The World’s Greatest Unpublished Spiritual Book
Nine years ago Adi Da Samraj wrote The Scapegoat Book, a brilliant free rendering of what may well be our planet’s greatest traditional spiritual text, the Ashtavakra Gita. In 2008, at the request of The Dawn Horse Press, I wrote this introduction to the book. It is time for the world to know what it has been missing.by William Stranger
Plato’s contention that poets do not make good philosophers has never rested well with the artists themselves. William Blake and W.B. Yeats, to name but two, always maintained that it is to the poets we should turn to gather our philosophic truth alive. In The Scapegoat Book Adi Da finally puts that controversy to its much deserved rest, along with a great many other confusions and disputes yet wandering the ever-shifting borderlands between literature and philosophy. For this concentrated, heart-breaking, but infinitely illuminating fable now stands as the single greatest literary dramatization ever written about both the nature of the non-dual wisdom of Consciousness and the precise anatomy of our tragic failure to Realize It.
In presenting ultimate, or, as he names it here, “perfect knowledge” (the Realization that we are not now, and never have been, a separate ego-self), in the dramatic circumstance of the incarceration and scapegoating of the one who reveals that truth, Adi Da is able to explore the most devastating problematique of human culture: our unconscionable, insane habit of destroying the very people whose help we most desperately need. In his The Scapegoat Book we are brought to confront, in a manner that freely alternates the excruciating and the sublime, the deluded, willful, narcissistic postures whereby we mock and betray those truly great individuals we otherwise pretend to venerate. The tragedy, of course, is that in so doing we nullify our own best means of freedom and liberation, as well.
Adi Da spontaneously composed The Scapegoat Book over a period of six weeks, in October and November, 2005, while in residence at his northern California Hermitage-Sanctuaries, Tat Sundaram and The Mountain Of Attention, in Humboldt and Lake counties, respectively. On January 14, 2006, in conjunction with the Da Orpheum Theatre Guild, he read the work at the Da Orpheum Theatre, which was at the time was located at the latter Sanctuary. Like most of those present for this extraordinary event, I found it to be both a transcendental spiritual initiation and the single most searing theatrical experience of my life. The Scapegoat Book is literary drama of the very highest order.
The Scapegoat Book is the second of Adi Da’s Da Orpheum trilogy, three astonishing masterworks that, taken together, chronicle the life story and spiritual teachings of the infant sage and destined Avatar Raymond Darling (etymologically, “the precious light of the world”). Although designed to be read in sequence as a single parable “Told by Means of a Self-Illuminated Illustration of the Totality of Mind”, each work also stands on its own. Through his trilogy, Adi Da brings together, reforms, and completes the three great streams of world culture: Oriental (Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist) spirituality’s ultimate wisdom of non-dual Self-Realization, Western civilization’s Orphic quest to rescue the beloved from death’s annihilation, and the existential and postmodern philosophers’ radical subversion of the bourgeois ego and its faux culture.
To carry the full weight of this epochal artistic/cultural intervention, Adi Da has had to invent out of whole cloth three new complex literary genres. If the first work in the trilogy, The Mummery Book, is at once a Bildungsroman, a quest romance, a paradox-ridden spiritual odyssey, a comedy, an opéra bouffe, a satyr’s play, a farce, a passion play, and, a colossally unevitable (or unnecessary) tragedy, and the third, The Happenine Book, is Raymond Darling’s own written, spoken, and illustrated chronicle of the trials, magic, humor, perfect wisdom, and both solemn and ecstatic doings of his early life and teaching work, then in The Scapegoat Book Adi Da allows himself the singular concentration of a fugue—a complex countrapuntal weaving together of the sublime and the absurd, written for two voices and a single Witness.