Adi Da and the “Radical” Truth

John from Australia has asked me, quite unexpectedly, what I might say in response to Adi Da Samraj and His Divine Transmission. What a splendid oppurtunity! I am not sure if he meant this as a challenge to what I’ve set up elsewhere, or if he, more innocently, was simply curious how His Transmission might fit in to my Nontology. You can read my initial response in the comment section of the previous post, which is more personal (I mean narrative and historical) than this post will be. The purpose of this post is to introduce Adi Da while venturing an “interpretation” of his work along the way; and then to zoom out and add my own “spin” to all this, to open up some new avenues of inquiries. Again, what praise to chance that John would make his inquiry! It is as if Adi Da Himself had intervened…


As John pointed out in his comment, Adi Da is someone who knows what He is Communicating. In another sense, He Is His Transmission, and vice versa. For those unfamiliar with our Author, here is a taste from his text The Way Becomes Conscious:

I have most perfectly Realized, and I teach (and reveal, and give), the inherently perfect Truth of the “Who,” or the “What,” or the Transcendental, inherently Spiritual, intrinsically egoless, and Self-Evidently Divine (or most perfectly non-dual, non-excluding, all-including, and, yet, all-and-All transcending) Self-Nature, Self Condition, Source-Condition, and Self-State that is both Self-Existing and Self-Radiant, and Which Is the “Who,” and the “What,” and the (Self-Evidently) Divine Condition that is Realized (or most perfectly Found) to Be that Which is always already the case, if and when “self”-contraction (or the action that is, itself, the ego-“I”) is (“root” and all) utterly transcended in the (Self-Evidently Divine) Realization of the “Bright” (Itself), Which Is the inherent Love-Bliss-Radiance (or the centerless and boundless Self-Radiance) of the Self-Existing (and Self-Evidently Divine) “Self” (or Self-Nature, Self-Condition, Source-Condition, and Self-State) Itself.

How’s that for an introduction! I quote this passage because it exemplifies what is so interesting about Adi Da, as well as what can be so troubling. Suffice it to say, this is not an easy thing to read, not an easy thing to “understand.” But is that what’s being called for? I mean, are we supposed to understand what He is saying to us? Or are we supposed to understand ourselves instead? What is at stake in this passage? In other words, “Who” or “What” can even read Adi Da, if not the Heart Itself? Here is another passage, a bit more “self-revealing”:

When I finally understood, I only “Knew” myself (most perfectly). And never after that have I ceased to “Know” myself (most perfectly). Thereafter, I am simply (apparently) active as my own Form– Which (as Atma Nadi) rises from the bodily apparent heart to the Matrix of Light, and Which (apparently) generates every conditional center, every conditional body (or functional sheath), every conditional realm, and every conditional “experience,” and Which eternally sacrifices all Its apparently extended (or terminal) energies to the heart. In every apparent conditional state, I remain Aware at the Free “Point” in the bodily apparent heart, unbounded in the right side– non-separate and indivisible. Prior to every apparent conditional state, I remain As the One and Only and inherently indivisible Conscious Light, always already above and beyond all-and-All (and As That in and of Which all-and-All potentially arises). Everything only appears to me– and I remain As I Am. There is no end to This.

The key question is still this: who or what can possibly speak this way, if not a Fully Realized Being? But if I can read, understand, and resonate with these words, aren’t I also this Being? What does this engagement imply for and require of us? How are we to understand “Adi Da Himself,” the place of the “Am” from which He Speaks? Can we do so without an experience of the “Bright,” for which Adi Da is the Direct Transmission? But remaining true to the text, the “Bright” is That Which Is, unconditionally. How could we avoid it?

This is a kind of methodological difficulty that I can only surmount in freedom, capitalizing as I see fit, juxtaposing, and playing as only God Himself (Adi Da Samraj? Me?) could play. Because to read Adi Da is to speak With Him and As Him. In a certain sense, if I take what he says to heart and to its logical limit, it is unavoidable that I speak in His Name. Whenever I speak, the “Bright” speaks. How could this be reserved for Adi Da Himself, when the whole Reality He evokes is pre-egoic?

Both the search for ego-based Spiritual “effects” and the ego-based exploitation of life on a sensual or mental level are traps. The search for “experience” and the search for liberation from the bondage to “experience” are the same activity– born out of the absence of “radical self-understanding,” the un-“creative” movement that is not Reality. Reality Itself is the only unique matter in the adventure of life, and It stands prior to all egoic efforts and all less-than-most-perfect-discoveries…

Now, I want to quote a few more passages that show Adi Da is or was a “real human being,” since certain of these passages might leave this in doubt. Here, the Venerable Adi Da Samraj reminds us that the Terms of His Transmission came to him, that these Terms were not set by any egoic or intentional effort of His Own, but in fact came from “nowhere,” Divinely Avatarically, that is, from Reality (Itself), which unconditionally precedes all conditionality, and yet finds no disruption in anything conditioned:

My life has involved an intentional embrace of “experiencing” and seeking, for the sake of “radical self-understanding” (and the Transcendental Spiritual Transmission of its Realization to all-and-All). Therefore, I have known the extreme enjoyments of both the libertine and the saint. And I have known all the most ordinary (“middle”) states of life. But there is also “radical self-understanding,” which is Reality Itself– and, by means of “radical self-understanding,” I Divinely Self-Recognize every form of suffering.

In this book [The Knee of Listening], I have had to confront a most difficult means of instruction. I have had to fully illustrate the course of life, even in order to demonstrate the factuality of the extraordinary phenomena that humankind is presently in the habit of denying. But, in the end, in order to speak the Truth, I have also had to argue against the ultimacy of many of the very things I have proven in my life.

Because all of that was and is the case with me, a unique Reality-Way has here-“Emerged”– which is the Way of “radical” (or always priorly ego-transcending) devotional relationship to me, demonstrated (on that basis) as right (or Really ego-transcending) life, always (from the beginning) participating in the egoless indivisible Conscious Light of the only-by-me Divinely Avatarically revealed and given “Bright” of Reality Itself.

Ever so slightly, Adi Da admits to the “difficulty” he encountered when trying to articulate the “Way” that was without way, without accomplishment, and without any emphasis on spiritual experience and “salvation”– a way that becomes and that can only become conscious. This becoming-conscious had to take place right on the level of the “text,” by acknowledging with utmost vigilance the “outside of the text,” i.e., his readers’ and His Own Heart (which are One-and-the-Same?). He struggled to articulate his own path as a Coming To Himself As God, As Reality Itself. He struggled (of course this is the wrong verb to use) to articulate Himself As the Itself of Reality, the Itself of the Heart, the Itself of the “Bright,” so as to stay True to the Divine Self-Condition (Itself) which He (most perfectly) “Found out” after searching in countless spiritual methods and experiencing countless “middle” states. And so to articulate It-All (Itself). (To anticipate where I’m headed, Kafka too admitted his longing to “say everything”…) Ultimately, this means that He becomes His Text, which, after all, is where John started us off (pun intended).

Again, there is a paradox or riddle shot through all of these text, which does not detract from their “power” in any way. Adi Da has said that His Way involves a “devotional relationship to me” and that the “Bright” is revealed and given “only-by-me.” But who is this “me” that we are talking about, especially considering how, in the same sentence, we are told that all of this is “priorly ego-transcending” and “Really ego-transcending”? What is Adi Da trying to get us to see about ourselves? How can he ask anything of us when, at the core of this document at least, he seems to be saying that “life need not be tied to seeking, or the pursuit of its own Self-Nature as a goal”?

I don’t want to draw any spiritual-mystic conclusions from all this — and, anyway, yours are the only conclusions that matter in this field. But I will say one thing. In my eyes, these words — Adi Da’s Entire Transmission — comes from a place of Real Genuineness. He wrote profusely, and created art profusely, because He knew that in His Works, He was There, the Heart Itself was There. But these works remind you that You, too, are There. You too are the (always priorly ego-transcending) Heart-Reality. You too are always already Free, Transcendentally Real, “Bright,” because, “Real life is limitlessly (or non-conditionally) Free, Present, Active, ‘Creative,’ and Alive.” The Matrix of Light shines on.


Contrary to what I said above, there is no way for me to talk “about” Adi Da except on my own terms. But insofar as He and I are together — or are One — we share terms, we share insights, we share influences, we share Life, that Free and Active “Point” where the all-and-All is Radiant and Self-Evidently Divine. So it goes with you and I as well, whoever we are, whenever we are. This is the Truth Adi Da Speaks. In any case, whatever I say about him says more about me and my motivations than it says about “Him.” But again, the question arises: whose “me” do I speak in the name of? This is a delicate balance between self and other, navigated right on the surface of the text, that is, right in the very event of reading/writing.

It would be wrong to assume that Adi Da has set up some kind of “theory” in these texts, even if that first passage I shared strikes of the worst kind of “hermeticism.” The sheer amount of his works– many of which contain thousands upon thousands of pages, including poems and fictional elements — show to us that, for as long as he lived, in maintaining His Openness to what was (in Him) here-Emerging, He upheld the promise that He had made to Himself and All Beings (even long before the Great Event of his Divine re-Awakening) to hold firm to the “Radical” Reality-Way of the Heart Itself, Adidam, which required all this “work.” But can’t we say that of every writer or artist who takes his charge seriously? Certainly, there is specific terminology in Adi Da, unique only to Him (I will stop copping and playing around in it shortly; it clearly doesn’t suit me in the long run). But even this terminology, as air-tight as it seems, changed over time. It was a free expression, not Mr. Da’s “self-expression,” but the Self-Expression of the Self-Existing “Self” Itself. I can recall from texts that pre-date this one how he focused on critiquing the “self-contraction,” which is a theme that his disciple Ken Wilber took up on. It shows up in this text, but seems to have lost some clout. Surely, we could look up texts that followed this one and find other slight shifts in terms. This is the nature of the terminological endeavor, the difficulty in expressing something that, in a way, need not be expressed at all. But for the reader, those older text may be precisely what’s called for at the time. There’s beauty and another level of insight to be gained by the evolution of terms; but that doesn’t mean the core Truth-Reality isn’t present at every “step.”

It is always a matter of what resonates with you: follow what resonates with you, what strikes a cord with you, and you will never go wrong. The “guide” that Adi Da sets up reminds you that you don’t need a guide. Devotion to Him means devotion to Reality Itself, no more, no less, which means: “Real life is free of any goal of liberation or salvation.” Quite the admission from a holy man! When every page of his works remind us that “Reality Is All The God There Is,” we can safely assume that the criteria for Realization is not “devotion to me” in the banal sense. He is not calling for his followers to worship him as an Idol or a Guru: the “theory” or logic of realization he sets up explicitly excludes this. When reading Adi Da through the years, I have always read phrases like “the only-by-me” in a way quite particular to me myself, particular to my reading, and particular to My Own “Radical” Heart-Awakening. Otherwise, it’d be like asking Adi Da to live my life-adventure for me, and that is something that neither Adi Da nor I would approve of.

Why do we write? Why am I here? What good are all these words? Since Adi Da has guided this post, I can only answer spiritually: the point of all this is to realize What We Are (the Active, Living, Aware, Free “Point”). Truth is, it would be easy for some to critique Adi Da in some philosophical way, saying that he relies too heavily on Being as underlying substance, or some other non-sense. But I will leave that critique to those who, in point of fact, don’t know how to read Adi Da in the first place. Not only is Adi Da’s Transmission inherently Self-Validating, but it seems to validate any attempt that is not rooted in egoic ploys, and even those that are, since, for Him, All Of This participates (or Is) the Reality that God Is. Perhaps His Uniqueness even stems from the affirmation that there is nothing per se to “accomplish” in the spiritual or experiential realm. Even withdrawal into the Heart, or the mystic exclusion of the world, is secondary. “Not withdrawal into the Heart Itself, but Existence As the Heart Itself, is True (and Is Truth Itself).”

My hope for this post, before anything, was to introduce Adi Da to those who might not have heard of Him. Second, it was to suggest how to read, or to admit to how I read, these often dazzling works that — it’s an unavoidable perception — often seem pretty pretentious. Of course, I’ve not even scratched the surface of their “content”; but perhaps that precisely is the point. I Am, You Are the Content, the “Bright,” the Love-Bliss-Radiance evoked by all the Scriptures since Time Immemorial; and you are so without effort, without spiritual striving, without any need of “experience” or “knowledge” or “salvation.” Adi Da admits that we are clouded, and that he himself had to pass through some cloudy stages. I believe that He wrote endlessly because He knew and intuited that there can be no “end” to The Testimony of God. Thus, in a sense, All Is the De-Clouding. That we are called to be conscious of this and to participate in this is the simple call to “wake up,” to see for ourselves how, “Reality Itself Is Consciousness Itself, Present as no-seeking in the heart.” If we don’t, Adi Da suggests, all of this is nevertheless the case, because “There is no dilemma inherent in conditionally manifested existence.” Adi Da’s Writings exemplify this “no dilemma” in a rather staggering way. God will continue to speak like This, through us and with us, pre-egoically always, never precluding or excluding any form of life or world; and I will have always-already spoken this way too. Who could read these texts and not be totally, even if subtly, transformed?

Let me pull a quotation from an author who is seemingly on the opposite side of the spectrum, Emile Cioran, in an attempt to bring this post to its final “point” (as if we hadn’t said enough about Reality Itself already). This comes from some interview snippets appended to his Oeuvres, and the topic of this one is “Reader”:

I believe that a book ought really to be a wound, that it has to change the life of the reader in one way or another. My idea, when I write a book, is to wake someone up, to lambast them. Because my books spring from my own malaise, if not my suffering, they must somehow communicate these to the reader. […] A book must turn everything on its head, put everything back into question.

In the final sentence, I’ve translated the verb bouleverser as “turn everything on its head,” but the sense of this verb runs deep: disrupt, distress, wreak havoc, change, move (emotionally), shatter, topple, overwhelm. I share this passage to make a rather simple point: what we’ve said about Adi Da’s Work — that in order to read it, one has to take it to heart absolutely, and, in a sense, identify totally with Its Author, i.e., Reality Itself — holds true of all good reading. Every good book, whether Adi Da or Emile Cioran, asks that you enter into the “Bright” or the “wound” that the book (fleetingly, although without failure) records; and to let it Brighten and wound you accordingly, on the way to your “radical self-understanding.” I believe that a piece of writing must come from such a place, such a Bright wound, in order to truly speak to any other, to speak to the all-and-All. The field of validation set up in these works, to finish, is you— not “you” how you understand yourself already, per se, but the You that is True, Your Existence As the Heart Itself. The part of “you” that, taking leave of the homogenous and horizontal, topples over into the heterogeneous and the vertical, into the Real, the Nothing, the Now-Here, or whatever you’d like to call it. In the end, neither I, nor Cioran, nor Adi Da can do this for you; but we can try to craft something that will respond to you if you respond to it, and we can try to make our words resonate with this Vertical, with our wound, with our “Bright.”

So there is nothing to “accomplish” in all this. Adi Da says as much in denouncing the quest for “liberation” and “salvation” (I would point interested parties to Jean-Luc Nancy’s work, his Adoration especially, where this “beyond-salvation” is articulated in strikingly similar ways). I could truly go on forever like this, and I often have trouble telling “where to stop.” But why would I want to? What is there, really, to start or stop? All that I know is that each of us resonate with ourselves, others, and the world in unique ways, ways largely beyond us. For some folks, Adi Da’s style may simply be too much. For others, Cioran may paint a picture too bleak. Time will pass and new voices will erupt. But in any case, I know that these two humans were humans; and even if only Adi Da claims the status of God, I would have a hard time denying that each of them are of “equal” value for humanity as a whole, insofar as each of us require different things, insofar as each of us “wake up” with different ballistics.

Personally, I have been moved to realization by Adi Da no less than Cioran, and as a living and breathing being, I give thanks for them both. Others may attempt a hierarchy of beings and their truths, but I know what “works” for me. If there’s anything these two writers have in common — and truly, on a textual level, they don’t share much of anything — it is that one must stare down ones dilemmas without crutches, without gurus, without theories, without answers. One must courageously face the day or remain mired in sore ways of thinking (admittedly, we don’t need books to tell us that, as Krishnamurti would readily point out). I pursue my own path as a “writer,” not to match up to Adi Da (who could ever do so?) or to be as troubled as Cioran (that is not in my nature), but to remain true to myself and my word, true to the ‘only-by-me’ revealed way, which, for me, keeps on revealing itself. To that end, I strive far ahead of myself, leave myself behind, and hope to put it all on the table, knowing that there will always be new paths to passionately cross. Truly, above all else, I cannot deny the evidence: the way becomes conscious. This really is Something to be thankful for.

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2 Responses to Adi Da and the “Radical” Truth

  1. JLF says:

    Interesting exploration. Curious if you’ve ever spent time in Adi Da’s physical company. This site looks familiar, but I’m not sure if I’ve been here before… appropriately mysterious! Silence was principally what Adi Da was about, but the volume of literature often suggests to people he was a philosopher. This post might interest you… Be well… I like your writing.

  2. Pingback: Just Listening | fragilekeys

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