I left out "Adi Da Samraj, " who, uh, died Nov. 27. [On Edit:] This from the Lake County News, written by Elizabeth Larsen, Dec. 16, 2008:
Followers are mourning the death of a spiritual leader who founded a religious practice and several religious sanctuaries around the world, including one on Cobb Mountain.
Adi Da Samraj, 69, died Nov. 27 at his hermitage in Naitauba, Fiji, according to a statement from his organization, Adidam.
Adi Da was a spiritual master for 2,000 devotees worldwide, said Bill Dunkelberger, a spokesman for Adidam.
The man known to many followers simply as "Beloved" died of natural causes while in his art studio surrounded by devotees, said Dunkelberger.
"This was a sudden, unexpected event," Dunkelberger said.
Although a precise cause of death was not given, Dunkelberger said Adi Da often had told his followers that one day his spirit would "outshine" the body. Adi Da's physicians said his heart simply stopped.
I guess his prediction came true.
Here's a period piece on "Adi Da," aka lots of other names...
The style back then...they all looked like they were in porno movies.
Which brings me to this
Eliezer Sobel has spent nearly forty years bowing, chanting, nude wrestling, meditating, overdosing on shrooms, puking out windows, playing guitar at Auschwitz and laughing with the Dalai Lama while urgently seeking God, gods, or at least enlightenment. He recounts these adventures -- which he calls "the endless cycle I have been caught in" and which he concedes hasn't quite worked -- in his memoir The 99th Monkey: A Spiritual Journalist's Misadventures with Gurus, Messiahs, Sex, Psychedelics, and Other Consciousness-Raising Experiments (Santa Monica Press, 2008). Oh, he tried. At 23, he doffed his trousers so that Baba Ram Dass -- who coined the phrase "Be here now" -- could assess the size of his penis. (Well, Ram Dass asked.) At another point, Sobel paid homage at the graves of a cat and camel once owned by self-proclaimed "God-man" Adi Da (formerly Franklin Jones of Jamaica, New York) --but demurred when fellow disciples began greedily gulping water that had been used to wash Adi Da's sandals. Sobel sojourned to Israel, India, Nepal. He consulted a Brazilian "healer" who told him that astral beings preside over drugs: "The entity associated with cocaine wears all white" -- well, duh -- "including top hat and gloves. The mushroom being is an ancient, wizened little Oriental man."...
As his search progressed, Sobel sometimes diverged from merely consuming dogmas, products and events to create them. Basically, he made shit up. And folks went for it. He wrote a book called The Manual of Good Luck that sold over 40,000 copies via mail-order. At the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Sobel and a friend "thought we could promote a new healing approach, to be called Chicken Therapy, in which people would be asked to flap their arms and squawk like chickens, and we even developed a theoretical underpinning for the practice, in terms of how the flapping stimulated certain acupuncture meridians, and the clucking used the vocal cords to transmute the energy, or something along those lines." Granted, it's not out-and-out genuflection, but it mixes Taoist notions of yin, yang and qi with, well, barnyard fowl. "As we practiced flapping and squawking a few times," Sobel recounts, "we had our first converts to the chicken cult. And I have no doubt that had we pursued the idea people would have reported receiving amazing benefits from it. You get what you pay for."
You have to admire his honesty. His own close encounters with "a long list of spiritual masters" left him feeling "essentially nothing" -- as if, he muses, he has "missed the point."
I obviously derive benefits from my practice - which is of course ironic, because you get the benefits by actively not looking for them.
I look at my practice as basically developing a skill to live life; it's no more a consumer item then it would be taking music lessons, except for the fact that music lessons are not always effective at mitigating the desire to kick the shit out of my fellow man, inter alia.
I don't get people like Sobel, or folks who followed Franklin Jones.
Just don't get 'em.
If you're not seeing a skill developing, wtf are you doing with your life that you have to go to a spiritual smorgasbord? OTOH, the author's point is right in one respect: if you only stick to the tradition in which your parents belonged or that of the dominant culture, it does seem profoundly incurious.
But this Adi Da guy was basically phonier than magic jewelry maker Sai Baba - I guess P.T. Barnum was right.
But even Tom Cruise can figure out that you shouldn't be too weird.
But then there's the late Bill Hicks (warning: naughty words spoken):