Saturday, November 29, 2008

Adi Da (1939-2008)

Yesterday evening I was informed by one of my correspondents/co-workers (some of whose email I have incorporated into this post, he is more an expert on Adi Da than I am) that the guru Adi Da (his official site) (my page on him) (previously Da Free John, Franklin Jones) died suddenly but apparently peacefully on Thursday 27 November (Thanksgiving Day in the US) in Fiji of a massive heart attack, just after his 69th birthday (he was born on 3 Nov 1939). Da was doing what he loved, working on his art, talking and laughing with his devotees.

His unexpected death (or "Mahasamadhi" as his devotees call it, after the Indian euphamism for the death of a Guru) was not surprising given his extreme hedonistic lifestyle and prior medical issues with severe arteriosclerosis. Followers had hoped he would come back to life as he had from other "death" experiences and kept a prayer vigil. But after a while they realised he really had left his physical body. (references: Devotee announcement and discussion, Fiji News)

Like all great Gurus, Da left no "realized" successor. As he died without warning, it remains to be seen what will happen with the group. My feeling is that it will continue like the following around other famous Gurus after their passing. The devotees continue, even after the death of the Master. It was a religion even when the Master was alive, and it remains a religion. It is the same with both Fully Enlightened and Intermediate Zone gurus.

An extraordinarily potent figure, of great intelligence, brilliance, and creativity, and (with Mahavira, St Francis, and Ramana) one of the few Gurus and Spiritual masters to go out of his way to consider the needs of the animal kingdom (as shown by his beautiful Fear No More Zoo project), Da Free John / Adi Da was someone who had impressed and even influenced me for more than a quater of a century. Originally and for many years I considered him a fully enlightened being. I wrote an initially very favourable web page on him, but was contacted by several ex-devotees who informed me of his abusive behaviour towards his devotees. When I changed the article accordingly I was contacted by current devotees who would present the other side of the coin. Thus I would swing in my understanding to and fro, not really understanding, until I came upon the thesis by an ex-devotee explaining Da's paradoxical qualities in terms of the Intermediate Zone. (this was the same ex-devotee incidentally, who yesterday notified me of Da's death ). This awakened me to the possibility of "intermediate zone" phenomenon as being a standard explanation for the paradoxical phenomenon of many "abusive" gurus. I used this thesis in a popular essay on Integral World to explain another, lesser guru, Andrew Cohen (his official site) (my page on him), an associate of Ken Wilber and a senior figure in the modern Wilber-Beck stream of the Integral Movement (which I have previously referred to as The Integral Movement sensu stricta, but am no longer happy with this title) itself is a subset of the larger Integral Paradigm (my brief page, wikipedia page I co-authored).

I have to say, news of Da Free John/Adi Da's death left me feeling really sad. Significantly, over the last couple of months I have come to feel that my earlier stance on the Intermediate Zone gurus is much too simplistic and polarised. While there is no doubt regarding those rare individuals who are fully and completely Enlightened, such as Ramana, Nityananda, Ramsuratkumar, and of course Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, I've been rethinking the whole problem of how to understand less than totally Realised Gurus, the nature of the Intermediate Zone, and so on. So for example I not longer consider Andrew Cohen even an Intermediate Zone guru (in contrast to my earlier essay).

As a result I have been feelinga lot more positively and respectfully about Adi Da. Sure he would seem to represent the classic case of the "Intermediate Zone" as described by Sri Aurobindo, but really he was very advanced, a whole class above all the others like Muktananda, Osho, etc. A really unique Teacher, although for me I prefer authentic fully Enlightened gurus. The Intermediate Zone can be a dangerous place, and by attuning to a Master coming from that space you can get sucked in too. Thus, like Ken Wilber, I prefer to respect Adi Da from afar, and really, the Da I resonate to and appreciate is not the dangerous, chaotic, inflationary Adi Dam of later years, where the Intermediate Zone shines in all its frightening terror, but the earlier, profound, nonduality realised Bubba Free John / Da Free John (I am sure Wilber feels the same).

The Wilber-Beck stream of the Integral Movement owes Da Free John / Adi Da much much more than it realises. It was Bubba/Da Free John (I use his old names because those where the names he used when he was teaching those ideas) who first fomulated a single physico-psycho-spiritual developmental spectrum (the "Seven Stages of Life" (official page, my page, another page, with useful diagrams); itself perhaps inspired by Theosophy or Rudolf Steiner); it was this same spectrum of seven stages that Wilber used as the basis of his entire philosophy and cosmology, causing him to reject his earlier Transpersonal-Jungian model, once he became a devotee. What would AQAL (All Quadrants and All Levels (my page, another page from old Wikipedia page, official Journal) be without the Levels? And it was Da Free John who formulated the levels. Wilber's contribution was simply to add a bunch of correspondences, and more recently, lines, quadrants, post-metaphysics and so on. It was Da Free John, the master of nonduality, who introduced Wilber - and hence almost the entire Wilber-Beck stream (the only exceptions I know of are Steve McIntosh and Chris Dierkes) - to an "Advaito-Buddhist" metaphysic and spirituality. And it was also Da Free John / Adi Da who formulated it first into a grand synthesis of all spirituality, in his profound (if limited, because he acknowledges nonduality) Basket of Tolerance (detailed contents of all editions; official page)

And finally, a trivial note regarding Wikipedia. As I sometimes contribute to Wikipedia, I found it amusing to discover that Da's date of death had been added to the page very soon after the event, then removed on the grounds that it wasn't from a reliable source, then added again, then removed again, then a general notice that "this article is about someone who has recently died" was added, while the byzantine bureaucracy that is Wikipedia's workings ground on, before details of his death were finally added. History page (if you are reading this blog later, scroll to 27th-29th November 2008)

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18 Comments:

Blogger ~C4Chaos said...

i have never read Da. it's no secret that Da had a profound influence on Wilber. i can see it on Wilber's integral model as well as his poetic writings. but i don't ride with gurus so i resonate more with Wilber's expansion of Da's philosophy.

godspeed to Adi Da. i'm grateful for all his contributions and positive influence on integral theory.

~C

5:10 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

I was one of his students for a period of time. I have sat with him many times. I knew many students in the early to mid eighties. What will be interesting will be to see how an entirely dependent, (Free John wanted them this way....as well as handicapped) group of people who really believe in the "body" as they do, will work it out, now that they don't have a leader anymore. I pray more for them than anything.

God bless this man. He is truly deluded. But now it was time for him to take his delusion out of this density.

There are many many more superior, more inclusive teachings on this planet. Read, study Ramtha....I have read all, seen many many, studied with several. Ramtha is a great gift. Truly over the top, truly radical and perfect for our paradigm changing times.

Stephen

11:07 AM  
Blogger goethean said...

> it's no secret that Da had a
> profound influence on Wilber.

It's no secret among Wilber observers, but does Wilber know it? Will he admit it publicly?

I'm guessing that the Wilber-approved book about Wilber doesn't mention Da.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Kulu Sadira said...

Alan,

Like so many who claim to understand Integral/AQAL theory, you've missed the boat here.

Go back and read/digest the important difference between State Stages vs Structure/World-Space Stages in KW's Integral Spirituality.

Then, you will begin to understand the significant contribution of KW in this arena and it's important contrast to Adi Da's Stages of Life (these being State Stages).

When you're finished with that, go back and review the difference between Levels, Lines and States of development to understand how Adi Da and AC can be very highly evolved spiritually (especially Adi Da) and simultaneously deficient, or even pathological, in other vital arenas of life (psycho-sexual, emotional, interpersonal, etc.)

Please do your due (Integral) diligence before making fuzzy claims about intermediate-zone classifications. Let us remain clear and honest re spiritual realizers.

Kulu Sadira
Durango, CO USA

10:25 AM  
Blogger Kulu Sadira said...

Alan,

Like so many who claim to understand Integral/AQAL theory, you've missed the boat here.

Go back and read/digest the important difference between State Stages vs Structure/World-Space Stages in KW's Integral Spirituality.

Then, you will begin to understand the significant contribution of KW in this arena and it's important contrast to Adi Da's Stages of Life (these being State Stages).

When you're finished with that, go back and review the difference between Levels, Lines and States of development to understand how Adi Da and AC can be very highly evolved spiritually (especially Adi Da) and simultaneously deficient, or even pathological, in other vital arenas of life (psycho-sexual, emotional, interpersonal, etc.)

Please do your due (Integral) diligence before making fuzzy claims about intermediate-zone classifications. Let us remain clear and honest re spiritual realizers.

Kulu Sadira
Durango, CO USA

11:47 AM  
Blogger goethean said...

I think Kulu Sadira could be a pseudonym for Ken Wilber, because Kulu's response is in exactly the same format as all of Wilber's responses to criticism. "You don't understand my system at all! My system is totally, completely, utterly different than the one you describe. In fact, they have nothing in common!"

Everyone who criticises Wilber has invariably "missed the boat", hasn't done their due diligence, and needs to go out and buy more Wilber books. And then we get the lovely accusation of dishonesty at the end of the comment.

Alan made a couple of pretty explicit claims in his blog post. They are:
*Da came up with the spectrum of consciousness, perhaps inspired by a Theosophical model
*The Wilber-Beck stream of the Integral Movement owes Da Free John / Adi Da much much more than it realises.
*It was Bubba/Da Free John who first fomulated a single physico-psycho-spiritual developmental spectrum; itself perhaps inspired by Theosophy or Rudolf Steiner;
*it was this same spectrum of seven stages that Wilber used as the basis of his entire philosophy and cosmology, causing him to reject his earlier Transpersonal-Jungian model, once he became a devotee. What would AQAL be without the Levels? And it was Da Free John who formulated the levels.
*Wilber's contribution was simply to add a bunch of correspondences, and more recently, lines, quadrants, post-metaphysics and so on.
*It was Da Free John, the master of nonduality, who introduced Wilber to an "Advaito-Buddhist" metaphysic and spirituality.
*And it was also Da Free John / Adi Da who formulated it first into a grand synthesis of all spirituality, in his profound Basket of Tolerance.

To this you respond that Wilber's contribution is significant, because the latest iteration of Wilber's system distinguishes between state stages and "Structure/World-Space Stages".

First of all, that may be true and it doesn't necessarily contradict any of Alan's claims. It certainly doesn't mean that Alan has "missed the boat" or failed to do "due diligence".

In order for you to tenably claim that Alan has "missed the boat", you should claim that either Wilber was NOT influenced by Adi Da, or else that Wilber freely admits Adi Da's influence on his system. You have done neither. The rest is PR flackery.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

With all the sexual escapades from "DA" why think his intilectual prowess reflects real spiritual experience? Meher Baba said many times that it was common for one who through yogic experience, without a real Master as Guide, can touch the edge of the 1st spiritual plane and the jolt is such that he belives he is completly realised.He then becomes lost at the edge of that experince as it overwhelmes the mind. Rudy was no realised master so we have all this confusion in trying to maKe sense of the spiritual" Teaching" and the absurd excess and that is not going to happen. Read the first Volume of Bhau Kalchuris" Lord Meher" and here is the life story of the 5 Perfect Masters of Meher Babas time: The real, original Sai baba, Upasani maharaji, hazarat babajan, narayan Maharaja and Tajuddin Baba. READ. HERE ARE THE LIVES OF REAL ENLIGHTENED MASTERS, NOT THESE SEX MONKEYS THAT PREY ON SEEKERS. WAKE UP.
"BY THEIR FRUIT
YE SHALL KNOW THEM."

4:35 PM  
Blogger duartmc9@gmail.com said...

Da did not come up to Ramana Maharshi's little toe. The whole episode called 'his life' was a pathetic farce....and a dangerous one

8:57 AM  
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Blogger Titus said...

You say you prefer the "earlier" Franklin Jones to the later - when he was Bubba or Da Free John. Get your timeline straight. In a few years he went from drug addict and Lutheran seminary flunky, to Scientologist, to Muktananda devotee (spending less than a month total with him before claiming to surpass him) to "self-realized" Cosmic Avatar, by which time he started collecting multiple "wives" and forcing devotees to make porn and engage in any manner of debauchery - all in about 5 years, and all by his first and second books. They even document all this - that is, before he censored them.
THERE WAS NO "BEFORE".
He was nuts from the start - every phase of his life show the trajectory of a sociopath and narcissist. I've read a large portion of his corpus and find nothing in it that is not better said by any number of true teachers and wise beings. he was always completely mad - and not "crazy wise". Nothing more, nothing less. Don't be a sucker.

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10:27 PM  
Blogger Don said...

Da was laughing about how nobody "got" what he was talking about, but it seems the joke is on him for not having a realized successor. The teacher is always to blame.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Don said...

"but really he was very advanced, a whole class above all the others like Muktananda, Osho, etc. A really unique Teacher, although for me I prefer authentic fully Enlightened gurus." I don't really know anything about Muktananda or Osho. Especially about etc. Each teacher is unique. As to your belief about "fully enlightened", this is just a belief and does not match up with my own experience. At a certain point I started expanding and felt that expansion in another, in one more expanded than I. But then I turned away from that teacher and my own process developed. I found there was expanded, then more expanded, and it appears that process goes on and on when appropriate. There is that internal expansion, then there is the integration and rework of the mind to accompany it. Neither Osho nor Da appear to have completed that work. We have to understand those PROCESSES and undergo that for ourselves and not look to the flailings of others. Learn from our OWN flailing :-)

1:20 PM  
Blogger Scarlett said...

He was formerly a Christian chaplain in a psyche ward. That's where he picked up the demons that began to possess him.

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