Finding Adi Da > Victor Lagasse

Recognition of the Master

Victor Lagasse

Victor Lagasse has been a devotee of Bhagavan Adi Da since 1975. He is a professional arborist and landscaper. He has lived and served for extended periods on three principal Sanctuaries: Adi Da Samrajashram in Fiji, Da Love-Ananda Mahal in Hawaii, and the Mountain Of Attention in northern California.

Victor LagassePraise to Beloved Adi Da Samraj, Who, Through Skillful Means, finds His devotees and serves their Liberation.

I was the second child and first son of a tool-and-die machinist father and a wonderful stay-at-home mom. I was born May 7, 1955, in the small town of Bristol, Connecticut, which is close to the center of the state, just a few miles southwest of the capitol city of Hartford. I had one sister and three brothers.

We lived one block from the Roman Catholic Church and School that predominated our French-Canadian speaking neighborhood. I was raised Roman Catholic and attended the Catholic school.

I became disillusioned with the Catholic religion when I was about thirteen years old. I felt that most of the representatives of the Church whom I knew (the nuns and priests) were unhappy, frustrated and often mean people, and despite their efforts to recruit me into seminary and missionary work, I decided against it, after a long courtship on their part.

I found the method of "belief" as a means of permanent and ultimate Salvation, to be ridiculous. But unaware of any alternative, I embraced a childish love and devotion to Jesus and the Christian myths, until I felt strong enough to abandon them.

But having abandoned them, I needed to find a new meaning in my life. I entered a crisis that would, in essence, come to end when I met Beloved Adi Da Samraj in 1975, although this was just the beginning of the crisis of my sadhana in relationship to Him, which continues today.

From age 14 to 18, I read Krishnamurti's writings, along with Alan Watts and others. I read everything I could about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, to see if perhaps there was some Truth that Christianity had missed, that could speak to my deep sense of suffering, bewilderment, and my yearning for happiness and the real knowledge of God, Truth, Reality and Love. I also read humorous books to stay sane. I read Mark Twain and James Thurber in particular. I did have normal interests, like sports and girls and drug-taking, but I was pretty consumed by my suffering and seeking for truth, although I didn't talk about it much. Seeking for truth wasn't socially acceptable.

I finally got an opportunity to hear Krishnamurti speak in public in Santa Monica in 1973. Though he spoke with a real conviction and certainty, I was unimpressed with him as a person. He seemed unhappy and frustrated. I was pretty devastated to see my idol in such a mortal state.

I began to think that I would have to go to India to find "my" spiritual master. I wanted to find either a teacher, or a community with values that I felt were genuine and worthy of a human life. I began mentally to prepare for such a journey to India, and whatever life changes were in store. I thought that if I should find a genuine spiritual master, I would give my life over to him or her. And if I could not find one, I contemplated that perhaps I would take my own life. I don't know if I would have actually done this, but I contemplated it. I could not rationalize living a life based merely on the pursuit of self-fulfillment. What misery.

I visited various Hindu and Buddhist Ashrams in California, and saw teachers, such as Hari Das Baba, Swami Satchidananda, and Swami Kriyananda. I attended lectures and devotional singing occasions. I considered joining various groups such as the Hari Krishnas, but I was wary of making the wrong choice. I lived at The Ananda Retreat Center in Grass Valley for a summer.

Miraculously, after just this brief period of a few months of searching in California for a teacher or spiritual community, I encountered two men who had spent time with Adi Da Samraj, then known as Franklin Jones, in Los Angeles. These men both had a power, a certainty in their voice, when they spoke of Franklin. It was unlike anything I had heard about other teachers.

One of the men I met said "Without a doubt, He is a Siddha, a Completed being, one who has Realized the Truth." The other man never had a definitive statement, but everything in his communication was that, in his humble opinion, Franklin was a Realized Being, one who had realized "God". This fellow only carried books by Muktananda, Ramana Maharshi and Nityananda. I began reading the books that this man had introduced me to: Swami Muktananda, Nityananda, and Ramana Maharshi. I also read books by and about Sri Ramakrisha and Swami Vivekananda.

One life-changing and wonderful day, I saw in a bookstore in Santa Cruz that Franklin Jones had written a book called The Knee of Listening. The photo of Franklin on the cover portrayed a very enthusiastic young man, and I doubted that a real spiritual teacher could be living in Hollywood, but I had to buy the book. I was happy to have found it.

While reading The Knee of Listening, and practicing a beginner's form of His recommended practice of Self-Enquiry (which is epitomized by the phrase, "Avoiding Relationship?"), I was overcome with a continuous state of bliss for three days. Everything somehow became obvious to me . . . As He said, "There is no dilemma!" I was creating my own suffering! This was a remarkable revelation.

Any time I felt that I was 'contracting', I would enquire "Avoiding Relationship?" and I could see how I was doing the suffering, I was creating the self-contraction, moment to moment, and the contraction would 'vanish'. (Of course, this was never the practice of Adidam in its Ultimate Sense, nor is it the practice that Adi Da recommends currently. It was not a method, in any case. As He has pointed out over and over again, Spiritual Life is about a relationship, not a method. It is about our relationship to Him.)

However, what Franklin was saying was not just a catch phrase. It was truth. This was too good to be true! Who was this being, this teacher?! How soon could I meet Him?

I began to wonder if He was a genuine Guru, or just a philosopher — or worse, could He be a charlatan? Could I have been lead astray by a false teaching? I prayed that this was not the case.

All the words in this amazing book communicated happiness, truth, what Franklin called 'the force of reality'. I decided to go to San Francisco and see if this person was the one I was looking for.

I met Jim Steinberg at the Dawn Horse Communion Bookstore on Polk Street. He told me that I needed to get a job, find a devotee household to live in, and attend classes. I was surprised that there wasn't some kind of communal living situation out on a farm, in the woods somewhere, but I was willing to do whatever it took to see Franklin, now known as Bubba Free John.

As it happened, there was a devotee in the bookstore who invited me to join his household. I found a job and began going to the Dawn Horse classes. When I saw the first moving images of Adi Da on a film projector, I knew this was a significant holy man. I had never seen anyone move with such grace and beauty. It just wasn't humanly possible without some higher Realization having occurred in Him. In my humble opinion, this was a being of the highest order, someone moved by God, someone, who very well may be enlightened, even though I wasn't qualified to know that.

Within a few weeks of attending class, our classmates were invited to come to "Persimmon", the newly found rural spiritual Ashram in northern California (now known as The Mountain Of Attention). We were invited to sit in meditation and/or Darshan (spiritual sighting of the Master) with Bubba. I remember traveling to Persimmon with a few devotees and stopping off at a market to buy a fruit as a gift to Bubba for the occasion. I bought the best-looking pineapple I could find. I thought this would be a good gift.

We arrived at Persimmon on Friday evening, with plans to stay for the weekend. I think I stayed in a room complex called Spirit Vase. We were given an informative and humorous orientation to Persimmon and were told what to expect during our stay. The next day we were told that Bubba would sit with us in Temple Eleutherios. Temple Eleutherios is one of the most potent Communion Halls at The Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary. It had been a small movie viewing room during the heyday of Seigler Springs. About fifty people can fit in it.

I was one of the last ones to enter the Hall, and I was seated in one of the back rows. I could see a large chair at the front of the Hall. I don't remember all the details, but I remember thinking that it was a classy hall, and that people had taken a lot of care in preparing the environment. Beautiful plants and flowers adorned both sides of the front dais where Bubba Free John would sit.

I realized that in order to have a better view, I would need to sit on my heels, Japanese-style, so I folded my knees and waited with the rest of the group, which was quiet, and respectful. Within a relatively short time of being seated, all was quiet in the Hall. People were relaxing and all had their eyes on the front of the room. Some closed their eyes, some not. After about fifteen minutes, we heard a door quietly open behind the dais, and Bubba Free John came into the room. As He did so, everyone bowed, and I did likewise.

As He gracefully seated Himself, we began to sit back upright. I was familiar with sitting with a spiritual teacher, as I had done so with several in California, but this was very different. This was no skinny, smiling yogi in the front of the room! This was a young, robust, white-skinned, fully life-embracing man of unusual quality, character and humor. I thought that most likely He would not fit in a normal social scene. He even seemed perhaps dangerous — meaning in a wild kind of way, not threatening, just unpredictable, intense, humorous and intellectually brilliant.

I remember feeling uncomfortable physically, as it was not my usual meditation posture. This was interesting enough, but nothing much seemed to be happening. Some people began to make noises and move about in strange ways that I would later recognize as kriyas and mudras (spontaneous physical movements caused by spiritual energies moving through the body).

It was perhaps about thirty minutes into the sitting, when Bubba's face suddenly began to take on the forms of other spiritual figures I had read about. I saw Him alternatively become Swami Nityananda, Swami Muktananda, and Ramana Maharshi. I tried to 'snap' myself out of this occurring, but it persisted over and over again. And I felt it was not something either He or I were intentionally doing. But it was a forceful communication occurring. I had to relax and look away at some point, because it became exhausting to continue looking at Him.

At some point, a deep recognition of Who He was began to register deep in my being. My chest began to feel warm and like it wanted to open up, even explode. I began to feel my chest 'pressing' towards Him, like He was pulling my heart towards Him. I remember a deep recognition come over me very strongly, very intensely. It was a recognition that this was my Master, this was my Guru. And I remember feeling very deeply that this was a relationship that had gone on for aeons of time. He had been my Master, and I, His devotee, for aeons of time.

I felt that He fully knew what I was experiencing and likewise He knew what everyone in the room was experiencing. Maybe He knew what everyone in the world was experiencing. His simplest mannerisms and glances seemed to confirm that He knew what I was feeling.

His very being began to communicate a Boundless Love and Compassion. I felt a Tangible Love-Bliss emanating from Him, almost as if He was Gracefully oozing Compassion and Love out the very pores of His body. I felt rushes of Blissful energies, but it wasn't twinkie, peculiar stuff, like I had experienced with yogis. It was powerful and overwhelming, manly and real. I began to weep and I wept uncontrollably. I was extremely happy, I was completely overwhelmed with joy and profound bliss.

I knew I wasn't just manufacturing this. Everything I had read in His books, The Knee of Listening, The Method of the Siddhas, and Garbage and The Goddess was true. I recognized him as the Maha-Siddha, the completed one. And I was experiencing first hand what it is to be in the Company of the Master.

I wasn't sure what others were experiencing in the room, but I didn't much care. I felt my weeping was perhaps a distraction for some, but I could not stop. Others were having profound experiences, it was clear, by their mudras and noises, heavy breathing and kriyas.

I began realizing that now my life was over. My egoic life was at an end. The being and the community I sought were in front of me and all around me. At the same time that there was great joy, there was a seriousness and a kind of sorrow. My life of individual freedom was over. I knew I must be committed to the Way He is offering. I began to think that this Way would offer eventual liberation, but the sadhana must now begin. I kept alternating between the joy and the sorrow.

I wept and wept, and then the occasion was over. Bubba got up, and went behind the dais. We were shown out of the front door.

As I went out of the Hall, I embraced the man who had helped coordinate my stay at Persimmon. I didn't have anything to say, I just kept weeping. He hugged me for a bit, then pulled me back, looked me in the eyes and humorously said something like, "Yes, He is all that He says He is, but He is also a son-of-a-bitch!"

His words took me back to reality. I didn't know what to make of what he said. He said it lovingly and with humor, but also forcefully, and I could tell that he really meant it. It sounded blasphemous at the time, but over the years, I have come to understand why he said it, and what he meant by it.

In my time as a devotee I have never known Adi Da to be a lightweight, airy-fairy, twinky kind of Spiritual Master. I had been looking for the sweet, kind, gentle sort of figure that Jesus seemed to be. Someone to 'love' me, just as "I" am. But Adi Da is not such a one, and this, as it turns out, has been of great Help to me. As He has said on occasion, and I paraphrase, "Any other Guru would be happy with your response. I am not. I am only here to serve your Liberation. Only that will be pleasing to Me."

My life as a devotee has been full of the grace and the love and blessing of the Guru, Adi Da. Through both His demands and love, He has grown me as a human being. My life with Him has truly been a miracle.

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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