FAQs about Adi Da & Adidam > Use of Crazy Wisdom

Use of Crazy Wisdom

Question: What about all of the happenings in the "Garbage and the Goddess" period. Are you denying that quite a lot of drug and sexual abuse went on there? Are the lawsuits that came out of that time false? Or did Adi Da really do the things listed in the complaints, but as "Crazy Wisdom", and the people who filed the lawsuits were just "resisting relationship" with Him?

[You can read much more about these topics in the sections of this site entitled, Crazy Wisdom and Lawsuits, Countersuits, and Media Circuses.]

James SteinbergJames Steinberg: I was a devotee of Adi Da Samraj through the "Garbage and the Goddess" period. Likewise, I know most of the individuals, and was quite intimate with many of them, who later became disaffected and critical of Adi Da.

There is no denying that our community had great periods of experimentation in the emotional-sexual area. I never witnessed nor heard of anything I would describe as “sexual abuse”, and I have been to many, many gatherings. During the Garbage and the Goddess period, the guiding principle was that we were involved in all of this as Spiritual aspirants, and that everything that was done was considered from that perspective. In other words, how does this action affect my own Spiritual practice? I spent a chapter of my book, Love of the God-Man, talking about this. It is titled, “Crazy Wisdom: The Free and Spontaneous Teaching Work and Blessing Work of Adi Da Samraj and the Great Tradition of Unconventional Wisdom”. It is the longest chapter in the book, over 75 pages.

Does this mean that the allegations in all the lawsuits that came out of that time are false? Well, first, it is not like there are lots of lawsuits. There was one major lawsuit, and perhaps one other peripheral one. I want that to be clear. People may be familiar with the fact many great realizers faced court trials — Upasani Baba, for example, and also Ramana Maharshi (they sent someone out to deposition him), as they did with Shirdi Sai Baba. And this is in India where there is a much stronger tradition of understanding about such God-men and women.

So the Realizer tends to be made into the “man in the middle”, the “scapegoat”, the target, as Adi Da describes in First Word.

My experience with virtually every story or “allegation” that I have heard about Adi Da Samraj is that they may have some kernel of truth to them, but they are twisted or distorted in order to support an attitude of disgruntlement or upset. Sometimes the original person in the story is shocked to see how what they view as a benign event has now become a negative incident because of a funny slant. For example, the woman who filed the primary lawsuit took back all her charges a few years later, explaining that most of them were made up by her lawyers. You don’t find this fact on the negative websites.

Real practice is a matter of intensity and struggle. There is a lot of difficulty and sometimes hurt. Another chapter in Love of the God-Man is called “Sadhana Hurts”. Adi Da Samraj’s Way is about undermining the ego, or the presumption of being a separate “I”. That’s a big deal, don’t you think? In the midst of that, if the ego chooses to be “offended” rather than to appreciate the undermining, then there is the potential for the individual to get upset with the Realizer.

The metaphor in the traditions is that the teacher throws rocks. In some cases, for example with Swami Nityananda of Ganeshpuri, or Upasani Baba, it is a literal matter. Hakuin was thrown off the porch by his teacher for proclaiming his own realization. In other words, you cannot simply kiss someone into realization. Sometimes what is needed is a good swift kick in the ass.

It should also be noted that Adi Da Samraj occasionally has appeared to be physically forceful with His devotees, but then when you speak to the devotees, you will see that it was nothing like it appeared to be.

But Adi Da's "rocks" are generally verbal criticisms. During the early and wilder teaching days, there were teaching lessons. And right from the beginning, Adi Da made it plain that He was not a Sunday school preacher, but out to truly point out and undo the egoic presumption of His devotees. And if the undermining of the ego of the devotee was not appreciated, well, that is the origin of the negative stories that have been posted on those various websites. They no longer could see that what was happening in relationship to Adi Da was Spiritual Instruction, there for the devotee to grow with. Instead they got offended and withdrew. I have always been careful to remember why I have come to Adi Da — not to have a social relationship with Him, but for the sake of Divine Realization.

James AlwoodJames Alwood: When Avatar Adi Da began to teach, those who came to Him were basically out of the sixties, and they were very much into "sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll", as the saying goes. His first year of Teaching was very simple, comprised of straightforward but profound Discourses on the nature of seeking and the need for self-understanding. He Offered His devotees the life of Satsang (the traditional practice of living in the Company of a Realized Master). To really be able to make use of such an Offering, you have to really be prepared and understand the nature and subtleties of the Guru-devotee relationship. (To give you an idea about this, there are numerous books from all over the world in the Great Tradition that are just listings of “rules” that one should follow when approaching any authentic Realizer — because there are all sorts of subtle Laws that you need to be aware of to make right use of such sublime Company.)

To make a long story short, Avatar Adi Da came to the firm conclusion after that first year, that He was going to have to “get into it” with His devotees in order to grow them to where they could actually make right use of His Company. In 1973, He went to India as “Franklin Jones” and came back as “Bubba Free John”. “Bubba” is a nickname from the American South that means “brother”. So Avatar Adi Da was Indicating He was going to become everyone’s “elder brother” now as means to Instruct devotees about the nature of conditional existence and Spiritual experiences and the dead-end of all our secret desirings and wishes.

So, during the “Garbage and the Goddess” period, beginning in late 1973, everyone’s fantasies began to uncork. Not only did everyone begin to indulge their sex, drugs, rock and roll fantasies to the max, they were suddenly having the most extraordinary mystical and Spiritual experiences — all the kinds of experiences ever reported in the religious and Spiritual traditions of humankind. During this time, Avatar Adi Da was intentionally magnifying the "yogic" aspects of His Spiritual Transmission to make a specific Lesson about seeking in all of its forms. Thus, people were madly partying and sexing while simultaneously imagining they had suddenly become "yogis" and the general mood was that "Enlightenment" was just around the corner.

But Avatar Adi Da kept asking people in the midst of it all: “Is this Happiness?” “Is your experience Happiness Itself?” There was a fundamental lesson to be learned:

All seeking, high and low, is suffering.

This lesson cannot just be mentally grasped. You must come to see it directly. And Avatar Adi Da was letting people play out all their hidden (and not so hidden) motives to the max so that they could see themselves clearly, so they could really come to understand themselves, understand what the ego-“I” is and what the ego-“I” does.

The “lawsuits” did not occur at this time at all. It was over a decade later, in 1985, that a group of dissaffected devotees crystalized around a bitter divorce case in the community. A number of these former devotees had been part of the “inside” crowd and were now “out” of the inner circle. The woman who initiated the main lawsuit withdrew it completely a few years later, admitting in a formal letter that the contents of the lawsuit were basically fabricated by her lawyers.

There is something very important that must be understood here. There is a hidden presumption that if someone feels like they were hurt by a Spiritual Master, that that somehow brings into question the Spiritual Master Himself or Herself. All throughout history, Realizers of every kind have been suppressed, attacked, vilified, and treated basically like scum or social “outsiders”. Realizers disturb egos. That is Their job. That is what They do. Egos do not like to be disturbed. Egos sometimes fight back viciously, usually reacting to the Realizer as if He or She were a “Dad” or a “Mom” that failed to console them, or failed to protect their precious “egos”.

You see very messy, essentially “oepidal” dramas by devotees and public against Realizers throughout the Great Tradition. Some simple examples: Socrates (condemned to death for “corrupting the young”), Jesus (betrayed by His closest disciple and handed over to political authorities), Buddha (His cousin and once disciple attempted to have Him assassinated by a rogue elephant, tried to get local authorities after Him, and went off and became an independent teacher taking a number of the formal renunciates with him), numerous Hebraic prophets, Sufi prophets, “heretical” Christian mystics — all attacked, jailed, or executed by public authorities; and on and on and on.

So, back to those “rule” books about the Guru-devotee relationship . . . They all basically try to prepare the devotee to understand that entering into relationship with a Realizer is about the undoing of the ego. And they all say that it is a dangerous process and relationship that should only be entered into soberly and responsibly, because you are going to have to deal with your ego getting very, very disturbed. Realizers must do this or they can’t help their devotees get beyond ego.

And, ultimately, it is much more dangerous for the Guru than the devotee. Can you even begin to imagine the heroism required for Avatar Adi Da to “get into it” with hundreds of devotees? Do you think He did not know how “dangerous” it was to engage such “Crazy Wisdom”?

My life is a little bit like going into the world of enemies and dragons to liberate somebody who has been captured. You cannot just sit down and tell a dragon the Truth. You must confront a dragon. You must engage in an heroic effort to release the captive from the dragon. This is how I worked in the theatre of my way of relating to people, particularly in the earlier years, and in the unusual involvements of my life and Teaching. You could characterize it as the heroic way of Teaching, the way of identifying with devotees and entering into consideration in that context and bringing them out of the enemy territory, gradually waking them up.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, "I Enter the World of Dragons"

This was clearly one the most heroic actions by any Realizer ever. The most dangerous “dragons” we each possess are those around our precious sexual egos, and Avatar Adi Da went there to Free His devotees.




Quotations from and/or photographs of Avatar Adi Da Samraj used by permission of the copyright owner:
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