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Early. Teaching Work of Bubba Free John, 1972-1976


Adapted and modified from the original outline for The Horse
Sacrifice a proposed book subtitled ‘The Miraculous
Revelations and Life Lessons of the Early Teaching Work of
Bubba Free Joh, 1972-1976 by Saniel Bonder


Shortly before the culminating events of his own
spiritual transformation in 1970, Bubba Free John had a
vision in which he witnessed the miraculous appearance of a
small horse. It first appeared as a cloud or whirling mist
of energies and then coalesced as a living, breathing being.
This was but one of innumerable visions that Bubba has
witnessed during his life, and indeed, such phenomena in
themselves have little value in the spiritual Way that he
teaches. But this particular demonstration signified to him
the imminent perfection of his own Realization of Truth and
the future manifestation of his Teaching work in the world.
(On this basis, he decided to name the original gathering of
his devotees “The Dawn Horse Communion” and our publishing
company “The Dawn Horse Press.”)

Bubba devoted the first five years of his Teaching work
(1972-1976) to a living revelation of his Teaching, the Way
of Divine Ignorance, or Radical Understanding. Long before
he took up this formal work, he knew that it would take more
than philosophical argument to communicate his radical
spiritual message in the present world-culture. What was
necessary, and what he was uniquely fitted for, was a
demonstration of his critical and liberating argument in the
actual experience of ordinary individuals. In early 1977,
Bubba spoke of this stage of his work:

I was not born into a traditional
religious culture. I have no conventional society to which I
belong, of which I am a monk or a representative. I have
appeared in a society in which there is no spiritual
tradition, no way of dealing with an individual like me, no
way of dealing with a process of this kind, no way of
recognizing it and truly making use of it.

When I began to take up my teaching
work, I clearly understood that I was going to have to bury
myself in the world in order to awaken devotees. If there
were to be devotees ultimately, I would have to pass through
the lower, ordinary life with them, and make lessons in that
play with them, make lessons out of all the possibilities of
conventional fulfillment. That conventional fulfillment
includes everything from typical life pleasures to
conventional , socalled spiritual and psychic enjoyment. So
all of my work has been a process of engaging in play with
people on the basis of conventional possibility, living it,
exploiting it, allowing it to show itself altogether as
experience, as consequence, in order ultimately that they
might enjoy that revulsion to the destiny of this birth that
would enable them to take up the spiritual process
truly.

During this period Bubba led his early devotees in a
living exploration of almost every kind of human
possibility. His purpose was not to bind them to the
accumulation of experience, but to create conditions in
which the argument and the Teaching of Truth might be viewed
or considered “in every village of the empire”–that is, in
relation to every aspect and capacity of human existence,
worldly and spiritual, within and without,
physical,,emotional, mental, psychic, intuitive, and
egoic.

When he had presented his critical communication in the
midst of every kind of knowledge and experience, both
earthly and transcendent, Bubba brought an end to the
horse’s journey, and sacrificed it. In other words, he
retired from the “theatre” or drama he had been living with
his devotees for several years and began to reserve himself
for more directly spiritual contact with us, in formal
meditation. His dramatic journey with us through all the
experiences we usually crave and seek is now no longer
necessary. The lessons of Bubba’s criticism of the usual
life have been amply demonstrated in the experience of a
large group of people. His initial years of Teaching thus
represent a communication and a sacrifice, not for the sake
of some cultic exaltation of himself, but for the sake of
the “dominion” of Truth, and the graceful revelation of the
living argument and Way of Truth to all who will listen.

In Bubba’s early work with devotees, a “lesson” was a
living event in which an individual was allowed to live out
some self-possessed inclination to the point that he
realized undeniably, with his whole being, the negative
implications and. consequences of his actions and the
necessity for a total transformation, not only of his
activity but of his very presumptions about life. Bubba’s
creation of “theatre,” or circumstances for such lessons,
and his choreography of all the incidents, criticism, and
instruction, were utterly masterful. And readers will no
doubt get a feeling for that mastery, and for Bubba’s unique
and unconventional way of working with people during these
years.

In spring 1976, Bubba Free John and a few of his intimate
devotees vacationed for several weeks in Hawaii. The
narrative of The Horse Sacrifice will begin around the time
of his return to California and will proceed more or less
sequentially through the events of that summer and fall. It
will probably close around the time of Bubba’s return to
Hawaii in November or the formal end of the initiatory,
preparatory, and theatrical period of his Teaching work in
December (at which point we began to prepare the original
manuscript of The Paradox of Instruction). The book’s
Introduction will probably present a useful incident, and
Bubba’s accompanying instruction, from that
November-December period. In this way we will be able to
open the text with a statement that reflects the Teaching in
its fullness, as it presently stands. Then we will return
again to the beginning of the summer of 1976 to unfold the
theatre of Bubba Free John’s Teaching work.

The summer and fall of 1976 provide a good dramatic
context and undoubtedly the best Teaching context for the
whole book. During this time Bubba rarely left his house at
Vision Mound Sanctuary, our retreat in northern California.
Instead, he spent many, many hours inside each day and night
with a small group of devotees–20-30 during the week,
perhaps 50 on some weekends when people visited from San
Francisco. Throughout this “indoor summer” he was engaging
them in the consideration of Enlightenment, or Divine
Ignorance, and, on its basis, all sorts of secondary matters
concerning how human beings should conduct their affairs
from the point of view of Truth. It was a most suspenseful
time-we literally did not know from day to day, what
consideration Bubba would come up with next, or what change
in the circumstances or structures of our lives he would
recommend on its basis. Not that these talks were one-sided
occasions, mere lectures by Bubba Free John–they were
living dialogues and mutual considerations. It is just that
Bubba, having lived this Ignorance or Enlightenment for many
years, always moved to initiate us into dimensions of the
consideration that we could not have taken into account.

Using this several month period as the basic framework of
the book, we will freely move backward in time to describe
other periods of Bubba’s work with us. For instance, the
discussion of both sexuality and sexual relationships and
spiritual or “higher” experiences will include detailed
accounts of spring and summer 1974, the period originally
chronicled in Garbage and the Goddess. Most of the
flashbacks will serve to amplify the revelation of an
entire, extended, and living examination of a specific area
of human experience and possibility. Thus, the book will not
present a strictly chronological report of the five years of
Bubba’s preparatory Teaching work, or even of the “indoor
summer” itself. Rather, it will use that latter period as
the framework for the presentation of–all his spiritual
theatre and lessons. Bubba has suggested that we also tell
the story of his own earlier life, not sequentially but
randomly, whenever one of the lessons inherent in his own
spiritual adventure becomes useful for the book as a whole.
And we will also move into more recent times, to indicate
the nature of our present lives and spiritual practice and
the form of Bubba’s spiritual availability, now that the
period of dramatic lesson-making is over.

Outline for the book

Introduction.

We will begin the text with a brief, dramatic incident
and Teaching conversation from late 1976 or very early 1977,
something that absorbs the reader’s interest immediately and
prepares him for the content of the rest of the book. This
will be followed by a few general statements on the purpose
and nature of the book, and on Bubba Free John himself.

1. Prelude–The Creation of The Free Communion Church

During the early years of his work, Bubba Free John
occasionally absented himself from the daily affairs of his
devotees to test their capacity to continue in a spiritual
way of life without his physical presence and personal
guidance. One such occasion was in the spring of 1976, when
he spent several weeks in Hawaii. This chapter will begin
with Bubba’s return, the reasons for it, and the creation of
The Free Communion Church. It will describe that spring and
early summer as a typical cycle of our lives with Bubba
during these early years: the way he taught by moving his
devotees through cycles of experience and discipline
relative to work, diet, sexuality, and other matters. That
spring, we were all absorbed in a basically humorless and
concerned attempt to live strict disciplines. As always,
Bubba required the discipline but criticized how “boring and
dry” we became in the midst of it. Finally, that June, as he
had so often in the past, Bubba required us to abandon all
that ascetic seriousness by joining him in an extended
series of celebrations. These may have seemed outwardly to
be conventional parties, but in fact they were the occasion
for intense Teaching and lesson-making.

2. The Universal Pre-Cosmic Snake Oil Teaching

Here we begin the story of the “indoor summer.” That
July, Bubba began to teach in a radically new way, engaging
his devotees in the enlightening consideration of Divine
Ignorance: “No matter what arises, you do not know what it
is.” These were lively, humorous dialogues and challenging
encounters, and they_ will be presented. in fulll color.
They were also profound and intense occasions of spiritual
initiation–Bubba was not only arguing for the point of view
of Truth, he was directly awakening us into that Enlightened
Condition. This event in itself is unparalleled in the
recorded history of human spirituality.

This communication-initiation, in comparison with past
teachings and even with Bubba’s own previous communications.
And it will indicate the liabilities of thinking you’re
perfectly and permanently enlightened when in fact you have
only begun to feel a little of the Truth-liabilities which
would show themselves unmistakeably in later months.
Enlightenment, as Bubba would go on to indicate, is instant,
immediate, and absolute–but it takes time and profound
discipline to mature as perfect God-Realization.

3. The Theatre of Spiritual Experience–“Garbage and the
Goddess”

The considerations of Ignorance as literal and present
Enlightenment, or immediate intuition of our Divine Nature
and Condition, could not have been effective or useful if
Bubba had not already shown us the futility and illusion of
conventional spiritual experience.. Here the narrative will
digress to the period of spring and summer 1974, which was
originally chronicled in Garbage and the Goddess. At this
time Bubba intentionally created a continual display of
psychic, miraculous, mystical, and magical “higher”
phenomena, both in the environment (in the form of weather
changes, coronas around the sun and moon, etc.) and in the
lives of several hundred people (blisses of energy,
spontaneous movements called “kriyas” and “mudras” in the
yogic literature, kundalini awakenings, visions, hearing of
heavenly sounds, spontaneous healings, experiences of ego
dissolution, etc. ) – It was a magical, intense time–so
full of spiritual force that the very environment seemed
transformed, permeated with radiant presence.

Bubba generated secondary or yogic spiritual force for
the sake of teaching people lessons about such experiences.
His point was not to bind people to these phenomena, but to
demonstrate the suffering and delusion of our fascination,
search, and even attainment of them. Bubba’s power to
initiate transcendental phenomena, rather than merely talk
about them, is testimony to the all-inclusive nature of his
spiritual Realization–but here, as throughout the book, you
will find him criticizing mere experience and subjective
knowledge of any kind, earthly or sublime, and pointing
always to the understanding and radical freedom from self
and all its motivations that is inherent in Divine
Ignorance.

4. How Shall We Live by Our Desiring?

At this point the narrative returns to the “indoor
summer” and the considerations that follow upon the matter
of Ignorance. Bubba argues that we are not within the body,
as a separate ego or inner self or soul, but in Truth we are
the body — and that the appropriate discipline is to be
present always as love and radiant happiness, to become
truly incarnate, and to live by our enlightened desiring.
This led to some serious discussions about. sexuality,
marriage, love relationships, and the social structure of
our group. And then, quite naturally, we became involved in
a bit of theatre with him that was profoundly interesting to
all of us–whether to make new arrangements in our social
and marital structures to accommodate our desiring in
enlightenment, how to use men’s and women’s separate
“tents,” or councils of consideration, and how to educate
the young properly and fully in their native sexual
character.

Leaving this consideration unfinished–and the group’s
social structure for sexual and love relationships still
uncertain–the narrative will recount the theatre of earlier
times elative to this matter. Bubba had always known that
mere moralism and conformance to conventional norms would
never illumine the usual man’s or woman’s complicated
relationship to sexuality. His earlier considerations with
devotees had required them to confront their sexual
complications directly. It had led them to understand their
random desiring and chronic difficulties in relationship as
a refusal of commitment and true intimacy. This part of the
text will recount a number of the principal incidents of the
Teaching relative to sexuality from the beginning of Bubba’s
work with devotees, including, again, the period chronicled
in Garbage and the Goddess.

Community members agreed to maintain natural intimacies
and the present social structure of relationships, and to
confine all sexual activity to those circumstances. The
theatre of the past finally became effective in our living
understanding, so that it became possible for us to conduct
our sexual relations as a true, voluntary, and enjoyable
discipline of love and marital intimacy.

5. “The Tribe” and the Political Organization of Human
Beings

In the next stage of the summer’s discussions and
experiments, we abandoned the “church” concept of
organization and began to define our group as a “tribe.”
This chapter will present a lively account of our whole
adventure in political and religious organization: first,
the years of The Dawn Horse Communion, a centralized,
largely localized spiritual community, then the era of The
Free Communion Church, a broader way of organizing our work
which we had incorporated only that spring (1976), and for
which we were establishing “seed” communities in cities all
over the United States and in several foreign countries when
we decided, in these summer considerations, to abandon the
“church” altogether. Here we will focus on the lessons of
these organizational structures, both for ourselves and, by
implication, for all others–how centralized
political-economic organizations, whether religious or
secular, tend to become parents to the governed individuals,
who respond in either childish (dependent, passive) or
adolescent (independent, assertive, rebellious) fashion.

6. The Chocolate-Vanilla Wars

The discussion of politics and the internal wranglings of
Bubba’s gathering of devotees over the years (and during the
indoor summer) leads naturally into the chronicle of the
“Chocolate-Vanilla Wars,” which took place in the spring of
1975. Bubba noticed, as that April drew near, that we were
beginning to get a little feisty–having water balloon
fights and the like–and, as usual, he seized the
opportunity to create some useful theatre. He divided most
of the group who lived with him at our retreat in northern
California-about 50-75 people at that time–into opposing
forces, the Chocolates and the Vanillas. The Chocolates
represented the forces of evil, darkness, degradation, and
stupidity, while the Vanillas, led by Bubba himself,
represented the forces of light, goodness, Divine and benign
presence, etc. There were Ministers of Propaganda,
Quartermasters, Spies, Generals, Wartime Consolieris–a
whole range of titles and functions assigned, or, as in the
case of the Chocolates, “detected and exposed” by Bubba. And
we had literal wars: preliminary councils that degenerated
into rumbles, food wars, sneak attacks, kidnapings,
wrestling matches, and so on. All of this may sound
innocuous, but by the time readers reach this section of the
book they will have a feeling for Bubba’s awesome presence
as Spiritual Master above all else. To be required by your
Spiritual Master to trade the grossest insults with him, to
wrestle with him and really give it all your effort, while
at the same time maintaining a fundamental mood of devotion
and respect and love, is at least a disorienting experience.
For some it was extremely disturbing. But Bubba wanted us to
confront totally the life of conflict that we dramatize in
all our relations and circumstances. Every human being’s
constant un-love and strategic combat with life and living
beings is a direct rejection of the present Divine Reality,
which is the Spiritual Master’s very Nature, and that of all
beings. In the midst of these apparently light-hearted and
humorous wars, we were forced to recognize the malevolence
that we chronically generate in life.

In the aftermath of the Great Wars, Bubba also criticized
the principles of Light and Darkness that he had played
upon. One of the most pervasive illusions in all religious
culture is the notion of life as, struggle between forces of
light-good and darkness-evil. In the dialogues that end this
chapter, Bubba argues that Truth and its Way effectively
transcend all such dualities and all necessary conflict and
opposition, both behavioral and philosophical. And he
directly criticizes the history of human religions to this
time as, in part, a deluded adventure in plunder and
political aggression. Presuming that they alone represent
God and Light and Truth, and that those of other faiths are
demonic and evil, men have been murdering, routing, and
subjugating one another for millenia.

7. “I Am John” and the Consideration of Past
Incarnations

The discussion of world religions in chapter 6 provides a
good background for the events recounted in this chapter.
The narrative returns once more to the indoor summer and the
next stage of the considerations: Bubba Free John’s
investigations of his–and his friends’–possible past
incarnations on earth. Two of the principal characters with
whom Bubba identifies here are John the Baptist and Shah
Jahan, the 16th century Mogul Emperor of India who built the
famous Taj Mahal. Other possibilities Bubba considered with
us included Kamehameha the Great of 18th and 19th century
Hawaii, the prophet Mohammed, and a Tibetan “Rinpoche” or
spiritual teacher and initiate. This was not mere armchair
fantasizing. Devotees had numerous visions and psychic
revelations about their involvements with Bubba in these
past times and places. Bubba himself relived some of these
scenes with dramatically convincing effect: the night he
“recalled” being John the Baptist, he literally passed
through the beheading, and, as often happens around him, the
very atmosphere responded. We had a tremendous electrical
storm that lasted almost all night–one of the first ever to
be recorded during the summer season in this area of
northern California.

In recounting this consideration of past lives, we will
be presenting some intriguing, unorthodox, and controversial
perspectives on the relationship between John the Baptist
and Jesus, and the function of Mohammed’s birth and work in
relation to Christianity. But all belief in past or future
lives as such will be undermined in the end by Bubba’s
summary discussions on the matters of incarnation and
reincarnation. From the point of view of Divine Ignorance,
our birth, life, death, and continuation are much more
mysterious and paradoxical than our solemn psychisms would
lead us to believe.

8. The Kingdom in the Garden–The Search for Wealth,
Rejuvenation, and Immortality

Bubba’s “recollection” of a life as Shah Jahan created
the background for his presentation of himself as a
“Kingdom-maker,” and the resulting consideration of the
“tribe” of his devotees as the seed of a new “kingdom.” On
this basis, he began to urge upon his devotees the search
for the ultimate realization of earthly life–for profound,
even radical rejuvenation of the physical body, to the point
of effectively immortalizing it, and for enormous wealth and
the political security to carry on our lives indefinitely
and exactly as we pleased in this world.

At the time, this whole prospect seemed completely
realistic to us. We even made contact with a man in India
who administers an herbal treatment that, Look magazine
reported in 1938, enabled one yogi to live to the age of
185: And Bubba revealed to us a whole range of yogic,
tantric, and esoteric processes that seemed to promise the
literal immortalization and glorification of the physical
body. Again, however, all this seeking and fascination had
nothing to do with Bubba Free John’s real work and ultimate
intention with devotees. It was only his way of showing us
our own conventional urges. By playing this drama out with
us for awhile, he enabled us to feel unmistakeably the “dead
end” of this self-possessed and deluded approach to life.
But the lessons of this act in the theatre were not to be
made clear for a few months to come.

9. The Round Dance and the Circles of Spiritual
Transformation

Having established his following as a “kingdom” of sorts,
Bubba then took the game a bit further. From his most
apparently intimate devotees, he chose seven couples who
would be the centers of circles of spiritual intimates.
These couples would directly serve him and his household,
and would in turn be served by a circle of couples and
individuals around them–for whom they, like Bubba for them,
would be responsible for spiritual education, etc. Bubba
used the esoteric circles of John the Baptist’s and Jesus’s
time as a precedent and model in his discussions with us. It
was a wonderful stroke of theatrical play, which we took
completely seriously, as we were meant to. Bubba aligned
each of the couples and their circles with colors in the
spectrum and specific qualities of action and potential–and
we ourselves became fascinated by the entire event, creating
our own cults of enthusiasm, interest, and personality. One
circle was primarily involved in business concerns, another
in general spiritual education, a third in magic, healing,
and rejuvenation research, etc.

It seemed to most of us that this would be the way we
would organize our lives and livelihood from that time
forward.

It is impossible to relate here all the kinds of lessons
that derived from this “circle game”–personal, political,
spiritual, etc. One had to do with spiritual status, which
Bubba had dealt with from the beginning of his Teaching
work. This chapter may recount some of the earlier occasions
on which he had played with status directly (by announcing,
for instance, that certain individuals were responsible
enough spiritually to be “disciples” while the rest must
remain “students”). But we did not receive Bubba’s full
criticism of this dimension of our involvement with him, and
so did not perceive all these lessons, until some time
later–the events and considerations covered in chapter
10.

10. Conclusion–The End of the Initial and Theatrical
Period of Bubba Free John’s Teaching Work,
November-December, 1976

Shortly after celebrating his 37th birthday that
November, Bubba moved to Hawaii with a substantial group of
his close devotees. His intention was to sell our property
in northern California and to establish a new center for our
work in the islands. As it turned out, we returned to our
property on the mainland in March, 1977. But the move served
to bring to an end Bubba’s theatrical involvement with his
early devotees and allowed him to begin a new era altogether
of his Teaching and initiatory work.

Bubba’s move to Hawaii began to communicate comprehensive
criticism of all his devotees’ past involvement with him,
including the drama of the indoor summer and all the
previous years. He demanded that they begin to establish
themselves once and for all in a true, direct, responsible,
and formal spiritual relationship to him. And he began to
produce the summary statements of his Teaching–initially,
The Paradox of Instruction and Breath and Name, more
recently Conscious Exercise and the Transcendental Sun and
The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace, and now The Horse
Sacrifice–that would enable them to do so.