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Adi Da as
Spiritual Choices, Part 2
48” x 48”, oil on linen by Alex Grey (1997)
n important factor not fully covered by the insightful integral psychologists in Spiritual Choices (1987) [as reviewed in Part 1] is that an authentic Guru-Adept's spiritual transmission goes beyond the personal magnetism of the charismatic personality (or leader). Known in Sanskrit as Shaktipat, meaning a “fall” (pata) of psychic-spiritual energy (shakti), this sacred power is only present in highly developed Yogis, Saints, Sages, Siddhas, etc., or those who have experienced the evolution of consciousness for themselves. Usually transmitted through a mantra, look, thought, or touch from a Guru to their student-devotee (or anyone), such powerful Spirit-Energy, or Spirit-Baptism, has not been adequately diagramed or accounted for in Anthony's typology (although he has personally experienced it himself via Meher Baba, so he does acknowledge it). As discussed later, the fully Enlightened and genuine “charismatic” personality is actually a Transmission-Master, not just an attractive person with a magnetic presence. Hence, this vital spiritual quality, this transmission of psychic energy—also known as a Siddhi (or “accomplishment, attainment”)—is a sign of a Yogi's or a Guru's advanced level of development (in the scale of human possibilities). Therefore, it needs to be taken into account in our psychological typologies or “maps” regarding authentic spiritual authorities.
These “psychic powers” (or siddhis) seem almost “supernatural” since they work with subtle-energy fields (beyond the gross-physical realm) and are little understood by today's science. An accomplished Master, a Siddha (or “one who is accomplished”), such as Adi Da Samraj, usually has several siddhis, including clairvoyance, precognition, retrocognition, telepathy, etc., but none is more significant than the ability to transmit Awakened Awareness (or God-Realization) itself. Usually these powers are the natural result of the Enlightened State, not necessarily to be sought after (although some Yogis attempt to do just that). Indeed, an advanced Yogi can attain siddhis, and even have the ability to transmit shaktipat, without necessarily being fully Enlightened. This is a very important factor to be taken into account in order to understand what is actually taking place with these esoteric religious matters.
Avatar Adi Da (as symbolized in Alex Grey's painting above) had these siddhis in abundance, as countless people will testify. He was (and is) a true Transmission-Master of Hridaya (or “heart”) Shaktipat—what he now calls Ruchira or “the 'Bright'” Shaktipat—making him a Siddha-Guru of unparalleled accomplishment. His Siddhi was one of God-Realization, the Heart of God itself, nothing short of that.
In Spiritual Choices, the authors mention Shaktipat-Transmission but then fail to model it sufficiently (while still recognizing its ultimate significance). Such Spirit-Transmission can evoke a wide variety of yogic and mystical experiences—even the transcendence of all experiences in God-Realization—the most sacred of all possibilities. In this book, both Dick Anthony and Ken Wilber acknowledge the potency of temporary peak (and even plateau) “glimpse experiences” of the transcendental type attained either through technical (yogic) methods or charismatic transmission. Anthony himself was aware that “the God-Realized state infinitely transcends all other states of spiritual development, no matter how advanced.” These profound experiences (including those initiated by entheogens or psychedelics) can potentially initiate a vertical transformation of consciousness, even if not permanently stabilized. Hence there is still the need for further spiritual practice and transformative growth, which is the purpose of authentic Guru Yoga-Satsang. In this case, Anthony's typology does provide a fairly viable and integral approach to differentiating authentic Spiritual Masters from false religious teachers.
By following “Anthony's typology”—as it was named in Spiritual Choices [see Part 1]—we can characterize Avatar Adi Da as being of the charismatic—monist—multi-level type. That is, he is “multi-level” because his Teaching-Word and practice in his community initiates the vertical transformation of consciousness through the higher stages or structures in the “spectrum of consciousness” (outlined by Wilber's developmental scheme) and as presented in the “Seven Stages of Life” (via Adi Da's model of human growth). However, Adi Da emphasizes that progressive development is not the point of spiritual life—what he calls the “Great Path of Return” (usually with the goal of ascending energy up the spinal line into the inner brain core)—but rather he's concerned with transcendence of all states and stages (and all conditional phenomena) achieved through present God-Realization (grounded in the heart on the right).
In Wilber's terms, this multi-level process includes both the phases of “Growing Up” (Stages 1-3) and “Waking Up” (Stages 4-7), as well as “Cleaning Up” (psychological health) and “Showing Up” (being present in the world and community; not retiring in a cave or seclusion). It can be argued, therefore, that Adi Da's Way of the Heart is more direct while the integral pandit's view is more progressive and meandering. Adi Da offers spiritual growth, whereas Wilber emphasizes psychological development. Adi Da, therefore, transcends yet includes Wilber's approach which is offered by a pandit-scholar, not a God-Realized Guru.
Like many esoteric Adepts, from Vedantists to Buddhists to some Western mystics, Adi Da teaches and transmits (via a psychic-energy or shaktipat) the Realization that we—everyone, and everything (or holon) in the Universe—are most fundamentally Divine or God itself, i.e., in truth, there is Only God, God Only. Thus, his Teaching is “monist” (or about “One God” or One Divine Reality). Indeed, it was Adi Da who made popular the phrase “always already the case” or “always already” indicating that God or our Divine Condition is always present so we are already there (or here). We only need to recognize the veracity of that truth (or reality) by transcending the self-contraction of the ego-I (or the avoidance of recognizing our inherent Divine Nature). This phrase “always already” has permeated Wilber's writings throughout his career obviously inspired by Adi Da's earliest publications.
An accomplished Master, a Siddha (or “one who is accomplished”), such as Adi Da Samraj, usually has several siddhis, including clairvoyance, precognition, retrocognition, telepathy, etc., but none is more significant than the ability to transmit Awakened Awareness (or God-Realization) itself.
Adi Da: Beyond Charisma
ext, of course, Adi Da is certainly a “charismatic” Spiritual Adept since his personal magnetism, his happy and loving disposition (though he could also express fierce anger), infectious humor and intellectual brilliance, as well as his handsome face and graceful bodily beauty, made him extremely attractive to many people (men and women alike). Indeed, the ancient Greek root for charisma (χάρισμα) means “divine gift” or “the gift of divine grace,” a reason for joy and gratitude. In addition, Adi Da's Spirit-Transmission (Hridaya Shaktipat)—a literal Spirit Baptism of the Heart (hridaya)—is a gift of grace given for any human being to experience and be touched by. It often initiates a heart opening to realize the transcendental nature of God or the unnamable Mystery of Divine Being experienced in the present moment (thus transcending the search for God). Conseqeuntly, Adi Da has named his method of Satsang “The Way of the Heart.”
For Dick Anthony, as he explained in Spiritual Choices, a healthy multi-level charismatic orientation is “of a fundamentally different order than submission to external, paternalistic authority.” In Anthony's case, it was his relationship (and experiences) with Avatar Meher Baba that taught him this important lesson and distinction. In this present essay, I am directing our attention to Avatar Adi Da Samraj as being a genuine Spiritual Agent, or the “trigger and content of the [transpersonal or divine] experience,” which Anthony/Wilber summarized in this way:
In the multi-level charismatic view, the personality of the God-Realized Master functions as a direct link with Ultimate Being, and so transrational glimpses of the Master are actually glimpses of the Ultimate Being. Wholehearted relationship to such a Master thus represents a way of opening oneself to the transformative influence of unlimited potency…. The key was the transrational glimpse of the Master's immanence or indwelling presence. This glimpse [gives devotees] an enduring conviction and intuitive faith that the external form and personality of [the Avatar-Guru] is a direct and stable expression, on the material plane, of the real Self that [they] glimpsed internally.
With Adi Da, in comparison to other Yogis, his transmission-power was (and is) particularly intense (as even his critics tend to admit), perhaps unprecedented. As a consequence, this profound spiritual energy and awakening power has endeared him to tens of thousands of people during his lifetime (and will continue to do so in the future beyond his bodily death). Avatar Adi Da, many would say, was (and is) far beyond “charismatic,” as it's commonly defined, for he's a “divine incarnation” who is radiating the Divine Presence itself or his Enlightened State—offering an occasion of benign and tacit (or intuitive) ecstatic Love-Bliss-Happiness. In his Company you could (and can) feel God Itself, the Heart of Reality, and if short of that, a wide variety of yogic or mystical experiences and higher states of consciousness can be evoked—depending on a person's ability to receive his Spirit-Transmission—including those in the dream state (a common experience for many people).
Consequently, we can label Adi Da Samraj as providing a profound degree of authenticity since the whole purpose of his Teaching-Work and living in Satsang is to initiate the transformation of a person's consciousness ultimately initiating God-Realization (at first temporarily, then permanently). Therefore, he demands disciplined practices, including psychological healing, emotional-sexual rightening (or self-disciplined sexual activity), as well as intellectual integrity and heart-based devotion by transcending the ego's loveless patterns in order to stabilize (and make permanent) our own innate Divine Awareness. This is what sadhana in Satsang with a Siddha-Master is all about. Satsang is not simply about receiving spiritual experiences but is a lifestyle of “Growing Up” and “Waking Up” while simultaneously “Cleaning Up” and “Showing Up” (in Wilber's terms)—that is, enacting true human and spiritual maturity.
Spirit-Transmission: Essence of Guru Yoga-Satsang
his capacity for Spirit-Transmission is not generated by fake Gurus or false Prophets; that is impossible. Such an integral form of Guru Yoga, one that ultimately transcends yet embodies the entire spectrum of consciousness (in all “four quadrants”), is fulfilled when Adi Da's devotees not only to serve him as Guru-Adept and others in the world as divine manifestations, but also when developing ego maturity and being a productive and creative person in the world (in the first Three Stages of Life). Laying the foundation for human maturity in body and mind is best served by simultaneously engaging in spiritual practices (or sadhana)—i.e., doing the yoga—grounded in self-understanding and meditative absorption in God Awareness. This whole body practice of Right Life allows a person to voluntarily engage in the devotional practice of ego-transcendence (thus initiating the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Stages of Life). This method of Satsang (or Guru Yoga) stimulates and awakens genuine spiritual maturity transforming into real Divine Enlightenment (in the Seventh Stage of Life). However, in the Reality-Way of Adidam this is not done as a method of seeking for God or Enlightenment, but as a heartfelt response to having God already revealed by giving the Guru one's attention. Meditation, therefore, becomes the way of Divine Communion, not a mental exercise or techniques of self-improvement.
Avatar Adi Da Samraj, in other words, is a genuine Siddha-Guru, a real Transmission-Adept who has appeared on Earth to function and serve your happiness, your spiritual development, and your Enlightened State—this is “The Way of the Heart” or “The Reality-Way of Adidam Ruchiradam” (in Adi Da's terms). But if you do not understand the sacred process of Satsang you will miss the point of a Guru altogether. You might even throw stones and be critical. Nevertheless, this way replicates the ancient esoteric way of true spirituality, not merely exoteric beliefs in religious and theological doctrines, nor reactive disbelief upheld by scientific materialists. Relying on a Spiritual Master, which is really our own inner Self manifested in human form, is a most profound form of help and guidance in experiencing the transcendent awareness of our Ultimate Reality. This is a sacred relationship that the modern would be wise not to dismiss.
Such esoteric spiritual processes were true and active during Adi Da's lifetime (as confessed by many), and is also available right now (even after his physical death or Mahasamadhi). This transformative process—the evolution of consciousness—is possible by developing a psycho-physical relationship with the Guru's Divine Transmission which is both immanent or all-pervading yet utterly transcendent. This is how all the true Awakened Adepts of history have always worked: by existing in the “always already” present moment as a living human being. As Adi Da often said: “You become what you meditate on”—so why not meditate upon “Him” or his Enlightened State and Condition (which is your Enlightened State)? This is the essence of genuine Guru Yoga and true Satsang, even as the third millennium dawns into the Integral Age.
Naturally, of course, Adi Da's critics deny this process; indeed, they often mock it. They've read lurid stories on the Internet (or heard some distorted tales from various people) and so are quick to dismiss Adi Da as “fake,” as inauthentic, even claim him to be self-indulgent, inflated, ego-centric, and deluded. However, I suggest these negative reactions are just the ego grabbing for excuses to avoid Satsang with an authentic Siddha-Guru (which Adi Da is). Indeed, most people believe Gurus aren't necessary in today's modern egalitarian world where everyone is considered equal, where no one should be seen as “more spiritual” than anyone else. They believe the “Guru within” is the only guide a person really needs. They suggest Gurus only want your attention, want to pry upon childish dependency and cultism, thus decrying these unique beings by claiming they are to be avoided at all costs.
Yet this position of doubt betrays the evidence of world history, a past resplendent with Adept-Gurus who often issue calls to “Follow Me,” or “Come to Me,” none less so than the West's number one acknowledged Adept—actually, a Guru more than a “Savior”—the one and only Jesus Christ. Science, however, claims the Jesus story is only a myth, a consolation for weak egos, part of the “God delusion” (in Richard Dawkins' words). But this is not so; the function of the Guru is to serve our Enlightenment or awareness that God is real, not a myth, not an illusion at all. Yet a person must realize this for themselves, not just believe it because it's preached or been taken on faith for generations. This is precisely what a relationship with Adi Da as Siddha-Guru in Satsang proves if you take the time to critically investigate these matters, to study him for real, to make yourself available to his Spirit-Transmission. Granted, it is a difficult task but worth the price of admission, so to speak.
Consequently, Adi Da Samraj also provides a high degree of legitimacy or horizontal translation (in the language of our integral metrics) since he encourages proper adaptation to each stage (and state) of human development—what he calls the “Seven Stages of Life” (which corresponds to Wilber's AQAL spectrum of consciousness or “all levels” in “all quadrants”). The Avatar's recommended disciplines of sadhana in Satsang integrates the responsibilities needed at each structure-stage of human growth so a person can adapt to, yet transcend, his or her Stage of Life while evolving in their spiritual maturity from infancy to Enlightenment. Yet, the secret is not to seek for God but to live a life always already “brightened” by Divine Communion with God in the present.
In this case, Adi Da emphasizes that sadhana is done most effectively by “turning to Him” in Satsang—which means to give your attention to the Divine as the primal “Feeling of Being” (in Adi Da's words). This is the Guru's Enlightened State which the devotee attunes with (“you become what you mediate on”) like tuning forks synchronizing in harmonious alignment. Instead of working at progressive development in search of Enlightenment, Satsang is the way of Enlightenment not seeking for Enlightenment. Then spiritual life becomes a process of no-seeking and simply beholding the Divine Condition as It IS. This is the liberating message of the Reality-Way of Adidam Ruchiradam. In a sense, this approach is similar to Dzogchen, the teaching of Tibetan Buddhism in that it emphasizes the natural state of ever-present (“naked”) awareness. These Adepts discourage the seeking for mystical (and yogic) experiences. Instead, Consciousness simply witnesses what is arising and Abides as That in happiness and peace. However, such advanced practices are only given after a person has developed the requisite maturity ready for the transmission of such esoteric wisdom.
Clearly, the Siddha-Guru Adi Da demands ordinary human maturity first, not childish cultism, before taking up the disciplines of advanced spiritual practice and meditation in Adidam. He encourages everyone to study and use their rational and discriminative intelligence—a critical disposition to test what is being taught—coupled with free will (or right intentions) in order to adapt to “Right Life” (a disciplined lifestyle of peace and equanimity). Egoic habit patterns are countered by the demand for discipline and accountability. Thus ego transcendence is encouraged and becomes the essence of spiritual practice which is what liberates us from the fear and contraction (and unhappiness) of the separate self-sense. In this case, surrender to Guru as God is a feeling-response that becomes self-evident, not mindless obedience to a Father-figure. People, or devotees, are grateful for what has been revealed to them—a glimpse of our Divine Consciousness—which is the source of their devotion and surrender.
Naturally, a person has to actually do this practice, to engage the injunctions—do the yoga—in order to understand and transcend the self-contraction, the loveless activity of the ego-I, the sense of feeling separate and disconnected from God. Adi Da, therefore, implores us to serve others in cooperative community with compassion, love, and “always already” happiness. Overall, he recommends a full range of practical, relational, and cultural disciplines in order to free up energy and attention in the body-mind for continued growth into the higher and spiritual (or transpersonal) domains of awareness.
Truly, Adi Da maintains that we must begin our practice (or sadhana) with an awareness of God, not as a means of seeking for God. This is what his Spirit-Baptism or Heart-Transmission provides. Then we may practice and live life as a process of Divine Communion, from the start, and from our heart. To do this, we must understand (and transcend) the contraction of the ego-I (or separate self)—what Adi Da labels as “Narcissus,” the Greek boy fascinated with his own reflection—in order to release this self-centered activity into the “always already” state of awakened awareness (which is Real God). According to Adi Da, the “ego is an activity, not an entity,” occurring within God (or Reality) which is “always already the case.” It is an activity that we generate—like pinching yourself—so only we can understand and then transcend the limits and boundaries of the contracted ego by expanding to Infinity from the heart as love. Our natural state of Happiness—not Happiness gained—is what is always already realized and lived.
This is the approach of Radical Understanding as Adi Da teaches—“radical” meaning an “at-the-root” understanding—because such awareness transcends the egoic search for happiness, for objects and others, for temporary fulfillments. When we are presently happy, we breathe and conduct the presently perceived Fullness of God from the heart. Indeed, Spirit is the Life-Current, the Divine effulgence or grace whereby we are transformed and transfigured, according to Adi Da (and other Awakened Adepts). As Jesus (and the Old Testament Prophets) instructed: “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all they might” [Deuteronomy 6: 4-6; Matthew 22: 34-36]. This is the understanding (and practice) of a God-Realized human being… and all are Called (or invited).
Adi Da Samraj therefore teaches the Way of the Heart, not a way of the mind (or even mindfulness). The heart (on the right), he claims (in harmony with other Realizers), is the true source of consciousness, not the brain. Once human maturity and bodily equanimity is attained and sustained (in the Fourth Stage of Life), then it becomes easier to understand who Adi Da really is as an Avatar and Siddha-Guru. Only with a fairly advanced degree of human and spiritual maturity does one recognize his true function as a Spiritual Transmission-Master in learning to feel and engage his transforming effects in one's life. This is what genuine Guru Yoga is about: transforming consciousness and our contracted sense of ego-I with love and compassion, intelligence and maturity, grace and receptivity to living Spirit—real Divine Communion (not merely belief in God).
As a preliminary practice, Adi Da adamantly requests that everyone study with intelligent discrimination and learn from the great historical Adepts of the past. This is done as a way to recognize the different degrees or stages of mystical development exhibited by the various Prophets, Shamans, Yogis, Saints, and Sages from all of the world's religious traditions. This “Great Tradition” of humankind, our inherited collective wisdom, is a guide that can be used to better see what an authentic Guru-Adept provides his or her devotees and disciples. You will not find this knowledge in science books or on social media. This education helps us recognize what a genuine Guru does for anyone by living in Satsang and by practicing their recommended disciplines and meditative practices. This is what Adi Da Samraj, as Siddha-Guru, offers everyone. This is the way it has been, since most ancient days, because it works! We must step up to face this reality, even in the modern / postmodern world, particularly now in these dreadful times.
Read the sacred scriptures of the world—the “Divine Library”—to discover for yourself that there has been a universal “Perennial Philosophy” pointing us all to Real God, our Ultimate and Absolute Divine Condition (not a “Big Parent” above the sky). It's all there in the historical record, if you read it rightly. All of these sacred scriptures are our wisdom inheritance and natural birthright by being born human. But you must open the pages and study—do your homework—while also accessing in real life (not just in books) what such an advanced “teacher” or “professor,” known as a “Spiritual Master” or Adept-Guru, can do for you to further reveal what's truly beyond words.
We are so fortunate in the democratic (nonauthoritarian) modern world to have access to all of this sacred literature and these translated scriptures now available to anyone interested in finding out about true spirituality (a fundamental human right). Read Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Padmasambhava, Bodhidharma, Vivekananda, Ramana Maharshi, Meher Baba, all of the Real Gurus, and, of course, Adi Da Samraj, and then find out for yourself! Enlightenment is possible for anyone but there is a price to be paid: ego death (or utter self-transcendence) via the ecstasy of God-Realization. This is our only true Freedom and Happiness. Guru Yoga-Satsang, therefore, is the way of Enlightenment, not just a way to Enlightenment. Be Happy and discover for yourself (there is no separate self)… this is Only God, God Only.
- See: “Meher Baba: An Interview with Dick Anthony” in Spiritual Choices (1987) edited by Dick Anthony, Bruce Ecker, and Ken Wilber, pp. 153-191.
- Editorial commentary, Spiritual Choices (1987), edited by Dick Anthony, Bruce Ecker, and Ken Wilber, p. 187.
- Ken Wilber calls himself a “pandit,” a Hindu word from which the English word “pundit”—defined as “a learned person”—has its roots. In the tradition of India, however, a pandit is more accurately a scholar who is also considered to be a spiritual practitioner; it's just that they have a special talent for the academic or intellectual path. Wilber has often pointedly claimed: “I am a pandit, not a guru, and I have made that clear from day one.” (“Mind and the Heart of Emptiness” The Quest, Winter 1995, p. 21).
- From Wilber's very first book, The Spectrum of Consciousness (1977), the integral pandit has liberally used Adi Da's unique phrase “always already the case,” where that book's last chapter was titled “That Which is Always Already” where he notes, “Whether we realize or not, it [God] is always already the case,” where he footnotes Adi Da's [Franklin Jones'] first book The Knee of Listening (1972). As another example (among many) a later book of Wilber's is The Eye of Spirit (1997) where the last chapter is titled “Always Already: The Brilliant Clarity of Ever-Present Awareness,” one of the most brilliant essays the integral pandit has ever written.
- Χάρισμα (khar'-is-mah) “a gift of grace; a favor which one receives without any merit of his or her own” (see 1 Peter 4:10).
- Editorial commentary, Spiritual Choices (1987), edited by Dick Anthony, Bruce Ecker, and Ken Wilber, p. 189.
- Editorial commentary, Spiritual Choices (1987), edited by Dick Anthony, Bruce Ecker, and Ken Wilber, pp. 187-188 [some capitalization added].
- See my book: God's Great Tradition of Global Wisdom: Guru Yoga-Satsang in the Integral Age—An Appreciation of Avatar Adi Da Samraj in Illuminating the Great Tradition of Humankind (2021, Bright Alliance) by Brad Reynolds.
- See chapter 2: “'Divine Library' of Global Wisdom” in my book: God's Great Tradition of Global Wisdom: Guru Yoga-Satsang in the Integral Age—An Appreciation of Avatar Adi Da Samraj in Illuminating the Great Tradition of Humankind (2021, Bright Alliance) by Brad Reynolds.
- See: Brad Reynolds, essay: “The Perennial Philosophy: Universal Wisdom” on Integral World.com: https://www.integralworld.net/reynolds37.html.
Images of and quotations by Avatar Adi Da Samraj are copyrighted and managed by The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd., a trustee for The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam (ASA).
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Brad Reynolds' new book:
God's Great Tradition of Global Wisdom:
Guru Yoga-Satsang in the Integral Age —
An Appreciation of Avatar Adi Da Samraj in Illuminating The Great Tradition of Humankind
This book is NOW available on Amazon.com as a Color hardback or B&W paperback or eBook:
See Brad's YouTube channel — GodsGreatTradition
With an introductory video introduction by touring the Table Of Contents, please see: GODS GREAT TRADITION PROMO 2
This book defies many taboos. It unpacks the great tradition of spiritual transmission and the unique critical role of truly enlightened beings. And it advocates, in a full-throated and whole-hearted manner, for my Root-Guru, Adi Da Samraj, in a way that stands in that larger universal great tradition. We're all social creatures, who have internalized these taboos, so some readers may have reactions, and it may be necessary to persist despite them. But if you do, with an open mind and heart, this book will help you to recognize something profoundly important.
—Terry Patten, A New Republic of the Heart, co-author, Integral Life Practice
"A Tour de Force" is the best way to describe the great work that Brad Reynolds has done with God's Great Tradition of Global Wisdom. It reminds me of the great classic The Passion of the Western Mind by Richard Tarnas, but Reynolds' opus is more thorough, deeper, and more inclusive. Of course, much of this depth and penetrating wisdom is achieved by drawing heavily on the Teachings he elucidates and illustrates, especially the Sage-Wisdom of Avatar Adi Da. Not only will the reader find a high-class education of a host of traditions, they will be treated to a panoply of fabulous, easy-to-grasp illustrations and images. A MUST for any student of the Great Tradition of humankind's spiritual inheritance.
—Frank Marrero, author of Recollections of Sokrates, The View from Delphi, and A Monkey's Tale for the Divine Person