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.