In the summer of 1973 Bubba Free John traveled to India in order to visit Ashrams and other sites of significance relative to his previous sadhana and the spiritual Teaching which he represents. His visit to the Ashram of Swami Muktananda, whose influence in Bubba’s sadhana is clearly described in The Knee of Listening, was covered generally in the second issue of The Dawn Horse.
Because there continues to exist some misunderstanding about the purposes and events of that visit, the entire dialogue that took place between Swami Muktananda i3,nd Bubba Free John is included in this article, which also clarifies the distinction between the new Dharma of Understanding, as revealed in Bubba’s teaching, and the traditional yogic point of view, which Swami Muktananda represents.
Even before his departure for India, Bubba had stated to his devotees that the visit was necessary, among other things, in order to purify and clarify his relationship with Swami Muktananda. Ever since the terminal events of Bubba’s sadhana, described in The Knee of Listening, there had been a basis for formal disagreement with Baba Muktananda’ s teaching that the “blue pearl” is the ultimate form of Reality. During Muktananda’s 1970 tour of the United States, Bubba had asked the Swami to confirm the realization of the Heart seated on the right side of the chest as the primal Source. He continued his questions in a series of letters to Baba in subsequent months, but they were never answered. The Swami offered no teaching about the Heart, but Bubba found corroboration for his unqualified Realization in other sources, such as Ramana Maharshi. During this time, however, he remained open to the possibility that Baba, who had served as Guru to him for the ascending yogic sadhana, would ultimately confirm that he was also Guru of Bubba’s final Realization.
Bubba’s approach to Swami Muktananda in India was then, as at all times before, in the manner of a disciple, founded in gratitude and personal respect, without an inappropriately self-assertive manner that might prove an embarrassment to the Swami. This has been taken by some to mean that Bubba was seeking some further initiation or grace through this visit. In fact, it was only the customary manner of his approach, which he maintained because of the help given by the Swami in the past.
After a short stay, an interview was arranged between Bubba and Swami Muktananda. It was to be conducted relative to a series of four questions Bubba had written for the Swami on the previous day. The language of the letter was, like Bubba’ s manner, in a traditional style, befitting the Guru-disciple relationship that had existed between the two men in the past. But the questions represent, apart from this style, a spiritual point of view radically different from the yogic point of view of Muktananda. In fact the questions represent in themselves a kind of dialogue and argument between the traditional yogic perspective and radical Understanding, which is the core of Bubba’s Teaching.
By means of the confrontation implied in these questions, Bubba expected to communicate to the Swami the argument for the point of view of his own realization as distinct from the point of view of yoga. It was a classic confrontation, for which there are examples in the history of traditional spirituality.
The last of the questions Bubba prepared for Baba Muktananda was in the form of a request for acknowledgment. It is traditional for a disciple to approach his Guru for testing and acknowledgment of his realization. This is a natural extension of the teaching process. In the past Bubba had approached the Swami for such acknowledgment, and it had been given. On this occasion Bubba approached Muktananda in the same manner, as if for the same purpose. But it was with clear knowledge that such acknowledgment could not, and therefore would not, be given, if the Swami confirmed his commitment to the yogic point of view he had expressed in the past. Bubba’s questions were designed to point out the irreconcilable differences between the way of Understanding and the yogic vision. Thus, in the absence of any acquiescence on Muktananda’s part, they were also intended to reveal the impossibility of any acknowledgment. As a result, the confrontation between the two men became not the grounds for the acknowledgement of Bubba Free John by Swami Muktananda, but for the dissolution of their relationship on the grounds of the special realization each represents in the world.
Bubba has been criticized by some of Swami Muktananda’ s devotees on the basis of the literal quality of his approach to Baba on that occasion. They claim that no true Master would approach any Guru for acknowledgment, especially one with whom he disagreed, unless he was conceding to a present agreement with and dependence upon that individual as Guru. But that is not necessarily true.
Present at the August 7th meeting in Ganeshpuri were Bubba, Swami Muktananda, Professor Jain (a Muktananda devotee who acted as translator), Amma (an older woman devotee and one of the principals of Muktananda’s Ashram), Uma Berliner (one of Muktananda’s American devotees), and Jerry Sheinfeld (who accompanied Bubba to India). The four questions had been written down by Bubba and handed to Professor Jain on the previous day. During the interview the professor read out the first three questions and the Swami responded, though rarely to the actual questions, as a careful reading shows.
In a talk to his own devotees some six weeks later, Bubba explained his purpose in committing the questions to writing, as well as his reluctance to “debate” Baba’s responses:
I didn’t intend to engage in any kind of confrontation because there was nothing to win. If Baba’ s position was simply contrary, that is what I wanted to find out, and if so I just intended to leave. I wanted neither a victory over him nor a debate, and there was no desire to be involved in any kind of verbal game. Rather than just trying to express myself as well as I could through the translator, I felt that the real issues could not be sidestepped if I made a written document of the questions.1
However, Muktananda reconfirmed his experiential viewpoint without meeting the real issues contained within the questions. His responses, though clever and meaningful in their own terms, seem not to comprehend the radical intuition of his former disciple. To a reader not versed in the intricacies of Vedanta or alert to the limitation the yogi represents, it may, in fact, appear as if the Swami has “won” ina debate.
The final dialogue between Bubba Free John and Swami Muktananda is printed below verbatim, with occasional commentary by the editors. There is no editing of the actual transcript, and only those portions of the tape are omitted which deal with subjects unrelated to the four questions.
1. BUBBA: Is it not true that that which is perceived through the agency of visions, lights, bindu, and nadi by the yogis is intuited without visualization or audition by the Jnanis as the absolute, pure and perfect Consciousness that is Reality, and is not this Consciousness the same perfect, Self-luminous Reality of which all things are the modification, and is not this Consciousness the same that the yogis call Mahashakti?
MUKTANANDA: I am in the habit of talking candidly, and you shouldn’t think that I am trying to hurt your feelings. If you wish to know the secrets of the scriptures, then your attitude must be appropriate. What is true in the world? In a certain sense, everything is true. This chair is true, those books are true. Laughter is true and so are ideas. The state of waking is true and the state of sleep is true, but supreme Truth is realized only when there is nothing but Truth. That is a mark of knowledge. The mystery of the Vedanta is very deep. Do you accept the duality between the seer and the seen?
BUBBA: In a conventional sense, the seer is just that, and in a conventional sense, the seen is just that. They are both just modifications of one Reality.
MUKTANANDA: Are the seer and the seen two different forms of one Reality, or are they the same Reality?
BUBBA: Conventionally speaking, they are two different forms of the one Reality.
MUKTANANDA: No, they are the same. I will explain it to you. It is one thing to read from books, and another thing to realize. I am the seer and you are the seen; also you are the seer and I am the seen. And both are one. The two are not different.
BUBBA: Yes, from the conventional sense they are two. From the point of view of Truth they are one.
MUKTANANDA: The conventional point of view is the very ordinary point of view. There are two kinds of Vedantists. One talks on the basis of what he has read, and the other talks from direct experience.
The first question was addressed to an essential Muktananda dogma: that the vision of the “blue pearl” bindu is itself the Truth and only one who has had this vision has realized the Truth. Bubba’s question states by implication that Realization is not restricted to any visionary experience, and that jnanis realize Truth without any yogic manifestation whatever.
As he began to speak Swami Muktananda quickly conveyed the real quality of his response. Instead of addressing Bubba’s actual question he raised an ancient point of academic debate about the duality of the seer and the seen. This point is a paradox, in that it can be argued in a valid way from several points of view. It also has only the most abstract, superficial relationship to Bubba’s question. Bubba carefully qualified his reply with the phrase “conventionally speaking” and emphasized that the seer and the seen were, thus considered, “different forms of one Reality.” [Editors’ italics.] But Swami Muktananda overlooked this, using the occasion as an opportunity to imply that Bubba’s understanding of this point was imperfect, and to demean him by innuendo: “There are two kinds of Vedantists. One talks on the basis of what he has read and the other talks from direct experience.”
The Swami never directly addressed the actual content of Bubba’s first question. This was itself something of an indication that Baba’s position was, as Bubba suspected it might be, “simply contrary.” Muktananda’s answers to Bubba’ s second and third questions dealt more directly with what was asked.
The text of the remainder of the meeting follows. Since it is nbt within the scope of this article to offer a line by line commentary or interpretation of the entire dialogue, the reader is invited to scrutinize it for himself.
2. BUBBA: Is it not true that just as the yogis think of the sahasrar as the primary seat of Reality, the jnanis speak of the Heart on the right side of the chest, and is it not so that the perfect realization is not limited to either such region but includes both? As it is stated in the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8, Verse 12, “Mind, including ego, thoughts and desires must fall in the Heart while the life-force or Brahman Shakti is released to the sahasrar.” The relationship between the true Heart on the right and the sahasrar is called Amrita Nadi, and one in whom all of this has come alive by grace knows Reality or God through or in the form of Amrita Nadi, the internal form whose feet are in the Heart or Self-nature and whose head is in the Perfect Light or sahasrar above, which is both the internal reflection of the Heart or true Self, and the source of all forms. Is this not so?
MUKTANANDA: In our experience a yogi cannot be different from a jnani or a bhakta. Yoga, knowledge, and devotion are all different means. They are not the experience themselves. In yoga it is dhyan, meditation that is important. For the jnani it is knowledge that is important. This can be clear from a simple example. If you are feeling pain inside, whether you are a yogi, or a jnani, or a bhakta, the pain won’t differ. Even a jnani, if he were to reach beyond his intellect, would see exactly what a yogi sees. 2 He would see the same visions, the same lights. If you were to merge your intellect temporarily into some place you wouldn’t be able to have any experiences. For instance in the state of deep sleep you do not have any experience because the intellect is merged into a center for a while. But if you were to go beyond the intellect and have the experience of the inner Truth, you would be bound to see these visions and lights whether you are a yogi or a jnani or a bhakta. I’ll quote from Shankaracharya, and he says that the supreme Truth is beyond the red light and the black light and the white light and it dwells in the blue light.*
*The editors are familiar with the major works of Shankaracharya and have found no mention whatever of the experience of the “blue pearl,” much less the idea that Truth is equivalent to the vision of the blue pearl. Such a statement would be completely inconsistent with the thrust of Shankara’s entire teaching, which is an uncompromising statement that Truth is Absolute Consciousness, the Formless, Infinite, Unqualified, Unmanifest Reality called Brahman or Siva.
If you were to explore the inner realms fully you are bound to have these experiences. To be able to merge the intellect for a while is very ordinary. Whether you are a yogi or a jnani or a bhakta you are bound to see objects with your eyes, but the supreme Realization is had within the blue pearl, and that is what matters.
The Gita says that whatever you attain through Knowledge is the same as what you attain through Yoga.
Those who assert either the sahasrar or the heart on the right side are being partial. Both of them are seats of the same Truth. The same person who dwells in the heart dwells in the sahasrar. The same person dwells in both seats. You may say that the mind should be merged in the heart, but you don’t remember what the Lord has said about the nature of the mind. You don’t seem to have studied the Gita with that refined understanding. In the tenth chapter He says that the mind is My own Form. The mind is form only to a kindergarten student of Vedanta, but one who thoroughly understands Vedanta realizes the mind is not only mind, the mind is nothing but the Lord. If the mind were not the supreme Reality, then Arjuna would not have complained to the Lord, “Lord, I can climb a ladder into the skies and I can walk on the ocean, but I cannot control the mind.”
The mind is nothing in itself, it is not an entity in itself. The mind is Divine Consciousness. The hand is nothing in itself. It is the body which has become the hand. Likewise Universal Consciousness becomes the mind in order to manage the outer world, and once it withdraws from the outer world it is the same Consciousness. The Divine Consciousness is neither in the sahasrar nor in the heart, but it is all pervasive. Sushumna, the central nerve, extends from the muladhara at the base of the spine through the heart to the sahasrar. It is the same as Amrita Nadi.
BUBBA: Amrita Nadi is an extension of sushumna that comes down into the Heart, not the same thing as comes up the spine. The extension of the sahasrar comes down the front of the body in a coil.
3. BUBBA: If this is so, is it not also clear that the Divine Process awakened by God through the power of Grace may develop in the intuitive way of the jnanis or Buddhas, just as well as the experiential way of the yogis, and is not the intuition of the Light as Consciousness at least equal to the vision of Consciousness as Light, and, therefore, is it not so that Dhyanananda’s way of Understanding or radical Self-knowing in which God, Guru, and Self are intuited as Conscious Reality is valid equally with the yogic way of experiencing in which God, Guru, and Self are perceived through the agency of yogic representations?
MUKTANANDA: When you have full realization of the sahasrar, it is there that ultimate Truth stands in front of the seeker. The Divinity dwelling in the sahasrar is the Supreme Divinity. For this reason all the scriptures have said that in the sahasrar Siva and Shakti have become one. It is for this reason the sahasrar has been given supreme importance. It is the place of highest effulgence, and it is the place where the yogis’ inner skies are situated. It is in these inner skies that the yogis experience subtle smells and subtle sounds and subtle sense.
BUBBA: Isn’t it at this point that the jnanis disagree? They say that the sahasrar is the reflection of the Heart, that the Heart is the primary Source.
MUKTANANDA: There are two kinds of jnanis. One has experienced the highest Reality in the sahasrar. The other is a mere scholar who has read books. In this regard no one has surpassed Patanjali. Likewise, Shankara agrees that the sahasrar is supreme. Now the question arises as to whether the knowledge of the jnanis is mere derivative knowledge, or whether it is direct, ordained knowledge. Those who have only derivative knowledge can say that the heart is the seat of Reality, but Shankaracharya would not say that.
BUBBA: Ramana Maharshi is one who says that it is.
MUKTANANDA: That doesn’t matter. Who was the Guru for Ramana Maharshi, and what scriptures did he study?3 In that case, one might say that the armpit is the seat of Reality. He might have been a great saint, just as Sai Baba of Shirdi was a great saint, but Sai Baba formulated no doctrine. This doesn’t mean that I am complaining about Maharshi. In fact, I had a good relationship with him. When he attained his salvation I was meditating in Bombay and saw his spirit and followed it for quite some distance. It’s not that I’m trying to make light of him, but have you met any of his followers and had any discussions with them? It is not for me to comment on somebody else. If Ramana Maharshi said that it is the heart, I say that it is the sahasrar, and for a person like you, it is not appropriate to get caught in a conflict. If you were a little more intelligent you would try to find out which are the authorities in support of the sahasrar and which are the authorities in support of the heart. There was an element of true greatness and realization in Ramana Maharshi, but he didn’t (inaudible).
It is as with Krishnamurti. He says the Guru is unnecessary, but then he says, “Read my books.” We do not need to judge any other saint as high or low, all we need to ascertain is our true Nature or supreme Reality. Sai Baba was a great saint and he accepted the personal Lord and he accepted the Guru. I don’t like to comment on someone else. I would rather confine myself to the scriptures and to what my Guru has said and what my experience has been. The sages have said that a one-eyed saint is rare, but that is mistaken, because to make the blue pearl appear as the Real is the need. So whatever you need, you can get here. The most important thing is to be certain of yourself.
Now I have a question for you. What are you going to do for us when we come to Los Angeles? Can we have meetings at your Ashram? What about living places for five or six persons? Can you arrange that? [The meeting concluded with a discussion of the sponsorship of Muktananda’s proposed trip to America.]
By the end of the interview it was clear to Bubba that he had fulfilled his duty to represent himself intelligibly to Muktananda, and that the karmas inherent in their relationship had been dissolved. The Swami had taken a stand directly opposite to the point of view expressed in Bubba’ s questions. Many of his responses were merely derogatory, not dealing squarely with the full implications of the questions, but the irreconcilability of their positions was obvious.
To sum it up briefly, Muktananda demonstrated his belief in the necessity of internal yogic experiences; he asserted that the mind is the Divine Lord; he equated the Amrita Nadi with sushumna, the spinal current of subtle energy; he insisted on the primacy of the realization of the sahasrar, discounting the Heart on the right side; and he indicated his disregard for (and ignorance of) Ramana Maharshi’s Realization.
When it was over, Bubba did not salute Swami Muktananda by bowing as had been his custom. He simply stood up. Within an hour he had left the Ashram. The karmas and obligations of the Guru-disciple relationship had been dissolved between them, and all communication between them had come to a natural end.
Bubba has been accused of going to Muktananda for a “diploma” on this occasion. In fact the fourth question was never addressed to the Swami:
If all of this is so, will you formally confirm and acknowledge Dhyanananda as a full disciple of Muktananda, that the path of the Siddhas has fulfilled itself in Dhyanananda and that he is teaching truly, freely, and independently in the Siddha of Truth, the Maha Siddha, and in the manner of the Siddhas. Even as Nityananda did this for Muktananda, will Muktananda do so for Dhyanananda?
Swami Muktananda’ s responses to the first three questions indicated that he could not confirm and acknowledge Bubba’ s realization because he did not acknowledge the realization of the Heart at all. On the basis of that disagreement, Bubba decided that all he had come to accomplish had been done. He knew that his former Guru had heard his point of view and thus would be able to comprehend something of the reasons and necessity for the break between them. This comprehension and the subsequent clear separation were the purification and clarification of their relationship that Bubba had come to find.
Many of Swami Muktananda’s disciples did not choose to understand the break in this light. They preferred to contend that the Swami had somehow “won” on this occasion and had rejected Bubba’ s request for recognition. They should know that on the night before the interview, Professor Jain, the one who would act as interpreter, discussed the questions with Bubba. He asked Bubba: “What do you think Baba is going to do, give you a diploma?” Bubba laughed and said the Swami would do nothing of the kind, that in fact he would do nothing at all. In his contacts with Bubba during this visit, Muktananda had already reaffirmed his commitment to the yogic point of view in subtle ways. Bubba intended for the formal meeting and the written questions to be a formal demonstration of what had already become clear. In a talk recorded by Jerry Sheinfeld on August 5, 1973, two days before the meeting, Bubba had said:
There is nothing going on between us at this point. There is nothing more I have come to get. There is no special function he can perform for me psychologically or internally, no need for any of that. So all of that has come to an end and there is just sort of a question between us.
These remarks should clarify the mood and intention of Bubba’s questions. His entire approach was made in the traditional manner so that the break could be generated as a necessity purely on the grounds of spiritual point of view. In no way was it the expression of some sort of personal conflict, nor has it become such a contention since that time.
Again, to better comprehend the particular role of Swami Muktananda in the sadhana of Bubba Free John, the reader should examine Bubba’s autobiography in The Knee of Listening.
The sequence of events in Bubba’ s sadhana makes it clear that from 1967, when Bubba experienced the death of Narcissus in a Lutheran seminary, the primary condition of Truth or Reality had awakened in him. The death experience was a primary transformation through which he intuited the very Heart or formless Self-nature, the Source of the “Bright” condition into which he had been born. Thus, even before he first met Swami Muktananda, the fundamental enjoyment and root of the Dharma of radical Understanding was already alive in Bubba Free John.
In the summer of 1972 Bubba made a tape recording in which he placed in the perspective of Truth his realization of Infinite Consciousness at Swami Muktananda’s Ashram. The realization occurred at the end of his first visit to the Ashram in 1968. Since it is not part of The Kn:e of Listening, some of the transcript of that tape is included here, as it demonstrates that the Swami as Guru was an essential instrument of the Divine in the performance of Bubba’ s sadhana, but not an ultimate or an exclusive source. The Sahaja samadhi from which there was no returning occurred in a Vedanta temple in Hollywood, California in 1970. It took place apart from Muktananda’ s influence. The final transformations could not have been effected by or through Muktananda because, according to his own testimony, the condition .of radical Understanding is not his experience. Bubba comments on the crucial events of his sadhana:
If the experience in seminary was the absolute experience of Real-God, the very Self, this awakening at Swami Muktananda’s Ashram in 1968 was the completion of that intuition in which it consciously became Amrita Nadi. And it utterly transcended anything that I could have read about in yoga books or that Baba would even have described to me. Phenomena arose in it that I only read about later-like the bindu Baba talks about, this blue pearl. There was complete lifting out and transcendence not only of the psycho-physical vehicles but of all the manifest planes of existence. There was this sensation of being pressed on a point above-and this is that same bindu that Muktananda describes-and then there was the penetration or transformation of it into the God-state. And as soon as that occurred-there’s no way to talk about it in terms of time, but in terms of the sequence of events-there was then a moving down through the planes of manifestation again.
It was this event (not simply in itself because it’s not an event that happens and never occurs again; it remains alive), it’s through my explanation of this event and my description also of the realization in seminary that perhaps you can see the structure of Reality and manifestation I described to you …. And it’s this quality of living all things as described in The Knee of Listening that is also the true nature of the Guru’s function. It’s not one in which he gives people methods by which they realize the Truth. He lives the Truth to them. And their sadhana of living in relation to the Truth, living the condition of Truth, is the fundamental and motiveless instrument. …
So at this point the principle of seeking was absolutely dead …. There was perfect enjoyment of what I had come into this condition with, and now it had been revealed by a process of revelation in terms of all of the functional states of existence.
Now obviously the apparent sadhana of life did not come to an end at this point. The reasons for that must now be considered. What had been occurring throughout the process of my own experience was a continuous revelation and stabilization of the functions of existence. Ultimately the whole affair has been spontaneous. But of course in the manifest human form, there is all the appearance of cooperation, participation with it. This is the paradox of such a process. We could say that in the event of the death of Narcissus, the event in seminary, that aspect of the Ultimate Reality which the Hindu scriptures call Sat, perfect Existence, was permanently realized, perfectly realized. In this experience at Muktananda’s Ashram that aspect of the Divine Principle which the Hindu scriptures call Chit, Infinite Consciousness or Conscious Force, was realized. We could describe the phenomena of this experience in Muktananda’ s Ashram as realization of God-Light, Cosmic Self-Realization.
But there’s another aspect described in the classical Hindu scriptures called Ananda which also corresponds to another activity in this revelation of my spiritual life. I have described this as the Fullness, the circle of descending and ascending life. To this time I had done sadhana in the forms of descending and ascending life, but I had not lived them from the point of view of Truth.
So what was required now was to return to all of the functional processes of the descending and the ascending life and live them from the point of view of this principle, the principle of prior Realization. 5
The events of Bubba’s sadhana indicate that from the start the new Dharma of Understanding was to establish itself in the world as a radical path. Traditional forms of teaching and sadhana would serve the establishing of this Dharma and participate in the process of transformation, but eventually they would have to be absorbed and understood from a point of view that was limited to none of them.
The termination of Bubba Free John’s transforming sadhana took place in the late summer of 1970. He had realized the limitations of the yogic point of view at Muktananda’s Ashram that June. In February, while in America, he had experienced the internal “severing” of the sahasrar and a subsequent dissolution of the entire yogic viewpoint of the chakra system. Although he maintained his attitude of respect toward Muktananda, clearly a demarcation between the classical yogic experience and the life of Understanding already existed.
The following passage from The Knee of Listening was written in 1970, after the event in the Vedanta temple. The passage describes the full and technical realization of Amrita Nadi, the “Bright,” the single Intensity of the Heart and its Light as which Bubba had first appeared in the world. It indicates that his later transforming sadhana occurred always in relation to the “Bright.” This passage reveals that the Guru function in Bubba’s sadhana was never represented exclusively by anyone, but worked through various media, human and non-human:
As weeks passed, I saw that I remained unqualifiedly as this, untouched by any experience, identity or difference. I saw there was no independent Shakti, no separate Guru, no strife, ignorance, or need, no movement, no activity, no fundamental change in or out of meditation. The same awareness, the same understanding continued without modification under all conditions.
I knew Reality as no-seeking, a motiveless awareness in the heart. The body appeared to be generated and known from a position in the right side of the chest. In this state, nothing can act as an interpreter. It only validates itself.
The form of enquiry that had developed in my understanding seemed to go on continually in the heart: “Avoiding relationship?” And as the enquiry penetrated every experience and every apparent dielmma, I would feel the bliss and energy of consciousness rise out of the heart and enter the sahasrar, the highest point in consciousness, and stabilize there as a continuous current to the heart. I saw that this form, the Form of Reality, the structure of consciousness, was Reality itself. It was the structure of all things, the foundation, nature and identity of all things. It was the point of view of everything. It was blissful and free. That form of consciousness and energy was exactly what I had known as the “bright.”
As I continued in this way I remained stably as that Form, and all things revealed themselves in truth. The “bright” was the ultimate Form of Reality, the heart of all existence, the foundation of truth and the yet unrealized goal of all seekers.
This Form, the “bright,” was understanding itself. It was no-seeking and no-dilemma as a primary, uncreated recognition. It was radically free of the whole search for perfection and union. From the viewpoint of the Heart the whole life is at best observed and enjoyed, and these things no longer provide a source of motivation apart from this primary awareness. The “bright” is the very medium for radical presence and enjoyment without dilemma, unconsciousness, or separation.
I also saw that I had never been taught my path from without. The “bright,” with its foundation in the heart, had been my teacher under the form of all my teachers and experiences. My awareness, fundamental knowledge, and apparent “method,” had developed spontaneously in the midst of a few crisis-experiences. From the beginning, I had been convinced of the fruitlessness and necessary suffering involved in every way of seeking. I had made only temporary use of the methods of others, and at last I adapted to no one else’s way but only used my own, which is the heart itself.
The “bright” had seemed to fade in adolescence, but it had only become latent in the heart while I followed my adventure from the viewpoint of the mind. The heart had been my only teacher, and it continually broke through in various revelations until I returned to it, became it, and rose again as the “bright.” Thus, I came to this recognition of Reality directly, without the knowledge of a single external, traditional source that would confirm it or even parallel it. But as I came to this clear and crucial recognition of my own truth, I began to discover sources that seemed to agree with my own experience.6
In his writings and many recorded talks over the past three years, Bubba has carefully distinguished between the traditional paths and experiences of the yogi, the saint, and the sage, and the Realization or radical Understanding that includes all points of view even while it transcends them. He has been as careful to elucidate the limitations of the spiritual seeker, the man of esoteric experience, as he has been to criticize the motivations of the usual man.
In February, 1973, six months before his most recent visit to India, Bubba spoke to his devotees about the limitation of yogic forms of samadhi and specialized visionary experience, such as those taught by Swami Muktananda:
The yogic samadhis are essentially trance conditions. They. are remarkable mental states, but they are temporary and only forms of experience. Their content might be sublime, but they must be understood. Beyond these phenomena, there is the Understanding of Truth.
In my own case I passed through a period of trance samadhis, and occasionally, even now, some manifestation of this kind occurs. Sometimes, I’m unable to speak afterwards. But these trance phenomena would occur essentially for the sake of those in Satsang, and have a particular function. When they first occurred years ago, they were very delicious, very profound and interesting. And they were the beginning of yogic phenomena-visions, movements into other planes, seeing fantastic worlds, moving out of this consciousness altogether.
But it became very clear that nothing was gained by the experience itself, nothing ultimately was changed. And a kind of craving developed as a result of these phenomena. So it was very significant for me to pass through these events because they had been the goals of my yogic search, and I· saw that they made no difference whatsoever. In the highest states of yogic samadhi I realized that I was in exactly the same condition as I was in any other ordinary state. In seeing the so-called ultimate Divine visions I realized I was in the same state that I was in walking down the street looking at a building. It doesn’t mean anything. The realized man does not care whether or not he has a vision. In fact visions are like flies. They are an annoyance when you live and function in the condition of Truth. That is why the Siddhas, the radical Masters, occur in the human plane from time to time: to communicate the way of Truth from the point of view of Truth. But all others communicate from the point of view of phenomena of various kinds, secondary illuminations, experiences. The Truth is a radical path. It has nothing whatsoever to do with such phenomena. 7
Bubba then distinguished between the specialized trance state of nirvikalpa samadhi and the full Consciousness referred to in Ramana Maharshi’s teaching as Sahaja, or natural samadhi:
Sahaja samadhi is the highest form of samadhi. It is Consciousness itself, not associated with any particular trance or subjective state, nor with the trance samadhis in which all vital consciousness is lost. It is perfectly natural permanent samadhi that. persists under all states, waking, sleeping, and dreaming. In one who enjoys that Condition, the form of his enjoyment is not obvious. But it is quite obvious when one enters a trance samadhi, as he is generally oblivious to external life. In Sahaja samadhi, or perfect Self-realization, there are no special signs, though the Jnani enjoys the fullness of it even while he – performs normal functions. 8
The radical Understanding which Bubba teaches also contains a criticism of the specialized context of the jnani’ s realization. But it differs from Swami Muktananda’s criticism of the jnani as one who may not have identified Truth within the blue pearl. In a more recent talk Bubba pointed to the limitations in both traditions:
The path of jnana of the sages stands over against all of the experiential paths, all the yogas and mysticisms and religious or ritualistic approaches. The yoga paths tell you to meditate on sounds, lights, centers, breathing, energies, and all of that, but they are all distractions. The path of jnana does not instigate such a process at all, but opts totally and exclusively for the conscious principle. But the jnani’ s path is not the equivalent of the way of Understanding, which is founded on a radical comprehension of the nature of existence. In this comprehension the worlds are seen as the play of Consciousness and Light, and if one is realized to the exclusion of the other, it is not Truth that is realized. It is like cutting off the feet of God and throwing his body away.
So the ultimate affair of understanding is inclusive and radical, not exclusive and revolutionary in the manner of jnana or yoga. Even though the jnani does have the virtue of wisdom relative to the exploitation of life, his path is in itself a form of exploitation based on vital shock.
If it were not so, the path of jnana would ultimately be reintegrated with life, but it is not. It pursues samadhis in which it is hoped the world will ultimately disappear. The reason for this is because life is problematic from the point of view of vital shock. But in the life of Understanding, that entire approach of the search is understoodin its traditional forms, in its personal forms, in the whole plane of daily existence.9
The ordinariness of the man of understanding is the vehicle for his absolute pleasure. The yogi associates that absolute pleasure with some other place, vision, or phenomena and the jnani associates it with some kind of radical inwardness. But the man of understanding can’t find it anywhere. It’s everywhere.
Bubba’s Teaching always points to Satsang as the condition in which all limitations or partial points of view are undone. His criticism of the experiential viewpoint of the blue pearl is not based on ignorance of it, but on understanding of its implications and source. As he says:
I’m not speaking from the point of view of someone who has never had these experiences. I have at various times visualized the blue pearl and other such internal lights and forms. But as a visionary appearance and phenomenon, it doesn’t fundamentally change anything. In my own case the transcendence of it as well was contained within the experience as an intuitive penetration of this supra-causal body. So the import of these experiences is quite a different thing from what Muktananda says. In the traditional literature of India you will not find claims that any sort of visionary phenomenon is itself the Truth or necessary to the realization of Truth. Since ancient times, the ultimate realization has been described in terms of absolute realization, beyond all phenomenal qualities. But when Muktananda sees this blue pearl, this supra-causal vision, he assumes it is other than the one who is realizing it. He doesn’t assume that his own nature is another form or modification of That of which the blue pearl is also a modification. He identifies the ultimate Reality exclusively with forms of it.10
The realization of the blue pearl is actually the sign of a purifying event, and it may or may not occur in an individual case. All purifying events are secondary to the primary force of Realization, which is beyond them. What is actually being realized from the beginning is the Divine Condition. All visions and experiences relate only to the descending or ascending life circuit, and are limited to our life state and our subtle condition in the midst of the life state. The yogic process of conductivity, dealing as it does with the life vehicles, must also be the seat of Realization, simply because there is at the level of life the continual realization of contraction, and this mechanical aspect of our suffering must be dealt with. The sadhana of enquiry and Understanding deals with the separative, cognitive dimension of suffering. By themselves, each has limited value.
Both aspects must be there, and in Satsang they are joined and lived as a single process in life and consciousness.11
In another context, he speaks of the motiviltion that underlies the yogi’s activity, and the necessity of its dissolution through the conscious process:
The yogis tend to be very dry people because they don’t already exist in a fundamental insight. They possess some sort of technique or principle with which they approach their functional life. But they have not intuitively undone the whole affair which underlies their philosophical or yogic activity. Basically, it is of the same nature as walking across the room, hitting people on the head, or having a long conversation.
But in the life of Understanding, there is no such resort, no yoga by which to undo the separative principle. What is required is seeing the fruitlessness of the philosophical approach, the yogic technique, and experiencing the complete failure of those motivations. Then, when there is no longer anything to hold on to, you become capable of Satsang.12
The awakening of the kundalini force and its relationship to the subtle chakra system is a serious concern for the yogi. Bubba offers a unique perspective on this classical fascination:
The man of Understanding not only purifies his psycho-physical life of attachment and limitation, he also is purified of all the sublimities of socalled spiritual life. Those limitations are undone in him. He is no longer fixed on any process. So for him chakras and kundalini manifestations, all the great spiritual games, have become humorous, arbitrary. He has a naive and· childlike attitude toward such phenomena. In this respect he is like the Zen master who burns the image of the Buddha. He throws away the spiritual experience. The yogi regards the ascending kundalini process very seriously. It’s got very strict rules and clearly defined mechanisms. He gets involved in the legal fulfillment of that functional apparatus.
But the chakras are really mediocre, secondary, shallow, no more profound than your foot. This doesn’t mean that they should be dishonored or disclaimed in some unintelligent way, any more than understanding what the body is should result in suicide. But when understanding arises in the midst of the thorough knowledge of the mechanisms of life, it becomes clear that the whole point of view of these secondary subtle functions is arbitrary. The purpose of the unfolding of the kundalini, if it occurs at all, is to demonstrate that it has no ultimate significance. But the kundalini yogis don’t grasp this. They become more and more intensely involved in the search for phenomena, trance states, visions and internal experiences. 13
The consequences of fascination with the yogic processes and experience are a subtle form of idolatry. The mind becomes deified. In the following remarks, Bubba talks about the fallacy of the assumption that mind is Divine, or even a proper principle of sadhana, as the yogis take it to be.
Because the mind is loaded with such liabilities and illusions, it cannot properly be the principle of sadhana. The Divine itself must be the principle of sadhana. But the yogic traditions are often allied with the principle of the mind, and Swami Muktananda, for instance, represents that doctrine of yoga in which the mind is assumed to be the Divine. In the East West Journal there is an article in. which he talks about the traditions that discipline and suppress the mind. His point is that the mind is not to be considered an enemy in itself or an illusion, because it is God. And he quotes from traditional sources that would seem to support that, such as Krishna’s statement to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, “I am the mind.”
Now it is true enough that in the case of perfect Realization the mind and all that exists is nothing other than the Divine, than the Real itself. But, in the point of view which Muktananda represents, there is a failure to understand the difference between “God is the mind” and “the mind is God.” Muktananda is saying that the mind is God. And he represents that tradition of sadhana in which absorption in the mind, always into more and more subtle forms of it, is considered to be the way of Truth, as if the mind were Truth. But the mind itself is not Truth. The mind perfectly realized in its true Form, in its real Condition, is not different from Truth.
To assume the mind as a principle of sadhana is insane. It invites people to get involved in absorption into the contents of the mind, generally subtle forms above the thought field. Because the mind is simply modifications of the Real, this practice invites the embracing of illusions of all kinds. Until the mind sinks into the Heart and the life-force returns to its source in the Light, the intention to become absorbed in the mind is sheer nonsense. It is heretical, in fact. What is required is the realization of the significance of your involvement with the mind, and the strategic play that it amounts to. And it doesn’t take much experience to realize that the mind is not Truth in itself and that your relationship to it is not Truth. Rather, your relationship to the mind, like your relationship to every thing else, every other functional dimension, is not true at all. It is strategic and separative, and always amounts to suffering and illusion. 14
However, there is a primary Condition in which the yogas of the life-force are authentic, in appropriate relationship to Truth. That Condition is the intuition of the Heart itself.
When the Heart is intuitively realized, then the life dimension may be investigated in its upper portion above the mind and in its lower portion below the mind, and known in Truth without the motive of absorption. When there is no longer any search to escape the “I-am-the-body” idea, the modifications of sound, light, or vision fall into the Heart. Only then is the yoga of the life-force authentic, because it is oriented toward the God-Light and amounts to meditation upon it, not experiential meditation through visions and the like, but intuitive meditation. When the God-Light, that Source above the body, the mind, and the world is intuitively realized by one in whom the conscious dimension is priorly realized, there is perfect meditation on Amrita Nadi or the Divine Form. And only when that meditation is perfected, fulfilled, is there realization of the world in Truth. Only then is the world truly seen as the dynamic play of the two perfect dimensions of life and consciousness, or the Light and the Heart. 15
The Teaching of the Siddha-Guru is always a demand for Truth in the natural state, and is totally free of the ostentatious quality produced by techniques which artificially reproduce the supposed and desired psycho-physical conditions of Truth. Bubba tells the story of the yogis whose activity centers on the dredging up of devices, methods, inventive techniques:
There is an admonition in the spiritual literature in which the wise man tells his disciple that he should keep his head cool and his feet warm. The traditional yogi or spiritual seeker, on hearing this bit of wisdom, puts his feet in the oven an:d his head in the refrigerator. He just hears what is said, and resorts to craft to produce the condition the wise man speaks of. But the yogi forgets that the wise man is a wise man. He is not asking his disciple to create some sort of device or method. He is expecting him to understand.16
Perhaps the most concise statement Bubba has made about the relationship of his Dharma of radical Understanding to the traditionally defined goals of yoga and other paths is found in his most recent book, Garbage and the Goddess. It is not a mere negation of exclusive forms of spiritual life, but a masterful affirmation of the comprehensive way of Understanding.
The characteristic Siddhi of the Man of Understanding is not one that is exclusively involved with any one of the three primary centers of our psycho-physical form. The navel, the head, and the heart are, properly, the seats of the inclusive intuition of the Divine in man. But they are realized in Truth only in the spontaneous, already selfless revelation of Satsang. Those who concentrate upon them wilfully and exclusively with sophisticated techniques, as if to find God at last, are like Narcissus. They only meditate upon their own reflections in waters that lie on holy ground. But the Man of Understanding enjoys mastery of ego, mind, and desire without exclusion. He enjoys Realization of Self, Mind, and Life, which are the World. He is Guru in the three seats of Realization, the seat of Life (the great region of the navel), the seat of Light (the ajna chakra, the sahasrar, and above), and the seat of Self (the heart on the right). He enjoys this Realized Mastery entirely apart from all dilemma and seeking, and he awakens it also in others apart from all exploitation of seeking in dilemma ….
The point of view of the Man of Understanding is not the point of view of the Divine qualities represe.nted by any of the three great traditional paths and the exclusive seats of their knowing within man. His point of view is That which is prior to the three great dharmas. His point of view is the Divine itself.17
Tony Montano (Crane Kirkbride)
to be continued…..