I heard that there was a chapter in the original Knee
Of Listening in which Adi Da described the time he spent in Scientology,
and that this was later removed. Was this because He didn't want anyone to know
about His association with Scientology?
answer: No. The actual history of Knee
Of Listening makes this clear.
(Dawn Horse Press)
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first edition of The Knee Of Listening was published in 1972 by the CSA
Press. It contained a chapter in which Adi Da described in detail His experiences
with Scientology. The second edition — published in June, 1973 — contained a much
briefer summary of that time (only a few paragraphs long: see below),
in which Adi Da wrote how He eventually came to realize that He was learning nothing
new from Scientology: it was a repeat of lessons about the mind that He had learned
long before during His "sadhana on the beach" in California.
obviously hadn't reduced the description of Scientology from a chapter to a few
paragraphs because Scientology had a good reputation in 1972, and a bad one in
1973! Scientology didn't have the reputation it now has back in 1973.
The reduction to a few paragraphs was because Adi Da felt the communication was
redundant in the overall organization of the book, which was intended to be a
highly focused series of lessons. He would eventually remove the references to
Scientology altogether in later editions (from the April, 1978 edition on). But
that first editing down (from the 1972 edition to the 1973 edition) makes it clear
that the reason behind first the reduced description of Scientology, and then
the later complete removal, was editorial.
It should be obvious
that, if someone really wanted to hide their connection with Scientology, they
wouldn't write about it (let alone write about it in great detail) in the first
place! Even if one had second thoughts about having put one's association with
Scientology in print, one doesn't then put out a second edition of the book in
which the reference is still there, but briefer; one instead would remove the
reference altogether in the next edition. The actual sequence of editions of The
Knee Of Listening makes it obvious that the author had no qualms about describing
His association with Scientology, and that the reason for the eventual complete
removal was editorial.
has never been anything problematic with Adi Da's association with Scientology.
Like every other adventure described in The Knee Of Listening, when Adi
Da experienced (and transcended) the limits of that adventure (and its associated
viewpoint on the nature of Reality), He moved on — and would later write in detail
about those limits, making it clear that He Himself was not willing to submit
to, or be bound by them. During His sadhana,
Adi Da's focus was always on Ultimate Realization — nothing less, as every chapter
in The Knee Of Listening makes clear.
You can read the
original Scientology chapter here.
The Knee Of Listening was intended to be a series of lessons, in which
all the various major spiritual "problems" and spiritual realizations
of humankind would be touched on, via Franklin Jones' personal experience, only
to conclude that, while these realizations were indeed real (and revealed important
details about the nature of the greater-than-material dimensions of Reality and
the human esoteric anatomy), none of them were Ultimate Realization; and that
seeking to address the various spiritual "problems" (such as how to
quiet the mind, or how to surrender) never led to Ultimate Realization:
"Franklin Jones" is a series of lessons. . . . The Knee Of Listening
is about "Franklin Jones", the one who has a spiritual adventure, who
goes through transformations, who has learning experiences, and all of that. .
. . My life was lived as a series of lessons, over and against the cult of this
Avatar Adi Da Samraj
Jones Is A Fictional Character" (1974)
In this book, I have had
to confront a most difficult means of instruction. I have had to fully illustrate
my course of life, even in order to demonstrate the factuality of the extraordinary
phenomena that mankind is presently in the habit of denying. But, in the end,
in order to speak the Truth, I have had to argue against the ultimacy of many
of the very things I have proven in my life. . . .
Both the search for
ego-based Spiritual effects and the ego-based exploitation of life on a sensual
and mental level are traps. The search for experience and the search for liberation
from the bondage to experience are the same activity — born out of the absence
of "radical" self-understanding, the un-"creative" movement
that is not Reality. Reality Itself is the only unique matter in the entire adventure
of life, and It stands prior to all egoic efforts and all less-than-most-perfect
Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Knee Of Listening
The Knee Of Listening was never intended to be an autobiography in the
conventional sense of the word. Based on Adi Da's purposes for the book, The Knee Of Listening had a very specific structure:
1: Because most people are only aware of the material dimensions of Reality, the
book should take readers on a tour (at the universal level) of all the greater-than-material
dimensions of Reality, and also take readers on a tour (at the personal level)
of the human esoteric anatomy (the body, the mind, kundalini and spiritual ascent,
consciousness, etc.). The book should make readers aware that these dimensions
of Reality and components of esoteric human anatomy actually "factually"
- Purpose 2: However, the book should also conclude, over
and over again, that none of those dimensions, realizations, or aspects of esoteric
human anatomy were "It", the Ultimate Realization. Only Reality Itself
was the Ultimate Realization, or Most Perfect Enlightenment or Freedom.
of these unconventional, greater purposes for the book, Adi Da included not only
a part (called "The Life of Understanding") that resembled conventional
autobiographies in its telling of the story of His life to date, but also further
parts ("The Meditation Of Understanding", "The Wisdom of Understanding",
and "The Man of Understanding") that concentrated on the details of
the wisdom learned in that "Life" and the Way of Realization for everyone,
that was suggested by that "Life".
So from an editorial standpoint,
whether Adi Da decided to include (or not include) some event or period in His
life in The Knee Of Listening (and many interesting events and periods
were not included) was largely a matter of whether that event or period served
either of these two purposes. The title of that original chapter — "The Search
for Release From the Mind: Scientology"— makes clear the role Adi Da had
intended for that chapter in the book, in serving purpose 1. It was to cover some
aspects of the nature of mental patterning and techniques used for trying to transcend
these mental patterns (as illustrated by the techniques provided by Scientology).
Here is the entire shortened, June 1973 version of
Adi Da's description of His time with Scientology, that makes that point:
Now the mind itself, apart from any particular content, appeared as the source
of our dilemma, and I wondered by what means the mind should pass and let me be.
the spring of 1968 until the early summer of 1969, I attempted to resolve the
problems of radical consciousness by a concentrated effort to dissolve or disarm
the ongoing, limiting effects of the mind. For the time being, it seemed that
the stream of thought and the automatic pattern of motivations arising moment
to moment was the primary obstacle to real consciousness.
I spent the year
working in an organization called Scientology, which is a quasi-religious movement
devoted to the systematic liberation of man from his conditioned mentality. My
attention was drawn to every kind of pragmatic recovery of the memories and subliminal
reactions that enforce patterns of thought and behavior. But the more I pursued
these means, the more endless the content of the mind seemed to be. And I began
to realize that I had already produced this experiment in myself during my period
of writing in California.
Thus, in time, the impetus behind this experiment
revealed its own fruitlessness, and the energy behind it simply wore down and
disappeared. The result of this quieting and disinterest in the problem of the
mind was a simple, effortless return to the state of awareness I had enjoyed at
[Swami Muktananda's] Ashram, and in the dramatic moments of exhilaration and understanding
I had known in seminary, in college, and in the natural clarity of my childhood.
evening, while I was relaxing after a day of concentrated work in some of the
Scientology exercises, there was a sudden, unexpected abandonment of all my resistance
to the internal operation of the "Shakti". All the centers of my being
relaxed, without apparent cause, perhaps only because there was no absorbing motive
to contract or concentrate them. All tasks, all efforts, all problematic approaches
to the realization of existence simply ended in me. Then the Shakti, the natural
power of conscious existence, moved freely through me, taking the mind and all
my reasons with it.
This event took place in Los Angeles in May of 1969.
I quickly returned to New York and arranged my separation from Scientology.
Adi Da Samraj
The Knee Of Listening (September 1973 edition)
going from the much more detailed description of His time with Scientology to
this much shortened and edited version, Adi Da cut out a lot of material that
He obviously deemed a distraction from the main purposes of The Knee Of Listening,
such as the details of the Scientology "cosmology" (of Thetans, extraterrestrials,
etc.). But in paring down His description of that time to the bare essentials
(for the June 1973 edition), He also exposed the fact that the whole Scientology
period of His life was redundant with earlier periods in His life that He had
already described in great detail.
Scientology wasn't the only thing I did during that year. It was a year of return
to a particular approach to the mind, the internal life, the internal tendencies.
So during this time I began to research and approach the mind again, the content
of the inner life as a dilemma in order to overcome it, and Scientology is a particularly
obvious, symbolic approach to life from this point of view in which the mind and
its memories and subliminal forces are approached as a sort of concrete and finite
mass of data or influences and the attempt is to get rid of all of that. It is
a form of the search like many others, a very common one, its essential principle
is that of deconditioning. But the reason it seemed like a possibility at all,
or that I became sympathetic to it at all is because I had returned again to a
form of my earlier sadhana in which the mind as the dilemma became the pertinent
focus of attention, quite spontaneously. And Scientology was just made available
at this time. And essentially these activities duplicated an earlier period of
time of my writing on the beach. It was a spontaneous, regeneration, reawakening
of the mental dilemma, and I lived it not from its point of view, not as a search
specifically, but as a spontaneous event. And just as it arose spontaneously,
it disappeared spontaneously.
Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The
Life of Understanding
(Adi Da's 1973 course on The Knee Of Listening)
Also, unlike the other chapters in
His life story that He included in The Knee Of Listening, the time spent
in Scientology didn't actually serve Adi Da's process of Re-Awakening in any way,
and didn't represent any kind of progress in it:
year of Scientology seemed to have been vacant space in time, a moment turned
aside from the current of my life.
The Knee Of Listening
What actually occurred during this year then, was a period
of the regeneration of karmas, and the burning away of karmas. It wasn't anything
that I did during that year that did anything to my internal life. It was
doing it — in the same way that dreams are their own rule, and the interpretation
of dreams is only secondary. Just so, nothing I did during that year was purifying.
All that I apparently did that year was exploit myself, indulge myself. But the
process itself, the awakening of the mind itself was self-purifying, and had a
peculiar karmic cause. And so a few months later, about a year after I had left
India, there was the spontaneous return [of the prior consciousness free of identification
with the mind], but in a much more stable form, and in fact in a form that never
lessened again, a permanent form. . . . When this occurred in the Spring of 1969,
coincident with it was the true beginning of the yogic activity in me. So I came
back to New York, and secondarily got out of Scientology.
Adi Da Samraj, The Life of Understanding
(Adi Da's 1973 course on The Knee Of Listening)
So it was not too surprising that,
for both of these editorial reasons — that the time in Scientology didn't offer
any new lessons, and that it didn't particularly serve His Re-Awakening — in the
next edition of the The Knee Of Listening (4/78), He would remove the Scientology
* * *
some sense, the whole notion of Adi Da hiding anything is humorously absurd.
The very process that led to His Re-Awakening was all about exposing every aspect
of the egoity of "Franklin Jones" and every limit in any approach He
was experimenting with, and bringing it to consciousness (through writing, among
other means). Anyone who actually has read The Knee Of Listening in detail
will be struck by the brazenness and unsparing integrity of its communication.
(For instance, Adi Da includes a description of the character of "Franklin
Jones" as "crazy, secluded, independent", descriptions of times
when "Franklin Jones" cheated on a high school exam, or experimented
with drugs, etc.) For this reason, testimonials for The Knee Of Listening sometimes even directly refer
to that integrity:
I know of no other teacher who has exposed his life and spiritual journey with
such complete abandonment for the teaching of all who pay attention. His story
and process are a fascinating portrayal of the ordeal, potency, and blessing of
an infinitely expanded spiritual life. This biography is a perfect gift!
of Transformation: A Guide to the Kundalini Process
founder and member
of the executive board of
the Kundalini Research Network
kind of honesty is exhibited throughout The Knee Of Listening (and throughout
Adi Da's life altogether) not as a demonstration of some kind of traditional "moral
value", but as the stance one naturally takes when one is standing as Consciousness
Itself, and is no longer identified with a limited character or ego, in need of
protecting one's self-image, personally concerned about loss of face, etc.
article appears in
about Adi Da and Adidam and
Books of Adidam