I jumped right
in. I immediately bought and installed a fifty-five gallon aquarium with all the
necessary accoutrements. When I was finished setting it up, I received a message
from Adi Da: "No fish is to die."
No fish is to die?! I thought
back on the number of fish that had perished in my limited and brief career. I
had pulled many lifeless bodies from the water. Everybody who has kept fish has
lost fish. I was taken aback, but I doubtfully acknowledged this edict.
I added another tank, then two more. Before long there were nine tanks (marine,
tropical, and goldfish) in Adi Da's Residence under my care. Needless to say,
the casualties were soon to begin rolling in.
Indeed, it was
not long at all before I was called over to the house to remove a dead fish from
one of the tanks — the first of many. I was told that Adi Da wanted to know why
the fish had died. I took the two-inch corpse in hand and studied it — no wounds,
no signs of disease or distress. In fact, it was still quite beautiful. But it
was dead. I replied that I did not know why.
One day I was
called to tend to yet another sick fish. I found a dwarf gourami floating on the
surface of the tank, his body already frozen in a rigid arc, indicating death
was near. I was told that Adi Da wanted me to "save this fish".
this fish?" I thought. "Nothing can save this fish!"
I removed the fish from the tank and took him to a hospital tank in my cabin.
There I treated the water with medication. I watched the fish for a few minutes,
hoping there would be some sign that he would recover. I placed a hand on either
side of the tank and prayed for him. But the moment I had seen the fish, I had
known that he would not survive. In twenty minutes he was dead.
took his body from the tank and flushed it down the toilet.
this period a friend had been with me, watching while I tended the fish. After
I had disposed of him, I said, "Well, there goes another one."
friend looked at me. "Don't you feel anything for him?" he asked.
I said, "it's just a fish. Do you?"
do?" I was really surprised.
you think most people would?"
was a revelation to me. I had felt nothing for these fish. I had no emotional
connection to them. That was the point — I felt no emotion. I had approached the
matter intelligently and with a good deal of energy. But I did not care about
the lives of the fish. I had not given my heart. And I saw that this lesson was
not just about fish. It was an indication of how I lived my life.
following day, Adi Da Samraj asked how the fish was doing. I realized that He
had truly expected the fish to be healed. I saw that I would have to engage this
service in a new way.
I should interject here that I hadn't
taken lightly His edict that there should be no dead fish. I was constantly studying
the subject, reading books, talking to experienced aquarists, university professors,
and anyone I thought could help. But now I intensified this study.
morning not long afterwards, I was again called to tend a fish that was very special
to me. Adi Da Samraj had noticed his lack of energy and had sent for me.
fish was a "blue-faced angel". When I had first begun setting up aquariums for
Avatar Adi Da, I was taken by the beauty of this fish and immediately decided
to buy it as a gift for Him. But blue-faced angels are so delicate that I had
to wait many months, allowing the tank environment to stabilize completely, before
I had felt it was possible to present this gift. So when the blue-faced angel,
which I had only recently given to Avatar Adi Da, took ill, I felt a real desire
to keep him alive. I am certain that Avatar Adi Da intuitively felt my connection
to this fish, because He took a strong interest in its welfare.
stood beside the tank with Adi Da, considering what to do with the angelfish.
The diagnosis and treatment of fish diseases is a little-researched and inexact
science. Many times the symptoms are not specific enough to indicate a particular
treatment. Quite often any treatment is a shot in the dark.
elected to leave the angel in the tank. Moving a fish causes stress, often worsening
the condition of the one already ailing. I told Adi Da that this was what I was
going to do. He accepted my decision and left the room. I then treated the tank
with a wide-spectrum antibiotic. When I had finished, a devotee arrived with a
message to me from Adi Da. He said:
Avatar Adi Da's communication very profoundly, and my resolve to save the angel
deepened. I called the Marine Biology Department at the University of California
at Davis, and spoke to an expert there. I also called some knowledgeable aquarists
and aquarium shop owners I had been in contact with. Everyone agreed with my handling
of the fish, and no one had any new information to give me.
I went to the Hall for an hour and a half, and prayed for the angelfish. I breathed
deeply, feeling how much I wanted the fish to live.
the day, I kept my attention on the fish, at the same time feeling Avatar Adi
Da with my heart, and directing toward the fish the healing energy I contacted
through my communion with Adi Da. That evening I returned to Adi Da's house to
observe the patient again. His condition had worsened. I decided to move him to
a tank in my cabin.
I placed him in a hospital tank and added
small amounts of some empowered sacred healing elements — living water and ash.
I again placed my hands on either side of the tank and prayed. His condition worsened
further. As he weakened, I put my hand in the water and gently cradled him, praying
for him. I was filled with compassion for this being, and I stayed with him until
he died at three the following morning. Then I took his body to a pond on the
sanctuary, said a prayer, and threw him into the water.
that morning I went to Adi Da's Residence to feed the fish. As I walked to His
House I was feeling sorrow for the loss of the angelfish, and I was also despairing
for my inability to save it's life. I went into the dining room where Heart-Master
Da was eating breakfast. As I prepared to feed the fish in the tank from which
I had removed the blue-faced angelfish only hours before, He asked me how the
angel was doing. I told Him that he had died that morning. It was hard to give
Him the news, because I had really felt the loss of the fish.
wasn't sure how Adi Da would respond, but I thought it not unlikely that I would
be chided for my failure to save the angelfish's life. However, Adi Da Samraj
looked into my eyes and quietly said, "It was his time." It's difficult to express
the impact this moment had on my heart. It felt broken, not in sorrow, but in
compassion. At the same time it felt as if an inexpressible burden had been lifted
from me. Simultaneously my mind was simply undone by His tenderness. Adi Da wanted
the fish to live, just as I did. I had been hoping to emerge from this ordeal
"the victor", being the agent of a miraculous recovery. The outcome was not miraculous,
but it was profound, for I learned how to bring life to another, how to serve
death, and what it means to be feelingly present in both. Adi Da's demonstration
and expression of compassion planted the seed of compassion in my own heart in
that moment. I am forever Blessed by this and all the Gifts Adi Da has given.