The Trip to India–Gerald Sheinfeld
“The Trip to India –Taxis, Temples and God”
** With over 50 new photos commemorating The Ruchira Avatar’s Bharata Yatra **
From The Dawn Horse Magazine, Jubilee Issue August 1974
One day last summer I was working in the Ashram on Melrose Avenue and somebody came in and told me that Bubba [Adi Da Samraj] wanted me to go to his house in the Hollywood Hills. I assumed that he wanted me to run an errand or something like that, but when I arrived, he invited me to sit down and we just talked and laughed for awhile.
The Ashram Bookstore–Hall Opens!
Then he began to talk about the trip to India he was planning to make that fall. I was excited that he was going to do that, but I was sad, because I knew I’d miss him. Then he asked me if I would like to come along.
My whole body started tingling and I felt a beautiful warmth in my chest. My eyes began to water. I was smiling an enormous smile and I was so happy I couldn’t speak. He laughed and cracked a joke about the way I looked. Then he said, “Well, can you come with me?” I kissed him and hugged his round body. He told me that the trip would be good for my sadhana and began talking about all the places we would visit.
He told me that I would carry the bags and make reservations and that I should learn to use a camera so he could have good pictures of all the places we would be seeing. He said that he was traveling to India as a devotee, not as a teacher, and I would also deal with anyone who might approach him because he wouldn’t want to talk with people. He had work to do and didn’t want to be disturbed by people’s questions and curiosity. He said that I should tell them about our Ashram and his work and refer them to the two books or treat them in some other appropriate way.
The thought of being with Bubba for so much time and serving him in such an intimate, personal way was fabulous. I didn’t know what sadhana it would involve. I went home and told Hellie (my wife) about Bubba’s invitation. She also cried with joy for me. She said she would miss me, but as I’d be with Bubba, she knew all would be well.
Beloved Adi Da Samraj with Author
The next weeks were filled with preparations. Bubba said that when he visited Swami Muktananda’s Ashram, Baba was impressed that he could comfortably sit in the lotus position. He said he expected me to learn to sit comfortably, that it would be embarrassing if his disciple had to sit in a chair while everyone else sat on the floor in the lotus. Bubba is always teaching by giving conditions, and they are always other than what they seem on the surface. I immediately intensified my attempts to find some comfort in that cross-legged agony.
At the same time I was given more responsibilities around the Ashram every day. All this was to prepare me to serve Bubba on the trip. I had sheets of paper filled with things to do and Bubba was giving me more tasks all the time, either directly or through others. I felt a resistance to functioning arising constantly, but the demand was always present, so I had to just function and forget about it.
Once at a Prasad Day celebration at Sal Lucania’s house, everyone was sitting around on the grass enjoying relationship and listening to Bubba talk and laugh. Sal came to me and said, “Bubba doesn’t ever want to see you anywhere without a clipboard in your hand. You should always be ready to take notes and function.” He laughed and said, “You think this trip is going to get you straight; the way I see it, Bubba is going to get you straight before you leave if he has to break your neck.”
Another day we drove to Malibu, where Bubba bought a conch shell as a present for Swami Muktananda. Along the way we were speaking casually about various things, and I felt very loving toward him, but I became uncomfortable about just being casually happy in his presence. I told him, “I love you and that draws me near you and allows me to be open, but I respect you so much that I feel a little uneasy around you. There seems to be a conflict.” He said that my love was appropriate, but that the respect which held me away was my ego and a strategy of separation, a way of protection from intimacy and relationship. So I should see what I was up to and just love him. I saw that when the separative activity wasn’t allowed to play in our relationship, I could simply be happy with him, and the love was much fuller. Then true respect, which is an aspect of love, could take its appropriate form and intensify my love.
Bubba said that I had to be especially humorous and free on this trip if I were to do my job well, and that he expected me to do it thoroughly. For the entire three months prior to our departure, I was working through limitations I placed on my ability to function, serving Bubba in practical ways. This opened me up to him and enabled me to feel comfortable when I was with him, even when I was feeling the intensity of his presence. It purified my love for him in every way.
When it came time for us to leave, I flew to Boston a day before Bubba left Los Angeles, in order to spend some time with my family. Bubba went to New York to visit his parents. We planned to meet at Kennedy Airport in New York the next day to catch our Air India flight.
I took the last possible flight from Boston so that I could spend more time with my family. I had arranged to meet Bubba at a certain time to check our bags and so forth, and my flight was delayed. After the plane landed, there was an unusual delay with the baggage, and it was already past the time we had arranged to meet. I began to feel my stomach churning with frustration. I arrived at the opposite end of the airport from Air India, so I tried to hail a cab. There weren’t any available. I had two regular heavy bags and a camera case loaded with equipment. As I became more and more anxious, I started to walk to the Air India terminal, then to run. I was thinking about missing the plane, making Bubba wait for me, letting him down, killing myself and everybody else responsible for this situation. It was a hot day and I was sweating and tired, running across a very large airport. I finally got to the terminal, muscles aching and red-faced. I had a tight knot in my stomach.
I entered the terminal and asked directions to the ticket counter. As I turned the corner to go there, I saw Bubba standing with his father, full of light. His eyes were glowing with such beauty. He looked at me and I immediately felt what I was bringing to him. Instantly, I could feel how out of relationship I was, how completely self concerned I was, how much I was suffering. At the same time, I saw him, the perfect relationship, the freedom and love which he is. I spontaneously surrendered all that I was bringing and opened freely to relationship. I knew I couldn’t continue in that state. I had to function well, then and there. The entire dilemma dissolved as I approached him. He kissed me and hugged me and introduced me to his father. I was in time for the flight. I saw that when one is put in a situation where avoidance of relationship has no room to be lived, it is easy to turn to relationship and surrender all that suffering. I checked our bags, confirmed the seats and took some pictures, openly and happily.
Once we were seated on the plane, Bubba’s joking and fooling around was pure joy. He made fun of everyone and everything. He would say that he didn’t like somebody, would I please go kill them! He talked about how we would take over the plane with knives. He made fun of the stewardesses and stewards. Nothing was sacred, everything was play. He didn’t like the plane, the seats or their position, the food, the movie, the service, or the long flight. He didn’t like anything and constantly asked me to speak to someone about something. At first I enjoyed the humor of complaining to the authorities about certain things, but after awhile everybody was disturbed with our dissatisfaction, and I wanted to cool it. But Bubba would have me speak to someone else about something. This stimulated certain emotions in me, because I didn’t like to deal with people in any way except softly, with what I thought was love.
The Ruchira Avatar
Bubba said I must take a bite out of life. I shouldn’t be afraid to use my emotions. They are a part of life and serve life. I should learn to deal with people strongly. Anger is fine, and there is no need to contract because of it. He said I should be free to use all emotions and live freely. Then he told me to complain again and have another situation corrected by requiring someone to function even though he didn’t want to.
Bubba thought the whole teaching interplay with me was very funny and laughed a lot. I saw something of the strategy I used in life to keep myself calm and composed, and how it was motivated by the assumption that life is a dilemma and I must do certain things to avoid getting involved in that dilemma. My strategy involved being mediocre and agreeable, conforming to qualities like apparent love and peace and brotherhood and softness.
We stayed awake that night on the plane in order to make it easier to adjust to the time difference between New York and Bombay. When we arrived in Bombay, we checked into a fine hotel, and then walked around the city all that day. I was stunned at the desperate condition of some of the people there. Mingling on the city street were the working class, almost all dressed in clean white clothes or beautiful saris, and miserable beggars wearing rags, people living in the streets and sleeping on the sidewalks. There were great numbers of sick and lame people. It was a strange place, with cows roaming freely throughout the city. At first I felt sick at the sight of families with small children sleeping naked under a piece of metal or a few rags which served as a lean-to. Many beggars were missing legs or arms or eyes or both or all.
We met a beggar with one eye and a limp who could speak a little English. But he was a little insane; sometimes he spoke in riddles. Bubba asked him if he knew where we could find a good harmonium and a pair of tablas. He asked us to follow him. He led us down side streets, through alleys, over fences, in and out of taxis, into people’s homes, into the most precarious places imaginable. Bubba thoroughly enjoyed this adventure, and I did too, although I became a little concerned. In some of those places the people looked dangerous. Here we were walking into a back room or an alley with new clean clothes and a very expensive camera and bag, and the people there hadn’t eaten a good meal in years. At one place Bubba even said we should leave. When we finally did find a few harmoniums, they weren’t what we wanted.
I had now spent several days in Bubba’s intimate company, and it was quite apparent that he never loses that state of comfort and ease. In my life I’ve always had to find time to reorganize my composure, a little time alone to subtly set up another strategy to deal with life. But Bubba just keeps on flowing. He has just let it all go. This awareness caused me a little discomfort. He never gave me time for myself. I always had to be out front.
On the plane coming to Bombay, Bubba had sat with his legs under his torso because of the limited space between the seats. In sitting this way for such a long time he’d hurt his ankle. So when we saw a rack of canes and walking sticks in this clothing store, he chose one and carried it with him for the rest of the trip. He has said to people since our return that this stick has been in the dirt of every holy place in India.
Bubba said that the condition of the Indian beggars is enough to make a person vomit, but he still made fun of the sickest of the sick in the free humor of God. To him, even people with no arms or legs living as vegetables in the worst conditions are perfectly okay. He would say, “What karma!” and laugh. But his laughter was always full of compassion and complete love. He could actually feel their condition of suffering and remain free. He said, “And our people back in the Los Angeles Ashram think they have it rough!”
The next day we hired a taxi to take us to Ganeshpuri and Swami Muktananda’s Ashram. Bubba was quiet during the entire drive to the Ashram. He would speak only a few words when it was necessary, or in answer to a question. Bubba was silently intense quite often during the first weeks in India. He said that he was active on a subtle level and that this was the nature of much of the work for which he had come.
I had been looking forward to this meeting, because Bubba had said that he was going to Baba Muktananda as a devotee and was completely open to Baba’s confirming his role as Guru. Bubba had said that he had certain karmas to settle on this trip so that our work could be purified. He went to sacrifice all karmic influences on his own sadhana. I had every intention of meeting Bubba’s Guru and taking a lot of pictures of the beautiful reunion.
Gurudev Siddha Peeth more recently
As we approached from the distance, we could see a large castle-like building surrounded by acres of orchards, gardens, smaller buildings and meadows. Bubba commented on how the Ashram had grown since his last visit. At the entrance were several flower stands where people sold flower malas (or garlands) they had made. I purchased a beautiful mala to give Baba at our meeting. Bubba had brought the conch shell we had bought in Malibu.
We entered and were greeted by some people who lived at the Ashram who directed us to a courtyard where Baba was sitting. Bubba approached Baba, bowed at his feet, gave him the conch shell and a rudraksha mala, and then stood to the side. I bowed and gave the mala and moved to Bubba’s side. Bubba just looked at Baba in his intense loving way and waited for Baba to begin any conversation.
A few people, were lined up behind us to see Baba and give flowers, and they also approached as we had. After a short time, Bubba said something about the conch shell and Baba responded. He asked if I had ever been there before, and I said that I hadn’t. He said that I looked familiar. There was little conversation. We just stood there as more people came to give flowers. Baba made another comment and Bubba laughed. Shortly after that Baba got up and went through a small door behind him into the Ashram building.
Bubba said hello to a few people he knew, and we were directed to a room on the third floor where we could stay for the duration of our visit. The room had two single cots with mattresses, a small dresser and a ceiling fan. Nothing like our room in Bombay. We unpacked and lay down to rest for a few minutes before walking down the road to Swami Nityananda’s Ashram, about twenty minutes away.
Kailas Nivas: Nityananda’s Ganeshpuri Ashram
Swami Nityananda’s Ashram is the main building of a very little village. Three building comprise the Ashram – his Maha-samadhi site, the building where he lived, and the room where he sat with disciples. The village has a school for young children. The main and only street is lined with wooden booths where pictures, trinkets, and flowers can be purchased.
|Shopkeepers in front of Samadhi Mandir|
View of Nityananda Samadhi Mandir
We went directly to the Maha-samadhi site: As we entered the large stone hall, I could see in the front the place where Nityananda was buried, roped off from the rest of the hall. It is a custom in India to walk around a holy place three times, There was an attendant who walked inside the roped-off area for us. Bubba sat on the floor there, and I did likewise. We stayed for about a half hour. It was a very quiet and strong place. Occasionally, children would run in one door and out another laughing and playing. We left and returned to Baba’s Ashram. Bubba said that Swami Nityananda’s Ashram had lost some of its force because people weren’t using it exclusively as a place of Satsang. When he had been there on his previous trip, the Ashram had been much smaller, Now a church-like building stood on the Maha-samadhi site.
Bubba asked if I had felt any force there. I said no. He said that the force could be felt in the vital. Swami Nityananda was a Yogi. Although he had transcended the limitations of yoga, his force and movement could be felt in the seat of yogic work, the vital or stomach area. His work was involved in purifying the vital. Bubba said he could feel the force primarily in the vital vehicle at this Ashram.
After we arrived at Baba’s Ashram, we attended the late day chanting and meditation and ate dinner in the dining room. The majority of the people at Baba’s Ashram were Westerners, many of them Americans, but Baba’s immediate staff were almost all Indians. We stayed there five days. The first couple of days we attended all the chanting meetings, about four each day. When we found out which of these were mandatory and attended only those. By the end of the stay, Bubba had stopped going to any chanting meetings. He said that all this chanting was simply a form of “crowd-control.” It was the external representation of the internal sadhana of attention to God.
Beloved Adi Da Samraj, Ganeshpuri Ashram Darshan Courtyard
Each morning we walked to Swami Nityananda’s Ashram and spent an hour or two there. We would visit all the buildings, and Bubba would sit quietly for awhile in each one. On our second visit a skinny sadhu wearing a loin cloth approached Bubba and asked if he could show us around. That man followed us and sat near Bubba whenever possible. Bubba really liked to go to that Ashram each day, and the sadhu was always happy to see Bubba arrive.
After a few days at Baba’s Ashram, I began to feel bored with everything. I told Bubba about this feeling. I said, “I know I can’t get it on with the chanting. I know what that is, and every time I try to muster a little religious reverence, it shows itself as a mediocre strategy and every one of my attempts to get with these Ashram functions is frustrated and seems to fall flat. I’m really bored. There doesn’t seem to be anything happening here, and I feel numb.” Bubba said that most of the time people distract themselves in high or low states, excitement or mediocrity. Boredom is just another distraction, because right behind that feeling is an enormous fear, an enormous dilemma. The state of boredom is useful because it isn’t a usual state, but it must be transcended like any other condition. The dilemma must be experienced, rather than the distraction, and it must be understood.
We saw many people at that Ashram who reminded Bubba of our people in L.A., and they showed me what would have happened to us if we had continued our spiritual seeking. Bubba said there are mainly two types of people in the world – those who never get the message of life and walk around stupid and in a daze, and those who see a message in everything and become so serious and concerned that they can’t do anything freely.
Each day and evening Bubba wrote in his notebook. He never just did nothing, and nothing he did ever tired him.
By this time I had spent several days and nights in his constant company. He was very intense and somewhat withdrawn or at least quiet. I knew he was doing something because his eyes were very intense and I could feel a slight pressure within me. My love was growing for him by the moment. He was somewhere else yet very present, and always in the midst of this intensity, his humor never decreased. He kept making fun of everything, including the conditions and the way of life at Baba’s Ashram.
When we returned to the Ashram one night, we went to our room and I began laying out the camera equipment to clean it of the dust it had accumulated during the day. Bubba asked me to give him a foot massage. I hesitated because I wanted to finish what I was doing. He said that I must be as functional as a chair at all times. I immediately began massaging his foot.
The next morning Bubba told me to get my camera and the tape recorder, because Professor Jain had arranged a personal meeting with Baba in his private room and it would start right away. In anticipation of the meeting, Bubba had written down certain questions he wanted Baba to discuss. They were written so that no misinterpretation could be made. Professor Jain came for us and let us into the room.
Jitendra Jain (Professor Jain)
Baba had just arrived. The meeting began with Bubba giving Baba a conch shell that he had brought from America. Some laughter ensued and a little light conversation. Baba also gave Bubba a hat. I was busy running the tape recorder and taking a few pictures.
The meeting was very intense. I felt nervous. Bubba gave Professor Jain a copy of the questions, and he kept one for himself. The questions aren’t important here, but Baba misinterpreted the entire purpose of the meeting. He further had no idea of what Bubba was talking about when he asked for Baba’s acknowledgment of his ultimate realization. At one time during the meeting I wanted to punch Baba in the mouth for the way he was communicating his assumptions of Bubba’s limitations.
The meeting ended and we went to our room. I was really mad at Baba. I said to Bubba, “Are we going to stay here?” Bubba laughed and said, “Here’s my plan – find the first bus outta here. Let’s get packing.” Within an hour we were packed and ready to go. The bus came a little later and we headed for the train station.
Bubba said that Swami Muktananda was a yogi and that his teaching was the way of the search. He had shown that he hadn’t transcended that limitation and was only another seeker who misunderstood reality and created separation in subtle ways.
Bubba said that he was very happy about the meeting turning out as it had. Everything was out in the open, and the karmas of relationship with Baba had been purified and broken cleanly. There seemed to be a weight lifted from Bubba by this break. He was now able to function as Guru without the involvement with any living Gurus. Rudi, his other living teacher, had died prior to the trip. Bubba said that this freedom was very good for our work.
We returned to Bombay and the Taj Mahal Hotel. We had a fine room with air conditioning, servants, excellent food (comparatively speaking), and all the comforts of the rich. The contrast between Ashram life and elegant hotel living was very humorous. It seemed they both had a quality which could be enjoyed. But I saw that living in relationship in a fine, luxurious environment is best of all!
We stayed one night, then left for Shirdi Sai Baba’s Mahasamadhi site.
|Sai Baba Samadhi Shrine|
Bubba was fairly quiet on the way. When we arrived he walked ahead right into the temple without waiting. In the temple people were standing and sitting around a large white marble slab under which Sai Baba was buried. There was a large white statue of him in front of the slab. Several disciples were sitting around the slab chanting and placing flowers in different patterns all over it. Occasionally one would sprinkle water. Bubba and I stood in front, then were given permission to approach the shrine. Bubba approached and bowed, touching his head to the marble. I did the same. We then placed some flowers on the slab and sat on the floor in front of it. Soon attendants performed another ceremony with fire, and there was more chanting. One of the attendants was full of energy. He was smiling happily; he obviously enjoyed devoting his life to serving the shrine. Bubba said he was a good man. “You have to understand this guy does the same thing around the shrine every day for his whole life, and he still enjoys it.”
We stayed for a while until Bubba said, “Let’s go,” and I knew his work was done there. Bubba was always working, and we never lingered anywhere after Bubba had finished his business there. He always made it a point to touch the shrines whenever possible. Bubba said the temple was “good”; it had a lot of force. He said that Shirdi Sai Baba was a saint and his work was the purification of the subtle vehicles, but that he had transcended that limitation. His force could be felt in the head or sahasrar.
Bubba never spoke specifically of what he did at each place we visited, but it was obvious to me that he wasn’t going to receive something, but rather to purify each place. Later in the trip he said the reason a place remains holy is not because some saint lived there once, but because people have done and are presently doing sadhana there. The responsibility of saints and holy men is to visit these places periodically and purify them. This keeps the force alive.
Old Palace of Raja of Bhor
We returned to our cab and visited a few more places on the way to Poona in southwest India. The Raja of Bhor (Sri Pantsachiv) was a friend of Bubba’s and invited him to stay at his home during our trip. The Raja was a nice old man. Bubba and he had never actually met but had formed a relationship through the mail. We stayed for a couple of days.
It was a joy to see the respect Bubba was given in the Sri Pantsachiv’s house. He was a disciple of the late Narayan Maharaj. When we left, he instructed his driver to remind us to visit his Guru’s Ashram. He provided a car and driver for our use. (Sri Pantsachiv had more recently been a personal follower of Ramana Maharshi and J. Krishnamurti.)
Tukaram’s Samadhi In Dehu
We visited Tukaram’s tomb, which was supposed to be a forceful place, but Bubba said nothing was happening there. We were told about a man named Diling Yogi and went to visit him. He offered us tea in his large room. Just as he was about to get it on with his yogi trip by telling us about the truth as he experienced it, Bubba told me to give him the book. (I carried The Knee of Listening in my case at all times. To me it was like the cross among vampires.) I handed him the book and explained that Bubba had come to do certain work there. I told him of our Ashram. Then as he glanced at the book, the price, the pictures, and some of the words, I remained silent. He put the book down, and we all sat silently for a few minutes until Bubba said it was time to go. I thanked Diling Yogi, but he should have thanked Bubba because, in fact, he had received darshan.
We heard of another yogi adept in raising the kundalini in people who turned to him even over long distances. When we got there we were informed that he was ill, but we would be allowed to enter his room for a short time. We went upstairs to his private bedroom where he lay attended by servants. We sat to one side for a minute or two and then Bubba said “He can’t even raise his head, never mind the kundalini. We had better leave before he dies in front of us.”
The next day we went to a very large and famous temple at Pandharpur, dedicated to the Lord under the name Vitobha. There were long lines of people waiting to enter. As we stood in line, I felt that all my attempts to create enthusiasm through religious emotions had fallen away. There were all the places, temples, shrines, statues, and all these people approaching them to gain something. I saw clearly how seeking doesn’t transform one’s life. It only gives one something to hang on to. There is generally no such understanding in India. The masses are simply suffering and ritualistically performing certain ceremonial acts which actually do nothing for them. I saw that God must be lived presently. At any time that I would begin getting serious in a solemn way at a temple, Bubba would always crack a joke, always bring me back to understanding. He is completely free to enjoy everything, and he is that enjoyment.
We left the temple and headed again for Bombay. I spent many hours in taxis with Bubba, and these were among the most intense times for me. There were several times when we didn’t speak for several days. I was constantly thinking of the process of understanding, constantly feeling an intensity in my stomach, chest and head. I felt a sensation almost all the time. I would read or write or just think, but I was constantly involved in working out the teaching. This thing about understanding and always living in relationship was becoming a major concern to me. How do I stop avoiding? I kept trying to figure it out. I became aware of my constant avoidance and mentioned that to Bubba. He said, “How many times do you have to see the avoidance to know that you are suffering? To put your attention there isn’t this teaching.” He told me that I had always done that my whole life. To turn to relationship and live relationship is the teaching. I knew that, but I wasn’t doing it.
On the way back to Bombay the driver reminded us of Narayan Maharaj and said that his Ashram was only twenty minutes down this dirt road. Bubba told him to go there. We arrived at a nice little village in the middle of nowhere. We entered the main temple and were greeted by several old men who lived at the Ashram. They greeted us warmly and offered some tea. I told them that Bubba was my Guru, that he had a large Ashram in America, and that we were visiting India for a few weeks. The men were very attracted to Bubba; wherever he sat, they would gather.
Narayan Maharaj Ashram, Main Entry
They proudly showed us through the upper rooms where Narayan Maharaj had lived. Bubba enjoyed looking at some of his unusual personal possessions, including beautiful caps with silver and gold threads interwoven in the fabric, expensive vests and pants outfits, and especially a full-sized silver palanquin inlaid with jewels. He really liked that. We stayed at the Ashram for a few hours, and the old men and a couple of women just hung around Bubba. They would sit on the floor in front of him and look with great respect. They were also available to him, always ready to answer a question or get something or smile.
Bubba said these were incompleted devotees, that Narayan Maharaj had died too soon for them and these people were just waiting around. They had the potential to be completed but no one was there to do it. They were very responsive to Bubba. He said, “We will ship them to L.A.,” and joked about how we would do it, such as by getting them onto planes as stowaways, in vegetable crates.
We had seen one of Meher Baba’s Ashrams in Poona and I was interested to note that two of his Gurus were Shirdi Sai Baba and Narayan Maharaj. Bubba said Narayan Maharaj was a good man. Whenever Bubba used that phrase, “a good man,” or ” a good place,” it meant the person or place was consciously involved in the spiritual process.
Gateway of India
We returned to the Taj Mahal Hotel. The next day I was traveling by taxi through Bombay to the film processing lab. Bubba remained in the room, My mind was filled with thoughts about relationship and avoiding relationship. I couldn’t get a clear understanding of what relationship exactly is. I had always thought of it as a big event, something special, something to be accomplished. Even though I was living relationship almost constantly with Bubba, I didn’t recognize that as the relationship spoken of in The Knee of Listening. I became intensely concerned. A full crisis had developed as the result of twelve days exposure to Bubba. It was incredible;. Everything was miserable and I was completely alone. I hated the driver and wanted to kill everyone in the streets. I kept trying to see something of my activity and apply the work. It had captured my entire attention.
Then, like a flick of a switch, with no effort, I understood. Immediately, everything became e enjoyable. Everything was all right. I began to laugh. The driver must have thought I was crazy. He kept looking back through the mirror, but I loved him and smiled that acknowledgment. In a moment, without effort, I saw that relationship is all there is, that I was only constantly distracting myself. I saw simply that it was no big deal, no effort, no accomplishment, and certainly not a complex intellectual discovery or something mystical. I saw its simplicity; it is the freedom felt when I am with friends or that love I have felt for my wife, or for a girl friend before I was married. I saw that ease and happiness without reason are relationship and that Bubba’s presence is relationship itself.
I saw that there is a mechanism preventing direct relationship, but it didn’t matter any more. I knew that Bubba had given me the gift of his Grace. Through intense attention to him I saw that relationship could be enjoyed with everyone everywhere. It wasn’t anything extraordinary. In that moment, everything became completely natural and humorous.
Later I mentioned this to Bubba and he laughed and said something like “See, I told you!” He said I could mention something of this to the Ashram when we returned, but he didn’t make a big deal of it. The more I understood, the more I saw Bubba was only living the Heart. He was only present, and he only intensified the field of consciousness of everything around him.
Wherever we went, Bubba would say, “Jerry, don’t turn to your left. Don’t move at all, but behind you, to the left is a stone. Behind that stone is a dead rat, and that rat is the Avatar of the age.” He did this throughout the trip. “See that man over there? Don’t stare.” I’d say, “Wait a minute, you’re the Avatar of the age.” He would say, “No, Jerry, relax, but that guy with one arm….” That’s the way he is, always cracking jokes about everybody and everything.
In our room I noticed how his consciousness was obvious in his neatness and orderliness. For example, one day at the beginning of the trip I showered and threw a used towel under the sink, and he came in and told me to fold it and place it in a corner. I said, “But it’s dirty.” He said, “That’s no reason for it to be messy.”
The next day we left Bombay for Sathya Sai Baba’s Ashram. The first day there we joined about two hundred people sitting on the grass in front of his house, which is also the temple. The people formed a semi-circle and waited. (It still amazed me how Bubba would sit this way in front of so many limited people who call themselves guru.)
Sai Baba Sprinkling Ash
After a short time Sathya Sai Baba came out. I looked to Bubba. He was very intense and concentrating on Sathya Sai Baba. Sathya Sai Baba walked in front of the people and occasionally stopped to touch someone on the head or the third eye. Occasionally someone would give him a note. Then he did it, his big smack. He materialized vibhuti, a ceremonial sacred ash used in Hindu rituals. He moved his hand around a few times and then from his fingers there appeared a white powder. He placed a little on different people’s foreheads. I enjoyed the show and was impressed with the unusualness of it, but it had no profound effect on me at all. Sathya Sai Baba kept walking and didn’t acknowledge Bubba in any way.
We stayed there four days. Bubba enjoyed the layout of the hills surrounding the Ashram, but he said, “There is no sense of God at this Ashram. It is a place of fascination, a place of magic,” He said there was no true devotion or love between the disciples and Sathya Sai Baba, because their attachment was motivated by fascination. Miracles don’t create true devotion.
That night, Bubba told me that the next day when Sathya Sai Baba materialized something, I should stand up and ask him to do a baseball or a hot dog. Preferably a hot dog. Bubba said Sathya Sai Baba doesn’t actually create anything, he simply transports it from one place to another through subtle siddhis, or forces. He dressed in orange robes which were well tailored casements of silk and other fine fabrics. Bubba said he liked the way Sathya Sai Baba dressed – his tailor was good.
Another day at Sathya Sai Baba’s Ashram I was trying to take a picture of a hawk in flight. As it moved, I kept resetting the camera and refocusing. Bubba was watching. After a few minutes or so with no picture taken he asked for the camera. With complete confidence he pointed it and took a picture. No hesitation. He said this wishy-washy oscillation is a waste of energy. Just do it. Bubba’s photo came out perfect, naturally.
There were a few Americans at that Ashram and some of them had heard of Bubba. One of them in particular, a girl, kept asking me if she could meet Bubba. I told her that he wasn’t there to teach or meet with people, but that she could ask me what she wanted, and if I didn’t know I would ask Bubba for her. This didn’t satisfy her; she simply wanted to be near him. But Bubba didn’t want her around. One night I returned to our room from a trip to the local store and found her sitting with Bubba in our room. Without asking and in the middle of her sentence, I took her arm and asked her to join me outside. Once on the porch I told her not to bother Bubba with anything. If she had something to say to him, she could deal with me.
Bubba didn’t want to have to deal with people other than the ones he had special reasons to see, and most of them were dead. By this time, something different was happening with Bubba. The purification of karmas over the past few weeks was becoming evident. Bubba, who was then known as Franklin, was acting more in his identification with God and less as the man, “Franklin,” or anything like that. It was very subtle. His presence was very proud, very upright.
While we were there several people mentioned Nimkaroli Baba (Neem Karoli) and asked if we would see him. The Raja of Bhor had mentioned his name also. Bubba asked me to get his address and sometime later in the trip we would visit him. Before we left L.A. this was the only address Bubba didn’t have. He said to me, “See how things always work out?” One night while still at Sathya Sai Baba’s Ashram Bubba had a subtle contact during sleep with Nimkaroli Baba, and afterwards Bubba felt it was unnecessary to visit him physically.
Each day Bubba was still writing in his notebook. One day while on the porch in front of our room Bubba said that we would have to have a name for the University we would incorporate some day. What did I think of something like “Shree Hridayam University”? “Shree Hridayam” was the name of our Ashram in the beginning. I said it was too Indian.
The next day he said, “What about Free John University?” I thought awhile and said, “It certainly is American.” He said, “Do you like it?” I said “No.” He seemed disturbed and said, “Well, that’s the name.” Later that day I was writing a letter to Hellie when Bubba interrupted me and said, “Tell her to tell the Ashram to call me Bubba Free John.” I laughed and wrote, “And call Franklin Bubba Free John from now on.” I thought it was very funny. But then I realized that he was serious. He said, “I want you to call me Bubba Free John from now on,” He told me to write a letter to the Ashram in L.A. and tell them of the new name.
I didn’t realize the significance of this, and it wasn’t made clear to me until I realized it some. time after our return to L.A. Franklin Jones had died. The karmas had been purified now. Only God was present.
I began calling him “Bubba” from that time on. However, a few days later I called him “Franklin” and he almost chopped my head off with his tone of voice. He said, “Franklin is dead. I am Bubba Free John.” Another time I said, “Frank–,” and caught myself. He gave me a dirty look.
At Sathya Sai Baba’s Ashram and throughout our trip, people would show that they were very aware of Bubba’s presence. Wherever he walked, people would look at him. They would approach him. They wanted to be around him. When we would go into temples, the people meditating and the devotees that served the temples would acknowledge Bubba as he came in, by smiling at him or nodding reverently. They would make room for him to walk through and to sit down. He would shine. Wherever he went, you could pick him out immediately. There was a physical radiance to him. His intensity would sometimes even have comic effects on people. He had to start wearing sunglasses so that his eyes would be covered. I had to do the ordering in restaurants because he would be sitting there in union with God, and the waiters would get scared. They’d be afraid to talk with him. Besides all that, there was always the real humor of God, even when he was quiet, working on a subtle level.
While traveling I became aware of the intensity that was necessary to live relationship at all times. Many times during the trip I didn’t do sadhana. I just lived off Bubba’s intensity. But I saw how I must do my own sadhana. I saw the mind must be disciplined. If it isn’t, it will run from one distraction to another like an uncontrolled child. To live from the point of view of relationship is a fantastically intelligent activity. I saw how my love for Bubba gave me the desire to stay in relationship and intensified my field of consciousness. I saw that the subtle difference between using the enquiry as a mantra or technique and really enquiring from understanding is one of involvement and intensity. One must be alert at all times to enquire. This alertness comes only through being straight in life conditions and observing oneself.
Bubba said that my tendencies will and should continue to arise, but I am not my tendencies. I needn’t get involved with them. I must simply stay in relationship at all times. The more I am in relationship, the easier it is to return and stay in that point of view. He said it is all right to walk down the street with an erection and a machine gun. I needn’t get involved in separation due to tendencies.
We arrived at Ramana Maharshi’s Ashram Sri Ramanasramam, early the next evening after a full day of travel. I went to the office and introduced Bubba and myself. Bubba remained at the taxi. I told the man that we had written of our intended arrival some weeks earlier and requested a room to sleep in. The man was very pleased we had arrived and went right outside to meet Bubba. Immediately he showed appropriate respect and offered his assistance in meeting any of Bubba’s needs. We were shown to a private room across the street from the main Ashram grounds where we put our bags, and immediately Bubba left for the Satsang hall where Bhagavan’s Mahasamadhi site was.
It was a large room with a large black shrine at the front. A white marble platform indicated where Ramana was buried. Bubba walked around the shrine three times as is the custom, then bowed in front and sat on the floor. We stayed for about an hour and returned to our room.
He said the Satsang hall was a very powerful place, that as soon as he entered it he was taken over with this incredible force. He said Ramana was the Heart and his force could be felt in the Heart- to the right of the chest. Bubba told me Ramana’s realization was the same as his, and that he also directly felt the ascension of force from the Heart to the sahasrar in that room.
The next morning we were greeted by a guide who was to take us up Arunachala hill to a hut where Bhagavan Ramana had lived for many years.
Arunachala Path from Ramanashram
Because it is a holy hill, we took our sandals off to walk on it, as this is the custom. I asked Bubba if we could wear sandals. He said, “You wouldn’t wear them in the Satsang Hall.” This hill was a temple. We began the climb up the steep hill, stepping on stones of all sizes.
Bubba showed no effect of this discomfort. I did. The camera bag I was carrying was heavy and becoming heavier. The day was very hot, and thousands of mosquitoes and gnats hovered everywhere. When we reached the hut, Bubba went in and sat in Satsang.
View of Temple Complex from Skandashram
I prepared the camera and entered to take a few shots. The gnats got into my eyes, and my eyebrows were sweaty. I was really reacting. I took a few shots and then sat down just as Bubba got up to leave. I arose and followed, and on my way out, I smashed my head against. the door casing. Everything was going wrong. We were at one of the purest places in the world, and I was in a state of dilemma. How appropriate.
Skanashram Outside and Inside
The shed was small-one room with a picture of Ramana at the front. It was a very forceful place, Bubba said one of the most forceful on earth. We walked down the hill by way of a cave Ramana had spent some time in. A man and woman lived in the cave and cared for it. They looked like prehistoric cave dwellers. Both of them had very long and matted gray hair. They looked dirty and wore rags. They cooked over a wood fire. I asked permission to take a picture but it was not allowed. What a way to live!
Virupaksha Cave Outside and Inside
The rest of the day we spent visiting the different rooms where Bhagavan had lived and held Satsang.
Bubba really enjoyed that place. All the people there were approaching him with great respect. Some would bow. Others always acknowledged him as he passed. One day Bubba wanted to see some photographs of Bhagavan, so we sat with one of the staff and looked at various photographs and books they had on hand. While we were there the gnats came and got in Bubba’s face. I got a hand fan and fanned them away, at the same time cooling Bubba. I really enjoyed this archetypal way of serving the Guru.
One day an old bedridden disciple of Bhagavan’s sent word asking Bubba to visit him. He just wanted to make contact with Bubba. We went to his room and a little conversation ensued then. Bubba asked him about the times when Ramana was alive and his experience with Ramana. After a short while we just sat together naturally. Bubba was communicating the Divine to this man, and he enjoyed the contact.
Bubba would sit in the Samadhi Hall where an old, sadhu was moved to come near him. He followed Bubba into the Hall and sat as close as he could without intruding. I noticed this, but did not feel anything inappropriate about it. The man was very humble, very quiet, and almost not noticeable.
Since it is the custom to walk around holy places, one morning Bubba told me we would walk around Arunachala hill. Only once, though, as this walk was eight miles long. He told me to take the camera bag. I lightened the bag as much as possible for my comfort, and we were off. The walk was pleasant and we saw the holy hill from all sides. Halfway around the hill was a famous old temple. We entered and Bubba asked me to take some pictures inside. I told him that I couldn’t because I had left the flash equipment at the Ashram. He said, “Who told you to do that?”
I said, “I didn’t think I’d need it.” He said, “Don’t think.” He said that whenever a person uses only his mind to decide on something he always tends to make the wrong decision. This was true for me. Throughout the trip whenever I would decide something on my own, it eventually turned out to be wrong. Bubba said you have to begin to doubt your mind and live from the point of view of intuition.
Arunachala From Google Earth
Each night we would climb a little way up Arunachala before sundown, sit on some rocks and talk. It was a very beautiful place overlooking the Ashram and some local villages. Those times on Arunachala were particularly enjoyable to me, for the intensity of the day’s activities had slowed down and we just hung out and talked. Bubba was showing me a very enjoyable aspect of his love.
Bubba said Ramana Maharshi was a Sage, the third type of teacher, along with yogis and saints. He said Ramana’s work was the purification toward the Heart, the Self, but that he had, in fact, transcended even that limitation, His force could be felt in the chest to the right. Ramana lived as the True Self to his devotees,
We stayed at Ramanasramam for three days. Then afterwards we went to Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram and Auroville.
Bubba said that nothing was happening at this Aurobindo Ashram. The entire activity of the Ashram was an adventure of seeking. Sri Aurobindo had died some years before (1950), and the Mother was now near death (she died in November, 1973), so we didn’t have a chance to meet them.
A representative of the Ashram spent two days with us showing us around. He didn’t stop talking about the work for a minute, and all he could do was fire off one quote after another. He took us to Auroville and expounded on the principle of that futuristic self-sustaining community. To enter it, a person gives all he has and in time is given all he may need.
Our guide kept going on and on about what the Mother has said and what Sri Aurobindo has said, but he had nothing to say for himself, The last day of our trip the man came to our hotel to say good-bye. He joined us for breakfast but didn’t stay, because when he began with his quotes, Bubba told him directly (but in different language) that he was full of shit and that the entire teaching was full of shit. Bubba was gracious enough to say why.
Outdoor Combined Samadhi of Aurobino and Mother
He said that there was no genuine relationship to God in the community of seekers, but our friend was too shaken up to hear. At the first chance he made his apologies and told us he had to run. It was the funniest day of our trip. We laughed for hours. Bubba’s comments could have served our friend, but I don’t think he understood.
We left for Madras and visited St. Thomas’ samadhi on the way. Bubba said it was a pure place but had no real. force. After visiting a few other temples, we headed to Calcutta.
One day, after seeing some temples and returning to our room, I wanted to work on my camera equipment and needed to open a metal container. It wouldn’t open by hand and I was getting frustrated, so I banged it against the floor both to open it and to get back at it. Bubba was standing nearby, and as I did that he kicked me in the ass as hard as he could. I turned fast and said, “What did you do that for?” Then I immediately realized I was out of line and swallowed a few times. He said I must deal with karma as it arises. I shouldn’t let it accumulate. His kick was the reaction to my action of disturbance, and the karma was resolved.
To be in his presence constantly for many weeks was an enormously intense experience. If I hadn’t kept surrendering and turning to relationship, I couldn’t have withstood it. The pressure of his presence was constant. He gave me no room for mediocrity. He expected me to function without hesitation at all times. He constantly showed me when I was wrong and made me think I was wrong when I was right. He was always making me see my assumption of dilemma and understand.
Many days when we would return from a long trip and I wanted to sleep or clean my camera equipment, he would ask me to give him a foot massage. The massage would last until I no longer desired to stop and do something else. Sometimes the massage would take many hours. He said I must go beyond my preferences, that I always function along with my preferences but he demanded sacrifice of my point of view and complete attention and service to him. When I did this, I felt the freedom of no self-sense, of relationship simply lived and enjoyed.
In Calcutta we visited Ramakrishna’s temple.
Dakshineshwar Temple, Calcutta
Sri Ramakrishna’s Room
We entered the room where he had lived, and Bubba bowed and sat on the floor in front of his bed. I moved to the rear of the room, because I intended to take pictures. I wasn’t certain about what to do in the many temples and shrines, so I just followed Bubba’s actions. Several other people entered the room and sat on the floor. Bubba told me to take some pictures. At many places India pictures were not allowed, be cause of old magical beliefs that the picture will steal the soul or pollute the place. Bubba had told me he wanted some pictures, so I set the camera, waited until all present had closed their eyes – in meditation and then coughed to cover the sound of the shutter and flash noises. I wanted to be sure the noise was covered, so I laughed aloud. Each time I did this I disturbed everyone in the room, and they all turned to look at me, but no one knew I was taking pictures. It was really funny from my point of view.
Bubba was constantly forcing me to deal with people throughout the trip. I would make plane and room reservations, and occasionally someone would tell me that the reservations were not available or that it would be impossible to make them. Bubba would never allow me to accept that. I had to insist and make the person move through his limitations and the limitations of miles and regulations. I really didn’t want to do this, so naturally I was required to do it. I saw clearly how Bubba always creates circumstances in which a dilemma will arise in his devotee and then demands that he function through the dilemma. The only way to function in dilemma is to understand the dilemma itself. In understanding there is no dilemma and functioning is natural. He showed me that sadhana is living relationship. Always returning to relationship by understanding one’s avoidance of it is practical sadhana, in which the individual, Narcissus, is undone, and only perfect relationship remains.
Ramakrishna’s room had two beds in it and many pictures. People would come there every day and meditate. We went to the Kali temple and other temples on the grounds, and visited his nearby Ashram, (the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Mission), which was separate from his quarters. We also visited the graves of some of Ramakrishna’s devotees.
Bubba said that Ramakrishna’s room was a good place. He told me that Ramakrishna’s realization was that of a Saint, and his qualities were bhakti and devotion, but he had transcended a Saint’s limitations. His force could be felt in the head or sahasrar. Ramakrishna lived as a devotee of God to his own devotees.
Spending time in a country where everyone is seeking in obvious religious or traditional spiritual ways, as at Ramakrishna’s Ashram, and observing this from the point of view of relation. ship and no-seeking, did a lot to free me of my own tendencies to seek.
After leaving Ramakrishna’s temple, Bubba said his work was over and the rest of the trip would be for pleasure. We visited several more temples. Bubba would always touch the shrine and stand or sit quietly with enormous intensity and purify each place.
Om Ma Da
We continued from Calcutta to Benares. Upon arriving we hired two coolies to take us in carriages to the Benares house of the Raja of Bhor, The Raja had offered the accommodations to Bubba while we visited him in Poona. Bubba’s carriage went first and mine followed. I really enjoyed seeing his head bobbing up and down above the back of his carriage. He kept looking back and laughing. At one time my carriage pulled up next to his. He gave me a sly look as if leaning out a car window and said, “Pretty good-lookin buggy. You wanna drag?” I picked up my hand as if holding a stick to whip my coolie and said, “Let’s go!” We both laughed freely and moved on down the road.
A small boy about thirteen or fourteen approached me and asked where we were from. He welcomed us to his town and offered to show us around. I didn’t know our plans, so I said, no thank you. The boy disappeared. After a few turns my coolie lost sight of Bubba. The streets were crowded, it was no place to be lost. The boy appeared again and said, “Your friend went that way.” We found Bubba and I felt comfortable again. At the end of our ride the two drivers didn’t know where the house was. The boy appeared again and brought us to the house. Bubba told the boy to meet us the next morning before sunrise. He could show us around by first bringing us to the Ganges. The boy was pleased.
Sapta Na Sannyasin
That night we stayed in a one-room stone building. There were two mattresses on the floor and a couple of pillows in a corner. There was no shower but we could wash with a bucket of water. The day had been very hot, so at the first opportunity Bubba washed. He laughed and said, “The two best things in the world are Darshan and warshin.”
The next morning the boy came and we walked down the winding alleys to the edge of the Ganges. On our way we passed a small temple. There was practically no way of telling it was a temple, because its walls looked like every other wall. Bubba stopped for a moment and said, “This is a good place.” Then we continued our walk. Later he said that the temple was the best and probably the only truly spiritual place in Benares. But we had fun there.
Golden Temple, Varanasi
Monkey Temple, Varanasi
We visited a couple of famous temples, the Golden Temple (with a dome of gold) and the “Monkey Temple.” The boy then took us to his uncle’s and his sitar teacher’s homes, where we bought some antique paintings, tankas, jewelry and fabric. Bubba is a good buyer. He was always able to get a better price than I could.
We spent three days in Benares and the boy showed us around every day. He just wanted to show us around, he said, and was totally unconcerned about money. Then at the end of the day he said, “Could you give me some money for my day?” I gave him something, I forget how much. He said, “Tomorrow I’ll show you around, and you shouldn’t give me any more money, you’ve given me enough.” The next day he said, “I don’t want any money, but maybe you’ll give me something of your personal possessions by which I can remember you.” That was a hustle. Anything we had from America was worth much more than any money we would have given him. Bubba said, “Give him a handshake.” He wasn’t interested in playing along with the boy’s hustle, which would only reinforce his strategy. Bubba gave him something to deal with instead, as the Guru always does.
That evening was unbelievably hot. I slept off and on, but Bubba didn’t sleep at all. He said it was the most uncomfortable night of his life. He felt that his skin was turning inside out. The mosquitoes didn’t help. He said he could barely breathe. But as he was telling me this, he was laughing. He is always so free to enjoy everything, even his own suffering.
Bubba has said that people indulge themselves in money, food and sex. Well, in my situation I couldn’t indulge in money, and India is almost sexless. There is practically no affection shown in public, and the women are always covered with long saris. All that was left was food, and in most cases even that wasn’t worth the effort. However, jelly toast was great. Each day, when possible, I would eat jelly toast, mostly in the morning. The toast reminded me of my childhood and security. It was something very familiar in a strange land with a Guru who was out to kill me. I felt the release of all this tension when I enjoyed the pleasures of jelly toast. I really didn’t use the food for this purpose intentionally, in full consciousness. Actually I didn’t even realize what I was doing at the time.
Bubba never let me get away with my distraction. Each day at these times he would give me both barrels. One day he said, “Jerry, when are you going to take spiritual life seriously?” I said that I thought I had. He said I hadn’t begun to get straight. I didn’t understand at the time. He was always showing me and testing me and always turning me to understanding. Another time at dinner he said I was completely full of shit, that I thought I wanted spiritual life and was serving the Guru and all that good stuff, but that
I absolutely didn’t want spiritual life. I didn’t want to do sadhana, and I didn’t want to serve the Guru. This really ripped me up. I was destroyed (or at least my ego was hurt). I realized later that the ego, the separate self sense, absolutely doesn’t want anything to do with the entire spiritual process.
Dhamekh Stupa in Sarnath
The next day we left for Sarnath where Gautama Buddha taught and lived. We visited the stupas” where he met his disciples and gave his first sermon. We saw the famous “deer park,” a temple and shrine, and a Bodhi tree which supposedly was grown from a cutting of the original tree at the site of Gautama’s realization. On the grounds were ruins of the buildings where his monks used to live many years ago. There was a large stone, I forget its origin, but it had some markings on it that were not of any common language. When Bubba saw the markings, he said that earlier in his life he was spontaneously moved to write in an alphabet that he had never seen nor previously known. These markings were of that same alphabet. Bubba laughed and raised his eyebrows and said, “Could it be?” leaving everything to my imagination. We visited a museum of Buddhist statues and paintings, where the first statue ever made of Gautama was on display. Bubba considered another one there the best image of the Buddha he had ever seen.
Swayambunath Stupa, Kathmandu
From Sarnath we traveled to Kathmandu in Nepal. We kept moving from one place to the next. Early in the trip Bubba said that I must sleep consciously. When we woke up in the morning there was no time wasted regaining consciousness. There was only time “to brush tooth and run.” I never learned how to sleep consciously, but I did learn to wake and run. Bubba said I should always be a few steps in front of him when walking out the door. No resistance, just do it.
One night we were sitting in meditation as we did every night, but this evening I had to go to the bathroom. So I quietly got up and went, and when I returned, Bubba said, “Don’t ever do that again. Who do you think I am meditating for?” Talk about feeling bad….
A number of times during the trip Bubba would be quiet and intense. I often reacted to this. I felt that he didn’t like me. I knew how full of shit I was, and I felt he didn’t want anything to do with me. I would become very sad. Then he would say something to me or smile and I would feel full of happiness.
One day, this kept happening again and again. I felt rejected and then loved again. Later I realized, that Bubba was only intensifying my attention to him. I was thinking about him whether I was happy or uptight. His intensity was so strong that my feeling of presence with him continued constantly and kept increasing. It felt like anxiety or frustration. There were sometimes sensations of heat and pressure as well.
This happened again, riding in a taxi, near the end of the trip. As I became uncomfortable Bubba said to me, “When I relate to you and act friendly, like a nice guy, you are happy, but when I try to give you something of my quality you always react.” He said that I must allow myself to relate to all his qualities. His intensity is his attunement with God. As I sensed myself in relationship to his silent intensity, I would feel excitement, with enthusiasm and energy welling up in me.
Once, when we were in an airport, after having seen the poverty and despair of Bombay, Bubba pointed to a Boeing 747 airplane. He said, “Look at this great big expensive airplane. For what it took to build this airplane, the entire peasant population of Bombay could be fed for a year. After a year, what would you have?-a bunch of fed peasants, but now we’ve got this magnificent airplane…!
We arrived in Kathmandu on a festival day, and all the ladies were dressed in their best saris. Bubba was impressed with how beautiful they all were. Indian ladies are more chubby and earthy, Nepalese women have an oriental quality and seem more attractive.
We spent the day traveling from one temple to another. The primary spiritual tradition in Nepal is like that of Tibet. I said to Bubba that with all the seeking that was going on throughout India and Nepal, he was in a very dangerous position, because he was the living presence of the ineffectiveness of all seeking. He was the proof of no-seeking and could get killed for it. He agreed and said that people are trying to kill him all the time, because he is an enormous threat to all seeking and security. Then he laughed.
The following morning we rose early and hired a taxi to take us to a hill where we could look over the Himalayas and, until the clouds set in, we would be able to see Mount Everest. On the way the cab had a flat tire. Bubba walked up the road and around a bend. Shortly afterwards, another car came by and stopped to help. It was slightly before daybreak on this hilly road heading into the mountains. After a few minutes, Bubba reappeared walking down the road toward us. He was wearing white as he did throughout the trip to repel the hot sun. A woman from the other car exclaimed, “Look at him! He looks just like a Guru coming out of the Himalayas!” She was all excited. I couldn’t stop laughing.
The driver took us to a hill and directed us to climb to the top. We did, and from the summit we had a panoramic view of the fantastic countryside. The sun was rising and Bubba looked very beautiful.
We never saw Mount Everest, at least not very clearly, because the clouds came in too early for it to become visible in the distance. Originally we had planned to stay for a few days, but when we returned to our hotel room later that morning, Bubba said, “Now, here’s my plan….” We left within twenty minutes. We got to the airport and caught a flight as it was pulling out. Bubba said that Nepal was beautiful, but all show. There was no true spirituality to it and no need for us to stay.
We headed for Agra and the Taj Mahal. Bubba was still working with me as intensely as ever. He said that tapas, or spiritual fire, is caused by the friction of the internal resistance to relationship. He said that his intensity is part of his gift. If a person keeps resisting, eventually he will have to leave. The intensity will become too much for him to bear. On the other hand, if a person surrenders to the Guru, he will be shown the Divine. Mediocrity, which is everyone’s strategy in life, only breeds mediocrity. It’s all inappropriate in the face of God and is unacceptable. He said that it must be seen and understood from the point of view of Truth.
The Taj Mahal deserves its reputation. Bubba said that he considered it one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. While it is built of pure marble and is impressive in size, it shows no weight. Its overall lines and balance are free of any heaviness. The detailed inlaid stone and corridors, built only for visual effect and leading nowhere, complete the perfection.
We returned to New Delhi and stayed for a couple of days visiting museums and temples. Then we caught a plane to New York and another to Los Angeles. As soon as I stepped onto the first plane, I began to feel sick. I became exhausted and just wanted to sleep. I did, too, in every position imaginable in an airplane seat. I slept for some twenty hours. I couldn’t eat and only woke up to change my position. Bubba felt fine and said that I could at least have been company for him instead of becoming unconscious for so long.
Beloved Adi Da Samraj and Tom Riley on arrival
When we arrived in Los Angeles, the entire Ashram was there to greet Bubba. It was definitely the most moving experience of my life, When he is around his devotees, Bubba is able to manifest more of his true nature freely. As he walked down the ramp to greet everyone, he shone like a million suns. The love of all those people for him made me cry with joy.
Throughout this entire trip, Bubba showed me only two things: to turn to understanding, and to turn my attention to him in Love. All he ever did was live as the Heart and the Light which he is.
Map of Trip