The Cult of Adi-Da?

The following is from an email correspondence with a former student-devotee of Adi Da, Mystic Mike. My text is in Times New Roman, his is in Verdana

MAK: I read some of his early stuff, I quite enjoyed it. I'm not a devotee, never have been, and I was quite put off by the "churchiness" of those few meetings I went to (everyone is so squeaky clean and respectable, a daggy sort of churchie feeling and mindless adulation, I dunno if you ever noticed that),

MM: I know what you mean about the churchiness and the squeaky clean, mindless adulation. This is typical of the regional groups (far from where Adi Da lives) and of the Adidam people responsible for meeting with the general public. But the atmosphere is quite different at The Mountain of Attention, on Translation Island, and wherever Adi Da happens to be residing. In person, when not sitting in formal Darshan, Adi Da is a wild, scatological madman. And I mean that quite literally. He makes divine claims about himself (I use the phrase "divine claims" because it sticks in my mind from reading about Alexander the Great, who also declared himself to be the son of Zeus). Nevertheless, as Adi Da's intimates know, he has enormous appetites for food and sex and, perhaps still, drugs. The "experimental" lifestyle he described in his autobiography as being part of his early, pre-enlightenment days, never did completely cease. I am in contact with many other former devotees, and their stories are quite consistent on this.

MAK: I must say I respect the man a lot, but I tend to think he should reign in some of his devotee's more enthusiastic utterances (unless he actually believes it!).

MM: He very well may believe those utterances. Or he may simply desire others to believe them.

MAK: Maybe I'm just not into the heart-master way.

MM: In the end, neither was I. In the period of his teaching work before Da declared "Ishta-Guru-Bhakti Yoga" to be the ultimate way, he offered two distinctly different paths for those who came to him. For most, the Way of the Heart (the bhakti path) would be recommended. But for a few who were well-prepared and intellectually acute, the Way of Inquiry was indicated. However, no one ultimately proved to be so well-prepared that the Way of Inquiry was indicated. So the Way of the Heart was made the sole way. In both paths, it was imperative to be associated with the Guru because of the effect such an association has on the practitioner. And there is an effect, believe me. Coincidences abound. Insights come unbidden. Dreams become profound. And every ego fixation or personality flaw becomes magnified. It is, as he has said, an ordeal.

MAK: I do consider devotionalism and bhakti the highest and the easiest path, but it is also the path that is most open to abuse, and most frequently caught up in ignorance and delusion - e.g. exoteric religion

MM: "Abuse" is word that is all too often associated with Adi Da these days. People - even relatively poor people --have given vast sums of money they could ill afford so that Adi Da can add to his art collection. For example, last year numerous fundraisers were held and devotees were asked to dig deep into their pockets so that Adi Da could afford to buy...a $150,000 glass paperweight! He also bought a new estate on the north coast of California, which brings his major real estate holdings to 4 (in Hawaii, Fiji, 2 in California). Meanwhile, I know from personal experience with devotees that some of them can barely support themselves while continuing to pay 10% of their pre-tax income as a tithe to the "church." In fact, I knew two men who did not bother to pay their taxes at all! One got caught. The other, not yet. But what does it say about the ethics of a spiritual community that puts the squeeze on its members and winks at their breaking the tax laws so that the fat guru can live in ever greater splendor?


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page by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 5 May 2001
last modified 10 June 2005