, especially by showing how it connects to the truth of their own traditions. This work represents my effort in that regard, in response to the urgent calling of my beloved spiritual master.
That note is the only direct communication I ever had with Adi Da Samraj. As with the epiphany mentioned earlier, I have otherwise always received instruction spiritually, as if notes appearing directly in my heart and mind. It is like waking up each morning with an in-box full of ideas, requiring considerable effort to process before the next batch comes the following morning. It has taken a long time to finish this work, my education not only comprised of mystical experiences but a series of graduate degrees by which to properly research the material and hone skills that might hold up under the scrutiny of professional standards.
Lest you get the wrong impression, I never envisioned myself an apostle or prophet growing up, when considering the prospects of a career. It just turned out that way. It’s not like there are any prophet schools around, or agencies offering internships. More, the pay’s not all that good and the work is really very demanding, with benefits for the most part substandard. Worse, people sometimes call you crazy, and not always in a good way. The task of combining nondual spiritual revelation with Christian doctrine has been no small feat, but fraught with numerous delicate challenges—some pretty unexpected, not least of which the casting aside of prior intimacies.
The loss of these intimacies was never my idea. Someone once contacted me via the internet, dismayed by my Guru, offering what amounts to a session of long-distance deprogramming. I was touched by his thoughtfulness. After all, we had never met and he didn’t know me from Adam. Indeed, his comments were not even as caustic or ill-considered as some of my dearest friends, who by this time had all pretty much peeled away. So I took him up on his offer. He began by challenging me to make the case that Adi Da is someone who should be taken seriously. I went on at some length, spelling out the great fortune that has been mine to encounter evidence from Bhagavan Adi Da to support just such a proposition, which I won’t repeat here (see DBSleeth.com). However, I did mention a story that seems to sum up quite nicely the difficulty alarming Adi Da’s critics:
I once spoke with a pastor who was an outgoing advocate of his faith. As I listened intently to his great praise of Jesus and unabashed devotion, I became more and more impressed by a common thread between us: I love my Guru too! Finally, I could stand it no longer and happily blurted out how wonderful it was to meet someone so similar—we each loved a guru as our Lord and Savior, the very incarnation of God!
Needless-to-say, my enthusiasm was not shared on this point. Instead, his faced dropped into a twisted relic of the joy he just animated, aghast at my confession. He seemed deep in thought, pondering whether to leap over his desk and throttle me or not. Painstakingly, he pointed out how inappropriate the comparison was, as no human can possibly be God—with one exception. In fact, he warned I was under the spell of the Devil and should take care, for the sake of my soul.
This is bald-faced discrimination, pure and simple! Why Jesus and not Adi Da? But I don’t blame him. I know he wants his God dead. It is too much to face God alive. Confrontation from a living God is a demand for love and intimacy beyond anything any other human will ever ask. As the existentialists say, it takes courage to be, as well as love unconditionally.
In the end, this concerned fellow was no more impressed with my arguments than my family, or any of my friends. For that I will always be amazed. It proves the mind does make a wonderful servant, but terrible master. People will believe what they want to believe. The Heart, however, shines the same for us all. Still, ultimately, it can be received only by those willing to leave any preconceived notions about God and Reality behind. It seems God is who we know more intimately than anyone else—but also deny we know at all.
Contact Daniel - Daniel_Sleeth(AT)adidam.org