The Great Vampire.
(I hope the author doesn’t mind this appropriation of his material, we need this stuff)
Gurus have come in for a lot a criticism since the rise of the Net. Great! But understanding is not always there. How could it be.
I think that these gurus are finished however. This should be the last generation of this game. It is simply not necessary or a part of the great tradition, except on the margins.
And it is hides dangerous people, like Da Free John. It is useless to wax indignation against this monster, the Great Vampire, trying to refill his tanks before his quick departure. (btw, DFJ said as much, depicting himself as a vampire).
Don’t find out the hard way what this means!
Who needs vampire movies after this bloodsucker.
You MUST be wary of these gurus: they can consume all that you are and hope to become. With assholes like Wilber doing their promo.
NO KIDDING: you don’t need to watch anymore vampire movies. They are lurid and ridiculous parodies of the sordid reality of people like DFJ. And they aren’t funny. They can throw a match on gasoline for a lifetime of meditation and destroyed a spiritual path foreever. DFH has all the properties of the ‘eternal’ blood seeker/sucker, reincarnating for a few victims/disciples to feed his ‘orbit’ beyond life.
14.5 Ken Wilber and Adi Da Samraj
There is yet another basic problem involved in this sector. Some exponents of the perennial insist that they are able to chart advanced experiential states of mind. The difficulties arising here are related to evident factors of subjective preference. For instance, in Ken Wilber’s version of the perennial, the contemporary American guru early known as Da Free John has been credited with very advanced experiential states. This elevation has been strongly disputed elsewhere in view of the antinomian reputation of Da Free John (Shepherd, Some Philosophical Critiques and Appraisals, pp. 74-101). The related surfeit of “crazy wisdom” lore has percolated the American scene in popular alternative religion, and with confusions abounding as a consequence.
The real name of Da Free John is Franklin Jones (b.1939). I will here adopt the abbreviation of Da for convenience. Da can be politely described as the most extreme form of pseudo-perennialism known to date in America (with the exception of Rajneesh, who was an Indian). He has exhibited a changing preference for exotic names, both for himself and his sect. Over the years he has styled himself as Bubba Free John, Heart Master Da, Avatar Adi, Da Avadhoota, Da Love Ananda, Da Kalki, Da Avabhasa, and Adi Da Samraj. His full current title is Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Samraj. His community is currently known as Adidam, though they formerly sported such designations as Free Daism and the Johannine Daist Communion.
There are strong overtones of Hindu language in these flamboyant representations, which can be seen to illustrate Da’s erratic tangent from his contact with the controversial guru Swami Muktananda (d.1982), who was the founder of Siddha Yoga. Da (or Frank) became the disciple of this entity in 1968, and subsequently claimed that he had gained full enlightenment in 1970. A rather suspicious detail is that Da was a member of Scientology during the interim.
Da has claimed the highest spiritual honours, in terms of being an Avatar who is strongly implied as the peak achievement of perennial wisdom. He is one of the doubtful roles in Western neo-Advaita presuming to have inherited the legacy of Ramana Maharshi (see no. 19 below). His books have been celebrated by some American enthusiasts of “non-dualism,” but have aroused criticism elsewhere. Da tabulated various religions and mystics in a way that evidently suited his preferences, his own creed of non-dualism being at the top of the list. He is inseparable from the subject of “crazy wisdom,” a disability shared with the bohemian Tantric Buddhist known as Chogyam Trungpa (1939-1987), who has the repute of being an alcoholic.
What was the palpable achievement of Daist avataric crazy wisdom? Various devotees of Da became disaffected, with some filing lawsuits entailing large sums. There were reports that wild parties continued in his immediate environment during the 1970s and early 80s; he encouraged his devotees to watch pornographic movies. He was said to have nine “wives,” and to exercise a habit of drawing other women devotees into intimate sexual contact. The recipients of such amorous attention were frequently wives and girlfriends of male devotees; however, Avatar Adi Da resorted to the explanation that he was thereby assisting male devotees to overcome their sexual attachments. He himself was, of course, beyond all attachments as a supreme spiritual authority who must not be doubted.
The most obscure of Da’s habitats was an island in Fiji, which became a refuge after the lawsuits filed against him in the mid-80s. The Da romeo was accused in one lawsuit (filed by Beverly O’Mahoney) of fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, brainwashing, and sexual abuse. That list of charges is not exhaustive. The accuser here stated that she had been forced via alcohol consumption into sexual orgies during her seven years as a devotee of Da in California and on the elite Fijian island. The media described her as a sex slave, and that does not seem an undue exaggeration in view of some details afforded. See the relevant 1985 report “Guru hit by sex-slave suit” available at http://lightmind.com/thevoid/daism/sfex-01.html. The Daist community resorted to elaborate justifications and evasions in a manner that has been increasingly recognised as the hallmark of cults. The legal claims were settled out of court.
The Mahoney lawsuit alleged that the non-profit tax-exempt status of the Johannine Daist Communion was a sham designed for the personal advantage of Da. It is known that an Australian devotee had contributed two million dollars to buy the Fijian island in 1983. By the time of the lawsuits in the mid-1980s, a cult counselling centre in Berkeley had assisted about fifty disillusioned ex-devotees of Da. They were no longer in the mood for exotic claims and titles.
The San Francisco Chronicle in April 1985 reported the harrowing experience of a woman devotee who had bad memories of sexual abuse as a child. The remedy of the abnormally lustful Da was to make her have oral sex with three other devotees, after which he himself indulged in sexual relations with the victim. She was hysterical as a consequence, and later related that this traumatic episode took years for her to come to terms with. This report has since appeared in chapter 20 of Geoffrey D. Falk, Stripping the Gurus, at http://www.strippingthegurus.com/stgsamplechapters/da.asp,
A literate ex-devotee is the Indologist Georg Feuerstein, who has made significant criticisms of Da in one section of a popular “crazy wisdom” book (Holy Madness, second edition, 2006). Dr. Feuerstein usefully stresses that partisan accounts of Da have been glossed and mythologised, especially the autobiographical contributions. For instance, Da’s membership of Scientology for about a year in 1968-9 was a detail later relegated. That detail does not suit the hagiology of enlightenment inherited from Hindu Yoga.
In contrast, the assessments of Ken Wilber are problematic. This admirer of Da penned influential encomiums. Wilber’s version of perennial philosophy was very popular in America, and the influence of Da is clearly discernible. Wilber did post in 1996 a warning against the activities of Da, and observed that the hideout in Fiji represented an extremist position, one which had effectively curtailed Da’s influence on the mainland. Yet disconcertingly, Wilber still expressed praise for the books of Da, which had evidently influenced him deeply. See Wilber, “The Case of Adi Da” at http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/misc/adida.cfm. Wilber was here still implying a form of spiritual development in the antinomian entity who had retreated to Fiji.
In 1998 Wilber confirmed his ambiguous view of Adi Da Samraj, stating that “he is one of the greatest spiritual Realisers of all time, in my opinion, and yet other aspects of his personality lag far behind those extraordinary heights” (quoted in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adi_Da). The journalist John Horgan described his interview with Wilber in 2000, and commented that “although he (Wilber) now sees Da Free John as a deeply flawed individual, Wilber still thinks the guru is a brilliant mystical philosopher” (Horgan, Rational Mysticism, 2003, p. 70). In contrast, I believe that the discrepancy proves the absence of any spiritual achievement. The word “realisation” is currently meaningless, at least in the sphere of “crazy wisdom” and “new spirituality.”
l to r: Ken Wilber, Adi Da Samraj
Ken Wilber wrote two open letters to the Daist community in 1998, and one of these was briefly quoted in Wikipedia (see above). The other letter has been retrieved by another online source, having been posted three years after composition on a Shambhala website. This letter clearly amounts to a support for Adi Da Samraj. Wilber here says that he neither regrets nor retracts his past endorsements of Adi Da, and that it was only due to cultural and legal considerations that he was no longer able to give a public recommendation. Furthermore, he expresses satisfaction that his own writings had brought people to Adi Da, and he still in fact recommended that “students who are ready” should become disciples of this guru. These major concessions annul Wilber’s apparent reservations in his more well known statement of 1996 abovementioned. This matter has been the subject of a negative verdict from Geoffrey D. Falk in chapter 20 of his online book Stripping the Gurus (reference supplied above).