No Remedy – Bubba Free John – An Introduction to the life and practices of the spiritual community of Bubba Free John

No Remedy
An Introduction to the Life and Practices
of the Spiritual Community of Bubba Free John.

Compiled & edited by Bonnie Beavan and Nina Jones in collaboration with Bubba Free John.
First edition: 6/75

under construction


Part Three: The Complications of Sadhana



Only Then Does the Student Touch My Heart: The Conscious Process as Prasadd

[Students] also continue to approach me through the formality of Prasad, and their lives continue to develop as service to me. However, the formal process of Prasad is not engaged during our times of sitting. It is done by students before or after I appear in the Hall. The time of sitting is an outwardly non-formal extension or realization of the formal sacrament of Prasad. Therefore, the student engages in an inwardly formal process that essentially duplicates the outward formalities of the sacrament of Prasad. This inwardly formal process is what is implied by my invitation to students to simply sit with me and be consciously involved, along with me, in the enjoyment of our mutual company

Satsang is the condition of life in which there is constant and conscious involvement in a total, practical, and mutually sacrificial relationship with the Guru, or the living Divine Presence. This Satsang is the foundation principle of the way of Understanding. It is realized in action in more total, perfect, and spiritually profound ways as the stages of sadhana develop. The new Communion devotee realizes this Satsang in the form of the practical or functional devotion of his or her life as service to me. The student takes this a step further. When sitting with me in the Satsang Hall, at Persimmon or at home, the student constantly sacrifices himself to me and constantly receives the Prasad of my spiritual influence. As long as he or she can consciously maintain this activity while sitting with me in the Satsang Hall, the student may remain until I get up to leave. If distractions begin to hold his attention too powerfully, then the student should leave the room and continue his sadhana in the form of practical service to me. (When sitting at home or under circumstances when I am not physically present, the student may spend up to an hour each time, twice a day, in this non-formal process of Prasad.)

Sitting with me is Satsang, it is always the great occasion of Prasad, it is mutual sacrifice. The life of Satsang is right fulfillment of the Law, which is Sacrifice. Therefore, the student simply sits with me, just as all my devotees simply live with me. But the living and the sitting must be forms of the Law, forms of sacrifice in the manner or after the model of the formal occasion of Prasad.4

Since he is already involved in the second or spiritual stage of the way of Divine Communion, the new student in the way of Understanding will already have been sitting with Bubba in formal Satsang. And the initiation of the Guru-Siddhi will essentially already be active in him. And, in the beginning of his work in the way of Understanding, the form of his sadhana is not essentially different from his practice as a Communion devotee. He continues to witness the stirring up of his whole subjective life in the intense Presence and Power of the Guru. If he maintains the form of his sadhana, he will neither indulge nor suppress all this. He will simply observe it as it arises while continuing in the momentum of his ordinary, functional life. We all tend to get distracted—if not horrified—at some of the content that is revealed to us. Thus, we temporarily lose (actually abandon) the thread of sadhana. But when the student sees something about himself, he should, like the Communion devotee, simply take it into account and continue to sacrifice himself to Bubba through the practical conditions of life. In the midst of formal sitting, if some sort of content arises, he should simply turn his attention again to Bubba.

Therefore, the student should sit in my Company, but he should constantly and consciously sacrifice or surrender himself to me all the while. This is not to be a self-conscious effort. It is not a kind of “working on yourself.” It is simply a matter of the constant return of attention, with love, to my Presence. In the process the individual will observe the modifications of his attention. He will observe distractions and subjective involvements of all kinds. When these arise, he should simply return and yield his attention to me. This is his gift of self, his real sacrifice. When this is done, I return to him my own Gift, my own Presence, my Prasad, my spiritual influence.5

It is not that your subjective “stuff” may arise in Bubbas Presence. It is supposed to, so that the conscious process may begin in you. But if you get involved in that content and distracted to the point of being unable to return attention to the Guru, then it is time to get up from meditation and go out and perform that same sacrifice in more tangible ways. Many students find that when they actually do leave the Satsang Hall and go serve in some practical fashion, they feel the Gurus Presence in their lives more powerfully than when they were sitting distracted in his Presence in the Hall. Bubba recently wrote,

The true sacrificial approach to me, the true turning of self to the practice of devotion, which is the whole life made to serve me under all conditions, ensures that our spiritual connection is alive and my quickening and awakening Siddhi will be effective.6

What Bubba means by devotion is not emotional enthusiasm, but living commitment. If you are committed to the Guru rather than to your own transformation, you will always do what is appropriate

The core of the students life, then, is the continued self-sacrifice that began in the second stage of the way of Divine Communion. As a student, however, you are beginning to receive the Gurus Prasad in forms that you perhaps could not fully appreciate as a Communion devotee. Unless you are constantly reestablishing yourself in the principle of sacrifice to the Guru, you may not be able to appreciate these forms of Prasad even now. It sometimes seems impossible, when starkly witnessing your withdrawal from others, to recognize and use that observation as Prasad. You have to be sensitive to the intuitively happy, free quality of all real observation as a spontaneous event of Grace. And you have to live your sadhana of surrendering your life, negativity included, to the Guru. As Bubba says, happiness, freedom from concern, is itself the discipline. Again, it sometimes seems unnecessarily austere to really surrender the delicious energies and blisses that may awaken in you as a result of the Gurus Presence. In that case you have to resort again to service and sacrifice to Bubba. Those effects of the Gurus Prasad also must be observed; as a student you have no right to them. Your business as a student is the comprehension of your entire life game. In the Community, the way of action that serves such intelligence will always be demanded of you, again and again, every day and every hour. And so, in time, as you yield without dramatization all your preferences, inclinations, and patterns of avoidance, the conscious process will intensify as real self-observation, insight, and enquiry

When Bubba speaks of non-dramatization, by the way, he does not mean that the student must become a perfect human being! To try to do that would miss the point. The student has to see the failure of his life, the impossibility of “succeeding” at sadhana. His vital stance and motion as a separate human being in the world must be undermined in student sadhana. So the actual play of it does not read like a story of perfect will, intensity, commitment, and faultless action. The student is continually seeing his faults, continually being confronted with his inclinations to dramatize his emotions, his laziness, his boredom, his cravings—you name it, it all comes up. And every now and again, he blows it. But the secret to sadhana, even if youve blown it temporarily, is to pick up again the thread of your submission to the Guru and become responsible for what you have seen. As Bubba says, “just dont do that any more.” It is not a matter of correcting your failings or suppressing your tendencies, but of allowing yourself to see immediately what all that amounts to—the avoidance of relationship. If your observation is true, you may then become responsible in those areas, instead of remaining automatically subject to your unconscious and subconscious whims.

The students service to me, under and as all conditions, is his only meditation, until enquiry. My service is in the forms of Teaching, Community, and Siddhi (as Prasad and Grace in every phase of sadhana)

I look for this service, this loving sacrifice. Only then does the student touch my heart. Such a one is given everything freely, happily, and in the proper time.7

As this process of Satsang or Prasad continues over time under all the conditions of sadhana, the student will see the development of true hearing, random self-observation, and insight. When these have matured, then he may also adapt to the responsibility of enquiry. Enquiry, then, becomes the form of his meditation in Satsang, under all conditions, the responsible means whereby he abides always, consciously, and intuitively in my Presence.8


From all this, we can see that the whole development of the conscious process at the core of the way of Understanding is a manifestation of the Gurus Prasad. It is all Grace and all dependent upon your surrender of your life to the Guru in practical terms. Moreover, once we do become sensitive to its truly Divine qualities, even the early stages of this conscious process become very happy events for us. Self-observation, for instance, which sounds a little dry and often reveals our subjective life in its most grotesque and nasty forms, is in fact a perfectly joyous occasion of Grace

Now that members of the Community only begin to deal with the conscious process if they are obviously inclined to it, and only when their sadhana as devotees of the Guru is mature, it is easier to appreciate that real conscious joy more quickly and truly than in the early days of the Ashram. Bubba spent several years laying the groundwork of the way of Understanding. Because he took such pains to describe and demonstrate in detail the nature of the activity of Narcissus and the various qualities of action that we would see in the course of understanding that activity, and because we tend, due to our own karmic inclination, to focus upon the content of our lives rather than to enjoy his Presence with us, most devotees involved in the early stages of the Community became obsessed with trying to achieve self-observation, insight, etc. We treated these activities in Consciousness as if they were activities of mind. We became very concerned to have it all occur in us, very absorbed in seeing all kinds of negative things about our own lives and those of our friends.

All of that, of course, had nothing to do with the true dynamics of the way of Understanding. In this radical way of inspection, you certainly do see all kinds of unpleasant things about yourself—there are nothing but unpleasant things about yourself, from the point of view of real Consciousness! But that witnessing in Truth is an absolutely ecstatic event

Why? Because self-observation in the way of Understanding, in the midst of the life of Divine Communion, is simple, immediate, and instantaneous restoration to perfect God-consciousness. It doesnt carry with it all the celestial trumpets and miraculous feelings of expansion that we ignorantly associate with God-consciousness in our thoughts and imagery. But it is very God-consciousness, nonetheless. Self-observation is spontaneous, present, uncaused, perfect absorption in the Guru, who is Consciousness itself

The process of discriminative, intuitive insight is a good indicator of the simultaneous sublimity and simplicity of life with the Siddha-Guru. There is nothing extraordinary about it. As an illumination, it is so quiet and free of dramatic effects that we quite often miss its appearance or fail to enjoy its true quality. Self-observation is entirely a Grace—it involves no effort whatsoever. And it occurs in the midst of any and all of the ordinary moments of our lives, when we are already founded securely in the devotional life of sacrifice to the Guru through the practical conditions relative to money, food, sex, study, and service. It is completely different from any form of deliberately watching, observing, or analyzing yourself

Self-watching is a kind of solution: you analyze your behavior, your experiences, your circumstances, your thoughts, feelings, and all the rest. You assume a kind of abstracted “witness” point of view, stand back, see it all, and then you get disgusted with yourself or decide to do something about it, etc. You will notice that whenever this occurs, you become dull, self-concerned, very conscious of dilemma, of problem

Self-observation is that insight in which what you might otherwise watch, or notice in yourself, is undone. It cannot occur as a method, as a kind of practice. True self-observation is not a matter of putting yourself forward in some kind of witnessing point of view to see the things that are occurring. Self-observation occurs when you are not present as a self, watching. Self-observation occurs in natural, functional moments of self-forgetting in which you are simply doing things. In other words, basically when you are fulfilling the conditions for sadhana that the Guru has given you, when you are living them in the spirit of Satsang, in the spirit of the Teaching, simply doing it in ordinary terms, at random within such a process you suddenly see or comprehend something. . . . When we are seated in the dimension of consciousness itself, not in the seat of the brain as a strategic position, we suddenly grasp the entire play that is our humanity. When you are free of all manipulative exercise, you are like a mirror to your own event and the process of your life shows itself to you in instant comprehension.9

DEVOTEE: Im not sure what the difference is between self-observation and self-watching

BUBBA: The difference becomes clear if you do sadhana. Self-watching, or conventional self-observation, is itself a technique, a method. It is not necessarily one that you adopt, that you devote time to, like reciting a mantra. It is something that some people do as that kind of technique, but it is more commonly the kind of method that is a natural strategy, a common strategy, a part of the accepted notion of sanity. Everybody is engaged in this practice of self-watching to one or another degree. Thus, you find yourself at random moments all day long looking at yourself, thinking about it all. But self-observation, real self-observation, is not something done methodically as a technique

DEVOTEE: It just happens?

BUBBA: In a sense you could say it just happens. It is not an activity of the ego, of your deciding to analyze yourself. This sadhana is not generated by my prescribing self-observation to you. Rather, it is generated on the basis of a consideration of the Teaching, a natural turning to the Guru, accepting his conditions with understanding, and fulfilling these conditions from hour to hour, always turning into the form of these conditions, making them the form of ones relationship to the Guru. This is sacrifice in its natural form. In the midst of that life there are real moments of insight from time to time. And when such insight appears, it is not in the form, “Oh, shucks! Will you look at that!” That kind of information comes from self-watching. When you find yourself out, that is self-watching. That is data. That is images that you capture about yourself. All that analysis is a natural product of self-watching

But the natural product or expression of real self-observation is radical insight. Where there is such insight, all the things that you feel bad about on the basis of your self-analysis or self-watching are undone. In a moment of real insight, there is no obstruction, there is no bad guy. The principle of the ego is not present in the moment of real self-observation, but it is always there in the moment of self-watching

Understand that everyone engages in self-watching. You are not prohibited from self-watching. However, you are not asked to self-watch. You will simply and randomly notice yourself self-watching, and you will begin to understand this strategy in yourself. You will see what it represents, why it is there. You will see what it really is. What is self-watching? It is self-meditation. What is that? It is contraction. You will really see it. You will know it to be that. And in those moments, that is insight. That is self-observation, that is understanding.10

Essentially, the conditions are preventions of dramatization. They are simple, appropriate, natural, life-supporting, and all of that, and from a certain point of view they are good, harmonious, sattwic things to do. But that is not their essential function. They are not true in themselves. Their essential function in the way of Understanding is to prevent the dramatization that you are always enacting via your functions. When, in some functional area, you are prevented from dramatization, you automatically observe yourself. Dramatization prevents self-observation because it gives you self-enactment through energies of various kinds and provides you with the consolation of unconsciousness. The conditions are all ways of frustrating the intention to dramatize and be unconscious. Therefore, self-observation arises. It appears as cognition at the plane of the mind, and thats how you know youve observed yourself. But actually the root of self-observation is the Heart of Consciousness itself. That is why this self-observation is tantamount to Self-knowledge, knowledge of Brahman, knowledge of the Heart or Real-God ultimately.11

Thus, it should be clear that self-observation is essentially an ecstatic instant of absorption in our natural, Divine Condition, which is Satsang or Divine Communion. This is not anything like our usual notion of what ecstasy is. Commonly, ecstasy is thought of as a great rush of energy, or even absorption in energy or visionary light to the point of loss of body-consciousness. Real ecstasy, however, is this very understanding. It involves no loss of consciousness, but, on the contrary, restoration to the true position of Consciousness, which is always already ecstatic relative to the plane of life events. And that is the kind of free, spacious, clear enjoyment that occurs in a moment of real self-observation.


4. Bubbas written instructions, November 28, 1975

5. Ibid

6. Bubbas written instructions, November 20, 1975

7. Bubbas written instructions, November 14, 1975

8. Bubbas written instructions, November 28, 1975

9. Bubba Free John, “Hidden Plumbing,” a talk to the Ashram, April 14, 1975

10. Bubba Free John, “My Company,” a talk to the Ashram, June 28, 1975

11. Bubba Free John, “Hidden Plumbing.”

No Remedy – Table of Contents


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Adi Da, Ramana Maharshi, Nityananda, Shridi Sai Baba, Upasani Baba,  Seshadri Swamigal , Meher Baba, Sivananda, Ramsuratkumar
“The perfect among the sages is identical with Me. There is absolutely no difference between us”
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