The Knee of Listening – The Life and Understanding of Franklin Jones


The Life and


Franklin Jones

Copyright 1971 By Franklin Jones

All rights reserved

Chapter 14: Shakti in America, New
Problems, and the Return to India

I arrived in New York on the 29th or
30th of August, 1969. The next nine months were a period of
intense investigation into the problems of spiritual
consciousness. I spent that time practically in

Nina, Pat and I rented a loft in the
Wall Street area. A few friends would sometimes come to
visit or seek help in their spiritual life. I rarely left
the apartment, and would spend many days at a time without
even going into the street. Television became my main source
of information about the world.

I spent my days in constant
meditation. There were periods in every day when we sat for
formal meditation, but meditation had now become for me a
constant activity in consciousness. I wanted to probe deeply
into the matter of spiritual experience in order to see it
as a whole and recognize its primary wisdom.

To that point, spiritual life had
been for me an experimental activity. It had not stabilized
in a single farce of understanding and real consciousness.
The traditions of spirituality seemed to me a mixed bag of
many different forms of experience and interpretation. The
goal of it all was not something that all saints, religions
or scriptures acknowledged in common. The form of seeking
and revelation was different in all cases. The description
of the nature of the world was different in many cases, and
amounted to at least two radical alternatives. There was the
traditional Oriental view that the world is an illusion
created by an error in self-knowledge. And there was the
traditional Western view that all of this was the creation
of God. Some sought liberation and others salvation. Some
claimed identity with the Divine, whereas others claimed a
radical, eternal distinction and even separation between the
Divine, the human or the soul, and the various

I worked in order to realize the
fundamental truth that was freedom and also real knowledge.
And no one anywhere represented that truth to me without

I continued to teach. This took the
form of discussions about spiritual life, practice,
meditation, and experience. People would come to discuss the
ideas they gathered in various books. Some only wanted to
hear comparative philosophy, learn secret techniques, or get
information about various psychic phenomena. Some were
concerned with healing, diet, what to do, what not to do.
Some wanted estimations of various saints, organizations,
religions. Some wanted more “data” to add to their
Scientology. Some were looking for particular saintly
qualities which their reading had led them to expect in any
one who pretended to have spiritual experience. Most of them
were not serious enough about the problems of existence to
learn any more than the traditional spiritual

But several of them stayed long
enough and approached the whole matter from a depth in
themselves that made certain illumination possible. These
people had “experiences,” and began to meditate with real
consciousness. Some of them would remain for a few months,
and then I let them go. I found that the Guru-disciple
relationship was not particularly adaptable to Western life
or to creative life. And the phenomena that I wanted them to
attain were not spiritual in the ordinary sense, but a
communication of reality in which they could found their
lives. Thus, we came together for a while, and when I saw
that they needed to be free to go, I let them go.

The two people closest to me were my
wife, Nina, and Pat Morley. Nina has been not only my dear
wife and companion but one of my closest disciples. She has
come with me through the long adventure of spiritual events,
and she has been a willing subject for every part of my
experiments. Pat has also been not only a dear friend but a
devotee. She is the very force of devotional love. Both of
them have passed through the hourly expansions of this
experience, and they are probably the best examples of its
various phenomena.

Because of their closeness to me I
have been able to observe in them the instant effects of my
various approaches to these problems and to the forms of
teaching. And they represent two extremes of experience.
Nina is not particularly prone to the typical mystical
phenomena of spiritual life. This is not in any sense a sign
of weakness in her or an indication that her spiritual life
is undeveloped. Indeed, I prefer to call the form of
existence I try to teach by another name than “spiritual.”
The word “spiritual” carries all kinds of associations with
an exclusive kind of experience in consciousness. It points
to visionary phenomena, miracles and forms of perception
that are symbolic, psychic and ultimately religious. But in
fact real consciousness is unqualifiedly free. Its psychic
depth is an unmodified field of awareness. And even where
there is the experience of unusual phenomena on the way,
such things are simply more material to be rendered in

Pat, on the other hand, quite
readily moves into visionary and psychic phenomena. Before
we met she had no peculiar experiences of this kind, apart
from one or two childhood memories that were resurrected in
meditation and revealed their hidden meaning. In the process
of the unfolding Shakti and the attainment of real
meditation she has come to have many unusual

Both Nina and Pat, however, are
peculiarly stable, loving, open, and largely free of
overwhelming egotism and internal resistance. This is the
common root that made this real consciousness possible for

It would be valuable at this point
to include specimens of their personal observations about
their experience during the last few years. I asked each of
them to write something about their experiences in
meditation and the general result of their

The first essay belongs to

Feelings of calm, well-being,
emotional stability. I experienced these feelings
immediately, when I first began to meditate, and gradually
over the years these feelings have deepened, so that now I
experience them continually, even when not in the meditative
state. I became aware of this just this year, in late winter
or early spring. It was startling.

Feelings of emotional relief and
joy. These feelings were most pronounced early in meditation
and were accompanied by weeping. These feelings no longer
characterize my meditation, but I have experienced these
feelings of joy and relief – laughing and weeping – when not
in the meditative state. Most recently I have felt that
these feelings are also experienced by my husband at the
same time, and he confirms it.

Feelings that I and everything, that
life, has a center. I experience the whole of everything.
Yet each part, person, door, dog, cactus blooms for its own
sake. This is not an intellectual understanding, so it is
hard to say it, and I get intellectual talking about it. I
become aware of this feeling generally when the opposite is
asserted, as when the idea of a TV program goes against this
understanding. This understanding is very humorous, mainly
because I know that every creature is aware of it too, but
there is a lot of noise and argument and propositions and
categorizing and statements like, “I can’t on account of my

The most distinctive physical
experience I have had came in 1966 after I had been studying
with Rudi for nearly two years. Franklin and I had gone to
Fire Island with Rudi for a weekend, in the summer. After
spending the afternoon on the beach and with friends of
Rudi, we had dinner with some other people from Rudi’s
class, and then Franklin and I went to bed. Rudi left to go
to a party farther up the beach. I went to sleep and
Franklin slept in another bed in the same room. Some time
later I woke abruptly and heard Rudi blowing his nose very
loudly in the living room. At that instant I experienced a
very strong electric shock. I felt electricity in every cell
of my body. The shock tossed my body around on the bed,
lasted just an instant, maybe five seconds, and stopped. I
fell asleep immediately and didn’t wake up again till next
morning. I remember that I wasn’t particularly amazed by the
experience – just that it happened. It seems very humorous
and a rather undivine way of experiencing Shakti.

In meditation I have experienced the
Shakti-energy in my forehead. This feeling has always been
present in meditation. It is a feeling first of a focus of
energy in the center of the forehead, then the energy
diffuses and spreads throughout my body, so that I am
radiating this energy. This experience has been most
pronounced and stable in recent years.

Pat’s essay begins with a list of
experiences she has had since I met her in Scientology in
the fall of 1968. She also mentions experiences with Baba.
These were the results of a trip that she, Nina and I made
to the Ashram in June, 1970, and also a trip that Baba made
to this country in the fall of 1970.

1. I started to fall asleep one
night when something woke me. It was the sound of my throat
and tongue clicking together. I became aware that I was not
just that throat but was listening to it.

2. Sitting quietly in a room with
Franklin. The room became very still, but I wasn’t sure what
was happening. After about one hour Franklin said he had a
spiritual communication from Baba.

3. I was having a dinner with
Franklin when he looked up at me and all of a sudden I felt
a strong flow of energy coming from his face. My face became
flushed and warm. I knew that he had done something
deliberately and asked what he was doing to me.

4. While Franklin was in India I was
doing exercises. I sat up when I was finished. I looked up
at Baba’s picture and kept staring at it for some time. I
realized later I had gone into meditation for about one half
hour with my eyes open.

5. I was sunbathing on the roof

to hear from Franklin in India. It
was a beautiful day and I felt very good. I just lay down on
my back and relaxed with my eyes closed. All of a sudden my
body felt as though it was filling with energy from the sun,
until it was vibrating gently from the inside.

6. While I was lying in the swing
under the tree in the yard I began watching everything
around me, especially the tree above. Everything was
beautiful to me as if I was fully conscious of every part of
life around me. The longer I watched the tree the more I
became part of it, with nothing separating what I was from
what the tree was. When I saw a squirrel move on a branch I
felt part of it too. I can remember the thought running
through my head that life was meant for singing and

7. When Franklin came back from
India I would start to go into meditation listening to him
tell Sal, Louise, Cheri, Nina and me about his trip and
experiences at the Ashram and with Baba. My eyes started to
roll upward, my neck became stiff. Then I would feel very
peaceful as if I could sit in that one spot

8. I started meditating every day.
Energy flowed through my whole body, especially in my hands.
My back became rigid while meditating and my head ached
painfully. Soon meditation became unpleasant and

9. When I began having visions the
pain ceased. I’d see serpents and become part of Indian
paintings, see bright lights, and beautiful scenery while

10. Sometimes I would feel very
strong as if I had the strength of a man, then a few minutes
later I became soft and very feminine.

11. On one particular day I started
feeling a tremendous love for everyone, especially toward
Franklin, and felt a closeness, almost becoming part of him.
While we were meditating I heard him breathing near me. I
became that breath going up and down his throat. Another
time a shot of energy went through me directly from him and
startled me.

12. This is a recurrent experience
from childhood. It begins when I am a tiny pinpoint located
in about the center of my body but not actually part of the
body. The pinpoint starts expanding, and as it does my whole
body shape is filled like air in a balloon. Then it keeps
expanding the body shape, like the balloon stretching out of
proportion, until I become as huge as the room, having no
ending. This experience comes many times when I’m not in
meditation, usually when I’m relaxed, lying down, ready to
sleep. I remember experiencing this as far back as about 7
years old.

13. My meditating became quite
blissful for a while but the feeling wouldn’t last long when
I stopped. Then movements started. My eyes rolled upward,
sometimes fluttering, sometimes very painful, and my
backbone became stiff, as if it had a steel rod keeping it
in place. My hands would also become rigid in different
positions. Then my whole body became rigid in a meditative
position, without the usual aches from holding the position.
Soon I would lose the feeling of my body

14. Some days I would smell
beautiful perfumes. Baba spoke to me in meditation, telling
me how to say “So-Ham” while meditating. Another time I
heard the voice of a woman speak to me while I was
meditating, telling me not to speak but that she would take
care of everything. I did not have a vision of her but could
hear her voice speak from inside my own body.

15. I began having visions of
sitting at Nityananda’s feet and seeing him in a red plaid
flannel shirt looking very happy.

16. For a few weeks, every time I
sat down to meditate I would lose consciousness, as if I had
fallen asleep. When I woke I was quite relaxed and peaceful.
My head would fall down to the floor and remain until I was
awake again. When the sleeping stage ended, I began getting
restless during meditation and couldn’t sit still. ??y body
ached, and my mind would not become quiet. As this stage
ended my meditation became just pleasant without any unusual

17. I started feeling a closeness to
Baba only when we knew we were going to India. I wrote to
Baba but didn’t receive a written answer from him. One day
while meditating I heard Amma’s voice thanking me for Baba
and telling me that he was happy to receive my letter. I
received strong Shakti from Baba and had many wonderful
experiences similar to those I had in the past. I felt the
force even stronger when I went to Nityananda’s Samadhi
(burial place). My head would hurt, my eyes were pulled
upward, and so much energy would fill my head that I thought
it would burst.

18. When Baba came to California I
began having strong Shakti experiences, the way I did in
India. I sat with him for many hours feeling the energy rush
upward, pulling my eyes up. Then the pulling would stop and
I would experience a beautiful calm.

19. Recently while meditating I
started watching the energy travel from one center of my
body to the other, from the stomach to the heart to the
head. When I was startled by a noise the center where I was
located responded and felt the jolt. I usually felt this in
my stomach when I became nervous or frightened. One day I
felt the noise in my heart.

20. Some days later I was having
peaceful meditation when all of a sudden I became aware of a
small, rectangular shaped, shiny gold spot in the center of
my body, across from my heart. It was a beautiful feeling
and seemed quite important at the time. The energy was
poring inward toward this spot like it was the center of my
life. Then my body began to tingle, and the energy slowly
flowed from this center throughout the rest of my

When I meditate now I am no longer
just trying to quiet my mind or to have many experiences. I
have realized a consciousness during meditation which is
continuing more evenly, whether I am . meditating or not.
Whenever I become depressed, upset or negative in any way I
know I am not living with this consciousness. When I
meditate I try not to block any sound, thought, suggestion
or feeling from myself. When I do this I become open to all
of the experiences coming to me. I am not doing it for the
purpose of these experiences, but to enjoy the consciousness
of being part of all of life. This is happening more
frequently now than in the past, whether or not I am sitting
to meditate, and the consciousness is becoming more


You will notice that in Nina’s case
there were fewer of the kinds of peculiar phenomena that are
characteristic of mystical experience. But in both cases the
essential experience that becomes stably realized and valued
is the same one of “being part of all of life” or
experiencing “the whole of everything. This is the power of
reality, of unqualified relationship, non-separation, no
suffering, and no-seeking in the heart. This is in fact the
primary experience and knowledge that obviates all
particular experiences and motivations. my purpose has been
to make this realization possible as the real foundation of
conscious life. And when it comes it is not a mere idea or
belief, or a feeling that depends on any circumstances. It
becomes a function of actual consciousness, of unqualified
being. Then it develops over time into radical knowledge and
free creative existence.

At this same time, in the fall of
1969, I spent my days meditating on the forms of
consciousness, observing the processes of my seeking, and
also keeping a written record of my understanding. I edited
all of the extant journals of My understanding and made a
book out of them, which. I completed early in November. I
also produced the first draft of a novel on the theme of
spiritual seeking. It was largely based on the images I had
perceived during my period of writing on the

My own experience was not yet
conclusive. I had not yet or finally understood in a radical
way. But my experience had developed to the point where my
literary interests were reawakened. I had attained the point
of view or at least the original impulse of my own writing.
Eventually, I would describe that point of view in my
autobiography and in the teaching of understanding. And I
would also extend it as its own perception in works of
fiction. I knew that I would teach, and my teaching would be
in the form and art of writing. It would be a literature of
real consciousness.

I was also concerned with the need
to understand the relation between consciousness, reality,
Shakti and the idea of the Divine Being. In hourly
meditation I had begun to have an experience of ultimate
reality that foreshadowed events to follow in the spring of

As I meditated I began to experience
an impression of the Divine Being over against my own life
on every level. He was not only the ultimate Self-nature or
Consciousness, but he included in his active Presence the
Force known as Shakti. He was like Krishna or Siva-Shakti,
the personal Godhead. As I went on in this way I began to
perceive that this Divine Being and Presence included all
things in himself. He had become the universe. This
accounted for my first experience at the Ashram, wherein I
perceived that everything was “being lived.”

This Divine Being included all that
I experienced, even the Guru, my own states moment to
moment, and the whole universe of the Shakti’s expression.
Thus, I began to realize that he not only included the
objects in my awareness, but he was the very subject who
experienced all the states I felt I myself had been
experiencing. He was my nature and my experience. There was
nothing but him.

Soon I began to realize that I was
not experiencing my experiences. He was the experiences and
the experiencer. Yet, I continued to exist, apart from all
of this living, in some fundamental way. But I was only
experiencing him. I was not experiencing my experiences.
Those experiences and that experiencing, my own apparent
states moment to moment, were also him in his activity. I
was not in any way a part of these.

I saw that I was only conscious
being, entirely without content, created by this Divine
Lord. My only experience moment to moment, under all
apparent conditions, was him. That was it entirely. As this
awareness grew and I became the devotee of this great Being,
I wrote about my state. I would like to include some of
those descriptive notes to demonstrate my awareness at this

I am not in relationship to the
physical universe, nor to any object I perceive. I am not in
relationship to my own mind, nor my body. Neither am I in
relationship to my loved ones or any person. And I will
never be in relationship to any particular thing. Nothing
that appears to me has ever known my presence, nor will it
ever know that I exist. I am always, already and only in
relationship to the Divine Lord, the One who is manifesting
everything and is the consciousness of

Whatever I may appear to do, and
whoever I may enjoy, and whatever I experience, I am always
and only enjoying the direct relationship to the Divine
Lord. I am never in fact separate or experiencing any entity
in itself. I am never even experiencing my own separate mind
and personality.

At times I have interpreted my life
as separate experiences by a disconnected and unique process
I identified as myself. The error was not that I experienced
the play of phenomena, but that I failed to know I was
always in relationship and always free. Healing is simply
the instant, moment to moment recovery of this

This knowledge is not the result of
a process, a practice, a method. I am always witnessing and
apparently performing such things, but knowledge is a grace,
a suddenness, an awareness outside of all activity, all
strife and all the influence of experience. And this
knowledge is totally liberating. The more profound it goes
within the simpler the truth appears, and it is simply
unqualified consciousness, awareness, and bliss. It is a
life prior to the mind and all identification with
manifestation. It is marked by direct experience, a calm,
questionless awareness, peace, the knowledge of self as
bliss. And its essential content is the consciousness of the
Divine Lord, the Presence, the actual source and

The Divine Lord is not the symbol of
religions. He is not the one in whom you are persuaded to
believe. He is not an entity, a mental object, a reduction
of reality or a phenomenon within the whole world. He is One
who must be realized to be known. He is not known prior to
the realization of life. It is simply that the tacit
understanding of the man who is beyond conflict and who
enjoys the perception of non-contradiction is suddenly
voices as this recognition. It is the testimony of his
absolute freedom and enjoyment and not the description of a
path for the mind in its bondage. But neither is the way the
avoidance of devotion and worship of the prophetic symbol.
Men will act and seek in any case and enjoy the consolations
of their many answers. It is simply that when there is a
return to understanding there is an end to seeking,
questioning, descriptive belief and all conflict, and these
are replaced by immediate recognition.

The Divine Lord, who is present
universally but who is not qualified by any manifestation,
who is the source and consciousness and control of all
processes, who is manifesting everything, who transcends
everything, who is that alone to which you are related, who
is that alone of which you are conscious, who is freedom,
consciousness, actual Presence, perfect knowledge and
absolute bliss, who alone is your Self and that of all
things, who is the Guru, the Teacher, is the principle of
life. The solitary necessity for our freedom, if we could
assume Him to be what He is, is to allow Him to exist, to
manifest Himself as everything, to be the transcendent
Presence known anywhere.

The relationship to the Divine Lord
is salvation. His grace, whatever form it takes, is simply
to make His existence, as He is, real to us. This Lord is
the Lord, and all men are communicating their level of
realization of Him. All religions, all religious statements,
all spiritual paths, truths and witnesses are communications
about this Presence modified by the limitations of their
realization and the historical circumstances of the
transmission. He is knowable and He must be

The essential realization of the
meditative act is that this present consciousness, my
awareness at this instant, the entire reality which is my
present experience is in fact the consciousness and
experience of the Divine Lord. He is experiencing this. He
is this state, this awareness, this manifestation. The
moment of this recognition breaks the entire form of

The truth is that all manifestation
is being lived, all consciousness is the present
consciousness of the Divine. Totality is the present
actuality as a simultaneous realization, manifestation and
experience of the Divine Lord. Our bondage, the root of
ignorance, suffering, the activity of sin, is simply the
result of the loss of this conscious knowledge. Instead of
living in the bliss of this infinite freedom we identify our
present awareness, the form of consciousness and experience
at this moment, as a separate, unique and finitely personal
reality. Thus we lose the freedom of totality, the
infinitely unburdened bliss of pure consciousness of the
Divine, and fall into the expression of finite and separate
existence. I do not mean to say that when we’ are fully in
the truth we cease to exist in a world, in relationship to
one another. It is simply that we come to live life truly,
directly, in the full bliss of the relationship to the
Divine. In the free and natural state we cease to enforce
the form of ignorance and the conditions its assumptions

Normally we assume: I am having this
experience. Every moment of life is informed by this
affirmation. Moment to moment this awareness of being a
separate identity is communicated to the whole of life. And
life becomes an expansion out of the idea of this
individuation, a process whereby the separate and absolute
ego tries to predicate all reality to itself in order to
regain the totality intuited ultimate state in which reality
is recognized exactly beneath the mind. This is the source
of life as dilemma and mortality, suffering and tragedy,
dark humor and search. It is simply a matter of a failure to
recognize the truth of our condition, our right
relationship, the actual reality. In fact the Divine Lord,
the conscious subject and source of all manifestation, is
the one experiencer of everything, and what we now identify
as our selves is simply our awareness of the Reality of the

The quality of life proceeds from
the form of cognition we assume. It is only necessary to
return again and again to the form of reality, which is the
actual and conscious relationship to the Divine Lord, who is
that alone of which we are conscious.

The mind is only a process of
experience. We suffer because of the quality of our
relationship to the mind. When we do not enjoy the Divine,
we are identified with the force of experience.

The universe is conscious. There is
consciousness everywhere. There is only consciousness, and a
universal event, a simultaneous reality.

The form of consciousness is the
enjoyment of the Divine Lord. That relationship is reality.
It is consciousness. It is unqualified enjoyment. It is the
realized actuality.

There is a completion of all the


It seemed to me at the time that I
had realized the ultimate state in which reality is
recognized exactly as it is. And this knowledge or wisdom
itself seemed to be the perfect and liberating truth, the
supreme interpretation of all experience, and the key to
every kind of dilemma in any form of existence.

However, as days passed I began to
feel an overwhelming burden in this state. I had predicated
everything to the Divine and nothing to myself. My extreme
and constant concentration on him made me more and more
immobile. My own existence remained as a constant problem
that needed to be continually reabsorbed in this special
state of devotional sublimity.

Eventually, my own creative force
began to emerge and break away from this form of teaching.
And new experiences of Shakti arose to teach me further
regarding the form of real consciousness. Thus, I abandoned
this forceful perception, or it simply passed from me and
left me loose. But a remnant of it was retained to rise
again in a new form when I returned to India in the spring.
A part of me remained discontent with knowledge and demanded
a devotional fulfilment, even a fulfilment of my childhood
love of Christ.

Around the first of the year, 1970,
I received a letter from a young African man at the Ashram.
My reply to his letter was to mark a new phase in my
relationship to Baba. Baba had given me the right to teach,
and he placed no condition on it. I should teach those who
came-to me, and I should teach not what I had been told, no
tradition I had learned in the mind, but exactly according
to the understanding and intuitive communication I received

While I was in India the previous
summer a young man arrived from Uganda. He saw me sitting in
a crowd with Baba, and for some reason he became convinced
that I was to be the instrument for his instruction. I met
him at the Ashram during a short visit there during my stay
in August, and he told me about this. He had been having
constant visions of me since the day he saw me.

He asked if he could meditate with
me in the mornings. I told him that I would not presume to
teach him, but he could meditate along with me if he liked.
And so he came every morning. wen I left he kept demanding a
blessing and called me “Master” with profound devotion. But
I only wished him well and told him to seek out Baba as his

During the months that followed my
return to America he wrote me once or twice, each time
describing his problems, his dissatisfaction at the Ashram,
and always asking for advice. I replied each time by telling
him of my experiences of Baba’s grace and recommending that
he speak to Baba about these same problems and then follow
his advice. I also recommended certain books in the Ashram
library that he might find useful.

However, in January, when I received
his last letter, I had myself become individuated from Baba.
:’y own experience and understanding had never developed
along traditional lines, and that recent development of
devotional philosophy that epitomized the Indian tradition,
and which I had in turn been forced to abandon, seemed to
indicate to me that the truth lay in a radically new
approach to the problems of spirituality and

I had also enjoyed or suffered the
experience of teaching more than a dozen Westerners in a
direct, intimate, eye to eye confrontation, day to day. And
I saw how the teaching required was anything but a
traditional philosophy of spiritual ideas and

Thus, I was moved to write to this
man more directly. I made no effort to turn him from Baba.
He was in Baba’s care and had been moved to go to Baba’s
Ashram for help. I believed that he must take advantage of
his given resources. And I had no doubt that Baba could
provide him with the keys to spiritual life. But I was
willing to tell him more directly what had become my point
of view on spiritual matters. Indeed, he seemed almost ready
to leave Baba’s Ashram, and I thought that if he could see
exactly that I was not a teacher in the traditional sense he
might cease to be enamored of me and turn again to

Thus, I told him that I was not a
disciple of Baba in the usual sense. I did not approach Baba
in the traditional way. I pursued my experience in terms of
a radical understanding of my motives, moment to moment,
rather than as a motivation to the usual spiritual effort.
Even in the case of my own students, I told him, I do not
make them concerned to receive Shaktipat, nor do I recommend
various exercises for its development. I simply direct them
to understand their motives and problems, and thus to
perceive reality directly, radically free of the habits of
seeking. I told him he must seek his answers with Baba,
since these things were not my purpose.

A week or two later I received a
letter from the Ashram. The letter was written by Amma, but
spoken in Baba’s name. Baba was outraged. He had read my
letter to the young African. How could anyone presume to
teach who needed help himself? What tradition do you belong
to if not the tradition of Muktananda and Nityananda?
Perhaps it is true, as we have heard, that you try to steal
disciples from other teachers!

The letter was an outright
demonstration of duplicity and misunderstanding. I had
sensed a certain contemptuousness for Westerners at the
Ashram, and I had felt how every real achievement on my part
seemed to pose a threat to the spiritual “establishment” of
the Ashram, its traditions, and the position of the Guru.
Now it appeared that the worst of it was true even of Baba

I never approached any source of
knowledge in the manner implied. I was not some curious slob
picking up crumbs from the Guru’s table. I did not hire
myself out as an eternally dependent disciple. Nor did my
experiences with Baba arise out of the blue, without a long
life of perception, effort and certain experience of a
conclusive kind, generated independently for my sake.
Neither did I live now as a self-defeated wretch, howling
for visions and illumination.

The understanding of our position in
relation to all reality is humbling, and it requires the
acceptance of the relative unimportance of our
individuality. However, I was not willing to advocate myself
as incarnate ignorance, particularly in the face of such a
bold and unillumined attack. It seemed to me that a part of
wisdom is to love and acknowledge your own. And Baba seemed
dependent, in this case, on maintaining the weakness of his
disciples. He was demonstrating an unwillingness to
acknowledge my freedom in the independent growth that is the
true gift of the Shakti. And he was failing to acknowledge
one of the primary laws of the Guru-disciple relationship,
that the disciple by grace becomes a Guru like his master.
After all, Baba had himself given me the right and the task
of teaching.

I felt it was time to remove the
veil of intuitive silence between me and Baba. He must know
what I understood and how I related to him. I posed no
threat to him. I had been very careful to turn the young
African always in Baba’s direction. But I reserved the right
to understand what had been given me in reality. Indeed, to
fail to do so would be to deny the truth of my entire

I know that I was already
independent of Baba in a radical sense. My understanding
grew as a result of my whole life, not my bare five weeks in
India. I was profoundly grateful for Baba’s grace, and it
had surely given me great experience and continuous
resources for my work, but it appeared the time had come for
me to assert myself again in the face of another jealous
parent. I would state my position clearly, as it was proven
in my experience, and if Baba could not tolerate me on those
terms, I was willing to accept my total

Thus, I wrote a long and forceful
letter of complaint and justification. I explained my whole
position and tried to clarify the role I had wanted to
assume in my letter to the African. I showed Baba how my own
experience was developing along the lines of a radical
understanding, free from the beginning of all the
limitations of seeking. I posed myself to him in gratitude.
I said that if he were to allow me as a disciple I would be
a disciple of this kind, or else he should let me

The letter I received in reply
barely indicated that Baba was aware of what I had written.
It was a brief, reconciling letter, and I am sure my own
letter had appeared too strong for anyone to take to Baba.
Perhaps he had only heard parts of it. The reply only stated
that Baba wanted to be sure I was not trying to turn people
from the Ashram. I should feel free to teach as I desired in
America. It closed with the admonition that the disciple
chooses the Guru, not the Guru the disciple.

I was satisfied that Baba wished the
relationship to continue. And it seemed valuable to maintain
it for my own sake. But it seemed to me that I had touched
on a fundamental limitation in the traditional Indian way.
Even in a man of Baba’s stature there was not this radical
concern for the wisdom of truth. He preached a tradition and
enjoyed his karma or role within it. There was nothing more
to say about it. If I came and found the truth for myself,
it was my business to communicate it as I saw fit. But don’t
rock the boat! And so I renewed my own path with a sense of
independence and responsibility to the exact perception of
reality, without recourse to any compromise, tradition, or
sense of familial dependence.

During the following months I
continued to have experiences of various kinds, as I had in
India. Particularly at night when the body was set aside, I
experienced fully conscious meetings with various saints,
yogis and miracle-workers. I was allowed to witness
miraculous demonstrations in a school for Siddhas, the yogis
who practice various powers. I saw in detail the processes
whereby saints materialize objects and living

Even though physically separated
from Baba, I would often experience his sudden Presence in
miraculous ways. Frequently I would feel him acquire my
body, so that I knew all of my functions had become his
body. He would particularly take over my face and hands. I
could feel my features adapting to the expression of his
character and mood. The special formulation of the Shakti
that works through him would pour through my hands and face.
My mouth would twitch about my teeth in his peculiar manner
by which he communicates sublime feeling, an index finger
would point above, to the sahasrar, to the holy place, the
Guru and God.

In meditation I would experience
Bhagavan Nityananda taking over my psychic form. My subtle,
astral body and my physical body would expand with great
force, and I would feel myself with dimensions larger than
any conceivable space. I would feel his subtle breathing,
and my abdomen took on the “pot-shaped” form know in Tibetan

These manifestations were not simply
internal. Frequently my perceptions coincided with certain
external events. Thus, a friend once came to see me after a
long stay at the Ashram. We bowed to Baba’s picture and felt
the Shakti fill the room. Just then, the flowers that were
nailed about the portrait flew off and landed at our

Along with the experiences, my own
awareness seemed to be developing along unique lines. The
various phenomena of spirituality seemed to me interesting
but inconsequential. The activities of the Shakti
demonstrated much about the origins and our true
relationship to conditions of existence, but the knowledge
or acquisition of such phenomena was not equal to the truth.
The pursuit of spiritual phenomena, the solution to the
problem of life conceived on a spiritual level, seemed to me
just another and more dramatic form of seeking, suffering
and separation. Indeed, this pursuit again was only another
manifestation of the logic of Narcissus, the complex
avoidance of relationship, the present, and radical
condition of relationship as prior reality. I was not in any
sense devoted to seeking in any form.

Then, sometime in February, I
experienced a remarkable revolution in consciousness. After
my second trip, and even to a degree after my first trip to
India and the long course of my experience with Rudi, I had
firmly identified myself, the structure of my real being,
with the various instruments of the “chakra” system. That
pole of energies with its various centers, high and low,
seemed to me to be the foundation structure of every living
being as well. as the creative source of every existing form
or universe. My experiences in India seemed to demonstrate
this as a fact. Thus, although the truth of real
consciousness seemed to me to be one of radical
understanding and “no-seeking,” the conscious enjoyment of
an eternally free and unmodified state, I could not on the
basis of this identification with the chakra system see how
life could be performed without a certain kind of

The chakra system and the philosophy
it implied demanded a conscious, intentional purification
and ascent toward concentration in the highest center and in
the subtlest vehicle of being, the supra-causal body. Thus,
spiritual life seemed ultimately determined by this goal of
ascent. And, indeed, all of the religions and spiritual
paths of the world, even where there is no conscious and
sophisticated knowledge of Shakti and the chakras such as it
appears in the Indian and Tibetan sources, rest in this
basic philosophy of purification and ascent. Even in
Christianity it appears as fasting and prayer, the means of
unqualified devotion and dependence on God. I had tried
earlier to express my experience through Christianity. But
always I returned to an understanding free of all seeking.

In February I passed through an
experience that seemed to vindicate my understanding. for
several nights I was awakened again and again with sharp
lateral pains in my head. They felt like deep incisions in
my skull and brain, as if I were undergoing an operation.
During the day following the last of these experiences I
realized a marvelous relief. I saw that what appeared as the
sahasrar, the terminal chakra and primary lotus in the head,
had been severed. The sahasrar had fallen off like a
blossom. The Shakti, which previously had appeared as a
polarized energy that moved up and down through the various
chakras or centers producing various effects, now was
released from the chakra form. There was no more polarized
force. Indeed, there was no form whatsoever, no up or down,
no chakras. The chakra system had been revealed as
unnecessary, an arbitrary rule or setting for the play of
energy. The form beneath all of the bodies, gross and
subtle, had revealed itself to be as unnecessary and
conditional as the bodies themselves.

Previously, all the universes seemed
built and dependent upon that prior structure of ascending
and descending energy, so that values were determined by the
level of chakra on which consciousness functioned, and
planetary bodies as well as space itself were fixed in a
spherical or curved form. But now I saw that reality and
real consciousness were not in the least determined by any
kind of form apart from itself. Consciousness had shown its
radical freedom and priority in terms of the chakra form. It
had shown itself to be senior to that whole structure,
dissociated from every kind of energy or Shakti. There was
simply consciousness itself, prior to all forms, all
dilemmas, every kind of seeking and necessity.

In the past I had been turned to the
Shakti and spiritual phenomena as the route to realization.
But this was a reluctant course. I knew that a fundamental
and radical understanding equal to consciousness itself was
in fact the source of truth. Now I saw that I was right.
There was no need to have resource to any kind of phenomena,
problem or structure of seeking. The Shakti was not the
primary or necessary reality. Reality was the Self-nature,
the foundation of pure consciousness, Siva, who is always
already free of the Divine play. Thus, I was certain again
that real life was not a matter of experiences and
evolution. It was to be founded in radical, present

Even my earliest experience at the
Ashram now seemed the more fundamental, the necessary and
sufficient revelation prior to all phenomena. I could see
that it was true, although I did not yet know finally what
were its consequences in knowledge. My meditation had been
developing for some time along lines of my own
understanding. I continued to experience the phenomena of
spiritual consciousness as I had in India. These were not
undesirable. They represented a real expansion of conscious
experience that made it possible for me to develop my
understanding on the basis of the most inclusive and
exhaustive first-hand knowledge of these and every other
kind of life-experience. But my way of approach was one of
radical understanding. And this understanding was the
foundation and fruit of my spiritual life rather than the
phenomena I witnessed.

In a later chapter I will go into
the details of my meditation, but I should mention some of
it here in order to make the comparison. I experimented with
every kind of method, but the mature form of my meditation
was not based in any urge to higher experience. It was
simply a direct approach to whatever experiences arose.
Thus, I used no techniques, no special breathing, no mantras
or visual aids to concentration. I simply enquired of myself
whenever tendencies, thoughts or experiences arose:
“Avoiding relationship?” Thus, I was constantly returned to
a prior state of unqualified awareness. By remaining in that
state through enquiry I was led to understand my own
instruments and every kind of motivated

I saw that all the kinds of seeking
were founded in identification with a certain level of life,
experience or motivation. The dilemma that was always
involved was founded in a present act of differentiation,
whereby what was constantly being realized was separated and
threatened consciousness. Thus, I was not moved to pursue
any goals, experiences or forms. All such things were merely
matters of seeking. I did not even pursue my identity with
Siva, Self or pure Consciousness. Such was also a form of
seeking. I simply and radically founded myself in
understanding, the perception of truth and reality that had
been communicated through all of my experience.

All of this would develop into
radical knowledge and a radical philosophy as the months
passed. But I needed to endure certain other changes and
forms of seeking before I would be stabilized in the
knowledge of which I was already certain. Thus, I extended
my experimental approach to the matters of physical

In the months following my return
from India I had experienced the effects that various
degrees of toxicity and enervation have upon consciousness
and the motivations of seeking. I often smoked cigarettes
while I wrote. Occasionally I would drink with friends. And,
although I maintained an essentially vegetarian diet, I
would often have meat dishes and sweets, highly artificial
foods, and rich preparations with my friends and

I began to study various hooks on
diet and fasting, and I decided to experiment with these
methods to see what their effects would be in consciousness
and meditation. Thus, I adapted to a form of seeking based
in the problem of the physical body. I became temporarily
enamored with the idea of physical purification as a means
of altering the state of consciousness and life. I even
considered that perhaps the entire matter of seeking on
mental and spiritual level was solely caused by a toxic and
enervated condition in the body. If the body could be
brought to a state of perfect purity, then perhaps the mind
would become stilled, and consciousness might enjoy a
natural, intuitive cognition of reality and spiritual truth.
Perhaps the mind would achieve a state of perfect brilliance
and utility. Perhaps the body itself could achieve
indefinite longevity, even immortality.

I imagined that the solution to the
dilemma of life might lie in a kind of Garden of Eden
lawfulness and original purity. Fasting, limited food,
balanced ray diet, even purely fruit diet. Perhaps we could
achieve a state independent of normal food and live directly
on energy. This even seemed to be supported by the evidence
of a few cases on record where people have in fact lived
without food of any kind for thirty, forty, even fifty
years. Yogananda’s autobiography cites certain cases of




Thus, in March of 1970 I began a
fast that was to continue for twenty-two days. Pat also
joined me in this fast, and Nina did it for two, three and
four days at a time, with periods of raw diet inbetween. At
first I took only a couple of glasses of water every day.
Then I began to take a lemon tea, made with a little fresh
lemon and some honey. This had been recommended by Arnold
Ehret in his excellent books on the theory and practice of
fasting. It seemed to make the purifying effects of the fast
more aggressive. Ehret claimed that fruity juices, such as
apple and orange, would create an even more aggressive
action, and we also took these occasionally, after the first

The first effects of the fast were
remarkable. The body became light, hunger disappeared, and
the mind became clear and active. I began to read at a great
pace. The weight loss was considerable. I lost about six or
eight pounds in the first five days. After that I lost a
pound a day, and this changed to a pound every other day in
the last week or ten days of the fast. My weight dropped
from around 80 pounds to approximately 154 pounds in the
twenty-two days.

Early in the fast there were
episodes of weakness and dizziness. At time I could feel
various drug deposits in the body pass through the brain.
But in general I felt a brilliant physical well-being. My
meditation also seemed to deepen as the various physical and
vital obstacles disappeared.

After approximately two weeks. I
became very weak. I could barely sit up for meditation. My
pulse and heartbeat became almost unnoticeable. I began to
use a vegetable extract recommended by Dr. Teofiolo De La
Torre in his books on fasting. This liquid extract was made
by allowing water to settle on cut, raw vegetables. It gave
me some strength and allowed the fast to continue for the
full term I desired.

We broke the fast with soft, cooked
vegetables and fruit. All of us felt a marvelous sense of
well-being. But we had become fanatic health

I went on the experiment with every
kind of diet. My experiments included not only myself but
other friends who had taken to fasting and pure foods as a
result of my experience. I found that each fared better on
different types of diet. Some required more bulk and starch.
Others seemed unable to do without high-protein and meats.
Others fared well on raw and cooked vegetables and fruits. I
experimented with the elimination of various foods and the
addition of others. All of this demonstrated that the “best”
diet was not raw, macrobiotic, fruit or balanced, as their
various champions proposed. But it had to be determined by
an intelligent approach to each person as he appeared to any
point in time.

After three months of this I had
acquired much facility and first-hand knowledge of fasting
and types of diet. I concluded that fasting and pure food
did in fact aid one’s well-being. But these things never
amounted to a dogma. The optimum way in all cases seemed to
be a moderate, short term, occasional fast, and the choice
of relatively pure foods, mainly vegetables, grains and
fruits. Meat, stimulants such as tobacco, alcohol, rich
foods, artificially prepared foods and, above all, foods in
too large a quantity seemed to have a negative effect on
everyone’s physical and mental well-being. But even these
could be used occasionally and intelligently if their
effects were offset by the judicious use of lawful diet and

I realized that the attachment to
the processes of fasting and diet was itself another form of
seeking. It was attachment to life as a physical and vital
problem. Thus, it became a distraction, a necessity, and the
ground for a goal-centered life. It absorbed consciousness
like any other problem, as, for example, the problem of the
mind, or the problem of spiritual consciousness.

Finally, I dropped all of these
fanatical motivations. I abandoned all my attachment to the
idea of fasting, and I no longer placed infinite importance
on food. I ceased to be motivated by the exclusive ideals of
purity, longevity, and immortality. These were only traps
for conscious life and represented problem-centered
motivations. All that I retained was an intelligent
preference for limited appetite and quantity of food. And I
maintained an essentially vegetarian diet. This simple
regimen, even with the occasional use of meat, tobacco and
alcohol, allowed physical existence to remain essentially
stable, energetic, and, above all, free of enforced
attention and problematic motivations.

The essential logic that I retained
in relation to food was a simple knowledge of the basic laws
of bodily effects. This amounted to a knowledge of what
produces constipation and toxemia, enervation or exhaustion.
I was no longer motivated by any problem or idealism in
relation to the body. My understanding of the body became a
practical matter of intelligence. The body appeared as a
lawful economy and enjoyment. It required conscious use.
Intelligent diet, occasional fasting, and healthful use of
air, sun and water became simple matters of consciousness,
an intelligent relationship to the body, whereas before they
appeared as means to some kind of victory over

This brings us to May of 1970. I had
passed through most of the stages of experimentation that
mark my life. I had come to understand life as a proposition
of radical consciousness. I saw that every deliberate path
was a form of seeking that involved the moment to moment
avoidance of relationship as primary activity in
consciousness and in life. Thus, I had ceased to function in
reaction to problems or basic dilemma. This excluded any
form of life motivated by the physical and vital problem,
the psychic problem, the emotional problem, the mental
problem, the spiritual problem, or any other form of problem
or conditional motivation. I had developed a form of radical
understanding that continuously allowed life to be lived
consciously, directly, free of dilemma, free of
identification with any motivation or state. I will describe
the philosophy and actual practice of this understanding in
later chapters.

But there remained to pass a
concluding episode in this adventure of understanding. As a
result of my intense experimentation over a period of
several years I had become somewhat isolated and vulnerable
to the drama of seeking , suffering and even violence that
was still going on in the world. A revolution seemed to be
developing in the cities. Murder, guerrilla warfare,
sniping, bombing, confrontations between the ignorant young
and the ignorant who were no longer young, exploitation of
self and life, absence of wisdom and understanding, absence
of real experience, and under every kind of suffering seemed
to have become the daily meal of the entire world. I felt
that I had understood something radically important about
life. But life seemed to have become untouchable, locked in
the final evolution of its own mortal creation.

I decided that I should leave
America for an indefinite period. My own daily experience
had become so profound and so different from the exploited
mentality and experience around me that I felt I would
necessarily have to find a place to continue my work and my
life in peace. Consequently, in May, I made arrangements for
Nina, Pat and me to go to the Ashram. We sold or gave away
all of our material belongings and on May 28 we flew to
Bombay, to remain with the Guru indefinitely, and perhaps


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