An American of great Spiritual Attainment by the name of Robert Adams, who I had the good fortune of meeting on more than one occasion, Awakened it has been said to the Absolute, similar in fashion to that of the ancient classical masters. In talks over time with his supporters he revealed that at a very young age, starting around six or seven and leading up to his Enlightenment, he experienced a continuing series of what he called visitations by a man with white hair and white beard that spoke to him in a language he couldn't understand. Years later, while thumbing through a book he saw a picture of the exact same man, a man identified in the text as being the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. By the time Adams reached age 18, after spending a number of fairly unfruitful months at the temple of Paramahansa Yogananda's Self-Realization Fellowship near San Diego toying with the idea of becoming a monk with the order and seeking answers, he was getting off a bullock cart in front of the Ramana ashram in India, staying three years.
The first time I crossed paths with Adams I was a young boy around half his age and he was in his teens. Because of that crossing of paths we met again years later (both meetings of which I get into below). However, the first time I bring him up chronologically in my works is in the somewhat indepth exploration of the American spiritual traveler Larry Darrell, the same person that turned out to be my Zen mentor (as found in the source so cited at the end of the quote). Far down in the text is a nearly overlooked mention of a Adams that goes like:
"During that period he (i.e., the Wanderling's mentor in the full text) met with a man he knew by the name of Frederick Mathias Alexander, an actor who began his career as a Shakespearean recitalist and orator. Alexander had developed a semi deep-meditation technique that some people said paralleled in a sense, albeit a strongly western version of Zazen of which my mentor had, along with Zazen's counterpart, Shikantaza, an extreme interest in."
"Interestingly enough, my uncle --- who was highly prominent in my own life prior to meeting my mentor --- had also, at one time, met Alexander, the only known connection between my uncle and my mentor except for possibly the artist and onetime wartime medical orderly William Rothenstein and oneRobert Adams, mentioned to me by both at one time or the other briefly in passing for reasons I am unable to recall at the moment."(source)
In a biography of sorts of Adams by a former student, friend, and person in his own right, Edward Muzika, who probably knew him better than most, elaborates on what I have mentioned above, that is, by age seven Adams was experiencing Siddhis that involved Ramana. According to Muzika, on more than one occasion, Adams, in his pre-teen years, was confronted by a man with white hair and white beard that "spoke to him in a language he could not understand." Muzika, speaking of Adams, goes on to say:
Years later, after his awakening experience, he was looking through a book on the teachings of Ramana Maharshi when he saw that sage's picture. "I was shocked!" he said, "The hair on my head and neck stood straight up. The little man who had lectured me all those years was Ramana!"
In THE MEETING: An Untold Story of Sri Ramana, I write how Adams and I ended up at Paramahansa Yogananda's Fellowship at the same time and how one year or so later I got stuck high in the mountains overnight at a long closed down isolated relic of a stage stop. In the middle of the night, basically out of nowhere, I was confronted face on by a dark skinned man with short-cropped white hair and beard holding, but not quite leaning on, a half his height walking stick. One glance into his eyes and I was totally engulfed throughout my body by an almost electric-like shuttering cold chill. I experienced that very same awe-inspiring feeling a second time when several years later it dawned on ME that the photograph of a man on the cover of a pamphlet size book I was looking at and the man at the stage stop was the same person and that person was the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Then, relating a second incident in a continuing theme not too dissimilar to mine, the Adams biographer goes on with:
"During the Fall of 1946, Robert arrived by train to the town of Tiruvannamalai, a few miles from Arunachala Mountain, where lay Ramanashram and his future teacher, Ramana Maharshi. He took a bullock cart to the Ashram, was admitted, and stayed the night. Early the next day while walking back from the mountain, towards the Ashram, he spotted Ramana walking down the path towards him. An electrifying energy coursed through his body, and the last of what men call an ego left him."
Adams, who was born January 21, 1928, was age 18 at the time. He stayed at the ashram, or at least in the caves above the ashram for three years. His arrival in Tiruvannamalai coincided almost perfectly with my experience at the stage stop in Catalina. I am not sure if his experience meeting Ramana was similar to mine or not. However, regarding Adams, from the above quote by his biographer:
"...while walking back from the mountain, towards the Ashram, he spotted Ramana walking down the path towards him. An electrifying energy coursed through his body..."
The Maharshi is known to have NEVER left India, at least physically or in the traditional sense, in his life. Matter of fact he never left Tiruvannamalai after he arrived that September morning fifty years before, and in later years, years that encompassed the exact same time as my experience at the stage stop, he never even left the ashram. Interesting, is it not that in later years --- years that encompassed the exact same time as my experience at the stage stop --- that Ramana NEVER left the ashram, yet Adams, in that same period, the Fall of 1946, while walking back from the mountain towards the ashram --- TOWARDS the ashram, not IN the ashram --- following his first day of arrival, he spotted Ramana walking down the path towards him AND "an electrifying energy coursed through his body."
The following is from a person who wrote a critique about a book on Enlightenment using the screen name Rain Cloud and posted on the Amazon.com online review section. In the review, Rain Cloud interjects the fact that he knew Adams, confirming in a sense, Muzika's take on things. So said, Rain Cloud writes:
"I once knew an American who was a direct disciple of Ramana Maharshi. In the late nineteen forties he flew to India at age 17 and arrived at Ramana's ashram unannounced. The Maharshi was in the meditation hall sitting on a slightly raised dais, as always. He greeted the american kid warmly, asked some questions about his hometown of new york city (for example: "Are the buildings really that tall?") The Maharshi already had advanced cancer and could only hobble around painfully with a cane, but he personally got up, took the kid's hand, and led him to a dilapidated cabin where he could bed down. Having made certain the kid was comfy, Ramana left. My friend then practically fainted from exhaustion (trans-oceanic flights then were still endless propeller-driven marathons).
"The kid was awakened(i.e., awakened with a small "A" as in awakened from his sleep) nine hours later by a soft tapping at his door. He opened it. There stood Ramana, all alone, holding a palm leaf filled with food. Ramana sat down, like a good dad, and watched the half-starved boy scarf the meal. Apparently satisfied that the boy was recovering, Ramana Maharshi slowly stood up and limped back to his seat in the meditation hall."
Notice, apparently arising from information gathered through personal conversations with Adams, that Rain Cloud writes the "Maharshi already had advanced cancer and could only hobble around painfully with a cane" and he "slowly stood up and limped back to his seat in the meditation hall." No such rememberance comes forth from the Wanderling regarding the events at the stage stop nor does Adams recall anything similar as quoted by Muzika. He simply says that on the mountain outside the ashram Adams "spotted Ramana walking down the path towards him," nothing about hobbling or limping or other ambulatory difficulties. Basically, Siddhi initiated experiences, including translocation, override physical barriers, both personal and across the conventional plane. Running with the inference, it follows that the difference between the two events is that Adams' meeting with Ramana along the path manifested itself through Siddhis (i.e., NO hobbling, limping, etc., observed or mentioned) making it comparable to the Wanderling's experience at the stage stop, while Ramana bringing a meal to Adams' room thus then, transpired on the conventional plane.
Rain Cloud concludes by saying what he has written is a TRUE story, the man was Robert Adams, and that he, Adams, died in 1997 with the same nobility with which he always lived.
NOTE: Even though Rain Cloud quotes Adams as saying "the Maharshi already had advanced cancer and could only hobble around painfully with a cane", Ramana's hobbling around --- at the time of Adams' earliest interactions with the Maharshi --- although accurate in it's discription (i.e., Ramana's hobbling), it was NOT cancer induced.
During the last years of Ramana's life, from well before the mid-1940s through to his demise in 1950, he was heavily impacted with an array of non-cancer related health issues. He had severe rheumatism over his entire body. His legs were crippled and his back and shoulders were racked with pain (hence his hobbling around with a cane).
As presented above, Adams arrived at the ashram in the fall of 1946. However, it was as least two years AFTER Adams arrival, December, 1948 in some reports, early 1949 in others, that for the first time a precursor to cancer, a small nodule that had appeared below his left elbow, was noticed (Ramana's legs were not involved). The following February the nodule was removed medically, and for the most part, without further concern by the medical staff in attendance. Within a month it returned, only larger and more painful. Doctors diagnosed the nodule as a malignant sarcoma (cancer of soft tissues). In March doctors from Madras came and operated a second time. The wound did not heal properly and the tumor soon grew to even a larger size in a higher location. Amputation of the arm was suggested but as a jnani's limbs should not be removed the amputation was denied. The arm became heavier and more inflamed each day. In August a third operation was done followed by radium treatment. After a few months of apparent improvement, the tumour reappeared climbing up higher in the arm to be nearer the shoulder. A fourth and last operation was performed in December. After this the doctors gave up hope.
It has been said that the reason for the Maharshi's frailty was the fact that he was alleviating the Karma of his devotees. There was evidence that he truly bore their burdens. There were many incidents recorded where his devotees suffering disappeared when he took over their pain.
OUR FIRST MEETING:Adams was at the Ramana ashram --- or at least in the caves above the ashram --- some three years or slightly longer, from the fall of 1946 until the death of or close to the death of, the Maharshi in 1950. Both my arrival and departure at the ashram, as outlined in SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: The Last American Darshan, transpired BEFORE Adams arrived --- thus in turn, because I had already left, placing him in the day-to-day conventional time frame reference, physically, as most likely the last American sitting disciple in the ashram of the Bhagavan. The "Last" in Last American Darshan refers to the incident at the stage stop some years afterwards as found in the link above --- as well as refering to our present time, with me being the last of the two boys still alive.
Interestingly enough, in the year or so that elasped BETWEEN the time I was at the Ramana ashram and Adams left for Tiruvannamalai, unbeknownst to either of us, we inadvertently crossed paths in America. Then again, many years later, both as grown ups, we crossed paths again, yet again inadvertently.
During that later crossing of paths sequence Adams, refering back to what I call our first meeting, told me he was sure he recognized me, having seen me once before, many years previously. He remembered me specifically because he was at the temple of Paramahansa Yogananda's Self-Realization Fellowship near San Diego in the process of possibly becoming a monk with the order. He said he was around 16 or 17 years old and been there a few months when I was brought in by a man with a beard he said was my father to see Yogananda. He said it seemed I had been to India a year or so prior and returned with what the man with the beard was concerned with as being an odd preception of the world. Conjecturing somehow that the problem might be spritual in nature, Adams said my father began taking me around to a variety of people he thought might be able to shed some light on the situation. Eventually, in the process, ending up taking me to Yogananda at the exact sametime Adams just happened to be there. Some years later, for much the same reasons, as I outline in The Tree, I would be taken to see another American of equally great spiritual Attainment by the name of Franklin Merrell-Wolff.
NOTE: In the above I have reported it as Adams recalled it regarding our encounter. However, at the time we are talking about here between Adams and myself at the Fellowship, circa mid-1940s plus, my father was NOT in the picture and would not be for several years. The man with the beard that Adams saw me with was not my father, but my Uncle.
Following the death of my mother my father dissolved the family and disappeared into the hinterlands heavy into alcohol. After returning from my trip to India I ended up living with my grandmother on and off for a few years. It was she who was initially concerned about my seemingly askew perspective on things. In turn, because of her concerns, she contacted my uncle to see if he had any idea where my father was. Almost immediately my uncle came out to assist, the first of several trips before he actually remained on a permanent basis, thanks to a request of my Stepmother after my father came out of hiding, sobered up and remarried.
My uncle, who, although he had at one time met and knew both Rabindranath Tagore and the Zen master Sokei-an, he was not totally versed in things spiritual. He only selected Swami Prabhavananda of the Southern California Vedanta Society and then Paramahansa Yogananda of the Self-Realization Fellowship for me to be taken to not because he knew them or was familiar with their works, but for no other reason than both were of the highest profile in the Eastern spiritual movement that had taken root on the west coast following World War II. The fact that Robert Adams was at the Self-Realization Fellowship at the exact same time as my visit was pure coincidence.
THE SECOND MEETING:
Some 40 years later, sometime in the early 1990s, I had the very good fortune of meeting Adams a second time, albeit briefly and quite by accident one afternoon in the San Fernando Valley, an area somewhat north of the city of Los Angeles in Southern California.
A few weeks before I had set a meeting with a man who had been an eyewitness to an event in World War II that I was in the process of doing a bit of research on. The event so mentioned circulated around an incident that came to be known as the Battle of Los Angeles wherein a giant airborne object of an unknown nature overflew Los Angeles creating a major havoc throughout the city and causing the authorities to put into place an area wide blackout. Since I had seen the object as a young boy myself I sought out the man to hear what he had to say and then physically visited the areas he talked about. Visiting those areas is how my meeting with Adams came about.
It just so happens the airborne object apparently skirted the north side of the Santa Monica mountains toward the east along Ventura Boulevard only to turn south in a gap in the mountains about midway along the southwestern edge of the San Fernando Valley. While I was following the route and observing the area I pulled into a small park just north of the Ventura Freeway to look at the map, review some notes, and basically reorient myself. Walking to a bench I made very unusual eye contact with a man nearby that was sitting with a couple of people. Finishing my work and knowing that being in the park put me only a few blocks away from a very well known vegetarian restaurant by the name of Follow Your Heart I always wanted to visit I decided to go there. When I gathered up my stuff to leave I noticed the man and his friends were gone. However, when I arrived at the restaurant the man and his friends were there. The man was Robert Adams. He was at the park and the restaurant that day holding court with a few followers like he apparently did several days a week. Although it would change in seconds, at that moment I thought we did not know each other nor had we ever met or heard of each other, but, no sooner had I sat down when Adams sent a person over from his table to ask me to join him. Which I did. It was during our conversations that afternoon in the restaurant that Adams related to me of our encounter at the Self-Realization Fellowship.
Near the top of the page I write that Adams was mentioned to me at one time or the other briefly by both my uncle and my mentor for reasons I was not able to recall. Adams from his own mouth said he and my uncle, with me in tow, crossed paths at the Self-Realization Fellowship. However, as for he and my mentor, when and where they may have met, or if they ever did even, is a question. I only recall that my mentor mentioned him. By the time Adams and I met at the restaurant both my mentor and uncle had passed. I told Adams at the restaurant that when we made eye contact in the park it was as though I knew him from someplace. Most people would not realize the sensation bordering on joy I felt when he told me about seeing me and my uncle at the Fellowship. I only vaguely recall being there as it was at a time very early in my coming out of my blackout period. Hearing Adams describe the events surrounding the visit --- especially from a third party of sorts --- was deeply welcomed. Matter of fact, if it wasn't for Adams I would never have known about it at the level that I do.
The photo of Robert Adams at the top of the page is through the courtesy of Adams' longtime friend, follower, and advocate Edward Muzika. Although he might not agree, Muzika is an Enlightened sage in his own right. Anyone on the west coast or greater Los Angeles area interested in sastang, Muzika is the one to seek out. He also maintains an excellent nearly daily blog, It Is Not Real, that is filled with an abundance of relevant questions he responds to from an Awakened perspective.
THE BUDDHA AND THE QUALITIES OF A DHARMA TEACHER
SPIRITUAL GUIDES: PASS OR FAIL
THE FALSE GURU TEST
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
AWAKENED TEACHERS FORUM
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL
EXPERIENCE IN THE
ON THE RAZOR'S
Such visitations by Ramana are not totally unheard of. Sometimes it occurred to those who were or became highly exalted, other times to those who remained unheard or unheralded. In the extensive three volume set titled Nothing Ever Happened by David Godman on the life of Sri H. W. L. Poonja (1910-1997), AKA Poonjaji or Papaji, Godman tells of just such an experience that involved Poonja. Poonja has been said to have been one of the foremost disciples, devotees, followers or advocates of the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi and his principles. So said, Poonja, who became a master in his own right, is considered to have been the real thing. So too, he was not some mystic saint in some far off place masked in ancient lore either, but a modern day personage that forthrightly reported his own 1944 personal experience involving translocation between himself and Sri Ramana. Poonja says:
"(A) sadhu appeared at our door, asking for food. I invited him in, offered him some food and asked him the question that was uppermost in my mind. ‘Can you show me God? If not, do you know of anyone who can?
"Much to my surprise, he gave me a positive answer. ‘Yes, I know a person who can show you God. If you go and see that man, everything will be all right for you. His name is Ramana Maharshi."
The sadhu went on to give Poonja detailed directions on how to get to the Ramana ashram clear across the country in the south of India, such as what trains to take, where to change trains, what stations to go to, etc., which, when Poonja followed them, they were accurate down to the letter.
As soon as he arrived at the ashram and settled in he took off across the compound to look for the man who could show him God. When he got to the meditation hall and looked in he saw, sitting on a sofa, the SAME man who had visited his house in the Punjab. Poonja again:
"I was disgusted. 'This man is a fraud,' I said to myself. 'He appears in my house in the Punjab, tells me to go to Tiruvannamalai, then hops on the train so that he can get there before me.' I was so annoyed with him I decided that I wouldn’t even go into the hall where he was sitting. Mentally adding him to the long list of frauds I had met on my first pilgrimage round India, I turned on my heels and went off to collect my bags."
A long time Ramana devotee interceded in Poonja's potential departure, telling him, in an effort to convince him to stay:
"No, no, you are mistaken. He has not moved out of this town in the last forty-eight years. It is either a case of mistaken identity or somehow, through his power, he managed to manifest himself in the Punjab while his physical body was still here. Some girl from America came here once and told a similar story. These things do happen occasionally."
Now, while it is true Poonja became a high profile spiritual teacher, what goes unnoticed to most is what shows up in the final paragraph. In the quote Godman writes that the Ramana devotee says that an American girl came to the ashram once and told a similar story --- that is, Ramana appeared before her the same as he had with Poonja AND that the American girl inturn went to the ashram as well. Nowhere in the annals of ashram lore do you find anything on that 'American girl' except as found in the quote. However, that girl remained unknown on her own volition. To find out more who she was see:
FOR THE RECORD: Some people have asked or suggested if Adams, upon seeing me at the Self-Realization Fellowship and how I may have been in a possible altered state, that is, having an odd perception of the world as my grandmother so aptly put it after have been to India, he may have been directly influenced by ME to go to India himself and seek out Sri Ramana. I take no credit for any such endeavor on his part in reality or speculatively. Nor do I have reason to do so.
Edward Muzika presents in A Biography of a Sage, reached through Muzika's website, the following refering to Adams:
"By the time Robert was 14, he hardly studied any school subjects at all. Whenever a test came up, he would again just say, "God! God! God!" and the correct answers would come. One day, just before taking an algebra test in Mrs. O'Reilly's classroom, he repeated God’s name three times. Rather than the algebra answers, something else came to him, a total complete enlightenment experience wherein was revealed the transcendent knowledge of life and death, of reality and illusion."
In that at the time the two of us crossed paths at the at Self-Realization Fellowship Adams was 16 or 17 years old or so and his Awakening experience happened while at school at age 14, it would seem then, although he may not have totally understood it, he was already in an Enlightened state. It is my opinion that, even though I was in what I call a backout period following MY darshan with the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, Adams, from his Enlightened state "saw" through the veil.
How Muzika presents it, Yogananda would not allow Adams to become a monk at the Fellowship. Adams is reported as saying Yogananda couldn’t wait to get rid of him because he kept asking why he (i.e., Yogananda) constantly emphasized practices, mantras, affirmations and healing techniques that missed the point of Self-realization --- a point, by the way, that I am in full agreement with.(see) Muzika has written because of the nature of Adams' spontaneous Awakening, along with his visitations by the white haired man who Adams learned was Ramana AND Yogananda’s own devotional relationship with Ramana, Yogananda TOLD Adams to go to Ramana. How devotional that devotional relationship actually was is open to debate because in 1946 when Yogananda released his lengthy tome on his life titled Autobiography of A Yogi the meeting between he and Sri Ramana was conspicously absent. It is my opinion, Adams, realizing he wasn't going to find the answers he was looking for under the auspices of Yogananda, on and of his own volition, made the decison to go to Ramana.
I will say though, in all the stuff on the net presented by me regarding Adams I speak nothing but highly about him and carry a great deal of respect and admiration towards him in how he handled himself spiritually. I would think for those who champion Adams' cause the idea would be to get his word out to he widest possible audience with the greatest amount of positive influence. Google Robert Adams and THIS page doesn't come up, even 30 pages deep. Stick the word Ramana with Adams' name, still the same. However, when you do, on the first page one of my old now defunct GeoCities pages comes up, but not the latest fully linked, rewritten page under my own URL. Going to page two of the same Google search a PDF page comes up called Robert Adams - Who Is He - MeetUp. That page has within its text, speaking of Adams, the following:
"He is the only American Spiritual Teacher who studied directly under Ramana"
Questionable at best, but not unusual considering the never ending stream of disinformation. See also:
SRI RAMANA'S WESTERN DISCIPLES
BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES, CIRCA 1942.-- 800 FOOT ZEPPELIN-SIZE UFO
ESCAPED AFTER HOURS OVER L.A. AND 1440 ANTI-AIRCRAFT ROUNDS.
Me following the route of the unknown object also incorporated a just as strong second reason for me to be in the San Fernando Valley. My foray through the area included a secondary plan to locate and meet with a man I had met some years before by the name of Robert S. Ravicz. In 1963 Ravicz, who held degrees from both the University of Texas and Harvard, moved into a faculty position at California State University, Northridge, located along the northern edge of San Fernando Valley, eventually becoming a professor emeritus of anthropology.
Meeting and talking with Ravicz was important to me because he had personal knowledge of what is known as the Hemis Manuscripts. The Hemis Manuscripts are said to be a set of ancient documents hidden away in a remote monastery high in the mountains along the Tibet India border that say Jesus of Nazareth visited India between the ages 12 to 30, his so called missing years of the Bible.
Although the existence of the manuscripts has always been very controversial I had a personal interest in whether they existed or not because I knew and studied under the real life person British author and playwright W. Somerset Maugham used as a role model for the Larry Darrell character in his novel The Razor's Edge. Although it is not in the novel, Darrell apparently went to Hemis because of them and I wanted to know what Ravicz had specifically learned about their existence. Since the time I had first been introduced to Ravicz he had traveled to Hemis (1975) and had garnered firsthand knowledge regarding the manuscripts. Our initial introduction, through my uncle, was some years before his visit, so at the time there was no mention of either Hemis or the manuscripts. However, in the early 1990s, well after him going to Hemis, I put myself in the position I am writing about here to re-introduce myself and discuss the manuscripts with Ravicz first hand.
While I was following the route along Ventura Boulevard I ended up only a few miles south of the Northridge campus. After visiting the campus in an offhand attempt to somehow locate Ravicz and claiming to be a longtime friend, I was able to finagle Ravicz's address and phone number from a former cohort. No longer a professor at Northridge, but a professor emeritus, he lived in Pacific Palisades, adjacent to the city of Santa Monica. Since Pacific Palisades was not far off from the route I was traveling, going to see Ravicz fit perfectly into my plans.
Ravicz died in July, 1993. My uncle died in June, 1989. It was between those two dates that I ended up in San Fernando and inadvertently crossed paths with Adams for a second time.
"The Buddha said that neither the repetition of holy scriptures, nor self-torture, nor sleeping on the ground, nor the repetition of prayers, penances, hymns, charms, mantras, incantations and invocations can bring us the real happiness of Nirvana. Instead the Buddha emphasized the importance of making individual effort in order to achieve our spiritual goals. He likened it to a man wanting to cross a river; sitting down and praying will not suffice, but he must make the effort to build a raft or a bridge."(source)