Enquiry, Meditation and the ‘Method’ of Understanding


Enquiry, Meditation
and the ‘Method’ of Understanding

(this essay was written by Adi Da
(Franklin Jones) in 1970. It was part of his original Knee
of Listening autobiography but was never included – due to
the necessity to reduce the size of the book) – (the title
is Beezone’s).

Understanding is seated in
consciousness. It is conscious realization. It is not seated
in dilemma or any effect. It is not seated in the
unconscious or subconscious, nor does it wait upon these as
if they contained the source of its true intelligence or
content. Neither is it seated in the superconscious planes
or wait upon them, by excluding consciousness or what is
below consciousness, as if exclusive super consciousness
alone were the center and source of its only mind. It is
reality functioning on the level of consciousness or the
conscious mind, which is the focal point or medium of what
is above and below.

Thus, the seat of understanding as a
free activity at first appears in the head. A point in the
very center of the head is the seat of the force of the
conscious mind. That point of understanding is openly aware
of the levels of consciousness above and below. Thus, it is
linked to the processes below, which are unconscious and
subconscious, as well as those above, which are
superconscious or non-mental.

In the process of enquiry, which is
real meditation, a man simply rests in understanding. In
formal meditation he merely sits comfortably and free of the
need to respond to activities in his environment. He already
understands. He has already examined the nature of
suffering, of dilemma and of action. Thus he sits and enjoys
the fulness of understanding in his form at that

Enquiry begins at the point where he
becomes aware of the tendency of his conscious awareness.
Depending upon the stresses of his life expression at that
moment, his awareness will tend to move or become associated
with attention to movement or tension, thought or feeling in
some area or plane of the body. Thus, his awareness will be
directed from the center of understanding in the head,
analogous to the viewpoint of his eyes (which should remain
closed) toward some area of his form, above or

In general, he will probably move
naturally in attention toward some process analogous to the
lower body. He will be aware of some sexual tension, or some
energy below, or some feeling. These sensations also
correspond to the lower “chakras,” the creative centers of
energy at the base of the spine (anus), the sacral center
(sexuality), and the navel or solar plexus (personal power).
The enquiry, which is the free activity of understanding,
should thus be allowed to confront whatever area the mind
tends to pursue. When this movement begins, he should
enquire “Avoiding relationship?” He should not seek to
remove the tendency itself. He should only enquire. If the
tendency remains, he should only enquire. If he becomes
disturbed that the tendency does not vanish, he should only
enquire of that disturbance. Whatever arises, he should only

This enquiry can be done as an
internal mental activity, either as a silent verbalization
of the mind in understanding or as an intention of
understanding without internal verbalization. The frequency
of the enquiry should be determined by the individual, as he
perceives the practical effect of his approach.

As the enquiry proceeds the tendency
of attention will begin to break up and dissolve. The
enquiry is understanding, and so the form of consciousness
will begin to disassociate or detach from the area of
attention and rest in understanding. The experience will be
one of relief or release of attention and a return to rest
in a kind of fulness. As one area of attention dissolves
another tendency will replace it and gather the energy of
consciousness. Then the enquiry should follow it as before
and continue until it also dissolves or is

The man who is beginning the way of
understanding is likely to feel the tendency of
consciousness to move in a chronic pattern of attention in
the lower body. This is only natural, since we chronically
associate with the life processes, the energies of the lower
body. Food-desire, sex, vital communication, etc. are the
basic and chronic content of ordinary life. Real life is not
opposed to such energies or experiences. They are not the
problem, nor are they necessarily destructive. Indeed, they
are in the form of life and are part of our present
fulfilment. We are not constrained to transcend these
centers of energy and lock them out. What ultimate and
necessary fulfilment can we ascribe to the saint who has
risen to an exclusive identity with the highest center of
being and dwells only in the heaven of his God? In spite of
him, the universes continue to exist, and his God remains to
manifest and enjoy them and pursue their

Thus, there is no peculiar dilemma
or “lowness” involved in the tendency to concentration in
the lowest dimensions of our creative existence. We remain
in understanding even then and suffer no motive to escape or
destroy them. The dilemma is not in the existence of such
processes of life and energy, but in the enforced
concentration in them apart from understanding. Such
concentration is the root of suffering, of separateness and
the motives of dilemma. Thus, it is only necessary to abide
radically in understanding and not despair of it. It is only
necessary to enquire and not turn to some activity apart
from understanding which seeks to abolish the lower energy

Over time the man who understands
will experience gradual relief from the symptoms of his
problematic life. In his ease he will naturally and
voluntarily change the patterns of his life. They will
simply fall away in the force of understanding and the full
bliss of his consciousness. Indeed, even before a man begins
to adapt to the processes of enquiry and meditation, he must
have understood. And he will already have modified his
behavior in the direction of an easy internal control.
Understanding, even before it develops into profound
internal enquiry, is already a purifying force that relieves
a man from much voluntary self-exploitation that he
previously added to chronic difficulty.

Thus, enquiry continues to attend to
the tendency of consciousness in meditation. Where
understanding has become well-developed through this
experience, or in a man relatively free of enforced
concentration in the lower energies, the attention will
gradually move into higher areas. Then he may tend to the
emotions of the heart and even its psychic depth. Abiding in
understanding, he should enquire also of these: “Avoiding
relationship?” And so this concentration will also ease. He
may move higher, into the center analogous to the lower
throat and the thyroid gland, which are also the seat of
Shakti, and so witness the display of power, the higher
psyche, the vibrations and glowing mentality of profound
internal regions. He should abide in understanding and
continue to enquire. No matter where his mind tends to move,
he should continue to enquire, gently but intensively,
directly to the content of his involvement.

In any case, the field of his
attention is always a separative movement, as he will
discover by enquiry, by radically holding to understanding,
which is the source of enquiry. The result of this process
of understanding appears to be a kind of ascent, as if there
were an abandonment of the lower. This is, however, not in
fact the case. There is simply a relaxation of

Ordinarily we are drawn into
enforced and chronic attention in various centers of energy
or experience. These became the foundation of our point of
view, and so a man who is profoundly and exclusively
concentrated in some complex of experience feels that energy
overwhelmingly, and everything else, including the centers
of his conscious life apart from that, appears over against
it. This is the mechanism whereby men acquire the root
consciousness of separateness and the chronic activity of
separativeness. But when a man clings to understanding this
complex of concentration eases and relaxes, so that he
regains the natural contact with the total circuit of
conscious life, which natively and already knows its freedom
and wholeness.

As a result of the way of
understanding through enquiry, the forms of chronic
concentration are relieved and the man abides in
understanding rather than the exclusive centers of
concentration. The process of enquiry is not a search for
understanding or any effect, but it is understanding
maintaining itself and knowing itself under all conditions.
Thus, in one who continually understands, fear and chronic
reactivity are gradually stilled. What in fact has happened
is that he no longer is concentrated in some separate
complex of energy, some portion of the circuit of being. The
man who is fixed in animated sexuality and acquisition which
tend to exhaust and dissipate life energy, becomes vital,
healthier and stronger as this concentration is eased and he
restores the internal connection with the higher center in
the solar plexus Just so, a man experiences an emotional
expansion and a true relational ability as he restores the
connection to the creative center at the heart. His
effectiveness and power increase as he opens even higher in
the throat and the mental centers in the head.

Thus, we see that the ascent which
this process involves is in fact not an abandonment of the
lower but a greater and greater inclusiveness, so that the
man begins to function as a whole and experiences creative
control over life processes. This inclusiveness and not any
kind of exclusive ascent or descent is the form of real
existence, of creative life. And the way of understanding is
the root of that inclusive and real life.

As the process of real meditation
increases in its radical intensity, the man will find that
the mind tends less and less to concentrate in the centers
below the head. In time he will have achieved such ease of
internal relationship to life and he will have come to
exercise such creative control or use of the life process
that he will not be drawn excitedly to the impressions of
the life complex. His enquiry will quickly move through
these movements and he will center easily in the form of
understanding, in a fulness that is silent and blissful. He
will enjoy the radiant calm and certainty that is natural to
the center of consciousness in the head. Such a man has
achieved creative realization of the unconscious and
subconscious life process. He has not abandoned life, nor
does he minimize it. It has simply become an area of
creative enjoyment that is usable to him and free of
necessary dilemma.

Such a person will then also feel
the mind, the center of consciousness or conscious
understanding, tend upward toward what is in fact
superconscious, prior to life individuality. In meditation
he will experience a new form of enquiry. The problem in the
mind and the creative centers below the head is generally
one of the refusal of relationship in a concrete sense. It
is life-abandonment, the refusal of life processes, the life
of love and inclusion, of intelligence and human creativity.
But when enquiry is drawn above, toward what is not
conscious but superconscious and thus not presently included
in the field of the mind, the individual begins to
comprehend the avoidance of relationship on a new level.
Then it is not a matter of the avoidance of concrete
relationship by separating yourself as an entity from other
entities. Personal existence in the world is not a function
of the higher conscious life.

In meditation, as the individual is
drawn above, toward the aperture at the top and slightly to
the rear of the head, he will remain in understanding and
enquire as before, but his realization will not be one of
relational ease. Instead, he will perceive that the very
concept of his individual existence as it functions on a
conscious level and down into the subconscious and
unconscious life levels is in fact the source of dilemma or
separateness. He will simply see that it does not apply,
indeed, does not exist, and the separative movement that
creates it on the mental level will simply dissolve. In that
intense perception in understanding the fundamental activity
of identification and differentiation will reveal itself and
subside, at first for brief moments, and then easily, for
longer periods, until it becomes a constant that also
affects the operating basis of the conscious

Those who pursue this very
perception as an exclusive goal call it “enlightenment” or
“Self-realization,” a kind of once and for all attainment.
In fact it is only the natural perception of
super-consciousness. If a man has manipulated himself in
dilemma to the point of temporary abandonment of the “lower”
life and even the living mind, he will feel he has attained
reality and so await the dissolution of his personal
existence at death. But the man who understands does not
abandon understanding or life. He has no motive for doing
so. He will not be troubled by the return to mental life and
human existence. He simply understands that he has begun to
include an even higher center and source of true being in

In any case, whatever arises in
meditation, you should abide in understanding and simply
enquire. In time the movement of consciousness will not even
tend to the point of super-consciousness above. The enquiry
will become radical knowledge prior to every kind of
activity and perception. Then you will find that
understanding even ceases to function as a mental activity.
It will have become radically concentrated in that to which
the enquiry always leads. That silence, incomparable depth
and formless object of contemplation will become utterly
absorbing. Then, suddenly, you may find that you are seated
in the heart. All the movements of consciousness, on every
level, will have fallen away, and you will remain tacitly
aware as no-seeking in the heart, to the right side of the
chest. You will possess unqualified knowledge of Reality and
enjoy untouchable bliss. And it will be the same bliss you
know as understanding.

But do not seek this state, and, if
it comes, continue to enquire as soon as you possess a mind
with which to enquire. As your enquiry continues you will
discover that you rise again out of the heart, while yet
remaining founded in the heart. You will experience the
current of bliss and joy rising again to the sahasrar. And
this current or circuit of bliss will remain, even under the
conditions of enquiry, as your fundamental form. It is the
Amrita Nadi, the “bright.” It is enjoyment, no-dilemma, and
it contains every creative faculty. In that form, as you
continue the life of understanding and enquiry, you will
enjoy the continuous flowering of every kind of wisdom and

Understanding, from the beginning
and forever, is the source of our true and real life. It is
possessed of no exclusive goal, and thus it is not motivated
to concentrate above or below. Its motivation is its own and
very form, which is already inclusive. Thus, just as we in
our ordinary humanity suffer by exclusive concentration in
what is below understanding, we would likewise suffer by
exclusive concentration in what is above it. To concentrate
in the centers or realms of the superconscious is a
separative activity, not an inclusive one. It is enforced
and recommended by the teachings invented in the great
search. Real life, radically founded in understanding,
maintains the form or circuit of conscious life. The full
life of understanding is not one in which the unconscious
and subconscious become conscious activities of the mind
(although such is at least experimentally possible, as
proven by certain yogis). Nor is it one in which the
superconscious becomes a conscious process under the control
of the conscious mind (although such control or
consciousness appears to be represented in the attainment of
certain great saints). The full life of understanding is one
in which the unconscious and subconscious processes remain
as such, and so also with the superconscious processes. The
difference is that the dilemma is removed, and the link or
circuit between them all, including the process of
consciousness and conscious understanding, is attained,
asserted and enjoyed.

Thus, the real man is creatively
present. He operates in the mind of understanding, which is
fully bathed in the higher light, and which moves into the
creative realization and even evolution of life. This real
man is the future man of all the universes. In him the
creative movement coming out of the heart will find
fulfilment in the great realization of manifest

Such men, who abide radically in
understanding and so realize life apart from dilemma, search
and fear, are creatively involved in maintaining and using
the form of reality. They operate to restore that form by
constantly regaining the circuit of consciousness and power
that begins in the heart. And they move to make that form
the basis for all actual existence, even what we call the



of Listening