Extraordinary Eyes

Emily Grinnell

Emily Grinnell became a devotee of Avatar Adi Da Samraj in 1975, at the age of 24. She grew up on a dairy farm on the coast of Massachusetts, and studied creative writing as well as receiving eight years of fine arts training at several art schools. Emily lived and served at Adi Da Samrajashram for 10 years, participating in hundreds of hours of considerations of the practice of the Way of Adidam in Adi Da Samraj's personal company. Over the years she has focussed her energies in the Sacred fine arts of painting, design, and decorations, as well as priestly services, service to the Sacred Archives of Adidam, and writing.
Emily Grinnell"I worship the Lord, who has thousands of heads, thousands of eyes, who is the source of happiness in the world, the Eternal God. All this is nothing but the Present God. All this lives by Him. . . ." Avatar Adi Da's voice, rhythmic and toned like a great temple bell, drew us deep into His Heart-Space. We were listening to His recorded recitation of the Narayana Sooktam late one evening while gathering with Him.

In His Free Rendering of this traditional devotional hymn, Beloved Adi Da proclaimed His Ecstatic Oneness with "the Truth, the Absolute Supreme Being . . . with extraordinary eyes, who has assumed all forms".

As the recording played, Avatar Adi Da seemed to be studying the floor, His hands and arms supporting Him at either side. He leaned slightly forward. He looked almost fragile. Then, in the silence that marked the end of the recitation, He began to speak about the Mahanarayana Upanishad, the ancient text from which the verses of this hymn were taken.

As Adi Da spoke, He seemed to be growing more and more "Bright" and transparent. His voice became soft, barely audible. Boundaries of time and space disappeared, and I was drawn into the vision of His exquisite Rapture of Divine Love-Bliss. His words ended in deep stillness. He rose slowly from His seat and left the room.

When Beloved Adi Da returned less than a minute later, this great silent Space had vanished. Suddenly, He was most "ordinary", joking, laughing, gesturing, as if to engage in His human play with us with extra intention.

I felt I had been shocked awake from sleep.

In this moment of sudden contrast, Avatar Adi Da Gave me the direct awareness that He is not like me. He is not the "ordinary man" at all, but He only appears to be "human", to be "like" His devotees in order to Instruct us. He reaches to us through the Paradox of His human Appearance. I saw that He Perfectly Transcends this experience, this life, even while He Appears within it, animating His Divine Play.

Soon, those of us who had been taking notes on His Discourse closed our notebooks, and we all turned to face the back of the room as Avatar Adi Da walked to the stage. The large, screened room, open to the warm night air, was resonant with His Spirit-Force. He looked at all of us, His eyes moving from face to face with an uncommon Intensity, and then He motioned to us to dance with Him.

After the first few dances, Avatar Adi Da motioned to me and six others to join Him.

He moved among us with springing steps. He looked piercingly at each of us, and through us, to everyone everywhere. I felt possessed by His Divine Passion, and I danced for Him as if everything depended on it.

On so many nights, Adi Da's dance had been an occasion of Instruction. But on this night, I felt His dance was a Puja, a sacred ceremony of Divine Worship. He used every gesture, glance, step, and muscle with one Intention to Transcend the limits of time and space and mind, and to Awaken the heart of every being. As the music played, the Guru's "personal" human signs and playfulness gave way to a greater Intensity. His eyes grew wide. His attention was moving beyond the human circumstance.

And then a recording of "The Hymn Of The True Heart-Master" was played. This sacred text, written by Adi Da, had been sung by devotee Stephan Blas.

And Beloved Adi Da began to dance. His eyes, always so full and deep, grew even wider, open, staring, bulging as though they were about to fly out from His face. They radiated spirals of light. His mouth pulled back in an agony of Bliss. His hands and arms stiffened with the Force of spontaneous Mudra.

His left foot was poised above the wooden floor. He was No One, and Every One. He looked out above and beyond our heads in His Oblivious Mudra, arms outstretched, balanced and rooted on one foot. His "Bright" Fire of Love-Bliss filled and outshined the room. Every motion was Perfectly Still but set in explosive force. He Stood, as the Divine Being "Who has assumed all forms". As He turned to face Stephan, the man who was singing on the recording, who was standing beside Him on the stage, His "Brightness" exploded in a Blast that shook us all.

Screams of ecstasy rose from deep within my being, carried by the shock of Love-Bliss, in which everyone and everything were brilliantly charged and continuous with His Spirit-Current of Divine Force.

As the song came to an end with the words, "This is the 'Bright', More Than Wonderful, and Really Perfect Truth," Avatar Adi Da stood at the edge of the stage a few feet in front of me. The vast blaze of His Initiation-Dance had subsided. His face was soft and trembling. His feet shifted slightly as He rocked gently from side to side. He shook His head, trying to find the means to speak.

He was so vulnerable, more than human, barely embodied. Somehow I moved to bring Him a pillow from His Chair so that He could sit down comfortably. But He just stood, rocking slightly. At last, with great effort, He turned without another look to walk slowly out the door into the darkness, across the grassy expanse of lawn to His home.

A few minutes later, as I brought His meal to the back door of His Residence, I heard the sounds of a videotaped boxing match coming from within His room, and His amused cheers for the contestants. I laughed out loud at the Paradox.

When we gathered with Avatar Adi Da two nights later, we were spilling over with praise of Him and with Stories of the Spiritual Heart-Transmission and Initiatory Force He had Granted during that Dance. We stumbled over ourselves, eagerly telling Him how remarkable that event had been.

He listened to us for a while and then spoke, Calling us beyond mere talk, memory, and the deluding potential of even that great moment of experience. "What did you do since the other night?" He asked. When we confessed to Him that we had not continued to live in the ecstasy of that event, He told us, "Then be quiet, and go into ecstasy again!"

Adi Da with Emily Grinnell in 1978
Adi Da with Emily Grinnell in 1978


Quotations from and/or photographs of Avatar Adi Da Samraj used by permission of the copyright owner:
Copyrighted materials used with the permission of The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd, as trustee for The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam. All rights reserved. None of these materials may be disseminated or otherwise used for any non-personal purpose without the prior agreement of the copyright owner. ADIDAM is a trademark of The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd, as Trustee for the Avataric Samrajya of Adidam.

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