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Oh Danny Boy

Cult leader Adi Da and Dan Hamburg.
Cult leader Adi Da Samraj & Supervisor Dan Hamburg. On Samraj's website Hamburg wrote, "I suppose the understanding that politics must be imbued spirituality began when I was very young."


There’s little to be said about Dan Hamburg’s latest controversy surrounding the burial of his wife in his own back yard. What the hell, he lives in the country and owns 82, oaky acres; so there is room somewhere out there next to the medicine garden. However, as the current president of the county board of supervisors, Dan must have known that once the sheriff found out about his clandestine, backyard cemetery, the sheriff, by duty and the law, would have to spend needless time investigating in a county that’s going broke taking time and money away from more important pursuits. Sure, who isn’t sympathetic to a man who’s lost his wife? However, the grave out past the barbecue also conveniently diverts attention from the fact that Dan was recently fined $9,000 bucks by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for incorrectly reporting campaign finances during his Nov. 2010 election, which—with Dan’s usual aplomb—is water off his waterproof back.

Who is Dan Hamburg? What’s he all about? Over the years, I haven’t paid close attention. Although he’s always championed some cause (too many to even count) he seemed vapid and predictable, a nice guy who hung in Ukiah, far away from my chosen haunts.

Dan appears charming and cordial, and he displays a humble smile tinged with a touch of angst, and he’s still as handsome as a movie star stuck on a magazine rack. However, one thing’s true about Dan: he’s the capo di tutti capi, the “boss of all bosses” of the Mendocino progressives; the liberal- in-chief of all they know. Hamburg helped to cook up the “pot vote” nearly 20 years ago. Tony Craver took the hook, and the rest is green history with county politicians along for the ride; tax-free money for medicine growers; dead guys in the forest and county officials deep in do-do when it comes to zip-ties and the Feds. Hamburg’s out to save the planet; dislikes loggers; wants to cut down on deputies; hates corporations and GMO’s, or anybody else with an R behind their name or Tea Party on the brain. And, Dan Hamburg was happy as a chipmunk with a mouth chock full of nuts when we were all forced to lay our dimes down for simple paper bags.

But, so much for political antics, what makes this capo tick? Could religion be his shtick?

In 2001, Dan published a candid article on a website run by the followers of Adi Da Samraj, “the avataric great sage…who,” according to his devotees, “has appeared like a storm in a spiritual desert.” Adi Da (the short version) was also known as “Bubba Free John; Da Free John; Da Love-Ananda; Da Kalki; Da Avadhoota,” and “Davahhasa,” Goofy Da-Da names aside, Adi Da was, in fact, Frankie Jones, a transcendent hustler from Queens, New York, born in 1939, who died on his private island five years ago.

In the 70s, Adi Da founded a counter-culture religion that was eventually headquartered in his “Mountain of Attention” sanctuary in the meth-besotted hills of Lake County. His followers took an “eternal vow” of devotion while practicing Adi Da’s ego-surrendering, ego-forgetting, ego-transcending ways, or, simply put, his “Divine Self-Realization”— the way of “Adidam.” Okay, so far a boring cult movie with Shirley MacLaine prancing around in a saffron tutu, but at some point in the mid 80’s, Adi Da got down and dirty.

Investigative reports in the San Francisco Chronicle (when it was actually a newspaper) as well as various talk shows, and finally, a two-part series on the Today Show claimed that Adi Da was forcing members of his “religion” to engage in sexually, physically-abusive and humiliating behavior. Allegedly, Adi Da was commanding couples who believed in him (wives and husbands included) to have sex with others while their partners watched. According to named and anonymous bad sports, Adi Da was more often than not in on the acts, which included men on men and women on women. What was Adi Da’s purpose in all this rutting about? Well, it wasn’t just another la-de-dah, California orgy. The purpose was degradation; to bring out the worst jealousies, hatreds, fears and sorrows that a human being can experience; to incite the deepest and darkest emotions in his devotees in order to destroy their egos.

Okay, that might work. No ego—no problem.

Was Dan in on this horrid stuff? Rumors aside, and lacking sworn, eyewitness testimony or X rated videos, I say: don’t know; so he wasn’t. However, it’s well known in Mendocino’s neo-progressive community that Dan and his deceased wife were devoted followers of Adi Da. Maybe Dan Hamburg joined after the nasty stuff happened. Maybe he only watched, or like our president, he was there but he really wasn’t there when it came to Reverend Wright.

But, Dan Hamburg appears on Adi Da’s website, where he extols Adi Da’s teachings. To some left-wing loons in Mendocino County, his sojourn with Adi Da is seen as hip and cool. Dan was pushing his spiritual parameters in ways others fear to go. You betcha.

But, does hanging with Adi Da qualify Dan Hamburg as religious? Perhaps not. Frankie Jones, aka, Adi Da, was just a guy form Jersey who wore a shirt with a Nehru collar, which, for some crazy reason, made him see himself as God. Dan Hamburg’s a different type of cat.

So, getting back to the posting on Adi Da’s website, here’s what Dan says about himself. Here’s a humble snippet: “I suppose the understanding that politics must be imbued with spirituality began when I was very young.”

Dan’s fifteen, and this epiphany supposedly takes place when his aunt drove him in “her big, white, Buick Roadmaster through the slums of south St. Louis.” Later, after Dan’s drive-by awakening, he goes to Stanford, a rich kid’s school; majors in “religious studies;” trashes the ROTC building, but when the 60s revolution fails to materialize, Dan feels “devastated and deeply confused,” a common tale of woe for nascent Che Guevaras of those times.

However, according to Dan’s telling, things improve when Dan moves to Mendocino; marries; has children; is elected supervisor; quits; heads off to communist China; returns home; runs and is elected to Congress at a time when his mind is “literally swimming with … ideas” as he wonders: “what would it take to create the critical mass of human energy and consciousness that could transform the world, or at least get that process underway?”

In other words, Dan Hamburg had become a snow-cone socialist with lots of big ideas on how to change the world with some kind of mystical, Einsteinium slurp.

Anyhow, a down- to- earth Republican knocks Dan out of his congressional seat, but Dan Hamburg bounces back. As Dan tells it, he goes to South Africa to help Nelson Mandela jump start a new country, but poverty and crime in South Africa leaves Dan Hamburg depressed, so he returns to America where he becomes the director of an enviro-nonprofit, and later an entrepreneur in organic pharmaceuticals. Heck man, once upon time, who didn’t want a piece of that? If you want to change the world, you still have to make a buck.

But, merely capsulizing Dan’s life doesn’t get to his essence.

Sandwiched between Dan’s article on Adi Da dot com, are varied quotes by Dan’s spiritual leader. Here’s one: “Love is the key to this necessary change. Love is self-surrendering, self-forgetting, and, ultimately, self-transcending participation in the Indivisible Oneness and Wholeness and Singleness That Is Real God, and Real Truth, and Reality Itself.” Avatar Adi Da Samraj. In other less love-dove words: losing yourself in the oneness of everybody else — the ant pile or what Vietnam GI’s used to call the “clusterfuck.”

However, whether Adi Da or Adi Dan realized it or not, what is suggested here is nothing more than Jean-Jacque Rousseau’s concept of the “general will” in which all good (love) flows from the generalized and supposedly benevolent expectations of a society’s mass. Rousseau was the nature-boy pin up of the French revolution, and before the heads began to fall, French revolutionaries marched forth in the name of the people, which translates to the “general will.” Stalin operated in the name of the general will. People went off to the gulag to protect the general will. Mao killed millions for the general will, and Castro will lock you up if you oppose the general will. The general will is not for sissies. But there’s a road block in the way of the general will — it’s called the individual. Hence, the nasty methods of Adi Da designed to destroy the ego of an individual to make them silly putty in his dirty hands.

As yet, we’re a nation with a constitution that miraculously protects the individual, and the constitution’s laws come first and foremost versus any kind of group-think seeking precedence in our land. This makes me think of Adi-Da; this makes me think of Danny Boy. Behind that aging, pretty face, I sense a zombie crowd. Liberal or progressive, or however they’re known this week; be they self-serving environmentalists or enemies of the plastic bag, the lock-steppers of the general will march forth with an open warrant to do anything that they want. But, all together for one and all, is the sucker’s myth of the general will. Somebody’s got to lead them, be they an elected official or phony guru forcing sex. After all, this is Mendocino from Jim Jones to Adi Da.

“Little by little, the country changes with the men we admire.” Melvin Douglas, HUD, 1963.

Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy.

One Comment

  1. Mike Jamieson May 29, 2013

    Strange. I have never encountered this notion of “general will” in my nearly 50 years of studying (and practicing) the non dual traditions.

    see if you can find it at my blog where I am writing down the historical background, teachings, and practices of four non dual traditions, two of which Da formally associated with.

    That pic of Da is from when I last sat with him, 1986. That was fun. Full of shakti, everybody around me lighting up like light bulbs. Pretty hot darshans in the big tent at the Mountain of Attention during that particular time period.

    In the Vipassana and Dzogchen traditions, it is noted that an initial glimpse of the awakened condition has to be stabilized over time, in the face of all circumstances and conditions. A lot of us in the fast food culture here didn’t quite get that point back in the day. Adi Da like many appears to have had a good strong glimpse but imo never fully integrated that stably. His so called “shaktipat transmission” though seemed undeniably real, not imaginative based. Back in the 70s, a lot of people enjoyed hanging with shakti oriented gurus, like Muktananada, because of the various strong energy movements they could feel.

    This is of course a damn silly article, and is especially addled in trying to convey what was taught. It’s silly because everyone knows it’s a lame politically based attack.

    BTW, the porn movies were made during the so called Indoor Summer period of 1976. Dan missed all the fun times, alas.

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