Artist: Simon Pritchard. Painting: The Light Pours Out Of Me
It was 1986 London, grey overcast skies and raining. Everything changes except Consciousness Itself and the weather in England which are Eternal! Adi Da and a vast travelling party of devotees all dressed in orange, some with (temporary!) spiritual names like ‘Arjuna’ had arrived in London and were staying at The Hyde Park Hotel. I had only been a formal student six months or so, and since I was considered rather eccentric and unpredictable I was not someone that the ‘cultural leaders’ of the time wanted ‘out front’! Indeed even before the Guru had arrived I had been asked to keep ‘a low profile’ in the Dawn Horse Bookshop, which was our public centre in Poland Street off Oxford Street, and the cultural minister at the time said to me many years later, that when he approved me to be a formal student he wondered ‘if it was the greatest mistake I had ever made in my life’.
Still my heart was on fire with love for my Guru! I figured I would not create a fuss, but be on my very best behaviour and see if I could ‘worm my way in’ to the heart of the action! Totally irresponsibly I quit my job in a wholefoods warehouse so that I could be available for ‘full time service’ to Adi Da and the party of travelling renunciates. In England in the ‘old days’ of Queen Victoria and later, children were told they should be ‘seen but not heard.’ Well I was told to be ‘neither seen nor heard!’ I spent many days skulking around the bowels and lower floors of The Hyde Park Hotel, hoping to get a glimpse of my Guru, just a glimpse! Please! Adi Da and the travelling party were staying on one of the upper floors. Devotees in England who were considered more mature would have more direct service, they would travel with Adi Da visiting places like Stonehenge and Glastonbury.
I could have felt like Cinderella not being allowed to go to the ball, while her ugly sisters have all the glory! Far from feeling deprived I was ecstatic to be so physically close to Adi Da, even though I never saw him the whole time He was in England. Maybe not being allowed to even glimpse Him just served to increase my longing to set eyes on His Beautiful Form, that relieves the mind of the sense of dilemma, and the heart of all contradiction.
One of my services was to do the laundry. I would go to the hotel foyer and be met by an apparently very spiritually advanced devotee with an exotic spiritual sounding name dressed in an orange outfit, who would give me several very large bags of clothing. I would somehow haul these down the Bayswater Road walking quite a long distance, or packing up a taxi full to the brim, and literally take over a whole laundromat. Eight machines would be wurring packed with orange robes, orange dresses, orange tunics, orange trousers, orange socks. London housewives coming to the laundromat to do their own laundry must have wondered who is this crazy man! I got a few angry looks because I was hogging all the machines!
I was extremely Happy doing this service, mindlessly, unreasonably Happy, the very cells of my being were vibrating with the excitement of being so close to Adi Da. I would volunteer for any and every service. All the while hoping I might catch a glimpse of Adi Da in the Hotel. Occasionally I would have to go a higher floor, or even close to His room, but I never did see Him! When this happened I would linger, move very slowly, to extend the window of opportunity.
I would often visit a kitchen in the basement that the Hotel had allowed us to use exclusively. I would help make raw juices for Adi Da. He was on a juice diet. We would spend hours making big jugs of grapefruit, melon, orange and apple juices. It was not difficult to remember Him under these circumstances! My heart felt (and remembering Him now as I write this, feels) so alive, free and refreshed!
Beloved Adi Da would return the juice he didn’t drink as ‘Prasad’ (Blessed by Him, permeated with His Divine Energy). I would be ecstatic drinking the juices, feeling how I was receiving the Very Energy of Life Itself, His Spiritual Essence.
These days were blissful and looking back I am weeping as I write because I can feel, directly feel Beloved Adi Da’s Love, how He humbled me, and gave me simple and self-transcending Guru Seva, so I would long for Him more and begin to learn to love with no expectations, where devotion is its own reward and the ego makes way for the Heart, so the Heart has Space to receive Him more, the Love-Blissful Sweet Presence of Love that I recognize as Him, that nothing else compares to in how Good it feels