I wrote this series of poems called “Mahasamadhi” in the days immediately following the mahasamadhi (or bodily death) of my Guru, Adi Da Samraj. I took notes at home before leaving California for His interment, at the airport, on the boat over, and on the island for several weeks on retreat before I left. It’s taken me until now to be happy enough with them to put them up. The photos are all from Naitauba, praise to the beautiful eye of Ruy Carpenter. Nothing can capture the power of those days following Bhagavan's Mahasamadhi, and I surely haven’t, but I’d like the reader to know that they were as Infused with Adi Da’s Spiritual Blessing and Force as any days prior. That, in itself, was, and is, a miracle to contemplate and behold.
So this night began without reason,
with something that should not have been.
Our temple reader turned backward on his cushion
and held the tome, the scripture out to me, eyebrow raised.
My right hand fell a few inches as I took it from him,
while my left brushed my coat pocket checking for morphine,
for when it was done. A feeble hand searching.
People know I don’t read.
My spine won’t endure it.
Rain drummed the white dome above our heads,
like a dirge. I made out the words
in a dim glow from the skylight,
reading each line with the care I’d bring
if I’d written them myself.
I knew this text— one of strange disclosures—
but in years I’d never heard it spoken in this room.
These words told of the final passage.
Of the great translation from life and death and time
into the Midnight Sun, where He came from.
Is. Or would be someday. Or not.
A paradox as braided as the man.
This holy night in the soft rain.
Line after line of confession
for the ripe bloodstream.
We beheld Him in the center of this empty room.
And He took us in, through a doorless chamber, each one.
I shut the book.
I laid back gently on my foam pad
in the clearing these words had made.
I am far behind.
I must see you again.
Dying here, like this, in our sleep.
We shuffled off like panhandlers,
barefoot across the moonlight on thick, wet grass.
In the white mist.
In the dark.
Back to our kitchens and conversation.
Back to the life we thought we owned.
He’d be gone.
All hope died in the dawn hours.
And if the earth faded into light, as is written,
then as written, we failed to notice.
What to do now? What?
Was this a question?
What man would not rush to the Master’s body as in life?
But we are machines within.
And mine said no.
Can’t make that journey.
Prop planes and reeling ferry rides.
The body will fail me.
I’ve no time. No money.
What about work? People and their demands?
And my Master stands here, everywhere.
What end will be served by my going?
I’ll stay put.
My girlfriend dialed her sister. Put the phone down.
They’ve booked their tickets. They’re out of here.
All five of our wayward friends— rarely seen
anywhere near the congregation on a Sunday,
or any other day— already running!
I thought they’d given up on everything devout.
On the very idea of ever stepping foot on that fire-island again.
But that’s the difference—
they’d lived as His lovers,
as ignorant of our religion as He was.
They fed Him.
Gave Him cause to stay bound to these elements.
Combed and cut His hair, touched His shoulders,
swirled like dust in His wake.
I thought about that lack of hesitation,
And not a jot of it, even now, in this dark moment.
My room seemed to grow a notch brighter.
I chuckled to myself and hid it with a cough.
The impossible seemed obvious.
Is the impossible what must always be done?
I’d haul myself half-dead up the beach if I had to.
Plant my head on the brittle sands
and let the grains stick to my forehead and my knees.
Bask alone in the blue cove where He laughed and roared
and shuddered the world. This thing—
this at least would be done.
His death may make me one.
TURAGA DAU LOLOMA
We saw the Turanga with our own eyes.
A legendary vessel— a story made suddenly real.
We crouched with our suitcases on the sand.
We kneeled or stood in a silence before memory.
That is what we do.
I let the foam wash over my toes up to my shins.
I said for the first time: Now I’ve touched Naitauba.
A forty-mile line of liquid connected us now,
a body without circumference.
A metal skiff ferried us to the waiting boat
and on the rough deck, I curled up and slept.
Hours later, a girl with a flower
in her ear shook my shoulder.
Come up front — you can see it now.
She leveled her finger at a faint, gray silhouette—
half a horse’s eye pressed between sky and sea.
You had to find it, and find it again,
before it ran from your eyes like a teardrop.
To sit on that prow, fixed on a spec of rock.
Sighting it, losing it,
as it grew ever larger to the eye.
All on deck made quiet by it.
Our boat plunging against walls of swell,
lifting high, then whipping down like a hand throwing water.
The engine roaring over all sound.
Light, heat, and spray pelting our faces.
A relentless push against natural forces.
But always tethered to the stone.
See it there.
You’re closer. How close—
you don’t know.
Not a word slipped for hours.
But whimsical laughter from above—
tossed up like sparks in an tongue
that mimes the origin of the world.
The dark captain, his crew, all naked
save a flat cloth around the waist
or a pair of tattered Chinese jeans.
These giddy men with nothing at all—
spinning their songs. For who?
A fleck of hardened lava out there, their home.
We’re angling toward it now.
Straightening the line.
Gale winds slap our hair back across our eyes.
A white seagull drifts high overhead
then circles down to beckon us.
Skies unfold like dominoes in all direction.
None of this can be stopped.
After following the island, now a far-off speck, I slept.
Bone-weary. My head on coiled ropes
and the water sound splashing me down into oblivion.
Hours later, when I opened my eyes,
we were idling in a water like crystal,
coasting through a thin break in the barrier reef—
The Garland of Whales. A coral necklace of protection.
The Fijians more than quiet now,
dangling off the rails, serious,
sharing only steering commands in a tone of reverence.
You could see deeply down over all sides,
glassy to the sand bottom.
Before us, as we passed like a slow motion camera,
there— reclining under a gray sky: the island.
Dark jungle mobbed the empty beaches
with no sign of life.
We threaded the two-meter channel,
bearing right along the rocky coast.
It felt as though we’d left the earth and our time.
As if we were the first to ever see this place—
in a future or primeval order, before or after humankind.
Sage serenity everywhere, and underneath.
We set anchor under blackening clouds.
Ferried a motorboat to the shore and threw down our
wilting flowers, our bodies on the sand.
Something kept us prostrate.
When we stood, two windswept men
without expression drew us close.
They spoke in hushed tones, as if passing on a secret:
Our Master is being buried, at the Brightness.
We’ll go there now— put your bags down.
Leave them. Bring only what you need.
Come to see Him. You’ve made it here.
You are among the blessed. A bus takes you up the hill.
From there, you’ll walk to the high ground.
The rest is yours. The rest we can’t tell you.
Take my hand— here. Bring water. There is little time.
At the white iron gates of the Brightness,
we shed our belongings, and barefoot
began the long walk to the top of the hill.
Each alone, each single.
Stripped of what consoles,
of what pulls us from the root we must endure.
Royal palms in two rows formed a perfect corridor,
a canopy of light up to the plateau.
As we neared the waving grasses,
we saw in the center of the meadow a flat, one-story white home.
People dressed in all colors encircled it, chanting,
pulled together in simple village cloth.
A skinny dirt trail cut a line from where we stood
to that central hallucination—
a dash of unstable color in the sky.
We walked forward and melted into it.
A white-haired man with nine fingers bent toward me
with a wicker tray of flowers.
I took two orange marigolds,
knelt down before the murti photograph,
kissed them, held them out in cupped hands,
then laid them down to be buried on His folded legs.
Then I turned around and steadied myself
against the rail of a rusty pickup bed
that hauled His body here
like the king of a beggared nation.
My brother stood alone on a mound of dark earth,
naked to the waist and soaked in sweat.
He scooped volcanic soil into white plastic buckets
to the first man, and a long chain of moving hands
that ran like field mice to the house’s open door.
And within that plainest of chapels
our Lord sat facing West, dirt up to His ribs.
We sat in vigil with Him until dusk
while layers of numinous artifacts, fresh flowers,
and circular mandalas of kum kum and ash
were drawn around Him like a million-year sediment,
earth rising slowly higher to His neck.
And when His head alone, wrapped in saffron cloth,
sat plain and oval on the temple floor,
the priests paused, and they took long breaths before this lingam—
the stone of Happenine.
Here is the tomb where He sits.
With no bottom wall, no floor.
Only a naked connection to the earth.
No separation from the life below.
His feet and hands form mudras in the clay.
And to this day, always someone sits with Him, in intimate quiet.
A hermit in black waits on His every need:
A glass of cool water on a tray.
News of those who cross the reef.
Handmade gifts from pilgrims who come to see Him,
to suffer His demand,
now a swollen and surging river—
ferrying horses, children, dreamers—
to a fate unasked and pure.
Hours into days until sunrise, mostly alone.
I clasped my hands behind my head in the buffalo grass.
My eyes dilated for the black sky.
Stars above me no one has ever seen.
Night after night after night on this holy plateau, pressed high over the Koro sea.
My Beloved, all-embracing and thick in the air.
I hate to say it— and especially to my friends—
the ones who couldn’t make it. But nights like those won’t
happen again, not in that way.
That was once.
You’ll have to don black and cast off the world
to ever enjoy again such leisure as I knew there.
No bells begged me to leave and no one came for me.
Think of it: a golden sun reaching out across the bay
each dawn, like a mother, to poke me in the ribs,
amused as much as me at my good fortune.
I could have stayed as long as I wanted there,
all night if I chose! And I did.
Alone with Him, like a face turned up to the sun.
One night, lost in a sea of lights,
overcome with Him, a Vedic chant warming the air,
some words dropped into my chest
as sometimes happened when I’d sit with Him
in the past. I spoke them out: Gurudev.
I vow to live by Your Law. That alone. Forever.
And truly, in the moment of that last word, a shooting star—
more fiery and huge than I’d ever seen—
ripped across the sky. Burning fast,
trailing flames like an imploding sun.
Who saw it?
No one but me.
You’d have had to be buried in grass on your back.
Only my testimony here.
Only me to recount it.
But how I live, where I go, what I do,
and how I die here, now or someday,
on this lambent hill. Ordained.
Centuries before the sun rose
and made daylight explain this day.
At dawn in the last night of the vigil,
while still black outside, a cleansing began.
Out of stirring chaos fell the minions of hell,
like angry children grappling over a toy.
Space sliced open in an astral downpour.
When it sealed up, a lucid dream came next to wake me.
Two brothers warned me we each had to
shut down our lives at home and physically move away,
or grave threat would face the temple.
I got up startled and walked to the dingy showers
before dawn. The two brothers were already there.
And as we bathed together there under a naked lightbulb,
making jokes and mocking the times,
steel-toe boots were crashing in the doors
of my forest home in California.
And not half-a-mile from there
my friend’s ribs splintered under a shotgun butt.
At noon and still unaware, I opened a breathless email
urging me never to step foot again in my home country.
Three houses of medicine down. And a P.S.—
Delete this. Now.
I took a lukewarm shower.
Then folded my shirts up like a man going off to war.
The boat that brought us would come for me at sunrise.
I slung a flashlight over my shoulder and walked.
Up the dirt path, back to the white metal gates.
No one joined me. No one followed.
And no one passed me coming down.
Miles below, the sea and a rusty farm,
glowing orange in the sunset. In my chest,
a terror-grip, the reptile taking hold.
And I escorted myself into hand-made phantasms
about the end of my life, the taking of family and free-will.
I did not ask for mercy or for a miracle.
I asked for a calm heart.
When I raised my hands at the plateau
I let it all drop around my toes, where it belonged.
All night, by virtue of real angels,
I laid back in the tall grasses again,
where the glow of the Lord’s house entangled the shadows.
I circled His body every hour.
Sang to Him.
Knelt on a worn straw mat close to His cold flesh.
Musicians abandoned their instruments
one by one, until only one chanter swayed in the deep night
repeating the names,
over and again and again, like shore break.
Before the first light, I rolled up my mat
and walked barefoot
back to the opening of the hilltop trail.
I turned at the edge of the field to take one more look.
The buffalo grass blew in rhythmic waves
caressing the orb where He sat enthroned.
A towering earthly vision, the last, I thought.
But I’d made it here, to this magical plot.
Against all of life that would someday discard me.
The world moved on without rest below.
I pressed my hands open. Raised them. Bowed.
Then turned my back against it all,
sweeping my flashlight toward the lower gates.
I felt the ease of His presence, loving the visible world.
Whatever came next, in the span
from here and back, could not touch me.
This is November.
We’re nearing the first anniversary of His death.
In my hand: plane tickets to return.
I’m fasting to prepare.
And what has happened?
Nothing. Nothing at all.
A warm wind cuffs my ears.
I’m leaning over a lush, tropical valley,
elbows on gleaming Kaua’ian wood.
His current flowing steadily underneath,
drowning everything, even my gratitude.
Wind blows the rain in great waves through this valley,
like cloud swarms of bees.
I pull my shawl tighter
and look into the shade