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Jonathan Lynch is a biologist, and a professor of plant nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. He discovered Avatar Adi Da as a result of a more or less scientific and humorous experiment he performed many years ago when he was an undergraduate student at the University of California at Berkeley.

Jonathan Lynch

In the winter of 1978, I received an initiation from a saintly Indian yogi in the Kundalini tradition. The initiation was a rocket launch into a wonderland of subtle energies, visions, and sounds. After a few days, I became accustomed to directly sensing the life-energy as delicate colors around people's heads, as a tingling in the gums when eating raw food, as a vibrancy in inhaled air, and in the thrumming energy centers of my own body.

A few days later I found myself in Shambala Booksellers on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, browsing a book about yoga. To my surprise, I sensed the vibratory life-energy in the book. This struck me as odd. As a budding young biologist, I believed that living things manifest energy on many levels, some of which might only be detected by a yogically attuned nervous system, but that books were just dead matter. Yet in this book, I felt the unmistakable buzz of life-energy.

I was puzzled, and decided to conduct a little experiment. I put the book back on the shelf in a section of the bookstore that held hundreds of other books on yoga and Hinduism. I closed my eyes and ran the tip of my right index finger across the spines of the books in that section. With my eyes closed, I could definitely feel the energy in some, but not all, the books. Most of the books were, in fact, "dead". Three books culstered together had a strong but mellow vibration, and scattered throughout the shelves were several books with a very powerful, almost electrical energy that I could feel zapping into my finger and up into my head, as if I had stuck my finger into a light socket. As I found these books, I kept my eyes closed and kept scanning. I did not want to confound my "experiment".

I then opened my eyes. The three "mellow" books were small paperbacks from the Ashram of Ramana Maharshi. Not too surprising I knew of Ramana Maharshi as a great, if enigmatic, spiritual figure. The real surprise was the identity of the "light socket" books. They were all publications by a teacher I didn't know, an American named "Bubba Free John", who is now known as Adi Da Samraj. As I perused these books, my mystification grew. I had always assumed that Spiritual Wisdom was the province of the mystical traditions of the Orient, but this teacher appeared to be a brash young American not following any obvious tradition. Worse, the books were rather pricey for a struggling college student, I thought, and walked out of the store, laughing at what seemed to be a cosmic joke, the universe playing tricks on me by hiding its living energy in an unconventional disguise. I would have to consider this! There might be a lesson here.

I walked several blocks up Telegraph Avenue back toward the University campus, where I saw that the University Bookstore was having a sale. OId textbooks were strewn over several card tables set up on the sidewalk twenty-five cents a book. There, in the center of one of the card tables, the only two books standing upright, were two books by Adi Da Samraj, completely affordable at twenty-five cents each! This time I got the message, and bought the books.


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