Wilber's Writings on
Adi Da Samraj:
"Contradictory and
Deeply Problematic"

Wilber: "A Short Appreciation"

Wilber: "On Heroes
and Cults"

Wilber's Review of "The
Dawn Horse Testament"

Wilber's "The Strange Case of Adi Da"

Wilber's "A Spirituality That Transforms"

Wilber's "Private" Letter to the Adidam Community

Wilber's "Update on the Case of Adi Da"

About Us

Further Commentary

Adi Da and Adidam: Personal Perspectives

Anti-"Minority Religion" Groups with "Big Religion" Ties


Adi Da and The Case of Ken Wilber


I mention Master Da (along with Christ, Krishna) as being the Divine Person as World Event.

Ken Wilber, Up From Eden, 1981

Ken Wilber SketchI have not, and have never, renounced Da as Realizer, nor have I in any way abandoned my love and devotion for Him. . . . Do I believe that Master Adi Da is the greatest Realizer of all time? I certainly believe He is the greatest living Realizer. Anything beyond that is sheer speculation. How could any of us judge? Who among us has met Gautama Buddha? Who has experienced Satsang with Sri Ramana Maharshi? Who has lived in the company of Padmasambhava? I have sat in satsang with Master Adi Da, and with numerous other great Adepts, and my own opinion is that Master Adi Da is the living Sat-Guru. . . . Many people have made their way to Master Da because of my own writings. I am completely happy about that, and I hope I can continue that positive influence. At the same time, I have received an enormous amount of grief, from personal and professional quarters, for my endorsements. I do not regret those endorsements, nor do I retract them. But blanket, public statements of endorsement are simply no longer a diplomatic, intelligent, skillful way to steer people to Da. . . . But for those students who are ready, and who fully understand the gravity of the decision, I speak of Master Da as the Sat-Guru, and recommend that they pursue that Way to the extent that they are capable: student, disciple, devotee. . . . I affirm my own love and devotion to the living Sat-Guru, and I hope my work will continue to bring students to the Way of the Heart.

Ken Wilber, "Private" letter to the Adidam community, Fall, 1997

Over the years, the well-known author, Ken Wilber, has helped many spiritual seekers find their Spiritual Master, Adi Da Samraj, because of Wilber's extraordinarily strong endorsements of both Adi Da Samraj's Teaching and of Adi Da Himself. Wilber has acknowledged Adi Da Samraj as both the Divine Incarnate (see the above quote) and as one of his teachers [Grace and Grit], and much of his own conceptual framework can be viewed as borrowing from that of Adi Da Samraj. (As the Wikipedia article on the Integral Movement puts it: "Wilber, borrowing centrally from the writings of Adi Da, also built upon the ideas of previous integral thinkers like Sri Aurobindo and Jean Gebser in developing his own theory.") Here are just a few specific examples from Wilber's writings, and from others commenting on how Wilber derived from Adi Da:


Ken Wilber was . . . a very enthusiastic supporter of Adi Da . . . It is easy to see the way he developed his own ontology of stages of psycho-physical development from Da's "seven stages of life". It is possible to look at his early but seminal book The Atman Project and see how his idea of successive stages of psycho-spiritual development grew out of Da's "Seven Stages of Life" thesis.

M. Alan Kazlev, 2003


Aurobindo taught the transmutation and divinisation of matter (“Supramentalisation”), while Wilber in typical Buddhistic style teaches its transcendence; a teaching he presumably derives originally from his guru, Da Free John (Adi Da).

M. Alan Kazlev,
Historical and Comparative use of "Integral"


Following [Adi Da], I divide the great mystical traditions into three classes, namely, saints, yogis, and sages.

p. 194, Ken Wilber
Grace and Grit


Very few religions are aware of all of these distinctions . . . meditative practices break down generally into three major classes (cf. [Adi Da]).

p. 112, Ken Wilber
The Atman Project


Fig 28: The Heart of Christ. This is not the physical heart, nor is it the subtle-chakra heart -- it is the causal and ultimate Heart, precisely as described by Sri Ramana Maharshi and [Adi Da].

p. 257, Ken Wilber
Up From Eden


We should note here that the Existential Level . . . is very much a cramp or perturbation, the cramp or perturbation, lying at the root of man's "self"-identity. Further, it is this cramp, which Benoit calls a spasm and [Adi Da] calls a contraction, that is the fundamental motor of all man's activities.

p. 145, Ken Wilber
The Spectrum of Consciousness


As Aurobindo and Plotinus and [Adi Da] have pointed out, although one can indeed speed up development through these stages [of life], they cannot fundamentally be bypassed.

p. 183, Ken Wilber
A Brief History of Everything


Wilber tells us that in the year of his wife Treya's fortieth birthday, [Adi Da], whom both considered their teacher, began saying "that the ultimate enlightened vision was when one saw the five-pointed cosmic star, or cosmic mandala, pure and white and radiant, utterly beyond all finite limitations." Wilber then continues: "Treya didn't know this was said at that time, but nonetheless that is exactly when she changed her name from Terry to Estrella, or Treya, which is Spanish for star. And it is held that, at the precise moment of death, the great five-pointed cosmic star, or the clear light void, or simply great Spirit or luminous Godhead, appears to every soul.. . .She did not change her name to "Treya" because [Adi Da] had talked about this ultimate vision; she had simply had this vision, of the luminous cosmic star, in a very real and direct way."

p. 404, Ken Wilber, Grace and Grit



I was also drawn to several individual teachers who, although schooled in a particular tradition, transcended any categorization: Krishnamurti, Sri Ramana Maharshi, and [Adi Da].

p. 169, Ken Wilber
Grace and Grit


[Adi Da]'s phrase kept running through my mind: "Practice the wound of love... practice the wound of love." Real love hurts; real love makes you totally vulnerable and open; real love will take you far beyond yourself; and therefore real love will devastate you. I kept thinking, if love does not shatter you, you do not know love...

p. 402, Ken Wilber, Grace and Grit


It is fairly clear that even in Integral Spirituality, Ken remains attached to views put forward by Franklin Jones in Nirvanasara. Whenever Ken instanciates "causal formlessness" with the "classical nirvana" of Hinayana Buddhism, he basically evokes views put forward in Nirvanasara. . .

Kelamuni, Wilber and
Adi Da's Nirvanasara


Phrases created by Adi Da and appropriated by Ken Wilber — here are just a few examples:

  • the self-contraction — Adi Da introduced this term back in 1972. Wilber has used it extensively in his writings, for example: "As you look deeply into your own awareness, and relax the self-contraction, and dissolve into the empty ground of your own primordial experience, the simple feeling of Being — right now, right here — is it not obvious all at once?" (from The Simple Feeling of Being).

  • the feeling of being — Adi Da introduced this phrase at least as far back as July 1982 (in The Liberator: "Be Conscious as the Feeling of Being and Realize that It Is Radiant Happiness.") Wilber created a book based on this, The Simple Feeling of Being (2004).

  • Truth as that which is always already the case — While philosophers from Kant to Heidegger have used the phrase, "always already", Adi Da's unique contribution was to use this phrase as a characterization of "Truth", introducing it in this sense back in 1972, in his autobiography, The Knee Of Listening, describing Truth as that which is "always already the case". Wilber created a chapter based on this, Always Already: The Brilliant Clarity of Ever-Present Awareness, in his book, The Eye of Spirit (1997).

  • yogis, saints, and sages — In his teaching, Adi Da introduced a categorization scheme for the world's spiritual and religious traditions. Early on ( in the early 1970's), he distinguished between "yogis, saints, and sages". Later on he would develop these distinctions into his "seven stages of life" framework. Wilber lifted the "yogis, saints, and sages" distinction and used it in a number of his works, including Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (1995) — see, for example, the quote here), and One Taste (2000) — see, for example, this excerpt).

  • heart's shout — Adi Da's phrase (and also the title of a compilation of his wisdom: The Heart's Shout, 1994), used by Wilber in a What Is Enlightenment? magazine article, and later reprinted in his book, One Taste (2000).

So naturally, many people have wondered what it could mean when they heard that Wilber was no longer standing behind those endorsements unequivocally. The best answer to that question is to read Wilber's own writings about Adi Da Samraj. We have laid them out for you here in their entirety, along with only a little commentary, as the "flip flops" in the progression of his writings are largely self-explanatory.

To us, it seems hard to draw any conclusion other than this: Even though Wilber's own conceptual framework (and the career he based on writing about that framework) had benefitted greatly from the Teaching of Adi Da Samraj, he feared that his career would be ruined by the word getting out about his "love and devotion" to "the living Sat-Guru" (Wilber's own words), and by the "grief" he was receiving for his public confession of that devotion. He acted accordingly.

Of course, such a fear of being associated with a Spiritual Master is not surprising in these materialistic and anti-authoritarian times, when even genuine Spiritual Masters are automatically labelled "cult leaders". Indeed, one could say, perhaps it was even harder in the time of Jesus, when one risked not only career or friends but life itself, by being associated with a controversial Spiritual Master; this surely was what motivated Nicodemus to visit Jesus in secret, and led Peter to deny his own beloved Spiritual Master. Had Jesus been living now, rather than two thousand years ago, no doubt he would have been branded a "cult leader"; "scourged" for fraternizing with whores, suggesting revolutionary ideas, and the like; and "crucified" by lawsuits from ex-disciples whose expectations of Him differed from what the Man Himself was here to offer. Instead of Christianity, there would be references to a "Jesus cult", in much the same way Adi Da's detractors conjure an "Adi Da cult" into existence. As in Jesus' time, when the primary forces working to destroy Him were the fundamentalists of the established religion (e.g, the Pharisees), so too in our time, the "anti-cult movement" against new minority religions to a significant extent is funded and driven by the fundamentalist sects of the large, established Western religions. (Click here for just a few examples.) It is not unlike the way in which the corporate powers associated with traditional sources of energy (such as coal and oil) have often worked to impede the development of newer, alternative energy sources, for the sake of maintaining power and profit.

Not surprisingly, all of us who are Adi Da Samraj's devotees have experienced at times that kind of reaction against Adi Da Samraj and the new religion of Adidam. We have felt compelled to fight the prejudice against religious minorities represented by this reaction, amazingly still present in a time when so much progress has been made relative to other forms of prejudice (racism, sexism, etc.). But Ken Wilber appears not to have had the personal strength to continue advocating Adi Da Samraj in spite of the "grief" he was receiving. So for a while, he tried to have it both ways, publicly denouncing "Da", while privately confessing his "love and devotion" to "Master Adi Da", and privately expressing the hope that "my work will continue to bring students to the Way of the Heart". As a consequence (particularly after his private communications became public), Wilber's communications created a great amount of confusion. Some people were only aware of his intentionally public communications, and had forgotten (or had never seen) his earlier endorsements in their full detail, and had never seen his private communications.

And so Wilber's writing is one thing, the man, quite another.

To help sort matters out, we include here everything Wilber wrote about Adi Da Samraj (at least everything we know of), so that there can be no suggestion that anything has been taken out of context. Indeed, the fact that many of his readers only read his later writings about Adi Da Samraj without having also read precisely what he wrote earlier has allowed him the luxury of making suggestions about those earlier writings — for instance, that he was always for the teaching but not the teacher, or for the "Spiritual Realizer" but not the "human personality" — that simply don't hold upon actual examination of those earlier writings. Wilber himself writes, "I do not regret those endorsements, nor do I retract them." That may be so. But we do suspect that he also never wanted them displayed side by side with his criticisms, because the inconsistencies are just too glaring.

Here are Wilber's writings about Adi Da Samraj, in their entirety. Draw your own conclusions!


For a different point of view on Adi Da Samraj, and to hear the stories of people who have spent far more time in Adi Da Samraj's Company than Ken Wilber, please visit the Adi Da Up Close website.


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