Finding Adi Da > Toni Vidor

An Immense Burden Had Been Lifted from Me

Toni Vidor

Toni Vidor has been a devotee of Adi Da since 1974. She is the author of the book, Beyond the Illusion: A Spiritual Autobiography, where you can read much more about her relationship with Adi Da.

During the "Garbage and the Goddess" period (in 1974), devotees would drive up from San Francisco on Friday night and stay at The Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary until Sunday night, catching up on what had occurred around Adi Da during the previous week and spending as much time as they could in His Company. He would often go to Ordeal Bath Lodge, the spa of the former resort, where devotees would join Him in the large pool called "the plunge". Often dozens of people would be in the water around Him sometimes quiet, sometimes shouting and laughing, throwing balls and playing vigorous water games initiated by Avatar Adi Da.

Ordeal Bath Lodge, with "the plunge" on right (November, 2011)
Ordeal Bath Lodge, with "the plunge" pool area on the right (November, 2011)

Ordeal Bath Lodge, with "the plunge" pool area on the right (November, 2011)
(click to enlarge)

Toni Vidor, a middle-aged woman who had grown up in southern California as the daughter of the early film director King Vidor, had just become Adi Da's devotee, and flew up from Los Angeles during this time to meet her new Spiritual Master. She recalls her first sighting of Avatar Adi Da. This first part of Toni's story is an excerpt from her book, Beyond the Illusion: A Spiritual Autobiography.

Toni VidorToni: Coming into the presence of a true master typically does not happen as one might expect. In the esoteric traditions, the seriousness of aspiring devotees was usually tested before they were allowed into the rarified space of the “ashram,” which, in the traditional meaning of the word is the abode of the realizer or spiritual master, where he or she lived among devotees. When I finally did get invited to the sanctuary for a weekend, I found myself tested as well. I was all excited that I was finally going to meet this master. I canceled all my patients and riding classes and booked a plane. However, as unexpectedly as I had been invited, I was uninvited. I was hurt and upset, but soon I saw all this emotion as my old emotional patterning of how I handle — or fail to handle — disappointment. This devotee was being tested before she even got to her master’s door, and it was an uncomfortable confrontation with self. Yet I was happy to have a guru who would show these things to me. I took the lesson as a confirmation that the purification of my old karmic patterns had indeed begun. Two weekends later, Doris and I finally went up north to the sanctuary.

The Mountain Of Attention had at one time been a Native American sacred site. Its clear-water creeks come down from the adjacent mountain, rushing into hot springs that spout up from underground, forming a grotto. The Pomo tribes of the region deemed this conjunction of waters from above and below as auspicious, full of “medicine,” since such a grotto has potent energy in it and they are very rare. Indeed, the continuously damp, highly-mineralized volcanic soil of the sanctuary in this area feels very different from the dry surrounding hills, which can go without rain for six months a year.

With the arrival of the white man to the region in the nineteenth century, the land was developed into a hot springs resort and party palace for the rich of the San Francisco Bay Area. The resort buildings had been abandoned for that purpose decades before our arrival. All the old wooden buildings had fallen into disrepair, and that is how we found them. It was a real fixer-upper, a ghost town to boot.

I visited the hot springs in the bath lodge during my first afternoon at the sanctuary. “The bathhouse” is a low, stone building close to the grotto, with a large front room conjoined with a long corridor to form an L-shape.

The front room and the long corridor are each lined with doors to small rooms containing Roman baths fed by the hot springs beneath. The bathhouse interior is dark, very humid, the air pungent with the sulfur and minerals from the water, with ambient sounds of natural waters echoing through the whole building. Upon entering, you know you are in another place. Adi Da named it “Ordeal Bath Lodge” — the lodge part a tribute to the Native Americans who first used the springs. The ordeal part would soon become clear. In the front room, I undressed, hung up my clothes on one of the wall hooks, then walked down the long corridor that ended up at an indoor pool, just as I had in the dream. In the pool were a few devotees playing some sort of wild game with Adi Da. Everyone was naked — a bit surprising to me, but being someone who worked on ailing bodies all day, I could easily accept this.

Those in the pool stood in a circle with each taking turns being thrown up in the air by all the others. Shouting and hilarity echoed off the stone walls. After launching someone upwards, the group fell back as the launchee came down into the water with a great splash, followed by everyone laughing even more uproariously. Devotees tossed Adi Da upwards several time. He shouted, “Higher, higher, hit the rafters!” This was impossible, since the ceiling was way up there. But His point was clear — there was to be no holding back, of anything.

I timidly sat on the steps of the pool, timidly watching this crazy scene. I wondered what I was doing there and whether this really was a spiritual community. My past suggested that it was acceptable to seek God soberly and somberly — but not to laugh and shout and be joyous in the company of a spiritual master. I definitely had a taboo against that.

Adi Da called me by name, which surprised me, since I had not formally met Him yet. He invited me to come get tossed up into the air. I must have looked pretty ancient to all these enthusiastic people in their twenties. [Toni was 47 at the time.] I waded into everyone’s midst, got tossed up high in the air, and I heard the peals of laughter as I came down.

This seemingly little incident required a great effort on my part, a confrontation with myself. I had gone along with the boisterous play, but I was really uptight throughout it. I had been such a serious seeker for so many years that I had become dry and humorless in the process. The stiffness of my character was reflected back to me in a manner I had never experienced so directly, much deeper in proportion to the tiny, almost silly incident itself. The incident required — indeed, it even forced — what Bhagavan Adi Da called “losing face,” a letting go of one’s precious self-image and social front in the presence of others.

More, I had just been confronted with the notion that a positive and happy relationship to life was just as essential for one’s spiritual transformation as a seriousness of purpose. I had gotten pretty good at the latter, but I was obviously not so good at the former. The incident was as uncomfortable to face as anything I had yet faced in my life, and it all happened in my first five minutes in Adi Da’s presence. It also became clear to me that this was His intention and design for the occasion — what He called “theater.” Everybody there saw something about their characters and went through something about it in His presence, even though it all seemed like harmless fun.

This rest of this story is from Chapter 6 of Carolyn Lee, Ph.D., The Promised God-Man Is Here (1998 edition).

Toni: That afternoon, Beloved Adi Da came and sat silently with us. From the back of the hall, I prayed earnestly and passionately to Him to relieve me of this crippled quality that I suffered in every ordinary human interaction! Immediately, He put His arm up with His palm open toward me and held it there. I began breathing stronger and stronger, and I felt energy come into my heart and then down through my arms and hands so strong that the fingers bent with the energy. And then a great sorrow came up from the heart.

I began sobbing loudly and uncontrollably. I was the only person making a sound! It was embarrassing, but I thought, "Well, if I can't let go here, there's no place I can let go!" The sorrow increased, and soon I was rolling on the floor, still wailing. Curiously, I watched all of this come up. There was no content associated with it. It was just a huge, enormous release. After about an hour, Beloved Adi Da got up and walked out and every one followed, but I continued to weep loudly on the floor. After a while, the breath calmed to the point that I could sit up. A friend had stayed behind to make sure that I was all right, and I sat down on a bench next to her to try to speak and it all began again, and I spent another half hour rolling on the floor!

When it was finally over, I felt as if an immense burden eighty tons of whatever it was I had been carrying around all my life without even realizing it had been lifted from me.

As the Divine Maha-Siddha had said on the night of "Guru Enters Devotee", the Spiritual Process that He brings must take hold in the "vital" the seat of the subconscious and unconscious life of the individual. And so, His Transmission, Working at that level, would sometimes release a chaos of emotions and thoughts that could not be rationally explained. His Siddhi was not merely inducing Spiritual experiences It was also "boiling off" the egoic patterns and tendencies of His devotees. His Heart-Force had Its purifying effects in every dimension of body, mind, and psyche. And, as His devotees felt His Blessing transforming their lives, they grew to love and trust Avatar Adi Da even more profoundly.

The awakening of this trust in His devotees was itself a heartbreaking miracle, a miracle of love. Avatar Adi Da would not merely tell devotees that He Loved them, He would show them bodily, one by one, face-to-face. He did this night and day.

Toni: Several months after that Sitting with Avatar Adi Da, I found myself once more in the water with Him, this time in the outdoor swimming pool by the beautiful grotto, which was later to be Empowered as a special site of healing and Spiritual initiation. I had firmly decided that this weekend I was going to approach Him directly and drop my fearful reluctance to engage a relationship with Him!

There was a wild water-polo game going on, and, instead of sitting on the edge as I usually did, I jumped in the water and got into the game. I never came close to the ball, but I was participating.

At some point, I started to swim toward our Beloved Guru. He knew my intention, and left His place in the game to swim around to meet me. He hugged me, and He held me and held me and held me. Soon the game died away, and everyone formed a circle around us. A great stillness pervaded the entire place. (It was so quiet that a friend of mine woke up from a nap in a nearby cabin!) I was cold and shivering, but I had to make a choice between giving myself to Him or paying attention to the body. The Blissful Energy of the Embrace became more and more intense.

I found myself resisting the ego-overwhelming pleasure of it fearing to lose control. It felt as though Avatar Adi Da was pulling me up. But, at some point, I refused to go further. I could feel Him continue to ascend, and soon I was left holding only a body. I could feel that He was no longer, in that moment, directly associated with His physical body. By now, I was simultaneously in a blissful state, beyond the mind, and painfully, acutely aware of my resistance to Him and His Love.

In spite of the limits I placed on His Work with me, I was completely changed by these incidents. I was happy, no longer struggling with myself a different person.

Adi Da with Toni Vidor
Adi Da embracing Toni Vidor
(many years later)

This story appears in the following sections:
Finding Adi Da, Spiritual Transmission and
The Mountain Of Attention

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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