Avatar Adi Da in California in 1973

The Early Teaching Years of 1972 – 1986: Experimentation and Growth

The early teaching years were the source of most of the controversies. If Avatar Adi Da was teaching a spiritual practice, why delve into “money, food, and sex”?

Founding a New Spiritual Tradition

Avatar Adi Da began his teaching work with one essential inquiry: by what means can human beings perfectly realize Truth? What spiritual process will lead people to transcend their limited egoic patterns and fully awaken to the Reality-condition that is unaffected by change or death? Does the way of perfect liberation already exist, or does it need to be created in a new form?

Avatar Adi Da examined the spiritual wisdom-traditions from many cultures. Through a process of working with his early students and freely considering all aspects of the human condition, he brought forth an entirely new tradition of spiritual practice. He named this new spiritual tradition “the Reality-Way of Adidam”. It was based, in the traditional manner, on the devotional relationship to him as the revealer of the state of Reality Itself. His intention was to establish a process of perfect Reality-realization for all humankind and for all time.

To support the process of Spiritual Transmission, Adept-Realizers have tended and still tend to accept disciples or devotees, and also to establish a community or culture of such individuals. Such communities or cultures of practice have always been the necessary means of the advanced and ultimate adaptation of human individuals and, consequently, of all mankind.

—Avatar Adi Da Samraj
I Give You the Gift of One Another

Read a statement by Avatar Adi Da about the necessity for a community of practicing devotees.

His Early Devotees were Unprepared for Spiritual Practice

When he began formally teaching in 1972, Avatar Adi Da simply sat in front of his students and transmitted his state of Reality-realization. He then asked if there were any questions. His teachings unfolded from that point in response to the questions and concerns brought by his students, which primarily related to basic human problems, searches, and desires. Although attracted to Avatar Adi Da and his state of realization, his students had little foundation for the level of commitment that real spiritual practice requires.

Claire M., who has been a student of Avatar Adi Da since 1976, describes her early years of practice:

The process of growth required a real, rock-solid transformation at the most basic life levels before I could make use of the spiritual process that he offers. Avatar Adi Da said that we should understand we would go through some difficult periods of purification and adaptation. And it was a wild roller-coaster ride of intense confrontation, self-discipline, and purification. The process of observing and taking responsibility for my manipulative, grasping, and unloving ego was embarrassing and sometimes painful. There were times when I wanted to quit but I didn’t, because Avatar Adi Da never gave up on me. He served me in the most ingenious ways, perfectly suited to what I needed at each stage. He taught me how to use my energy in service and how to use my discrimination in study. Now, 40 years later, my life has become significantly purified and balanced. I feel overwhelming gratitude for his unrelenting love over all these years.

Photo of Claire M., devotee of Avatar Adi Da
Claire M.

As Avatar Adi Da said:

Real Transcendental Spiritual life begins only when the ego (with all of its mind, emotion, desire, and activity) is thoroughly understood and (thereby) transcended.

—Avatar Adi Da Samraj
The Aletheon

True human maturity is required to understand and transcend one's egoic motives and patterns. Avatar Adi Da observed that his students needed preparation in the basics. He elaborated the Reality-Way of Adidam in greater detail over time to include an extensive set of foundation disciplines that would prepare people for an esoteric spiritual process.

The Role of Money, Food, and Sex in Spiritual Practice

Soon after he started teaching, Avatar Adi Da found it necessary to engage his students directly to develop our self-understanding and loosen the life-patterns that prevented us from realizing the Transcendental Spiritual nature of Reality. During this period, Avatar Adi Da often interacted with us at the level of our ordinary human interests, fascinations, problems, and addictions. Essentially, he was like a coach who suited up and actually went out on the field, as opposed to staying on the sidelines (as many teachers traditionally have done). He constantly acted as a mirror, reflecting our egoic behaviors in order to support our human and spiritual growth. Through this interactive process, he developed his teachings—in response to people he encountered as his early students.

Angela W. describes her understanding:

It was clear at the time that Adi Da was working with us in the way he did because we needed that level of instruction, in the basics.

Photo of Angela W., devotee of Avatar Adi Da
Angela W.

Avatar Adi Da gave in-depth instruction on how to establish a mature, responsible relationship to the entire vital dimension of life, which he referred to as “money, food, and sex”. He urged us to deeply examine and transform these core patterns of our lives, in order to free up energy and attention for spiritual practice.

My Work with you in the domain of money, as with food and sex, is about unlocking the cramp in what I call the vital, centered in the solar plexus, so that the life-force and eventually My Transcendental-Spiritual Transmission can enter the body and flow unobstructed.

—Avatar Adi Da Samraj
November 18, 1997

In the Reality-Way of Adidam, the emotional-sexual ego (and, indeed, the ego of “money, food, and sex” altogether) must be really and truly gone beyond—and this must, in real and significant terms, begin in the foundation stages of the practice of the Way of Adidam, as part of the ongoing basis for real and true growth into and in the by-Me-Transcendentally-Spiritually-Awakened stages of the Way of Adidam. Therefore, My devotees must deal with “money, food, and sex” first—before there can be any advancement into by-Me-Transcendentally-Spiritually-Awakened stages of the Reality-Way of Adidam. This is an essential part of My Message and My Revelation: Human beings must deal with the money-food-and-sex ego first.

—Avatar Adi Da Samraj
The Complete Yoga of Human Emotional-Sexual Life

Sally H. praises the comprehensive nature of Avatar Adi Da's teaching:

Having grown up in this Way since childhood, I have a deep and long-standing appreciation for the immense breadth and help that Avatar Adi Da’s teachings offer to everyone. I have never come across anything else that even remotely begins to approach his direct consideration of our actual human condition. Avatar Adi Da’s detailed wisdom has great depth and profundity. To grow up allowing everything normally considered “taboo” in the conventional domain of money, food and sex to be a life-positive, intelligent consideration in the context of a spiritual life, has been an extraordinary grace and blessing. His wisdom shows me that neither end of the spectrum—whether self-indulgences or puritanical asceticism—is “it”. In terms of how it has served my life, becoming “ordinary” in these ways has been an extraordinary gift.

Photo of Sally H., devotee of Avatar Adi Da
Sally H.

Avatar Adi Da Develops His Emotional-Sexual Teachings

Over a period of more than twenty years, Avatar Adi Da investigated every aspect of human sexuality to discover how sex can be compatible with spiritual practice and Reality-realization. His consideration occurred in the context of human relationships, as he guided his devotees to an understanding of why our relationship issues and dramas consumed so much of our attention and energy.

The ever-present question from Avatar Adi Da’s early students was how to deal with sexuality in the context of spiritual practice. Avatar Adi Da concluded that moving his students beyond emotional-sexual preoccupations and concerns would require more from him than verbal instruction. It necessitated an open process of examining our life-patterns, free of preconceived attitudes and moralistic social restrictions. Avatar Adi Da worked this intensive process in small gatherings with a selected group of people who had matured in practice and expressed the desire to engage an in-depth consideration of emotional-sexual patterning.

In these gatherings, Avatar Adi Da discussed traditional views of sexuality in religious and spiritual cultures and explored the gamut of human emotional-sexual options in the context of the practice of Adidam. All questions and issues were open for discussion in these considerations. As we grew in self-understanding of our emotional-sexual patterns, we became capable of allowing the body-mind to be more available for spiritual practice. We found it to be an immensely liberating process.

The introduction to the book Always Enact Fidelity to Me by Avatar Adi Da speaks of that unique period in his work:

Because sexuality has such a profound influence on everything about human existence, Avatar Adi Da entered into an absolutely comprehensive process for the sake of establishing right understanding of and right practice in relation to the totality of human emotional-sexual life. Over the course of many years, Avatar Adi Da Gave his full Divine Avataric instruction on how sexually active life can be made compatible with the earlier stages of the process of Divine Self-Realization, and how sexual activity is inevitably relinquished in the final stages of that Great Process.

Through his revelation and blessing, Avatar Adi Da Worked to purify “the universal human confusion”. Thus, the supreme emotional-sexual Instruction he developed is the fruit of the profound work that he engaged, initially in his own Person in his years of spiritual practice prior to 1970, and, then (in his Teaching Years), with devotees who had declared their commitment to the process of Divine Self-Realization. Avatar Adi Da worked with these individuals very personally, and very humanly—taking them through many living “considerations”, both of sexually active practice and of celibate practice.

The process of Avatar Adi Da’s “consideration” of right emotional-sexual practice required utter dedication to the Truth of Being. We were called to take a hard look at the nature and consequences of whatever was arising in our bodily, emotional, and mental experience, while maintaining the ultimate orientation to the Truth of Existence Itself. No myths could oblige the heart. Truth was the only purpose of this process. Therefore, free “consideration” was required, with no guarantees of the outcome—absolutely none. This free “consideration” was always for the purpose of establishing the forms of emotional-sexual practice that were truly compatible with Spiritual life.

This process was real—and boldly non-puritanical. We were expected to be willing to look at everything for the sake of Truth alone. Everything was examined in detail—with the purpose of reaching the point of no double-mindedness, such that each person's emotional-sexual life could become one-pointed, free of dilemma and confusion.

—From Always Enact Fidelity to Me

Avatar Adi Da’s teaching process was an ecstatic, educational, and transformative experience for the devotees who made the choice to participate, yet it also led to some controversies.

Read about the controversies associated with Avatar Adi Da.

Avatar Adi Da’s Call for Love and Self-transcendence in All Relationships

As a result of this “theater” of consideration and experimentation, Avatar Adi Da produced an unprecedented body of teachings about emotional-sexual life in the context of spiritual practice that is now available to everyone. His intensive work with a few during this period established the practices that would benefit all of humankind, both individually and collectively.

Angela W. comments on this early period of Avatar Adi Da's work:

That was a time frame when we were young and experimentation happened. Avatar Adi Da worked that way when he was establishing the practice of Adidam. But it doesn’t need to be repeated, because the practice is now given, and the lesson is that sex can be made compatible with the earlier stages of spiritual life, but it is not a means for spiritual advancement. Those who get involved in Adidam in present time can expect a culture of discipline and practice.

Photo of Angela W., devotee of Avatar Adi Da
Angela W.

Eileen M., who initially came to Avatar Adi Da in 1978, relates:

I learned about the depth of human intimacy and the profound effect my actions have on those I love. I learned about love. I learned about vulnerability and trust. And I learned that the body-mind is an instrument to receive and conduct love and Divine Grace. Through Avatar Adi Da’s guidance, I understood that spiritual life was not an abstract or ethereal process. I understood the connection between emotion and sex. As I learned to open the body physically, I was able to open emotionally. And I was able to be in Avatar Adi Da’s company and feelingly receive his Divine Transmission. There was never the feeling that I was being taken advantage of, nor was I ever coerced into anything. Yes, sometimes it was an ordeal to outgrow old patterns, but was always liberating. And I learned so much from Avatar Adi Da’s direct instruction.

Photo of Eileen M., devotee of Avatar Adi Da
Eileen M.

Lynne W. describes the nature of her direct interactions with Avatar Adi Da:

I always observed Avatar Adi Da being entirely loving, even when his words or actions were forceful. His intention was purely to instruct, liberate, and enlighten us. During the teaching years, he blessed us with boundless compassion, wisdom, and Grace. But we didn’t always notice the blessing or understand the lesson at the time. We became offended when he criticized our behavior, and then we became abusive to him and one another.

I was very angry once when Avatar Adi Da questioned my presumption of being an advanced practitioner. He observed that I was not responsibly transcending reactive emotion. I was totally insulted, and while he was talking to a group of us I suddenly stood up and stomped out of the room, like, “I refuse to listen to this!” I felt rejected and wanted to punish him. After being alone for a couple of hours, I realized that I had just dramatized what he said about my reactivity. I was terribly embarrassed and remorseful, but when I went back into the room, Adi Da blessed me with a look full of love. He never mentioned my rude behavior, maybe because I finally observed and understood my emotional reactivity for what it was.

Photo of Lynne W., devotee of Avatar Adi Da
Lynne W.

Religious scholar Jeffrey J. Kripal summarizes Avatar Adi Da’s work integrating the emotional-sexual aspect of egoity with spiritual practice:

Adidam . . . deserves closer attention and critical reflection as a fascinating and sophisticated attempt to integrate human sexuality into the very heart of mystical practice and take the logic of nonduality to its inevitable and natural cultural conclusion, that is, to that world where there is no such thing as a self . . .

—Jeffrey J. Kripal, contributor
Gurus in America

Some key elements of Avatar Adi Da’s wisdom on emotional-sexual life concern basic aspects of everyday relationships. Other aspects of his teachings address the role of sexuality in esoteric spiritual practice. He taught that people’s emotional-sexual patterning is a principal impediment to their growth in spiritual practice.

Read further teachings by Avatar Adi Da on emotional-sexual life.

The Importance of Discriminative Intelligence in Spiritual Life

Many people who participated in these considerations with Avatar Adi Da declared that they wanted to enter the renunciate orders, but eventually discovered through insight into their real capabilities that this was an idealistic notion, not a realistic choice. Avatar Adi Da allowed for people to find this out through experience. That was part of the process.

A consistent theme throughout Avatar Adi Da’s teaching, from the beginning, was the development of discriminative intelligence:

The Reality-Way of Adidam can be rightly and truly practiced only if you exercise the depth-function of discriminative Reality-intelligence—the in-depth dimension of the (otherwise, daily-ordinary) person that examines all conditional arising, rightly and truly discriminatively understands it, comes to firm conclusions about it, and governs the life on that basis and in-depth. In that case, rather than being governed by the “lower” (or merely superficial) functional manifestation with which the “I” may otherwise tend to identify—and which manifestation is nothing but “point-of-view”-conditioning and suffering—you are governed by deeply responsive, heart-based Reality-intelligence.

—Avatar Adi Da Samraj
The Aletheon

Adi Da taught this profound understanding of human existence through intensive examination of conditional and non-conditional Reality. He worked to awaken insight about the true nature of existence, and the ability to make life choices based on Reality-intelligence.

A Profound Shift in Avatar Adi Da’s Manner of Teaching

A profound shift in Avatar Adi Da’s manner of teaching began to unfold in 1986, when the process of consideration that characterized his early teaching years increasingly gave way to a new period of his work. He had spent years establishing a comprehensive teaching that would serve those who faithfully applied it in practice. It was an extraordinary body of wisdom on all aspects of human life applicable for all humankind.

Avatar Adi Da increasingly relinquished the teaching process that involved reflecting students’ limitations and errors. He simply stood free in his egoless Divine state of Consciousness Itself. He asked that students first study and practice his teachings on the foundation level of human adaptation, and then come to him for his spiritual blessing when fully prepared. And, for those who were most profoundly moved to esoteric spiritual practice and had proven their capacity for ego-transcending renunciation, he established the formal renunciate orders of the Reality-Way of Adidam.

As he left behind his early mode of teaching, Avatar Adi Da’s final work focused solely on the blessing of all beings by direct revelation of his “Bright” state of Reality, Truth, and Conscious Light. He completed his written source-texts summarizing his teachings on all aspects of human life and spiritual practice. Increasingly from 1986 until 2000, and then completely from 2000 until his passing in 2008, Avatar Adi Da focused on the final writings of his literary and teaching work, the development of his artistic work, his spiritual work with more advanced practitioners, and his communication and blessing for world peace.

Beyond his lifetime, Avatar Adi Da invites everyone to approach him based on a right understanding of his nature and function as Avataric spiritual master, and to practice the Reality-Way of Adidam as he has given it.

I Am Merely Present Here.

Throughout all the years of This Divine Avataric Lifetime, I have Merely Been Present.

Whoever was associated with Me, whatever the conjunctions were, I Functioned As a Reflection, while at the same time Always Revealing Myself and Always Instructing people to devotionally recognize me.

I was Always Instructing those who came to Me to understand and transcend the mind, which always functions as a substitute for Reality Itself (and even for the "world" itself and the body itself).

I was Always Working to Awaken those who came to Me from the illusions of "Narcissus"—the psycho-physical illusions of egoity.

I Am (now and forever hereafter) Merely (Acausally) Present here, Functioning for egos as a kind of Mirror—until I am responsively devotionally recognized.

Now, and forever hereafter, I Am Always Transcendentally Spiritually Present here.

Now, and forever hereafter, I have Accomplished All of This.

Now, and forever hereafter, all that is required is the Sighting of Me.

All of devotion and all of practice follows on that.

—Avatar Adi Da Samraj
The Aletheon