Just when I said I'd post something positive about Adi Da, a controversy breaks out about whether or not Adi Da is or has been an alcoholic, and if so what kind, and if not whether this is slander. Mr. Happy is accusing a forum poster, "friend" of slandering Da without proof by calling him "an out of control alcoholic". Friend objects to Mr. Happy mischaracterizing this charge by saying friend called Da "a raging alcoholic". This is the level of the debate on Adi Da these days.
Do facts count for anything? As friend says, everyone in Adidam knows that Adi Da dranks extensively for many, many years. Having proof of that is like having proof that somone in your own family has an alcohol problem. People try to keep it quiet with outsiders, but within the family everyone knows about it. Maybe not the distant cousins, but most people who are around know. With Adi Da, his drinking was legendary, and even a matter of boasting for some. One insider I knew told me back in about 1985 that at least 80% of the "sacred teaching" was delivered drunk. Others told me that he commonly drank two fifths of bourban a day. This was not considered scandalous, but a sign of his nearly superhuman powers to keep functioning with that much alcohol in his system. Da's wild "partying" was legendary, and the constant runs for huge amounts of liquor to the local stores was widely known of. Also, devotees themselves were invited to party with Da, drinking and using other inebriants along with him. This was not considered scandalous within the community either, but was kept from outsiders who wouldn't "understand" Da's teaching methods. Da often said that drinking was actually necessary, not just for himself, but for devotees, to overcome the "resistance" in themselves and the world to the Divine Process Da was bringing through his own body, and into their bodies. It was proposed by Da and others in the community that inebriants like alcohol were an important and even sacred part of the spiritual process, and had to be understood in that context.
Adi Da's drinking continued all the way up until he began suffering from serious health problems in the mid and late 90's. In 1995 he had a sudden onset of glaucoma which permanently took away about 80% of his peripheral vision. Naturally, he blamed this on devotee's lack of devotion to him rather than his own unhealthy lifestyle, which included not only large amounts of alcohol but using drugs such as amyl nitrate which constrict blood vessels and which are thus very dangerous for those who have a genetic susceptibility to glaucoma (his father suffered from it also). It's not a suprise that Da suffered from glaucoma, and had to undergo surgery to prevent it from resulting in total blindness, but it is odd that he tried to turn this whole event into some kind of spiritual "crisis" of universal importance. In any case, after this Da's general health began to suffer greatly. His doctors and close intimates had tried for years to get him to cut down on his alcohol and drug consumption, because they could see what a terrible toll it was taking on his health. Da, however, insisted that to do so would compromise his spiritual "work" with the world, and that he was willing to "sacrifice" his body for the sake of that work by continuing to drink heavily and indulge in other unhealthy habits of eating and consuming "accessories" as they were called, including heavy smoking of tobacco. In fact, that line of criticism of the community was a nearly constant theme for many years: that our spiritual immaturity was forcing Adi Da to consume all these unhealthy "accessories" that were destroying his health, including alcohol. This was not hidden, it was a regular part of the "notes" cycle read to the general community. Details of his life habits weren't read out, but it wasn't necessary, it was just assumed.
I can't remember exactly when Da quit drinking, it was somewhere around the turn of the century. I can't recall if it was before or after the Lopez Island "translation event" in 2000. But it was around that time that Da was finally convinced by his doctors, friends, and family to stop drinking. He had some serious heart problems, arteriosclerosis, and general declining health that made it a medical necessity. Still, it took something like a formal "intervention" to get him to agree to stop drinking. By then he had already begun switching over to marijuana, due to his glaucoma, and seemed very happy with that. He of course had a perfectly legitimate medical reason to use marijuana, and it was all perfectly legal under California law, and that seemed to make him more comfortable. And marijuana is of course very safe and healthy, non-toxic and with no serious side effects, especially if used with an inhaler. So my impression is that Da pretty much quit drinking then, and probably has not gone back to it since.
Does any of this make Da an alcoholic? By the standard definition, yes. Even now, having been dry for several years, most people would continue to call him an alcoholic, though a recovering one. It's not slander to say such things about anyone. Alcoholism is a serious problem, both in terms of mental and physical health, but most people recognize how widespread it is in the world and have some sympathy for those who suffer from it. Even if one accepts Da's explanation for the spiritual necessity of his alcohol consumption, it's still fair to call him an alcoholic. Was he a raging or out-of-control alcoholic? I think alcoholism by its very definition is something out of the alcoholic's control. They simply can't help themselves, can't stop on their own, and may not even want to. Da's own justification for using alcohol suggests that it wasn't something he could control, that he was "forced" to drink for the sake of his spiritual work. Was it "raging" alcoholism? That depends on one's definition. It certainly would be fair to say that anyone consuming two fifths of bourban a day for any period of time was "raging". It would also be fair to say that anyone who is an alcoholic is probably going to do and say things that one could rightly call "out of control", including acts of violence or unhibited sexual libido. Those are common among alcoholics, and the stories surrounding Adi Da certainly fit that pattern.
So the whole issue of slander that Mr. Happy brings up simply seems to have no basis. Daists will admit that Da drank a helluva lot for many years, but they will cringe at the use of the term "alcoholic" to describe him, even though the definition fits. It's really not for someone like Mr. Happy, who has no personal knowledge of Adi Da or life in Adidam, to accuse anyone of slandering Adi Da by calling him an alcoholic. Adi Da or his personal representatives, or people who have been close to Adi Da for many years, could certainly make accusations of slander in regards to his alcohol consumption, but they never have. Why is that? Why is Mr. Happy making accusations of slander when not even Adidam does?
Now I would be happy if anyone out there would like to correct the above account. I've talked to many insiders about this, and yet if I've made mistakes in any way, please correct me and I'd be happy to update this post. I don't see any reason to condemn Adi Da as a human being simply because he had a long-lasting drinking problem. Many people do. Even many spiritual figures have been heavy drinkers in the past. Chogyuam Trungpa died of alcoholism. It's a serious illness, and needs to be taken seriously, not made the object of derision. But it also needs to be accepted as one of many facts about Adi Da, and people need to take it into account in evaluating his fitness as a Guru. For some it may not seem a big deal, for others it may. I don't have a problem with either interpretation. What I have a problem with is denying the simple facts, or pretending that keeping the facts from people will help protect them from things they just aren't ready to understand about Adi Da. That attitude simply has no place in this discussion.