18 January 2012

Can you go naked before God?

Some have asked, “Where is Robert Adams in your current teachings?”  Others have been more sarcastic, and have remarked (of me) “Some have ears but do not hear; some have eyes but do not see,” intimating I was around Robert for years but never understood him as deeply as my critic obviously thought he or she understood him.

I will say something here that they will not hear.

Robert taught freedom, not about the absolute, God, Brahman or even Consciousness. His last words at his last Satsang, was only one word, repeated over and over: Freedom;  Freedom; Freedom! But he used concepts and situations to affect the direction a student was heading in, and at Sunday Satsangs, he was pure Ramana.

On Thursday evenings he sometimes went much deeper.  Sometimes someone would ask a question and Robert would go on a roll.  The words that poured out were pure truth, insofar as truth can be expressed in words.  A few of us close to him and maybe a few visitors would be stunned.  Our minds would become weak and then wash away.

For a few minutes he stopped talking about karma, love, the guru teacher relationship, or anything else we could remember.  It was more or less about the Infinite, going altogether beyond knowing and unknowing, going beyond Brahman even.  We were transfixed.  There was a transmission of some sort, an energy, a grace descended.  These were Robert’s true teachings, golden words about that which is beyond concepts, the world, and ANY experience, no matter how transformative or transcendental.

Then he would return to earth and be Robert again.  But we were changed.

The concepts Robert taught about karma, God, oneness or Consciousness itself, would be untaught during a Satsang a week or two later.  He knew all concepts, especially spiritual concepts, were illusory, empty.  Once in a while he would give an entire Satsang talking about the Four Principals, Three understandings, or something like that, and at the end of Satsang he’d become silent for a moment, then announce that all he had just said, all the knowledge and concepts were bullshit.   He didn’t use that term of course, that is mine.  He’d say, “I gave you a story and concepts because that is what you like to hear.”  Robert considered Satsangs, especially Sundays’, to be pure crowd entertainment.

Besides some of those hot Thursday night Satsangs, a few of us met with him weekly or even more frequently on a personal basis, for lunch or a movie.  Here quietly Robert would work on us to help us win our own freedom, either by setting up a situation within the Sangha to make us let go of certain ideas, conditions, desires or ambitions, or by offering concepts opposed to those we held on to.

Robert taught many different methods of meditation, and each in the audience was free to select whichever method they liked most.  But the method he taught most was self-inquiry in its myriad of forms, and self-abidance.  He taught us to go inwards, into our inner emptiness where dwelled the mind, images, emotions and everything we called subjective. There we were to just watch. Watch for the I-thought and find its origin.  Watch the other thoughts come and go.  Look for the subject.

This place is as close as we can come to our true nature in consciousness, but from time to time, he’d say we were beyond even that.  AND SO WE ARE!

You know, so many students say they want that, complete freedom, enlightenment, but in fact they don’t.  They hang onto concepts and exploration of concepts and new experiences. Many, many came for a year or two and thoroughly understood what Robert was saying, took those concepts into the world and the experiences they had with Robert, and became teachers.  Some just left and looked to a new teaching thinking Robert’s teachings lacked something.  Eventually the fire of seeking dies out, and maybe after 10 or 30 years they come to peace and stop seeking.  But in most, even after 30 years there is a hunger to find the real, a final resting place of truth, which is so hard to find because they use the mind and “teacher of the day” to find ultimate rest, which is really discovery of their own true nature which is always with them.

The problem is they have accumulated so many spiritual systems which remain as contaminates of their pure nature, that it is impossible to ever find their Self unless there is some life crisis that shakes them and their belief systems to the core.

To use an analogy, through the years, people accumulate a wide variety of spiritual clothes which gives them some warmth and safety in a cold and harsh world.  But to see the Self, become the Self you are, you need to shed all those clothes. You have to undress and shed all of those hard bought spiritual clothes, the koans, prayers, beliefs in karma, the I Am, the Beloved, concepts of family, guru/disciple, spiritual progress, compassion, and even concepts of transcending. 

This is what I am trying to do with you as Robert did with me: Undress you until you become naked, exposed for you and all to see clearly.  Nothing is hidden, no private treasure is kept in the closet not to be touched by self-inquiry.  Everything is thrown away.

But this often brings terror.  “I have no clothes, no security, no stability, what am I to do?  I am frightened and terrified.  I need someone, something to hang on to.  I need the warmth of soft teachings and maybe a father or mother figure as a teacher.  I need to feel safe.”  This is the dilemma of the sincere student.  He comes looking for the Absolute and finds only that the teacher wants him to become naked before God and his own Self.  

The teacher says, “I am here.  I can take you, but can you receive? Can you stay by me and walk into Nothingness without all your clothes, books and concepts?  Are you courageous enough to drop the mind and tolerate the cold harshness of the world in order to discover who you are?”

So few are. Robert knew this and dished out Advaita concepts on Sundays and maybe deeper concepts of no concepts on some Thursdays.  He sold a lot of spiritual clothes, because for some, that is all they could take.

Even I failed with Robert. I failed to move to Sedona to be with him through his last days.  I was terrified and even got deathly ill when I got close to Sedona.  My mind and my entire beingness rebelled and failed me, the Self.  I could not take Robert’s cooking anymore, his “games,” his created situations, and the lack of security I felt going there.

Robert, on the other hand was fearless.  Before he left he told me he would be betrayed by all the people who were trying to seduce him to leave Los Angeles with promises of financial support, and support of Satsang. 

One by one these people came to me and told me how they were going to help Robert and also me to get settled and find a job.  I reported what they said to Robert, and he frankly told me that they would never keep their word.  He told me that every one of them would betray him, yet he went to them knowing this.

This turned out to be truth.  They did not support him as they promised and finances were always desperate.  Robert often called me or I him just to talk, and he continually wanted me to come, but I could not.  I was afraid because there was nothing there for me.  The people there made it clear I was not wanted.  They wanted Robert all to themselves alone. All the former promises disappeared once Robert was their captive.  Yet he went into the unknown, knowing this, and out of fear, I did not follow.

So I ask, do you trust me to take you to an unknown goal of freedom?  I won’t even take you to the safety of the “Absolute,” or “Brahman,” or “God,” for these are just words to give comfort.  Are you willing to shed all your concepts, beliefs and security to enter the unknown?  Or like most, are you more interested in the excitement of buying new clothes, and shopping at the niche shops of Advaita, Sufism, mystical Christianity, Taoism, Jainism, or being with an energy guru?


  1. "Do you trust me to take you to an unknown goal of freedom? Are you willing to shed all your concepts, beliefs and security to enter the unknown?"

    Y E S

  2. Thanks for this writing Ed. It promotes nothing, it attacks nothing, it defends nothing, yet threatens everything that my mind holds onto for security.

    We are so addicted to learning that we think the spiritual process is about learning 'spiritual' stuff; acquiring a 'spiritual' wardrobe.

    And for a while we think we look good, we are happy about our new attire and the way it makes us feel. Hell, we even get a whole new set of friends, a new language, new teachers, new books, new concepts to hash out in our already cluttered minds. The novelty is irresistible. When will we tire of shopping? This is the core illness that goes undetected. We are addicted to acquiring in every realm. We want more, more, more. In spirituality this addiction is known as ‘seeking’. We have become professional seekers.

    We are not interested in losing anything. Yet this is the major message in all main religions: Jesus puts it this way: “For whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.” We are afraid of nakedness, afraid of emptiness, afraid of standing alone, afraid of losing, afraid of the terror that comes with 'not knowing'...and so WE SEEK! And we protect our ‘seeking’ with spiritual phrases like, ‘everyone has to do what they have to do’, ‘all is well’, ‘it’s all good’, ‘everything is unfolding as it should’, and on and on and on.

    For 22 years, I thought Christianity was ‘the’ camp. It grew old. I packed my bags and moved on to ‘spirituality’ making short pit stops in its various mini camps along the way. 4 years into this and I realize that the same tendencies, the same core illness is still there. I am still a seeker, looking in another camp for what was not found in the last one. I have a new language, oh god, I don’t even know what it is (crying); a new way to do church called ‘satsang’; a new form of praise and worship called ‘chanting’, my minister is now called my ‘guru’; my bible is the spiritual book of the week, and I am still as lost as ever. Still gullible, still caught up in a belief system, quick to accept what someone else says is true and defend it as my own, still afraid to stand behind my own truth...whatever they may be.

    I see the similarities, the core illness. It has just become clear to me over the past several days...and I feel deep rage. Not at anyone in particular but rage at having wasted so much of my life in service to someone else’s truth, someone else’s ideas, beliefs, opinions about how I should be, what I should be, who I should be. Rage at being so out of touch with myself, so untrusting of myself.

    There has been deep despair, waves of absolute terror, confusion, doubt, uncertainty...as I question everything, hold to nothing...and shake and cry. AND I’ve never felt more alive in my life.

    Thank you, Ed.

    With Love,

  3. i'll Die with you edji.
    am i afraid? yes.
    do i worry there will be
    suffering? yes.
    but, so what?
    i've been in fear and
    pain for the last 39 years.
    what else is fucking new?

  4. 'We are so addicted to learning that we think the spiritual process is about learning 'spiritual' stuff; acquiring a 'spiritual' wardrobe'

    Joan speaks volumes here.

    It can be found in different traditions too. Receive medicine Buddha empowerment. Buy the sadhana ,buy a post card ,buy a blue mala. Receive Buddha Tara empowerment....rinse and repeat with green mala.

    What sweet relief concept-free glimpses bring ! Whether they are 'it' or not !

    Thanks for all you provide and the joy you bring Edji. I look forward to dissolution in your heart.

    Love to all

  5. Guru wants to eat our illusions for lunch. He's VERY hungry. Don't just give him an appetizer.

  6. Advaita is back, God help me. Oups, who the fuck is GOD?

  7. Shut up and practice! That's how I feel about it. I'm having lots of experiences, sometimes my emotions overwhelm me, but "I am" still here.

    I've grown to love chanting(mostly Krishna Das and Muktananda).

    I wait for the day when "I am" no more.


  8. Some think there is a geat distance between Bhakta and Jnana. Only in the outward form. Though Robert is called a Jnani even in the Ramana Ashram, remember his famous story of meeting Ramana. I don't know whether it occurred when he first met him, or later when walking around Arunachala.

    Robert said this story with great passion. I was there at this Satsang. He was electric. He sat on the edge of his chair perched somewhat forward and looked upwards and into the distance, as if he were again seeing Ramana.

    He said Ramana and a group of people walked towards him and suddenly he felt complete surrender and devotion. He felt utter humility and wanted nothing more than to touch the guru's feet and surrender.

    He said he took off all of his clothes and dropped at Ramana's feet, totally surrendered. Totally loving and devoted.

    At this point Robert said, "This is how you have to be," as if the story was self-explanatory as to the need for surrender.

    Ramana supposedly either grabbed him or told him to arise, I don't remember the story exactly and said, "I have been waiting for you." I'll bet Ramana did not specifically mean Robert, but he had been waiting for any of the devotees that showed such devotion and surrender, because these people, these devotees already were close to God and felt the ecstasies of being with the infinite.