I first saw Bhagavan Adi Da in late August of 1975.
Leading up to that, I'd spent a lot of years in an agonized
search, which my family would attest to. I was a
very intense kind of person who was clearly dissatisfied
with everything. I got involved in college in the 1960s in
political demonstrations, and underground newspapers,
and developing an alternative natural foods bakery that
was a collective — all that kind of thing. I got into, “we're
going to create a whole new kind of society, because
clearly the one we're living in is broken”. So that's kind
of where I started my adult life.
But soon I began to really see that there was no solution
in that, because it became clear we weren't going
to have a political-social revolution that was really going
to change anything at a fundamental level. It was a
youthful and naive idea.
And when I clearly saw that, I
had a moment of real despair where I just gave up everything.
We had a weekly meeting in our bakery, where
we would have a discussion about what we were as an
organization, and how we wanted to represent ourselves
as a vehicle for social change, and so on. I remember
going to what ended up being my final meeting.
I was feeling the futility of it all. I was one of the
founding members of the group, but I decided, right
then and there, to resign. I remember walking out of
that meeting and sitting down on the curb outside and
just crying, because I realized that I'd invested everything in this thing and there was nothing in it at all, it was
So I'd come to a real moment of despair. And that
moment lead me to seriously begin to investigate what I
began to describe as the "other half of life": There's the
grounded physical life, but what about the psychic and
spiritual dimensions of life, the emotional and the feeling
side of life? What about all of that? That's another part of
existence. And none of my friends were seriously addressing
that. They felt that if socio-political change
would happen, it would change everything, and I had
begun to see that that was not at all the case.
So I began
by investigating my own history. I had grown up as a
Christian Scientist, and there was always a mystery as to
why I never got sick, why prayer seemed to work. All my
friends growing up had colds and illnesses, and I had
measles, but beyond that nothing ever happened to me,
or anyone in my family. So it was always a mystery, and
at that point I began to really investigate it. I researched
all kinds of things — philosophies and different kinds of
scientific explanations about reality, hypnosis, Silva Mind
control, as well as delving into all the ancient Eastern
spiritual traditions. And I began to really feel like there
was something else that was missing, but no one was
addressing it. And that began a long search on my part.
What I began to notice in all my searches, was that I was
like an addict, looking for the next “hit” of experience that
would finally relieve me altogether of my unhappiness.
As Adi Da would put it, I was in every moment seeking
for happiness, rather than being happiness.
Well, this all went on for a couple of years until I had exhausted
my seeking. I didn’t know what else to do. It
seemed to me that I had investigated every possibility
and nothing availed. I was still fundamentally unhappy.
So I resigned myself to just living my life, not knowing what
if anything would ever change.
I had this habit (in the evenings after work) of pulling out a book from my bookcase,
which itself was a virtual map of my search, and rereading
something. So one evening, I pulled out The
Knee Of Listening by Adi Da. I had read the first few pages
and the Epilogue a year before, because a local spiritual
bookstore owner had pointed it out, saying, "You
gotta read the Epilogue, it's fantastic." So I had read the
Epilogue and thought it was pretty good, but I couldn’t
relate to the rest of the book at that time. I had put it
down and it remained untouched in my bookcase until
this one particular evening at the seeming end of my
search. I pulled it off the shelf and opened it up to "The
Meditation of Understanding" chapter and I completely
understood what He was saying for the first time. I got
completely ecstatic. I was out of my mind with ecstasy
and happiness. This state of unabashed joy went on for
hours. I effortlessly devoured everything in that book.
On that occasion, Bhagavan Gifted me with a kind of
“samadhi”, where I realized that He understood fully what
Reality was about. He comprehended it, and He was the
only one I had ever found who could talk about it, write
about it, explain it, Transmit it. And it was True. So it was
the greatest relief one could ever imagine. I was happy
for months. I went back to that bookstore and got an audio
tape of Bhagavan Speaking called "Guru, Faith, and
Satsang" and I'd listen to it every night, and go to sleep
A few months later there was a spiritual fair happening in
Ann Arbor which was an hour and a half from where I
was living. At the entrance to the fair there was a telephone
pole with a poster for the movie "A Difficult
Man" (the first film about Adi Da) playing that evening at
the university. I knew I had to see this film.
So I went to
the auditorium and when the movie started, as soon as I
saw Bhagavan, I knew that was it. I knew my life as I had
known it was over. As soon as I saw His living physical
form, that was enough for me. Everything came together.
I knew that I was just going to simply tie up my life and
go out to California to be with Him.
So I basically did that. In fact, within a few weeks there
was a flood right where I lived and it wiped out everything
I owned. So I didn't really have all that much to take care
of in that sense. All I needed to do was make a little money.
So in a couple of months, I moved out to San Francisco,
and after a few weeks, I went up to the Mountain
Of Attention Sanctuary for my first Darshan of Avatar Adi
In those days, in 1975, we would make the two-hour drive
up to the Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary every Friday
night after work. And Bhagavan would sit with us and
Grant Darshan that evening. And there would be other
sittings during the weekend, as well as Discourses that
He would Give.
I remember that first time, this was in August in 1975, I remember
coming up to the Sanctuary. . . it had a magical feeling to it.
It had this live, living presence about it, like nothing I had
ever experienced. It was 10 o’clock, the crickets were sounding,
and it was a warm summer evening. I remember meeting with devotees
who prepared us for our first Darshan. As new people, we were
supposed to sit way at the back of the Darshan Hall (Land
Bridge Pavilion). So I sat in the very back.
But the one advantage was that I was sitting right by where Bhagavan's
entrance was. I was sitting right next to His pathway, so when
He came in, we bowed our heads to the floor, but I could feel
the floorboards move and see His feet pass within inches from
my head as He walked by. And it was a really amazing night to
first see Bhagavan, to actually feel Him directly. It was just
an amazing time to finally find my Guru and connect with Him and
realize there was something I could actually live in relationship
Da's entrance to Land Bridge Pavilion
Adi Da's entrance to Land Bridge Pavilion
(click to enlarge)
It was no longer my search. There is nothing to compare to the
relief when you can finally let that search go. Of course, you
learn later on that there are many more levels to all that. But
that basic search, to find Reality, to actually find out that
there is Truth Alive in human form in the world — that discovery
was like no other.