Finding Adi Da > Max Cottrell

How Did He Know?

Max Cottrell

Max Cottrell has been a devotee of Bhagavan Adi Da Samraj since 1976. He currently serves Adi Da's Work as a photographer at the Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary in Northern California where he also does cultural service in the local community of devotees.

Max wrote this in 2017, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the events described in this story.

Max Cottrell In London, in the summer of 1976, I saw a short film of Adi Da called "Laughter". Bhagavan Adi Da's Divinely Realized State was obvious to me in that movie. This sighting and recognition of the Guru marked a turning point in my life. Within a few months, I had eagerly consumed several of Avatar Adi Da's books and realized that here was my Spiritual Teacher. I wrote and was invited to join the community of devotees — which was concentrated in California at that time. I made plans to emigrate, leaving behind my life in England. I was 29 years old.

The move to America did not occur. I would wait 22 years for that to happen! In January 1977, new devotees were encouraged to live together and support each other in adapting to "the Way of the Heart" (now called the Way of Adidam) that Adi Da offers and teaches. This was my introduction to one of the characteristic plays of the Divine Guru — life disruption and change. I was perfectly happy and willing to embrace these callings. I had come into the company of a great Transmission Master, a Maha Siddha! And He seemed to be willing to accept anyone to receive His Spiritual Blessings, and teach them out of self-bondage and into His Own State. I was excited beyond my wildest imagination. Ordinary life could definitely wait!

I was able to locate five people in Britain who were interested in living together as adapting student-beginner devotees of Avatar Adi Da (who was then known as Bubba Free John). We met and agreed to find a suitable house somewhere in England. Our group comprised of a young married couple with a one year old baby, two single males and one single woman. We ranged in age from 17 to 29. I was the oldest. Even though they were all complete strangers to me, as soon as we met, I felt a deep heart-connection with them all. A house was found in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. The others moved in immediately, and I joined them about three weeks later.

When He first began to teach, Avatar Adi Da offered His new student-beginner devotees the time-honored practice of Darshan — sighting of the Guru in silent occasions. During these times Adi Da would "transmit" His Spiritual Presence to those present, and they would become awakened to, and into something of His own Enlightened, Liberated State. That is how the Guru-devotee relationship works, when the Guru is a Spiritual Transmission Master. However, in those early days of His Work, the people who came to Avatar Adi Da were not sufficiently prepared to make right and effective use of their relationship with a Siddha-Master. Adi Da observed this and quickly realized that He would Have to do something to make the typical materialistic "Western" character more available, more sensitive to His Spiritually Illumined State. He decided that one way to do this would be in the context of parties. For some years, at these parties (or "gatherings", as Adi Da called them), alcohol was used to help loosen up uptight Westerners. (Neither alcohol nor any other consciousness-modifying substances are used in Adidam now. Devotees of Adi Da do not even drink coffee or caffeinated tea. This is a return to the original disciplines Adi Da gave to His devotees when He first began working with them in the early 1970's, but which they were too humanly and spiritually immature to appreciate or engage, at the time.)

Our household took on the life-disciplines of meditation, study, vegan diet, daily diary entries and full-time work. We did everything together, embracing the discipline of cooperative community. When shopping needed to be done, all six of us would cram into the one car that we had (a Mini) to do the task together. We led a disciplined, highly enjoyable life — all in Satsang: Divine Communion with our Spiritual Master. At times we would feel that we were becoming somewhat dry and boring; then inevitably someone would suggest that we party. This was usually a popular idea! (Keep in mind that we were in our teens and twenties.) Those were some of the most enjoyable parties I have ever experienced. Lots of music, dancing and alcohol. It always amused me that around three or four a.m., when we were feeling hungry after a large input of alcohol and a corresponding output of dance energy, we would all pile into the car to find someplace open where we could eat together. I discovered that it was expected: a virtually mandatory requirement that one had to eat junk food at these times. A nearby Motorway, 24-hour service station was an ideal place to enjoy beans on toast, bacon, eggs and the like. I really enjoyed those meals!

During the five years before becoming Avatar Adi Da's devotee, I had been practicing Transcendental Meditation and hatha yoga. In spite of those practices and the vegetarian diet, my body was not at all flexible. . . I was unable to sit in the full lotus position. I had been an "abstain from everything", stiff kind of guy with a stiff body. One party night, I drank a substantial amount of vodka. I enjoyed its liberating effect — emotionally, and also bodily. The next day, I wondered if I was flexible enough to advance my ability to sit in the lotus position. I was astonished to find that I was able to sit in the full position with no difficulty at all! One of the women gleefully remarked that what five years of meditation and yoga had failed to do, partying on vodka had achieved in one night! I was beginning to marvel at my Guru's Wisdom — how unconventional, but how effective His methods were. I have been able to sit in the full lotus ever since.

Another feature of our lives together was dreams of the Guru. As previously mentioned, I joined the household about three weeks after the others had moved in. On arrival, they all recounted how they were regularly having blissful dreams of Avatar Adi Da. He would make contact with His devotees on subtle planes, appearing there to instruct or bless them in some way. All kinds of things would happen in those dreams.

I assumed that, soon, I too would be having such dream encounters with my Guru. The weeks went by. The weeks turned into months. No dreams for me! — though the others continued to enjoy theirs. After five months, I was in despair that any dream encounter would occur. I was beginning to think that I must not be worthy of receiving this form of the Guru's Blessing.

Then in late August, on the eve of my birthday, Avatar Adi Da appeared to me in a dream!

In the dream I was in a corridor. There was a small group of people walking towards me. As they drew closer, I saw that one of them was Avatar Adi Da. He was talking quietly with the people around Him. As the group approached me, I was standing off to the side, by the wall. Avatar Adi Da saw me and excused himself from the group for a moment. They all waited while He approached me. He embraced me with a big smile and hug and said, "It's good to be in union, isn't it, Max?" I was surprised that he knew my name. I responded with a silly joke about trade unions. He smiled and continued to radiate profound love-energy through His eyes, into mine but also with His whole body into my body. I felt the joy of non-separation from Him, of union with His blissful, Divine State. After a while, He let me go, rejoined the others, and continued walking with them. I awoke and excitedly roused everyone from their sleep to tell them: I finally had a dream of the Master!

I recognized the wisdom of the Guru in making me wait. He was testing me. Though the test did provoke some despair and self-doubt, I had continued with the practice He gives His devotees. I marvelled at the fact that He had recognized me, and He also knew my name. How? There had been no formal contact between us. How would He know that I even existed? I had written a brief letter eight or nine months ago. Someone in the community of devotees had replied on my behalf. So how could He possibly know my name? And He welcomed me into His arms as if we were old friends! And how did He know it was my birthday? And why would He bother to know — about me, a complete nobody,[1] and then appear to me on my birthday? It was the greatest gift I could ever receive — intimate and real contact with the Divine Avatar! I was deeply impressed with the mysterious and loving nature of this amazing Being.

This is how people come to Me to become My devotees, or (otherwise) come to Me for Blessing. They become associated with one or another aspect of My world-Work. It is Prior Meditation. In other words, I Priorly Coincide with everyone and everything, and then Signs emerge. This is how I Work. This is My Divine Avataric Nature Showing Itself in the larger world-picture . . . And this is, in fact, how people end up coming to Me.

The devotional relationship to Me does not begin simply when people formally enter into the gathering of My devotees. My Work begins before people even come into My Divine Avataric Company. Some recognize and know that, and there are rather dramatic signs of it. In other cases, individuals are simply drawn to Me and have nothing in mind to say why, other than they heard about Me and were moved.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, February 2008
"Tell Everyone My Leela Everywhere"
Adi Da Samrajashram Magazine, Vol. 1, #1

Some time later, I discovered that it is traditional practice for a Spiritual Master to initiate a new disciple or devotee by contacting them in a dream.[2] And a particular characteristic of Avatar Adi Da is that He regards anniversaries as important, and always observes them.

That was the beginning of a lifelong relationship that has been characterized by Blessing and Demand — all for the sake of generating the capacity for true self-transcendence and Spiritual Realization. As I write this leela (in 2017), the tests and Blessings have been continuing for forty years. After a difficult childhood and early life in which I felt that being alive was a curse, I now regard myself as a highly fortunate person — entirely because of my Divine Guru, my greatest-ever Friend, the Ruchira Avatar, Adi Da Samraj.

As a humorous old saying goes, "It is never too late to have a happy childhood." . . . And now I can add to that: "and a happy life".

Return to Finding Adi Da

For a related story by the author, read A Difficult Beginning.

"Why would He bother to know about me, a complete nobody?" — I'm reminded of this quote from Avatar Adi Da:

The Yoga in My Company is about receiving Love, knowing Love from the beginning. My direct Revelation without justification, without words at all, without your being a particular individual who for some remarkable reason is worthy of the Revelation. All are Given it. It is Divinely Given from the beginning. It is God from the beginning. And then the yoga or all of the process springs from this heart conversion.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj
The Characteristic Samadhi of My Life and My Work Is the "Thumbs"
The Heart Conversion Talk Series, February 18, 1993


For more stories of devotees encountering Avatar Adi Da in dreams, visit our section, Dream Experiences of Adi Da.

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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