Beyond the Illusion Paperback – 18 Feb 2012
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About the Author
Born in 1927, Antonia Vidor grew up amidst the glamour of Hollywood's Golden Era. After college, she became a healer and riding instructor. In 1974 she met the American-born spiritual master, Adi Da Samraj, and has since lived as his devotee. Now retired, 'Toni' lives in Hawaii.
Top Customer Reviews
I also have to say that the devotees I have met have all been impressively ordinary. After 18 months of intensive study and research by going our of my way to source some of the material I am satisfied by the integrity of the community. In fact, having been a christian, heavily involved for many years in every aspect I can only compare Adidam as more authentic and favourable.
The book therefore was read by me with this background.
I agree that the book lacks a sort of coherence at some points but I could see no reason to disbelieve anything she reports as I have heard the same stories from others with direct involvement. Likewise, her journeys to India and in search of Shakespeare all make total sense when the background of the Guru-devotee relationship is understood.
As I am genuinely interested in Adi da and considering being a devotee myself, I found this was a helpful book on my list of fact finding and authentication from a feeling as well as a hard evidence point of reference.
He book has many interesting and controversial (small c) moments (just to wet your appetite). Mostly I found her candid and authentic. She is simply presenting herself and this I find to be truly brave.
But the real topic of the book is her devotion to her spritual master Adi Da Samraj (aka Franklin Jones aka da Free John aka ...). And certainly Antonia Vidor seems to have an unusual degree of surrender, almost complete surrender, for a Westerner. Never apparently questioning any of Da's peculiarities and getting blissful by massaging his feet for hours. And totally accepting Da's rather pompous claims about himself as the ultimate Avatar, seeing him as "an enormous sphere of indescriable immensity that encompassed everything and everyone and was indefinetely above but included the tiny speck of his body.."(p.293).
Antonia seems to be a human with an inborn capacity for access to 'higher' realms, communicating with spirits of the death and able - later on in life - to guide them through the afterworld. And endowed with strong healing gifts. But for a more mundane/profane person like myself it all becoms a bit flimsy and very hard to discern what's real and what is dreams and fantasy. In this aspect it's perhaps telling that her quest - instigated by Da - to discover by spiritual means some original manuscripts settling the authorship questions about the works of Shakespeare turns out to reveal nothing at all. Despite her spending years with this, travelling to England and Denmark and even getting permission to do excavating work in some British cathedrals. And that she seems just as unable as I was to deal with her dement mother in her last days.
But one things is undoubtable - this is a very honest and captivating description of a highly unusual life and a highly controversial master.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Antonia is an amazing person with more energy in her 70s than I have in my 40s. Any serious spiritual seeker, anyone on their own spiritual journey must read this book at least once.
You have to be "there" to understand and Toni has given us a complete picture of her ordeal and difficulties and her utter happiness and wonder and joy and the acceptance that this was where she belonged. The only place she belonged.
I think we want our spiritual teacher to be beautiful benign, only bestowing love as we imagine it should be. In truth Growth in our life is about getting rid of the barriers we have built to protect ourselves. Her journey so honestly teaches us that the journey is anything but easy or even always happy. She went through many challenges and difficulties that tore down her barriers to happiness. We spend our lives distracting ourselves from our pain, and without a Teacher like Adi Da Samraj, we continue suffer in ignorance. Two of the important things she learned was that we become what we mediate upon and we are already happy. This sounds so simple but it is not.
She meditated upon her Teacher, did service of so many kinds, including travel to India, to London. At the end of her life she finally surrendered to the Gift Adi Da offered her in every moment. I recommend this book to anyone, who finds that "something" missing in their lives, even though they have "everything" read this book and understand what is actually missing, and how to uncover it though the Teachings of Adi Da Samraj. Toni's book leads the way. Her truth and the generous sharing of it is a true gift to us. And even if you are not looking for spiritual guidance it is great reading.