The Knee of Listening – Chapter 13


The Life and Understanding


Franklin Jones

Copyright 1971 By Franklin Jones

All rights reserved

Chapter 13: The Return to India and the Problem of Spiritual Consciousness

In May of 1969 I had definitely decided to separate myself from Scientology. From then until August I was devoted to the understanding of the problem of the mind rather than to its solution. But this was also a period of expanded experience in the Shakti, the manifesting energy that proceeds from the highest reality or Divine Consciousness.

During the exercise of the Scientology O.T. (“operating thetan”) processes I gave up all effort to suppress that Force in me. One evening, while I was still in California, it rushed again into the form of my being with tremendous power, so that it seemed I was no longer even remotely concerned with the petty contamination’s of the mind. I was suddenly returned to an experience of my Self-nature and a sublime recognition of the Divinity of even the physical world. I lived entirely in this consciousness, making no effort at all to maintain or create it. The O.T. levels ceased to involve matters of importance to me. I passed through them quickly and returned to New York.

In the weeks that followed I became aware of a new dimension of the activity of Shakti. Not only was my own state expanded in its Presence, but the people who were closest to me began to experience the effects of Shakti through contact with me. My wife Nina, Patricia Morley, a girl whom we had met in Scientology and who had come to live with us, and Sal Lucania, now a former Scientologist and my business partner, were particularly affected with these experiences. And there were a few others who seemed drawn by this Presence that had begun to operate through me.

At first I merely talked to them about my understanding of real spiritual life, and they began to discover parallels to this understanding in their own experiences and doubts. Then they began to have uncommon experiences of a Presence that affected them separately and in different ways while they were otherwise apart from me.

These experiences took the form of visions, or the sensation of a real but invisible Presence, or the sense of being sublimed and surrounded in a form of energy and fulness that quieted and clarified the mind. They would ask me about these experiences and, before long, I found myself having to function as a teacher and an instrument the Shakti.

My own state was so profoundly drawn into that Consciousness that I found no difficulty in speaking to them and making recommendations that seemed wholly intelligent and even inspired. At times I even experienced visual communications of a psychic nature. I would see auras of light about the person, or see his thoughts appearing in my mind, or intuitively perceive certain images in his forehead or his body. I would also become directly aware of the Shakti as it passed through these people or was expressed in them, and I could easily trace the currents of energy and see where they became concentrated, halted or obstructed at the various vital points or “chakras.” On more than one occasion I saw Baba appear and initiate a person with the Shakti by touch, and I could see a blue light appear and surround the person’s body.

But the most common experience was one in which my own being and that of everyone I saw were contained in the inclusive form of the Shakti itself. Thus, I needed no uncommon visionary communications in order to intuit the nature of anyone’s existence, experience or problem. These things were simply obvious to me on the level of uncommunicated, direct knowledge. I seemed merely to live in an inclusive intelligence that was not limited to my reflective awareness or my ability to read “signs.” I simply knew the truth of what I perceived and had no sense at all of living as a separate, conditioned entity.

As all of this became more and more obvious and continuous I remembered Baba’s statement that I would become a spiritual teacher in about a year. It seemed now that this event was occurring even without my volition or control. I wrote to Baba and informed him about my experience. I told him that I felt I needed instruction in the conscious use of these abilities. And I said that I did not wish to carry on this teaching without his consent and blessing. I asked him to give me the authority to teach in this way, and to bless me in the traditional way by giving me a spiritual name. Baba replied by telling me to come to India as soon as possible.

At first I thought I would be unable to leave until the following year. We were heavily occupied with business, which we hoped would eventually lead us to a high degree of financial security.

Our business involved the creation of new corporations, gathered together by our partner, who was a former corporate lawyer. Sal and I functioned mainly as “finders” or promoters, and our work involved the attempt to gather funds or a commitment of support from various private parties and brokerage houses.

However, it was at this time that the financial market went into a slump, and it became almost impossible to gather free money for investment in new corporations. Within a matter of weeks after I returned to New York it became clear that we would be unable to survive the difficulties emerging in the financial market. I spent the last days in July severing my connection with Scientology and securing a refund for the money I had spent on the “upper levels.” By August 1st our business was liquidated as far as we were concerned. Sal went off to find new employment, and I made ready to fly to Bombay.

I flew to Bombay alone and arrived there on August 3rd. Peter Dias met me at the airport, and we took a taxi to the home of one of Baba’s devotees in Bombay proper. Baba was to arrive that morning for an extended stay in the city, away from the Ashram.

He arrived about 11 a.m. I bowed at his feet and gave him a few Gifts I had brought from America. Then there was a brief discussion about my trip. I would spend four weeks constantly in Baba’s Presence, but this brief conversation was to be the only one we would have from that moment. Just prior to leaving I addressed him about an experience I had in meditation, but I have never since had a personal discussion with him.

I realized at that moment that I did not have a personal relationship with Baba. He did not appear to me as a human individual. There was not the slightest movement of interest on my part in his personal attitudes, or anything that amounted to personality. But neither did I perceive myself as a personality in any sense. The revolution in my understanding of the mind and the ordinary adventure had finally removed any sense that I operated on the level of character and personal life.

The discussion of my trip, brief as it was, seemed the most tawdry kind of nonsense, totally beside the point. It seemed required of us under the circumstances, and it was handled as a formality, but afterwards there was not a single attempt on Baba’s part to communicate with me verbally. And, apart from bowing to him as I entered or left the room, I never again communicated with Baba man to man.

I retired to a position several feet away and in front of Baba. Apart from a brief trip to spend a few days at Baba’s Ashram and the burial shrine of Bhagavan (“Lord”) Nityananda, I spent the next four weeks sitting in this large meeting room or meditating in the area that adjoined Baba’s bedroom.

We were staying in the expansive but very modestly appointed apartments of Ram Pratap, a captain in the Indian navy. At night I slept on a hard cot in a small room with another visitor. During the day and evening hundreds of people would come to sit in Baba’s Presence, chant devotional hymns, and enjoy meals prepared by the women as an offering to Baba. In the early afternoon I would sometimes take exercise by walking in the nearby streets of Bombay. Sometimes I would go to a bookstore, or have a cab drive me through the city. But the constant routine was to arise at 5 a.m., meditate, and sit with Baba for hours at a time. I would eat a light meal twice a day and rest briefly after lunch. And I would meditate almost constantly, either sitting before Baba or by retiring to the small room behind him.

I was rarely involved in conversations, but I passed through the weeks in a perpetual silence and internal solitude, observing the unusual phenomena that were arising in consciousness. After our first and terminal conversation I removed myself to sit among the men in front of Baba. I sat quietly, concentrated on Baba, and withdrew my attention within.

My own state at the time was uncommon. I no longer was engaged in a continual experience of the mind rising in thoughts, impulses and memories. This had ceased to occupy or interest me. Instead there was a continuous awareness of consciousness itself, witnessing not thoughts in the concrete mind, but forms of energy, space, vision, and pure self-awareness, without conflict, dilemma or identification with bodily limits.

As I sat with Baba I wondered if he could perceive my internal state. The brevity of our conversation seemed to indicate that he was aware that personal communication was only a formality and a distraction for me. Then, as I sat meditatively in his Presence, I became aware of existence totally beyond the physical body. My awareness moved in a space that was not in the concrete mind. I swooned and floated in a limitless void bright with cosmic force. As I moved in that space I sensed that Baba was also with me. I wondered if he was aware of this cosmic adventure of spiritual being, and I opened my eyes. He was looking at me, smiling and swaying his head as if to imitate the movement of consciousness in limitless space. I smiled back at him, and took this sign as an acknowledgment of my own state. From then I assumed that Baba knew why I had returned to him, and I looked to experience his teaching on a purely internal level.

My first impression of Baba and his teaching, which I had experienced at the Ashram a year before, was, among other things, a communication on a verbal and personal level. There was a personal relationship, a practical philosophy, and a consistent address to my personal problems and seeking. My year in Scientology had been an extension of that first impression. Scientology paralleled the typical Indian view, wherein certain aspects of concrete experience are approached as a problem or degree of impurity, and by various means it is sought to remove these impositions and return to an elemental and prior state of purity and consciousness.

Thus, Baba had concentrated on teaching me philosophy, methods of purification and meditation, approaches to various obstacles in life, etc. But as a result of my year of experimenting with the purification of the mind by concentrating on its content, the whole process of memory and reaction, I no longer resided in the limited view of the personal problem and its psychology. I had become conscious of a present activity that was consciousness itself, and had begun to intuit the data in consciousness on a level that transcended the concrete and personal instrument.

I felt that I had now begun to realize experience on a new level. The forms in consciousness were no longer of a mostly personal nature, implying a separate and human identity as its basis. Now I perceived the contents of consciousness as forms of energy and super-consciousness, above the level of the concrete mind.

When I sat in Baba’s Presence or in meditation I was immediately drawn to concentrate at a point in the aperture of the head, in the crown, and even to some intuited point above the head. Thus, I focused in uncommon perceptions of the universal Shakti. Baba. seemed to recognize this and , made no effort to approach me personally, even with common friendliness, as if such communication would only awaken and reinforce the activity of identification on a lower level.

Thus, I left myself and was left by those around me to experience existence purely on a spiritual or superconscious level. And I spent my month in India in constant meditation on this level of perception . I began also to experience communication from Baba entirely on the level of intuitive consciousness, without the addition of verbal address. It was a time of godlike existence.

Shortly after lunch on the first day of my visit I received Baba’s blessing in the form of a new arousal of the Shakti energy. He came from behind me and entered the large sitting room as if to pass to his seat. I expected him simply to pass by. But he stopped suddenly and patted me on the head several times. Then he went on to his seat in the corner of the room.

I remained seated on the floor with the others, listening to Baba’s conversation with various visitors. But as the minutes passed I felt a strong energy in my back that soon took over my entire spine and body. The Shakti finally concentrated very powerfully in the head, particularly at the very top, where I had been experiencing the urge to meditate.

After about half an hour I passed naturally into very deep meditation. I was concentrated and contained in a superconscious force. The “kriyas” in the body were almost entirely absent. Then I saw the image of Bhagavan Nityananda. He was facing me as I had seen him in a photograph, with a wide expression in his face and eyes, as if he was beholding the form of some deity. His hands were raised to the sides of his face, and his fingers and palms spread as if they contained and generated a tremendous force of blissful energy.

After several minutes this image disappeared and I took over the form of Bhagavan Nityananda myself. My eyelids opened wide and my eyes rolled up toward the top of my head. And my hands rose up beside my face. The palms and fingers splayed, and I could feel the Shakti flowing in my body and my head, passing out toward Baba in benediction. I sat like this for perhaps an hour. I experienced only an absolute bliss and calm, and an overwhelming power flowed through me into the room. I seemed to behold and hold a sphere of energy in my hands. And then I saw that it was reality itself, the form and force of all existence, including all the universes and every form.

When at last I opened my eyes and resumed my ordinary state in the body, Baba was standing beside me in the room. We smiled at each other, and he reached toward me. I reached out to him with my hand, and we grasped each other’s hand in the blissful communication of that energy.

In the morning it became my practice to rise at 5 a.m. and sit outside Baba’s room for meditation. A few others also sat around in silent meditation at the same time. Baba would come out a few minutes later and sit on some cushions against the wall, two or three feet in front of me. He did this for the first two or three mornings of my visit, as if to watch my meditation.

Finally, about the third morning, I had been sitting for nearly an hour. Meditation had become an immense problem. My mind was filled with all kinds of alternative programs and techniques. I battled with Rudi’s method, then Baba’s, with mantras coordinated with breathing, watching thoughts arise, and concentration in various chakras or centers. Soon I became merely confused and unsettled, and I intended to question Baba about meditation when I sat with him in company later in the morning.

But then Baba came out and sat before me in silence. And soon I began to experience an internal teaching about meditation. I was shown the various internal centers and the various activities in the mind. Then I saw the Shakti rising out of the “muladhar,” the lowest chakra, near the anus. And it rose of itself through the various centers. As it rose, each event in the natural process of meditation took place. automatically. The breath became even and began to coordinate with the mind. I saw how the breath affects thought, and how thought affects the breath. Then a concentration replaced this activity of passive observation. Consciousness was directed above, between the brows, and then in the sahasrar, the highest internal center, in the crown of the head.

Each breath became not a mere physical process but a process directed by the Shakti from the point of consciousness rather than any focal point in the body. With each inhalation I felt the Shakti move out of the heart, down to the muladhar, up the spine, and center at the top of the head. Then, for a moment, the breath would halt, and I would enjoy a concentration and reception of energy and bliss above. Then, with each exhalation, the Shakti would move down from the crown of the head and return to the stillness of effortless being in the heart. As this process continued, consciousness and energy sublimed into a blissful awareness, an unqualified and natural form of participation in the root sources of reality.

After a while Baba left the room. I gradually returned to my ordinary state of bodily awareness, and I went in to sit with him and his visitors. I wondered how much of this experience had been either deliberately created by him or at least consciously witnessed by him. I sought some evidence of the verity of internal communication between Baba and myself.

When I came into the room Baba was busy writing on a note pad. After a while he spoke to someone, and I was told that he was writing something for me. Later someone came and showed me what he had written. It was written in Hindi or Sanskrit and would have to be translated. But I was told that Baba had given me a name and he would bless me with it on August 9th, the anniversary of Bhagavan Nityananda’s mahasamadhi.

Baba had apparently kept his promise to instruct me and give me a name, as well as the right to teach. But, as in all cases of gifts from such people, the reception in the disciple can act as a test. I immediately felt this fulfilment rise up as a barrier in me of pride and self-consciousness. When people go to such sources they get only as much as they seek and desire. Thus, I saw that if I made this gift the object of my stay, I would close myself off to the higher experience that I truly desired.

I nodded to Baba and thanked him, but I made no move after that to appear as if absorbed in that gift. And as it happened that gift was held before me by various delays and complications for nearly two weeks. The people around Baba felt his message had to be translated perfectly. Thus, it was handed from person to person, a professor of English was awaited, there were disagreements on certain words, there was no time to type a final copy.

The Indians seemed reluctant to give it to me at all, and they continually minimized its importance, although it was the first time a Westerner had formally and publicly been given a name by Baba. I was told that I was to be named “Dhyanananda,” which means “one whose bliss is realized in meditation,” “the bliss of meditation,” or, more properly, “one whose bliss is in absolute surrender to his Self.” The name had been created for me during that morning of internal teaching about meditation. Thus, Baba showed me that I could rely on the verity of non-verbal teaching.

The day of Bhagavan Nityananda’s mahasamadhi passed. I thought perhaps Baba had forgotten. But as I sat in the rear of the room in the evening Baba arose to go to bed, and he suddenly glanced toward me and said: “Dhyanananda:” I bowed to him and acknowledged the blessing.

The Indians told me that Baba’s letter to me would be prepared and given to me on August 15th, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the day on which he was blessed with Divine Consciousness by his Guru, Bhagavan Nityananda. But even that day passed with no indications from anyone. Finally, as I lay down to go to sleep, Amma, Baba’s secretary, quickly entered the room and left again, leaving me the typed copy of Baba’s letter.

Even after many days of professional translation the letter remains in a more or less primitive form. The language does not quite represent the flow of Baba’s words, but I include it here as I received it:

You have sought and found peace in meditation. You have evinced keen interest in meditation. Since meditation has become the aim of your life, you are being hereby named as DHYANANANDA. You will hereafter be known as DHYANANANDA in the field of Yoga.

You are a promising student of Shree Gurudev Ashram. Chiti Shakti, the Kundalini, which brings about Siddha Yoga, is activated in you. You have also studied Vedanta.. The Inner Self which is the secret of Vedanta, the basis of religion, the realisation of which is the ultimate object of human life, is awakened in you.

Only he who has himself seen can show unto others. On the same principle you can now initiate others into meditation.

The scriptures declare that so long as you have unflinching faith in the Guru, so long as you remain immersed in the thought of God, so long as you have equal reverence for everyone, Kundalini, the divine power, will continue to help you fully in achieving your rightful share in material and spiritual wealth.

The Kundalini Yoga can be imparted to anyone since the Kundalini power exists in everyone and everything exists in Kundalini.

May you be blessed with the ultimate experience of oneness with God through the performance of your duty and through his worship in the form of meditation.



In the days previous to this Baba had indicated to a visitor that I was a yogi, thereby giving me the right to that ancient title. Thus, for the world, I was to be known as “Sri Dhyanananda Yogi.” But by now all such titles had ceased to bear significance for me. I took it as a very kind acknowledgment and let it pass. No one has ever called me by that name.

I saw that this status was not properly my own. Baba himself had created the name as well as the experiences that gave me the right to it. He was acknowledging himself. I was careful to perceive this so as not to become identified some idea of personal accomplishment. Baba had shown me how to meditate. He had meditated me. The yoga was the Shakti itself. The Shakti was the “yogi.” It had nothing to do me. I would simply continue as before, seeking by my own lights, teaching wherever it was required, without presenting myself as some kind of exclusive source.

Indeed, as the days passed and my experiences increased, I felt more and more as if I had entered someone else’s wonderland. Baba is a Siddha, an accomplished yogi with all of the various miraculous powers indicated in the Scriptures. Even he, like myself, was given these things as a gift by his Guru. And all of these things at last were given by the Shakti herself, the Divine Mother. My experiences did not depend on me. Baba’s experience did not depend on him. We were all gratuitously accepted into the court of the Goddess, Shakti. The universe and all experiences were her game, and I was simply being allowed to see this game, not in order to acquire Powers or status, but to recognize the source of all things and so remain free of all seeking.

During the time of my stay I experienced many unusual things. For the first time in my life I enjoyed the continuous status of a visionary and the various miraculous abilities that are described in classical spiritual literature.

Many others who spent that month with Baba also appeared to experience unusual phenomena. I would spend a couple of hours every afternoon in the meditation room outside the hall where Baba sat with his devotees. The room was usually filled with people in meditation. Some sat silent and composed. Others performed spontaneous kriyas and mudras. Some danced or sat and moved their arms in the sinuous movements of dance. Some laughed or cried quite suddenly. Others sang or chanted, even where this was not characteristic of their usual demeanor. Others saw visions and lights.

I thought of that place as the “swooning room.” At those times there was an incredibly powerful and irresistible force that would take one over bodily and mentally. At times I would crawl around on the floor, nearly blinded and immobile with intoxication. Others crawled too, and some barked and hooted like animals. At last I would lie prone on the floor as if I were pinned. My body would swoon away and I would spin into bliss.

Often, as I passed into deep meditation, I would leave the physical body and either witness or participate in events on various other planes. At times I would sit for long periods and witness an endless and automatic stream of images from various places. Some of these were merely the emanations of my own subconscious mind boiling off under the influence of Shakti. But often I would see actual places and events in other worlds and planets through astral travel or movements in super-consciousness. There would be marvelous scenes, some of them appearing as sublime perfections of the earth environment, and others that appeared to be built out of a mathematical and geometric logic of creativity. Those higher worlds did not appear as solid and separate from consciousness, as is the case with ordinary consciousness on earth. They appeared to be present creations of consciousness itself, and experiences there, including the environments themselves, chanced according to the consciousness of those who enjoyed them.

As all of these things passed I saw that there was no necessity, no seriousness to the whole affair of creation. It was merely a pattern and a play in consciousness that I should witness without suffering any sense of identity within it or a single modification in my own nature. I saw that reality was not this separate play of the Divine Shakti, but my own nature, the Self or Siva of the Hindus.

On several occasions I entered these worlds in the form of a subtle body. Once I met Baba before a passage leading underground. We entered a cave where there was a huge dome of honey-white light in the floor. When we saw it we recognized it as a seat of the Divine, and we merged joyously within it. On another occasion I met Baba in the subtle world and we gazed in one another’s eyes. Soon we began to revolve in opposite directions about the point of contact and merged into the same nature.

Then I also began to experience myself in the form of various deities and demons. I took on the graceful Buddhalike qualities and sat eternally calm in meditation. But then I would also take on the terrible forms of Siva, and my body and face twisted about in fierce expressions. I sat like the ferocious aspect of God, with skulls of blood and hatchets in my hands.

Near the end of my visit I felt I should communicate something of my experience to Baba, in order to acknowledge him and test my awareness. I told him how in meditation a black spot had often appeared before me. Then I saw the muladhar appear below me as a Siva-lingam, a monolith often found in temples. Then I appeared below, my hands tied to the lingam in a gesture of prayer, pointing above. I rose up with the lingam into the sahasrar and experienced the perfect, infinite, unmoved Sat-Chit-Ananda, the pure existence-consciousness-bliss of the Indian Godhead, my own nature as the Divine Being of all the world’s Scriptures. From this point of view I looked down again at the muladhar, and thousands of devotees were raising their hands prayerfully to me. Then I received the knowledge that if I remained concentrated in the Sahasrar all of the experiences of realized consciousness would be given through me to others.

I asked Baba if I had received the true meaning of the experience. He only said: “Yes. The experience was true. Concentrate in the sahasrar if you like. The Shakti will do everything. The spot you saw is blue. It only appears black because of impurities.”

The “blue” spot is the vision of the supra-causal body, the most subtle and highest source of experiential consciousness. It is the abode of the Siddhas. We dwell in it in a subtle body, totally one with the Shakti. Apparently, Baba’s purpose for my present visit was to make me fully aware of this dimension and to see its source to be the same that manifests our ordinary state.

Now my visit was nearing an end. My experiences were a seemingly endless revelation of the forms of spiritual reality. And I had acquired something of the ego of spiritual seeking and discovery. But I was already becoming aware of the inconlusiveness of all such experiences. Once the problem of the mind had ceased to endear me, I began to intuit spiritual forms Then I acquired a new problem, the problem of spirituality. The matter of freedom and real consciousness seemed somehow to depend on the attainment of spiritual experience. Spiritual experiences of an ultimate kind seemed identical to freedom and reality itself. Thus, I was driven to acquire them.

But as these events unfolded they too became common. The display of images, the transports to other worlds, the identification with modes of Divine Being, the perception of higher and subtler forms of my own identity and ability, all began to pass before me with less and less interest.

I began to feel: “This is not the point. This is not it. Reality is prior to all of this. Reality is my own nature.” But the more this feeling arose in me the more aggressively these experiences arose, so that I again began to feel trapped. I felt as if my true path was not Baba’s Siddha Yoga. I no longer was moved by a desire for these experiences. They were nothing but more life, more patterns, more experiences calling up the process of identification, differentiation and desire. The search for spiritual experience, the motivation to achieve a living victory on the basis of a spiritual problem, seemed only another form of seeking, suffering and separative mentality. There was no radical difference between the higher and lower worlds. There was no radical advantage in any kind of experience.

I began to feel a resistance to Baba and the Shakti. I felt no need to continue this whole ritual of spiritual life, spiritual society, yoga, India, meditation, Guru, visions. I wanted the freedom to understand this whole miasma of personal and universal life. Thus, as the day approached on which I was to leave I began to welcome the opportunity to go home in peace. I was full of love for what I knew Baba to be in reality, but I sorely needed to get out of the spiritual game.

I had made arrangements to leave on a Friday, at the end of August. But on Wednesday night, as I slept, I became aware of Bhagavan Nityananda’s Presence. Then he appeared to me, and he spoke to me throughout the night of my experiences. He told me I should prepare to leave immediately, Thursday, the day before I had planned.

The next afternoon I took my leave of Baba. He patted my back in blessing and gifted me with arms full of flowers. He also gave me a huge red apple. I bowed to him gratefully and turned to leave. He was still waving to me as I approached the stairway. And as I began to descend the stairs I felt the beginnings of sickness in my stomach.

I flew to New York via Tel Aviv and Rome. On the first leg I felt nauseous and overcome with fever. And by the time I arrived in Tel Aviv I was quite ill with cramps and diarrhea. As I sat waiting for my plane I felt exhausted and didn’t know how I could travel comfortably. Then I remembered the apple. Baba had forced me to pay particular notice to it as I left. I thought that the necessity for my early leave and Baba’s gift of the apple were perhaps all part of a plan created by the Shakti. A sickness which was to purify my body and nerves was about to come over me in my last days with Baba. And so my early leave had been planned.

I ate the apple slowly, wondering if it would possibly affect my illness. Almost immediately, the churning in my stomach and intestines ceased. The body became comfortable. The purifying work of the apparent illness continued even for several days after my return to New York. But I continued tranquilly and comfortably, knowing the Shakti was at work. The whole experience had only been a sign of how the Shakti would continue to work for me according to its intelligence of my needs after I left Baba’s Presence in India.


Chapter 14
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