Adi Da, the self-exiled teacher and self-described Avatar of our Age lived among his devotees for some 23 years on his own island in Fiji. His first teacher was Albert Rudolph, aka Rudi, a former Fourth Way student who had “the Force.”
This is Part II of III, printed in “The Gurdjieff Journal,” and is available at http://www.Gurdjieff-Legacy.Org.
In the late summer of 1966, Jones and Nina, now married at Rudi’s request, moved to Philadelphia so he could enroll at a Lutheran seminary. Jones doesn’t make clear in the first edition of The Knee of Listening why he left Rudi, but in a later edition he says that Rudi sent him to the seminary after speaking with his father. In his youth, Jones had been an acolyte in a Lutheran church, so that may have been a reason, but he had long since fallen away from Christianity. But also, spiritual teachers sometimes do send their students away when they can learn no more from them, but usually this is after many years of study. That it happened after only a year-and-a-half suggests that perhaps Rudi wanted to get rid of him. As Rudi said, “A
teacher who is in personal conflict with a student should release the student for both their sakes. Teaching should be a harmony of learning between teacher and student.” Certainly Jones was a handful. Not only highly intelligent and well-educated, Jones claimed that since infancy “I have always been Seated in the ‘Bright.’… Even as a little child I recognized It and Knew It, and my life was not a matter of anything else.”
Jones, for his part, saw Rudi as “a kind of super-parent.” He says his family, which from his description sounds rather dysfunctional, rejected his experiencing of the “Bright.” Later on, he writes that “my own ordinary tendency was to seek a loving connection on which I could become dependent. Where love was not poured on me, I tended to become angry and resentful. But Rudi used, and even intentionally stimulated, these tendencies in me.”
Through Rudi’s insistence on work, diet and exercise, Jones’ weight fell from 230 lbs to 170 lbs. The habits of the old days weakened. “I would often exploit the possibilities of sex,” Jones says, “or become deeply drunk on wine, engage in orgies of eating, or smoke marijuana for long hours.” (Unfortunately, they would later reappear once he began to teach.)
In the spring of 1967, while at the seminary, Jones suffered what doctors diagnosed as an anxiety attack, but he believed it was a crisis in which he had died. Because of Rudi’s stress on the practice of self-observation (oddly, the fundamental practice of self-remembering, embodiment, is never mentioned either by Jones or Rudi in any of their books), Jones believed he had observed his own death. This experience validated his belief that the fundamental dilemma of all human seeking and suffering was that of a separative and narcissistic avoidance of relationship with “the unqualified state of reality.” Finding his superiors at the seminary didn’t agree with him, he then joined the Eastern Orthodox Church with the idea of becoming a priest, only to learn that an ancient canonical law prevented a man from becoming a priest if he is married to a divorced woman, as Nina was.
The Death of Narcissus Denied
The religious avenue blocked, he and Nina returned to New York in the fall of 1967. He spoke to Rudi about what he took to be the death in him of Narcissus, but he says Rudi also “tended to interpret my seminary experience negatively.” Thereafter, if not before, he increasingly became aware of what he considered Rudi’s limitations. He found Rudi’s conversation “a constant stream of strongly communicated moods, alternating between talk of Spiritual life, his experiences in India, his Spiritual experience and visions, and the perpetual absorption in business. His business was his principal Yoga. And if you did not know or accept this about him, you could become angry at what appeared to be his perpetual concern with business and the store.” Jones came to believe that “Rudi was not himself prepared (ultimately and perfectly) to liberate others, or to bring anyone to any truly high or otherwise ultimate Realization.”
One day at Rudi’s store Jones found some pamphlets of Rudi’s guru, Baba Muktananda. He was determined to get to India once he read that Baba maintained “Spiritual life is not a matter of egoic effort on the part of the disciple. It is a matter of the Guru’s grace, the Guru’s free gift. The disciple needs only to come to the Guru and enjoy the Guru’s grace. It is as easy as flowers in sunlight.” Learning that he and Nina could receive a 90% discount in airfare after he earned a two-day vacation, he got a job with Pan American Airways. He traded four days off with some fellow workers so that he would have six days in all to travel to India and back. In April 1968 he and Nina went to Baba’s ashram at Ganeshpuri, a few hours drive from Bombay. He meditated and chanted and listened to Baba’s dialogues (all translated, for Baba spoke only Hindi) and had many kundalini experiences, visions and the like. But Jones wasn’t satisfied. With typical intensity he said, “When the last day arrived, I was desperate. I had come for more than this. I had come for everything!”
Strangely, on his return to New York, though he and Baba had a number of warm exchanges of letters, Jones joined Scientology and became an auditor and trained to become a teacher. There he met a young woman, Patricia Morley, who would come to live with him and Nina and Sal Lucanias, with whom he became close friends. In taking upper level courses to become “clear” and become a teacher, Jones saw Scientology as the mind game that it was and left, taking Morley and Lucanias with him. The following year he again went to Muktananda’s ashram, this time for four weeks. They had a brief conversation upon his arrival. Near the end, Baba had told him he would become a spiritual teacher of Siddha Yoga. He gave him a handwritten letter to that effect, the first ever to a Westerner, and a Hindi name, “Dhyanananda,” meaning “one whose bliss is realized in meditation.” Jones rejected the name (later he named himself “Bubba Free John,” the word “Bubba” being what his father called him as a child) and spoke to Baba of how during meditation “a spot of light had often appeared before me, sometimes black or silver-gray, and sometimes blue.” Baba told him that “the spot only appears black because of impurities.” (Later, after their falling out, Baba would call him “a dark yogi.” And Jones would call Muktananda “a black magician.”)
During this time, Jones had numerous subtle and powerful experiences which he began to see as:
A seemingly endless revelation of the forms of spiritual reality…. I was already becoming aware of the inconclusiveness 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…. 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.
The Hell With It All
At the end of August Jones and the women returned to New York. During meditation he sometimes experienced Bhagavan Nityananda, Baba’s guru, taking over his subtle form. He had a number of experiences with the chakras and kundalini which further increased his belief that all of this was the play of Shakti, and so he simply sat, using no techniques, no special breathing or mantras or visualizations but simply inquired of himself whenever anything arose—“Avoiding relationship.” (This, of course, seems very much like Ramana Maharshi’s approach of asking “Who am I?” but Jones is speaking of relationship not only with others but with the Divine.)
He rarely went out, but would occasionally go for walks with Lucanias. “One day he called me and told me he was going to leave for India for good,” Lucanias says. “ He and Pat and Nina. That was it, he was just leaving the country. I remember him saying, ‘What the hell am I going to do in this place? The hell with it all. I’ve had it.’” And so at the end of May 1970 he and Nina and Pat left to return to the ashram and, as he says, “I intended to place myself at Baba’s feet, to give him my household and my life.”
The Virgin Mary Appears
At the ashram he was given the work of editing and refining the English translation of Baba’s new book, while Nina typed the edited manuscript and Patricia cleaned rooms. For Jones, there was a noticeable change at the ashram, which had become very public and busy. It was crowded with Americans and Europeans. People had Shakti experiences, but didn’t seem radically changed by it. Baba seemed to ignore him and, as he says, “never said a personal word to me.” Besides the editing, Jones also worked in the garden, where one day the Virgin Mary appeared to him. During the next two weeks she made many appearances. Finally, she told him to leave and to go on a pilgrimage to the Christian holy places in Jerusalem and Europe. Swami Nityananda, Baba’s long deceased guru, also appeared to him and blessed him and told him that he belonged to the Virgin now and should do as she said. After a stay of little more than three weeks, Jones and the women left the ashram to take a pilgrimage to the holy shrines of the West.
That August, returning to the United States, they settled in Los Angeles. “I no longer practiced in relationship to any of my human teachers,” Jones says. “Their teachings had been exhausted in me, until there was no more seeking…. I was simply and directly devoted to the perfect Enjoyment of unqualified Reality, the Very (and unmoving) Self.” In late August he began to visit the Vedanta Society temple in Hollywood. There the Divine Shakti appeared in person, he said, and they combined “with One Another in Divine (and Motionless and spontaneously Yogic) ‘Sexual Union.’” One day in early September, awaiting her appearance at the temple, he says he suddenly “realized that I had Realized. The ‘Thing’ about the ‘Bright’ became Obvious. I am Complete. I am the One Who Is Complete.”
Baba Does Not Approve
A month later, in early October, Baba had come to California. He was in the midst of his first world tour, which was largely underwritten by Rudi. Jones reconciled with Rudi and, in the company of a small group, told Baba about what he had realized at the temple. A discussion of Consciousness followed. Jones, who had apparently not seen the blue pearl that was the keystone of Baba’s experience and teaching, maintained that pure consciousness “was not settled in the sahasrar (top of the head), or in any other extended or functional level of the body-mind itself, but in the True Heart Itself—not the heart chakra or the physical heart, but the Heart of Real Consciousness.” By this he seemed to mean that it was not located in some part of the body, but the body-mind when consciously realized appeared in the Heart which was the fullness of life itself, but what he said wasn’t as clear. From Jones’ report of the meeting, Baba didn’t recognize this distinction and so continued to speak about the stabilization of attention being in the heart or the sahasrar, with Jones continuing to maintain that he had not been referring to where attention was centered but to that perfect Realization that transcended attention itself, with the implication that he had realized it. In Baba’s reply Jones felt that there “was even an underlying suggestion that those who professed attainment must be regarded with suspicion.”
Unperturbed, Jones pressed forward, speaking of Reality as prior to and transcending all phenomenal experience. Baba cut him off, saying that such a way does not lead to the highest Truth. “You are present as form. Why do you seek a way without form?” demanded Baba. Jones felt Baba did not understand him. As Jones expressed it later, “There was (from my point of view) no ‘personal’ disagreement between Baba and me. It was only that Siddha Yoga (and even every kind of Yoga) had been truly Completed in me, and I was drawn into the Absolute Knowledge that is the true, most ultimate, and inherently most perfect Fulfillment of every way and every kind of Yoga proposed in the ‘great (and always seeking) tradition’ of mankind.”
Jones opened an ashram-bookstore in Hollywood, California, with the financial help of Sal Lucanias. He adopted the style of Indian gurus, speaking from an elevated chair, the room laden with colorful carpets, and flowers and incense in abundance. He taught in the Indian tradition, his talk formal and somewhat stilted, and the kundalini power ever emanating from him. Quickly gathering devotees, he created his church, which he called The Dawn Horse Communion, later known as The Free Daist Communion and today as Adidam. He began writing his spiritual memoir, The Knee of Listening: The Early Life and Radical Spiritual Teachings of Franklin Jones.
Alan Watts was among those to whom the completed manuscript was sent for a testimonial. Though Watts, a former minister and a leading light of the New Age who had been instrumental in helping to introduce Zen Buddhism to America, had never met Jones, he was enthusiastic. “It is obvious,” he wrote, “from all sorts of subtle details, that Franklin Jones knows what IT’s all about… a rare being.” The book was published in July 1973, just before Jones was to travel to India to see Muktananda.
Earlier that April, Jones had told his devotees he would soon take another pilgrimage to India. “Just as there is a vast spiritual process behind this work and all true spiritual work,” he explained, “there are also certain individuals, Siddhas and others, who are very directly involved with our work. Muktananda is the only one alive in the body, and it is very important that I purify my connection with him for the sake of the work itself.”
Strangely, given the lack of agreement in their 1970 interchange, Jones’ idea of purifying their connection was to ask Muktananda to give him formal recognition of his realization of Maha Siddha, which, in effect, would make his realization equal to that of Muktananda’s. To structure the conversation, Jones wrote four questions that were a continuation of their previous dialogue, which in a yogic way was reminiscent of medieval theologians debating how many angels could stand on the head of a pin. The questions were translated into Hindi and given to Muktananda before they spoke. A tape recording was made that was later published as “A Confrontation of Dharmas” in Jones’ magazine The Dawn Horse. The image of the dawn horse had appeared to him on a deep, subtle level that he felt was archetypal and he made it his own ever after.
Jones’ first two questions dealt with whether the experiencing of consciousness by the jnanis, the sages, was the same as what yogis call Maha-Shakti, and whether consciousness is stabilized in the sahasrar, as Muktananda held, or on the right side of the heart as Ramana Maharshi had said. Muktananda prefaced his answer by warning Jones that he had the habit of talking candidly, so he hoped that Jones wouldn’t think he was trying to hurt his feelings, but “if you wish to know the secrets of the scriptures, then your attitude must be appropriate.”
With that as the context, Muktananda then introduced the question of the duality between the seer and the seen. Are they the same or different? The two, Jones answered, conventionally speaking, are simply modifications of one Reality. Muktananda, pressing the point, asked are they the same Reality, or two different forms? The latter, Jones said. They are the same, Muktananda declared, and told him “I will explain it to you.” Saying that while the means are different the experience of a jnani and a yogi are identical. “Only a kindergarten student of Vedanta,” Muktananda replied, “holds the notion that the mind is form. One who thoroughly understands Vedanta realizes the mind is not only mind; the mind is nothing but the Lord.”
Jones’ third question was about whether or not the two different ways, that of the jnanis and that of the yogis, is equal. Muktananda told him that “when you have full realization of the sahasrar…it is the place of highest effulgence.” Jones disagreed saying that the jnanis say the sahasrar is but the reflection of the Heart. Muktananda tells him here are two kinds of jnanis: “One has experienced the highest Reality in the sahasrar. The other is a mere scholar who has read books.” Jones then spoke of Ramana Maharshi’s experience. Said Muktananda, “If Ramana Maharshi said that it is the heart, I say that it is the sahasrar, and for a person like you, it is not appropriate to get caught in a conflict…. The most important thing is be certain of yourself. One must be genuine in his worship of the Guru, and if you try to cheat the Guru, then you only cheat yourself.”
With this, Muktananda ended the discussion, so Jones never got to ask his final question as to whether Muktananda would formally acknowledge him as a Maha-Siddhi, but, given Muktananda’s attitude and answers, it would have been negative. In leaving, with all ties between him and Muktananda severed, Jones did not salute Muktananda by bowing as had been his custom, but simply stood up and left, departing the ashram within an hour. He was now on his own. Henceforth he would be known by the name he gave himself “Bubba Free John.”
Returning to America, he no longer taught in the usual formal Indian fashion but adoped a “crazy-wisdom” style which would allow his devotees to see themselves with all their antics and avoidances in the flesh. This meant erotic, ongoing Tantric parties with plenty of beer, cigarettes, junk food, dope, sex and rock ’n’ roll, with Bubba supplying the good cheer and the powerful force of his kundalini creating visions, kriyas, and heart openings. The following year the partying moved to Cobb Mountain in Northern California, where Bubba’s church had bought Siegler Springs, a rundown, 43-acre hot springs, which he renamed “Persimmon.” The number of his devotees had now grown to about 150. He had amazing power. Remembers one person who was there:
Bubba walked into the Satsang Hall and looked around at everyone. Within seconds, a silver/whitish disc-shaped light deep in my head—in the forehead region—began clicking on and off and then I began seeing a raining of drops of light descending in the room! Whoa! Also, we spent time in the Bathhouse with Bubba. Someone put a flotation device in the pool and I held it as Bubba got on. Then pushed him around. Again, I saw a rain of energy. At another Satsang occasion with Bubba I felt a current of energy partially rise up my spine, stopping at my chest. I felt a melting sensation and suddenly saw the room blasted by blue/green colors!
If the parties in Hollywood had pushed the envelope, these at Persimmon went well beyond it. The intent, Bubba would later explain, was to break through all the binding ego attachments of the so-called person, his and her narcissistic life of money, food and sex, as well as “spiritual experiences.”
These experiences meant nothing, he told them.
One of the traditional images of spiritual life that has come down for centuries is the ladder, the way of ascent to the place beyond, to heaven, to the Divine above the world. The ladder, along with other such archetypes, is the image of attainment, the image of the perfect change of state. It is absolutely false, and yet it is the principal archetype of spirituality and religion! The Divine is not apart and above and elsewhere, to be attained at another time in the midst of some condition or another that you may or may not imagine. That is not the Truth. The Truth is the present One, the absolute Divine that may not be attained, that may not be ascended to, that does not even descend upon you, but which is perfectly and already your present Condition.
In particular, Bubba attacked the “cult of pairs” and notions of marriage in particular, which he said only serves the seeking and separateness which at root are the denial of the Divinity of the simple here and now. Of all the partying, which lasted from March to early July, when the night that shattered everything would later be known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.” To prepare devotees, Bubba first told them:
The instant you marry, you must discard it. Otherwise marriage is another cultic form, a sex contract, in which you become medievally involved with personality forms, making yourself strategically unavailable to the rest of life, and again mutually create the sensation of separate existence, including “poor me” or “fantastic me.”… The cult of marriage is a principal obstacle in the affair of the spiritual Community, because the common theater of marriage is a fundamental instrument for locking out the life-energy, the ecstatic life-communication, from other beings.
Bubba then broke up couples and marriages and began what was called the “sexual theater,” that of switching partners, instituting orgies and making pornographic movies. It pushed many to personal crises and opened some to subtle and powerful experiencings and visions. If these were taken personally, it would only increase the sense of separateness, of personal specialness. Bubba took no prisoners:
The Divine vision is just the asshole of the Goddess, except it is not recognized as such by seekers. They think, “oh, it is the Lord.” They couldn’t care less about the Lord, because to know the Lord would require them to be obliterated. The Lord in Truth requires the sacrifice of self-existence. Nobody wants such a thing. They want the Goddess, who will pamper them, and fuck them, and delight them. That is what people want.
For there to be experience there had to be an experiencer and if that was anything more than pure Self-observation then the devotee was entranced with the Goddess [phenomenal experience] and not recognizing the Absolute. Said Bubba:
Rudi used to tell me to surrender, but that is not the principle. Muktananda used to say, “Yield to the Goddess,” and that is not the principle. The Goddess used to say, “Yield to me,” and I fucked her brains loose….What is required of you is this sacrifice, and sacrifice only becomes possible under the influence of the perfect Siddhi of God, not under the influence of any of the manifest siddhis of the Goddess.
At the end of the crazy wisdom days, Bubba reminded devotees that “What I do is not the way I am, but the way I teach.” He was showing them who they really were, and in actually seeing themselves and not who they imagined themselves to be their spiritual development would be quickened. While the sexual theater would be repeated, it apparently never was as pervasive or so strongly accompanied by his demonstration of yogic powers. The rampant sex, for the most part it is claimed, became limited to Bubba’s “esoteric order,” while those outside it led a rather strict life of discipline, work, diet, exercise, meditation and service. “My only Purpose,” he told devotees, “out of Sympathy for you all, is to stay here long enough to Do what I have come to Do, which is to create this immense Mandala of Transmission for the sake of those who live now and those who will live in the future.” He withdrew to a large extent and devoted himself to writing—his output would grow to some 70 books, of which 23 were considered “Source Texts.”
Part III continued in The Gurdjieff Journal #49
1. Lutheran seminary. In the original 1972 edition of The Knee of Listening, Jones gives no reason why suddenly in1966 he and Nina moved to Philadelphia so he could enter a Lutheran seminary. However, in The Method of the Siddhas (Los Angeles: Dawn Horse Press, 1973), p. 52, he says, “Rudi had me going to seminaries, where I studied Christian theology, masses of historical literature, ancient languages, all kinds of things in which I had no fundamental interest. I had to live in Protestant and Orthodox seminaries, but I was not a Christian.”
2. A teacher who is in personal conflict. Swami Rudrananda, Spiritual Cannibalism (New York: Links Books, 1973), p. 43.
3. Seated in the “Bright.” Jones, The Knee of Listening (Middletown, CA: Dawn Horse Press, 1995), p. 34.
4. A kind of super-parent. Jones, p. 192.
5. Raised in a family. Jones, p. 34. He says that because love was “the premise of our life together” they were all free to be so “reckless, stupid, unfeeling, uncommunicative, unhappy, and separate!”
6. My own ordinary tendency. Jones, p. 168.
7. I would often exploit. Jones, p. 105.
8. Self-remembering. Rudi had spent five years in the Work before leaving for Pak Subuh, who introduced him to opening to kundalini. He then went to India where he met Swami Nityananda and later his disciple Swami Muktananda, both of whose teaching was founded on the kundalini experience. So his teaching was a mélange of these three approaches. Rudi never mentions self-remembering in the one book he published, Spiritual Cannibalism, nor is it mentioned in the two books of his talks published after his death in 1973, Rudi, In His Own Words and Entering Infinity. In the many books that Jones would publish during his lifetime, it is not apparent that he ever mentions it.
9. Tended to interpret. Jones, The Knee of Listening, 1973 ed., p. 66.
10. A constant stream. Jones, The Knee of Listening, 1992 ed., p. 151.
11. He was not himself prepared. Jones, 1992 ed., p. 192.
12. Spiritual life. Jones, p. 207.
13. When the last day arrived. Jones, p. 217.
14. “Bubba” being what his father called him as a child. Comment by Louise Lucanias, “The Early Days: An Interview with Sal and Louise Lucanias,” The Dawn Horse, vol. 1, no. 1, May 1974.
15. A spot of light. Jones, The Knee of Listening, 1972 ed., pp. 101–102.
16. Endless revelation of the forms. Jones, 1972 ed., pp. 102–103.
17. One day he called me. Lucanias.
18. I intended to place myself. Jones, 1972 ed., p. 122.
19. Baba never said a personal word to me. Jones, 1992 ed., p. 297.
20. I no longer practiced in relationship to any of my human teachers. Jones 1992 ed., p. 353.
21. Sexual Union. Jones, 1992 ed., p 356.
22. I understood most perfectly. Jones, 1992 ed., p. 357.
23. Present State. Jones, 1992, ed., p. 373.
24. It was not settled in the shasrar. Jones, 1992 ed., p. 373-76.
25. It was only that Siddha Yoga. Jones, 1992 ed., p. 383.
26. A Confrontation of Dharmas. The Dawn Horse magazine, vol. 2 no. 2, 1975. http://www.Lightmind.com/impermanence/Library/knee/appendix2.html
27. Feet are in the Heart of Self-nature. Hence the title of Jones’ book, The Knee of Listening. Ponder it.
28. Bubba walked into the Satsang Hall. “A Forest Wanderer’s Notes: Notes for the Peavine Upanishad.” http://atiasrama.wordpress.com
29. One of the traditional images. Bubba Free John, Garbage and the Goddess, p. 109.
30. The instant you marry. Bubba Free John, Garbage and the Goddess (Lower Lake, CA: Dawn Horse Press, 1974), p. 16, p. 31.
31. The Divine vision. Bubba Free John, p. 112.
32. Rudi used to tell me. Bubba Free John, pp. 106-07.
33. My only Purpose. Andrew Rawlinson, The Book of Enlightened Masters, (Chicago: Carus Publishing Company, 1997), p. 229.
First printed in The Gurdjieff Journal.
William Patrick Patterson is the author of seven books on The Fourth Way, the latest of which is “Spiritual Survival in a Radically Changing World-Time.”