Tom Riley



Franklin Jones (Adi Da Samraj) 1971 Laurel Canyon, Hollywood, CA
Interview with Tom Riley

Beezone: Where were you prior to meeting Franklin Jones (Adi Da Samraj)?

Tom: When I was 20 years old I moved from Boston to Hollywood in September of 1968. When I arrived in LA I originally lived on the 5200 block of Melrose Ave. with my mate, Linda. In less than two and a half years we had had it with Hollywood and the whole scene in LA. So it was a great relief when we decided to move south to San Diego in the Spring of ’71. When we arrived in San Diego we stayed with a friend of mine from Ohio. We were only there for a very short period of time, a couple of days, when I told Linda that something was pulling me back to L.A. and I didn’t know what it was.

This was insane. It made no sense, but, without a doubt, there was something drawing me back to Hollywood behind any kind of rationale and I said, “We got to go back.” We hadn’t even gotten our van unloaded and Linda concurred, “I think we should move on it.” She didn’t understand it but she said, “I trust your instincts. Let’s do it,”

So we drove the unloaded van back to Hollywood from San Diego and moved onto Lodi Place off of Santa Monica Boulevard. It was amazing, just as if a magnetic force had pulled me back there. After we got set up on Lodi Place, I went to work for Kaiser Hospital on Sunset Boulevard and Linda went to work for an insurance company.

Beezone: When did you meet Franklin Jones?

Tom: The first time I met him was in the Spring of 1971 but I didn’t physically meet him until February 1972.

Beezone: How do you mean that?

Tom: I mean that Franklin Jones as I understand him to be, both today and back then, 33 years ago, was and is not limited to his physical location. He is much greater than the room he’s in. His influence is much larger than his physical location or his physical body. I know this is hard for some people to understand but it is the truth.

The event of my first meeting was momentary and undramatic, but it was very radical. Like the guru himself actually, it was not expected, but totally transforming. What actually happened was that Linda and I were sitting beside each other on the couch after work one day, some time around 5:30 on a Friday evening. We were very relaxed and on the couch together. Linda was on my right and we were talking. All of a sudden my body jerked and shook. Totally out of no where, it just jerked. I didn’t think anything of it and then it jerked again. Linda looked at me and I looked at her and I kind of put up my hands and said, “I don’t know, I’m not nervous of anything.” I didn’t understand what was happening in those two kriya manifestations.

This is the only frame of reference I had at the time from my body going into a brief jerking and shaking motion. The first time it was no big deal. But then it happened again, seconds later. That’s when Linda looked at me and I looked at her and I said, “I don’t know, I’m not nervous or anything and I actually feel pretty good.”

A couple minutes later we got off the couch and were sitting on our carpet on the floor sitting cross-legged with our knees gently touching and this thing came, this movement, and it arose out of the depths of my being and I told her. It just came up through my body. I put it into speech and I pointed my right index finger emphatically to the empty space in front of us and said, “Linda, if you understand moment to moment. That’s It.” I had no idea what or why I said that, but that was my deepest clarity of feeling. It was deep, clear and without a shred of doubt. That was it. That was the first time I met Franklin Jones in the form of his Initiatory blessing power, from miles away.

Beezone: How did you know that was Franklin Jones?

Tom: I didn’t. Not at the time. Only years later, after I met him did I realize That was him, his influence, Initiatory heart transmission as understanding. It was an intuitive awakening; understanding coming from the front of the faculties, so to speak.”

Beezone: How long after that did you actually meet Franklin Jones in the physical sense.

Tom: The First time I met him in a physical sense was in his residence up in the Laurel Canyon section above Hollywood in the Hollywood Hills. It was my first face-to-face human meeting with Franklin Jones (Adi Da Samraj).

It was in November 1971 when I started hanging out at a new bookstore in West Hollywood which has become quite famous called the Bodhi Tree that I got to know the two owners of this little bookstore, Stan Madsen (Stan, I believe, was a NASA scientist, who just walked away from his career) and his partner. I started to go there all the time and it was very small and it had only opened that year I think.

One late afternoon in February 1972, at The Bodhi Tree I was talking to Stan Madsen and his partner about looking for a teacher and I was willing to go anywhere on the planet to find him. We were having this dialogue, and a friend of theirs walked in on the conversation, a gentleman named Ken Reed. He knew the owners and the owners introduced me. “Ken this is Tom.” “Tom Riley, Ken Reed.” “Nice to meet you Ken,” and Ken says, this is literal, Ken says, “What are you guys talking about, teachers?” And I think Stan said “He’s looking for a teacher. You know of any good ones?” Ken says, “Well, there’s a friend of mine that I spent time with in India. His name is Franklin Jones and you should go and talk to him, and you know, he knows more about the traditions than anybody that I’ve ever met.”

Beezone: Was Ken in India with Adi Da?

Tom: Yes. He knew Franklin from India. Then Ken says, “Here’s his phone number,” and he says, “He usually doesn’t like to be interrupted before 10:00 o’clock in the morning. So I went home that night in Hollywood and when I woke up the next morning it was strange, because I called in sick to work even before I thought about anything. I then dialed his phone number. I really didn’t know what was going on. I just had this feeling I should call. I pressed the button down and I dialed Franklin’s phone number just a couple minutes after 10 on this particular February morning. The phone rang and on the other end a voice said “hello.” I said “Hello, Franklin?” And he said, “Yes.” I said, “This is Tom Riley. I met a friend of yours, Ken Reed, at The Bodhi Tree last night and he suggested I call you.” I think he might have asked me where I was or something like that and I said, “You know I’m right here in Hollywood” and he said to me “How soon can you come and see me?”

I found out where he lived and told him I could be up there in 45 minutes. So I get in my car and drove up to the Hollywood Hills where he lived. I rang the doorbell and Franklin answered the door. He said hello and invited me in. He directed me to the living room and we sat down. It was about elevenish or so that particular weekday morning and his living room was very interesting to me I thought. It was a well-balanced environment. There were an appropriate amount of flowers and green plants here and there. There was a rock on the carpet which, you know, was the first time I had seen a rock, an elemental form, on somebody’s living room carpet. There were some pictures of some various saints that I was not familiar with on his walls and a large picture I believe of Ramana Maharshi behind his chair and large rudraksha beads around Ramana’s photograph.


He sat in his comfortable living room chair. This picture of Ramana Maharshi was behind him with the beads. There have been many photographs taken of him sitting there. I didn’t know anything about this guy other than the fact that I was referred to him by Ken Reed. Now, I was sitting in his living room you know 12, 16 hours later after I got the referral from Kenny. So he asked me a little bit about myself. It was a very relaxed environment. Pat and Nina were not there. It was just he and I and I told him about myself. At the time I was 23 years old and sort of at critical mass. I felt I had lived in some sense a very intense life. I was a total athlete for my first 18 years, ivy league prep schools, Deerfield Academy out there above Amherst and Philip’s Exeter going for an ice hockey scholarship, college and a business career.

And now I was sitting with this man and telling him about myself and it was as if my life was in some sense at a major crisis point that last year at such a young age. I was composed and very direct with Franklin. I was really straight forward and it was natural. He just listened and nodded his head acknowledging that he was listening, not saying much, just sitting there, listening occasionally asking a question. At one point I suddenly looked very directly at Franklin as he sat a few feet from me, looked at him and said, “Some how Franklin, you already know all of this about me.” Franklin simply responded with the word or sound now associated with his Blessing Acknowledgment, very softly spoken “Tcha”.

At some point during our dialogue and exchange everything quite suddenly stopped. All speech and dialogue ended. In fact my mind stopped! I was now suddenly and very mysteriously opening my eyes. I had ‘disappeared, vanished without even noticing it, for about 20 minutes or so. Now, my eyes were opening again. I’m thinking “What the hell just happened, did I just fall asleep in front of this stranger?” All thought forms were vanishing as soon as they arose. There was nothing, no me, no mind, no him, no nothing.

Franklin was sitting before me, right there about 10 feet from me in his chair. I was on the carpet sittling cross-legged and upright. We then must have sat together for another 5 minutes or so, just sitting in Silence, no one spoke, there was no physical gestures of any kind, just open eyed meditation, without any thought! There was no necessity for any thing other than that Full Silence, it was complete, completely!

At some point he spoke and he mentioned that he had recently completed a book called The Knee of Listening that was at the publishers and would provide me a manuscript of it to look at and told me about a study group he was having.

Beezone: Did he invite you to the group to study with him?

Tom: Yes. At that time he was meeting with a few people once a week, I think, on Wednesday nights. He would get together and meet with a couple of people to discuss the contents of the manuscript of The Knee of Listening. He told me I should come to that. He also told me that he and a friend had just recently rented a storefront on Melrose Avenue that was either going to be either a restaurant or a bookstore and he invited me down to help them get it ready. Before I left, a friend of his, Sal Lucania, came by. Franklin introduced Sal to me and we talked briefly.

When I left his house that afternoon and for the next 48 hours was a remarkable time period. I left Franklin’s house. I remember driving past his house and all of a sudden this overwhelming joy overcame me. I just remember this joy coming up out of the depths of my body. And I started laughing for no apparent reason. This joy started bursting through me in all directions and it brought laughter to me and I actually laughed aloud. This, coupled with the arising of joy out of the depths of who knows where, I just exploded 360 degrees in different directions. I was driving a car and I remember laughing out loud as I drove past his house and I remember actually rolling down the window just sort of subconsciously as part of it. I was filled with laughter and that burst of joy came out of me and I was rolling down the window to let it out somehow and I drove down the hills and back home to Hollywood. It was as if he offered this joy. It was given. I had no thought about it whatsoever. I had no second thought about any of this. It was beyond any reason. Something beyond me was taking over. All of it was totally spontaneous process.

Beezone: After this first meeting you were invited to the Wednesday study group?

Tom: Yes. The small group met at Sal’s house in North Hollywood with Franklin, Pat and Nina, and myself. Sal and Louise, of course were there and I think there were also two other ladies who came but I can’t remember their names, they were from San Bernardino, I think.

Beezone: That was all the people there at the time?

Tom: Yes. Also, I think now, Ellie Lincoln, perhaps John Williamson were present in those very first study groups at Sal and Louis’s. Franklin came to each one and just sat utterly quietly in the background in Sal and Louise’s living room.

Beezone: Did you have any background for this kind of study?

Tom: Some random study of yoga, eastern religion and in September 1970 I had enrolled in an eastern religion course at the local college. Remember, The Knee of Listening wasn’t even out yet in published form.


The Beginning of the Teaching and the Opening of the Bookstore

Letter to CSA Press publishing house by Franklin Jones – Working out the publishing agreement for The Knee of Listening.


Interview to be continued. Keep in touch.

Beezone, July 2015.



The MEANING of the word : “DA”

In the Brihadaranyaka upanisads , there is a Beautiful STORY relating to the word “da” …. “da is the root word for many words – from ‘da’ comes the word ‘dana’ meaning charity . from ‘da’ comes the word “daya” meaning ‘compassion’ or mercy . From ‘da’ comes the word “hrldaya” – the heart which is a seat of compassion -daya, again. so on and so forth.

Once Prajapati (brahma) was sitting with his three sets of disciples – Gods (devas) , human beings (manavas) and demons (danavas or asuras.) The devas were the first to be trained in spiritual instruction . before taking leave of their Guru(prajapati) they asked the guru to give them the final instruction.

Prajapati replied with one syllable “da”

Then he asked them, “Have you understood what I mean by this?” the Devas REPLIED, , ” Yes, oh Lord. We as the guardians of heaven are a bit too prone to enjoy all the celestial pleasures. You are hinting that our challenge is to overcome this delight in sensual pleasure. “Da” means Damana or the control of the senses. It is only by controlling the senses and then the mind that we can develop detachment. And it is only by so doing that we can attain the realization of the Absolute.” SO, THE DEVAS REPLIED “DA MEANS DAMANA -SELF CONTROL.”

Brahma was pleased and said, “You have understood rightly.” The manavas also received their SPIRITUAL TRAINING and it was time for them to bid farewell to their guru. so, they also asked Prajapati for his final instruction.

Prajapati uttered the syllable ‘DA” and asked ” Now, have you understood?”

“Oh yes! Da means Dana or charity and generosity. We should not be grasping and covetous. We should be helpful and share what we have. Only thus will our hearts be purified of the sin of greed and we attain the Absolute.” replied the manavas .

Prajapati was pleased with this response and congratulated the manavas for understanding the right meaning of the word “da” . It was now the turn of the Danavas . They marched up to Prajapati and demanded that they should be given the final instruction as well .


Prajapati uttered the syllable “Da” loud and clear. “Yes, we understand. “Da” means Daya. the quality of mercy and compassion. We are cruel and ruthless by nature, and consequently always unhappy. This lack of compassion prevents us from ever gaining the Absolute.” answered the danavas or demons . “You too”, said Pajapati ” have understood rightly.”


The Heavenly word da and its three meanings

Brhadaranyaka U. (5.2.1-5.2.3)

Gods, humans and Asura all three descendents of Prajapati-lived with him as students for a time.

Then the gods said: “Teach us, Sir!”. In reply Prajapati uttered one syllable “da”. Then he said: “Have you understood?” They answered, “Yes we have.

You said to us, ‘damyata-be self-controlled.’

“Yes” agreed Prajapaati.

Then the humans said: “Teach us, Sir!”. In reply Prajapati uttered one syllable “da”. Then he said: “Have you understood?”. They answered, “yes, we have.

You said to us, ‘datta-be charitable’”. “Yes”, agreed Prajapati.

Then the asura said: “Teach us, Sir!”. In reply Prajapati uttered one syllable “da”. Then he said: “Have you understood?”. They answered, “Yes, we have. You said to us, dayadhvam-be compassionate.” “Yes”, agreed Prajapati.

Then the heavenly voice daivi vak, thunders da, da, da – be self-controlled, give and be compassionate. Therefore one should learn these three; damam, danam, dayam, self-control, charity and compassion.


Chapter II—The Three Great Disciplines


Prajapati had three kinds of offspring: gods, men and demons (asuras). They lived with Prajapati, practising the vows of brahmacharins. After finishing their term, the gods said to him: “Please instruct us, Sir.” To them he uttered the syllable da and asked:

“Have you understood?” They replied: “We have. You said to us, ‘Control yourselves (damyata).’ He said: “Yes, you have understood.”


Then the men said to him: “Please instruct us, Sir” To them he uttered the same syllable da and asked:

“Have you understood?” They replied: “We have. You said to us, ‘Give (datta).’ He said: ‘Yes, you have understood.


Then the demons said to him: “Please instruct us, Sir.” To them he uttered the same syllable da and asked:

“Have you understood?” They replied: “We have. You said to us: ‘Be compassionate (dayadhvam).’ He said: “Yes, you have understood.”

That very thing is repeated even today by the heavenly voice, in the form of thunder, as “Da,” “Da,” “Da,” which means: “Control yourselves,” “Give,” and “Have compassion.” Therefore one should learn these three: self—control, giving and mercy.

Chapter III—Brahman as the Heart


Prajapati is this—the heart (intellect). It (the heart) is Brahman. It is all. Hridayam (the heart) consists of three syllables. One syllable is hri; and to him who knows this, his own people and others bring presents. One syllable is da; and to him who knows this, his own people and others give their powers. One syllable is yam; and he who knows this goes to heaven.

See Historical meaning of the name ‘DA’


Franklin (now Bubba Free John) and Tom – 1973 Los Angeles Airporrt on his return from India