Robert Adams was one of the leading American saints of the previous century. He was born Jan 21 1928 in Bronx to a Jewish mother and a Catholic father. As a child he was naturally rebellious and liked to question everything. His earliest memory was of a two feet dwarf with white hair and white beard who appeared near his crib and jabbered away gibberish that he did not understand. The dwarf stayed with him till he was seven.
Shortly after the little man disappeared Robert developed miraculous powers. Whatever he wished would come true when he repeated God’s name three times! Once he thought that he would enjoy taking violin lessons so he repeated God’s name three times. Shortly thereafter his uncle showed up with a violin saying that he thought Robert might enjoy learning.
Like any other child would do Robert too misused his gift. He would study very little and when the test would come he repeated God’s name thrice and the answer would come! When he was 14 his algebra teacher asked him a math problem. But when he repeated God’s name thrice he was stunned to find that the entire enlightenment experience was revealed to him!
He was thoroughly changed by this experience. The world no longer seemed real to him. He could see that only his Self was real. The external world seemed like something that was superimposed on the Unchangeable Self, and by itself did not seem to have much significance. He changed so much by this experience that his mother thought he was going mad.
One day in the library he found the book “Who Am I?” by Ramana Maharshi. Seeing Ramana Maharshi’s photograph the hair on his head stood up straight. This was the same man who came to him as a dwarf and stood next to his crib talking gibberish! On the same day he also found the “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Yogananda and he immediately felt that he should be with Yogananda. When he was sixteen he left home and moved to the Self Realization Fellowship campus of Yogananda in Encintas, California. He became a close companion and friend of Yogananda. But after two years when he asked to be initiated as a monk Yogananda gently told him that his destiny lay elsewhere and that he should go to his real guru Ramana Maharshi. Robert immediately began making arrangements to go to India.
In the fall of 1946 at the age of 18 he arrived at Tiruvannamalai. This was where the sage Ramana Maharshi stayed. The next day as he was walking along a path he saw the sage walking towards him. An electrifying energy coursed through him. He felt as if the last vestiges of his ego had left him. He felt completely surrendered and open. As Ramana approached he stripped off his shirt and dropped to the guru’s feet. Ramana reached down and grabbed Robert by his shoulders and lifted him up and said as he looked into his eyes, “I have been waiting for you. Get up! Get up!”
The moment was so transformative and emotional for Robert that years later when he recounted the story he could not stop tears from flowing. The power of this moment can be understood by the fact that Robert was usually emotionally detached and could hardly shed a tear during his mother’s funeral.
In those days visitors were not allowed to stay for long in the Ashram so Robert lived in caves in the hill near the Ashram. He stayed with Ramana Maharshi for three years till his passing.
He then began a period of wandering. He spent the next 17 years wandering all over India meeting different saints and sages. He wanted to make sure that his own enlightenment experience was complete and that his interpretation of his experience was correct. When he moved back to the US he continued his wandering. Somewhere along the way he got married in 1954 and had two daughters. His daughters were raised in his absence as he was given to a wanderlust that kept him moving from place to place. Wherever he went a band of devotees would collect around him, but he grew uncomfortable of this and moved on. He preferred solitude and silence.
Eventually he got a vision that he interpreted to mean that he should stop wandering. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed with Parkinson. He later said that the disease was a gift as it compelled him to end his period of wandering and settle down. In the last few years of his life as the disease progressed he was barely audible. He died on March 2 1997 in Sedona Arizona.
Robert loved his dog Dimitri and he had predicted that when the dog would pass away so would he. Robert died a few months after the passing of Dimitri. Two nights before he passed away devotees took him outside to view the nearby mountain called Capital Butte. Over and over again he repeated the word “Snow”. Devotees were unable to understand what he meant, till two days later when it began to snow. The fury of the snow was such that it trapped everybody in the house. This was a blessing because they were able to witness his passing that was so peaceful and beautiful. He was fully conscious till the end and always smiling. Next day morning the snow that had trapped everyone in the house and melted. His body was kept for two more days for viewing before being cremated. Everyone who saw him was overwhelmed by his beauty. His face was radiant, and his skin soft and unwrinkled as a baby’s. A gentle smile lay on his lips, and the house was bathed in his peaceful energy. Parts of his body remained warm for days, especially his feet and his chest.
His core teachings can be summarized in his following words:
“All is well, and everything is unfolding as it should. There are no mistakes. None have ever been made, none are being made, and none will ever be made. It’s all perception. It’s how you perceive things….
“The world has it’s own collective karma. It’s going through a phase. Your job is to save yourself. If you find yourself in a burning building, you do not stop to admire the pictures on the wall, you get out of the building as fast as you can. So, when you know you have a short time in this existence you do not stop to play the games of life, you try to find yourself and become free as fast as you can.”