Life of Understanding – Week 2 – Bubba Free John – Lessons on The Knee of Listening



The Life of Understanding Series

A twelve week course taught by Bubba Free John starting in January 1973

(Week 2 – pdf)

I was at Columbia from 1957 to 1961, and by the time I got there this complication created by the undermining of this enjoyment by the usual and traditional ways of life was full. I was at a critical stage, and I no longer had any resorts. I no longer had any simple ability to turn to this prior condition. There was no way to turn to it without utterly living through and transforming the ordinary vehicles of life. There was no faith, no simple belief, no simple openness, relaxation, nothing available at this point. In the years when I was at Columbia, although they were dramatic years in which a great deal of work was done, they were, from a human point of view, a very difficult, immensely desperate time.

But also some profound things occurred. One of the first things that occurred now that this process of undermining, this prior enjoyment had become secure and finalized itself, in the form of a dilemma for which there was no resort, no cure available, no simple cure available, the first thing I did was to undertake this program of life. So the first year or so there was a time of acquiring this awareness of the world. First of all coming out of this little town in Long Island, now in New York City, in this major cultural center, so all of that had to be adapted to in a relatively short time. And quite spontaneously this decision was made to carry on a program of life that duplicated the program to which our civilization was bound, habitually. It wan a way of reenacting the ordinary drama. The indulgence of experience in every possible level is essentially the cultural thesis by which men live, and I decided to carry on this way of life exhaustively, consciously, fully and not exclude any aspect of experience. So it was a period of self indulgence, but also a period of every other kind of approach to experience. No experience posed a barrier to me, there machine of ecstasy. I could tolerate no mediocrity, no medium experience. I was satisfied with neither Atheism nor belief. Both seemed to me only ideas, possible reactions to a more fundamental if unconscious fact. I sought reality to be reality, what is, not what is asserted in the face of what is were no taboos, no extremes to be prevented, there was no depth of madness, no limit of suffering that my philosophy could prevent, for if it did I would be liable to miss the lesson of reality.

Thus I extended myself even beyond my own fear, and my pleasures also became extreme, so there was a constant machine of ecstasy. I could tolerate no mediocrity, no medium experience. I was satisfied with neither atheism no belief. but seemed to me only ideas, possible reactions to a more fundamental if unconscious fact. I sought reality to be reality, what is, not what is asserted in the face of what is.

So this was the beginning, the first form of the search that began once the dilemma was conceived, and in a way we could say this is the first form of the great search of mankind itself, the exploitation of experience. But this occupied me in relative terms for a short period of time. I can remember whey this began in a conscious way. It was during my freshman year in college. And this experience that brought an end to this phase of my work occurred in my junior year, so about two years or so was carried on in this way.

And truly after this more than two years of deliberate attempt to exhaust every aspect of my capacity for experience, I had exhausted the range of experiencing, I had exhausted the motivation behind experiencing itself. And this event that occurred in my junior year occurred quite spontaneously; it occurred on its own. The exhaustion or the fulfillment of this program of experiencing came about on its own, just as the original motivation of this form of this search was produced spontaneously. So just as up until this moment I was completely bound into the quality of dilemma, internal contradiction, in this experience that’s described in the junior year in college, there was -an absolute reversal of this state, this karmic state, this dilemma, and instead of the state of dilemma there was the state of unqualified enjoyment or understanding; the same state enjoyed at birth, again without complications.

As it occurred it was not a permanent realization of this state, but it was one of the states of bringing this state into life, into the vehicles of ordinary life. So some aspects of it remained permanent but the movement in dilemma continued beyond this time, extent that it changed, it began to deal with different qualities. So this experience in college is described. It was a remarkable, spontaneous opening, a maddening transformation. I didn’t have any way to understand what was going on from a mental, human point of view, I didn’t know at any point what was going on. I never studied spiritual philosophy or anything of this kind for a number of years after this. So all of these phenomena throughout my life are being described essentially as they were at that time without any other sophisticated interpretation being added to it because there was none at the time. I didn’t have any way to interpret this experience at the time from any literary point of view, or traditional point of view. I could only feel it and know it in its simple sense.

At this point we could describe it as this awakening, this utter transformation, this sudden realization, conscious realization and intuition of the Divine reality, Amrita Nadi, even also carried with it the reaffirmation of the awakening of the kundalini. Then the idea arose that I am always already free. So the first aspect of this illumination was a critical understanding of seeking itself, as being based in dilemma and the second illumination, which is part of the first, (of course this all didn’t come to me in the form of concepts; now I’m conceptualizing it, putting it in the form of lessons afterwards) it was a simple illumination, in which the second aspect was freedom or absolute perfect real existence as the prior condition, not something that is realized.

At this point a new program of life, a new form of sadhana was generated. The dilemma itself had not been utterly undermined. It’s just that certain of its implications were undermined in this understanding. There was yet more to be done, more activity. But this whole adventure of the exploitation of experience, exhausted experience, that whole motivation was undermined at this point. The habits acquired during this period of self indulgence were somewhat modified at this time. The desperateness underneath it all was somewhat transformed. But it wasn’t until a few years after this, I began to do conscious sadhana knowing what that, was, it was only at that point that I began to transform the effects and habitual forms of self indulgence that were acquired during this whole period of random sadhana. But the quality of this understanding now became the mood of my spontaneous sadhana. Whereas before there was the search for the goal through experience, search for freedom and truth through exhausted experience, now the form of sadhana or conscious activity was turned to perceiving and knowing and by knowing overcoming the dilemma itself or contradiction. By overcoming this internal dilemma or motivating contradiction of series of them perhaps, I knew that the whole quality of motivation toward a goal would as well be undermined, and in that undermining of dilemma there would be the perfect enjoyment that previously I’d sought as the end of a progress of a period of seeking.

So it became clear to me that realization or truth is not to be attained, but that it is being prevented and what is preventing it must be seen, understood, undone, uncovered, made conscious. So on page 17 there’s a description of the quality of how I operated during this time. And this began, this experience previously described took place late in the junior year in college. After that, this process began that I’m about to describe, but essentially began to mature, take on a discrete form in 1961 the year when I came to California, and (began to), spent a year at Stanford. So that the lost content, the dilemma, the internal pro-conscious condition that prevented present enjoyment of the prior condition was the object then of my work during this time. And the essential form of my sadhana that had now developed was reflected it a process of writing that had developed over the period of years at Columbia.

The way it began, when I was at Columbia I was just sitting at lectures, I would just randomly grasp things usually having nothing whatever to do with the lecture that was going on. There was this continuous process of illuminated understanding going on and it would periodically produce something, so I would just write it in sections of my notebooks. And after a while this became a more obvious activity to me. I began to realize that this is what I was doing sometimes, and I would spend sometimes just plain doing that writing at home, whatever. But by the time I was at Stanford this process of writing had become a key activity, it had become an essential means I had of relating. It was the form of my relationship to the internal process of my own life. It was an extension of awareness. It was very definitely .a form of sadhana though I wouldn’t have known what that essentially meant at the time. But it was a conscious activity, conscious application of attention to the process of life in consciousness.

Since my awakening in college I had developed an internal process of a kind of listening. I would focus on the plane of the mind and allow it to be the focal point of experiences within and without. This describes something in a primitive way of that force of meditation later described, of focusing in the plane of consciousness, at the point of consciousness above, and reflecting the activities above and below the conscious mind, within and outside in the world, whatever. So this is the origin of that activity.

I thoroughly believed that the individual human being was involved in and controlled by a profound, largely unconscious or preconscious logic or structure, a motivating drama or myth. I felt that this myth, prior to becoming conscious acted only as an arbitrary limitation and it never appeared directly in the mind or in our works and actions. This myth was perhaps common to us all collectively, but it was effective on the level of the individual, and it needed to become conscious in each of us before any creative work or freedom was possible on its basis or beyond it. So this was the fundamental dilemma or internal contradiction that appeared mysteriously as the essential motivation of all activity, of seeking. It was now conceived by me in more or less specific terms, to be not many things but essentially at its base one fundamental structure or condition in consciousness. I combined this internal work of listening with the activity of writing. It was my intention to remain actively attentive to the movement of my life on every level to an exhaustive degree. Thus I’d become exhaustively aware by critical and constant act of attention of whatever experience or movement occurred on the plane of life and consciousness. Whereas the previous form of my program of life or sadhana was to experience exhaustively, here it was to become aware, exhaustively aware of experience itself.

So there was no longer motivation to experience, but motivation to the awareness of experience, within and without in order to catch its underlying principle. I would simply perceive every form of memory or internal imagery, every form of thought or perception, every indication or pattern in my daily experience, every intention, every imposition from without, in fact every possible kind of experience.

I describe an interval here as a subject for drugs at the Veteran’s Hospital, near Stanford, at Mountain View. The taking of these drugs was coincident with my essential motivation at that time, to grasp the internal logic, the fundamental, preconscious motivation, and from what I’d gathered from hearing about drugs, and a few minor arbitrary experiences with them before this time, it seemed to be perhaps very useful from this point of view. Now also one of the essential reasons for mentioning this particular episode was because of the two, perhaps three experiences that occurred during this time of using the drugs, that relate to natural events at other times in my life. In other words, these drugs tend to produce reflections of the same structures or phenomena that were perceived in childhood, various illuminating moments earlier in life, and which, after this particular tine of the drug experiences appeared in other forms during periods of yogic experiences, work with various teachers, whatever.

So this period of time, even though it produced phenomena artificially and in ways that are not to be valued in any ultimate sense at all, and which can become simply a distraction and a destructive occupation, even so, it produced phenomena that are of interest relative to the whole affair of my experience. Now the first of these was the remembering and reliving of my prenatal state. And it was an actual recollection of my state as an embryo in the womb, not as a fully developed baby, or anything like that. Just a very very young perhaps a few days old embryo. It was a recollection of being fully conscious but with the sense of this form being my form. It was just that, you know, you are awake, you are conscious here and you have this form with all of these faculties attending to it. It was awakening with the same full consciousness, but in this embryo which has very few capacities for sensation or experience. It was the beginning of ay association with the lower life. It was the entrance into this plane, in this lifetime. It was the experience of the vital shock of birth itself, this karmic conviction.

And I wrote down at the time something that seemed to me to completely express the content of this awareness: getting to cry is shaped like a sea horse. This seemed absolutely to say a lot. I was living this recollection in the womb, and there was a sensation of the precise phenomena that arose in the embryonic state. There was the moving in, as an entity does when it takes birth. It hovers around, surrounds the astral and vital life of the mother, both parents, has a curious association with the environment in which it’s going to be born, and then at some point it actually takes on the condition of the embryonic life, moves into it in a sense. And this was that moment, in my own case.

So it was the moment of drawing energy into this condition, rather than existing in a larger state, it was bringing this energy into this limited embryonic condition. And the embryo is shaped like a sea horse, sort of bent, curved, half moon sort of shape, a little thing, and the energy was felt moving into it, the kundalini shape, the ascending force in other words was felt upon entering into this structure. I remember when I was lying in the hospital I was feeling sorrowful, I guess I was weeping in the room, and that was exactly what had happened in this earlier experience. At than same moment there was this sort of blissful, exotic realization of the born condition, there was sorrow due to the implications, the mortality that’s implied in birth. So that’s the significance of what I wrote in getting to cry is shaped like a sea horse.

And of course a few years later I would learn more and more about this in a technical sense in the traditional sense, and go through many experiences related to the ascending force, the kundalini manifestation. But this is an interesting remembering of the awakening of the kundalini that occurred from the very moment of taking on the form of the body in this lifetime.

The second experience at the time of these drug trials that’s particularly interesting to me was this experience of the thumbs. I called it the thumbs just like I called the spiritual light the “bright.” I would not allow it to take place fully. Automatic resistance would take place. But these two experiences that took place in this period of the drug trials are interesting because they were both demonstrations of aspects of the circle of force which is native to life.

Here the descending in the form of the thumbs, and prior to that the ascending in the form of recollection of the embryonic rotate. I go on here just to describe the difference between this experience of the thumbs and what took place in later times in meditation, when it was finally allowed to take place.

When it was allowed to take place, then a third element was demonstrated, and that is the unity of the descending and the ascending life. When the thumbs were allowed to penetrate completely, when there was opening to it, full allowance of it in consciousness and life there was a reversal, what I felt at the time as a reversal of the current of awareness, of the current of life. And all it was, really, was the descending fully descended and connected then with the ascending. And at that point there was the loss of the sense of containment, either up or down, as complete movement into the fully realized spherical or continuous circular motion of force without obstruction, and when that occurred the condition of manifest existence became coincident with and equivalent to full illumination or realization. It no longer provided an obstruction. Living in the manifest condition then, was the same as being eternal, immortal, the samadhi of the full circle (which was enjoyed later on) which began to be enjoyed later on, is in the third aspect of this revelation of the human mechanism.

Now these matters that are dealt with in this section here are the signs of the yogic aspects of my work. And you see throughout this book and throughout my description of the work these two aspects appearing side by side; the yogic or phenomenal aspects, and the teaching relative to understanding. They appear side by side throughout my life, throughout my teaching work. And by this you must see that what I mean by understanding is not simply some sort of philosophical calm or, you know, way of feeling somehow free of your own movements in a philosophical way. Though a life of understanding cannot be separated from yogic transformation. There is no understanding without yoga. It is simply that yoga, or the process of our internal mechanism, our fundamental mechanism, is not the principle or point of view of spiritual life. But the way of understanding spontaneously manifests the yogic transformation, or true functional transformation of consciousness in life. It’s just that the principle of spiritual life is understanding in Satsang. Its phenomena are these transforming yogic phenomena.

Now that was a sort of side light in the midst of this larger description of the process that was taking place at this time, which was this process of listening, of turning to the plane of consciousness and observing exhaustively everything within and without in order to grasp this pre-conscious condition, logic, motivation. And this became fruitful at some point; this myth that I expected did begin to become apparent. And so eventually, on page 25 and page 26, in writing this I began to eventually recognize a structure in consciousness. It became more and more apparent and its nature and effects revealed themselves as fundamental and inclusive of all the states and contents in life and mind. My own myth, the control of all patterns, the source of identity and all seeking, began to stand out in the mind as a living being. And I mean this to be literally so; I saw myself living as this function, this activity, not as just some picture of some boy looking at himself in the water, but fundamentally this process began to reveal itself, and as it happens the mythological description of Narcissus fits as a description of this self recognition.

This myth, this controlling logic or force that forms my very consciousness revealed itself as the concept and actual life of Narcissus. I saw that my entire adventure of the whole desperate cycle of awareness and its decrease, of truly conscious being and its gradual covering and the whole mechanics of living, seeking, dying and suffering was produced out of the image or mentality that appears hidden in the ancient myth of Narcissus. It was the logic or process of separation itself, of enclosure and immunity. It manifested as fear and identity memory and experience. It informed every function of being, every event. It created every mystery. It was the structure of every imbecile link in the history of our suffering. I began to see that same logic operative in all other men and every living thing, even the very life of the cells, and the energy’s that surround every living entity or process. And I saw that the adventure or destiny of Narcissus was also my own, because I saw that I was living; this principle, I was living as this activity, this entity. And I gathered from examining the archetype as it appeared in literature in the form of Narcissus what must be the end phenomenon of such a life, and what is it always? What is the result of this contraction, this self obsession? It is death.

So what I was recognizing here is the primary activity, the prior activity in consciousness, which prevents its fundamental enjoyment. And what is the nature of that primary activity? It has two aspects. The one is separation in consciousness, this continual realization in consciousness, of separation. And the other is contraction in life. And life and consciousness are not separable, but the peculiar qualities in which this activity within us manifests itself are a separative activity at the level of consciousness and contraction in the mechanisms or functions of life. So it appears always as identification, differentiation, and desire.

It appears as a separate self sense, it also appears as a knot in the navel. It always appears as contraction and separation. And I saw that perhaps we can think of this in evolutionary terms as the gigantic organic process of the universe manifests the human function, the human possibility, the psycho-physical entity that may or may not become fully conscious in all that it contains.

The next stage after the universal or organic production of this psycho-physical entity is for each manifestation of that type, that human type, to realize itself fully. And the process of understanding then, could be said in this sense to be the instrument or agent or process of the evolution of man. In other words in order for there to be humanity, the human function as well as what is above it, there must be at the level of each individual, real observation of this activity, understanding; as an individual process must take place. There can’t be any wholesale sort of blessing into understanding. It must take place as a real activity in every case.

Something was occurring in my writing at this time. It began in Columbia with random sort of insights, philosophical insights, illuminations, whatever. But as time went on, it began to assume more of a fictional quality. I wasn’t deliberately trying to write a particular story. But a story was being produced. The stow existed, somehow, spontaneously in the roots of consciousness and I saw that because of the manner in which I was going about all of this, that the story was indeed my own story and myth, but it wasn’t simply my own story, it was something of the archetypal story, of the human adventure, the ordinary search. I got into the strangest depths of consciousness, the strangest levels of the functional mind. And there were all kinds of psychisms that developed of course during this time, and perceptions of other worlds and other planes and all that kind of thing, without my really knowing exactly what was going on. I had nothing against which to see. This was just the way it was as far as I could see. So the story was developing.

And also there was a growth of the sense of my identification with this archetype, this principle, this path, this destiny, which otherwise appeared in the literary myth of Narcissus, and I knew that my own death as I conceived it and as I feared it, and as every man conceives and fears it, was really just one event in this mythology of which we were always aware. It wasn’t death as it actually is. That death as it actually is, is a process in life, as it says in the prologue. It’s not something that undermines life at all, if serves life, part of that process of transformation. But death as we conceive it, prior to understanding, is a threat, it’s the end, or the dues we pay for being Narcissus. It’s the ultimate event in life and consciousness that is produced by this strategy of seeking, of living by the principle of dilemma.

So I describe two things that are very important at this point. The one is a dream. I had some familiarity with Jung’s writings. He talks a lot about the archetypes in consciousness and the unconscious mind, and a sort of whole realm of archetypes that are common to all of us, and his psychology is essentially based on a person’s passing via dreams and other creative activities, subliminal activities, through an archetypal display that corresponds to a psychological growth, from his point of view, And there are certain kinds of dreams that are particularly of this variety, this archetypal variety. They are not random, just little blips of arbitrary sensations. They have a certain clarity to them, an immensity to them, an awesomeness, a finality to them. So that after such a dream has had been had there’s a sense first of all of having touched a very profound level of consciousness, and also the sense of having passed through something without thoroughly being able to interpret it, having passed through a psychic event that is final, in some sense.

And this was such a dream in my own case. I’ll describe it briefly. I saw my own birth. I was conscious outside but I was watching myself being born. I was at the head of the table in which my mother, I don’t know if it was my mother in this life or not, I couldn’t see her face. But I was just looking at the birth actually taking place. And the baby came out. It was a crunched up, folded up face. It was red and looked like a fist. It was the ugliest thing I’d ever seen. And the doctor says, “Oh, it’s one of those multiple babies,” just sort of off hand. Well the next thing was just a sudden flash into what was obvious to me, just another period of time relative to this same essential condition. But now I had taken the position of this multiple baby. Rather than looking at it from outside,

I’d taken a position within it. But now this multiple baby had in fact taken on its three forms. This crunched up baby was really three babies. That’s why it appeared to be all gathered and bunched up, it was three faces in one face. Now there were three separate beings, in bodies. I took the position in one of them. This was obviously the senior member, or the conscious member of this multiple baby condition. And I didn’t see myself in that form, but I saw the other two members of this multiple baby state. One was grave and heavy, and one was light and bright two essential qualities, or alternative qualities or moods of ordinary life, the contradictory qualities of openness and contraction. And I was connected we were all one connection, one living entity because I was connected to them through this strand of phlegm that came out from the depths of me and came out of my mouth and was connected to these other two guys. It was gagging me, like I was choking while looking at these guys. It was a very uncomfortable position to be in, as well as it being a very strange circumstance. So I sort of at the same time, knowing I was about to do this, also sort of unconsciously and automatically stepped on this cord of phlegm, and broke it, got rid of this gag. At the same time I did it deliberately, I felt guilty and conscious about it. But as soon as it was done, there was relief from this condition that is being symbolized in this dream. And the two guys themselves were free. There was no more sense of contradiction, everything was open, everything was fine. They thanked me for having done it, they’d always wanted me to do it, and all of this sort of thing. And this was the end of the dream.

There are all kinds of interpretations and I can interpret it. You know, the psychic, psychological psycho-physical event of wholeness, the end of this whole affair of dilemma and contradiction that had been my way of life for a number of years up to this point. But the interpretation of it really didn’t take place in any intellectual way especially at the time. The having of the dream was the event. It was the significance. Interpretations add nothing to it. The force of the experience was what was significant. This was as forceful and dramatic an event as any external event could be in life. It represents a definite transition in my conscious life. And the fruits of that transition were then seen a short time after that, just a few days later.

I got up early in the morning. We lived on this beach, and Nina was still sleeping, I got up and I was reading this book. It’s a collection of Jung’s essays called Psyche and Symbol that you can still buy in the stores. I had looked through this particular essay that I was going through now before, and had read exactly the passage that I quoted in the book here before, but it didn’t have the same significance that it did on this particular morning, and the reason it had this significance was because of the transforming event that had now occurred in me. This was the beginning of a new stage of life. Prior to this there was containment in the dilemma of mortality. At this moment in time there was no longer the containment absolutely in that state. The psyche had been relieved of that limitation, mysteriously. So I read through this passage that I quote here between pages 31 and 34. Essentially what it describes is Jung’s report and you must understand my relationship to Jung at the time. I felt that he was a serious investigator, he wasn’t just somebody who liked to write and turn you onto all kinds of ideas and everything. He was just matter of factly reporting something here. It’s the common experience in hospitals throughout the world. It’s just a medical report for which there’s much evidence. It’s not just a single occurrence he’s describing either. Then there are countless reports made by people in hospitals who have been injured or for one reason or other are in a coma for periods of time, lying almost without life signs, eyes closed, no responses, for days, hours, weeks, months, completely lifeless, except for some vague life signs. But after they came out of the coma, have reported experiences taking place throughout the period of time in which they were apparently unconscious, of a completely conscious variety. Invariably they would describe themselves as somehow having detached from their physical body, connected to it by some kind of a thread, a subtle thread, an astral thread is what it is, and they would hover up above the body in the room and they would watch everything that took place in there and they weren’t in their own body, they were outside it, but they had all the faculties of perception, super perception. They could hear everything being said, see everything in detail. Jung doesn’t describe all of these experiences here relative to these people. There’s other data I’m talking about now. These people would also often report not only in detail things that happened in the room during the time in which they were unconscious but also apparently they had the capacity to turn away from this situation in the world they were watching, into some other kind of conscious perception, in which they would talk with individuals, (whatever) have conversations and experiences and when they would report these conversations and the people they talked to, very often they would turn out to be the doctor’s dead brother from 20 years ago and this sort of thing.

I read this passage here and was completely blown out of my mind by what I had read, and I sat there and read it over and over again; I couldn’t believe it. There was this complete transformation of my assumption of life. Obviously there was something more than mortality. However, from just reading this passage I’m sure most people who read this don’t get the same impression.

Just reading the data of spiritual and occult and phenomenal life of an extraordinary kind doesn’t amount to illumination or profound transformation in people most of the time. But if some sort of an opening or illumination has already occurred the reading of a passage, even of the most arbitrary kind of thing, can be the key to the conscious awareness of what has already occurred.

So this is the equivalent in my case of a conversion experience, a profound conversion experience. But again, it’s just one of these experiences. This is another stage in the great search of mankind, duplicated in my own case in this particular way. But it completely changed me. I became much lighter, much happier, much more humorous at this point; and I began to read books. They would come to me quite arbitrarily. A couple of times people would come around to this house we had on the beach and I’d talk to them and they’d tell me about such and such a thing. I’d go and read that. I’d go to a party and there’d be somebody there, talking about all these kinds of phenomena and a whole new form of literature would be indicated by them and I’d go to read those books. Quite spontaneously through the suggestions of others over the next several weeks I became acquainted with all kinds of literature, and within just a few weeks I must have acquired a grounding knowledge in the whole field of spirituality and occultists and subtle phenomena and yoga. I read hundreds of books within the next couple of months, because I was just hungry for this whole thing. I wanted to become acquainted with this whole new possibility so I just read endlessly.

And during this time also, some new forms of precognition began to awaken, and there were these periodic visionary sensations of an art store in New York City where I would find a teacher. This arose quite arbitrarily at first. After a while I began to realize I was having this repetitive awareness and it wasn’t just a vision of an art store in New York City, it was a vision with the certainty that I would go there and find a teacher there. It was just obvious. All the implications of it were obvious. The motivation to go there was coincident with the vision. It was all one thing, just that I’d come to a stage in my life when it was now time to begin this purifying sadhana.

You could say at this point, particularly the meeting with Rudi, but at this point now of reading and deliberate acquaintance with the affairs of spiritual life, that at this point, conscious purifying sadhana began in me. Previous to this time it had all been essentially a spontaneous activity, it had been 25 years of madness, maybe even clinical madness at times but essentially a spontaneous life for 25 years, just a 25 year ecstasy of changes, without any deliberate attempts, without reading to fortify it, without understanding the implications of it all especially. So you could say that this period of time was the resurrection in consciousness of what was latent in consciousness. It’s like it is said that if you do sadhana in your life and then you die, in your next birth you take up from where you left off. Well this is true, but there must be this period of time in which the state that you’ve already attained by previous sadhana becomes conscious in you, spontaneously conscious in you. So something like this process is going on in me to this time. It’s just a spontaneous event. And then even the conscious sadhana that began to come into my life after this is also a spontaneous event, although it takes on the form of deliberate activity through yogic means. But the whole life was a spontaneous event. All of this was just a flowery demonstration of something already accomplished.

Now I describe before meeting Rudi something about the reading that I did, and the kind of yogic phenomena and path or whatever that seemed to me from my reading from my preferential understanding to be something of the quality of spiritual life as I felt I wanted to live it. So on the one hand there was the fact that the oriental teachers, the yogic teachers, and wisdom teachers, the traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism essentially was the area of the literature that most attracted me, because (it was) prior to my college years I was brought up as a Christian, a Protestant, a Lutheran and that was what I saw to be spirituality, this dogmatic ritualistic series of beliefs and propositions (whatever). But the oriental teachers were experiential in their point of view and essentially free of confinement to traditional notions and to dogma, and the ultimate state that they were recommending was liberation in fact, from all kinds of containment, including concepts. I was attracted to the yogic paths, rather than the purely philosophical ones, in other words to the experiential transformative activity rather than to just thinking about it all, and the teachings that referred to the self, self realization, and ultimate reality, Brahmin, the non dualistic teaching seemed to me to be the highest form of the traditional teachings. I studied the kundalini, some books about the Kundalini Yoga, such as The Serpent Power, and I began to understand now from my reading something about what my experience had been in the past, and I saw that now the “bright,” Amrita Nadi the experiences of my early life, how they related to the technical descriptions of the chakras and the awakening kundalini and the Siva-Shakti unity, realization of Self through awakening of the conscious force.

So in general I saw this yogic process culminating in Self realization as being a pretty essential description of the path as I had felt it intuitively and in general (in some way) it does refer to in some sense the whole path of understanding as I describe it. One of the peculiar distinctions I made among these teachings was in this matter of whether the goal or ultimate realization was in life or apart from life, and many of the Oriental teachings were bound to this notion of separation from life, ultimate separation from it, whereas the Western paths talked about this fulfillment, Self realization even while alive and completely compatible with life, in fact truth, or Self realization as being the principle of life. And this is how I describe it.

But this peculiar problem which was native to spiritual life itself which is this notion of whether truth is the principle of life or to be realized apart from and prior to life, this problem or dilemma is the fundamental dilemma of the spiritual search. And even though I essentially knew what my intuitive understanding of it was, the actual realization of it in the life vehicle had not taken place, so it remained there as something of a problem.

And when I did meet Rudi, shortly after this, after getting to New York, one of the first questions I presented to him in the letter that I wrote to him was about this question of direction or the goal of spiritual life.

These stages that occurred, the conscious stages of sadhana, the whole affair that took place prior to this change that I’m just describing at the end of this lesson here, that’s essentially assumed to have taken place in some form or other in a person’s case before be begins life in the Ashram. This whole search, random search and self exploitation, and all of that, is the history of everyone who comes into the Ashram. When be comes into the Ashram he begins the process of conscious sadhana. And it does begin in very much the same way as my sadhana with Rudi, with the assumption of conditions, doing sadhana in the life vehicles, in the functional life. It even goes on to include subtler aspects, more profound aspects of the conscious process and the yogic process. 


Additional readings:

Listening as a Practice


The Knee of Listening and Study Chapters – Table of Contents