When There Is Surrender

Leroy Stilwell

Leroy Stilwell is one of the founders of this website. The following is an account of his first experience of direct, tangible Spiritual Transmission.

Avatar Adi Da used to say that the heart longs to be overwhelmed by God. Much of my "spiritual experience" in Adi Da's Company has confirmed that — both the longing, and the overhwelming quality of the Divine Response. Leroy StilwellIt seems like somtimes we need to be "overwhelmed" in order to be convinced of something other than our own minds and presumptions. This story is about one of those overwhelming-type experiences. What was important to me was not so much the experience itself as was the process and context of the entire happening. It was a lesson in Avatar Adi Da's Teaching about surrender. It was also direct Instruction about the reality of this type of Spiritual Transmission and the esoteric anatomy associated with it. It was confirmation to me of the profundity of the truth of esoteric teachings of great Masters from all over the world (and the relationship to these teachers), while at the same time it was a revelation of Avatar Adi Da as a Supreme Master of it all.


The setting was sometime in 1980 or 1981. Avatar Adi Da was regularly sitting with devotees during Celebration times in Land Bridge Pavilion at the Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary. Three hundred or so devotees at a time could fit in there. He had recently Instructed us in a simple "Easy Prayer": an invocation of Him through silently saying His Name "Da" in the phrase "Radiant Da, Giver of Life, I surrender", while marking the invocations on one's mala. We were being encouraged to experiment with this, since, up to this point, we principally had used the form of invocation called "self-enquiry" He had originally described in The Knee Of Listening, where one enquires into the nature of experience (and experiencing) with the question "Avoiding relationship?" We no longer use either of these practices, but at the time they could be potent aids to meditation and conscious awareness altogether.


I had been a devotee of Adi Da Samraj for a couple of years, but I couldn't say I was growing in the practice, and was certainly not having any significant insight or experience. On the one hand, I felt frustrated. But curiously enough, I also had a daily sense of living the miraculous and being fundamentally free and happy. A rather paradoxical life! And a life whose paradoxes require the ongoing development of greater self-understanding and discrimination.


It was one of those celebration weekends at the Mountain Of Attention. I had driven down from Portland, Oregon where I was living at the time. It was the final occasion of the celebration, which was always a formal, silent sitting with Adi Da Samraj. Frequently during these occasions, Adi Da would literally look at everyone in the room, sometimes directly at each individual, sometimes looking just above the head of each individual, sometimes simply looking above the heads of everyone as a group, or looking around the room although clearly not looking at anyone in particular. On this occasion He was looking at each devotee individually.

This day, in my frustrated state, my seeking was exaggerated to the degree of pathos. I was forcefully trying to surrender. I wanted something, anything, to happen. I became exasperated asking myself the self-enquiry question, so I switched to the Easy Prayer, gritting emotion into the beads of the mala as I ground them in my fingers, pressing them from hand to hand, growling "Radiant Da, Giver of Life, I surrender".

All the while I was looking at Adi Da as He gazed around the room. As He looked at each individual there, His head and eyes would come to the area where I was seated and, at the moment His Gaze would otherwise have been on me, He clearly, obviously, averted His attention. He skipped me! And not just once. The several times He regarded the side of the room where I was sitting, the same thing occured.

I was becoming more and more shattered as the occasion went on, becoming more and more frenetic in my search. In my desire for His attention, I switched back and forth from one technique to the other, on the verge of tears of desperation.

Then, in absolute frustration, with a sense of complete incompetence and lack of understanding, eyes lowered toward the floor, I said to myself, "I give up", and released my grip on the mala. I looked up in this state of mindless emotional exhaustion. As I began to lift my head to look up, I could see Adi Da looking over at the other side of the room. However, just as my head came up, without hesitation or any kind of intervening gesture, He immediately swung His Gaze over to where I was sitting and looked directly at me. 


As He fixed His Gaze on me, a column of magnetic force/light visibly shot from just above His head to the center of my chest. As it entered, my chest seemed to explode in a sudden brilliant light, which seemed to carry its own quality of intense pleasure and Joy. This light/force then took on a defined movement in the body, like a contained river, flowing down the inside front of the body to the base of the body, down around (still inside) the perineum, then up the spine to a level at about the top of the sacrum. I was being immersed in this current I perceived as coming from Adi Da. This initial shock of visible Transmission lasted for about fifteen seconds or so, then Adi Da turned to look elsewhere in the room.

As Adi Da's Gaze moved on, I was left sobbing and howling in tears of happiness and love. As this force and light continued to course in the body, it seemed to release the body's stranglehold on its own ability to feel. Eventually the experience lessened and came to an end. Soon thereafter, Adi Da left.

At the end of the celebration we all went home. I had made arrangements to stay that night with a friend who lived close by, rather than immediately drive back to Oregon. Later that night, before going to bed, I went into their meditation hall. I was alone in the hall. I was more tired than I thought, so instead of being able to meditate, I actually drifted off into sleep.

After being sound asleep for about 30 minutes or so, I was slowly awakened by what at first seemed to be a physical vibration. It turns out I was so tired that I had laid down on my side. As I opened my eyes, I saw the same column of force and light I had experienced earlier in Adi Da's physical company being emitted from the photograph of Him that I had been regarding for meditation. Again it seemed to originate from above His Head, and enter me at chest level. Seeing and feeling this, I slowly sat up into a proper meditation posture. The column of force and light continued to come from the photograph as I sat there, and persisted for perhaps the next twenty minutes.

It seemed to me that, now being relaxed from sleep, my experience was different. This time, over time, the perceptible current from the Murti disappeared, and then the current itself, in the body, changed from an experience of inward reception in the front of the body, to a column of "magnetized light", like a pillar of light and force polarized upwards, standing (not moving) inside the body, extending from the base of the spine to the neck. There was no emotional component to it at all, just this clearly perceived and felt column of light/force in the body, seeming, even, to hold the body upright. I sat there noticing this, deeply relaxed in contemplation of the photographic image of Adi Da in that small meditation hall. The experience of this column of light lasted for about ten minutes, then simply dissipated. I got up and went to bed.

Some days later, while I was studying Adi Da's Teaching I came across a description of His Transmission of the Spirit-Current and its movement in the body that exactly matched what had happened to me. But even more than that corroboration of the yogic process, I felt truly humbled and instructed in what Adi Da had always said about true surrender and the fruitlessness of seeking.

My personal postscript: Experience is just experience, because there is always the experiencer. Experience can inspire; it can serve as a goad to more serious practice; it can serve the psycho-physical purification of the body-mind. But ultimately, Avatar Adi Da's Instruction (which His Spiritual Transmission also Reveals) is that experiencer and experience, the knower and the known, the subject and the object, and all difference is to be understood and transcended.

This story appears in the following sections:
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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