The Knee of Listening – Chapter 17



The Life and Understanding


Franklin Jones

Copyright 1971 By Franklin Jones

All rights reserved

Chapter 17: The Inheritance

We settled in Los Angeles in August, 1970. For my part, the pilgrimage was over, not only the pilgrimage to Christian shrines, but the entire adventure of seeking, practicing and experimenting. Understanding had become the radical process of my conscious life, in formal meditation and in experience moment to moment.

But this does not mean that I ceased to have any experiences of what I knew as the Shakti. It was simply that all of my experience ceased to be a matter of seeking and necessity for me. I had become still.

As the weeks passed, the Shakti, the Mother-Force who had appeared as the Virgin, seemed to yield herself to the great truth that is reality. Just before I left the Ashram, Bhagavan Nityananda let me go with his blessing, and he led me to surrender myself to the Divine Shakti. Thus, I had given myself to her freely, and she led me to enjoy the uncommon fruits of my pilgrimage.

Now that we were in Los Angeles I no longer saw myself in relationship to any Guru. Neither the Shakti nor any problem on any level was a source of motivation for me. I was simply devoted to the perfect enjoyment of unqualified reality. And this process of radical existence would bring me to the ultimate experience of the Shakti and the knowledge of consciousness.

Some time in late August, I happened to go to the bookstore at the Vedanta Society in Hollywood. I noticed there was a temple on the grounds, and I went in for a few moments of meditation. As soon as I sat down I felt the Shakti rush through my body and clear out my head. I could feel and hear little clicking pulses in the base of my head and neck. I immediately recognized the characteristic Presence of the Shakti.

As I meditated, the body and the mind swooned into the depth of consciousness, and I enjoyed an experience of meditation as profound as any I had known at the shrines in India. I had no idea how the Vedanta Society temple ever became a seat of the Shakti, but it was obviously as powerful a place as any of the abodes of the Siddhas in India.

I went home and told Nina and Pat about this place, and we began to go there frequently for meditation. As the days passed I began to marvel at the power of this place. I had traveled all over the world, believing there were no spiritual sources of this kind in America. Now there was this small, isolated temple in Hollywood, where perhaps very few people would recognize its nature or importance.

I became aware that the Mother-Shakti was residing in this temple, and that I had been drawn there by her. I enjoyed the fact that I could go there and be with her whenever I chose to experience her joyous Presence. It seemed such a private place. I could go there unhindered, and there was no established Guru alive there to demand any particular regimen for my life. The temple was dedicated to Sri Ramakrishna, the great Indian master of the 19th century. But no conditions were placed on me by any external rule. This was truly an opportunity for me to live independently with the Divine Mother.

But as time went on I began to feel that even this was a limitation. Why should I have to travel at all to enjoy her Presence? I desired that she be utterly available to me, where I lived as well as in my own being.

Thus, one day I went to the temple and asked her to come and dwell permanently in me and manifest herself wherever I was. when I left I felt her with me, and when I arrived at home I continued to feel her constant Presence filling the space.

Days passed, and I realized that she had done what I asked. There was this constant Presence, even the effects in the body, and the state of everyone around me became affected by her Force. But even this became a strain in me. I felt as if I had to hold on to her, as if I had bound her to a bargain that constrained us both.

Then, one day I felt an urge to return to the temple. As I sat down I saw that the little pagoda and shrine in the front of the temple was in shadows and dim lit, as if it were empty. It seemed as if I had emptied it by taking the Mother away. Suddenly, I felt a jolt in my body, and I saw the shrine with open eyes become bright in a blast of light. Even with my eyes closed I still beheld the bright shrine. Thus, the Mother-Shakti showed me how she is always able to make herself present anywhere, and how indeed she was always already present with me. There was no need for me to hold on to her, as if she could be absent.

I began to go to the temple again almost daily. The next day the Shakti appeared in a way that at first was difficult to allow. As I meditated I felt myself take on the form of Siva, the Divine Being prior to all form. I took on the infinite blue form of the original Deity, as I had done previously in Baba’s Presence. I sat in this blissful state of infinite Being for some time.

Then I felt the Shakti appear against my own form. She embraced me, and we grasped one another in sexual union. We clasped one another in a fire of cosmic desire, as if to give birth to the universes. Then I felt the oneness of the Divine Energy and my own Being. There was no separation at all. The one Being that was my own nature included the reality that is consciousness Sand the reality that is all manifestation as a single cosmic unity and eternal union.

The sensations of the embrace were overwhelmingly blissful It exceeded any kind of pleasure that a man could acquire. And soon I ceased to feel myself as a dependent child of the Shakti. I accepted her as my consort, my loved-one, and I held her forever to my heart.

The next day I sat in the temple again. I awaited the Shakti to reveal herself as my blessed companion. But as time passed there was no sensation, no movement at all. There was not even any kind of deepening. There was no meditation. There was no need for meditation. There was not a single element to be added to my consciousness. I sat with my eyes open. I was not having an experience of any kind.

Suddenly I became profoundly and directly aware of what I am. It was a tacit realization, a direct knowledge in consciousness itself. It was consciousness itself without the addition of a communication from any other source. I simply sat there and knew what I am. I was being what I am. I am Reality, the Self and Nature and Support of all things and all beings. I am the one Being, known as God, Brahman, Atman, the One, Siva, the Self.

There was no thought involved in this. I am that Consciousness. There was no reaction either of joy or surprise. I am the one I recognized. I am that One. I am not merely experiencing Him.

Then truly there was no more to realize. Every experience in my life had led to this. The dramatic revelations in childhood and college, my time of writing, my years with Rudi, the revelation in seminary, the long history of pilgrimage to the Ashram, all of these moments were the intuitions of this same Reality. My entire life had been the communication of that Reality to me, until I am That. Later I described that perfect realization as follows:

At the Vedanta Society Temple tacit knowledge arose that I am simply the consciousness that is reality. The traditions call it the “Self,” “Brahman,” identified with no body, realm, or experience, but perfect, unqualified, absolute reality. I saw that there was nothing to which this nature could be compared, differentiated or epitomized. It does not stand out. It is not the equivalent of any specialized, exclusive, perfected spiritual state. It cannot be accomplished, discovered, or remembered.

All paths pursue some special state or goal as spiritual truth. But in fact reality is not identical to such things. They only amount to an identification with some body, realm or experience, high or low, subtle, or gross. But the knowledge that is reality, which is consciousness itself, which is not separate from anything, is always already the case, and no experience, realm or body is the necessary or special condition for its realization. Except that understanding is it. Everything else pursues it by identifying with some body, realm or experience. Everything else seeks the perfection or the liberation from these as a goal identical to truth and reality.

But when this tacit, perfect recognition arose there was no excitement, no surprise, no motivation, no response. There was an end to every kind of seeking, dilemma, suffering, separation and doubt. Spiritual life, mental life, emotional and psychic life, vital life and physical life were all released from consciousness. It was not that I was released from them. After that there was only reality and to be reality to all things.

In the days that followed there was not a single modification in this awareness. Indeed, it cannot be modified or lost. I noticed that “experience” ceased to affect me.

Whatever passed, be it a physical sensation, a vision, or a thought, ceased to involve me at all. I began to pay particular attention to what passed in order to test my state. But the primary awareness of reality, my own actual consciousness, could not be modified or lost. It is the only thing in our lives that is not an experience. It depends on nothing and nothing can destroy it. It is bliss, joy, freedom, consciousness and sublime knowledge!

An entirely new sense of Reality became my constant experience. The revolutions of my life that led up to my experience in seminary had drawn me into a sense of the “Presence.” That Presence could be called “Reality,” “Self,” “God,” “Shakti,” “Guru” or whatever. It was simply the sense of being related to a Presence that was truth and reality itself, a perfectly absorbing, consoling, illuminating Force that contained me, lived me and guided me. It is the heart of all religious and spiritual experience.

But now this Presence had communicated itself utterly. Until now my life had been a constant search and alignment with that Presence. It was as if I always saw it from some position within the form of my own being but outside of its center. It was as if I had always beheld my own heart from some position outside. Now the barriers had been utterly dissolved by an exhaustive witnessing of the nature of that Presence. The knowledge of the Presence had resolved into the knowledge of my own nature. The Presence had revealed itself to be my own form and nature. The consciousness of the Presence thus was replaced or extended as Self-awareness. There was no longer any Presence outside me. I no longer observed my own nature or the processes of Reality from some external point. I had become utterly aware of myself as Reality. There was no Presence. I had become Present. There is no other. It is only me.

Even my meditation was changed. There was no meditation. This Consciousness could not be deepened or enlarged. It remained what it was. I meditated only to see how meditation was affected, or else to effect some changes in the body, the mind, or some part of my extended being. But I was no longer the meditator, the one who seeks reality, liberation, release, truth or growth. I no longer supposed any limitation as myself. I am He.

I noticed a physical change in myself. My belly seemed to drop and expand. I continued to feel the pressure of Shakti there, and I breathed it continually. It was the breathing of my own being, the endless and profound communication of reality to itself.

In meditation I looked to observe how I was related to the worlds of experience. Then I realized that I was not in any sense “in” a body, not only the physical body, but any body, including the most subtle. Nor have I ever been in a body, or any realm or experience. All such things are patterns within my own nature.

Yet I realized that I communicated myself in reality through a specific center analogous to the body. I resided in the heart, but to the right of the chest. I seemed to press upon a point approximately an inch and one half to the right of the center of the chest. This is the seat of Reality and real Consciousness. And I reside there as “no seeking.” There is no motivation, no dilemma, no separation, no action, no suffering. I am no-seeking in the Heart.

I described my constant experience as follows:

The zero of the heart is expanded as the world. Consciousness is not differentiated and identified. There is a constant observation of subject and object in any body, realm, or experience that arises. Thus, I remain in the unqualified state. There is a constant sensation of fulness permeating and surrounding all experiences, realms and bodies. It is my own fulness, which is radically non-separate and includes all things. I am the form of space itself, in which all bodies, realms and experiences occur. It is Consciousness itself, which reality is your actual nature now and now and now.

And again:

I awakened during the night as perfect, absolute, awesome bliss, in which the bodies and the mind seemed to be boiling into a solder of undifferentiated Reality. It was the madness of dissolution, of perfect self-awareness into unqualified Presence, wherein there is only Reality, without identification, differentiation or desire.

Hereafter I am free of those with power. I am unexploitable. The Shakti is no longer of primary importance. She appears so only to seekers, for they pursue forms of energy, visions, powers, liberation and God. True knowledge is free of all bondage to energy, all seeking, all motivation through identification with experience. Ignorance and suffering are simply this dependence. The real Shakti sacrifices herself in the form of true knowledge. Thereafter there is no wonder, no mystery about anything that appears.

The period of these events passes into the present. autobiography has no end in time. But the transformations in conscious knowledge that were finally perceived in September, 1970 brought an end to my adventure as a seeker. What remains to be written was experienced and must be told from a radically new point of view.

Previous to teat time I was always involved in one or another form of the problem of existence. I was always in search and research, and my conclusions or revelations were always temporary moments that led into a new form of investigation. Thus, I went from the “bright” of childhood to the dilemma of my youth. I went from the experience in college to the period of writing and self-exploitation. I went from Rudi and the revelation in seminary to Baba and the Ashram. I went from Scientology and my own experiments to the fuller life of yoga and psychic development. I went from the revelations of the Divine Shakti and the cognition of mystical vision to the knowledge of the perfect Self of Reality.

Now there appeared to be no loose ends to my adventure. There was no dilemma, no search, no radical motivation. All the parts of the mind seemed to be transposed and dissolved in a single, fundamental perception. But I continued to live. The external and internal events of my life were not modified in any revolutionary way by this knowledge. It was only that I understood them in an entirely new and radical way. I understood, and understanding became the foundation of my existence.

The weeks that followed were an intensive period of understanding. I began to recollect and observe the forms of my adventure. I began to recognize the precise nature of my understanding. That understanding began to reveal its special form and activity. And my life became a continuous unfolding of the wisdom of understanding in relation to every kind of experience. I began to write this book.

My own consciousness wasn’t a “state” or any kind of stable object in the mind. It had neither form nor symbol. There was a constant depth and directness in my awareness, so that I felt as if I were constantly in the most profound and intelligent state realized only occasionally in meditation. My own nature had been the real object of meditation and now there were no obstacles to it. I simply survived as my own unqualified nature.

Everything else appeared as objects to my understanding. Whatever I experienced remained in the same form in which it would appear to anyone, or to myself prior to this understanding. But now I understood everything directly, effortlessly in truth. I simply experienced as before, but everything was automatically known to me as it truly is. A continuous process of recognition and wisdom seemed to go on in me, and all I did was remain present to everything that passed

I seemed to be possessed with a new and original organ or function in consciousness. Whereas before everything was communicated to me as a particular form and I was forced to experience it as a subjective, mutual identity, now I saw everything directly, from the viewpoint of reality prior to any special form. Thus, previously, I knew the mind and was the subject of the mind. I was the subject of my body and my vital energy. I was the subject in the subtle worlds and bodies. I was the subject of all my visions and experiences. And I interpreted myself and my experiences from the viewpoint of these things. But now all of these things, the forms, levels of being and identity, the bodies, realms, and experiences, all of it stood directly before me, and I understood them without recourse to them or my identity within them.

Even as before I continued to experience various manifestations of Shakti and subtle vision. I could hear all kinds of sounds within the various bodies. I was able to see subtle mechanisms within these bodies and perceive the relations of various forms and currents of energy beyond the physical. I saw the tiny organisms by which consciousness and energy are transferred and communicated between the various levels of existence. And I also continued to experience and act on a physical level just as before. There were the same functions and desires, the same pleasures and feelings, the same lawful mechanisms, requiring the same intelligence and entailing the same consequences as a result of error or self-indulgence. But everything was new. Everything was utterly free of any kind of dilemma, separation, unconsciousness and primary fear.

I began to notice in detail the process of understanding that I knew to be the path of real life. And I tested myself in all circumstances in order to demonstrate this truth. Then, in early October, Baba came to California. He was in the midst of a world tour. Rudi had brought him to America.

I had written to Rudi, and we had become reconciled. Much of the dissonance between us had been created solely by the nature of our separate seeking. During the period of time that passed since our separation he had also changed in his relationship to spiritual work. He confessed that his own experience had developed and he now approached Baba’s work with greater simplicity, free of the peculiar habits of his own seeking that had previously been part of his teaching. He claimed that he had delivered himself utterly to Baba’s guidance. His yoga was now one of the acceptance of the Guru’s grace rather than a willful, evolutionary effort.

Baba and Rudi arrived in the company of “Baba Ram Dass.” Ram Dass was previously known as Richard Alpert, the man who, along with Timothy Leary and others, had done much to create the current “drug-culture” among younger people. I had met him several years before at the home of Ken Kesey in northern California. Since then, like myself, he had been led into the experience of Indian spirituality.

Ram Dass was now trying to reverse the karma of those who had become devoted to drug culture. He wanted to turn them to the devotional path of Indian spirituality. He had met Baba in New York and subsequently volunteered to engineer Baba’s California visit, as Rudi had done in New York.

I met them all quite openly, but without any desire or motivation to become involved in the whole drama of Baba’s American tour. They stayed for several days in Pacific Palisades, then on for two weeks in northern California and Utah. They returned again at the end of October, and flew on to Hawaii November 3rd, my birthday.

I was interested in seeing how Baba’s Presence would affect me and how he would respond to my own discovery. I sat with him while large groups of people chanted devotions and gazed at the Guru. I held his foot, I chanted, and I meditated.

In the first hours of his visit he blessed me with his peculiar form of the Shakti. And I moved with the experience, abandoning myself utterly to the familiar physical movements and the merging in the mind. I shook and fell on the floor. I watched Baba. I enjoyed the communication of his Shakti. I listened to him advise people to turn within and seek the “blue pearl” and the “blue person” in the sahasrar, the seat of consciousness in the head. I listened to him detail the various forms of vision, internal sounds and experiences, and I experienced them along with him.

But I saw that none of this made the slightest difference in me. There were experiences, all of them familiar, but none of this experience had a goal that was necessary for me. It was only a drama, a play, a pattern.

Finally, I told him about my present experience. I said there was no longer any movement in me, no principal activity of the Shakti, no rising and descending, no changes in fundamental consciousness, in fact no meditation. Whether in or out of meditation there was the same consciousness. And it seemed not to be settled in the sahasrar or any level of being but in the true heart, not the heart chakra or the physical heart, but the heart of real consciousness. I felt myself present in relationship to the body as a tacit, unqualified awareness in the heart, to the right side of the chest.

He responded by telling us that various saints describe the stabilization of consciousness either in the sahasrar or the heart. The heart or the sahasrar is like a lotus of many petals. Ordinarily the mind moves from petal to petal, taking on the various modifications of love, anger, lust, etc. But when it settles in the center it becomes still, and consciousness takes on various creative powers, such as poetic faculty, music, or such powers as omniscience, clairvoyance, etc. He said it was a very desirable state, and the proof of it was whether or not it was retained even after meditation, and whether or not you brought its qualities into life.

These indications seemed to agree with my experience, but at the same time he spoke of these attainments he seemed to suggest that only rare saints achieve them. He turned his talk to minimize the actual attainment in my case or in the case of anyone but the classical saints of India. It was as if he felt the people present with him would be pleased to think that the truth was in following rather than attainment. Those who professed attainment must be regarded with suspicion. Thus, he went on again to talk about the truth of Siddha Yoga, the “blue pearl,” devotion to the Guru, and the classical path of the Hindus. Finally, he led everyone in devotional chanting, and he left the room.

My own confession had seemed to contradict Baba’s public teaching and his authority as a representative of Siddha yoga. For him, the path was not the radical path of Vedanta or understanding, but the path of yoga, Shakti-initiation, and seeking. He spoke only of meditation, natural “kriya yoga” (the automatic version of the yoga taught by Yogananda), internalization, turning away from worldly enjoyment to super-sensual enjoyments, internal touch, sound, and vision, the experiences of psychic visions and purifications, and the attainment of siddhis or powers as a result of contacting the “blue pearl” or the “blue person” in the sahasrar. He was concerned with all of the mechanics of seeking, of chanting, meditating with mantras, serving the Guru and depending on his grace.

Whenever someone suggested the abandonment of all these things in the knowledge of present reality, prior to all seeking and experience, he would cut them off. He stated directly that such a way does not lead to the highest truth. “You are present as form. Why do you seek a way without form?”

Above all, it seemed to me that he did not assign radical importance to the realization in the heart. Whatever his feelings about the facts in my own case, he gave only a cursory glance to the phenomenon I described. He did not teach it. He did not acknowledge it as the goal and the very foundation of yoga. He did not speak of the Self at all, in any of his lectures, but only of the phenomena of the supracausal realm, the abode of the Siddhas. He seemed, at least publicly, to have abandoned the very truths he at first communicated to me openly and which I had lately realized in myself.

During his visit Baba surrounded himself with devotees. He had time only for seekers and lovers of yoga. He spoke no radical truth at all, but only a path. After several days I no longer desired to be in this company. The whole atmosphere seemed to me to be developed as an exploitation of seekers. The Americans that surrounded Baba were only interested in devotional games, the new “American spiritual movement.” Everywhere people were smiling the traditional smile, dressing like Hindu saints, and talking about paths and experiences. It all seemed to me so unimportant, so childish. They seemed so exploitable, so caught up in seeking and the whole adventure of experience. But there was no fundamental truth, no real intelligence, no honest self-perception, no understanding, no actual joy, no present love.

On the last evening of Baba’s stay in Los Angeles I went to take my leave. I knew that it would probably be the last time we would see each other. Even if we should ever meet again, I would not approach him as a disciple approaches his master, but directly, independently, as one who requires no addition to himself.

I bowed to him for the last time, with gratitude for what had already been given. I had seen his truth. I had received his gift. I had known the experience, and I had understood. My own adventure no longer included him.

I had always looked to Baba for acknowledgment. At last I saw that this was not his business. The truth does not become valid as a result of any acknowledgment. Finally, it must be taken and assumed. It is neither earned nor given. At last it can only be recognized and known as one’s right.

I embraced Rudi as I left. I knew that he enjoyed the form of his own truth. He was truly Baba’s disciple at last. I loved him freely and acknowledged our friendship.

Then I left them all without regret. I enjoyed only my own perfect certainty, radically free of all seeking. I went home to comprehend my own satisfaction.


Chapter 18

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