Excerpts from The Knee Of Listening
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CHAPTER ONE

The "Bright"

"Thus, schooled by conventional religion, and puzzled by the conventional mind..."


With parents and sisterMy father was always a salesman, and my mother was always at home. They could always use a little ordinary humor, but I always loved (and love) them, and love was always the premise of our life together.

That is why we were always free to be so reckless, stupid, unfeeling, uncommunicative, unhappy, and separate!

None of that ever amounted to anything less than an enjoyment of our separate spectacles. Quiet, long-suffering, fathered mother. Emotional, violent, elaborate father-boy. Crazy, secluded, independent son away.

I always grew up on Long Island — mostly in a town called Franklin Square, which was not named after me, or my father (whose name is also Franklin). Mother is Dorothy.

A sister, Joanne, was born when I was eight years old, whom we also always loved (and love), except she and I grew up at separate times and not together.

Boyhood home in Franklin Square on Long Island

I was early brought to the Lutheran Christian Church, and so became combined with the mind of Christianity, and especially with the myths and legends (or the so-called history and historical person) of Jesus of Nazareth.

Eventually, the ideas I received from that early association with Christianity became crucially important life-supporting beliefs for me, after my own "Bright" Strength of Being had been (temporarily) undermined by my experience of the human world of conflict, illusion, and death.

Indeed, even quite early, I began to see there was a fundamental difference, or a very basic unlikeness, between myself and others — not a difference of ultimate essence, and not at all a social or (otherwise) merely physical difference, but a difference of point of view, and of experience, and of life-practice.

Thus, schooled by conventional religion, and puzzled by the conventional mind and the disturbed manner of others, I gradually (but only tentatively) accepted the three root-conventions of the common mind:

  • the idea of "God" (as "Creator", and as separate from all "creation"),
  • the idea of separate self (in my case, and in all cases),
  • and the idea of the world (as itself separate, and as itself composed of separate "things", or absolute differences).

One of my most significant early memories is the Event that clearly marks the beginning of my transition from the gratuitous Spiritual "Brightness " of my earliest childhood to my life of seeking — which transition was, as you will see, motivated by my intentional identification with all mortal beings, and by my intentional identification with all the problems of mankind, and by my suffering of all that followed from my consequent ever-decreasing presumption of the "Bright" Itself.

In this crucial early Event, I was walking to the movies with my mother and father. As was frequently the case with them, they were having an argument. My mother plays the "tar-baby", which (if you remember Uncle Remus) was set down on a log by Br'er Bear and Br'er Fox in order to trap Br'er Rabbit.

She is quiet and passive, and my father very quick, loud, and threatening violence — until he gets stuck and fades away, pretending he will never be heard from again.

 

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Adi Da Samraj Autobiography

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