A story by William Tsiknas
“The avadhoot (is one) who has realized the Mystery of mysteries, and has risen to the state of unceasing and perfect bliss, moves about in the world unconcerned, radiating bliss and higher knowledge.”
The Avadhoot Gita
Sri Da Avadhoot [another name for Adi Da Samraj, founder of Fear-No-More Zoo] was residing at His Spiritual Hermitage on the island of Kaua’i. He had been in retreat for several months when one morning He asked to be taken to Kalapaki Beach.
It was one of those beautiful Hawaiian days. The green hills west of the harbor shown on the waters of the bay. The beach was already crowded with vacationing tourists. And the locals had come down by the ocean to escape from the heat.
Sri Da Avadhoot was sitting quietly on the beach watching the water, when a small party of vacationers came walking through the sand with their shoes on. The sunburned vacationers were drinking beer and talking loudly. And one of the couples stopped to have an argument in the sand.
“He worked all year to come on vacation for a week,” said the Avadhoot. “Now it’s not measuring up to his expectation of the ultimate Hawaiian vacation. He would have been happier on retreat.”
He observed the vacationers walk down the beach. They had not noticed the hills or the sunlight on the water. The Avadhoot closed His eyes and sat still in the sun for some time.
Sri Da Avadhoot loves the ocean. He had always been a strong swimmer and a member of the swimming team at Columbia in His freshman year. He was a certified scuba diver, and liked to body surf in the waves. But His favorite ocean sport was floating.
He liked to swim out past the breakers and float on the waves. I always accompanied my Master on these swims. He used to swim to the deep water, roll on His back, and fill His body with life-energy. He could hold His breath for long periods of time in yogic kumbak (or breath retention), causing His navel to expand so that most of His head and body were comfortably above the water. And the great Avadhoot floated serenely in samadhi on the ocean waves for long periods of time.
The ocean currents in Hawaiian waters can be strong and it was my service to swim alongside the great Samraj to keep Him from drifting out to sea. I would take Him by the foot or hand and gently swim Him back towards shore.
On one occasion on the west side of the island, at a beach called Polihale, the Avadhoot was floating on His back when He asked, “Why don’t you float?”
“I’m too thin, my Lord,” I said, “I sink.”
“You have to become more whale-like,” said the Avadhoot, “like me.”
He described yogis floating down the Ganges in India, in meditation. He said they viewed the river as holy so they abandon outward awareness of the world, and let the river take them as it pleased. The sublime Master Yogi was still floating on His back, when He laughed and said, “They got a lot of skinny guys over there! They float all right.”
He then instructed me to put my legs in the full lotus position, lay my head back and relax in the water. He gave me instruction in yogic conductivity, saying to inhale deeply to the navel and retain the life-force at the bodily base. He then gave me instructions on circulating the life force, saying “stay full.” And I found myself floating effortlessly over the waves like a tube.
But at Kalapaki Bay that day, the sublime Master seemed content to sit on the sand with His eyes closed or gaze on the water in silence.
A muscular man came running down the beach with his dog racing along the water. We often saw them here at the Bay, running in front of the old Westin hotel. And he would always look for the Avadhoot. Often the Avadhoot would smile and nod His head to the stranger. The man’s dog was very playful and Sri Da Avadhoot always enjoyed watching the dog frolic in the waves, and swim out to fetch a stick. Sometimes Da Avadhoot would send me down to greet the man and his dog. We would talk briefly as he jogged in place, and he always asked me to “Please give my regards to the King.”
But today, as the man and his dog ran by, the Avadhoot’s eyes were closed. I was watching the Master, whose hands were in blessing mudras (yogic gestures) and whose feet were flexing in their characteristic flow of silent blessings. The muscle man waved as he and the dog ran by. I looked at the Avadhoot whose eyes were still closed; and I waved back to the man who continued on his way.
Da Avadhoot was an impressive sight sitting on the beach at Kalapaki Bay in full yogic asana (posture) with His long hair flowing in the breeze and the blissful “scowl” of renunciation on His face. People passing the serene Avadhoot often stopped to look, but the invisible field of yogic force that surrounds Him kept curious people-watchers at some distance.
“Was that our friend?” I heard the Master ask. I noticed that His eyes were still closed. “Yes, my Lord,” I said. “He waved to you, as usual.”
“Tcha,” said the Master softly.
Then the Avadhoot suddenly stood up and was walking towards the water, when I caught up with him. As I came along beside him, He pointed to the water at the end of the Bay.
“Can you see them?” He asked. No one else had seen the fins cutting through the water yet, but the fins were dangerously close to shore when I too spotted them. They were also nearing the rocks where my wife and another devotee were swimming and enjoying the sun in the water. Then the fins turned and were headed straight for the two women.
“My Lord,” I said, “that’s Patricia and Anne in the water, near the rocks.”
“I know,” said Da Avadhoot.
Then from the beach, someone screamed, “SHARKS!” And the whole beach panicked. People ran along the shore yelling at their kids to get out of the water! Swimmers were shouting at each other and jumping out of the water. A boat-full of tourists in an outrigger canoe were paddling into shore, when eight large fins went cruising by. Some of the men raised the paddles over-head to strike the sharks and nearly tipped the canoe overboard.
At the other end of the beach, Sri Da Avadhoot was slowly entering the water. Distracted by the sight of their Master, the two women began to swim in His direction, and never even saw the fins pass by them. But the Avadhoot had His eyes fixed like radar on them.
The school of fins turned and headed out to sea.
But they were only circling and came through the bay now with greater speed and closer to the shore. No one had ever seen creatures this large inside the Bay.
Tourists with cameras snapped photographs and hotel beach attendants blew whistles, while a brave local man had waded knee deep into the water and was splashing water and shouting to a lone snorkler; who finally heard him and came tumbling over his flippers onto shore.
Da Avadhoot had swam out in the ocean and I had nervously accompanied him. He had picked up the pace now and was swimming ahead of me.
He was intentionally swimming out to greet them, almost like He was waiting for them.
From the moment he’d seen them, Sri Da Avadhoot had carefully observed the synchronized pattern of the fins, which looked like they were swimming in pairs. He had also known what they were. “Manta rays,” He said smiling. “Big ones!”
From the shore what appeared as shark fins were actually the wing tips of four great manta rays.
Da Avadhoot came in line with the coming manta rays now, and the lead manta ray made a sudden leap from the sea exposing its tail and great hood. From the shore came a cheer, and the people marveled at the grace and power of the black creature and instead of regarding them with fear, began to praise the rays. Da Avadhoot dove under water and came up in the middle of the flying rays. They were enormous, beautiful, deep ocean mantas with powerful pectoral wings and tails that left subtle currents where they swam.
I saw the Avadhoot swim with the manta rays; saw the underwater shadows on the ocean floor where the massive forms blocked the sun, and saw the economy of motion of the swimming Avadhoot and His graceful likeness to the rays. He was not unlike them in a more poignant way also, for the life of the true Avadhoot is as rare as any endangered species in the world of man. This I remember well, that when that great manta ray dove from the sea he had passed over the swimming Avadhoot, and that when the other manta rays came next to him, I would say that when they exchanged energies and mysteries with one another, those non-humans from the sea had received Him like one of their own. There had been no difference. In that pacific “no difference” there were hidden many signs that were simply conveyed—perhaps a mutual recognition, perhaps the mutual empathy of their plights.
Like giant spirit guardians appearing with powerful wings they circled out to sea with dizzying speed.
On the beach friendly strangers talked story with one another. When people went back into the water, so they too might tell the story of how they swam with the great mantas of Hawaii, they went with a little more awareness. Their reactions of threat were transformed into feelings of respect and wonder towards the manta rays. They too had had the rare sighting of the true Avadhoot. And when they left the bay, that day, many made a point of walking past the long-haired Avadhoot. He regarded them with a smile as they passed, but from behind sunglasses I saw Him bless each person with those extraordinary eyes, with those blessing hands and those wide feet from which the Hridaya Shakti (Divine Radiance of the Heart) of the Avadhoot flows to the world. And I thought about how great is my Heart-Master who works in mysterious ways, whose Spiritual gifts are not limited by the events of time and space.
We stayed at the beach until every person had gone home that day. We watched the sun set behind the green hills. And it was dark by the time we arrived back at the great Avadhoot’s Hermitage. He was quiet most of the day. He had said a few words to the children about the rays being “auamakua’s” or spirit-guardians.
There have been other days, and other stories of the great Adi Da Samraj’s work with His non-human companions, some of which will make you laugh, others which will break your heart. But the simple lesson and advice from Sri Adi Da Samraj, in regards to all non-humans, of which the Avadhoot includes trees, plants, rocks, water and everything else non-human, is expressed in a sign that hangs in the home of the precious Avadhoot of Da Love-Ananda Mahal (Adi Da’s Sanctuary in Hawaii), that reads: “Be Kind To All The Non-Humans, or Else!”