My First Retreat and a Miraculous Healing

Dan Sleeth

Dan Sleeth has been a devotee of Adi Da since 1983. He has worked for many years in the field of human services as a mental health provider. Dan earned a MA in general psychology and in counseling. After receiving his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, he wrote The Integral Ego as a vehicle for considering the non-dual perspective possible in the clinical therapeutic setting. Dan has served Adi Da in many different capacities, including public outreach, regional manager, and ashram manager, as well as through his writing and advocacy.

Dan Sleeth
On my first retreat to Fiji, I felt unprepared. I never thought I would even have the opportunity to go on such a retreat, feeling so unqualified a spiritual aspirant. Growing up, I even scoffed at religion, regarding it to be a crutch, if not, as Freud said, "a regression to infantile wish fulfillment." Yet, there I was, on a bus crossing Naitauba Island, bringing me to my Beloved Guru's Feet. I had certainly come a long way to take this ride.

Looking out the window, I considered the enormous demand of spiritual practice, especially relative to the impending personal encounter with my Guru. As we rode along, I looked up into the surrounding hills and imagined my Guru waiting for me — specifically to impose an inhuman regime of purification and transformation, a rite of passage into a greater sense of maturity and humanity. Yet, I was not frightened. I was elated! And I was oddly relieved. For once, no one could see through me as an imposter. I knew I was unqualified and undeserving — consequently, there could be no expectations. None of that mattered. It was simply my time to confront the Divine. In the end, we all must take our turn. I made a commitment to submit myself to whatever awaited me, and receive whatever was Given. No matter what, it would be perfect for me, I reasoned, if for no other reason than I was given over to receiving it.

Many events occurred before the healing I am telling you about actually took place. But the spiritual encounter with Adi Da is the focus of this story. I was in a room built especially for the type of spiritual transmission I was about to receive. It was a Darshan hall, where the Guru sits and can be viewed by their devotees. However, in this process, the Guru is not merely put on display, such that others can look at them. Rather, Darshan involves the process of spiritual transmission, whereby the Guru's own spiritual realization is momentarily imparted to the devotee.

The modern mind tends to conceive of energy as channeled through complex, inanimate objects, like orbiting satellites, electric generators, automobile engines, and similar devices. Every household abounds with knobs and switches by which people manipulate the invisible power transmitted through these conduits. However, what makes spiritual transmission special is that it can be directed through living objects, such as human beings. Adi Da describes the significance of this process as follows:

There may be all kinds of spontaneous psycho-physical phenomena that arise in response to My Descending Spiritual Invasion — dance, kriyas [spontaneous movements], mudras [spontaneous gestures], weeping, laughing, speaking, profound speechlessness, profound mindlessness, profound blisses, and so on. Such phenomena are not My Divine Truth (Itself), but they are purifying. In any case, they are not something to either seek or hold on to. Their great significance is not even in the purification of the body-mind. Their great significance is, simply, in your devotional Communion with Me. In this heart-opening to My Spiritual Fullness, you will feel Me Pervading your entire body, and many things may happen (in your body-mind, and in your daily life) as a result (or as an effect) of My Spiritual Blessing-Invasion of your body-mind.

The point of the Guru-devotee relationship is the awakening of the devotee to a heightened sense of spiritual reality. It is a physics of transformation. The Guru literally enters the devotee via spiritual transmission. As a result, the Guru and devotee share in a mutual ecstasy. It is an intimate, auspicious bond between them, through which the Guru's blessings pour.

To enter into the company of a realizer is to be in the presence of one active at every level of their being. They are literally a composite being, vibrant and radiant. In their company, odd quirks and skips can take place in one's feeling, in dimensions of one's being they might not have known even existed. Surprising little percolations begin to burble, indeed, often spilling over and saturating one's ordinary categories of understanding, perhaps even forcing them to scramble to keep up. It is undeniable! Step into their sphere and, suddenly, amazing things begin to happen. It is more than just merely coincidental, not to say incidental. The spiritual master intends for it to happen, offering him/herself precisely in this way for the benefit of his/her devotees.

Sometimes, the nature of the spiritual invasion is pure, radiant bliss, which I have also experienced at the hands of my Guru. But on this occasion, the spiritual transmission took the form of a miraculous healing, in which profound purification unexpectedly took place. Often, there is chanting and recitations in preparation for Darshan. Pujas are also frequently performed in advance of the Guru's arrival, whereby the presence of the Divine is invoked with an accompanying waving of lights and incense in front of the dais and the Guru's chair. On this occasion, a devotee was particularly immersed in the activity of invocation, circling a candle around the chair with wild exuberance, beside herself with adoration of Adi Da and lavishing his name in praise. I was utterly taken by her devotion and closed my eyes, attempting to immerse myself in the same abandoned worship.

I could feel Adi Da's extraordinary spiritual presence enter my body almost immediately, even before he actually arrived at the hall. I noticed unusual sensations occurring in my hands. A tingling feeling began to take place, like the scruffy prickling of bees crawling over my fingers. Before long the intensity of this sensation increased, such that the swarming energy extended out beyond the surface of my hands. It was like wearing mittens made of bees. And more than that, they were stinging me all over in the most unusual way — their little punctures imparted intense bliss! An utterly exquisite pleasure came over me, undulating on my hands in a startling and rapid boil. And it was preposterous, located in my hands, of all places! For some reason, I found this hilarious.

Soon, the sensation expanded even further, enveloping my belly. It was like being afloat in an inner tube, buoyed in a swarm of bliss-rendering bees, all of whom mingling in the bulge around my torso. I thought of myself as the Michelin Man, the cartoon mascot of a famous tire manufacturer, and found this imagery amusing too. Caught up in this ecstatic pleasure, I was unable to focus attention on any other activity taking place in the hall. In fact, I never even noticed Adi Da arrive at the hall or enter the room and take his seat on the dais, even though it was no more than a few feet from where I sat.

After awhile, the sensation died away and I was again able to notice events taking place in the room. Others were having similar experiences, judging by the weeping, moaning, and various whoops of laughter and joyous exclaims of praise to Adi Da. However, a series of seemingly grim events quickly followed. All at once, an intense sorrow welled up within me. I had no idea what might be prompting this incredible grief, but I was heart-stricken with deep longing and loneliness. I was utterly beside myself, like one might see on the news of peasant women in war ravaged countries, overcome by the sight of loved ones either maimed or destroyed.

I began to wail out loud, at the top of my lungs, out of the most desperate and overwhelming loss. It seemed to me that I was directly experiencing the true state of my being, as lived in this body. A horrific image suddenly appeared in my mind: my heart was a stillborn baby, buried deep inside my chest like a corpse. I wailed over this death like a tormented mother, caught in the clutch of a brutal world dragging off her young. I threw my arms toward the sky in supplication. And I bowed to the floor, again and again, utterly yielding myself to the anguish. Toward the end of the sobbing, something began to squirm in my belly. At first, it felt like cramps, but the clench quickly became more active than that. It began to squeeze repeatedly, like a pile of miniature pistons churning in my belly. And more — it began working its way up through my torso, eventually into my throat.

Suddenly, I was howling with utter abandon. However, it was different from the previous supplicant wailing. I was more indifferent, like an innocent bystander to the guttural howling suddenly emerging from within. Yet, at the same time, it was intensely personal. The sounds felt torn from my intestines, and sent scuttling out through my lungs in a gruff and horrific shriek. It was obvious to me that something was being pulled out from of the depths of my being, perhaps even demonic. I could literally feel the blackness, coarse and oily, like a mechanic's rag, passing through my throat. Beyond any doubt, I was being purified of some horrible foulness which I could not even name.

Shortly after that, I was sent into a fit of uncontrollable convulsion-like spasms. I began to flop around on the floor like a fish on the dock, my arms and legs flailing, which was unfortunate for the devotees around me. The spiritual energy that moved through me was a dynamo, recklessly twisting me askew, like a sheet in the wind. But I was oblivious to any possible repercussions. Anything other than the spiritual transmission seemed irrelevant, utterly beside the point. I had come to "go the distance" with my Guru, no matter what. I refused to back out, determined to hold up my end, nevermind having no idea what this might entail.

At some point the intensity of the episode passed, leaving me spent on the floor. Yet, I was inexplicably transfixed in calm and serenity. Despite being exhausted, a surprising equanimity came over me. At last, I was able to pull myself from the floor and sit upright. I looked at my Guru. Watching him in that moment was probably the most deeply in love I have ever been. I was overwhelmed with the most heart-breaking, ecstatic intimacy with him. There was an unspoken, tacit understanding between us that we were in this together, each doing our part: him granting the most exquisite spiritual transmission imaginable, and me doing everything in my power to keep up. Even as the room was erupting on all sides in a bedlam of spiritual purification, he sat unperturbed and serene, overseeing the event with sublime mastery. It was amazing to consider how his direct encounter with the spiritual aspects of our beings allowed him to so dramatically influence us, while remaining so peaceful and at ease, seemingly without even moving a muscle.

I was so happy. It was utterly unimaginable. It was the happiest, wildest bedlam in all the world. I felt relieved of burdens beyond my wildest imagination, all the while bobbing in a menagerie of other spiritual transmission equally blessed. While giving Darshan in this manner, Adi Da would scan the room with his eyes, turning his head slightly in order to look at each and every devotee. When his eyes met mine, I gazed into them intently, hoping to communicate in some way my heart-broken love. I felt so innocent and vulnerable, like a baby ready to be gathered into his mother's arms. There was no question he had saved my life — and while simply sitting in his chair! As I gazed lovingly into his eyes, I noticed that his own gaze lingered. And then it became obvious: as long as my love for him persisted, he could not withhold his own regard. Clearly, this was the secret of spirituality: the devotee giving love to his Guru — not only unabashed, but unabated — in supreme gratitude for the Blessings that have been received.

Finally, it was more than I could bear, and he looked away. Some time after this event, I began to notice something very strange in my posture while I was walking. All my life I had maintained a posture that was slightly bent over, in deference, I had always presumed, to the abuse received while growing up. Simply put, I had grown up wary and quick to cover, so as to deflect any blows coming my way. Although not always that conscious of it, I was aware of a grip clenching in my belly — not my physical torso but, rather, my etheric belly, or navel chakra. Yet, now I could walk upright, without cowering. It was amazing! All my life I have felt the presence of this contracted sensation, in the manner of a lesion or a scar, literally sucking my body downward like a twisted rag. But, now, it was gone. Its absence was a stunning revelation. I felt free, unburdened of enormous stress and anxiety. The lesion had been purified and healed.* It was a blessing beyond any comparison — certainly beyond anything I have ever received by human hand.

It is only from the point of this miraculous healing that I can honestly say I have finally been able to love. Throughout my life I have struggled with entering into and sustaining relationships. In fact, my daily experience had been one of intense anxiety and loneliness, with the certainty that even my best efforts would come to no result. Consequently, I lived a life of ever increasing despair, finally reaching proportions that honestly scared me. Simply put, my Guru healed me. I bow my head at His Divine Feet, ecstatic to worship Him. He is the most Beautiful and Sublime Vision I could ever possibly imagine. There is no question in my mind that I am among the most fortunate of people, somehow sifted out of humanity to be Blessed by His Company. How something so wonderful could happen is a pure mystery. Make no mistake: Adi Da Samraj is the Divine Being, alive among us in human form. Like a plant bathed in Divine Light, it is only toward Him that I turn.


*Adi Da speaks more about this sort of "vital shock" and how His Spiritual Transmission releases it here.

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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