If you find any of what I write interesting enough and curious enough to want to learn more, I say start with Beloved Adi Da Samraj, my Guru. My individual narrative is a reflection of His action in my life. If you don’t yet know who He is, please investigate, but before you do, try to imagine this: Adi Da Samraj is Consciousness Itself which is the source of all and everything including you I and everyone, so when you investigate, please try to imagine that He is not a separate person like you and I and everyone else tends to assume.
But it always starts out that way for most of us. You’ll see this other person and you’ll probably miss Him entirely confused by the fact He looks like a normal person, or perhaps a rather odd looking person. You’ll think he’s a cultic figure. It almost always starts that way. It can’t be helped because we’re egos. We presume separateness and can’t imagine any other condition.
For the past several months, but more intensely for the past month I have spent most of my days working from my home office in Sun Peaks resort while enjoying wave after wave of the most pleasant bliss and ecstasy. Those are the right words, but the intensity fluctuates. At times it rolls over me like a palpable warm wind. At other moments, it recedes while I work or talk but it’s still there, still delightful and always present.
I know this feeling fairly well. I recognized it the first time it came over me for free about 18 years ago. It’s a feeling very similar to the drug ecstasy (MDMA, Molly etc.). In my 30’s I discovered that drug and loved it. It produces a rush of serotonin that makes one feel ecstatic and related and sympathetic and connected to everyone and everything. That’s how I feel almost all the time now, even while writing this sentence.
The drug ecstasy was essential for my wife and I in healing our relationship. At a time when Deb had asked for a divorce it helped us find each other and feel each other in spite of the dense anger and pain that was otherwise the only thing we felt in each other’s company.
In 2001 my dot com company and a vast fortune in unrealized, fictional wealth evaporated. The next two years were dark and frustrated, and I found myself in a state of such utter despair, I remember lying on the floor of my home office in my mother-in-law’s home, speaking aloud to whomever might be listening, “If You’re actually listening, I could use some help. It’s clear I have no idea what I’m doing and don’t know anything”.
Yes, I was living in my mother-in-law’s home with my wife and three children having gone from a paper net worth of more than 9 million to well past the point of debt in which most rationale people choose to go bankrupt. And Yes, I was asking God for help. That was in the fall of the year 2002.
While I see this is starting to look like a salvation story, I point to it not because my prayers were answered (they were), but because in that spirit of defeat I had come to utterly recognize that I had no answers. I had no reason to believe I understood anything, and I was suddenly open to any new thought or idea no matter how strange or contrary to my previous experience, because I had seen quite perfectly how doing things my way resulted in total failure after total failure.
I must add to this the fact that a short time before I begged for help, I was so angry and filled with rage that I saw real fear for the first time in my wife, Deb’s eyes, when I was ranting about some frustration of the moment. She wasn’t afraid of me so much as she was afraid of what was happening to me. As I write this now, I realized that seeing fear in her eyes then was the moment things could change. I have always and still now love Deb with every cell of my being and seeing that pain and fear in her as she looked at me helped me realize that something had to change.
I had never believed in any kind of god, Christian or otherwise and had spent many days in the early years of online bulletin boards logging onto Christian groups to throw some devil into the conversations just for kicks. I had always been an asshole, but at this low point I was an asshole who knew I knew nothing at all.
The one stickiest residue from my dot com to bomb period was that I had tried the street drug, ecstasy, and loved it. To feel that beautiful connection with others for under $20 a night at a time I was blowing $100K a year trying to feel better was revolutionary. But in the year following my dot com blowout there was nothing to feel good about.
Until I stumbled into a book called The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle when my mom left one on the desk I had lay under asking God for help a few days earlier. Shortly after starting this book, I found myself standing in line for an evening workshop conducted by a personal growth company called Peak Potentials Training led by a charismatic speaker named, T. Harv Eker.
Eckhart Tolle’s book began with an intriguing chapter entitled, “You Are Not Your Mind”. In that opener he presented the idea that I was not the one who had thoughts. Thoughts come and go but I am not the thinker so much as the observer of the thoughts. This chapter resonated with me as I considered it, because for all my life I had this feeling that there was me as an outward personality, talking and acting and interacting with people, but simultaneously there was this other internal me that stood apart and seemed to judge my actions. I felt this internal me most often when it was calling bullshit on the outer me. This sense of another self was most palpable when I was being untrue or acting contrary to how I felt I should. It was that voice that only a month or so before helped me acknowledge that I knew nothing whatsoever for certain and certainly nothing useful.
A few days after reading the first chapter in The Power of Now, I was in that evening workshop with Harv Eker and about 250 other people, sitting near the middle-left of the room about 10 rows back from stage, just another face in the crowd. Harv was working the room from stage delivering a program called, The Millionaire Mind Evening, in which he explained that our financial successes and failures were a function of our subconscious thoughts and deep personal programming. Fresh off my total failure as a dot com millionaire and armed with the certainty of my complete lack of insight, I was all ears. Harv paced from one side of the stage to the other dropping new age zinger after zinger, and then about 15 minutes in, he stopped moving, looked directly at me and said, “You are not your mind.”
Ok…that was weird…he’d found me of all people in that crowd to say the most compelling thought that had entered my awareness in a very long time, like a special delivery package designed to ensure I was really listening. “I am not my mind”. OK. So, what am I?
That night ended with me breaking an arrow with the soft skin of my throat. I was jacked up and immediately signed Deb and I up for a three-day intensive workshop on the same topic.
A month later I sat near the front row at The Millionaire Mind Intensive, with my wife Deb. And oh ya…I had been hired by Harv’s company about a week after the evening workshop to help develop his IT department.
During the three-day intensive workshop, I got “aha!” moment after “aha!” moment and combined with the practices suggested in The Power of Now, found that I was increasingly present, found my mind increasingly quiet, and found myself increasingly trusting that everything was happening for a reason. It was in that mood, exhausted by many hours of intense workshop activity, combined with little sleep, that Deb and I drove to a restaurant in North Vancouver to have a meal and “debrief” on what we felt we had learned at this workshop. The restaurant was near my mother-in-law’s home in Lynn Valley and was recommended by a friend. I’d never eaten there before.
I remember pulling up across the road from the restaurant and parking our minivan. I put the car in park, stepped out of the vehicle, and from that moment for approximately the next three months, I was high with a feeling of ecstasy almost identical to the feeling on the drug.
I looked around startled because everything I looked at seemed to glow with an internal light, an internal intelligence, alive and communicating itself as feeling. Deb and I walked across the road into an outdoor courtyard surrounded by a white picket fence that emanated life energy and light and I knew it was in some way conscious.
And that wasn’t the strangest part. There was a man in his 30’s who was looking at me as I walked past him sitting at a table near the white fence. As he looked at me, I could feel an enormous pain emanating from him. I could feel in him an inner wounded child and as I continued past him with him looking over-long at me, I felt an incredible sorrow and simultaneously compassion and love for him. Until that moment, I promise you I never felt that way about pretty much anyone or anything without chemical assistance.
By the time we were seated at our table, I was glowing with my new-found toy. My mind was silent and free of chatter and I felt blissful waves of ecstasy rolling over me exactly like I had come to love from the drug, only now it was enjoyed for free.
Our waiter that night was also the owner, and as it turns out, the chef. He asked if we’d like a drink and after Deb ordered a glass of wine, I looked at him feeling the same love and compassion I’d felt for the man outside and feeling that same depth of pain in him and said, “No. I think I’ve just decided to quit drinking”. I didn’t have a drop of alcohol for about three years after that moment even though I was a near daily drinker normally.
He looked at me like I was on something. He would know. His name was Paul and I didn’t realize it at that moment, but he was soon to lose his restaurant and marriage due to a substance abuse problem. The idea that someone would spontaneously announce he was quitting drinking surely must have stuck out in his addict’s mind.
I had no idea how I was suddenly having this experience but felt certain that it was as a consequence of the event we’d attended. I looked at Paul and said, “Millionaire Mind”. He looked at me with an uncertain smile, unsure of how to respond. I said it again, “Millionaire Mind”. I then told him as waves of bliss rolled through me so strongly, I felt sure everyone nearby must be feeling them too, “When you hear these words, ‘Millionaire Mind’ three more times, you have to investigate.” I can’t remember another thing about that day or our meal, what we ate, or any other significant interaction with Paul or anyone else.
Three years later, Paul asked me to receive him at the end of a 30-foot fire-walk one evening in Squamish BC at an event called the Enlightened Warrior Training Camp conducted by Harv and Peak Potentials Training. Paul and I never spoke about the tortured path he took after hitting rock bottom to find himself eventually sitting in a Millionaire Mind Intensive. He went on to work for Peak Potentials for many years after I’d come and gone and has impacted many people’s lives much like our short encounter had impacted his (Paulie! I love you brother!).
Deb reminded me after she read this section of the debrief at Paulie’s restaurant that when we first sat down, our actual waiter became concerned we were “on something” and alerted Paul, who, as the owner, then came out of the kitchen to investigate. Paul’s journey to hell and back just happened to get a nudge in the right direction because his waiter was uncomfortable with the joy and inexplicable smile I shared with him as he seated us.
This was the first breadcrumb on the trail that led me to discover Adi Da Samraj.
Over the next three months, this first experience of free bliss and ecstasy began to slowly fade. The more it faded, the more urgent my curiosity became about its actual cause and source. In those months, I had initially assumed that many, if not most people who took personal growth workshops, had a similar experience. The more I asked around and even observed the others working at Peak Potentials, all of whom had taken the course, the more obvious it became that my experience was unique.
About two months after my first “hit” of free bliss, somehow, I found myself being welcomed into something called an “ashram” on Broadway in Vancouver of a religious organization called “Siddha Yoga”. I remember the kind face of the 30 something white fellow that greeted me. I was definitely expecting an Indian person when I walked through their outer door. I remember looking at him, feeling a heightened sense of the bliss that had started to diminish in recent times, and with that intensity magnified, thought, surely this fellow must be feeling the same. It’s entirely possible he was, but we never really discussed it. He simply welcomed me, explained a bit about Siddha Yoga, and invited me into the hall.
I can’t recall any other details from that night except that my greeter was a westerner like myself and that my first ever time “chanting” in a group included repeating the words, “Hari Krishna” with greater volume and abandon until I found myself reeling with bliss.
Weren’t Hari Krishnas that the group of bald nuisances from the Airplane movies? This wasn’t that. By the end of the night I was filled with the intense ecstasy from the first night after the Millionaire Mind Intensive having sung along with this lovely group of devoted strangers first to Hari Krishna, and then to the name of the previous saint in their Siddha Yoga order, Baba Muktanada.
This was the second breadcrumb on the trail that lead me to Adi Da Samraj.
Over the years between then and now on very rare occasions mostly related to meditation, chanting, or spiritual practices of one sort or another I have enjoyed similar feelings to the ecstasy and bliss that started me on my quest to understand the feeling’s origin and try to recapture it. But otherwise, I was back to normal. Although my life had been redirected.
The feeling had faded but seemed to fade as much from my effort to grasp and hold it in place, like trying to squeeze a lemon seed between fingers. Ultimately, I didn’t understand its origin nor what had held it in place for three month, but with a new direction in life professionally with Peak Potentials Training, and spiritually, with Siddha Yoga, I was in motion, and definitely no longer depressed and angry.
Siddha Yoga is a religion from India founded upon the spiritual teachings of Bhagawan Nityananda who was guru to Baba Muktananda who was guru to Gurumayi Chidvilasananda who is the present spiritual head of that religion.
On His journey to the Self, Adi Da was a devotee to Baba Muktananda, but I would not know this until a long time after I had become his devotee.
Now if you’re anything like I was prior to the first day I stumbled into the Siddha Yoga temple, you likely have no idea of any Indian traditions and likely think of the relationships of guru and devotees to be at the least, Eastern, and not for you, or at the most, totally whacked and definitely not for you. We in the west are devoted to the ego and cults of personality. The only sort of guru and devotee relationship most westerners might relate to is Luke Skywalker to Obiwan or Yoda. But western devotees always outgrow their masters and always kick ass on evil; western devotees become heroic, idealized egos.
The idea of being subservient to any person, never mind being “devoted” to someone normally nauseates the western personality and instantly generates the thought, “cult!” And there’s no question in my mind that had I not been “cracked open” first by my suffering and certainty of my own ignorance, and then by my ecstatic experience, I would have never been open to learn more about the Siddhas or consider the relationship to any guru as a devotee.
Baba Muktanada was said to have been “enlightened” and had come to become enlightened as the devotee of Bhagawan Nityananda, referred to as Bade Baba, who was also enlightened. Enlightenment seemed to be a state of oneness with God and the feeling was said to be “blissful”. I had the feeling I’d had something of a taster of this. Like those little pink spoons from Baskin & Robins they give you to sample the goods. Just that much. Enough for you to be certain you want more.
According to Siddha Yoga, everyone and everything is part of God. God isn’t over there creating things and standing apart like the Jewish or Christian god. God is the underlying condition of everything and source of everything. There’s no “not god”. And when this state is realized directly, the separate personality, like “Cage” falls away in enlightenment.
A parable from this tradition tells the story of a wandering saint who drops his loincloth and takes a piss on the back of a great temple wall, whereupon he’s cursed out by some of the priests of the temple. He simply asks them where God isn’t, so he can pee there.
The path to enlightenment in the Siddha Yoga tradition follows the reception of “shaktipat” or the spiritual initiation that causes the release or activation of “kundalini”, an energy that actively transforms the devotee into an enlightened being. The length of time this takes appears to depend on the level of seriousness or intensity of devotion applied.
Seek and yee shall find! Siddha Yoga exalts the concept of the seeker. I was a very eager seeker.
And yet, during those days I was mostly drawn to the chanting parts of satsang, the term given to the gatherings in the hall. Sitting for half an hour in a room in East Vancouver near a plumbing supply warehouse “mindlessly” chanting the names of Hindu deities and saints was the surest way for me to enjoy that once daily elixir of bliss that started me seeking in the first place.
And yet, my time with Siddha Yoga was just transitional. Its chief function seems to have been my introduction to Bade Baba and Muktananda and the possibility of a relationship to the guru, but none of the Siddhas produced the kind of attraction that would be needed for me to “stay in the room” long enough for their instruction to take hold.
From lying on the floor of my in-law’s home, filled with the certainty of my ignorance which lead to asking for help to shortly thereafter chanting “Hari Krishna” only a period of a few months had elapsed. When the forces of transformation take hold in life, things move fast. I had evolved less in my life in the first 37 years than I had in those 6 months.
And all the while, a new possibility in my spiritual understanding was taking shape, I was also working for one of the fastest growing personal growth companies in North America helping Peak Potentials Training to grow from a company with about 6 Million in annual revenues to well over 100 Million in the 4 years I managed their IT department.
Fresh off my dot com failures, I found my stride with “Peaks” helping them build the software that allowed them to capture the massive sales they were soon to generate. I actually own the rights to the software they paid me as a private contractor to build and to this day use that core technology to run my accommodations business.
And while I definitely grew professionally working for Peaks, the biggest impact that company had on me was the introduction to a single individual who they hired to run “The Predicament” event at the Enlighted Warrior Training camp, the same course I would eventually receive Paulie on a fire-walk a couple years later.
The Predicament event helps people who are not comfortable dealing with violent behaviour, learn to respond in a way that just might save their lives or the lives of others if they are every confronted by aggressive people bent on mayhem. To be honest, I had no problem with this particular “muscle” having been a fairly violent and aggressive person in my youth. I played football until 16 at the highest level in Toronto.
Satyen Raja is a Canadian of east Indian descent with a background in martial arts. His delivery of The Predicament for Peaks, however, was largely a marketing tool to introduce people in the field of personal development to his compelling and charismatic qualities. Satyen has a delightful gravity and he was the next breadcrumb that led me to Adi Da.
Together with his stunning, goddess of a wife, Suzanne, Satyen offered a three-day intensive called, “Sex, Passion and Enlightenment”. Anyone with genitals can be deepened by their teachings. It would take an entirely separate essay of many, many pages to communicate all the ways that education on the creative play of masculine and feminine polarities in relationship have helped Deb and I forge our passionate and evolved union.
We are, as of this writing, enjoying our 28th year together. We married in 1998, five years after our first child was born which was about one year after we first made love on that uncomfortable circular rattan chair in North Vancouver. Without Satyen and Suzanne in our lives, we would almost certainly have long ago divorced.
In fact, collapsed with despair, shortly after Deb asked for a divorce sometime in the fall of 2008, Suzanne felt my pain, and offered up some words that helped me see in a moment how for years I’d been packing Deb’s bags. Have you “claimed her” she asked. Far from it.
The difficulties of our marriage in the years before this had both Deb and I exhausted by our inability to feel each other truly or heal the wounds we’d each driven into the other in our careless first 15 years together. I’ll write in the future more on Deb and I and the incredible grace that infuses our marriage to this day. For now, thank you Satyen and Suzanne. We love you and are so thankful for your help and wisdom.
Yes, the introduction to Satyen was a break crumb, but of course I didn’t know that at the time. Years later, after I had actually become a devotee of Adi Da’s, I discovered that the Sex, Passion & Enlightenment material was drawn by Satyen out of his experience with his teacher on the subject, a renowned author and personality named David Deida. Deida chronicles his own journey toward the development of his teachings by way of a man named, William Tsiknas who David refers to as Mykonos in his autobiography, Wild Nights. William is one of Adi Da’s original devotees and is a beautifully awake man that I’ve met on a couple occasions. David also apparently followed Adi Da for a couple years in the 80’s although I don’t know if he considered himself a devotee then and does not appear to now.
So, Adi Da’s devotee, William Tsiknas helped shape David Deida’s teachings, which shaped Satyen’s teachings, which eventually saved then enriched my marriage. By this time which would be late 2004 or early 2005, Adi Da had already captured me by way of various seeming proxies and yet, I still hadn’t heard his name or teachings directly.
That would change in the summer of 2005 listening to a tape cassette of a talk called “Frogs and Walls” originally recorded in March 1975 at a time Adi Da called himself, Baba Free John. In the living room of a beautifully mad, grotesquely lovely, spiritual teacher known only as, “Aha” in the company of my close friend Ken Gijssen, I first heard my Beloved Adi Da’s teachings directly.
The final bread crumb was found, and I would now have a clear path back to the enjoyment that I first felt ecstatically following the Millionaire Mind Intensive and that I regularly enjoy now having truly “heard” my Master.
That same day with Aha and Ken, we also listened to “Garbage and the Goddess” a talk from April 1974. The remarkable humor and eloquent prose that “Baba” spoke on those recordings struck me with so much force, I became obsessed to learn more and hear more. He spoke so smoothly and so clearly in those spontaneous live recordings that it felt like he was reading through polished essays. In the year that followed, I listened to everything I could possibly find from Adi Da on a path that led directly to the Guru and, at least this first chapter, culminated in my trip to sit at His Feet on his ashram island in Fiji.
So here I sit now, New Year’s Day 2021, 18 years after first enjoying that original current of ecstasy I’d first stumbled into having followed the trail of bread crumbs to the Source. I say it was like following bread crumbs because it implies that they were set out to provide a path back Home. 17 years of “listening” to Adi Da Samraj until finally sometime this year I truly started “hearing” his arguments and my mind naturally began to quiet. As that occurred, in rushed His “current” of love-bliss and ecstasy. He said it would. It’s His Sign that you’re on the right path and that you’ve begun to find Him where He is always already the case. Where you and He are One and the same, Beloved.
Suggested next read: Sex, Love and Wounds