Dear Devotees, It is the middle of the night here at Adi Da Samrajashram, devotees remain in what is now clearly the Mahasamadhi Vigil of Beloved Bhagavan Sapta Na Adi Da Samraj. The time of Beloved Bhagavan’s Divine Mahasamadhi is being placed at approximately 5:10 PM on Thursday, November 27th, 2008. Everyone here has been shocked at how quickly the Mahasamadhi occurred. Bhagavan Adi Da was sitting in His Chair Working in Picture Perfect. Just a minute before, He had been Giving Instructions relative to His Divine Image Art. A few minutes before that, He had been speaking humorously and laughing. And then He silently fell over on His Side and within a very short period of no more than a couple of minutes, He had entered into His Mahasamadhi. Dr. Charles Seage and Dr. Andrew Dorfman diagnose that Beloved Bhagavan suffered a fatal heart attack.
Adi Da was born Franklin Albert Jones on November 3, 1939, in Queens, New York and raised on Long Island. His father was a salesman and his mother a housewife. A sister, Joanne, was born when he was eight years old. He served as an acolyte in the Lutheran church during his adolescence and aspired to be a minister, though after leaving for college in the autumn of 1957 he expressed doubts about the religion to his Lutheran pastor. He graduated in 1961 with a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Columbia University and went on to complete a master's degree in English literature at Stanford University in 1963.
After graduating from Columbia, Adi Da began using a variety of hallucinogenic and other drugs, sometimes heavily. In 1963, after finishing at Stanford, for 6 weeks he was a paid test subject in drug trials of mescaline, LSD, and psilocybin that were conducted at a Veterans Administration hospital in California. He wrote later that he found these experiences "self-validating" in that they mimicked ecstatic states of consciousness from his childhood, but problematic as they often resulted in paranoia, anxiety, or disassociation. For over a year, Adi Da lived with his girlfriend Nina Davis in the hills of Palo Alto. While she worked to support them, he wrote, took drugs, meditated informally, and studied books on hermeticism in order to make sense of his experiences.
Responding to an intuitive impulse, they left California in June 1964 in search of a spiritual Teacher in New York City. Settling in Greenwich Village, Adi Da became a student of Albert Rudolph, also known as "Rudi", an oriental art dealer and self-styled spiritual guru. Having studied a number of spiritual traditions, including "The Work" of G.I. Gurdjieff and Subud, Rudolph was then a follower of Siddha Yoga founder Swami Muktananda, who gave Rudi the name "Swami Rudrananda". Rudi taught an eclectic blend of techniques he called "kundalini yoga" (having no literal relationship to the Indian tradition by that name.)
Adi Da's father told Rudi of his son's onetime aspiration to become a Lutheran minister. Feeling that he needed better grounding, in 1965 Rudi insisted that he marry Nina, find steady employment, lose weight, end his drug use, and begin preparatory studies to enter the seminary. As a student at Philadelphia's Lutheran Theological Seminary in 1967, Adi Da described undergoing a terrifying breakdown. Taken to a hospital emergency room, a Psychiatrist diagnosed it as an anxiety attack. It was the first in a series of such episodes he would experience throughout his life, each followed by what he explained to be profound awakenings or insights. Feeling none of his Lutheran professors understood this experience, Adi Da left and briefly attended St. Vladimir's Russian Orthodox Seminary in Tuckahoe, New York. Disillusioned, he moved back to New York City and got a job working for Pan American Airlines, in hopes this would facilitate his being able to visit Swami Muktananda's ashram in India. He did so for four days in April 1968. Swami Muktananda encouraged Adi Da to end his studies with Rudi and study with himself directly.
Back in New York, Adi Da and wife Nina became members and then employees of the Church of Scientology. Following Scientology protocol, he wrote Rudi a letter severing all contact. After a little more than a year of involvement, Adi Da left Scientology. He then returned to India for a month-long visit in early 1969, during which Swami Muktananda authorized him to initiate others into Siddha Yoga.
In October 1970, Swami Muktananda stopped in California on a worldwide tour largely underwritten by Rudi. Adi Da visited him and related his experience the previous month of "The Bright." Adi Da felt that the swami did not understand or properly acknowledge the full importance of his experience. During the visit Adi Da reconciled with Rudi.
Adidam refers to both the organization of Adi Da's devotees and the religion he taught. The organization, or church, founded initially in 1972, went by many earlier names, including the Dawn Horse Communion, the Free Communion Church, the Laughing Man Institute, the Crazy Wisdom Fellowship, the Way of Divine Ignorance, and the Johannine Daist Communion.
Adi Da wrote prolifically about his spiritual philosophy, creating the Dawn Horse Press in 1973 to publish his books. It continues to print many Adi Da-authored titles. Best known among these is his autobiography, The Knee of Listening. First published in 1972, it has been reissued in a number of editions, undergoing extensive revisions and additions. The first edition was 271 pages long; the latest is 840.
Asian religions scholar Scott Lowe was an early follower of Adi Da and lived in the community in 1974. In an essay later analyzing what he had witnessed as well as Adi Da's subsequent career, he perceives a pattern of "abusive, manipulative, and self-centered" behavior, saying "does it necessarily follow that the individual who is 'liberated' is free to indulge in what appear to be egocentric, hurtful, and damaging actions in the name of spiritual freedom? I personally think not, while acknowledging the subtlety and complexity of the ongoing debate".
Adi Da often changed his name, saying it reflected differences or changes in the nature of his message and relationship to followers. In 1979, he changed his name from "Bubba Free John" to "Da Free John". Subsequent names included Da Love-Ananda, Dau Loloma, Da Kalki, Hridaya-Samartha Sat-Guru Da, Santosha Da, Da Avadhoota, Da Avabhasa, and from 1994, Adi Da Love-Ananda Samraj, or Adi Da. Adi Da translated the Sanskrit syllable Da as "giver."
From 1980 to 1990, philosophical theorist and author Ken Wilber wrote a number of enthusiastic endorsements and forewords for Adi Da's books, including The Dawn Horse Testament, The Divine Emergence of the World-Teacher, and Scientific Proof of the Existence of God Will Soon Be Announced by the White House! Wilber also recommended Adi Da as a spiritual Teacher to those interested in his own writings.
In 1982, yoga and religion scholar Georg Feuerstein formally became a follower of Adi Da, and wrote a number of introductions to Adi Da books. He later renounced this affiliation, becoming publicly critical of Adi Da and the community surrounding him in Fiji. Feuerstein devoted a chapter to Adi Da in his 1991 book Holy Madness: Spirituality, Crazy-Wise Teachers, and Enlightenment. In the introduction to the 2006 edition, Feuerstein describes having edited the sections devoted to Adi Da to reflect these changes in opinion.
In 1983, Adi Da moved with a group of about 40 followers to the Fijian island of Naitaba, purchased by a wealthy follower from the actor Raymond Burr. It was his primary residence until the end of his life.
Two lawsuits were filed against Adi Da and the church in California in 1985. The O'Mahoney suit was dismissed the next year. The other lawsuit and several threatened suits in subsequent years were settled with payments and confidentiality agreements, negatively impacting member morale and bleeding the organization financially.
On January 11, 1986, distressed by what he felt was the futility of his work, Adi Da experienced a physical and psychological crisis. Doctors diagnosed exhaustion and stress, but he afterward described it as a death and resurrection. As in previous and subsequent similar episodes, Adi Da attributed special significance to it, calling it his "Divine Emergence". From this point on, he said that one needed only to meditate on his image or body in order to "participate in his enlightened state".
In 2000, some followers of spiritual Teacher Frederick Lenz joined Adidam, reportedly upsetting long-time followers who felt the new members were undeservedly privileged (Lenz, also known as "Zen Master Rama", had committed suicide in 1998). Adi Da claimed to have been Swami Vivekananda in a past life, and said that in a previous incarnation Lenz was then a disciple.
In a foreword to the 2004 edition of Adi Da's autobiography The Knee Of Listening, religious scholar Jeffrey Kripal described Adi Da's total corpus as being "the most doctrinally thorough, the most philosophically sophisticated, the most culturally challenging, and the most creatively original literature currently available in the English language."
In the last decade of his life, Adi Da created visual art. These works were primarily photographic and digitally produced. He labeled his style "Transcendental Realism." In 2007 Adi Da's works were included in an exhibition collateral to the Venice Biennale in Italy curated by Italian art Historian Achille Bonito Oliva; the exhibit then moved to Florence.
Adi Da later began exhibiting his digital art and photography. Followers reported that he died of cardiac arrest on November 27, 2008 at his home in Fiji, while working on his art.
Though earlier manifestations were more eclectic and experimental, over time Adidam increasingly came to resemble the Hindu tradition of bhakti yoga. The practice of Adidam is now defined by its emphasis on a devotional relationship to Adi Da, whom followers see as an enlightened source of power serving as the sole gateway to the Divine. Adi Da's followers often refer to him simply as "Beloved". Through devotion and Service, it is believed that the follower’s consciousness is gradually transformed in the image of Adi Da’s. While devotion to Adi Da and the study of his teachings are the primary features of Adidam, other specified practices are also prescribed, including the study of other religious texts, physical exercises, regulation of sexuality, and a raw vegan diet.