It seems at times Adi Da has described the Way of Adidam as a religion, and
at other times has said it is not a religion. So is Adidam a religion, or not?
Adi Da's Teaching is so vast, and has taken so many forms over the 38 years (1970-2008)
in which He created it, it is not too hard to find passages that may appear —
at least on the surface — to say different things.
of these differences represent actual changes. For example, in the early 1970's,
Adi Da instructed devotees to take on disciplines only after one passes the milestone
of hearing in one's practice. But He later changed that,
based on the empirical evidence that His devotees simply would never grow to the
point of hearing without taking on some disciplines. (For more about this, click
But some of these differences are only "surface
inconsistencies" reflecting an underlying consistency: different ways of communicating
the same thing. Adi Da's application (or not) of the word "religion"
to the Way of Adidam falls into this category.
Adidam as a "religion": but one unlike any other
Often what is being
reflected are the limits of conventional language. "Religion" is a conventional
word, used widely, and with certain associations: God as the "Creator" of the
universe; belief as the a key to receiving the religion's benefits (for example,
"salvation"); etc. At times, Adi Da has experimented with calling Adidam
a "religion", but one that was unlike any other: God as the "Source",
not the "Creator"; a Way based on direct Revelation of the Divine, not
belief in the Divine; the Divine appearing here in human form right now (not thousands
of years ago); etc. Thus he used qualifying phrases like "true religion"
or "true world-religion" to set Adidam apart from other religions:
The only true religion is the religion that Realizes Truth.
Avatar Adi Da Samraj, "Do Not Misunderstand Me"
Religion is the practice of consistently (and, Ultimately, Permanently) moving
out of the disposition, and the presumption, and the very activity of separate
and separative self, into the Love-Bliss-Full Condition of Oneness with That Which
Is One, Whole, Absolute, All-Inclusive, and Beyond.
Adi Da Samraj
In another passage, He makes reference
to the etymological origin of the word, "religion": "re-ligio",
re-uniting — the "ligio" shares the same Latin root, "lig"
(meaning: to tie or bind) with "ligament":
religion is not about the "me"-person who participates in religion. Rather, true
religion is about the Divine — with Which any individual is re-associating, or
re-uniting. True religion is, ultimately, about discovering Oneness with the Divine
Self-Condition to be Always Already the Case.
Avatar Adi Da
Samraj, Religion and Reality
In yet another passage, he distinguishes between
"mere religion" and "true religion":
religion (or any and all religion in and of itself) must be transcended.... Religion
must be established, in present-time, with reference to Reality Itself.
Reality Itself Is Divine. Reality Itself Is all the God there Is.
Only Reality Itself Is true religion.
Avatar Adi Da
Samraj, Religion and Reality
In this context, Adi Da has referred to the Way
of Adidam as "The True World-Religion"— see, for example, the
books, Adidam: The True World-Religion
Given by the Promised God-Man, Adi Da Samraj and The
Truly Human New World-Culture Of Unbroken Real-God-Man: The Eastern Versus The
Western Traditional Cultures Of Mankind, and The Unique New Non-Dual Culture Of
The True World-Religion Of Adidam.
For more on this use of the word,
"religion" by Adi Da, read Religion
and Reality and Right
Religion Is Not About the Human Ego.
Considering Adidam as a "religion"
has also been fruitful in enabling Adi Da to make connections with other religions
that share certain characteristics with Adidam. For example, in calling the Way
of Adidam "Advaitayana Buddhism" (beginning in 1983 with His book, Nirvanasara),
He indicated that the Way of Adidam perfectly fulfills both the traditional Buddhist
aspiration for absolute freedom from the bondage of the egoic self, and the traditional
aspiration of Advaita Vedanta for absolute Identity with the Divine Self.
Adidam as something other than a "religion"
On the other
hand, if you read a book like "Radical"
Transcendentalism: The Non-"Religious", Post-"Scientific",
and No-Seeking Reality-Way of Adidam, you will see Adi Da adopting the
viewpoint that Adidam is so unique, so different from anything else we call "religion",
that that term shouldn't even be applied to it:
God (or Reality Itself) is not — and should not be presumed to be — the "God"
(or Deity-"Object") of any kind of "religion".
always begins with the presumption that the separate "self" (or the
ego-"I") and its "problem" (or urge to seek) exists (and is
"known") and the egoically-presumed (and egoically-defined) "world"
(or the totality of egoically-"objectified" universe) exists (and is
Therefore, "religion" does not begin
with the "knowledge" of Reality (or Real God) Itself — but, rather,
"religion" always begins with the absence of Reality (or Real
"Religion" is never based on "Perfect Knowledge"
of Reality Itself.
"Religion" is always based either on the worshipping
of the mere idea (or ambiguous and illusory myth) of a Deity-"Object"
or (otherwise) on the search to "know" (or somehow tangibly or psycho-physically
"experience") the never-yet-"known" (but only hopefully or
believingly proposed) Deity-"Object" of the wotulf-be-"knowing"
body and mind. . . .
"Religion" can only seek (or seek to "know")
Reality Itself — and thus, "religion" proposes Reality Itself as the
mythical and illusory "God-Object" to be "found" (as if Reality,
or Real God, Itself has been "lost"). . . .
ego" uses "religious" means to seek and demand what the parent-like
"God" can do for the laternately childish and (otherwise) adolescent
ego-"I" in the midst of its vulnerable and unsatisfactory conditions
Avatar Adi Da Samraj, "Radical"
So in this
use by Adi Da of the word "religion", Adidam is very much not
a "religion" .
Both views are correct
So in answer to the question, "is Adidam a religion
or not?", in some sense both views are correct — but each needs to
be carefully qualified, in the way we have described Adi Da doing, above. If we
call Adidam a religion, then we have to distinguish "true religion"
from "mere religion", and say Adidam is only a "religion"
in the exceptional, "true religion" sense of the word. Conversely, we
may conclude that it's too big a stretch to try to fit the conventional word,
"religion" — with all its conventional connotations — to the Way of
Adidam; and that it makes more sense to distinguish Adidam from everything we
normally refer to by the word, "religion".
Each approach has
its merits and its limitations, and for this reason, Adi Da has experimented with
both viewpoints in His Teaching. Ultimately, the Way of Adidam
remains the same, regardless of whether we call it a "religion" (focusing
on what is has in common with certain other traditions) or not (focusing on what
is unique to Adidam).
article appears in
about Adi Da and Adidam and
Books of Adidam