"Send Him My Love and Blessings"
Angelo Druda has been a devotee of Adi Da
since 1975. He is a certified practitioner of Traditional
Chinese Medicine (see his
website for more), a member of the Australian Natural
Therapist Association, and a senior educator in Mate Moce
— the Ministry established
by Adi Da Samraj to instruct human beings about the death
process, and serve their transition. He is the author of
Tao of Rejuvenation and The Easy Death Workbook.
is excerpted from the third edition of Avatar Adi Da's classic book, Easy
first met Bernie Kelly in 1999, while serving the Adidam Mission in Melbourne,
Australia. There had been a sudden upturn in the number of new people attending
our classes about Adi Da Samraj and the Way of Adidam, and so I made enquiries:
"Where are these people coming from?" Someone in Melbourne was clearly doing effective
missionary work on behalf of Adi Da Samraj and I was interested in discovering
who it was.
Several members of our youth fellowship told me
about a man living downtown who was actively encouraging all kinds of people to
attend classes. His name is Bernie Kelly, they told me. "You should visit him.
He really loves Avatar Adi Da Samraj." And so I did just that.
lived in a small, three room flat in a lovely, hip section of Melbourne. The neighborhood
contained artists, musicians and a jazz club, and Bernie's place seemed to be
one of the hotspots. From noon to midnight, seven days a week, people from all
over the city came to hang out for a few hours with Bernie.
the stairs from his front door, I was overwhelmed when I stepped into his apartment.
His walls were covered with photographs of Adi Da Samraj. New photos, old photos
— I had entered a photographic memorial to the Sacred History of Adidam. He seemed
to own all of my favorites shots of Adi Da, and each one allowed me to remember
those wonderful and profound times over the years with my Divine Guru. I liked
Bernie and his flat immediately.
"I am just an old addict,"
he told me as I sat down on the couch. "I have tried several times in my life
to not be an addict but I have never been able to do it. So I asked myself, what
could an old addict like me do to serve Adi Da Samraj? So I tell everyone I meet
about Him. That is the service I do." Bernie's voice betrayed a touch of sorrow,
as his face and body curled down into the shape of failure. I noticed that every
time Bernie took a drink, or a smoke, or popped something or other into his mouth,
he first raised it in offering to the Sacred Image of Adi Da Samraj that sat on
a small altar he had created in his living room.
of the Indian saint Ramakrishna
and his alcoholic devotee named Mr. Ghosh came to mind. Ghosh once complained
to Ramakrishna that whatever he did, he could not stop drinking. "Don't worry
about it," Ramakrishna told him. "Every time you take a drink, offer it up to
me in devotion first." I had a humorous thought — was Bernie Mr. Ghosh, back again
for another drink?
I visited Bernie several times over the
next year and I was always greeted with love and respect. It had nothing to do
with who I was — it was the love and respect that he felt for Adi Da, given to
me because I was the devotee who happened to be there. I would let him know when
I was coming and he would invite the people who were most interested in the Way
of Adidam. We would sit around his living room, listening to music and talking
about the Divine Incarnation of Adi Da and the Way of Liberation that He brings
to all beings.
"One of these days you are just going to have
to get down to dealing with your physical problems," I finally told Bernie. "You
can't have all these gross addictions destroying your heart, constantly interfering
with your devotional life."
"It's too late," he said. "They
have already ruined my heart."
Bernie told me that he had
suffered a major heart attack and was on a waiting list for bypass surgery. And
during that conversation, he asked me to come and serve him when he died, if I
was in still living in Melbourne. I told him that I would be there with other
devotees, if it was at all possible. "But you are not dead yet," I said, "so it
is time to start applying some boundaries in your life. Get the help you need
so you don't waste this precious human lifetime and an opportunity to practice
in the company of Avatar Adi Da."
It was then that Bernie
opened up and confessed his secrets. There was his great regret that he had not
yet seen his Guru, Adi Da Samraj. He feared that he would die without that personal
connection being made. And there was that terrible sense of himself as someone
who was not worthy of the Divine Company of the Great One.
he sat, with his broken heart and his endless appetites, a fearless advocate of
the Great One in the world, but afraid to show his own face to His Guru.
* * *
In late 2001, I decided to return to the
Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary in northern California. Before I left Australia,
I arranged a final visit with Bernie.
We had dinner with some friends and
watched Bernie's favorite movie, Black
Narcissus, a story about Christian nuns serving in India.
I left that night, I made sure to have a few private moments with Bernie. "You
know, Bernie," I said to him, "if you begin to die, you should just let go into
the Guru, and Adi Da Samraj will be there for you. You know that right?" He looked
at me with the clear eyes of recognition. "Yes I do," he said. I knew then that
he would be alright.
Several days later, while packing, I decided to give
several educational videotapes of Adi Da Samraj to Bernie, who I knew would make
sure that people saw them. I called him and arranged to drop by briefly and leave
the tapes with him.
As I turned the corner to Bernie's street, his girlfriend
ran out his door in a panic. We both ran back up the stairs to Bernie's apartment.
Paramedics had just arrived. There he was in his shorts, lying on his back on
the living room floor, looking cold and blue and dead. The medics immediately
went about the work of trying to resuscitate Bernie's heart.
As they worked,
I sat there and invoked Adi Da Samraj, sometimes laying my hands on Bernie in
between the electrical shocks. At one point, the medic turned to me and said,
"We don't usually get them back when they are like this." I nodded in agreement.
Bernie's body looked finished.
They then made an incision in Bernie's chest
in order to manipulate the heart with an experimental device of some sort. And
then, suddenly, while the medic pumped his heart, I felt the profound Spiritual
Presence of Adi Da Samraj fill the room.
I spontaneously put one of Bernie's
feet in his girlfriend's hand as I grabbed the other one. I heard myself shouting
"Come on, Bernie" as the Divine Light of Adi Da Samraj came Crashing
Down — right into Bernie's chest. Bernie's place was turned into
Adi Da's Sacred Domain.
The room was still and thick and "Bright" with
the Divine Presence of our Guru. The medic who had been working on Bernie's heart
turned around to me and whispered, as if not to disturb the peace, "I have a little
heartbeat." They rushed Bernie off to the hospital, which was only a block or
two away, and finally give him the bypass surgery for which he had been waiting.
Hours later, the surgeons came down to the waiting room. The operation
had been a success. Bernie's heart was beating well, without any mechanical help.
They feared, however, that the period of oxygen deprivation had damaged Bernie's
brain. The hospital graciously provided us with a private room so that we could
do for him what we do when a devotee of Adi Da Samraj is dying.
by Bernie's bed and we invoked the Divine Presence of Beloved Adi Da Samraj. Our
vigil continued for hours, as devotees took shifts to ensure that there were always
several people there, meditating with Bernie.
That room was turned into
a temple of devotion, as Bernie lay there, totally still except for the beating
of his heart and the rising and falling of his lungs and chest. We couldn't tell
whether it was night or day in that windowless room, but the "Brightness" of Adi
Da Samraj poured in from everywhere.
We could feel Bernie's psychic presence
around his body and some felt that he might be confused. It was then that I realized
that I had to tell Adi Da Samraj about Bernie and let Him know exactly what was
Via email, I wrote a letter to Adi Da and told Him all about
Bernie. I told Him that Bernie was the best missionary for Adidam that I had ever
met. The letter was transmitted to the Hermitage in the United States where Adi
Da was residing. Our Divine Guru quickly sent back instructions for us to let
Bernie know that He was sending him His Love and Blessings.
Da's instructions were relayed from across the world and into the vigil room.
A devotee leaned over and spoke into Bernie's ear: "Bernie, Adi Da Samraj sends
you His Love and Blessings."
The bliss and "Brightness" in the room became
magnified when those words were spoken and people began to weep quietly in the
beauty and heartbreak of the event. Several moments later, Bernie's heart stopped
beating, and then his chest rose and fell for the last time.
As I rode
the elevator to the street, I realized that I had just witnessed a most profound
demonstration of Divine Compassion. Bernie's lifelong wish had been to receive
the personal Blessing and Acknowledgement of Adi Da Samraj, but his sense of worthlessness
had prevented that from taking place. Yet not even death can prevent the Grace
of the Guru from flowing to the one that yearns for His Blessing. Beloved Adi
Da had come down into Bernie and woken his heart, for just a few hours longer
— Beloved Adi Da had kept Bernie associated with his body and its physical environment
long enough for his life's desire to finally be fulfilled.
to be "around" his body for several hours after clinical death, but by early morning
it felt like he had moved on. Bernie was now off somewhere, I thought, entering
into his next destiny, and deepening, I hoped, his devotion to Avatar Adi Da Samraj.
Return to Easy Death
Read another story by Angelo Druda:
to the Vedanta Temple