Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Knee of Luxury

“The Dawn Horse Magazine” is an old publication of Franklin Jones' community in California. Franklin Jones, better known as Bubba Free John or Adi Da, was a controversial Tantric guru who attempted to “enlighten” his devotees with a combination of meditation, insults and orgies. People who left his community describe it as a cult and Jones himself as addicted to sex, drugs and pornography. Why are we not surprised?

This issue of “The Dawn Horse” was published in 1974 and contains a long article by one Jerry Sheinfeld about Franklin Jones' famous trip to India, where he was transformed from an ordinary mortal to a divine incarnation. While written in an annoyingly devotional style, Sheinfeld's reminiscences are actually quite revealing. Jones laughs at poor cripples, has no problem with India buying high technology at the expense of starving peasants, and both he and Sheinfeld enjoy living in luxury at a five-star hotel attended by the staff. Jones tricks a boy-servant out of the money he owes him. Above all, he tricks Sheinfeld, who is forced to endure Jones' constant complaints and petty harassment, and even massage him for hours every day! Of course, it's all for a higher spiritual purpose.

Sometimes, the author's interpretation of events almost made *me* laugh (well, thank you). Thus, he writes: “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.” Of course, a more mundane take is that Mr Bubba was a typically arrogant American tourist, who expects trains to go on time in a Third World country, at least when *he* is around! Since he had no intention of fixing things himself, he let his butler do the dirty work for him…

A large portion of the article is devoted to Franklin Jones dissing various Indian spiritual teachers. He tells Sheinfeld to ask Sathya Sai Baba to materialize a hot dog rather than sacred ash (it's not clear whether Sheinfeld did so). During a visit to Auroville, Jones argues with the true believer assigned to show them around, rejecting both Aurobindo and The Mother, which apparently profoundly shocked the guide. The few gurus Jones seems to recognize are all dead, including Ramana Maharshi and Ramakrishna.

The article ends with the couple finally returning to Los Angeles: “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.”

Glad you find The Way, Jerry. The rest of us just shake our heads. But sure, trick-or-treating Sai Baba (who was probably even worse than Franklin Jones) would have been great fun…

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