From his birth (on Long Island, New York, in 1939), Adi Da always manifested unique signs of spiritual illumination. Nevertheless, from his birth, and until his spiritual restoration at thirty years of age, Adi Da submitted himself to an ordeal of “self-identification” with all the limitations and sufferings of the human condition.
Adi Da describes his early years as being focused in two fundamental activities: investigating how, in the scale of human “ordinariness”, to perfectly realize the Truth of “Reality Itself”, and (coincidentally) both achieving and demonstrating the human-scale ability to communicate the Truth of “Reality Itself” through both visual and verbal means.
Adi Da graduated from Columbia University in 1961, with a BA in philosophy, and from Stanford University in 1966, with an MA in English literature. His master’s thesis, a study of core issues in modernism, focused on the literary experiments of Gertrude Stein and on the modernist painters of the same period.
In 1964, Adi Da began a period of intensive practice under a succession of spiritual masters in the United States and India. In 1968, he went to India and approached the renowned spiritual master Swami Muktananda of Ganeshpuri, who immediately responded by saying that Adi Da was a spiritual master at birth, and “the most extraordinary Westerner” he (Swami Muktananda) had ever encountered. One year later, in a unique letter of acknowledgement, Swami Muktananda made an open public declaration that Adi Da, by virtue of his evident spiritual signs and demonstrated states, was inherently qualified to teach others independently, and to awaken others spiritually by direct transmission.
Later, in 1970, after a final period of intense spiritual endeavor, Adi Da spontaneously became re-established in the continuous state of illumination that was his unique condition at birth.
After his re-awakening, Adi Da began to teach, creating a vast repository of wisdom, in living dialogue with those who approached him as devotees. His literary, philosophical, and practical writings consist of over seventy published books—many internationally acclaimed. In the early 1970s, Alan Watts, writer of numerous books on religion and philosophy, acknowledged Adi Da as a “rare being,” adding, “It is obvious, from all sorts of subtle details, that he knows what IT’s all about.” In the late 1990s, poet Robert Lax said of Adi Da’s radically experimental novel, The Mummery Book (the opening volume of Adi Da’s Orpheum trilogy), “Living and working as a writer for many decades, I have not encountered a book like this, that mysteriously and unselfconsciously conveys so much of the unspeakable reality.”
Having fully given his teaching, Adi Da lived independently on his island hermitage in Fiji, constantly working to express the Truth of existence through modes of communication to which all human beings can respond—including literary, theatrical, artistic, and philosophical works. Simultaneously, and most fundamentally, he was always working to establish his island-hermitage as a place from which his spiritual blessing could perpetually flow into the world, both during and after his physical lifetime. He passed from the body on November 27, 2008.
Adi Da is not political in any ordinary sense of the word. Rather, his address to humanity and the process of civilization comes from his lifelong intention of communicating the truth of existence—uncovering both the essential driving forces of limitation and suffering and the means to go beyond those forces.