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Adi Da Samraj: Realized or/and Deluded? by William Patrick Patterson

Adi Da Samraj: Realized or/and Deluded? by William Patrick Patterson.  Arete Communications 2012.  210 pages.

Franklin Jones, also known as Bubba Free John, Da Love Ananda, Adi Da, and many other appellations besides, was quite the character.  Even as a relatively young man he was lauded by spiritual elites; Ken Wilber, in 1979, wrote of him:

Whatever else might be initially said, the event of Bubba Free John is an occasion for rejoicing, because — without any doubt whatsoever — he is destined to be recognized as the first Western-born Avatar (World Teacher) to appear in the history of the world. For the other great avatars — Christ, Gautama, Krishna — all have been Asian. But here, for the first time, is a Western-born Spiritual Master of the ultimate degree.

At the same time he was the quintessential cult figure, an abusive, predatory and whimsical sexual-spiritual bully who lorded it over his god-besotted, harebrained disciples.  Wrote Mark Miller, the former boyfriend of one of Jones’ “spiritual wives”:

DFJ [Da Free John] gave her herpes and told her it was prasad [spiritual food] from the Guru to help her work through her bad cunt karma…  He also gave it to a lot of other women, and you can’t really say it was by accident.  He knew he was contagious but he had sex anyway because he could just explain it as a form of blessing for the women he gave it to…  DFJ made another friend of mine give three guys oral sex, one after the other, and then he had sex with her himself.  She was molested as a child and had some sexual hang-ups, so this really traumatized her, making her do this group thing (91).

William Patrick Patterson’s book is the first assessment of this man of many sides and extremes.

Franklin Jones 1973

I’ve long been curious about Franklin Jones–how could one not be after Wilber’s hyperbolic, laudatory ejaculations?–so when I found this volume on Amazon I snatched it up with hardly a thought, even though the book did not appear to have been properly published.  Indeed, no reputable publisher makes a book cover like that; mine has “review copy” stamped on the inside cover, plus there are a zillion typos and sentences needing to be rewritten.  Clearly this is not a finished product.  I don’t know if a polished edition will ever emerge–I certainly hope so–but I still read the work with relish and plowed through it at a pace.  I suspect you’ll do the same.

So, what’s inside?

The actual biography is a mere five chapters at around a hundred pages.  While a lot more could certainly have been said, Patterson manages to give you the gist of the man in this relatively short space.  There is almost nothing about Jones’ boyhood, which is a shame because one really has to wonder what sort of upbringing might have formed such a thoroughly narcissistic, exploitive and charismatic personality.  (The suggestion of sexual molestation by his Lutheran minister is made, almost as an afterthought, on page 135.  Jones’ autobiography The Knee of Listening  supports this.)  By page two he’s already in college.  Clearly, Jones was a gifted student–he went to Columbia and thence to Stanford, and the snippets from his master’s thesis on Gertrude Stein (at the back of the book) indicate not only a born writer but a subtle intellect as well.  During this time he participated in drug experiments and flung himself headlong into hedonism before finally recognizing that way as a dead end.  And here begins his real story.

To make it short: he connected up first with an Asian imports store owner and kundalini yoga master named Albert Rudolph (aka “Rudi”), through whom he was introduced to Swami Muktananda.  Under Muktananda’s tutelage Jones came into his own–and then left him.  Finally, at the Vedanta Society Temple in Hollywood he attained his final realization:

It was as if I had walked through myself.  Such a state is perfectly spontaneous.  It has no way of watching itself.  It has no way to internalize or structure itself.  It is Divine madness.  The Self, the Heart is perfect madness.  There is not a jot of form within it.  There is no thing.  No thing has happened.  There is not a single movement in consciousness.  And that is its blissfulness (26).

Jones made his career afterwards as a guru and self-proclaimed Avatar.  He self-published on a massive scale, made the evening news with sex scandals, got fatter and fatter, and finished his days hiding out on a private Fijian island with a gaggle of flunkies, er…I mean groupies. Finally, the rock star lifestyle caught up with him and he died of a massive heart attack at the oh-so-appropriate age of 69.

Those are the general biographical details.  But what makes the story particularly compelling is the man’s bona fide yogic energy–his shakti–and his often brilliant insights into the contemplative life.  Franklin Jones was amoral.  He was a narcissist and megalomaniac, a wife batterer, sexual pervert and drug addict.  He was even, perhaps, delusional and psychotic.  But he was not a fraud; he was too fucking brilliant to need to fake.  Meaning, I have no doubt he was a natural born spiritual genius, though often malevolent, abusive and manipulative as the worst cult leader can be.  (He learned much of his art from Scientology, after all.)  Meaning, while you would never want to join his club, reading his books, especially their earliest editions, may not be a bad idea.  His entire lineage–that of the Kashmiri siddhas–has much to teach and is filled with fascinating characters.  In addition to the aforementioned Rudi and Muktananda is the greatest of them all, Bhagwan Nityananda.

So, let this rough cut biography be a starter for you.  You can learn something from rogues as well as saints, so why not a rogue saint?  This story points out how sublime and how horrific the human situation really can be; we are all, in our own little ways, Franklin Jones.

My Amazon rating: 4 stars 

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16 thoughts on “Adi Da Samraj: Realized or/and Deluded? by William Patrick Patterson

  1. dimitrios on said:

    As a journalist myself, my thoughts are you might consider atleast a pretense to objectivity. Still, your style does amount to a curious bombastic quasi-right-wing-nut faux-fairminded elusivity. The latter quality is worth something. One point; Adi Da did not learn “much” nor I think any of his “art” from Scientology. ps, I’ve read his books since 1986, been to Fiji, seen him several times, been altered into highly-sought states of consciousness merely by listening to his recorded talks. This panic about his supposed cult-leading is people’s own fear of being taken. Look around, folks—you ARE being taken! By everything BUT Adi Da Samraj!

    • criticalbuddhist on said:

      I was reviewing a BOOK, dude, lighten up! Still, being described as a “bombastic quasi-right-wing-nut faux-fairminded” kinda guy made me laugh so just on a account of that I’ll not trash your response to my post.

      • dimitrios on said:

        Glad I made you laugh—but still, please be honest about your function. You are not simply “reviewing a BOOK” here; you are making snide and presumptuous comments about the subject. You have some kind of agenda and that is your prerogative—but at least be honest about it, provide a disclaimer or otherwise let the reader know your basic position. I did this in my comment and can offer more here: I am not a formal devotee in the Adidam religion but I do consider Adi Da Samraj to indeed be the Divine Incarnation He describes himself to be.

  2. criticalbuddhist on said:

    Hello Dimitrios,
    I am happy you found my site interesting enough to make a return. Really though, I don’t have any agenda other than to 1) read books and 2) express my views and opinions about them. If you read widely enough on this blog you’ll see I’ve done that many times. Sometimes I even criticize books I like and sometimes people take offence–though none is intended; I cannot please everyone all the time, as they say. In this case the book was very interesting but could have been better, but clearly the book is not the issue for you, it’s what I say about Adi Da. What I’ve said about him can be summed up as follows: The man was brilliant, insightful, unique and original, but also behaved toward his disciples in ways that must be called into question. In fact, the balance of evidence indicates to me he was profoundly abusive, not to mention a drug user and sex addict. This is not to say he did no good or didn’t help anyone; it is obvious he helped many people (yourself included, perhaps). But that does not excuse the harm done. I also don’t think my comments are particularly controversial (despite your taking offence) simply because the facts have been so widely documented over so long a period of time. If you wish to call him a Divine Incarnation that is up to you–I will call him Franklin Jones, and point out that one fact cannot be argued–Divine or not, he is dead.

  3. dimitrios on said:

    Critical Buddhist,
    It is not so much that unproved allegations by disaffected devotees does not constitute a “balance of evidence” or that an objective, responsible journalist would never use that as a basis for unequivocal statements like “profoundly abusive”—it is that you claim to be some kind of Buddhist and you use spiritual terms, yet your conclusions and descriptions are based in completely materialistic, secular terms. For example, it seems clear to me that someone who was “profoundly abusive” does not qualify as “spiritual.” So if you think Adi Da Samraj is abusive–then just call him that and don’t pretend to be moderate or comprehensive. Your closing statement on calling Adi Da Samraj Franklin Jones proves you have no respect for him. Like millions of people, Franklin Albert Jones legally changed his name, yet you pointedly refuse to honour his right to do so.
    Now lets correct your outright misrepresentations—Adi Da only self-published his very first book, he was not “hiding out” in Fiji but travelled parts of the world regularly (and was a Fijian citizen, so any time he spent there was simply living in his adopted country), and while clearly his body type disposed him to weight gain, he did not simply get “fatter and fatter” but fasted (for as long as 4 months) or ate fruitarian diets regularly and in his final years was quite trim. He also did not learn “much of his art” from Scientology but spent part of one year—after years of spiritual and traditional study and after Swami Muktananda had declared him a spiritual teacher–involved with the organization. Please get your facts straight.
    I am not offended by your comments per se—you can state your opinion freely—I am offended by your lack of responsible reporting!

  4. criticalbuddhist on said:

    Dimitrios,
    I stand by everything I’ve said. Further:

    1. I am not a “journalist,” responsible or otherwise. I am a blogger.

    2. I am not “some kind of Buddhist,” just a Buddhist, by any traditional definition.

    3. I have no idea what you mean when you say my “conclusions and descriptions are based in completely materialistic, secular terms”. I’m not even sure if this is meant as a compliment or insult or something in between. Either way, your evaluation of me is irrelevant to what I am doing.

    4. I call him Franklin Jones because I seriously doubt that he legally changed his name a dozen times or more. That being the case, I call him by the only “legal name” I can be sure he ever had. Clarity, not disrespect, is the intention. (On the subject of spiritual name changing, you should read Bill Hamilton’s SAINTS AND PSYCHOPATHS.)

    5. You write “Now lets correct your outright misrepresentations….” I did not write this book review (or any other) so you could lead me to the truth of things. I am not interested in adopting your version of reality. Nor am I interested in your opinions about me and my blog. You are welcome to your opinions, but this does not mean I have to agree with them, just as I have not required you to agree with mine. If I went around the web trying to convert everyone to my opinions I would die before getting away from my computer. It is a fruitless task, one which you seem heartily engaged in. Perhaps one day you, too, will realize converting others is a fruitless, even violent, task. So, I think at this point we need to agree to disagree and go our separate ways.

    Sincerely,
    Craig Shoemake

  5. HepCat on said:

    I read the above ‘conversation’ – I wish could have warned you. Adi Da’ers are quite the contentious bunch. They will fight tooth and claw for their Guru. Frank Jones was intellectually brilliant – I’ll give him that, charismatic and a huge Shakti thrower – which his bliss junkies lapped up. Seeing them circled around him with their hands up, gyrating and making noises was quite a site (sickening actually). The very personality cult the Buddha warned about. No one ever got enlightened, but that was not the point, the point was to worship the guru and keep him happy with Micky Mouse, sex, drugs and money. It makes me laugh when the TM’ers complain.
    In the end though, a genuine teacher is not about being charismatic and blissing people out. It’s about helping others see through the delusion of separation. And in this, he failed utterly.

    • criticalbuddhist on said:

      You took the words right out of my mouth.

      On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 7:03 PM, Buddhist Books Blog wrote:

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      • HepCat on said:

        I wanted to recommend a book and ask a question – I saw your review on “Buddhism without Beliefs”……….
        ~~~ I should probably note at this point I am not a Buddhist per se – or specifically anything else. As Alan Watts said “I am not temperamentally or otherwise a ‘joiner'”. I suppose I’m a Jayist (my name is Jay but perhaps “The Way of the HepCat” has a better ring to it ) which started as a bit of a joke, but as most folks who give up smoking and get enlightened find their own way eventually – has proven unexpectedly fruitful – I suppose these days I’m most influenced by the Advita of Nisargadatta and Ramana as well as a couple modern day teachers over Buddhism. I will admit to a bias of preferring to converse an awakened being directly rather that decipher a 2500 year old text written in a different language in a completely different culture which was recorded some 300 to 400 years after the founder died. Yet I feel my issue is more with “Buddhism” and not at all with “The Buddha”~~

        ………Stephen Batchelor has some beautiful insights, yet at pivotal moments sticks his foot in his mouth (only my opinion) – from your review, I think you feel similarly – I’m also partially using this as a sounding board for my thoughts as I can’t seam to keep up a journal and if you had an awakening ( I read in the review that you did) you know the difficulty involved in trying and talk to anyone who has not had one– (though perhaps you have had better luck in this regard) language as a binary construction never reveals it’s limitations so obviously as with this subject.

        I AM interested in what the Buddha actually intended and the book I am recommending I learned of from another Batchelor book “Confession of a Buddhist Atheist” — well two actually – One is called “The Doctrine of Awakening: The Attainment of Self-Mastery According to the Earliest Buddhist Texts [Julius Evola]” Batchelor introduces the book in “Confessions” very well, so maybe that would be a place to start.
        ***
        My question actually is your take on the rebirth notion. I can’t help feeling there is some sort of misunderstanding between Buddha’s teaching and Advita on this point.
        I have also noticed major tendency for follower of one path to misunderstand and misrepresent differing paths. I’m also aware that students can misunderstand their own enlightened teacher if they have not had an awakening themselves.
        Again, often people actually agree, but as they are speaking on different levels there is an apparent disagreement –

        The main two I now use may be called:
        1. The Relative Newtonian – Karmic – Cause and effect level of appearance
        2. The Absolute – Quantum – Non Differentiation – Non Dual level
        ….This actually isn’t a level – but for ease of use…..

        For instance Newton’s laws of motion still work for airplanes but they fail to adequately explain reality and Bell’s Theorem trumps cause and effect – though I’m not going to jump in front of a bus. (If you are not familiar and have an interest – read The Tao of Physics)

        In any case misunderstanding occurs.

        As an example, It was my great good fortune to have had an awakening, BEFORE I ever experienced Samadhi/Jhana.
        I’m SURE that without the awakening, I would be convinced that Samadhi was the path to enlightenment and NO ONE would be able to convince me otherwise.
        When Nisargadatta was asked “Are you in samadhi?” he replied “Samadhi is a state, why would I want to be in a state?”

        I’m not saying Samadhi is bad or not useful (I love the rides at Jhana-Land) but that chasing these states, and more spiritual experiences usually reinforces an “I” that needs to obtain something (at least for me, so I started making progress after finally dropping this endeavor).

        Anyway…

        I saw this was a point of contention in your review of “without beliefs”
        You noted:
        ——–But in fact the Buddha redefined the understanding of this process, from one involving a reincarnating soul (atman) to one of impersonal consciousness taking form dependent upon conditions.——-

        I think I know what your saying, can you restate it so I can confirm I know what you saying?

        Thanks!

      • criticalbuddhist on said:

        Dear HepCat, You obviously have a lot on your mind! I’ll try to keep this short and sweet:

        Advaita emphasizes the non-duality of subject and object (atman/brahman) whereas the Buddha’s teaching emphasizes the objectivity (i.e. non-subjectivity) of everything. The former is “nondual,” the latter is simply “that” without somebody grasping it. They are two ways of saying the same thing, though I am inclined to see the Buddha’s description as technically better in that it does not require any (unprovable) metaphysical postulates.

        That said, on the subject of rebirth, the popular notion in Hinduism is of a personal soul reincarnating over and over again. The Buddha obviously dismissed this as a fantasy: if the self itself is a mirage, what is being reborn? How can it be “mine”?

        This notion of a personal reincarnating soul is innate to popular Hinduism; it is not really the Advaita position. Advaita talks about an end state (the “stateless state”) and as such the issue of rebirth (or reincarnation) is irrelevant. Perhaps we remember what we mistakenly think is “ours” and these memories constitute past life memories. People *can *have memories of what seem, in fact, to be past lives. (Having experienced such I know this is true.) However, Advaita takes an “end view”, from which standpoint the notion of “my past lives” is simply silly. Here again we find a difference in style more than in substance from the Buddha. The Buddha started his teaching from the viewpoint of the common man for whom there is “my life” and therefore “my past lives”. He took that man, trained him in introspection, morality, concentration, mindfulness, and at the end such a man might say “in some previous life I was born here or there” but his understanding of those lives (if he has completed the training) would have become utterly impersonal. Things simply happen. My toaster pops up toasted bread–whether it is now or a hundred years hence doesn’t matter. It is just things doing what they do. For the arhat–the perfected Buddhist saint, as for the Advaita sage–there is no longer a “me” or “mine” in the personal sense (actually, there never was), there is just life, awareness, and the things of the world to which they relate without ownership. So I think you are correct to say that past lives is a matter of standpoint. So long as you are thinking “my life” you will have past lives, this life, future lives. The moment you quit imbuing experience with a limited subjective self then these ideas cease to have any meaning. I suggest you read some UG Krishnamurti. His descriptions of his moment-to-moment lived experience are that of a “hollow man”–no self, no subject, no ghost in the machine, nobody home, hence nobody to suffer. That is the end state, that is enlightenment.

        Craig

        On Sat, Mar 15, 2014 at 2:35 PM, Buddhist Books Blog wrote:

        >

  6. HepCat on said:

    To try and make clear the levels a bit more without using science

    I’ll compare the 1st Nobel Truth with Jayism (I can’t believe I said that)

    1st Nobel Truth
    Life is dukha, amiss, off, unsatisfactory and indeed at times even suffering.

    At the Relative, Newtonian – Karmic etc level – –>I agree completely

    But from the The Absolute – Quantum etc level I would restate it as follows:

    Life is dukha because you take yourself to be a disconnected, limited being, a person and you’re not – yet you live your life in ignorance of your true self

    hope that helps

    • criticalbuddhist on said:

      Dear HepCat, I think what you’re saying here is perfectly fine as far as Pali Buddhism says. Nothing controversial, really. The first noble truth is always true so long as things are not seen as they are: unsatisfactory, impermanent, without owner or agent. Once they are seen and known as such, there is nobody left to suffer. The FNT is a pointer. Once the point is seen and grasped, fully, completely, it is not needed any longer as the work is done. Remember the Parable of the Raft….

      Craig

      On Sat, Mar 15, 2014 at 2:59 PM, Buddhist Books Blog wrote:

      >

      • HepCat on said:

        “From the standpoint of the highest realization, only one ultimate reality exists — which is simultaneously Atman and Brahman — and the aim of the spiritual quest is to know that one’s own true self, the Atman, is the timeless reality which is Being, Awareness, Bliss. Since all schools of Buddhism reject the idea of the Atman, none can accept the non-dualism of Vedanta. From the perspective of the Theravada tradition, any quest for the discovery of selfhood, whether as a permanent individual self or as an absolute universal self, would have to be dismissed as a delusion” ——->Bhikkhu Bodhi

        …..Thanks for you’re input – it was the above quote which caused the question.

        U.G. is an interesting creature -I love his lack of copyright – but some of his claims of his talks with Ramana for instance diminish his credibility (for me) generally.

      • criticalbuddhist on said:

        Bhikkhu Bodhi is a wonderful translator, but he is not a subtle thinker. He is quite literal, almost a fundamentalist. It’s therefore not surprising that he would simply reject Advaita Vedanta without, so to speak, really “looking under the hood.” An excellent study–probably the best I’ve read–of the not-self vs Universal Self conundrum is by David Loy entitled, appropriately, NONDUALITY. I recommend you read it as it will certainly clarify some of the issues you’re wrestling with.

        Craig

        On Sun, Mar 16, 2014 at 3:35 PM, Buddhist Books Blog wrote:

        >

  7. HepCat on said:

    Thanks again – I may read that, I tend to overlook most at contradictions as language and cultural misunderstanding –is it a пиво, bjór, or a beer?? In the end you can’t catch a decent buzz drinking a word.

    I do appreciate the insight on Bhikkhu Bodhi, as that was not easily overlooked, and I lack the motivation to learn Pali.

    Speaking of little known great books – only if you have an interest in Zen/Taoism.
    Is appropriately titled “The Tao of Zen” by Ray Grigg. The 1st half is a scholarly history of Zen-Buddhism and how Philosophical Taoism is is the “Zen” in Zen Buddhism. The 2nd half side by side comparison of Taoism and Zen – –BUT that is not why I like it.
    I like it because the prose is mellifluous.

    • criticalbuddhist on said:

      I can always appreciate someone with an appreciation for mellifluous prose!

      On Sun, Mar 16, 2014 at 6:27 PM, Buddhist Books Blog wrote:

      >

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