This is Saul Barodofsky here talking about my dog Wuta and Murshid. Anyway, Wuta really loved Murshid; I don't really think that it was quite as much for the donut holes that he would get as because Murshid really loved him. Murshid went to Switzerland for the World Conference of Religions, and while he was gone, Wuta didn't go down to the Mentorgarten, which he used to do literally every day, and hang out there, but he didn't do that while Murshid was gone. One day it was really, really early in the morning, and Wuta was sitting on the roof of the house (my windows overlooked the roof) and he would look over the street and he would lean over and bark at people and sort of have fun. All of a sudden (I guess it was about 6:30-7:00 and I was getting ready to go to work) he leaped up he stood straight up and every hair on his body just radiated out and his tail was in the air and his ears were perked up, and he was sniffing the wind. You could just really hear him listening, and then he shot out like a bat out of hell, and I called out to him and he didn't hear me. I thought, "There's a dog in heat, or something,” and so I walked out, figuring Murshid's getting back today and he probably won't want to be hassled with a lot of people when he gets home, and I'll see him, like, later.
So, after work I walked by the Mentorgarten, and I went upstairs and there was Murshid and he looked at me and he says, "Who was the first person to greet me when I got home?" And I was thinking of, "I don't know, uh, Wali Ali, Moineddin, Amin, Akbar, Shirin, Basira," all these names of these people, and all of a sudden they all just washed away, and I said, "Wuta!" He said, "That's right!" (Laughter) So here was Wuta tearing down the hill almost knocking him out of the door with joy and expectation, and the first thing he did upon arriving in San Francisco after this triumphal world tour that he had taken was take Wuta out to buy him dog food. (Donut holes and day old pastry.) That says a great deal about the man.
INTERVIEWER: How far away did you live from the Mentorgarten?
SAUL: About two blocks, up the hill. I lived on Ripley Street, the Mentorgarten is on Precita; I lived almost directly behind him, so it was about a four-minute walk. Or about a two-minute run down the hill!
Here's another story. When we were coming back from the Lama Foundation, we stopped in Camarillo to see Bhakti Engle—she's a disciple of Inayat Khan, an old lady, very, very beautiful. For some reason I brought up Mother Mary. It turned out that she knew her. And I told her about Mother Mary's passing and how hard I had taken it, and she hadn't heard about that. So we talked about that, and I could see that Murshid was very upset that I was talking about something other than Sufism. So I looked at him and said, "I just want to tell you one story about Mother Mary." Murshid was just glowering at me, and he couldn't kick me because I was sitting across from the table! (Laughter) And I could see him reaching under the table to kick me. So anyway, I said "Before Mother Mary went out of the public world, she held a big meeting for everybody in Mount Shasta and her message for that meeting was, "You can always trust the Sufis." Anyway, Murshid sat back up and went "Ahem, well, I guess that's all right, Saul." (Laughter)
Let's see, Murshid stories.
INTERVIEWER: Did Murshid in any way give you the idea to start this business?
SAUL: It was his inspiration, but it wasn't his idea. I used to have a book store in Santa Barbara and when I got here, I told him what I was into. He said, what do you do, and I said, " I do healing," and he said, "Good," he said, "I don't have anybody that does healing, you do that," and I said, "Good." I said, "I'm studying numerology," and he said, "Oh, I got somebody that studies numerology, no, no, don't do that." And I said, "But wait, I've been doing it for like three years. (Laughter) And I'm really getting into it" and he said, "No," and I went, "Huh?" And I said I was doing color therapy, and he said, "Nahh, I've got some other people doing color," he said, "You stick to healing." So all these other things I was doing got left by the wayside. And so I said, "Look, what happens if I want to open up a bookstore?" And he said, "Hassan already has a bookstore. Hussain and Hassan already have a bookstore, and that's enough bookstores. If you want to open up a bookstore, you'd better talk to them." So, Hassan actually got me to open up the bookstore, because his closed, and so I figured it was all part of that. Murshid wanted me to be more or less concentrating on one thing at a time, instead of splitting up my energy.
I guess I should say how he initiated me as a Hakim. His god-daughter and his Khalifa and one of his first disciples, whose name was Saadia Khawar Khan, was in from Pakistan—an interesting lady. She had never had a man touch her before, and I was working on her back. She kept looking at me and saying things like, "You're the first man who's ever really touched me besides my father, and because Murshid said it was all right, I know it's all right." It was a totally different society she came from. The only people that touch you are your parents and your husband, besides other ladies. You would go to a doctor and you would have a model, a doll, and you would point to what parts of the doll hurt, and he would tell you what to do. Physical examinations weren't too good. So I was working on her back, massaging and adjusting and doing all these things, whew! And she started getting better and she was very pleased with what was happening.
There was a meeting (it was also at the Khankah), and everybody was there, literally, the whole family. I think it was the only time I've ever seen Murshid with his full Jamiat in one place all dressed up in robes. Akbar was there, and Saadia, and Moineddin and Fatima, and Wali Ali and Amin, and everybody was there, and they were all in robes and they were all sitting in this big crescent around Murshid. He was the center point of this crescent and there were all these people coming out and they were like the whole back of a room, all in robes. We were all sitting in the front of the room doing a Wazifa, I don't remember which one, we were probably doing the three Wazifas, we were counting them off on our tasbihs and I remember that there was this shift of energy in the room and I just felt it and I felt my hand make an involuntary movement, and all of a sudden he said, "Saul, I make you Hakim." And I felt like there were these incredibly huge shoes just thrust at me and I was swimming in them, and I felt myself stand up, and there it was, I was a Hakim, and I thought to myself, I don't want that, that's just too much, it's something for maybe twenty years from now, fifty years from now, not something for now. And everybody was coming up afterwards and congratulating me (laughter); I was really freaked out. Later he told me that it was something I would grow into and not to worry about it. Interesting!
And, let's see, once upon a time, I was living at Rancho Olompali. There are a whole bunch of stories connected with that. I was brought down to the Bay Area ostensibly to help maintain the energy center there. It was a spiritual community that had gotten very heavily into drugs and out of spiritual activity and they needed some leaving people there, so I brought down to work with that. And I found that there really wasn't anybody really to work with; the few Sufis there were really chaotically disorganized; Shirin was there, and she wasn't a great deal of help; she was some help, but she wasn't a great deal of help. She probably felt the same way about me! But anyway, she brought me down and I always felt like they wanted me to do a miracle, but, whew! Lots of violence, and lots of strong dope, and very little respect and a number of stories connected with that.
Murshid walked over to see me one day, and we took a nice walk around there and he said, "If I have my way we'll own this place, and where I'm gonna have (that's the holy mountain, pointing to the back of Mt. Tam, about 4,000 feet high); he said, "Which of my disciples can live at the top? In a progressive order, in other words in terms of their grades?" And I said, "I don't know" and he said, "Those that get up the earliest can live higher to the top, that’s how they do it. If people want to sleep all day they can live at the bottom, people that want to get up early in the morning can live at the top, people that want to get up between that, right, they can live in between that. Getting up early in the morning is the key to the spiritual life." Anyway, the kids wake me up at six o'clock! Whew! (Laughter)
Anyway, I was wandering around the ranch one day, when I had a few spare minutes of my time; I was just wandering around and there was this funny little man in a big orange robe and he was short and fat and he had long, white hair and a long, white beard, and looked sort of like an Indian Santa Claus. I thought he was this ubiquitous guru that everybody there was waiting for who finally came and he was, so I said, "Oh, are you [?] and he said, "No." I said, "My name's Saul, and I'm a Sufi, and I want to welcome you to our land, would you like some tea," and we started talking. His name was Nataraji Guru, and I was very impressed with him.
There were a number of things that happened that were pretty much on the miraculous level and I figured he was a real teacher and he wasn't out for points, so I told Murshid about him, and he said "Oh, he sounds like a nice guy," and one day we were driving by this place where he lived and I said, "Oh Murshid that's where Nataraji Guru lives, and Murshid said, "Stop the car, and he looked at Danny Lomax (Abd-ar-Rahman) who was driving the car, and he says, "Go find a place to park the car, Saul, lets go right there, right now." And we went walking up to the door and knocked and there he was and these two guys met and what they said to each other was, which I was very impressed by, was "Hello, welcome to my city, thank you very much," and they talked for awhile, "Do you know this, do you know that, I was with Papa Ramdas and I studied with him, and him, and oh, I know him, I loved them, and isn't that wonderful," and Murshid looked at him and he said, "I need a lot of help in San Francisco, please stay here and teach and I will get you students." I was very impressed by that because he wasn't saying, "This is my territory and it doesn't have room for you, and it's only so big enough for both of us and why don't you go back to where you come from." What he said was, "There's a lot of work to do here, you're a real teacher and I respect what you're doing, you're not making points, you're a real teacher, come into my world and I will find you students. I will find you students because real teachers are needed." I was very impressed by that. And Nataraji Guru said, "My world is very busy, why don't you come to India? I'll get you all the students you want." (Laughter) Anyway, they're a couple of characters.
He served us Prasad, he was making potatoes, and he kept touching it with his hands before he would give it to us which I thought was very cute. And he really kept inviting us both to come to India. Constantly. He came to a couple of our meetings and he talked about when he met Inayat Khan in Switzerland, in 1921 or something, and that was the only other contact he had with the Sufis, but he liked Inayat Khan very much and he liked us very, very much, and he thought we really had it and that was all good. Um, that was interesting. What else, what else would you like to know? How about a miracle?
Murshid didn't go in for miracles. He didn't, but he was sneaky about them. One day, there I was at the Khankah in Novato and we were having our Sunday afternoon class and we were dancing and singing and having a picnic and doing all these nice things we did every Sunday, and Murshid looked up and said "Where's Hassan?" And we said, "He's sick," and he looked at me and said “SAUL” "That's your job!” And I caught it, and I said “sure.”
And I walked into the room and Hassan had a really high fever. He was just radiating all this energy and so I stood there, because he was asleep and I didn't want to wake him up, and I found my hands involuntarily, without volition, just pointing themselves at him, fingertips forward, this incredible energy was going through them and I saw him wake up and look at me, and look of my hands and smile and I remember as he closed his eyes I felt this energy coming into my back and I looked behind me and there was Murshid standing there pouring this energy, doing exactly what I was doing, only he was doing it to me, and I was the conductor sending it to Hassan. Well, Hassan got better, his fever broke.
I remember telling him this story. It was about two or three months ago, around May of 1975, and this happened I guess around April or May of 1969 or 1970. He looked at me and said, "I didn't know Murshid was there, Murshid was behind you, really?" I said, "Yeah, he was in the doorway." "Isn't that interesting," he said, "I could see the doorway and I didn't see him there."
So, that's sort of interesting. I remember telling this story to a couple of people and they asked the question, ""Was he there in his physical body," because the dancing was going on downstairs, the dancing didn't stop. You could hear the chanting. I'd never thought about it until then.
When I was in Mt. Shasta, everything was a miracle, and when I got to San Francisco, everything was hard work on the physical plane and you did your share and didn't stop and think about miracles and look for people popping up under rocks and walking through walls. I don't know if that was him in his physical body or his spiritual body. I don't know if it matters. It really doesn't matter, bat the work I've done which is important that’s what’s important. But, anyway, that's one of the miracle stories.
Once upon a time, also at the Khankah (a lot of things happened at the Khankah), because I spent a full year living in Marin and about a year living in San Francisco. I moved into the area in February of 1969, and moved into San Francisco in January of 1970, and then he passed away in January of 1971, so a lot of my early contact with him was on a kind of working level, because I wasn't really working while I was in Marin, I was just kind of hanging out, and when you hang out you have a lot of time to do things, play kibitz, work in the office, run errands, etc.
Anyway, there was an evening get-together at the Khankah in Novato and Drew Langston was there and he was showing his movie (Drew became a disciple). He was showing this movie that he had, in the dining room and I was feeling really weird about what was happening and Ayesha (Bless Ayesha) dragged me out of there and she said, "Saul, there's going to be an explosion." Everybody was laughing and having fun, and I could feel it and I looked at her and she said, "Saul," and I walked out of the room and she ran upstairs to the sewing room and I found myself huddled against the door and all of a sudden the prayer room door just burst open and it was like an explosion and Murshid came through there; man, he looked like he was eighteen feet tall, and about eighty feet wide, and he was just absolute pure radiant power and energy and pissed off. I tried to just literally merge into the wall that I was standing against, I just did not want to get in his way, and he looked at me and I felt like I was gonna die and he said, "This doesn't apply to you, don't be afraid." It's almost as if in mid-step he said that, and then went right back into that place that he was and walked right into that room, man, and destroyed the universe. There was Moineddin and Fatima, Hassan and Jayanara, and Drew and I don't know who else was in there.
INTERVIEWER: in the prayer room?
SAUL: No, this wasn't in the prayer room, he came from the prayer room and he went into the dining room where they were showing this movie and kibitzing and laughing and it was around 9 or 10 o'clock at night and he was furious because he'd been trying to get his practices done and there was too much noise in the house.
So, he just exploded, this was not a house of play, this was a house of work, they should know that, this was not the kind of space for that kind of material or energy to go through, and that when people don't have the facility of saying their prayers and practices privately in the house, then the whole house is not good, it will not stand. He said it very loudly and to everyone there and then he called them all into the prayer room, all the disciples and everyone else was asked to leave, if you weren't a disciple, leave, if you don't live in the house, leave, I want the members of the house to come into there and talk to me. And here were all of our teachers, because Moineddin was our teacher and everybody was all an old disciple walking in, they all looked like little kids, not that they'd been spanked or chastised but that they had dropped their egos and they were just absolutely open and receptive, o.k., I did wrong, what would you like me to do, and it was one of those tastes that I have of the mastery that first he had, and the receptivity that they were able to open to. Hassan remembers that day, too.
A couple of short things. Considering that this is for posterity, and if Murshid really doesn't want it to be told then I'm sure he'll erase it. A number of times I asked Murshid why he was teaching Sufism. He was a Buddhist, and a Hindu and all these things, and he said, "I'm teaching Sufism because the Buddhists are all splintered and shot up and the Hindus can't get their act together and it doesn't matter if you're a Hindu and you meet another Hindu, your first question is, "Who's your teacher, my teacher is better, and I'm on this one, and you're on that one, and I've got my head shaved this way, and I say this mantra and I go to that temple and you don't and therefore…." and he said "Listen, Sufis aren't like that, that's why I teach Sufism, because Sufis do it Toward the One, and they do it with unity."
Murshid had a whole number of shots that went down with the Buddhists. Now, Murshid was very close with Kennett Roshi at Mt. Shasta and Gene Wagner and Joe Miller and I guess what you call the Sangha that was developed around two groups. Nyogen Senzaki, who was Murshid's Zen master and the Master Seo, who was also Murshid's Zen master, and the latter Buddhists groups, like the people at Tassajara and the Zen Center he never had much truck with and he had a certain amount of relationship with Tolun, but there was a lot of heartbreak there. Tolun actually came into the Rainbow Bridge and told me that Murshid was not a Zen master and had only had minimal realization, if that, because he wasn't Chinese, and only a Chinese Shin Buddhist could be enlightened and anybody else just isn't, and that's the secret of the universe.
Murshid used to say, "Damn them all to hell, they meet the Buddha on the road kill 'em, and they're damned for that eternally. You don't kill the Buddha, you kill the pride, the ego, he said he wanted a Buddha. He says they start all their things by saying "I": instead of saying, "I bear witness to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha and I surrender and make obeisance to them, and I honor them, and I put them above myself. Instead of saying that they say, “I believe this and I say that and this scripture says this.
Anyway, there are a couple of groups that don't do that, that he worked with, and one of them wound up at Mt. Shasta and he sent me to them before they went to Mt. Shasta, it was Kennett Roshi, they were very dear friends, and his name is included in the list of preceptors that they read for the blessing of the congregation, everyday, Murshid is considered a Buddhist master of their lineage. It turns out that Murshid and Kennett Roshi went to the same monastery at different times, which made them dharma cousins, I guess, and they graduated from that monastery, but not with the same teachers, different teachers, but they still graduated, so he's included in their lineage and when he died they did a whole day service for him on Mt. Shasta, and people in India knew about it, that day. Neem Karoli Baba's people did a service for him in India, that's Ram Dass' guru, Maharaji, because one of our people came back and said that they were doing a service for the passing of Sam Lewis in India and they had heard about it and somebody had come and told them. The word had gotten out literally all over the world. Very far out.
I guess I should say something about his death. I'll let everybody else know I talk about some of these other things. I was asleep and I got a phone call, I guess it was around two or three in the morning, it was Wall Ali, and he said, "Murshid just fell down the stairs and he's hurt, you'd better come down quickly." I said, "How bad is it?" He said, "I think he's in shock," and I said okay. I threw on some clothes and ran out of the house and I ran down the hill, I just really didn't trust myself to drive. I ran in and I looked at him and he was sitting up in bed and they had wiped a lot of the blood off of him. There were a lot of people in the house, there were about four or five people that had slept over. He was in his bedroom, and I looked at him and I remember saying, "You really hurt yourself this time, Murshid, but you're gonna be all right," and there wasn't any response. His eyes were glassy and I gave him a superficial check-over and I remember calling a doctor named Alan Datner that had been on the set, he had never been initiated, but he had been coming around for awhile, and I told him what had happened and said I wanted to know where to take him and I didn't have any time to dawdle and to tell me what to do immediately and he didn't know. He kept going, uh, uh. He was really shocked by what I had said. I had awakened him because it was probably 3 o'clock or so by then, and I said, "I'm gonna count to 10 and if you can't give me an answer, I'm gonna hang up." He still uhhed and uhhed, so I hung up.
I thought, I don't know if he's had a heart attack or not, I don't know what's happened to him, except that he fell down the stairs in the middle of the night and the stairs had no relationship at all to his bedroom or anything else, and God knows what he was doing. He might have had a heart attack, and if so, I should get him to a hospital immediately. So I called up the closest hospital, which was General. I said I had a possible cardiac arrest, a man in his seventies and we were gonna bring him in there, and they were ready for us when we got there and they immediately put him through a series of tests, his heart was all right but he was still in shock.
Anyway, that began the hospital experience, which lasted for what seemed like forever. He finally threatened to blow up the hospital unless we got him out of there and he kept screaming to be moved to Chinese hospital and no doctor would take the responsibility of releasing him and I finally called a Chinese doctor and I explained to him what was happening. I literally called him at random and said, "This man is our grandfather, and our godfather and our teacher. He's a master of Sufism, he's a master of Shin Buddhism, he has two doctorates from universities in Asia, and we do not want him to be treated like a vegetable or an animal or a mineral. If he has to die, let him die like a human being, but we want him to live, and we don't think he'll live where he is, and he's asking in his few moments of lucidity to be moved to a Chinese hospital." And the man said, "I hear you, and I will take it upon myself to get him into a Chinese hospital," but he said, "remember, though, this could mean my license" and I said, "It could mean his life! You don't talk about your license, It could mean his life, they're killing him here, they're not taking care of him, they're not brushing him, they're not feeding him, they're barbaric and we can't get him out and if we don't get him out we'll probably blow up the fucking hospital to do it. We're all really prepared to do this." He said, "All right, I'll do it."
So, we took him to a Chinese hospital and he died there. He woke up once in the middle of his coma and we had a talk and he was upset that Danny Lomax had come in from Tucson and left Tucson but he was pleased to see him. He asked how everything was, everything was fine, he asked me how many people had come in to see him, and then he started crying, he started remembering all of these people that had come through. He was so pleased that his friends that thought so much of him (he didn't call them his disciples, he called them his friends) but they had all come by. Because, I guess it was maybe five or six years before that, maybe seven years, he had been in the hospital with a heart attack or food poisoning or whatever it was, (there were a number of different stories) and people came to see him, but nothing like this. I guess he felt pretty alone there. And he remembered the people coming through all the time and he started naming them. He asked me about certain ones. And I said, "Listen, Murshid, you really put us through quite a trip, get yourself together so we can get out of here." He said, “you think this is something, Saul, wait until you see what I have in store for you." So I'm still there. (Unclear on tape.)
Anyway, then I ran out to get Wali Ali. Murshid dictated a letter to his Pir-o-Murshid, Sufi Barkat Ali in Pakistan and I can remember being there with Danny Lomax and I was standing there with the pen and the tablet of paper to write down the letter and he said I'm his secretary, let me write it down! I said, sure. I gave him the thing to write it down but I kept the pad of paper because it was mine. Anyway, I brought Wali All and Murshid looked at him and he said, "Did you pay the rent?" No, Murshid. He said, "Why not?" Wall All said, because everything's under your name, all the money's under your name, and he said, "Pay the rent! And Wall Ali said, "But Murshid," and he said, "Pay the rent!" Every time Wali All would put in an objection to it, Murshid would get a little more angry and a little more strong and a little more loud and Wali Ali finally said “All right,” and Murshid said, "Now!" 'Cause that was Wali Ali's orders to hold down the….
So, Wali Ali was given his orders, I was told to await something, and Sheik Abd-ar-Rahman was told he was extravagant, but it was nice to see him. Those were the only ones of us that actually spoke to him and to everybody else he was as coherent and lucid as we are right now. He had just literally come right out of the coma and then he went back into it again. And he never really came out again.
There were a couple of other interesting parts to that story. I guess one is that I gave him a piece of amber that we had been using in the healing service that he wore around his neck and when Joe Miller came in there he pulled it off his neck and gave it to Joe. He said, "I want you to have this" and Joe said, "No, Sam, that's one of your kids, it's obvious that somebody put it around your neck." And Murshid said, "No, really, it's for you." So Joe took it and said, "All right," because Sam was really strong about it. He wrapped it up in tissue paper, and said, "I wonder who it's for," and gave it to me, figuring it was mine. And it was.
There were three people in the same little side room he was in. One of them was a vegetable, one of them had lost the use of his arms and legs (this was the neurological ward) and one of them was going to lose the use of his legs and all three made miraculous recoveries. Miraculous. And, when Murshid finally went in there, I guess, when he went in there and he was on his table and kept screaming, "Take me to a Chinese hospital, take me to Chinese hospital," and we kept saying, "We can't get you out now but we will," he'd start hitting me, open-handed but really hard, he's a strong man, and every time he'd hit me I'd say, "Thank you" and after about the fifth or sixth time he opened up his eyes and looked at me and I realized that it had been a blessing, His way. I thank you for it.
So, and then of course after he died, there were all these people, even when he was in the hospital, who were teachers in this area who came by and tried to take us over, because he wasn’t there anymore and they started telling us things like, "When Sam was around he told me that if there was any problem, that I should take over, that I was the successor." And a couple of them were really strong about it, really strong, and we weren't having any of it, because it wasn't true. Moineddin was Sam's successor, and Moineddin was just out of the hospital himself, he was very ill. Anyway, I should mark that there were two people who did not say that. One was Kennett Roshi, who never made any intonation that she was his successor, and the other was Joe Miller, who came up and was always there (Gene Wagner didn't either, a lot of the guys really didn't), but people who really had followings, and were really in the process of teaching, quite a few of them came in and tried to take us over, but Joe Miller, I remember most in particular. He came in and said, "I don't want anybody to take you guys over, Sam wouldn't want it that way, if he'd wanted it that way, he would have told you, so keep your own shot together; any help I can give you, ask, you don't want it, don't ask, I won't volunteer, I'm right here, all the time, constantly, I'm your friend, and your brother and don't worry about asking me, call me twenty-four hours a day, I'm always on call." I remember him coming to a couple of meetings (he really is a powerful man) and people would ask, "Wow, who are you, where do you teach?" And he would say, "It doesn't matter who I am, I don't teach, and you're here, and this is a good place to be. Stay with the Sufis. They got it. That impressed me. And he's still that way. Not looking for plaudits and kudos. Impressive. So, I would also say that Murshid had a lot of really, really good friends, that came around when he was in the hospital. People like Gene Wagner and Joe Miller, and Teddy Reich. Teddy was really broken up, really broken up; because they go back to I guess the 1920's or 1930's together. And so it went. We were pretty broken up. I think that's all I'm gonna say.