By Sharon Callahan

WOULD YOU TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOU
CAME TO KNOW YOUR SPIRITUAL TEACHER ADI DA SAMRAJ?
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Before I start, I want to mention that most of what I say or write about my understanding of non-humans is rooted in my relationship of service and devotion to my Spiritual Master, Adi Da Samraj. So in sharing my thoughts and feelings here I'm not attempting to be an authority. There is still so much about Adi Da and His Spiritual Work with the non-humans that I don't understand. I'm just beginning. I truly hope that others will find this interview interesting and useful to reflect upon. I can be contacted directly through the Fear-No-More Zoo website @ http://zoo.adidam.org with further questions or inquiries.

I was born in Papua New Guinea in 1963, where I was raised on a coffee plantation in the Western Highlands. Among other things, my father was a naturalist and one of the trustees and patrons of the then world-renowned Baiyer River Bird of Paradise Sanctuary. So I was fortunate to have a lot of contact with all kinds of animals from an early age. I also did a lot of bush walking and caving in and around the valley we lived in, going with various native friends and sometimes alone.

Adi Da Samraj made direct Spiritual contact with me while I was still a boy living in New Guinea. I came to understand this only in hindsight. I clearly remember at least several specific occasions where I was drawn beyond myself in ecstatic and revolutionary infusions of His Graceful Presence. Years later I realized that He was the Source of those childhood experiences. Several of them stand out... sitting under the Mt. Hagen school house sheltering from the afternoon rain, waiting for one of my parents to pick me up, I was getting more and more frustrated. They were running late. At a certain point, however, my mind and body became pervaded by a forceful and expanding sense of myself as energy, not limited to form, inclusive of everything. It was an utterly happy and timeless realization of a fuller reality than my bodily boyhood existence. And it was also a completely familiar experience and state, tangibly more real than anything I'd known, although there was absolutely no reference for it. When my mother finally arrived I walked over to the car and got in, not saying anything about what had just happened, as it had passed by now and there was no longer anything I could say to her about it. Another time I remember standing in my bedroom looking into my face and eyes in the mirror, intensely asking myself, "Who am I? Who am I?" over and over again. I was just drawn to do this, compelled, and I did it often. On this particular occasion, the questioning penetrated deeper and deeper into and beyond who I thought I was. At some point my only self-perception was that of a minute point in an infinite blissful space of spiraling colors of light. My legs must have given out on me because when I "came to" I was sprawled on the floor. I sat up, collecting myself, breathing... and I was left with the inarguable understanding that I did not know who I was or what I was, and I didn't know what anything is. And I knew that nobody knew what he or she or anything is. No matter how much anyone seems to know about something or about themselves they can never know what they are or what anything IS. I was suddenly completely aware of this Truth, and utterly relieved in that moment of any need for anything whatsoever. Another time at around ten years of age I was standing on a bridge above one of the huge swirling muddy highland rivers. My family was at one end of the bridge, back where the car was parked on the roadside. An incredible sense of frustration welled up in me. I looked at my family, at the river and the mountains. The sun beat down severely. I felt completely lost, empty, devoid of life, of heart, utterly contracted upon myself with no way out of it. Everything felt so massy, solid, heavy. I felt trapped, and beyond help of any kind. I felt utterly, inescapably, mortal. There were other similar experiences, but these three stand out now. And as I got older they gradually stopped occurring. At first I found myself intensely yearning for that quality and Presence I'd come to know through these experiences, but as I got older still all of it became so distant that I almost completely doubted that it had ever happened.

I first became aware of Adi Da Samraj back when His name was still "Bubba Free John". I picked up a book of His Teachings on diet and health. It was named, "The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace". I'd been reading a lot about diet and health, vegetarianism, cleansing and so forth; some pretty extreme points of view that after a while kind of had me freaked out. But here in Adi Da's book I found the most balanced, economic, and realistic point of view toward food and diet that I had ever read. As I poured over the pages, I noticed a background section about Adi Da that described him as an American-born Spiritual Teacher. That was it! I put the book back on the shelf and moved on. Real Spiritual Teachers did not come from the United States, but only from India and Asia, or somewhere far away... my reaction was curiously strong. But later, walking by that shelf again on my way to the checkout counter with a small armload of other books, my hand went out and plucked The Eating Gorilla from the shelf. I bought it despite myself. Regardless of my first reaction to Adi Da, I just had to have this book, which exuded the quality of a full, rounded, juicy fruit.

That afternoon, six pages into the book, I sat bolt upright in astonishment. I couldn't believe what I'd found (or what had found me!) ... I whispered aloud to myself, not really even knowing what I was saying, "I wrote this book! This is ME speaking!" Everything in me rushed at this moment. It was as if my own heart and life had spilled out onto the pages and I was recognizing myself in the Words I was reading. But more than that, I knew without a doubt that the author, this man Bubba Free John, knew me better than I did. And I knew that He was the one who had contacted and instructed me as a boy. Its hard to conceive, and harder to describe, but in that instant I recognized this man as my True Self, as the Divine, Awake and Present, in human form. Not religious, but Real. Just damn Real. I didn't even believe in religion. I still don't really. Although that moment irrevocably and positively changed my life, I still spent the next four years resisting it with all my might.

Why didn't I just go for it and go be with Him? Well, because it was so real I guess, and I just wasn't ready for that. I threw myself intensively into rock-climbing as an alternative focus. After four or five years of doing a LOT of climbing, of being obsessed with rock-climbing, I woke up in my tent one morning and I knew it was over. I couldn't go on climbing anymore. It was done. I knew it wouldn't make me happy, couldn't fulfill me. Things in my life got really bad, difficult, nothing worked. I even tried to commit suicide. It was a pretty lame attempt, and didn't succeed luckily. I remember standing in my frustration one day, standing in the water after holding myself under to try to drown myself. I punched the water and groaned, "If life can get this bad, I must go to Adi Da Samraj!" Within about six months, I had made my formal approach to Adi Da Samraj, accepting Him as my Spiritual Master for life. Thus began my conscious embrace of this unique relationship.

I'll include a brief bio on Adi Da Samraj at this point. (For a fuller biography of Adi Da please visit the beautiful web pages of the Adidam Website @ http://adidam.org/gateway/AdiDa/WhoHeIs/home.htm)

Adi Da Samraj was born in Long Island New York in 1939. The ordeals and adventures of His life as a baby, a young boy, and a teenager were informed by a Profound Spiritual Intuition and Impulse to Realize the Very Divine, and to Save the world. Even as a small boy He spoke of this. Much of Adi Da's life story is recorded in His Spiritual Autobiography, "The Knee Of Listening". One of Adi Da's daughters was once asked by her famous Indian music teacher whether Adi Da, as a Divine Realizer, considers Himself to be God? She replied by saying that Adi Da would probably respond to such a question by saying, "There is ONLY God!"

Something that Adi Da once wrote before He began to formally teach people confirmed to me the unusual depth of this extraordinary, and not yet well enough known, Spiritual Master. In His early 30's, not long after His Divine Re-Awakening, in the midst of a series of short essays, He wrote, "So long as there is anyone or anything that has not Understood, I have not Understood. Even So, I am the Heart." I read this passage as an expression of His utter commitment and intimacy with everything...

Adi Da's first Teacher was not a human being, but a cat whom He named Robert. They lived together on the beach in Tunitas, California, in the mid 1960's. About Robert, His first Guru, Adi Da expressed the following; "Robert himself was nothing less to me than my best friend and mentor. He was more, not less, than human to me.... all of his ways seemed to me an epitome of the genius of life... and I loved him as deeply as the universe itself... I recognized that Robert had been my Teacher in the wilderness. He had filled my eye and owned a thread of attention in my heart. I knew him and he knew me. Nothing could replace that state of life or console its absence. I treated him in death like a saint. I had him cremated, and I kept his ashes."

Many years later, at The Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary, Adi Da created and developed a remarkable Sacred Site which He named Holy Cat Grotto. A bronze statue of Robert was placed on the low cliff above Holy Cat Grotto and Robert's ashes were ceremonially installed there also. Adi Da has said that it was Robert who gave Him the name "Da".

Adi Da Samraj has been moved to give up His life to the wild possibility of inspiring the development of a completely new human culture that would also allow for the full embrace of all of the non-human cultures as well. He said that one of His intentions and purposes is to make us all sensitive to the fact that everything is conscious -- walls, fans, rocks, plants, moving creatures, the weather, water, the earth itself... everything. Anyone can refer to His many writings and Source texts to find out more about the heart of His Teachings.

He works in mysterious ways. He recently made an aside comment that He did not really want to be known as a religious figure but as a Sacred Artist. He is a Free Man who stands Free in the midst of a world of bewildered and apparently trapped humans, some of whom are beginning to understand Him, and many who still do not. He wants this Freedom for everyone. He is not intending to do less than this. His life is a paradox in many ways, so that, as He once wrote, Understanding will become the only possibility... To a group of people one evening many years ago He described how when He sits with people, or hangs out with them, He doesn't see a bunch of separated individuals suffering their asses off! Rather, what He sees is only the Very Divine Itself. He finished by saying He also notices that we tend to live as if we are not Free, and that this is what moves Him to Teach. In one of His main texts of Instruction He writes: "My devotee is the God I have come to serve." And it's true to say that His Blessing, and Impulse to Embrace, extends to everyone and everything...

 

HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED AS A RESULT OF MEETING HIM?
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This is a good question. My first answer, which might surprise you, is that it hasn't changed my life. This is such an ordinary part of my life now. It's just been a natural flow of inevitabilities I'd say... Nothing really changed. Things just progress... Not that it wasn't, and isn't, difficult, but it's mostly been wonderful, and an easeful, pleasurable, and happy process. Around Adi Da life is always changing in any case, shifting, moving. It's like being in a broad swift river. You have to be responsible enough in your life to stay afloat, and occasionally you pull off into a tranquil eddy or something (sometimes a stinky mud-hole full of crocs!), but you're in the river and the river is moving. And the further you go along with it the more you begin to understand that you are not different from the river... and surrender becomes more and more your natural state. I often feel, however, like I'm trying to get out of a deep mud-hole somewhere, rather than flowing freely out in mid-stream.

Rather than "changed", I'd say my life has been returned to itself from an otherwise inevitable course of self-possession and self-destruction. Although my early life in New Guinea was rich and varied and informed by ecstatic visions and blisses that gave me an unusual humor for some years, my teenage years in Australia were increasingly bereft of the signs of real life. Finally I was, well, collapsed, high up there on the river bank, baking in the hot sun and dust. There was no God anymore (or ever it seemed). No life worth anything. After searching like an insane man for something True that I could hold onto, I finally gave up. And I gave up increasingly until one day, Adi Da "smacked" me in the head again, reminding me of what was more real than my mortal presumptions and fears. What had become so faint a memory for years was now alive again suddenly. And my life now is essentially a process of deep healing and remembering -- understanding and transcending all the ways I have, as an ego, of squashing the Divine out of everything. What was so Gracefully given to me as a child, was never in fact withdrawn as I'd imagined it had been. Instead, I had pushed it aside without knowing (yet somehow intentionally also), and squashed it. And so, now, there is simply this necessary, interesting and happy ordeal of self-understanding until the point where... I remember Adi Da saying something like, "When you can stand beside me and take a deep breath... completely without fear, not separate from anything, then you will be Free". These are not exactly His words, but something like it...

On a practical level I could describe my life now as one in which relationship is required (and increasing responsibility for relationship), rather than the activity of avoidance. Adi Da described this once as the gesture of the open hand rather than the clenched fist. Living more and more as the natural presumption of "I love you", rather than in the reaction of "you don't love me". This might sound a bit abstract, but it's actually very ordinary, which is why it is so real. Sometimes it's a very stark confrontation with one's tendencies...

HOW DID ADI DA COME TO CREATE FEAR-NO-MORE ZOO?
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All through Adi Da's childhood He loved animals. The woods near His parent's home were among His favorite places. I've already mentioned that His first actual Spiritual Teacher was a cat named Robert. In 1974 one of Adi Da's devotees gave Him a beautiful exotic pheasant on His Birthday. A large enclosure was built for the bird. More pheasants were acquired, other animals too. This was the beginning of Fear-No-More Zoo. It was pretty humble for many years. My sense of it is that Adi Da planted the seed of Fear-No-More pretty much right at the beginning of His Teaching Work and He has left it to grow from out of our human response to what we gradually and increasingly understand the Zoo to be about. Here and there He nudges it along by example or through Instruction, but otherwise He's left us to realize the importance of it. When I first started serving in the Zoo I would wonder why He hadn't just developed it in its fullness from the start. But now I understand that it must be developed from a human response, that it must develop from our energy (in response to His Vision) if it is going to be real and truly effective as a means of serving the change of consciousness that is so much needed.

The name, "Fear-No-More Zoo", surprises some people. Some react to it because it has the word "zoo" in it, and so how could this be a good thing? Aside from the connotations of concrete and steel cages, "zoo" is just a word taken from "zoological", which refers to the study of animals. There is something else about the use of the word Zoo in this case... Adi Da works Spiritually with the patterns of the world, to Bless and Purify them. By adding the word Zoo to Fear-No-More He is connecting His Work, in psycho-physical terms, with all zoos everywhere at the level of the "core pattern" of things. He is Embracing all zoos, and all the animals in those zoos, and through His Spiritual Regard He Blesses them. And the natural growth of Fear-No-More Zoo itself, we feel, will serve to raise the consciousness of zoos in general around the world. Fear-No-More Zoo, while seemingly located in a number of specific places, is not limited to only those locations. The Vision of "Fear-No-More" is more rightly understood as a point of view, or a Spiritual disposition, that is potentially applicable and effective in any situation where humans and non-humans interact.

The "Fear-No-More" part of the name is instructive in that it points to the animals' need for safety... that they must be cared for in such a way that they are protected from unnecessary fear, which in turn provides them with a life that supports their Contemplation. "Fear-No-More" also directly points to the non-humans' Spiritual Contemplation, which is where the disposition of "Fear-No-More" is made real. And, lastly, "Fear-No-More" is a direct instruction and calling to all humans that we too should become Spiritual Contemplatives, transcend chronic, separative fear... to not feel threatened anymore and to stop threatening everything...

Adi Da once talked about how animals like to be around Contemplatives, Spiritual Contemplatives. They like to be in places where people Contemplate. And they do not like to be exposed to people who poke and stare at and disturb them with insensitivity or busyness. Even wild animals are attracted to, and put at ease, by humans who Contemplate, and who are to one degree or another combined with the Divinely Spiritual Process. Think of yogis hanging out with tigers and lions, shamans in Africa with elephants, the great saints and sages who could simply walk among the animals... Such stories may be somewhat exaggerated by now, but many are based on actual real events that were, I'm sure, quite ordinary, beautiful and natural when they occurred.

DID YOU WORK WITH ANIMALS BEFORE YOU MET ADI DA?
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As I mentioned earlier, I've been associated with animals in some way or another from an early age. I was very dedicated and devoted to them as a younger boy in New Guinea. But gradually that dedication was neglected, ignored, and later, as a teenager in Australia, I became pretty abstracted from them (and everything else), even while I had various pets. After high school, for a period of time, I worked at a native fauna reserve in Queensland. The very well known and respected naturalist who ran the place wanted me to stay on there and apprentice to him, but it just wasn't what I wanted to do at that time. I wasn't ready yet to work with animals, and that place just wasn't where I wanted to settle...

WOULD YOU COMMENT ON YOUR WORK AT FEAR-NO-MORE ZOO? HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED AS A RESULT OF WORKING WITH THE ANIMALS AT THE ZOO?
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When I arrived at Fear-No-More Zoo in 1993, I still had never settled down for very long in anything. I had a well-developed pattern of moving on when responsibilities loomed. I was still socially fearful and inverted (probably always will be! ha!). Adi Da made it clear that He wanted me to stay on here for a "good long while". Well, I went through three years of struggling with my tendency to leave and return to Australia... It was agonizing. The main thing that kept me in place during the most difficult times were the animals. I couldn't leave them. Like it or not I was gradually relocating my responsibility, rediscovering my life's intention and service. Adi Da pressed me into my resistance, held me in place with my fears about it all, and required me to deal with myself.

As a boy in New Guinea, my withdrawal from my animal friends and companions was a reaction to the inevitable deaths I would endure as some of them passed on. Finally, I found another home for all of them I was done with that. Their mortality became too difficult for me. And then my older brother died, and my father withdrew emotionally from my siblings and me. And I therefore withdrew further into myself, became kind of deadened, cold, abstracted. And my life became a pattern of avoiding responsibility, of avoiding life and love and death. In a way I had become dead myself, and lost...

Then, after being involved with the group of Adi Da's devotees in Australia for a number of years, I finally somehow made my way, or was drawn, to Fear-No-More Zoo, and My Spiritual Teacher gave me His trust in these animals. I was horrified by this appointment at first! But this was just the medicine I needed, and I became more and more sure of this as time passed. When the several animals in New Guinea died, I withdrew inward, ran away. I had never told any of this to Adi Da, but now I had instructions from Him that if and whenever an animal died at Fear-No-More Zoo I had to communicate with Him immediately and give a full accounting of how it happened and how it would never happen again. He also gave me the admonition that no animals could die except of old age!

Out of His own Love and care for the non-humans, as well as His love and expectation of me, He was incredibly fierce with me when an animal did die. In my second year at the Zoo there seemed to be a spate of deaths for some reason. And I had to write to Him every time. And each time, knowing exactly what was going on and where I was at, Adi Da knew precisely what to say to get me to feel and see my limitations and my withhold of energy from life. To make the point clearer He began referring to me as "the animal killer", "that zoo keeper", "him", "that person". One time He said "Stuart doesn't mean to kill animals but there is something he doesn't understand about himself that may be contributing to these deaths". Years earlier He had told me that in my abstraction from things I was already a "killer". I gradually understood that in order to become abstracted from anything you must first, or simultaneously, deny the very existence of life in that one. In every one of Adi Da's Skillful "Kicks", if I looked closely enough, there was also always a deeply penetrating and Loving Kiss and Embrace, and in this sphere I gradually started coming around, coming alive again, feeling myself and others once more.

Then one day, due to a miscalculation on my part, a chameleon died. I went into a deep and numb despair. I had come to the end, I thought. I decided that I had only one of two choices to make. Either to really commit everything in me to this and really begin to do it, or I should just leave, go back to Australia, go back to rock-climbing or something. I struggled for two days before deciding to stay on and give my life to developing whatever this Fear-No-More Zoo would become... I moved into the Zoo itself for a while, lived there in a shed in the emu enclosure, and I began to rebuild almost everything about the place, and I'm still doing that. I don't live with the emus anymore, although I sometimes wish I did... they're quite special birds.

I am incredibly grateful to all the animals, those who are alive and to the few who died. All of us will die at some point. Each one taught me something crucial. They are all teachers of different things. Ultimately, as Adi Da said once, "everything is trying to be a revelation to you". But you have to be ready to notice and listen, and make changes on the basis of what becomes obvious.

My work at Fear-No-More Zoo is now lifelong. My work for the benefit of all non-humans is lifelong. I intend that this service, under Adi Da's Guidance and with His Blessing, become a positive and benign influence in the world, further imparting the awareness to humans that the non-humans are spiritual beings, no more or less deserving of love, respect, and right care than we are -- that, at heart, we are all equal. I trust in this as my best and most humble intention. This is what my life is about now.

I want to make a further point here that I feel is quite important... Fear-No-More Zoo, through to this time, has only ever been staffed by non-professional people. No staff vets, or zoologists, or formally trained animal caretakers have ever worked here, at least not for very long. There was a vet here for a short time once, and a biologist helped out in various ways for a while, but otherwise its been basically very ordinary people whom Adi Da has been working with in His Fear-No-More Zoo. This is partly because professional animal types haven't showed up around Adi Da yet. One of Fear-No-More Zoo's purposes is to positively inform and transform the ordinary human being's relationship to the non-humans. We are not about becoming the best professional animal sanctuary around (although that would be good too), but rather, Fear-No-More Zoo has a self-given role of physically, as well as psycho-physically, transforming mankind's relationship to the non-human worlds. Working Spiritually, to positively effect a deepening in all humans, Adi Da has only had ordinary people to work with. This is how it has had to be, it appears. It's about Blessing everyone, from the ordinary on up, not just those who seem to hold knowledge, position, or power. Fear-No-More Zoo welcomes the services of vets and professionals in the animal world to further our endeavors. Such people and their skills are very heartily welcomed when they come along. But it is, fundamentally, the "person", not the professional, whom Adi Da and the animals are interested in. The basic heart-relationship is senior to everything else, because from there everything else good and real is possible.

Oh, I also want to say this... In this service I've often felt, or intuited, myself in a process that seems related to everyone else, that Adi Da has been working, even very deliberately, with everyone else through me -- in the area, particularly, of our right and Sacred understanding of non-humans... When He would call me "the animal killer" and so on, I often sensed that He was actually addressing all humans in general (as well as me specifically), that He was Compassionately "speaking" to that pattern in humans that is destroying everything. We are all "the animal killer", the killers of fish and birds and trees, and living places... In, and through, the dynamic of my ordinary human service to the animals at Fear-No-More Zoo I feel that Adi Da is Working to heal the relationships of all humans to the non-humans. I don't feel that this makes me special or unique, as this is how He Works in the many areas of His Blessing Impulse, and with everyone around Him. I trust that what is being healed and awakened in me will help to serve everything else...

Another Spiritual Master, Sai Baba of Shirdi (early 20th century, India), had a bag of coins which he would use to work with and through his devotees. Mostly in private, he would take the coins and move them about, handle and rub them, while quietly mumbling peoples' names and various things about them. He would use these coins to relate to and work Spiritually with his devotees. Adi Da has indicated to His devotees that we are the "Coins" in His Blessing Work with the world. Likewise the Sanctuaries, and the various Holy Sites He has created in them, are Coins for His World Blessing.

OF THE ANIMALS AT THE ZOO DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE OR SPECIAL
RELATIONSHIP WITH ONE OR SEVERAL OF THE ANIMALS?
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Cinnabar, the red panther chameleon who died, was a very close friend. He was an extraordinary individual. Very much a teacher. His passing changed my life. He gave me the force to begin to take my life back. Jingle Baba the Bactrian camel and I go way back it seems. He and I, together, began the regeneration of the Zoo some years back. His depth and force of life have influenced and informed much of what I do now. Definitely a partner and mentor. I have to mention Quiet Pete, the conure, also, or he might get quite upset! I have a great love for Pete. He's taught me more than a few things. Bebe, the Colobus monkey matriarch of our group of Black and White Colobus in Hawaii, is a sublime and intense wisdom-bearer for her family and for the humans who get to know her. And Daji Megan Fear-No-More, a now deceased German shepherd who's grave sits at the entrance to the Zoo... I sometimes sit by his graveside to meditate and receive guidance, both from Adi Da Samraj, and from Daji Megan. There is a very powerful force at his grave, which time and again informs my active work and service. But really, all the animals are pretty special.

HOW DO THE ANIMALS COME TO THE ZOO?
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Somehow they "find" their way here. Often when Adi Da suggests, or asks, for a certain type of animal, there is an actual individual out there whom He knows and feels, a devotee of His whom He wishes to bring into His Company. When we locate and visit those individuals on farms or in shops, they always (almost always!) give us some sign that they want to come with us.

Sometimes I will come across an individual animal whom I feel very clearly should be, or is intended to be, living at Fear-No-More Zoo. I once met a very cool toucan who had a strong connection to Adi Da, unmistakably so. Bringing him to Fear-No-More Zoo would have involved the building of a suitable enclosure and so forth and, at that point, I didn't think I'd be able to pull it together. The very next day Adi Da asked about us having toucans! I knew He was talking about the one I had just met, even though I'd said nothing about the bird. Two years later, when I finally went to acquire this bird (he'd been for sale for quite a long time) someone else had just purchased him... I have some regret about that.

Some animals are offered to us. Some wander in. Some I propose to Adi Da for His consideration. Some are born here. Although there are of course no distinctions between beings, some individuals have certain functions, and some of those who "fit" the pattern of Adi Da's Blessing Work get drawn to Him somehow.

Adi Da regards the animals of Fear-No-More Zoo as His intimate devotees and friends. They are also His direct and tangible links to all other non-humans; they link Him to their native regions and ecosystems also. He invests a lot of Work and Blessing in each of them individually, as He does with His human devotees. Speaking in Spiritual and psycho-physical terms Adi Da has indicated that the more we develop and rightly serve the Holy Site of Fear-No-More Zoo, the greater will be its benign and healing effects in the world for the sake of all beings, human and non-human alike. "The more I get to do what I intend there the more you will observe it," He said in 1996.

Also in 1996, in a conversation with a small lizard in Hawaii, Adi Da made clear His Sacred commitment to all non-humans by Vowing to the inquiring lizard that He would protect the non-humans from the insensitivity of humans. How can a single individual make such a far-reaching vow, one might ask...great Spiritual Master or not? Only through the sympathetic response of all His human devotees, and ultimately through the feeling and intelligent response of all humans, can this ever be achieved. The Divine is not in charge of things as a parent figure or the captain of a ship. All the Wisdom in the world can be Given, as it has already, but only the timely response and change of action on the part of humans (particularly in this moment) will make the difference in life that is called for.

STANDARD INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
***If it feels appropriate, it might be nice here to answer for yourself and also make a statement about each question about what Adi Da might say or has said about such topics or perhaps quote from his writings.

DO YOU BELIEVE THAT ANIMALS HAVE SOULS?
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Clearly, like us, animals are most certainly Spiritual beings. The only reason why this wouldn't be clear to anyone has to be that they are unaware that they themselves are ultimately Spiritual rather than only physical in nature. I try not to view animals, or people, in terms of them having souls. To me having "souls" still describes separation. There is something true enough in the soul description, but I feel it is a stepped down idea of the Ultimate Reality that all are One. The concept of soul bodies is more unifying than that of gross bodily egoity alone, but souls are, by their definition, conceived as being separate entities still.

There is One Divine Being, living and breathing and pervading everything. And everything that is apparently, and more or less, individual, is simply a stepped down modification of Reality that is yet to be transcended.

In 1994 Adi Da spoke more on this topic: "At heart, a human being is not the slightest bit different from the reptiles, the birds, the former dinosaurs, the elephants, the plants, the trees, the wind, the sky, the microbes. Apart from their function in conditionality, all beings are the same. Human beings are not uniquely to be Saved.

"It is not that only human beings are full of 'soul' and everything else should be chopped up and eaten for lunch! If you examine beings other than the human, feel them, are sensitive to them, enter directly into relationship with them, you discover that they are the same - and not just the somewhat bigger ones... but the mosquitoes, too.

"At heart, human beings are manifesting a potential that is in all and that is inherent in conditional existence itself. Whether this potential is exhibited or not, whether it is made human or not, makes no difference whatsoever to the Divine Self-Condition.

"All is One. All is the same. All equally require Divine Compassion, Love, and Blessing, the thread of Communion with the Divine made certain and true and directly experienced. All."


HOW DOES OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH AND TREATMENT OF ANIMALS RELATE TO OUR OWN SPIRITUALITY AND UNFOLDMENT AS HUMAN BEINGS?
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How we relate to and treat non-humans--the environment, animals, ecosystems, everything other than human (and each other), reflects either our limitations or our depth in understanding. How we relate to animals is both an individual and a cultural matter. The person who sees another human being, or an animal, or a forest, or the ocean as a commodity, as something to use, to take advantage of, also sees themselves that way--as a commodity to be inflated, grown bigger, to be made more and more worthy of other's admiration, praise, envy, survival, whatever. It's also about gaining and maintaining power and control. In order to use or relate to things in that way we have to first deny that those things are really alive, or worthy of life. But even before we do that we first must deny our own integrity as living, feeling, breathing beings... Only when we are dead to ourselves can we then proceed to destroy other lives so easily, which unfortunately is what we seem to be doing...

In one of His poems Adi Da wrote:

... Our living is not true. There is a dark place in the Heart that we create to look upon hour to hour. Therefore, nothing passes that is not death. So don't hand me this smile of ease, or tell me your philosophy, your way of life, even how you are. This payment of your dues is all crap. Who is not Light Itself performs the murder of everything while we eat. So I am here to tell you everything must change. To now there is only the perfect refusal to love.

Aware of it or not, human beings have a natural psychic connection with the rest of the world. For the most part, children quite readily live in that psychic realm unless it is "trained" out of them through cultural influences. Fortunately there are, and have been, authentic cultures which encourage children to develop their psychic life. The psychic and heart relationship with animals and other people helps provide a firmer ground from which a full and healthy Spiritual life can develop. Psychic and telepathic abilities are inherent abilities that all of us are born with. As we grow up, depending on how and where we grow up, these abilities, or faculties either remain active and are increasingly developed, or they are suppressed and become latent (but never lost). In the optimum culture of human life, these natural abilities would become consciously accessible and developed during our childhood, just as we now learn math, or English, or how to swim or cook. This opening of the psyche through learning how to communicate with other life-forms is an important thing for humans to develop (and the earlier the better), because it connects us with the life around us in its many and varied forms. We may each be different in form and function, but at heart we are all the same... and we are all interconnected.

Mahatma Gandhi was quoted as saying that the quality of a nation could be gauged by the way its people treated animals. Others have said similar things. Adi Da once told the Community of people associated with Him that all He had to do to read where everyone was at in their Spiritual life was to take a quick glance at the children and the animals...

Adi Da recently asked for the animals of Fear-No-More Zoo to be given the opportunity to become much more integrated with the culture of humans in our community, that it was time for us to make this gesture collectively. He has talked at times about how the three Sanctuaries in our community should be like great zoological and botanical gardens wherein animals and people would be intelligently and sensitively integrated; where the divisions between the human and non-human cultures would mostly be dissolved, not by ignoring them, but by transcending them in mutual Communion with the Very Divine Who Lives as us all. This would be a part of the demonstration of the Way that He Teaches, the Way of the Heart... admittedly still to be realized and fully lived by us, but most definitely something that Adi Da is Calling for, and is urgent to have in place. He told me once that Fear-No-More Zoo, and His Blessing Work with the non-humans, as well as humans, is a sign of the Fullness of His entire Teaching Work.

A human culture divorced from the non-human realms, divorced from the psychic life, which is what has been increasingly occurring over the last century, is profoundly lacking in richness, subtlety, wisdom and depth. I've heard it said that the animals make us human. I know what is meant by this but I would say it differently... Our embrace of the non-human beings, our right Sacred relationship with them, informs and makes us whole, in both body and psyche.

All of the great and true human cultures, and all of the great and true human beings, have always maintained their richness and integrity through a right understanding and relationship with this mostly non-human world within which, and from which, we derive everything we have and everything we know...

I'd like to relate a passage here from a talk given by Adi Da Samraj in 1996, as it fits well with what I'm suggesting.

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Adi Da Samraj: So what do you think about the non-humans, then, now that we've talked about it some? Right now in the outback in Australia, aborigines, so-called aborigines, are sitting around fires or just sitting out on the ground somewhere. And among the things they look to observe are the non-humans in their movements about, and the whole non-human process--the weather, the sky, the stars, everything, observed in a rather Contemplative disposition of openness altogether.

Among those people, like among the Native American Indians, it is not merely believed in some heady sense, but presumed that the non-humans are a unique display of what is beyond the human--and are not lesser at all. They are a unique sign, something to notice very profoundly, and to learn from and so on. There is also the presumption that for the humans to survive they have to sometimes kill animals or whatever for food. But even that is done in a sacred disposition--not maliciously, but with respect and an acknowledgment of necessity, with regret and asking for apology and expressing good will and blessing. Something of that is in it all.

But apart from the eating's of the non-humans, those peoples do spend a lot of time observing them, noticing all kinds of things about them, including their survival abilities and whatnot. But beyond that, they are viewed as direct spirit-forms, with something instructive about them and a kind of power even to become intimate with. Such peoples do a kind of samyama (consideration), then, on animals. They Contemplate them to the point of achievement of sometimes remarkable states and so on.

We were just talking about the non-humans here in a somewhat different fashion, perhaps, in terms of them being signs of Divine Awareness, not just representations of the invisible world and so on--here to help humans or to be of use to them, perhaps, somehow. Divinely Awake, in profound Contemplation--not merely of the dream world--beyond self, forgetting the body-mind, profound Contemplatives. So that's what we were talking about. But it still would require the same thing of you basically that was done long ago and still. You have to allow yourself to become sensitive to everything, everyone, and realize that everyone is a one, not just the humans. In their presumption they are, certainly, as alive and conscious as you, just as self-aware in every fundamental sense. They get afraid in their bodies when threatened, like you do. And, therefore, they are urgent with Contemplation. They are not over-busy; or if they are busy, they're intoxicated somehow by their song with one another, or whatever it may be--for example the bees, and so on.

So they exercise the capability of Divine Contemplation. They also experience psychic dimension things and so forth--what you might call dream-world awareness. They wake, they sleep, they dream, and they Contemplate, by relinquishing self-regard, and even awareness relative to the body. So they go in some protected spot, and check it out, and then zone out. And yet remarkably they retain the ability to [snaps His fingers] in an instant, react if their territory is interfered with or encroached upon. But given the opportunity again, you know... they don't want to fight all day.

A lot of animals even have mock fights--like deer and such. With their great antlers they have these fights, in which there is no intention whatsoever to do anybody any harm and such. Some kind of rules they've worked out about when you say you're beaten and who you acknowledge to have won, but there's never any intention for them to kill one another or anything in those game-battles.

So they always move to return to free Contemplation and prefer to be as un-busy as possible. And it's not just because they just want to lie around and relax. They forget body-consciousness, self-consciousness, and enter into Contemplation. They do this rather readily. Of course, they can be interfered with like human beings can, and have a lot of trouble from human beings and the effects of human beings. And there's even a lot of trouble in the natural world, too, that they have to be wary of.

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In the above passage Adi Da refers to the aborigines as "so-called aborigines". I think He is actually pointing here to our presumption that the rest of us are not aborigines. However displaced some of us may be we are all natives of this planet, beings of this place. The Australian Aborigines happen to be the longest lived continuous culture on earth, still well intact in some cases. Westerners have generally given ourselves a convenient "out" by forgetting our connection with the earth, relinquishing the "aboriginal" in us by considering ourselves apart from nature, somehow above it even. In doing so we have literally made it possible for us to be killers, exploiters... in our abstraction from the living, breathing world, we have actually "killed" off our connection to the life in everything. We are abstracted from ourselves, and our true natures, and we are abstracted from the "everything" we dwell within. I think this is how we have been able to become so violent and destructive.

I must add though, that there is ultimately no right or wrong. We are all in a mysterious, beautiful, and also often ugly process. There is no end goal, no place to arrive at after a long journey. Life itself, which we are unavoidably a part of, is completely open-ended. Adi Da once humorously said, "RELAX! Nothing is under control."

Humans also deserve great praise. We are evolving. We are a remarkable species, capable of great intelligence, great compassion, intellect, vision, and great heart. Our ability for technology and science, for magic and miracles seems limitless. Something great and important is being shown back to us through the effects of our egoic and separative inclinations over the course of our history. We are on the threshold of a very useful Lesson for mankind. We all will do well to consider carefully what that lesson is -- for each of us and collectively... what exactly are we up to?

WHAT DO YOU SEE THAT WE CAN DO TO ENHANCE THE SPIRITUAL LIVES OF OUR ANIMAL COMPANIONS AND OTHER ANIMALS?
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Its fairly simple I think. They need to feel our support for, and our acknowledgment of, their religious life, their Spiritual nature. The non-humans, wild and domestic, like to be around people who are Contemplating. Clearly, and as Adi Da points out, they feel safe, and without fear, when they are around Contemplatives, around humans who are in states of Divine Communion.

This is an important point. The individual and collective human psyche in these times represents a profound presence of fear in the world... And this pattern of chronic fear has effects, both physically and on other levels. It also makes us literally very untrustable, no matter what our good intentions and plans might be.

How many people have you heard say that they trust animals more than any humans they know? Fear is a powerful force of contraction in the world. It traps energy rather than freeing it, releasing it. Wild nature and wild creatures have much more free energy than humans and our domestications. It isn't surprising then that we are so destructive of what is wilder and freer than us. Human fear and violence is integral with the suppression of the Divine also, Who is Utterly Free, or Freedom Itself.

So anyway, in terms of serving the non-humans' Spirituality, whether they are animal companions or the greater aspects of the environment, we humans need to already be living the Contemplative life, increasingly sensitive to the Sacred. Without that being strongly alive in us for real, either in seed form or thoroughly realized, we are not going to be able to enhance or support anyone else's Spiritual life.

As we ourselves grow in Divine Contemplation the disposition of "Fear-No-More" will be naturally communicated to everything around us, including our own bodies, and in this the non-humans' own inherent Spirituality will be spontaneously supported and acknowledged. Then we will see a very different relationship developing between people and animals, and the environment. Just as humanity's collective currently communicates a powerful force of fear into the world, if and when we collectively become Contemplatives ourselves, the force of that will dissolve and heal the pattern of fear which now pervades almost everything that humans influence in whatever ways.

In the lands of a remote New Guinea tribe there was a large sacred forest where nothing was interfered with by the people, and the animals there had no fear of humans. This tribe had a true respect of the forest and its inhabitants. Normally shy birds of paradise would display right before humans. Wallabies and possums would approach trustingly either on the ground or along low tree branches. The animals regarded the humans as if they were fully a part of the forest. Several years after white man's influence arrived in the area the forest became progressively disturbed, disrespected. The animals now ran from people. Trees were beginning to be cut. This is a really clear example of how human psyche can either support or destroy what is free and sacred.


HOW DO YOU SEE TO EXPAND THE AWARENESS OF PEOPLE TO INCLUDE ANIMALS AS SPIRITUAL BEINGS?
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Adi Da once wrote, "You can't argue someone into loving you."

I think we each have to become "human" first. Only then are Spiritual life and Spiritual understanding and embrace of others possible. Most of us have the intuition on some level of a way of living and being that is greater and fuller than our ordinary, basically under-developed life and limited understanding of things. But that intuition, real as it is, gets forgotten, suppressed, lost to our conscious awareness. Because few of us live in a real Spiritual culture, our intuition of the Sacred is not easily cultivated, nurtured or developed. In fact, the most widespread and dominant human culture of this time (our modern western culture and its extensions) is actively involved in denying and destroying the Sacred. Truly Human culture cannot be found in isolation from the cultures of all the other beings of this world. We need to be much more humble and tolerant, and embracing, than we tend to be... and clearer.

There is no forcing people to accept animals as Spiritual beings. Each of us can only grow into that understanding. You can only talk about it, grow in it yourself, serve the process in yourself and your friends perhaps. The human species' divorce from everything else that lives is reaching a point where the results of our own abstraction are about to teach many of us a great lesson in Consciousness. Our destructiveness is very possibly going to become our greatest healer and teacher. The declining environment is beginning to force us into a global cultural and human crisis of great implications. A great cry is beginning to go out around the world from the suppressed heart of humanity, not to mention the non-humans. We are beginning to see and feel the pain of what we do, have done, and have become.

I don't agree with the idea that animals are more advanced than humans. I think this is just the flip side of the idea that humans are more advanced than animals. Such a point of view is possibly based in guilt and fear, and in an insecure need to place our faith in yet another thing that seems to offer further hope in a difficult and confusing time. And I feel that this is a childish way of relating to non-humans and to life. If we supported, cultivated and nurtured the Sacred in ourselves and each other, if we made the Sacred the very basis of our lives, such ideas of advancement or limitation would cease to be necessary. Animals can teach us a great deal. And we can teach them things. But one is not superior to the other. To put animals up on a Spiritual pedestal, simply because they function more readily in the psychic realm, is a romantic, or idealistic, gesture at best. At worst it obstructs the integrity of the real relationship that is possible between humans and non-humans. The relationship between humans and non-humans, as well as between humans and other humans, when rightly lived in mutual respect, cooperation, tolerance and peace is what is Spiritualizing. The True Teacher of both humans and non-humans is the Very Divine Itself. The non-humans can serve to point us to that, and we can also support their impulse to the Divine. We each enrich one another, potentially at least.

I think there is a great need for everyone who is concerned with the environment, with protection of animals and places, with right humane care of non-humans, to work together more. But more than that there needs to develop a more comprehensive appreciation of the situation we are in together. And, really, the situation we are in is the same whether there is an environmental emergency or not. We are all physically mortal in this place. Some can live longer than others, but everything changes, passes. The first words, which Adi Da formally published in 1972, read as follows, "Death is utterly acceptable to consciousness and life. There has been endless time of numberless deaths, but neither consciousness nor life has ceased to arise. The felt quality and cycle to death has not modified the fragility of flowers, even the flowers within the human body. Therefore, one's understanding of consciousness and life must be turned to That Utter Inclusive Truth, That Clarity and Wisdom, That Power and Untouchable Gracefulness, That One and Only Reality, this evidence suggests. One must cease to live in a superficial and divided way, seeking and demanding consciousness and life in the present apparent form, avoiding and resisting what appears to be the end of consciousness and life in death..."

The Vision of Fear-No-More is a gift that Adi Da created for humanity. It's a gift from Him, and it is up to us as to how we use it. There are many conservation, environmental and animal awareness groups functioning today, each alongside and in competition with one another, and also alongside all of the human causes in need of support. Most people would probably agree that what all these causes are directed towards is essentially a world free of fear. We want to remove fear. We all would like to be free of fear. Even those with the worst of intentions are really only hoping to be happy, safe, secure, without fear, free of threat. Whatever the differences in religion, culture, ideology, race, species, we are all about the same thing in the end. None of us is really very different from any other. We are all just trees and plants of different kinds, all just trying to survive, to grow, trying not to be afraid in the end if not right now...

What am I trying to say here...? I got a bit sidetracked...

I don't think anyone has the answers. I don't think anyone really knows what is happening or what really needs to be done. But I do feel sure that the more we relax, accept each other (including the non-humans), and work and serve together, cooperate, the more we will create the real possibility in each of us for "fearing-no-more". The Vision of Fear-No-More is universal. It transcends not only human culture, but also all species, not by denying any of them, but by embracing all of them at Heart. This is the gift that Adi Da is trying to get us to accept. Clearly this is a good thing.

In such a context many things can be done which will serve this completely open-ended Vision.

It's completely open-ended.

I think that one of our greatest limitations is that we fix goals, mostly unattainable goals... and the world scene, what is happening to the environment and our relationship with non-humans, is not altogether a negative unless we fail to get the lesson that it is now delivering to us... its not about goals, achievements, temporal preservation... its about surrender, and, as Adi Da says, therein lies the preservation of everything beautiful in perpetuity. Conservation truly is about Contemplation and surrender. It's not in fixing things. We are just little humans. We don't know the needs of the planet, what its course is, we don't really even know for sure that we are responsible for what we've apparently done. Are we? Really? Are we the guilty party? Did humans do this? Or are we just conjoining with some process much greater than ourselves? If you don't ever get the chance to look in a mirror will you ever get see yourself...? Right now we are looking into one gigantic mirror at ourselves and change is imminent. Just watch...

We try to save this or that because WE think it's important, necessary, but what do we know...? Science is just a useful tool. It doesn't "know" anything, really.

Conservation without surrender is still almost as destructive as anything else we do... it's the ego trying to survive, fighting to survive, afraid of death and living with opponents and things to blame and destroy (even in the name of preservation)...

If the house falls down around us, we may just finally see what is really Beautiful. But if we focus on the falling walls and struggle fearfully to hold them up and rebuild them we may miss seeing the Beautiful and never gain the capability of preserving anything, because we are only ever trying to control everything...

When all the different movements and causes around the world find the courage to take a good look at our underlying motives, we will see a lot more humor and class emerging in the way we do things. And we will all become a hell of a lot more cooperative with one another, I think.

Humans are the most fearful species on the planet. Maybe we could all get together, at least in Spirit, and make for a world fundamentally free of chronic fear, free of human fear. "Fear-No-More"... Now that's a scary idea! Ha!

 

WOULD YOU COMMENT ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ANIMALS IN YOUR CARE?
WHAT HAVE THEY GIVEN YOU?
WHAT HAVE YOU GIVEN THEM?
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It's a simple relationship. I have a lot to learn from them. I live my relationship with the animals here on the basis of my human and Spiritual relationship with the very wild and brilliantly Compassionate Teacher, Adi Da Samraj. I feel I have a LONG way to go in fully understanding myself. I have still to become fully human. But this is my life, how I want to, and intend to, live it. The animals have a strong healing and balancing effect to the extent I combine with them. They definitely show me how to meditate, to Contemplate, to Commune with the Very Divine Being Who lives AS us and breathes us and IS us. The animals, our relationship together, my deepening understanding of them, have opened me tremendously. They are not interested in me becoming more "animal". They need me to become more "human". They need me to be more and more fully what I was born to be.

What have I given them? I don't know.... a good chunk of my life I guess. I've committed my life to serve them and to serve to protect them, under the Guidance of Adi Da Samraj, and in alignment with the Vision of Fear-No-More. Adi Da Blessed me to serve Him in this way, and I trust I'm doing some good. Sometimes I think I'm not doing so great, but I always have to keep letting that go because its not about success in the conventional way. It's a Spiritual process. Life. Open-ended. Mindless Mystery.

I didn't think I was going to say this much...

I love this poem by Adi Da Samraj: I've grown used to miracles. The wonder is not whether we will be together, me with those I'm loving, on some other side. The wonder is that we've met and been together, loving here, in this half-made world, where love is yet to take its hold...

I have always had a connection and affinity for animals and plants and environments. My name, "Stuart Camps", apparently means something like, "keeper of the open fields", or "keeper of the animals and the open fields" -- depends on which book you read... but my Spiritual Master Guides (both silently and in words) everything I do. It's up to me to use His Gifts to me wisely and intelligently, and for the good of all. This is not about me. I am a servant. The more I realize this the more I am blown away by the "everything" of it. And, lastly, this interview isn't intended to be an official Adidam document in any way. It's just a simple interview and conversation. I've spoken from my heart and as honestly as I could.

It's been really nice talking with you!

2001 The Da Love-Ananda Samrajya Pty Ltd, as trustee for the Da Love-Ananda Samrajya, claims perpetual copyright to the entire Written (and otherwise recorded) Wisdom-Teaching of Avatar Adi Da Samraj, and to all other writings and recordings of the Way of Adidam. All rights reserved.

To find out more about Fear-No-More Zoo visit the Fear-No-More Zoo website at: http://zoo.adidam.org or write directly to Stuart at: Fear-No-More Zoo, 12040 Seigler Springs Road, Middletown, Ca, 95461 USA. Or email: FearNoMoreZoo@Adidam.org

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