The "Bright" in the Darkness
How Adi Da Found Me
Frank ("Cheech") Marrero, Sr. first encountered Avatar Adi Da Samraj in 1971, before the initiation of His formal Teaching-Work, in April 1972.
Frank died in 2009, after being a devotee of Avatar Adi Da's for 38 years.
I grew up in one the worst neighborhoods of New York City, an area of youth gangs, drug dealers and criminals. Although I came from a good family, right outside my front door was a world of constant threat and danger. I dropped out of school at 14. By the time I was 30, I had spent more than 8 years in prison.
In 1967, I was imprisoned at Riker's Island Penitentiary, awaiting trial for a crime I hadn't committed. At a plea bargaining session, I was told that if I pled guilty, I would receive "only" 20 to 30 years, instead of life without parole.
I was at the lowest point of my life. One evening, around midnight, with the lights out and the cellblock quiet, I sat on my mattress and concluded that death couldn't be worse than this life. I calmly made a decision to end it all.
I put on the best clothes I had, shaved, and brushed my hair. Then I lay down on my mattress and prepared to end my life. At that point, everything around me became acutely sharp. I could hear my heart pounding. I could hear every tiny sound. The intensity stopped my mind, which had been racing. I paused...
The room suddenly filled with bright light. I felt a Presence I could not explain, but which was obviousness to me as the brightness of the room. I bolted upright and looked around the cell. I knew that not only was I not going to commit suicide, but that somehow everything was going to turn out okay. Incredibly energized, I stayed awake all night, until guards came in the morning to take me to a prison van for the long ride to the courthouse.
I was not the same person after this experience. I felt that life was more important than I had considered it to be from my previous perspective. I began to make different choices. And, in a miraculous turn of events, I discovered the identity of the man who had committed the crime for which I was charged, and I was released within a year.
While in prison, I had educated myself in counseling, psychology and law. After my release, I continued my education, eventually enrolling in a Ph.D. program in psychology. I co-founded a multi-million dollar drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in the South Bronx, and became the executive clinical director, responsible for over 500 residents.
I was successful and professionally respected, and in my free time socialized with other Latino professionals. However, underneath the psychological expertise and professional and social success, I was still a guarded, mistrusting person.
One morning, in June 1971, I had an appointment with an executive from a meditation institute who was selling a program for treating addictions. Since I had no personal experience with meditation, I didn't feel comfortable interviewing him. I remembered that a colleague had told me about an acquaintance of his who knew about meditation and that, coincidentally, the acquaintance was visiting him that morning. I did not know that the "acquaintance" was Avatar Adi Da Samraj, still known at that time by his born name, Franklin Jones.
I walked into my colleague's office and asked Avatar Adi Da if he could assist me in the interview. He gave me a big smile and agreed.
I liked Him right away. He was very bright and open, and His smile was genuinely happy. I don't remember what He said as we walked together, but He laughed a lot, and soon I was laughing too — in fact, we laughed most of the way to my office. As we entered my office area, I remember my secretary looking up in surprise. This wasn't my typical disposition.
During the interview, I kept asking the salesman if he used these techniques himself, to which he responded affirmatively. But it was obvious to me that he wasn't happy.
After the salesman left, I looked at Avatar Adi Da and said, "What do you think?" He pointed both thumbs toward the ground, and we both laughed. He said, "They are well-intentioned people, but there is much more to meditation than that."
Then Avatar Adi Da noticed something in my office. In a far corner, partly hidden by a plant, I had a small photo of Swami Muktananda. (Swami Muktananda functioned as one of Avatar Adi Da's Spiritual Masters during the process of His Re-Awakening to His Divine Self-Condition.)
A few months earlier, I had responded to an article about Swami Muktananda, and received an invitation to meet him during his upcoming New York visit. The photo had been a gift from Amma, Swami Muktananda's secretary, who I later learned was a great Spiritual friend of Avatar Adi Da's.
Avatar Adi Da seemed interested that I had this photo, and began asking me questions about it. In the course of my answers, I remember asking Him, "What do you think about somebody like this who claims to be in direct communion with God?"
He looked straight into my eyes and said, "Just do everything in relation to the Guru." Then He left. It would take me many years to realize that He had given me the essence of His Wisdom-Teaching in that single statement.
After that meeting, I kept thinking about Avatar Adi Da. But I had no recognition of Him as an Enlightened Being — let alone the Divine Incarnation of Real God! Other than my Catholic upbringing, I had little knowledge about religion or spirituality.
I tended to be cynical about life, regarding religion as mostly nonsense — false doctrines to keep people from abusing and killing one another. Although I felt something special about Him, at that point in my life, Avatar Adi Da was just another man to me.
Next: Part Two
from The Dawn Horse Press —
The Knee Of Listening
The Divine Ordeal of the Avataric Incarnation of Conscious Light
In this story, Frank Marrero receives the all-pervading "Bright" Blessing of Avatar Adi Da through readingThe Knee Of Listening in 1971.
A new and expanded third edition of The Knee Of Listening is now available.