(Robert Adams was an American neo-advaita teacher who claimed to be a direct disciple of Ramana Maharshi and to have lived in and around Ramana Ashram in Tiruvannamalai for about 3 years, and also with other renowned saints and sages in India.) An interview with Steven Strouth. This is Part 2 in our series. Part 3 link| Part 4 link| Part 1 link|
Q: Is it true that Robert Adams could say, GOD, GOD, GOD, three times and manifest anything he wanted?
A: Are you being serious right now?
Q: Yes, this is reported widely in his writings.
A: Well, I think this goes back to his Joel Goldsmith days and “power of the mind” type teachings which Robert believed. You send out your request to God, believe it and act as if it happened.
In the case of Robert, you then go find someone who actually has a job and get that person to buy it for you.
Q: You don’t take that seriously?
A: No. I call it magical unicorn spirituality. Beliefs are important, but that “The Secret,” stuff is pretty shallow.
Q: Why did you write part 1? What was your motivation?
A: Love of truth in all of its forms. If people are upset over the truth, what is that saying? Should we hide, deny and fight the truth so they feel better?
Q: Has anyone gone through the photo archives at Ramana Ashram and found evidence of Robert?
A: I’ve heard several people have made efforts at Tiruvannamalai to verify some of Robert’s stories, going through thousands of photos and talking with those alive back then and have come up empty-handed.
Q: Why do you want to libel or defame Robert?
A: I’m not. To libel someone is to make false and damaging statements about them. Robert was my friend. He was a fun person, we always got along well. If I saw him tomorrow we’d have fun again and enjoy a laugh. I think he really wanted to help people in his own way. But people have a right to know some of his stories are made up. Simply telling the truth is not libelous or defamatory in any case.
Q: You said the satsangs started in Panorama City, California … how did that start and get going?
A: As I said, Robert wanted to run ads and get his message out there. I had a few friends in the Radhasoami community, the Da Free John community, and the Bhagavan Nome community and I told them all about Robert.
I argued with Robert for over a week about his plan to charge money. In Radhasoami they have a few rules about being a guru.
• There is no money charged.
• No advertisements.
But with no one coming we did do advertisements in the “Whole Life Times.”
Q: So you rented an apartment in the same building Robert had claimed to own?
A: Yes. 8315 Willis Avenue near Roscoe and Willis. The building had about 50 apartment units around a courtyard. Robert’s family members were on the ground floor and I moved to an apartment across the courtyard, but on the second floor.
People talk about Robert sitting silently all of the time but when I went over to his apt. around noon most days, he was usually watching cable TV with Dmitri (Robert’s pet dog). Sometimes the whole family was.
Q: Who was the first person that came from the ads?
Lewis. Robert was over at my place when Lewis called. I talked to him for a few minutes and thought he was a nut, going on about Jesus and the Bible and a few other things. I was hoping he wouldn’t be coming.
Robert took the phone and the next week Lewis arrived.
Q: Is that how it got going?
Yes, a few weeks later there was a film director, Tom, who came to the meetings from the ad.
He loved Robert and then he brought Dana LaMonica who had worked as a script editor in films and from then on Dana always came to every satsang until Robert moved to Sedona.
Q: Why was Dana so hooked on it?
A: Panorama City back then could seem like a dangerous neighborhood.
Dana came one week and parked outside, and being Dana was late, and didn’t want to disturb the meeting, she thought she would just wait outside the apartment door. And then, when she got out of her car she was so relieved to see Robert there walking Dmitri, and she followed him in and sat down, and Robert had already started. Later, she asked someone why the meeting started late, and she was told it didn’t, Robert had been talking for 30 minutes when she walked in. After that, she just thought he was a magical being.
Q: Did anything like that ever happen for you?
Q: How do you explain it?
A: Hypnosis. People do and see all kinds of things under hypnosis.
It’s not so much a matter of getting people hypnotized. It’s a matter of getting someone out of it. It’s most people’s normal condition. You do understand people have seen all kinds of incredible stuff under hypnosis, right?
Q:I have heard of such things
A: People under hypnosis think they are chickens and try to fly.
Q: Chickens don’t fly.
A: Whatever. Just saying there is weird stuff the mind can do.
Q: Did you stay friends with Dana?
A: Yes, she went to almost every satsang and lunch with Robert in LA and I heard a lot of stories from her over the years.
Q: Who was Jeff Brookner?
A: After I realized Robert couldn’t be trusted I moved away, but occasionally would still go to a meeting now and then. I enjoyed what he was saying. After I left, Robert started having satsangs at Jeff’s parents’ house.
Q: Did you go there?
A: Yes, one time. Jeff’s parents did not want Robert in the house but let Jeff hold the satsang in his bedroom. The day I was there it was 5 people, a little crowded for a bedroom but not too bad.
Q: How long was the satsang held at Jeff’s?
A: Not too long. Jeff became annoyed that Robert wasn’t paying back money loaned to him. Also, in those days Robert used to say that there were only two great gurus in the last 100 years. One was Ramana Maharshi, the other Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Jeff had heard about various goings-on at the Rajneesh ashram in Portland and found it concerning. He asked me if it might be true the story about a naked man chasing a woman through the compound there and I told him it sounded like the kind of stuff I’d heard.
Q: Where did the group meetings go next?
A: I don’t really know. I think there was a house in Tarzana they used to meet in, and then probably Henry Denison’s house.
Q: Was Robert more of a mystic or a jnani?
A: When I knew him, one day I told Robert about a mystical experience I had with the astral form of Baba Muktananda. As I approached Baba it was like approaching an apartment radiator in winter. Only instead of giving off heat, it was giving off bliss.
Robert said this experience is highly significant and important. I now know that experience is important to people interested in mystical experiences. To a jnani it is meaningless.
Q: What is the story about someone pulling a knife on Robert?
A: It was in Panorama City when he told me that one. Someone pulled a knife on him and asked him for money. He said he just looked at him and said, “You don’t want to do this,” and the guy just ran off. I thought he said that happened in NYC.
Q: When did you stop trusting Robert’s advice?
One day I got a postcard in the mail saying that if you send this particular company $500 they would double it and send it back the next day by overnight express mail.
Joking around I told Robert about this and he said he thought we should do it. The “we” meant my money and “our” shared profits.
Anyway, I just thought if Robert believes someone is going to send you $500 overnight he’s operating in a different world than the one I know.
Q: How did you come to possess an email from Katya Osborne, daughter of famed writer Arthur Osborne?
A: A friend sent a letter to the Mountain Path journal published by Ramana Ashram, trying to find out if there was any truth to the story that David Godman reported that he heard from Katya Osborne, that her father Arthur had given young Robert Adams the family car, and she actually wrote back.
Q:What was the first email from her?
—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Katya Douglas
To: [……] @[…..].com
Cc: David Godman
Sent: Tuesday, October 11, 2016 6:17 AM
Subject: Robert Adams
I would like to clear up some obvious misconceptions you have been led to believe about Robert Adams etc. Firstly I have never, until now, ever heard of Robert Adams. I don’t say he never visited Ramanashramam, I would not necessarily have met him if he had, but he most certainly did not stay there for 3 years as I would certainly have met him in that case.
Secondly the story of Bhagavan giving him special attention and having food served in his room is nonsense. Bhagavan did not do that sort of thing. I can only think that it may be an excuse proffered in order to explain why nobody saw him!
Thirdly, our family never had a car so it was impossible for my father to have given it away. I cannot understand how David Godman got his idea that I was part of that whole fantasy. The only business connected with a car was when a friend of my parents, Louis Hartz, imported a car to India for his own use, and when he was ready to leave the country he offered the car to my father. My father refused, explaining that he had no use for a car. End of story. I cannot understand how I can be so completely misquoted while I am still alive and my memory is in pretty good working order. Surely the slightest fact-checking would straighten things out?
Lastly, I should point out that it was completely impossible for my father to have given money to ‘Robert Adams’ as until 1948 we were living on a war pension which he qualified for after 4 years in a concentration camp in Bangkok. In those years we barely had enough to live on, and most certainly didn’t have enough to give away.
I have read the obituary written in 1997. I t seems as though it is well meant but based largely on hearsay. This is a recurring problem when people write about anything to do with Ramana Maharishi. There are so few of us left who were there way back then, and many people prefer the stories they have been told without reference to facts.
To reiterate: I would like to state quite clearly that I have never met or heard of Robert Adams until reading your letter.
Secondly, the story of the car is completely spurious.
Q: Was there another email from her after that?
—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Katya Douglas
Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 2:46 AM
Subject: Re: Robert Adams
Yes you may indeed quote me about the totally apocryphal family car story. I am constantly appalled by the slip-shod way in which Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharishi is mis-quoted and misrepresented. People who are concerned with writing or spreading the words and wisdom of a great sage have a responsibility to get it right. If they are writing fiction,which many of them are, then that
should be clearly indicated. To use Bhagavan’s name in order to aggrandise oneself or claim some sort of superior knowledge is absolutely unforgivable. It
does however, happen with increasing regularity. It seems that the
passing on of rumour and gossip is easier and more fun that taking the
trouble to check facts…and if in the process one can gain a reputation for
spiritual knowledge, well what more could a writer on spiritual
matters ask for? There are still a few of us left who were there when
Bhagavan was sitting in the hall in the body. We are old, but in the
main we are sane and our memories work just fine. However we are
seldom if ever asked to confirm any story about Bhagavan. By and
large writers prefer their own versions and are most reluctant to be corrected or told the truth!,
I should also like to add that Ramanashramam in its entire history, up
to and including today has never owned or been given a car, a jeep or a bus.
I hope I have helped you to get nearer the truth of what happened way back when.
Kitty Osborne (also known as Katya Douglas)
Q: Is that when people started seriously believing Robert was making things up?
A: Various people who had actually known Robert had been talking about this for years, but up until then it was just the word of some anonymous internet users against the word of… well, the whole internet really. At David Godman’s website and talks, at Wikipedia, at Robert Adams oriented Facebook pages, and everywhere he was referred to on the net, were these massive lies about Robert’s life that he told people, and they believed, and anyone who questioned any of his stories was harassed and then drowned out in a tsunami of revulsion.
Q: What other emails do you have she wrote?
A: Katya was told that Robert claimed to have lived in the Osborne house for quite a while when he was living in Tiruvannamalai.
“What nonsense people write. Our house in Tiruvannamalai was…and is tiny. There was a sort of guest room under the eaves where many people stayed until they found somewhere more comfortable. NO ONE could have possibly stayed there without every one else knowing…what a ridiculous idea. My mother felt that as we were lucky enough to have a place to stay near Bhagavan, then we should share it if people were in need. She also liked to feed people. As I said, many people did indeed pass through our house, but for goodness sake, certainly it wasn’t possible to do this in secret. I had no idea people wrote or believed such utter rubbish. If people don’t want to hear something, then they won’t listen is my experience. One can tell them the truth as one knows it and then leave them to get on with it as they will.
(and added in her next email a couple of minutes later:)
“PS. I would just like to clarify that our house in Tvm. was, as I
said, quite tiny. I enlarged it a bit after my mother’s death.
Anyone who didn’t know this might get themselves in a muddle and make
‘mistakes’. My father was neither blind nor deaf. One could not have
a mouse in the house without everyone knowing…and anyway how about
us children? Anyone could have stayed for a few days and just been
another person passing through, but for several years? or even months?
Simply not possible. I would definitely have known the person and I
definitely didn’t know any Robert Adams, or Segal or whatever he
called himself. I don’t know why I should still be amazed by people’s
dishonesty, but I am.
Q: Why hasn’t David Godman come forward and admit what he said was untrue?
A: I don’t know. Strange isn’t it?
Q: How does something like this happen?
A: Carlos Castaneda certainly made up a lot of his stories of being with his shamanic teacher Don Juan that nobody else has ever found, and there were the accounts of Lynn Andrews, Lobsang Rampa, Baird Spaulding, and many other new-age teachers and writers who would write what is now known to be fiction about their studies with masters in remote places, that can’t be confirmed. It happens.
Q: Did Robert fly on a prop plane to India in 1946?
A: Nowadays when you go to India, you will just get on a plane. But in 1946 you would go by ship. Only the super-rich would cross the ocean in a plane and there were no direct flights to India. Even when I was a kid in the 1960’s it was only the wealthy that went places on airplanes and you had to dress in a suit with a necktie.
“According to a study by Compass Lexecon commissioned by Airlines for America, the average flight from L.A. to Boston in 1941 was worth $4,539.24 per person in today’s money, and it would have taken 15 hours and 15 minutes with 12 stops along the way.)[https://www.travelandleisure.com/airlines-airports/history-of-flight-costs]
Q: Did Robert talk to a 2ft tall Ramana as a baby in his crib?
A: This is a story Robert told repeatedly. Do you remember things that happened to you when you were in your crib? Does anyone? The earliest memories adults can recall are around 2 years old and that is for major events like hospitalization or birth of a sibling. Of course, this doesn’t mean it couldn’t have happened. It’s just extremely unlikely.
Q: Did Robert drive around India in a new car meeting spiritual teachers?
A: Nowadays when we think of going places we think of getting in a car and driving there, especially in Los Angeles. But in India in 1950 no one did that. You took a train then a rickshaw for the last mile. India was not a car society back then. And if someone did have a car, they would be noticed big time.
Katya Osborne said the same thing in this email quote:
“In India 1950, a car was useless and slow for a long-distance travel. It was much more comfortable, faster, and cheaper to travel by a train like most of the people and then by a local rickshaw driver.”
Q: What is the earthquake story?
A: As long as I knew him, Robert was saying Los Angeles was about to be destroyed by an earthquake. One day he came over to my apartment and said “if we want to hang on to our bodies, we need to get out of Los Angeles now, it is all going to be destroyed.”
This was already after the “apartment manager’s union” vision didn’t pan out so I was skeptical like, “Oh yeah, hold the presses, I’m now going to quit my job because Robert had another vision.”
I did hear even eight years later he was still telling people this was about to happen and they were believing him.
Q: Did Robert discuss his enlightenment experience with Joel Goldsmith in New York at a seminar in 1946?
A: Robert told that story widely.
“At the age of sixteen, Robert Adams’ first spiritual mentor was Joel S. Goldsmith, a Christian mystic from New York, who Robert used to visit in Manhattan, in order to listen to his sermons.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Adams_(spiritual_teacher)
While it is true that Joel Goldsmith was born in New York, he moved to Boston in 1930 and then Florida in the 1940s. He didn’t return to New York until he gave his first seminar there in 1953.
Robert told me that he went to Joel Goldsmith seminars and talked to Joel after the seminar about his experiences. I am not sure what he said in the transcripts. I contacted the Joel Goldsmith Institute and they said Joel gave his first seminar in New York in 1953. I’m pasting the email below along with a part from Joel’s bio saying he moved to Boston in the early 1930s and then to Florida ten years later, and then to California.
“By the early 1930’s he was successful enough in this method of practice to marry Rose Robb and take on the support of her two children.
The new family relocated to Boston, where one of the children planned to attend Harvard University. Again,[after]… having served for ten years as a Christian Science practitioner in Boston, Goldsmith decided to move to Florida with his wife, who died shortly thereafter. Following a brief return to Boston, Goldsmith was persuaded by friends to move to California.
In the mid-1940s, Goldsmith’s periods of meditation began to be the loci of a series of spiritual experiences he termed “initiations,” some of which culminated in “ordination”: conscious union with God. During a visit to Zürich, Switzerland in November of 1954, he reached the zenith of his mystical experience in a transfiguration-style event he called becoming “Christed.” ” ~[https://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/scrc/findingaids/view.php?eadid=ICU.SPCL.GOLDSMITH]
From: Steven Strouth
Sent: Sunday, February 16, 2020 5:14 AM To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Hi from me
For some very important research I am doing I need to know in what years Joel Goldsmith gave lectures in NYC. That is I need to know the date of his earliest seminar there. Was it 1954?
Mon, Feb 17, 2020 at 9:00 PM To:[…..]@gmail.com Reply | Reply to all | Forward | Print | Delete | Show original
The earliest was in 1953.
Q: So the dates don’t add up again.
Q: How did Robert meet his wife Nicole?
A: I’d heard they met at a Joel Goldsmith seminar in NYC in 1954 so that number adds up. (But other things don’t add up… wasn’t Robert supposedly, according to his own words, traveling in India for 17 years from 1946 onward?)
It was a weekend seminar. He said he noticed her 8 rows ahead of him but was too shy to speak to her. On Saturday he managed to sit 3 rows behind but still didn’t say anything. On Sunday he sat directly behind her and started up a conversation and some months later they were married.
“Mrs. Robert Adams accompanied her husband in bringing The Teaching of Love, Compassion Humility to the world during 43 years of marriage.” http://www.robertadamsinfinityinstitute.org/welcome.pdf
(Robert died in 1997. That means they married in 1954.)
Q: Robert had a family and two children, how did he support them?
A: Robert never spoke of holding any sort of job other than starting a medical stress and weight loss clinic. But he did tell me he was a spiritual teacher and had a lot of groups across the U.S.A. giving shaktipat (that’s why all the furniture in storage). But the groups always broke up in a scandal. He told me it usually involved money and that it’s impossible to trust financial officers.
Q: But I thought he never charged money?
A: He told me he always charged money. He only reluctantly went along with my idea of not charging money when I said I’m leaving otherwise.
Q: A lot of people are upset at your telling these stories.
A: I wonder, are they upset with Katya Osborne too?
Q: What about the love, happiness, and joy, Robert taught?
A: I think a lot of people want to join team happiness or team Robert Adams. There’s always a problem with that. If you join team Robert Adams you tend to be in opposition to anything not supportive of the team.
Emptiness embraces all opposites.
Q: How can someone be spiritually realized and also “off” somehow?
A: I would not call them realized, but there is no shortage of self-appointed teachers from what Sri Aurobindo called The Intermediate Zone. It’s an interesting subject.
(In Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy the Intermediate zone refers to a dangerous and misleading transitional spiritual state between the ordinary consciousness and true spiritual realization.)
Q: Who was the film director that came to the first meetings… anyone famous?
A: No, his first name was Tom… I don’t remember his last name. More like a journeyman film director. But he did tell others and he seemed instrumental in getting it going.
Q: Who was Lenny Rose?
A: Lenny was a comedian who had been in Radhasoami and saw the ad in “Whole Life Times.” He was there a lot at first. Later the whole “borrowing” thing bothered him and he quit going. He was always joking around and made the meetings fun.
Q: You mean Robert’s borrowing money and not paying it back?
Q: Whose idea was music?
A: I had some “Siddhadas & Freddie” recordings and got the idea to play them during Robert’s long pauses. Robert liked the idea so we always did that.
Q: Are you trying to be a guru yourself with all of this?
A: No. I have no interest in that.
Q: What was “Follow Your Heart” restaurant?
A: That was and is a health-food vegetarian restaurant in Canoga Park. Robert loved going there. At that time it was owned by some people in Radhasoami. In 1987 I’d heard that they were selling it and Robert told me they must sense LA will be destroyed by an earthquake.
Q: I’ve heard people actually sold their houses because Robert predicted an earthquake for LA?
Here’s what Ed Muzika wrote:
“…Robert hinted darkly of an impending earthquake that was going to destroy Los Angeles, and we all had to get out immediately. If the earthquake ploy did not work, he embellished on his prediction, saying it would be a 7.2 to 7.5 quake on a new fault near Cucamunga, near the juncture of San Bernadino and Riverside Counties, during the last quarter of 1995, most probably during November. If this did not work as motivation, he found other reasons to motivate people to move.
To one, he said, “You will be my right hand.” To another, he said, “You will be my secretary.” Behind the scenes, he would tell different people different locations where he wanted to move. Those who were about to build a house in Santa Fe anyway, were told he was moving to Santa Fe shortly. Those who wanted to move to Dallas, he said he would move to Dallas. Those who wanted to move to Arizona, were told to find a house in Phoenix or Sedona.
Of course, everyone knew what he told everyone else, and house finding was happening in four cities simultaneously, with everyone’s life in constant uproar as they contemplated living variously in Sedona, Santa Fe, Dallas, Phoenix or even East St. Louis.
Disciples were traveling to these locations, lining up houses, jobs, locations for Satsang, and agonizing over the disruption to their lives. Others, who felt they could not move, due to employment, homes or just plain attachment, felt abandoned and angry.”
That was Robert for you. Ed thought it was crazy wisdom. I actually had a different take on it.
Q: What was Robert’s attitude toward sex?
A: From Ed Muzika:
“… when asked about sex, Robert said there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. In fact, problems often arose in our sangha [community] about Robert’s relations with some of his female students for one reason or another, and we were often forced to change the venue of our satsang meetings because someone or another got upset about his actions. Robert did not care who came and went to his satsangs; he was only interested in who stayed with him no matter what he did.“
Q: What were the problems that arose in the sangha with his relations with women.
A: I guess that was mostly behind closed doors, but I don’t buy the crazy wisdom stuff. I understand Robert’s womanizing caused a lot of problems in the group.
Q: Regarding his transcripts on the internet, what’s up with all of the take-down notices?
A: Apparently Robert said publicly his teachings are to be made freely available. They were handed out to anyone who wanted them at no charge. But as Ed wrote, Robert told one person one thing, another something else and a third one something different entirely. Nicole said there was a will from Robert giving her the rights to everything he said.
It did create the kind of crazy theatre Robert was good at creating.
Q: Did you know Ed Muzika?
A: I said hello to him briefly one time but I was just a stranger to him. I think that was at a meeting in Hollywood I happened to go to. It seemed like Ed was Robert’s number one supporter then (possibly around 1991). When I moved in 2006 I thought of giving Ed all the tapes I had made of Robert’s talks at my apartment.
Q: Why didn’t you?
A: I had to leave on short notice and didn’t have a lot of time for it.
Q: Very sorry to hear about Karen Evans’ suicide. She was a beautiful person.
A: I don’t know what specifically led to her death, but the idea of holding onto the “I” feeling as a practice is not always fun. Someone with the sense, “I am bad, there is something wrong with me,” for them, it will tend to re-traumatize and feel awful.
Narcissists on the other hand, that is people with an inflated self-esteem, will enjoy doing it and find it delightful. They can do this all day. They can’t think of anything more fun than to enjoy a positive self-reflexive loop of ego.
Q: And that doesn’t work for those with childhood PTSD?
A: Often not, because for many the sense of separate self feels bad. There is a belief, “I am bad, I am wrong, there is something wrong with me.” So for them to focus on the “I” feeling, it ends up being a self-reflexive loop of torture.
The narcissist can’t understand this and has no idea about it. To him, what could be grander than focusing on himself all day.
I’m not a big fan of these types of practices. Truth is all about discovery, which is something entirely different.
Q: How did the wrong information about Robert get so widely spread?
A: Those of us who knew Robert all knew he made up stories, lied and told contradictory stories. Many thought it was charming or a type of crazy wisdom. But almost no one thought he lied about Ramana.
(Michael James lived in Tiruvannamalai for 20 years starting in 1976 and became an editor and translator of some of Sri Muruganar’s and Ramana’s books as well as working with Sadhu Om who was with Ramana for many years.):
Michael James said:
“I do not know why Robert made up such stories, but such patently false claims call into question all his claims about having met Bhagavan and having lived there so long in those days.” [https://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2019/11/ego-seems-to-exist-only-when-we-look.html]
Q: But what about the statements made by David Godman?
A: (Michael James continues):
“I therefore wrote to Katya through a mutual friend to ask her whether there is any truth in what David wrote [David Godman], or whether the email quoted by Steven Strouth was actually written by her, and she replied confirming that she did write that email, and that she had also sent a copy of it to David, who replied to her saying: ‘I got the story second hand from someone who said that you were the source. I will not cite you as a source on this again, and if anyone asks, I will say that the car story is false. Thanks for letting me know about this’.”
Q: The internet is great!
A: Yes, Robert lived and taught in the days before the internet made so much information widely available. In 1987 no one could have foreseen the impact the internet might have on the world. Now we can communicate with almost anyone in the world instantly.
Q: Did Robert think people were gullible?
A: For those of us who knew him, we all knew Robert lied and fabricated stories. We all knew that he joked about people being naive and gullible, but somehow we just couldn’t believe he would lie about Ramana. Ramana was held sacred. You may lie and spread false stories about the Pope, the Dalai Lama, even God, …but not Ramana Maharshi.
The funniest part about it is that the people who wanted to have a movie made about Robert and get him more recognized by society probably could have done it if they had told the truth about him, or found out the truth.
Robert seems to me a sort of combination of Chauncey Gardiner and Frank Abagnale and a movie about his actual life could have been great. But then there wouldn’t be the fantasy many were eager to believe.
Q: Did he directly say to you that people were gullible?
Q: You mentioned hypnotism. Was Robert Adams a hypnotist?
A: Yes, whether it was completely conscious or not I can’t say. Let’s take Robert’s story about saying, “God” three times and getting all of his desires fulfilled. Most people are going to hear that and roll their eyes and walk away. That’s good. He is looking for someone highly suggestible. Someone who will believe anything. A good subject.
Remember Robert Adams is on record as saying he was looking for just 10 people who would do anything for him.
Let’s take the chicken example. If I tell you that you are a chicken, most people won’t believe it and just walk away. I am looking for that one person who is so suggestible that he will play along and say, “Ok I am a chicken.” Finding this one person is the hardest part. Once I have someone like that, getting them to flap wings, peck, or believe they laid an egg is the easy part.
Q: So to make sure they are good subjects, say something ridiculous?
A: Yes, well often a bit ridiculous. You start with something a bit ridiculous. Such as, “I can say ‘God’ three times and get anything I want.” Next or even at the same time, you might describe being friends with Ramana, being God-realized, that sort of thing. Once you have someone going along with that… well… Are you going to refuse to loan money to your own Creator ? Are you going to refuse to make love to your own Divine Creator? See what I mean? Once you have that single suggested assumption in place, everything else follows easily.
That is why you will find people hearing the craziest insane things Robert Adams did, lying, cheating, promiscuous sex… and they say “well of course he did that … he’s God. He’s just trying to help you by doing that. He’s trying to get you to let go of your attachments.”
Q: “He’s so unselfish he doesn’t care how he appears.”
A: Yes, “he may take all of your money, be inappropriately sexual, lie to you, but it is all for you, that is how unselfish he is.”
Q: You are right, most people are not going to go for that.
A: Exactly. He’s looking for those ten people that will. That is all he needs. Actually, even just one person will do if they have a job or access to money.
Q: So in a way, this isn’t so much standard hypnotism as exploiting gullible people.
Q: How does someone wake up out of that?
A: Drop all beliefs. The hypnotist wants you to drop all beliefs except beliefs in him and the ones he gives you.
Q: But it feels so safe having found the true adept.
A: Do you want to feel safe or do you want out of trance?
Q: Did Ed Muzika say that Robert Adams lied a lot?
A: Yes. Here’s another quote from Ed’s book, “It Is Not Real — Robert Adams”:
‘”One recipient of Robert’s ‘operating’, described him in these belittling words: “He is very controlling. He pits one person against another, and gets a great delight at watching what happens. He lies incessantly, telling one person one thing and another something else, then denies to both that he said anything.” When I heard this, I just smiled and said, “Of course he appears to do these things, how else can he work with people at their own level of psychological focus?” … what she said was true; but she saw only the man, not the source, the Self-embodied Guru.” ‘ http://www.wearesentience.com/uploads/7/2/9/3/7293936/it_is_not_real_-_robert_adams.pdf page 27
See what I mean? If you see someone as perfect, then anything they do can be fitted into that framework.
Q: Ed Muzika has been the great champion of Robert Adams on the internet.
A: Yes. He has been one of the most prolific at getting recognition for Robert. Here is something else he said about Robert Adams:
“I saw it in Robert. Robert was always seeking personal love because he said it grounded him and kept him in the world. What he meant was that love of the self turned inward resulted in a Ramana, benevolent and impersonal, but love of the self turned outwards, brought a transformative power both to the guru and to those who loved him or her.
Yes, Robert loved me. I could feel it all the time. But he also sought the love of a woman to ground himself, to excite and energize that Self-layer of his, as well as energize the Self-knowing quality in the woman. We men students were largely left out of the masculine/feminine transformation around Robert, and most felt the Void and beyond, which can become very, very dry.” [He continues]:
“I truly believe that one is OFTEN best served by having a guru of the opposite sex, for it can use human love as a transformative energy, a sort of conscious or unconscious Tantra.” https://standinginanopenfield.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/a-new-way-of-teaching-by-ed-muzika/
“…Robert became a notorious womanizer, both, I think, trying to overcome periods of emptiness or boredom.”
Q: Did Robert Adams have high demands on his followers?
A: Ed Muzika said this:
Robert Adams was full of twists and turns. One day he will tell you he needed money to support his family, and in Satsang he’d say he needs nothing–the Jnani is complete and self-contained.
Weeks later he’d be engaged in having what appeared to be an affair with some woman in the Sangha, which would set off a fire-storm, and we’d be forced to move Satsang to a different location.
Mary Skene would complain to Robert about his womanizing, and he finally promised to stop a few months before he died.
In one Satsang he flung a small pill container at Samantha, then apparently angrily exited the Satsang.
He claimed to have no social security number or contact with social security because he said he distrusted the government. Yet, when we went to his dentist he rattled off his social security number for me to put on the finance form.
Then he would have three or four people transcribing his talks, tell Ananada to make a book out of them, and then turning the book and manuscripts over to his wife as her inheritance.
He rarely talked about his early life, and made it sound like he was with Ramana from 1947 to 1950, when in fact he was at Ramana Ashram a total of only a few weeks. Currently people at Ramana ashram who were there do not remember Robert because he was there only a short period of time.
Then there was the time for six months of so where he warned about a great earthquake that would strike Los Angeles, and started rumors he was moving elsewhere, maybe Santa Fe, Sedona, etc. The earthquake never happened.
And over and over, all the eight years I knew him, he’s repeat, “I am looking for the ten students that stay with me. That is all I want.”
Robert did not reach out so much to meet students at their level, but made them reach up to where he was. In a sense he demanded a lot from his students, more than most could stand. https://www.facebook.com/edwardmuzika/posts/10206695079248892
Q: That went downhill fast.
Q: You said you only lived next to Robert a few months so how do you know all of this stuff about him?
A: I lived in the same apartment complex across the courtyard for about 5 months I’m guessing. But over the years I stayed friends with Dana LaMonica who was one of the first people at the satsangs in my apartment in the early days. She used to tell me various things. I also went to some of his satsangs over the years. I never had a falling out with him. I just didn’t like some of his activities.
Q: Did Dana LaMonica have a “torrid passionate love affair” with Robert?
A: No, I don’t believe that. But they were always good friends. They went to lunch every Wednesday at “Follow Your Heart.” That was for around 8 years. I talked with her on the phone regularly for years and in email. She died in 2015. I loved Dana.
Dana was a great listener, the perfect “straight man” for Robert’s often outlandish stories.
She also talked regularly with Nicole Adams even after Robert died.
One time, on the phone to me, she seemed a bit upset over something. It took a while before she got to it: “Now they’re saying I had a ‘torrid passionate love affair’ with Robert,” she told me. “Can you imagine? How ridiculous.”
I said, “But Dana, you DID have a ‘torrid passionate love affair’ with Robert…”
She started to say, “but not…”
And then I could feel her smile on the other end of the line.
“Yes, I guess I did. We all did.”
After that whenever anyone accused her of having “a passionate love affair with Robert,” Dana cheerfully just said, “Yes, I did. We all did.”
Q: Who was Samantha?
A: I had heard something about Samantha but Dana never talked about it much. Ed Muzika posted a youtube video that went into it in more detail and was along the lines of what I had heard.
This is a partial transcript of Ed Muzika talking:
“… I know that other women that Robert had a relationship with, the relationship went longer and deeper… like Samantha it went on for a year and a half or so and in the end she parted bitterly saying Robert is just a man.
Robert and she were very close for a long period of time even when she went to lunch with Robert and I, he took me over to her place and gave her flowers and chocolates because it was her birthday and she would show up a lot of times whenever Robert went to lunch with other people and just accidentally being in the neighborhood when he was there so she could see him for five minutes and then leave.
I don’t know what happened between them but it was a big explosion one day Robert got up in the middle of satsang and stormed out and as he was passing by he threw a bottle of pills at her which shocked everyone. But she would never talk about what happened between them or the love they shared or the energies she felt or the bliss she felt but only that she felt slighted or somehow disturbed by what he did at some point after a year and a half she walked away. She died a year later of cancer.[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtLIS0De-PM&feature=youtu.be]
Q: Wasn’t Robert married to Nicole during the time Ed is referring to an affair with Samantha?
Q: Is Nicole still alive?
A: There has never been an announcement on their family website that she has died so I assume so.
Q: I understand that there were some questionable stories Robert Adams told about Ramana?
A: These are stories from Robert Adams Complete Works. Pages 457, 134, 471 & 470. http://www.robert-adams.info/Robert%20Adams%20Complete%20Works%20-%20Jan%202012%20%20prev%20unknown%20files%20now%20dated%20and%201%20new%20transcript%20added.pdf
“I recall a Westerner, I’m trying to think of his name, Henry Wells, from Scotland. After about four months of being there he donated forty-thousand dollars to the ashram, and I’m just watching all these things going on.”
“A devotee went to Ramana and said, I’ve been with you for twenty-five years, doing ‘Who am I? ‘ and nothing has happened yet, so Ramana said, ‘Try it another twenty-five and see what happens.'”
“…there was a German lady who had come to the ashram, and apparently she had made a donation of some kind, but she wasn’t happy for some reason. She was complaining to Ramana, and he just kept silent. I again asked the interpreter, “What does she want?” The interpreter said, “She wants her donation back. (laughter) She wants to go home back to Germany.” So she started to argue, everything was going on in front of Ramana. She started to argue with one of the managers of the ashram and Ramana just looked. Then Ramana said in English, “Give her back her donation and add fifty rupees to it,” which they did, and she left.”
Story 1 seems questionable because I’ve never heard mention of that sort of money being donated to the ashram. That would be today’s equivalent of $3.3 million (yes million) using India’s consumer price index.*
Story 2 seems inconsistent with other accounts of Ramana.
Story 3 On p. 470 Robert Adams relates to having personally witnessed an event that seems inconsistent for several reasons. Firstly, no one else has ever reported Ramana dictating what to do with ashram funds as if they were his own to disperse. Secondly, at that time 50 rupees would be equivalent to over 4,000 rupees in 2020 money. Would Ramana casually hand over to a foreign tourist the equivalent of 4,000 rupees of ashram money? Without consulting anyone else?
*It may be worth noting that while $40k in 1950 would only be worth $400k in 2020 if using the consumer price indicator (cpi) for the USA, by using India’s cpi its value is in the millions of dollars.
Q: Why did no one else see Robert Adams at Ramana Ashram?
A: Various theories have been proposed including that he spent most of his time silently meditating in the caves of Arunachala. Page 2319 of the transcripts quote Robert:
“I recall when I was with Ramana Maharshi, I used to stand at the door of the meeting at the old hall, when people used to come in to hear him, to see him. I was interested in the people that came in to see him. And because I was a Westerner, the Westerners would stop and talk to me.”
Q: So Robert claimed to be at the ashram in a highly visible role, often standing at the entrance greeting and talking to other Westerners?
Q: Did Robert offer differing accounts about his initial meeting with Ramana?
“During the Fall of 1946, Robert Adams arrived by train to the town of Tiruvannamalai, a few miles from Arunachala Mountain, where lay Ramanashram and his future teacher, Ramana Maharshi. He took a bullock cart to the Ashram, was admitted, and stayed the night. Early the next day while walking back from the mountain, towards the Ashram, he spotted Ramana walking down the path towards him.
An electrifying energy coursed through his body, and the last of what men call an ego left him. He felt completely surrendered, completely open. As Ramana got closer, Robert stripped off his clothes, approached Ramana and dropped to his guru’s feet. Ramana reached down grabbing Robert by his shoulder, and looked into Robert’s eyes with complete love and said, “I have been waiting for you. Get up! Get up!” Robert said had Ramana asked him to leap over a cliff at that moment, he would have done so gladly.”
“When I was eighteen years old, I arrived at Tiruvannamalai. In those days they didn’t have jet planes. It was a propeller plane. I purchased flowers and a bag of fruit to bring to Ramana. I took the rickshaw to the Ashram. It was about 8:30 a.m. I entered the hall and there was Ramana on his couch reading his mail. It was after breakfast. I brought the fruit and the flowers over and laid it at his feet. There was a guardrail in front of him to prevent fanatics from attacking him with love. And then I sat down in front of him. He looked at me and smiled and I smiled back.”
P. 469 Complete Works
“When I got to India and went to Ramana Maharshi, it was about 5 o’clock in the evening. He was about to take his stroll. He was with an attendant and I was climbing up the hill with my knapsack on my back. He turned around and looked at me, and he gave me one of his beautiful big smiles. I smiled back at him and he continued his walk.”
P. 734 Complete Works
Q: Maybe his L-dopa Parkinson’s medication caused memory difficulties?
A: That is possible, except he was making conflicting statements like this to me as far back as 1986 before he ever started any medications.
Q: What other conflicting statements did he make?
“For the three years I was there…”
“I was with Ramana Maharshi for two years…”
“I had been living in Ramana ashram for about a year and a half. This was the end of 1948.”
“…we [Ramana and Robert] had many conversations. Most of them are personal.”
“I was [only] able to have an audience with him [Ramana] twice.”
“I was [at Ramana Ashram] 1948 to 1950”
“In 1947 I went to Ramana Ashram…”
Q: It sounds like he wasn’t exactly sure when he was there.
A: And his is the only account about it in the world so far, other than Katya Osborne’s.
Q: And hers doesn’t match anything he said.
A: No. Hers seems pretty consistent with what many have been saying for years though.
Q: This whole thing has been quite a saga.
(This article may be reprinted or republished freely without contacting the author.)
5 thoughts on “Was Robert Adams Really in India? Part 2”
Thanks for this entertaining and informative account.
In it, it was asked why David Godman has not amended his accounts and still continues to repeat the bogus, self-aggrandising stories of Robert Adams. I have a suggestion that answers that. It is because David reveres Poonja Ji as an enlightened being, so he has a belief to buttress. Poonja Ji was given writings of Robert Adams and declared them to be the utterances of a fully enlightened person. He even gave satsangs from Robert Adams’ writings in Lucknow. So David Godman would appear to be in a catch 22: if he acknowledges that Robert Adams was a fake, he has to deal with Poonja being deceived, which also brings into question Poonja’s own credentials. How could a gyani be deceived about something like that?
This is my guess for why David pregers to believe Robert Adams’ stories (lies?) are true.
David’s 2nd “Buddha at the Gaspump” interview had a disclaimer added to it since Mr. Strouth’s blog, and Katya’s emails came out. This is what is says:
“In this interview, David Godman speaks of Robert Adams, whom he never met. He makes some remarkable claims based on Robert’s own account of his life, including years he claimed to have spent with Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj. It now appears extremely unlikely that Robert ever met either, and that other claims David Godman repeats are highly improbable. Please see this article [Was Robert Adams Really in India?] for details. David Godman has since taken down the YouTube talk he gave on Robert Adams”
So, David is getting a nice little slap on the wrist here, and is getting publicly called out for repeating “highly improbable” claims. Even though Godman did take down his video, he still has a number of pages on Adams up at his website. In this one: https://www.davidgodman.org/robert-adams-on-self-enquiry-2/ he is still promoting that Adams was in India, and DID meet Ramana:
He writes that Adams was “an American devotee of Bhagavan who lived at Ramanasramam from 1947-1950.” and then states “I will first give a summary, in his own words, of his early life and the story of how he came to Bhagavan”
On this page of David’s the old Adams video link is there but shows as “video unavailable.”
He had also linked the video “Papaji reading out Robert Adams teachings in Lucknow, 1994”
it also shows as “video unavailable”
It feels messy. Everyone knows Papaji read out these transcripts for 6 months!
Hiding the video feels like, “what are you trying to hide?”
What bothers me is that after Katya’s emails came out, all he said was “if anyone asks, I will say that the car story is false”
“If anyone asks?” Why not come out with a public statement, and honour Katya? If he’s only willing to say the car story was false, and only if someone asks, then is he saying that everything else is true?
– Adams being in Tiru, and meeting Ramana?
– Adams staying with the Osbornes?
– Adams getting money from Arthur Osborne?
(and the whole list of other claims)
I think Chris Crookes is right. He’s in a bind.
If Papaji fell for a fraud, he couldn’t have been a Jnani. It’s as plain and simple as that.
Therefore, yes it seriously questions Papaji’s “credentials”. (they’ve already been in question for years!)
What’s interesting is, if David could fall for a fraud (Adams) why should people take his word that Papaji was Self realized? Ramana certainly never declared Papaji as such. As far as I can tell, his realization is only “self declared” (much like Adams). This whole thing challenges David’s discernment and judgment in promoting self-declared “Masters”.
I wonder how this is going to play out!?
David is certainly very knowledgeable about the history of Ramana, and many of his devotees. He also has a half decent conceptual grasp of Ramana’s teachings, but he differs with Ramana scholars by accepting, and promoting Papaji’s neo-advaita “teachings” which are at complete odds with Ramana’s teachings.