The Dream Changed My Life Forever
Brian Adler has been a spiritual seeker
for many years.
was never a formal devotee of Adi Da (although I participated some
in the Adidam Maryland community in 1991).
Adi Da came to me in a dream (in February, 1989) about 18 months before I discovered that he was a real person (and alive).
The dream changed my life forever.
* * *
In January, 1989, I was 21. I was arrested with possession of MDMA (ecstasy). I was in a state of near-constant anxiety at the prospect of going to prison. A couple of weeks after my arrest (the reason I remember the timing specifically), I had this dream.
I was aware of the anxiety and despair I was feeling even as I began the dream. It was essentially a lucid dream. I knew I was dreaming and was aware of my life circumstances outside of the dream. I was relieved to find myself in some "other" place hoping it would be some sort of respite from my waking life situation.
As the dream began, I entered what seemed like a retreat center or spiritual community of some kind. Curious, I walked into a building and found some sort of class was being held. There was a gathering of people, and at the front, a Western woman wearing a sari was speaking.
She was talking about a special sort of view or relationship to experience that, when properly understood, made it possible for circumstances to unfold favorably with ease and flow. She said, in order to experience this "view", one needed to be open to experience without grasping after it. She said that, in this state of understanding, one "knew" that everything would be okay but without getting attached to it. After speaking for awhile, she said she had something that would serve as a sort of visual aid or practice tool. She held up an egg. She said it was special in that, in order to catch it, one needed to have confidence one would but simultaneously have no sense of attachment to the outcome — else it would break immediately upon touching it. She said she was going to throw it to us and that only if we had properly understood, would it be possible to catch the egg.
I experienced a sort of openness that accompanies the sense of having nothing else to lose. I held up my hand as she threw the egg. The egg landed whole into my hand. I immediately experienced the satisfaction of this accomplishment and a glimmer of hope. I thought that, if I were able to master this understanding, I might succeed in turning my life around. As I caught the second egg, the hope and satisfaction began to turn to pride. I felt that I was onto something, a nearly magical understanding that I could employ to change my life.
Just then I heard and felt someone opening the door behind me. My attention was torn between the task of catching the third egg and also an awareness of someone approaching just next to me. As I once again caught the egg (in a mixture of pride and elation), I turned my attention to see who was next to me.
Looking directly in my eyes, I was met with a gaze that was completely shocking. There was a man standing there — and as he looked at me, he put his hand on my hand with the egg and squeezed. The egg broke in my hand. He had a grin that seemed to say many things at once. The first was that catching eggs was completely besides the point. I could see that he could see everything about me. He knew that I saw myself as a failure. He knew that I was full of despair. He understood my longing for any kind of relief. I could see from how he looked at me that my search was absolutely futile and that there was no hope of escape.
All the the pain that I had momentarily evaded in catching the eggs returned all at once. I would never experience the change I was after. I felt such a finality to this that I felt myself give up. There was nowhere to go and nothing I could do. As I felt the weight of this, I also continued to look into his eyes. . . but now with a bit more curiosity and a bit less attention on "myself". I saw something remarkable. I saw that this man saw everything about me and yet loved me anyway. I also saw that he was happy and full in a way I had never experienced before. The fullness of his gaze was so compelling, I felt my attention pulled away from collapse and into him.
For a few timeless moments, I contemplated the love and sense of limitless being I could see in him. As I felt myself drawn in more and more, something remarkable happened. I saw that I could join him. In fact I somehow understood that what (and who) I was seeing in him was also true of (and in) me. I recognized that the happiness I saw in him was also in me. . . also was me. . . and it had been all along. It was as if I had simply been pretending to be unhappy but now no longer found it interesting or necessary.
I cried tears of gratitude for some timeless period. I smiled at him and he smiled back as if to say, "welcome home". Soon afterward, I gently transitioned to waking up. It was a seamless awakening. I was now in my room, in my bed. But the awakened peace was still present. As my thoughts returned to the inevitability of prison (at some point in the near future), I knew that I would be fine and that there was nothing that could happen to me that would change or undo what I had seen, what I had been given or who I knew myself to be.
I had absolutely no idea what had just occurred, or that there was anyone anywhere who would understand it. I was a spiritual seeker of sorts, but more of the "new age" variety. I had no reference in my waking life for this experience. I told a couple of people my dream, but after awhile, just went on with my life (albeit with a sense of confidence I had previously lacked).
Eighteen months later, while serving a two-year prison sentence, a friend told me that there was another guy in the prison who seemed to be into the same sorts of things I was into (meditation). I thanked him and went to introduce myself to this new inmate. After meeting him, he told me he wasn't really into meditation but he did like reading the books of a very special author. He loaned me one.
As I began reading the book, I was amazed to discover that the book seemed to be entirely about what I had experienced in my dream. It was a book about Satsang (long before the word was common in American spiritual jargon). The book was about a transmission of liberation that occurred simply by being in relationship with the spiritual master. The book was The Method of the Siddhas. I was deeply moved to realize that what I had experienced in my dream was something that others had experienced — that it was a real process that occurred for people in real life.
second book I borrowed put an end to any lingering doubt I had.
That book was Easy Death.
When I saw the hand and the egg my mind completely stopped. I read
on the inside of the cover the meaning and symbolism of the egg
and hand (from The
It was precisely the lesson from my dream. The egg was the symbol of the object of all seeking and simultaneously all imprisonment.
In that moment I had absolutely no further doubt that it was Adi Da who had come to me in the dream and it was Adi Da who had given me a glimpse of absolute Freedom as my very Self.
About six months after leaving prison I started attending a gathering
in North Carolina devoted to Adi Da's teaching. I also began attending
the community in Potomac, Maryland. (I think I did get as far as
joining Da Avabhasa International.) I would have immediately become
a formal student if not for the limitations imposed by the conditions
of my probation.
It's a story for another time why I wound up not choosing to become a formal student once I was permitted. But my gratitude for this dream is neverending, nevertheless.
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