A Video Presentation

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Transcendental Realism

The Art of Adi Da Samraj

Watch a video of Adi Da Samraj — at work in His studio during the period from 2006 to 2007 and speaking about His art process.

Visit the website for an in-depth exploration of Adi Da as artist.

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"True art heals. True art restores equanimity. Art must regenerate the sense of well-being. That is its true purpose."

— Adi Da Samraj

You are also invited to subscribe to a new educational website about Adi Da's art. You'll find articles about His art, His instruction on true art, views of many of His images, retrospectives, and more:

Book Excerpts

Transcendental Realism

Section 3


Icon Transcendental

A Profound Historical Leap

from the Introduction
by Erik van Erp, PhD

To reach His end, and to elaborate His beginning, Adi Da repeatedly utilizes a specific set of ordinary words. While starting out with their familiar meanings, their repeated use in gradually widening circles pushes their meanings in new and unheard-of directions.

This linguistic strategy is akin to that of the philosopher Martin Heidegger.

There is, in fact, a certain affinity between this text and Heidegger's writings. To be sure, there is no "influence" of Heidegger's thinking here, no direct reference. The affinity is more essential.

Heidegger's sole concern was to re-insert the question of the meaning of Being into the heart of philosophy. He realized that the failure of His first attempts in this direction was deeply related to the very character and project of Western metaphysics.

Metaphysics proceeds from "beings" to Being, by questioning "beings" as to their mode of being, thus hoping to arrive at the truth of Being Itself. Instead, Heidegger thought, if we are to attempt to speak of Being Itself, our very speaking must originate from Being, instead of merely moving toward it. This required a profound historical leap.

Whether Heidegger's own attempts in this direction were successful is open to debate. But one is reminded of the struggle of this great philosopher when one reads that Adi Da creates His art as "a Self-Portrait of Reality Itself", and regards His artistic discipline as a means to enable "the Direct (and inherently egoless) Self-Presentation of Reality Itself".

What Adi Da presents us with, it seems, is a sign of that historical "leap" and new beginning that Heidegger, in His philosophical intuitions, knew before him.

While the aim of Transcendental Realism is not primarily to elaborate His radical "philosophy" on the nature of Reality, Adi Da's artistic purposes, His consideration of the nature of His own art (and even all art), and His description of His unique manner of working are all grounded and elaborated in the context of this fundamental understanding.

Adi Da has, of necessity, developed His own unique language to do His speaking, because of the radical nature of what is being said. Adi Da's language enables him to express transcendental purposes without getting trapped in metaphysics, and its movement to "elsewhere".

It is also through this language that Adi Da redefines, in radical terms, some of the basic categories of modern art — specifically, "representational art", "objective art", and "subjective art". These terms are redefined, re-evaluated, and even "measured" against Adi Da's unique understanding of Reality and its inherent demands.

Transcending "Point of View"

One of the fundamental notions in this remarkable text is what Adi Da calls "transcending 'point of view'". The consideration of "point of view" — sometimes under the name of "perspective" — is, of course, a familiar theme in art criticism, and plays a pivotal role in discourse on modernism. Adi Da's treatment of the notion deliberately links up with that artistic tradition.

But the notion of "point of view" has many connotations, and its meaning could equally well be considered in the context of modern physics or neuro-science. Adi Da's use of the term freely references all such contexts of meaning. But those familiar references serve as the starting point for the communication of an essentially new understanding.

In direct contrast to the common understanding of the term, Adi Da holds that "point of view" is not inherent to perception itself! One could say that there can be "viewing" without "point of view".

Thus, Adi Da states that "point of view" is not necessary — and, indeed, entirely fictitious. Not just what is seen "from" a "point of view" is illusory (or incomplete, or in whatever way presumed to be distorted), but the very presumption that the perceiver is located at a "point" in space-time (perhaps somewhere inside the brain), always "stepped back" from what is being viewed, is itself the root-illusion.

One pole, or aspect, of "point of view" is the false presumption that there is some kind of permanent center of attention — an "ego", or "self", or "subject" — at the root, or somewhere "inside", of experience. On the "other side" of attention, "objects" are co-constructed with the "ego".

Once "point of view" is assumed, there seems to be some field that exists independently and "outside" of attention, as the world of "things" (or "objects") onto which attention casts its eye.

But Adi Da maintains that, "there are no 'objects' in Reality Itself". This does not mean to say that reality exists as some kind of subjective dream. Rather, both the "subjective self" and its "world of objects" — as separate and independent "somethings" — are illusory, or without real being.

"Reality Itself", then, is expressly not the Kantian "Ding an sich", or "thing itself". It is not the "objective world" of ordinary "realism".

But neither is it the merely "subjective" realm of "idealism". It is, most simply, that which is the case, as opposed to that which is presumed to be the case. And in "It" there exists no "point of view". Reality Itself is not knowable from any defined "point of view".

However, in every instant in which "point of view" is transcended — that is, in every moment in which one forgets to actively "create" one's experience in the mold of the ego-and-its-objects — Reality Itself is Self-Apprehended as Truth Itself, and as The Beautiful Itself, in what Adi Da calls "egoless Coincidence with Reality Itself".

It is in that egoless state that Adi Da makes His images, and it is that same state into which the viewer is drawn by right participation in His art.



— from The Dawn Horse Press —

Transcendental Realism Cvr Transcendental Realism
The New, Expanded Second Edition
The Image-Art of egoless
Coincidence with Reality Itself
by Adi Da Samraj

The new edition of Transcendental Realism contains many never-before-published writings by Adi Da, including a remarkable, detailed explanation of how His own final image-making process evolved.

266 pages plus a
24-page full-color insert


To purchase offline, call:
877-770-0772 within the US
or 707-928-6590 internationally