In 1993, ethnic strife in the former Soviet Union between Jews and Muslims led my family to come to the United States. We were fortunate enough to be brought over by a Jewish organization that specialized in helping Russian Jews get settled into American life. My family ended up in Birmingham, Alabama, and was blessed with the ability to send me to the local Jewish elementary school at virtually no cost.
Over the next eight years, I attended the Jewish Day School, where I learned about God and Judaism. I was fascinated by all the stories from the Torah, and was earnestly excited to learn about God every day. However, as time went by and I grew older, all of my Jewish education began to seem like more of a mythology than reality. The God that was mentioned in the Torah was not tangible to me, and did not seem to have any direct interference or relationship to my life. All the while, my parents questioned why they had to be taken away from their beloved homeland of Russia, their close friends, and their accustomed way of life.
My interest in God became dormant, and did not re-emerge until later in high school, when I became heavily interested in philosophy. I intuitively felt that there was something greater in life; that all the answers were available, but I had no idea how to access them. I remember one day asking my mother if there were any books written about consciousness. She immediately laughed, and told me that there was a whole world of books about the subject!
Almost immediately, I began reading every spiritual and New Age book I could get my hands on. I was stunned by what I read. The idea of separation from God was merely an illusion, caused by the ego. God is all, and all are perfectly interconnected in God. The Universe is a boundless, limitless existence unfathomable to the human mind. Love is the great principle of life and God is that Love. Life was Truth, and humans were evolving toward the Cosmic Consciousness that the great sages all spoke of. The root cause of all human suffering was the ego, and all that humankind had to do was transcend egoity and all would be revealed! The next few years were spent in excited investigation of these truths. I began meditating and learning about manipulating the energies in my body — and thus my intuition of the Truth about existence magnified.
However, I was not getting any more enlightened! My ego was still soundly alive and thriving. The various techniques I had learned for transcending the ego were not having much of an effect, and so I became resigned to the idea that spiritual enlightenment wasn't for me, at least not in the present lifetime. I would experience some subtle energies and feel good, but when I wasn't meditating, all my usual complexes and insecurities came to the forefront.
I deeply wished that I could meet someone my own age to consider spirituality with, because it was such an important part of my life. My senior year of high school, I was blessed to developed a close friendship with another young man, Neeshee Pandit, who shared my deep interest in spirituality. We would get together on the weekends and talk about philosophy and our experiences and intuitions of the Divine. It was apparent to us that the majority of the world did not live in accordance with the great principles of life and Love, and everything around us seemed to be an absurdity. I yearned for God, but all I got from books was knowledge, not the Divine Itself.
Soon it was time to graduate from high school and continue my studies at the University of Alabama. Neeshee was still in high school back home, but we maintained contact as often as we could. My interest in spirituality began to recede as I was exposed to life away from home and the college party scene. I seemed to be enjoying a nice worldly life, but I was far from happy. Deep down I knew that God was the only answer, but I was far too distracted with "fun."
When I came home for vacation, Neeshee had some big news to share. He had found a spiritual teacher named Adi Da Samraj, who claimed to be the Divine in person. I had never seen anyone like Adi Da before . . . He was very attractive and absolutely radiant! My interest was piqued of course, and so I began watching some videos of Him on the internet. At once, I knew that Adi Da was very unique, but I was not in the mindset to take up any sort of spiritual practice at the time. I was stunned to find out that Neeshee was actually going to forgo college to live at Adi Da's Sanctuary in California. How could he ruin his success in life on such a childish impulse? It wasn't as if he were going to become enlightened!
The whole situation was odd to me, but even so, I felt deeply moved to learn more about Adi Da. I spent the next few months watching videos of Him on the Internet and noticed that whenever I felt particularly vulnerable or open, a subtle force of joy would emanate from Him. I didn't think too much of it at the time and probably would have forgotten about Adi Da had Neeshee not been insistent on sticking with Him. The more I watched and read, the more I realized that Adi Da was transmitting something to me that I was not quite ready to receive. I had no idea at the time, but Adi Da planted a seed in me during those months that was soon to grow at an alarming rate. Later that year, Neeshee told me of a dream he had in which he saw me going through a process of purification that Adi Da would be involved in. Purification didn't sound too appealing to me, but it soon manifested in full force in the form of chicken pox! Chicken pox at age nineteen was miserable, but I intuited that something very special was going on.
One night as I lay in bed watching videos of Martin Luther King, my heart was opened up by the power of his word. Spontaneously, I decided to put on a video of Adi Da granting Darshan, and the moment the video started, my heart was broken by the immensity of Divine Force emanating from Him. I wept and wept, my body radiating with His Spiritual Transmission. The chicken pox immediately made sense. I had to be made vulnerable to accept the Gift that I had been so reluctant to see earlier. It was such a Divinely orchestrated occasion! My whole life had been leading up to this moment. The Divine Love I felt was the Perfection of God that I had only read about but never thought possible to experience while alive. He had already taken His Divine Mahasamhadi, but His Presence was Alive and Real. It cut through any and all egoic illusions that have pervaded mankind for thousands of years. He was the answer, and I became deeply and truly happy.
Soon after this incident, I began studying Adi Da's Teaching and was constantly blown away by the Truth Emanating from His Words. Never has God Revealed Himself so fully as in the form of Adi Da Samraj. This was absolutely undeniable. I had read and seen many spiritual teachers, but Adi Da was completely different. He didn't just teach a philosophy or technique for meditation. He is a Real Force, Revealing the Truth as Himself. He is the Form of Perfection. Enlightenment is not only possible, but is our present condition, Alive as Adi Da. He is here to Give the Gift of true ego-transcendence to all those willing to enter into relationship with Him. It has been an incredible Grace to have the opportunity to live in Communion with the Divine Reality, Adi Da Samraj, especially at a young age. There is no better life to look forward to than one of serving His Divine Work. His Gifts of Revealing Himself have become the greatest Blessing in my life. May all beings be Blessed to feel His Divine Presence. What a wonder that He is here!