Adi Da > Bill Somers
I Realized That I Was "Playing for God"
Bill Somers —
In the early 1980s, Bill Somers had already realized what he had
held to be his life's ambition: to be principal clarinetist in a symphony orchestra.
But this accomplishment was not enough for Bill, after all; his heart was not
satisfied. And that was a good place to be! It led him to his Spiritual Master.
story begins in the early '80s, when I had already realized my
life's ambition — to be the principal clarinetist in a symphony
orchestra. While I was regularly taking more auditions to move
up to bigger and better orchestras, I had also become an earnest
spiritual seeker and was attending meditation retreats offered
by a Buddhist organization. Soon I began to read Avatar Adi Da's
books, which had been recommended by a friend from the meditation
retreats. Without really understanding the profundities about
which Adi Da was speaking, I "knew" that what He was saying was
"right". I don't consider myself a particularly intuitive type,
but in this case I had an inexplicably deep feeling of the spiritual
authority of Adi Da's words. And I began to have experiences of
what I could only call "The Divine".
At this point, I was playing in the Spoleto Music Festival in Italy, and
had plenty of time to explore the churches and art museums throughout the country.
As I delved into Renaissance art — something I had a bit of background in as a
result of taking some classes and the fact that my mother was an artist — I began
having the tangible feeling that the artists of that time had been somehow portraying
the Divine in their works of art. It was not a matter of the Christian subject
matter, but a feeling-sense of what I could only describe as "the Divine", communicated
by the work itself — a boundless, infinite, bright quality.
ordinary people evoked this feeling of "the Divine" as strongly as depictions
of religious subjects. It was not the subject, but a sense that the artist was
somehow in communion with the Divine and was communicating that through the work
of art. I went from church to church, museum to museum, in a kind of ecstasy,
as one work after another would evoke this tangible sense of the Divine in me.
Shortly, I returned to the States to live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where
I was the principal clarinetist in the symphony. One afternoon in the fall, I
went to a wooded area outside town, to continue reading one of Adi Da's books,
Shortly after I sat down to read, I began having an experience of a strong force
— subtle but tangible — descending into me, I noticed that the force was drawing
everything to itself, trying to make everything conform to it — and "it" was the
Divine. It was an experience of God. It felt like all the tall trees and the rolling
hills there, everything, was being shaped and pulled by this Power to itself.
The feeling deepened, and I saw that everything was existing as a unity. I could
not sense the usual separation between things. I began running around the woods,
ecstatic in this feeling of non-separation. There were, in fact, no "objects"
from which to be separated.
I began to experience what I called at the
time a reversal in my polarity. What I had thought of as "inside and outside",
or "top and bottom" were reversed. That evening, when I began playing my clarinet,
I realized I no longer had to try to force air through the instrument and "sound
good", but I simply allowed the endless sea of air in which I exist to pour through
the instrument. All the years of searching for the perfect musical expression
were ended in an instant. I had studied with the best teachers at the best music
schools and had been working endlessly — like most of my fellow musicians — to
get ever closer to producing the ideal sound. This was an enormous and stressful
effort! Now I found that all the striving was gone. I simply allowed the air to
rush into the body and the music to pour out. I realized that I was "playing for
God", playing to magnify love to everyone, not playing for the accolades of the
audience. I simply wanted everyone to feel the love I was feeling as I was playing.
I had become ecstatic in my playing. People in the orchestra turned around
to stare at me with "what-happened-to-him?" looks on their faces. During that
week of symphony concerts, an internationally known pianist who has performed
with many of the world's major orchestras, was performing with my orchestra, playing
a Rachmaninoff concerto with a long clarinet solo in it. At the break during the
rehearsal, she had the personnel manager bring me over to her, and without any
introduction, asked me to marry her! Then she said, "Who are you and where did
you come from?" I laughed off her questions, but deep in my heart I knew that
Adi Da was the "who" and the "where" she was responding to, and that I would have
to go to Him.
When I did eventually become a formal devotee of Avatar Adi
Da's and sat with Him, I came to know even more directly His characteristic Presence
that had been the substance of all these unusual experiences and revelations and
the powerful Descending Force by which He had first contacted me in the woods.
I could feel how He would enter into me from infinitely above the body by first
pressing down through the top of the head. Then I would feel Him "melt" me, so
that the sense of "I" would be lost in the overriding perception of Him as Love
and Bliss. I realized that Adi Da not only freely Transmits the tangible Truth
of non-separation from the Divine, but that He Himself Is the Manifestation of
the Reality of Divine Love-Bliss.
Bill continues to play clarinet. He has often played personally
for Avatar Adi Da. Over the years Bill has regularly served on
Avatar Adi Da's Hermitages and Sanctuaries as retreats manager
and in other functions that serve devotees' practice.