Light Works Magazine interview with James Steinberg

James Steinberg:

One day, when I was still alone doing promo work for A
Difficult Man in Boston, which I think I did for a couple of
weeks before anyone else arrived, I went in to New Age
Journal offices to see my old friends there, including
Robert Hargrove the editor-in-chief. According to Robert
Hargrove this was Columbus Day, which as the second Monday
is October, would have been on the 14th that year. Probably
Godfree and the others were not back in Boston yet. Leslie
Smith, who had been my girlfriend for several years, was the
office manager of the journal, and also prominent on the
staff were Eric Utne and Peggy Taylor, who I had also lived
with at the Brookline East-West journal house. The New Age
Journal was begun by former staff members of the East-West
Journal, who felt that the strict Macrobiotic policies of
the East-West Journal were preventing them from covering a
wider range of topics. I had lived with Robert Hargrove in
his Macrobiotic house in Brookline in 1972 for almost a
year—it was the East-West Journal house. I had gone to
high school with his wife Cindy, although we were only
acquainted. I had written a few articles for the
journal—book reviews and interviews, and had been a
distribution person dropping of copies of the Journal at
local colleges from my Volkswagen bus.

I had the cassette tape Garbage and the Goddess with me
when I arrived at the New Age Journal offices. I put it on
for Robert to listen to, in a cassette player in the central
room of the offices. Bubba’s Siddhi strongly descended
into the room—His Laughter was infectious. Every single
person in the New Age Journal office emptied out of their
side offices and came into the central room to listen to the
tape. It became an event! Everyone was deeply effected by
Bubba’s communication, even though many of them knew
very little or even nothing about who Bubba Free John was.
Everyone stood transifixed by Bubba’s Discourse, and no one
moved until I finally after twenty minutes, turned it off.
After the tape ended, Robert ushered me into his office and
I gave him a copy of the Garbage and the Goddess book.

Later, the second issue of the New Age Journal, Volume 1,
Number 2, published in December, 1974, had this lead article
in the books section. It was a two page spread just on the
book, with a large picture of Bubba with Sal and Aniello
with their heads in his lap that took up half of the second


At Poolside

with Bubba Free John

New Age Journal, Volume 1, Number 2

December 1974




by Bubba Free John

Dawn Horse Press, 1974


It is 6:30 AM as I write this. I have been up an hour
reading Bubba Free John’s new book, Garbage and the
Goddess. I am on page 86 and I can’t read another word.
I am embarrassed to say that I feel like getting up, driving
to the aiport, and flying to Bubba’s Dawn Horse

Do I try to make intellectual sense out of this carefully
written book? That would would be inappropriate. Here are
all these people talking about having their minds ripped out
of them, anbout the entrance of God into their
psychophysical beings. And here I am trying to say something
intelligent about spontaneous kriyas. Forget it. Start with
soemthing easy and then get into it.

The artwork in this book is the perfect complement to the
teachings it includes. There are many pictures of Bubba and
his disciples; a combination of photographs and line
drawings to depict dramatic moments. Since much of the book
is a running commentary on a particularly active period in
bubba’s work, the pictures make you feel that you are
right there—at poolside with the community.

While he was speaking about his past lives, Bubba was
sitting on the edge of the pool with one hand on Sal’s
leg. Suddenly he made a few cryptic comments to Sal. A
devotee sitting nearby overhead Bubba ask Sal, “Are you
ready?” Sal replied that he was. Then Bubba said
pointing to Sal, “You see this body? You see this
self-sense?” Bubba’s eyes rolled up, and his lips
pulled into a sneer. His hands formed mudras as he slumped
against Sal, who also fell back against other devotees
sitting behind him. Almost immediately, many of those
present began to feel the effects of intensified Shakti,
through the spontaneous internal movement of the life-force.
Their bodies jerked or shook, their faces contorted, some
began to cry, scream, and moan. The whole bathhouse seemed
to have slipped into another world

Later that week in a group discussion, Greg Purnell, who
had been present at the pool describd what he saw.

“. . . Bubba just suddenly came out of his won body.
I didn’t see it but I absolutely knew it was happening.
I saw Bubba just enter Sal, just go right into Sal. From
there he went out over everybody else, and then everybody
else just started going crazy. . .”

Sal describes his own experience:

“At that point he entered the body completely, down
to the cells. I could feel the entry taking place. It was a
form of possession. . . almost like anaesthesia, or like a
form of radiation. After the entry was complete, he put his
head against mine, and I couldn’t feel my own head
anymore. Then the body went into a yogic process, and we
drifted out of the body together. . . moving through empty
space. In this vision he said to me, ‘See Sal, what
does it all amount to?’”

The Buddhist among you might say that there is a lot of
spiritual materialism in this book. But that is not where
this book or Bubba is at. There is much talk about the
difference between one who has a deep inner experience of
Shakti and a man or woman of radical understanding.

As Buddha says, “There have been many people who
came to me. . . They had all kinds of experiences. But it
didn’t change them one iota. They were just as stupid,
just as committed to their asshole destiny in the midst of
kriyas, blisses and visions as they were before they ever
heard of kundalini.”

It should be mentioned that only a small part of Garbage
and the Goddess is devoted to “the last miracles”
of Bubba Free John. The rest is spiritual instruction; and
since I haven’t read it yet I won’t comment upon
it. I will say that I am also quite impressed by the clarity
of thought in Bubba’s first two books The Method of the
Siddhas, and The Knee of Listening. (All three books are
published by the Dawn Horse Press, one of the business that
the community operates.)

If I say anything else about this book, I am going to
have to give everybody and his guru equal time. I would like
to conclude by telling you how Garbage and the Goddess fell
into my hands.

I was sitting in my office on Columbus Day. We were less
than a week away from press time and there was a lot of
scurrying around. In the midst of it all, in walked an old
friend who had recently defect from the macrobiotic movement
to join Bubba as a disciple.

Jim Steinberg had lived with my wife and I at the EWJ
community house for about six months. He was a nice guy and
everybody liked him, but he was completely hung up about
food. He had seeds and nuts hidden in every pocket, drawer,
suitcase and closet in his room; and he munch on them
continually. We called him “squirrel,” because he
looked like a squirrel when he ate.

But the person who stood in front of me yesterday
afternoon was not the being that I had known. A group of
people had gathered around him. He was talking about
“the work” that was being done at Dawn
Horse—drawing everyone into his considerable but
centered enthusiasm. He had gone through a complete
metamorphosis; and I was really glad to see him.

When he left the office, the whole place was buzzing with
energy. As I returned to the scurry of my work I said to
myself that I was going to write a letter to Bubba Free John
and the folks at Dawn Horse—thanking them for all they
had done for Jim. One way of evaluating a teacher is by the
students that he sends into the world.