The Audio Recordings of Franklin Merrell-Wolff

This page introduces the audio recordings of Franklin Merrell-Wolff; you can also browse a Complete Listing of Wolffs Audio Recordings.


In the 1950s, Wolff began to record his words on magnetic tape using a reel-to-reel recorder. These recordings can be found here, both in aural and written form. The importance of preserving (and listening to) the recordings themselves is that oftentimes something comes through that is not detectable in the written transcript; in particular, one may detect what Wolff calls “on-beam” thinking:

I have employed a term to express the difference between the transcriptive formulation and the speculative type of formulation, and this is the term ‘on-beam’. The transcriptive formulation, I call “on-beam.” The reason for using this term is the employment of a similar term in connection with the instrument landing of airplanes when visual landing is not practical. So long as the plane is on-beam, everything is going as it should; the landing will be secure. On-beam thinking is authoritative thinking, as it were; whereas, “off-beam” thinking is simple speculation. I have found that since August 7, 1936, I am not in the on-beam status at all times; on the contrary, there are times when I am on-beam and other times when I am off-beam.[1]

In addition to the authoritative nature of this mode of thinking, there is perhaps a more important feature. Wolff explains:

There is another event connected with on-beam composition whether vocal, written, or a dictation to the tape, and this is the event which we have called “induction.” There is another term employed by the Tibetans for an event of this kind—it is called “placing face-to-face.” It is, in fact, an arousal of a state of consciousness in the one who reads or hears that is a foretaste of the Mystic Awakening, not a complete achievement of that state, but rather simply a foretaste not yet earned and mastered by the sadhaka, but in the nature of a kind of bestowal. This event does not occur in connection with off-beam composition, but only in association with on-beam composition and is therefore related to the transcendental component.[2]

The earliest audio recordings in the Wolff Archive are of a series of lectures that Wolff gave in Chicago during October 1951. There are a number of other recorded public lectures in the Wolff Archive, as well as recordings of Wolff reading a few manuscripts (including a large part of his book, The Philosophy of Consciousness Without an Object). Most of the recordings in the Wolff Archive, however, are audio essays. These essays are generally about an hour in length, and cover topics that include philosophy, psychology, religion, politics, yoga, and more.

There are 433 recordings in the Wolff Archive, which equates to some 340 hours of discourse. Most of these recordings have been have been transcribed, and those that have not are in the process of being written out. Both the transcriptions as well as the original audio recordings (in MP3 format) may be downloaded for your personal use. Please note that the audio quality of these recordings varies. Some of the public lectures and discussions suffer from microphone problems; also the speed of some of Wolff’s essays varies, which is an artifact of the finicky generator that Wolff used for electricity. A good number of the recordings have been engineered in an attempt to address these problems, but there remains more work to be done.

The link above takes you to a complete listing of Wolff’s audio recordings, which are presented in chronological order. These recordings can be sorted by title and date, and the descriptions can be searched by a keyword. In addition to this general listing, all of the audio recordings have been grouped by categories that attempt to reflect a primary focus or motivation for each recording. The links below will take you to a page that describes the named category, and from which you can access the recordings listed under that category. Please note that these categories are not meant to be exclusive nor exhaustive, but rather, are designed to make a review of the large number of Wolff’s recordings more manageable.

Audio Recording Categories




[1] Franklin Merrell-Wolff, “Purpose, Method, and Policy of this Work,” part 6 (Lone Pine, Calif.: July 1976), audio recording, 5. This fifteen-part series contains many examples of “on-beam” formulation.

[2] Franklin Merrell-Wolff, “Purpose, Method, and Policy of this Work,” part 7 (Lone Pine, Calif.: August 1976), audio recording, 1.