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ARCHIVE - The Divine Leela
A Summary of Avatar Adi Da's Divine and Spiritual Work
Return to Naitauba and a Devotee's Death May to August, 2003
On May 19, 2003, Avatar Adi Da Samraj left Da Love-Ananda Mahal, His Hermitage on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, and traveled to Adidam Samrajashram, His Hermitage Retreat Sanctuary on the Fijian island of Naitauba (pronounced "Ny-tum-ba").
The island, a boat ride of many hours from one of the nearest Fijian islands, remains in a state of pristine natural beauty, untouched by modern encroachments. And, like all of the Sanctuaries and Hermitages of Adidam, it is Infused with Avatar Adi Da's Radiant Spirit-Force.
After Avatar Adi Da's arrival on Naitauba, devotees there began transforming one of the island's temples into a studio in which He could continue His work with His photographic art. In addition, devotees from across the world began to arrive on the island to attend retreats in Avatar Adi Da's Company.
During this time, Avatar Adi Da received word that one of His devotees living in Marin County, Joan Vigushin, 55, had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and was quickly deteriorating. In the days following, Avatar Adi Da remained in close communication with Joan, her intimate partner Jack, and their friends, asking for frequent updates about Joan's condition and giving her instructions to help her and those close to her prepare for her death.
Joan and Jack received the first of these instructions on June 10, Joan's first day of chemotherapy. The following is an excerpt from that communication:
AVATAR ADI DA SAMRAJ: Relative to Joan, when you get that kind of diagnosis and prognosis that is so clearly indicating that you have a terminal condition, there is no reason to go into despair and feel like there is absolutely no way it could be reversed or even suddenly, miraculously relinquished.
However, it is a matter of coming to terms with that fact that it is coming to an end. She should not get involved in all kinds of efforts to somehow escape that fact, get into some sort of idea that it is simply going to be overridden or forgotten about or is going to go away necessarily by some endless working on healing possibilities.
It is not tragedy merely – all lives end. So take this as an opportunity, with real knowledge that the end of life is approaching. See that that coincides with the most auspicious conditions for passing.
Joan's illness progressed extremely rapidly. Throughout it all, Avatar Adi Da continued to give Joan and Jack His compassionate Instruction.
On June 15, with help from a friend, Joan dictated a letter to Avatar Adi Da. "Your Communication was extremely sobering to me," she said. "I felt that the heart of Your Communication was to put me face to face with my oncoming death. Both my physical symptoms and confrontation with the reality of my situation have greatly increased in the last few days. Beloved Ruchira Avatara Adi Da, Your Guidance is so very precious to me."
This would be Joan's last letter to Avatar Adi Da. On June 16, she entered the Palliative Care Center at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. Just a few days later, her blood pressure dropped to an undetectable level, and she nearly died. Avatar Adi Da continued to ask for and receive updates regarding her condition.
On June 22, Ruchiradama Nadikanta (a member of the Ruchiran Sannyasin Order, the order of renunciate devotees who have given over every aspect of their lives in service to Adi Da) sent the following communication to Joan and Jack:
Tell Joan and Jack that Avatar Adi Da has had His total attention on them for the last hour, looking at their photos and Giving direct Instruction. Avatar Adi Da laid hands on Joan's photograph and then He just sat looking out at the water and speaking about her. Make sure His Instructions are communicated immediately. There is not a lot of time.
These are Avatar Adi Da's profound and compassionate Instructions from that day:
AVATAR ADI DA SAMRAJ: Does Joan know what the process is, and is she able, therefore, to participate in it for real? Are they reading her My Instructions? She is clearly in the last stages of this. She has got to be allowed to do it, and not be disturbed. She should be helped to be at ease, and allowed to be involved in this process, and not have a lot of requirements put on her physically or socially.
From her photograph, she is clearly rather detached, inward. She's in a real process, and this isn't a social event. So they have to understand what she needs in this, and serve her in what she needs, which is to be deeply involved in this transitional process. She doesn't have any more business here. Hopefully, they have all said what they need to say, and they can let her do this. This is what she needs to do.
She needs to die – that is what has to happen. So what she requires is a sacred environment of complete restfulness and peace, free from anxiety, free from outward demands, and be allowed to enter into the depth of this Process without disturbance. So just constantly being kept at ease, and allowed to go into that depth, and not required to come out to some social or conversational sense – that is what is needed.
So devotees really need to serve her ease, and the sacredness of the situation where she is dying needs to be established very fully. No one should disturb Joan with their own obvious difficulties in confronting the death of somebody. Everybody has to deal with their own death in it, too.
So, they have to all understand this process of death is a profound process, and a very positive one, if you let it be so, and if you serve it to be so. It is positive for everyone, including the person going through the transition. That individual has to be given the permission to do it, and you are serving him or her even by giving them the conditions for doing it.
It is not about making Joan outward-directed. It's about having her one-pointed in the process that she's really involved in, which, as I said, is not a social one. Although there are elements of human contact that are useful, at this point it should be a rather minimal form of contact.
In other words it should be enough to be chanting My Name, saying My Name, touching her while saying My Name – not social communications, but simply sacred communications that focus her one-pointedly in a surrendered disposition, turning herself to Me.
If she seems confused and unavailable, appropriate communications can be made, such as that I am Helping her. The body itself is quite chaotic at this point. So to try to require a person to get very integrated with the body and what it would take to be communicative socially to do so is really an imposition and can be very uncomfortable for the person. So there's no need for it.
It's a Sacred Event. It's about surrender and devotional one-pointedness. So just keep her directed in that surrendering, devotional disposition – calm, undisturbed, no demands.
Direct her above, direct her to Me, above. To be released above. And if she has any outward awareness she should be turned to My Image, which they should have there. She should be called to remember Me in My bodily (Human) Form, and then look for Me above, however she may perceive Me – in My bodily (Human) Form, in the form of a "Bright" Light above, and so on. The Instructions I've already Given should be repeated to her.
So it's that turning, one-pointedness, to Me and to above, to Me above, that is the process she should be comfortably concentrated in, given over to, without disturbance.
Obviously there is sorrow and difficulty in such an event, no doubt. But on the other hand, to project that is to project your own lack of understanding and maturity onto the other person who is going through this profound process. So those who are present must be able to let her go, surrender her to go, rather than try to get her to hold on, trying to get her to stay, not let her go, try to engage her socially.
All of these efforts are not appropriate here in this situation, in which she must relinquish and be free to relinquish. You have to give her the permission to do it, in effect – those who are intimate with her need to give her that permission. So Jack needs to be doing that. He should appreciate his role there, so that he can serve her.
It is something similar to what you would do if your intimate were having a child, giving birth-you have to participate in it. You've got to participate in that process, and serve that person's participation in that process. So what you do at a birth is similar in some sense to when you are serving the person's death transition. You have to encourage their participation in it, and you have to yourself participate in it sympathetically.
In the case of birth, you are looking for a child to come out the lower. In the death case, effectively, the child is coming out the other end, the top end. It is a birth in the other direction, and you have to encourage their exit, their birthing of themselves, effectively, out of their own body, into the dimension beyond.
So this is the kind of service to be done for somebody in that situation, and it has some resemblance to serving a woman who is giving birth. Sorrow is about the holding on, and the fear of loss, and thinking about yourself.
Do not think about yourself. Think about Me, and give that person who's going through this process your regard, move the faculties out of your own content, to Me. That's Ruchira Avatara Bhakti Yoga, that's the devotional practice of surrender to Me, that's what she must be doing. And everybody there should be doing the same thing, with a particular focus on her in particular and what she requires.
But it's not only about doing things for her. It's participating in it with her, and getting with it in the profound positive sense, not in the casual positive sense. There are profound feelings necessarily associated with such a thing, but that's fine – be profound about it, rather than collapsed on self.
In fundamental terms it is no more a negative event than a birth. It's an inevitable process, it is very knowable in some respects, just as the birth process is knowable, and there are certain things you do that make it work best, that's most comfortable and most positive. And there are things you can do that work against that. It's the same with the death process. It's a kind of birth out the head end, as opposed to the birth through the lower end that brings someone physically into this world. It's using a physical vehicle to have it happen, there's an exit from the body taking place. An entity is passing from the body into a new environment. In the case of death, it is the environment above the head.
It is not necessary to get into all kinds of technical or fanciful presumptions about it – it's just about understanding basically that this is what's happening. Feel it. You can see on her face and body that that is what she's doing. Look at what is in front of your face--you can see it – that's what's going on with her. Not some tragedy. Let her be concentrated. Encourage her to do it, to get with it, and not be afraid. She's being drawn into a process which is wholly positive in its fundamental terms.
On Tuesday, June 24, less than two months after her initial diagnosis, Joan passed away. On July 9, Jack and several friends scattered Joan's ashes off the coast of Bodega Bay, north of San Francisco. Just before sending the ashes into the sea, Jack read from Avatar Adi Da's written teaching. The following is an excerpt from that reading.
The true man or woman yields to the process of experience as to a lover. Such a one does not enter into the realms of experience in a defensive manner – cranky, rigid, full of self and knowledge. Rather, such a one enters into the present moment of experience as an act of love.
Lovers do not fear dissolution. Therefore, they are active as submission, feeling, and ecstatic awe. Unlike the knower, who does not make love but (at best) presumes to love, the devotee of Reality Itself is engaged in the process of ecstasy. The devotee exceeds all knowledge through love and ecstatic self-surrender.
For such a one, knowledge is only a convention of ordinary order and thinking, whereas love is the method whereby the secret purposes of the universe are fulfilled.
See My "Brightness" Face To Face A lavishly illustrated year-by-year documentation of the extraordinary Spiritual saga of Avatar Adi Da's Work with His devotees. Covering the years 1972 to 1997, See My "Brightness" Face to Face includes abundant excerpts from Avatar Adi Da's Talks and Essays, as well as numerous stories about Him told by His devotees-with a wealth of photographs on every page.