Monday, September 21, 2015

The Avadhoot

Comcast is soon discontinuing its "Personal Web Page" service. I've got a bunch of stuff I put up there over the years, which will disappear when the service ends. I'm transferring some of it from there to this blog, for the benefit of future generations... 

The Avadhoot 
Naked in San Bruno

[The teacher we refer to here as "the Avadhoot" still holds court in Santa Cruz under the name "Nome" (as in "no me"). He's got a loyal following, a well-appointed building, and an organization called the Society of Abidance in Truth.]

STUART RESNICK: Then there was the Avad Hut.

JANARDAN: The Avadhoot, not the Avad Hut.

STUART: I thought the guy was called the Avadhoot, but the place was called the Avad Hut, sort of like Pizza Hut, you know? Anyway: "avadhoot" is the Indian word for somebody who is just so spiritually evolved, he's completely beyond the world.

JANARDAN: Often an avadhoot - because he's oblivious to the world and its needs, its cares, its reputations - travels naked.

STUART: Yes, and that's one of the wonderful things about India that really teaches us a lot about cultures - that there are people in India who refuse to wear clothes and if anyone puts a loincloth on them, they just tear it off.

JANARDAN: And they are not arrested!

STUART: They are worshipped as God! Whereas in America, of course, someone who walks around naked is treated quite differently.

JANARDAN: And ends up in Bellevue.

STUART: Except for that naked guy in Berkeley who got arrested and went to trial for indecent exposure. And the judge - and I can't tell whether this was done with irony because I just read about it in the paper and I have no idea whether the judge said this as a joke - but the judge threw out the case for lack of evidence.

But he showed up at the trial naked, so they arrested him again.

JANARDAN: He originally started showing up to classes at UC Berkeley, right? Naked? And that's how this whole furor started?

STUART: Yeah, yeah.

WAYNE HINKLE: Well, what was his statement about? Why was he naked?

STUART: "It's natural." You know, he said what you would expect someone to say: "I'm not ashamed of my body," or whatever. Again, like the Hare Krishnas, you have to respect him. Particularly after he showed up in court naked. That shows ...

JANARDAN: ... that he had balls. But that was already apparent.

Avadhoots appear in various shapes and sizes. There are all kinds of avadhoots. But an avadhoot is like the aristocrat of the saints. They're the highest form of saint.

STUART: Yoga Journal always used to carry this advertisement for the Avad Hut, or Avadhoot, whatever. It had an address in the Bay Area, in San Mateo or something, but the ad had no picture of the guy. There was just this circle. And the text of the ad was like: "THE NAKED ONE. CLOTHED IN SPACE. PURE. IMMUTABLE." You know, just all of these words about complete ...

JANARDAN: ... describing The Absolute.

STUART: Yes, yes. And then it just gave this address. So as we drove across the country - at least in my mind - of all the various things that California represented to me, one of them was: we're going to see the Avadhoot. And we could not even imagine what that would be like.

JANARDAN: That was definitely somewhere over the rainbow - and he was where we were headed. Well, I don't know about you Stuart, but I was very excited about meeting the Avadhoot and I had my own personal fantasy.

I imagined that we would make it to the Avadhoot's hut, and he'd be sitting there in a very plain room. You know, nothing elaborate, no golden tapestry, nothing like that. Just simple furniture, maybe a rug, and some little tinkly music in the background. And then we'd sit there around a bald old naked man, and all of us would be free to be naked or not naked. We'd all sit around in a group and just, like ... assimilate his radiance, you know? His naked radiance. And be in the presence of his naked truth. So this is what I was hoping for.

STUART: I had no idea, I didn't know whether he'd be naked, whether we would have to be naked, whether it would just be like a big mirror or something. Their ad described it in such extraordinary terms, I couldn't imagine what they could do to live up to it.

But, to make a long story short, we got there and it was just some guy sitting up there who talked nicely, you know? And a lot of people bowing and scraping to him. [He was only naked in the metaphorical sense.]

JANARDAN: But he did have a couple of testicles who were very impressive, and any objection you made to his teachings were shot down by these testicles that he had.

STUART: Janardan is referring to the fact that the Avadhoot always sat in between these two henchpeople, one male, one female, who were his highest disciples.

JANARDAN: His testicles!

STUART: One would sit on his left and one would sit on his right, and I think probably the way that it started ...

JANARDAN: His two gonads!

STUART: ... is at the end of the program I said to Janardan something like, "He's a real dick," and Janardan said, "Yes! And what about those two testicles he has!"

JANARDAN: Seriously, they were very offensive sometimes, especially the male testicle. But first of all, it was very nice, you go in, you sit down ... You've never visited the Avadhoot, right?


JANARDAN: So I'm not preaching to the converted. You go into this small hall, you sit down there. The Avadhoot and his pair are on a lower platform, so that all the focus is on them. He's sitting there in a dimly lit, immaculate room ...

STUART: ... dressed in white ...

JANARDAN: ... with glasses, shaved head, but in every other respect looks like your average American goof-off. And in the background there's this very nice tape of Ananda Moyi Ma [a well-known Indian guru] chanting going on, and she's moaning and groaning in a kind of mournful spiritual orgasmic manner, and he's down there, we're sitting up here meditating, and truly speaking, he had a beatific expression.

STUART: Yes, yes!

JANARDAN: I mean, I grew up hearing those words, but the Avadhoot - if he had nothing else ... if everything else was just like a sideshow, a freak sideshow - he still did have a beatific expression that could probably stop a bull in mid gallop. Certainly it stopped many a potential heckler. After we listened to the Ananda Moyi Ma chant, we just sat there quietly gazing on him as he smiled back at us, eyes beaming. Then, after a while of this, they'd open up satsang, which was basically question and answer. Stu and I never did ask questions, we just watched.

The audience was probably about 85% devotee, strictly devotee, and maybe 15% people like us or people on the fringe who were considering dedicating themselves to this vehicle of naked truth. But they would ask questions, and it seemed that 99.9% of the questions were deemed foolish in the view of either the Avadhoot or his henchmen. I felt embarrassed for the people in the audience sometimes. Some of them really meant well, but ... I guess I shouldn't have felt sorry because it was almost like a symbiotic relationship, where they were looking to be abused by his Absolute Knowledge, and he was willing to oblige them.

Even so, there was a lot of bliss in that, and in those sessions, and every once in a while he did say something that seemed like something Ramana Maharishi [a revered Indian guru] might have said.

STUART: I mean, he spoke OK, and I did get high off of it, but - my mother just got a new water purifier. I purified a gallon of water and took a drink of it and I got high off of that, you know? So you can't go by me.

[In the years following our visit, the Avadhoot (aka Nome, I.M. Nome, or Master Nome) has lost both his testicles. The male henchman, Russell Smith, was in fact Nome's brother, though this was hidden at the time of our visit. Russ left Nome in 2003, and by 2005 was suing his former Master, and setting up his own competing church nearby: "The Way of Sudden Awakening" (now defunct, with no trace of Russell found on the net). The dark underbelly of the Avadhoot's world, including the legal pissing contest with Russell, is detailed on Sarlo's guru site.]

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