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The Knee of Listening: The Early-life Ordeal and the Radical Spiritual Realization of the Divine World Teacher Adi Da (The Da Avatar) Mass Market Paperback – 30 Sep 1995

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 621 pages
  • Publisher: Bear & Company; 3rd Revised edition edition (30 Sept. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570970238
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570970238
  • Product Dimensions: 17.7 x 10.6 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 723,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Synopsis

This is the spiritual autobiography of Adi Da, aka Da Avabhasa, aka Heart-Master Da, aka Da Free John, aka Franklin Albert Jones, born in Queens, New York in 1939, a spiritual guru to thousands of followers all over the world.


Customer Reviews

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It is an astounding autobiography: the true story of the emergence of Divine Consciousness in a contemporary human being, someone who writes masterfully in the modern idiom and communicates the Divine as altogether obvious and real. As big as this claim is, the story is no mere myth, but is literally and verifiably true -Adi Da's words actually have the ability to awaken in the reader a taste of the Divine Consciousness that is alive in Him and as Him.
This is the moving story of Adi Da's illumined birth; His unrelenting experiment in all areas of human experience, including the tangles of money, food and sex that so obsess our times; the intense period of His spiritual practice and growth with great teachers in both America and India; and His refusal to assume as Ultimate even the rare spiritual attainments of powers, visions, and exalted states. His final Awakening (in a temple of the Vedanata Society in the unlikely locale of Hollywood, CA) is based on an all-encompassing insight, one that both includes and transcends all the spiritual traditions of the human race.
It became clear to me in reading this book, that such an awakening was possible for anyone (even if the course of practice was challenging) and subsequent developments in life have proven to me that this book is word-for-word True. A must read for anyone who is attentive to the spiritual dimension of life.
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The two previous reviews highly praise the book. I simply cant see why it is so praised. The book starts as a biography of a man, given to unusual experiences even as a young boy. His various forays into drugs etc are also detailed. What is rather lacking in his spiritual experiences is a sense of empathy towards others, except possibly when they are aiding him in his projects.

The most enjoyable part of the book was his fellowship to cats and what they taught him.

However, as the book progresses, the senses of spiritual narcissism increases and it all seems to go to his head. A narcissistic self absorption in 'states' was quite off putting and indeed becomes repetitious.

At the end of the book, there are numerous invitations on how to join Da's organizations. The original book was only 270 or so pages, which would have been okay . From page 270 onwards, we have more and more states emphasizing his uniqueness etc.

I felt the original book would have been quite good, but the much longer version I have (and soon will discard) has been edited in a self serving way to promote the Da organisations and is tedious and not great reading.
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Don't let the cover, or the introduction fool you. This is a great book. I read the first edition ('73 version) in June of '82. It is an absolutely astounding story of a New Yorker (Frank) undergoing various yogic teachings and tests. Frank Jones, after a lifetime of spiritual practice has a primal awakening. This book gave me much encouragement to undergo difficult spiritual processes of unfoldment. The fact that Frank is an American, who is introduced to various Eastern cultures is really cool. Unlike Yogananda's "Autobiography of a Yogi" this book is not filled with myth and ancient dogma. Whether you agree or disagree with the final assertions of this Man's awakening, it is a kick a** book - that really gets to the core of what life, suffering and God Realization is all about.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars 16 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I have loved this book for 17 years 28 July 1999
By Andrew Plath (Dylan1963@aol.com) - Published on Amazon.com
Don't let the cover, or the introduction fool you. This is a great book. I read the first edition ('73 version) in June of '82. It is an absolutely astounding story of a New Yorker (Frank) undergoing various yogic teachings and tests. Frank Jones, after a lifetime of spiritual practice has a primal awakening. This book gave me much encouragement to undergo difficult spiritual processes of unfoldment. The fact that Frank is an American, who is introduced to various Eastern cultures is really cool. Unlike Yogananda's "Autobiography of a Yogi" this book is not filled with myth and ancient dogma. Whether you agree or disagree with the final assertions of this Man's awakening, it is a kick a** book - that really gets to the core of what life, suffering and God Realization is all about.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THERE IS NO WAY TO BE PREPARED FOR THE POWER OF THIS BOOK. 11 May 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
It is an astounding autobiography: the true story of the emergence of Divine Consciousness in a contemporary human being, someone who writes masterfully in the modern idiom and communicates the Divine as altogether obvious and real. As big as this claim is, the story is no mere myth, but is literally and verifiably true -Adi Da's words actually have the ability to awaken in the reader a taste of the Divine Consciousness that is alive in Him and as Him.
This is the moving story of Adi Da's illumined birth; His unrelenting experiment in all areas of human experience, including the tangles of money, food and sex that so obsess our times; the intense period of His spiritual practice and growth with great teachers in both America and India; and His refusal to assume as Ultimate even the rare spiritual attainments of powers, visions, and exalted states. His final Awakening (in a temple of the Vedanata Society in the unlikely locale of Hollywood, CA) is based on an all-encompassing insight, one that both includes and transcends all the spiritual traditions of the human race.
It became clear to me in reading this book, that such an awakening was possible for anyone (even if the course of practice was challenging) and subsequent developments in life have proven to me that this book is word-for-word True. A must read for anyone who is attentive to the spiritual dimension of life
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very unusual and amazing man! 12 July 2000
By Synid01 - Published on Amazon.com
I am a Comparitive Religion's Teacher and I am always looking for good material to open my class.
I bought the Knee of Listening because I believed that this would be an excellent example of the Guru / Devotee relationship process.
However what I, and my class discovered was an amazing story of the an actual and real spiritual awakening and transformation!
The Knee Of Listening was the source of many hours of intense discusion and debate within my classes, and I am very indebted to those of the Dawn Horse Press for publishing this wonderful work.
Thank You!
Sydni01
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Honest and Insightful Biography of Transformation 6 Jun. 2009
By William Bagley - Published on Amazon.com
Before I start, I would like to say that the edition I read was an older one and that this edition is about three times as thick! The edition that I read ends with an understanding that ends all seeking. I enjoyed reading the autobiography. There are a lot of methods mentioned, some of which I have also done personally, like receiving Shaktipat initiation from Muktananda. This book, especially, in its earlier form, shows Adi Da, or Franklin Jones, more as a spiritual student and seeker, than an initiatory world avatar. As a seeker, I like how he valued the energy darshans of Rudi and yet also felt that there was something missing or something beyond them. He evaluates the spiritual experiences he has fairly impartially, much like the Buddha when he was studying under his 12 Indian teachers. He eventually abandoned those practices in favor of a more personal inquiry into the nature of sorrow and how to release it. I found that following his process connected with my own and when I read his insights, I could feel energy shifts inside me as my own energy system relaxed its search. It seems that Adi Da is now a more controversial figure, claiming to be the next world teacher. I still find his general messages and insights valuable. His understanding of the spiritual process seems very excellent and seems to take in the entire scope of the core religious traditions. I do not have an issue with his desire to remain isolated in the Fiji islands, meditating and working closely with sympathetic students. I have my own reservations about the use of Crazy Wisdom, something Gurdjieff in his later years chose to abandon because it was having undesirable side effects on his students. As far as the claim to be the World Teacher, even if true, it seems that it will take more than this to heal our world. I think the issue can be side stepped as far as finding value in this autobiography of a seeker who had successfully navigated the labyrinths of the ego to find some real peace.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A profound spiritual autobiography 28 April 2005
By rhynchosaur - Published on Amazon.com
The Knee of Listening by Adi Da Dawn Horse Press 621p (1995)

This is one of many editions of the spiritual autobiography of the unique American mystic

Adi Da. The first edition was 1972 and new editions with more material and much advertising about the group continue to appear. I also got the latest one(2004) which was about 3 times the size and weight but the hundreds of pages of new material was more of the opaque prose and advertising. So, I recommend one of the earlier paperpack editions like this one.

The sticker on the cover says `The most profound spiritual autobiography of all time` and this might well be true. I am in my 60's and have read thousands of books and this if one of the great ones. Certainly it is by far the fullest and clearest account of enlightenment I have ever seen. Even if you have no interest at all in the most fascinating of all human psychological processes, it is an amazing document that reveals a great deal about religion, yoga, and human psychology and probes the depths and limits of human possibilities.

As I have read and experienced alot in various religious traditions, I naturally compare his writings with those of others, particularly with the great Indian mystic Osho. Though they clearly agree on the major points of how to prodceed on the path, letting go of the attachment to the spiritual quest etc. their styles are vastly different. Both are highly intelligent and well read(Osho could speed read and read over 100,000 books) and were at home in the spiritual literature of the major religious traditions. However, most of Da's books are essentially unreadable as he struggles to express in language the ineffable realms of the enlightened mind. Even in this, by far his most readable book, he often veers off into pages of opacity as he tries to explain the unexplainable. Osho by contrast is the clearest, most jargon free expositor of the spiritual life who has ever lived. He wrote very little and nearly all of his more than 200 books are transcriptions of spontaneous talks he gave-- with no notes or preparation. They are nonetheless unexcelled masterpieces of spiritual literature. His amazing àutobiography`(actually compiled after his death) has been published by St. Martins by the full version is available online at [...] and other places. Unfortunately, he has very little to say about the exact details of his spiritual progress.

Most of Osho's talks were videotaped and are available on tape and DVD. As Da lives most of the time in seclusion on an island in Fiji it is not easy to get to hear him but the Dawn Horse Press sells a few videotapes on their web page. Da is not a very engaging or facile speaker, unlike Osho who is by turns amusing, shattering and hypnotic. But, as both of them understand, it's what the master is and not he says that is important.

Both of them were utterly honest and uncompromising in their life and teachings and Da omits nothing of relevance, including his youthful adventures with sex and drugs as well as his exposure to LSD, psilocybin and mescaline as a volunteer in government experiments. However, as with many or perhaps all of those destined to become enlightened, he was different from birth and experienced the Shakti energy (which he calls the Bright) from childhood. And, when he entered college, he said his primary interest was to discover what living beings are and what is living consciousness. Clearly not your typical freshman.

A major problem in describing advanced spiritual states is that no criteria or language for them exists in common discourse so mystics have to try to bend language in mostly vain attempts to capture their experiences. It is far worse than trying to describe seeing to a congenitally blind person since they at least have the cognitive structures and experience of the world. But mystics are quite rare and most of them have left little or no description of their mental states.

Unlike Osho, who rejected miracles, paranormal phenomena and all the other nonsense that commonly accompanies religion, Da seems to lack any science background at all and embraces precognition(p120), reincarnation(p555),`meditating` other persons, living on air(p287) etc., and regards the phenomena that I would say are happening in his brain as being `out there`. From comments included in newer editions it is clear that many of his disciples believe he can perform miracles like stopping a raging forest fire at their California retreat. Nevertheless, most of the time he is amazingly levelheaded, going thru over a decade of stress and psychic terrors that would drive most from the spiritual path. Millions of years of evolution have solidified the ego and it does not leave peacefully.

Interwoven with the spellbinding account of his spiritual progress are the details of the minds interaction with the body described in the East in terms of various forms of Yoga(eg., p95-9, 214-21, 249,281-3, 439-40). These few pages are worth more than a whole shelf of yoga books if you want to get to the heart of the mind/body relation in spirituality.

Unlike most who have become enlightened, he had a thorough grounding in Christian practice and made a major effort to become a protestant and then Greek Orthodox minister. Even years later, after he was far along the path with Muktananda, he had an amazing and totally unexpected series of visitations from Mary and Jesus that went on for weeks(p 301-3 et seq.).

Regarding drugs, as is nearly universal among spiritual teachers, he notes that although they may remove certain barriers at times, they do not provide a shortcut to understanding. However, nearly everyone is now aware that they put many on the path to higher consciousness.

He describes in detail the many stages in his ego death or self realization(eg, p72-4, 198-200, 219,20, 238-9, 245, 249, 258-9, 281, 355-65, 368-72, 406). Along the way, he realized the ultimate disutility of all practices and all traditions(337-9) including yoga(281-3) which are all attached to seeking and goals, ultimately winding up in the present. He discovered, as have many others, that seeking and meditation became obstacles and gave them up for devotion to his guru Muktananda(p420-22). His detailed accounts of his interactions with the famous Swami Muktananda and his ultimate realization of his limitations are of rare insight and honesty.

He constantly encounters his attachment to his ego(Narcissus-- eg, p108-110) and asks himself--`Avoiding Relationship?` by which he seems to mean avoiding the divine or ego death with spiritual seeking.

After enlightenment he teaches the 'only by me revealed and given Way of the heart`, finding all other paths to be `remedial` and 'egoic' and merely pursuing God or reality(p359 +) but after a careful reading of this and several other books I never got any idea what that way consists in. Undoubtedly being in his presence helps alot but in other places he has complained about the fact that his disciples just won't let it happen and one wonders if even one has been able to follow him. Of course the same considerations apply to all traditions and teachers and though some of Osho's friends(he disavowed the master/disciple relationship) have claimed enlightenment, nobody of his status has emerged. It looks like you have to have the right genes and the right environment and a very advanced and preferably enlightened guru to stimulate you. The world desperately needs higher consciousness and I hope that someone comes up with an easier way very soon.
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