Zeinob Burnham on Murshid—9/2/76
SABIRA: We have a lot of material from you, Zeinob, so I am just going to ask a few questions and see what develops. I wonder if you recall what your first experiences with meeting Murshid were? And how that developed, and then, at the time that you first met Murshid your nervous system was shot, as we recall from other tapes, you could hardly function—and at this point some eight years later, you are leading a center and are functioning as a Sufi leader. And you seem to have achieved the utmost in love, harmony, and beauty, so what we need to know is how did Murshid achieve this alchemical process within you? So let’s start with that.
ZEINOB: I was told about Murshid in Los Angeles by a friend of Moineddin's and Mansur's whose name was Anon, and he gave me Murshid's name. And I had been looking for a Sufi Master—that had been in my consciousness to find for I guess two or three years—so I was very happy to hear that there was a real Sufi Master so close to me as in San Francisco, so I drove up to meet him. And I arrived one afternoon and knocked on the door and the doorbell buzzed downstairs, and I opened the door, and I heard this bellowing voice, "Come In!" Being as shy as I was in that time I walked upstairs and that was the time in which he sat me down and looked at me very piercingly and said that quote that you gave me, "Sit up straight, there is nothing you have ever done in your life that has been wrong."
SABIRA: How did that make you feel?
ZEINOB: It actually made me feel a tremendous sense of relief, and we talked for a few minutes and then he asked me if I'd like to stay for dinner, and I was responsible for some children that I was babysitting for, and I had to leave. But I did help him at least begin to prepare the meal. And David came in at that point—David was the first mureed of Murshid's that I ever met. This was the middle of September and I didn't meet him again until the end of December, I think it was two or three days before Christmas when I came, and then never left after that. I stayed.
SABIRA: Did you tell him you were coming?
ZEINOB: No, I simply arrived again, and I had gone back to Los Angeles. I was just about to turn twenty-one at the end of October, and I stood to inherit some money, so I thought I should go back and take care of that level of things and then I came back up to be with him. I had been looking for a Sufi Master for so long. I had met Pir Vilayat, actually maybe six months or a year, before I met Murshid, down in Los Angeles, but he wasn't there all the time. And I wanted somebody that I could be with, live with, or see all the time. Pir just sort of came through on his lecture tour, but it wasn't stable enough for what I felt were my needs at that time.
SABIRA: What did Anon tell you about him?
ZEINOB: He said—he and I were working together in a poster factory in Watts—and he just wrote his name on a piece of paper. In fact he didn't even call him Murshid, he said—I just had “Samuel L. Lewis” on a piece of paper and his address on a piece of paper, I didn't even have a telephone number. And when I came, Wali Ali wasn't living here, David wasn't living here; there was only—this was in September—there was just Murshid and his friend the painter, the artist—the two of them shared the house.
SABIRA: September of ’68?
SABIRA: Had Anon met Murshid?
ZEINOB: Oh yes, Anon knew Murshid, he must have been, I think that they arrived shortly after Moineddin did; Moineddin would remember who this person is— but he was never around Murshid when I was around here. He was, I don't know, I guess he was in a place of discovering all different 'finds of teachers, but for some reason he picked up on—we'd never talked about a Sufi Master—he just was the instrument of God in that particular situation and he passed me on to Murshid, although he himself wasn't really a mureed of his. So when I came back a few days before Christmas, I spoke to David who was now living in the house and expressed to him my desire to stay. I felt as though Murshid didn't take me in that my whole life was useless, and I just realized that I had been taking a lot of drugs. My mind was shot, I was clairvoyant and clairaudient, and I knew that psychiatrists didn't know what was going on with me at all, because I had already been that route, so it was something that he had, and I knew he had it, and I knew that he could heal me as well as train me. So, I wanted to live with him, and he was very, here was this waif are sort of had dumped herself at his doorstep. And he was very reluctant, he even said to David that he was not sure that he wanted me living there. He said that he gave me three days pilgrim's grace, the traveler's grace which every spiritual household or Khankah is responsible for a pilgrim for three days. He gave me that and let me stay.
SABIRA: Did the drugs bring about your state of psychical awareness or did that happen as you were a young child.
ZIENOB: That happened as I was a young child. I have never really known drugs to awaken something in somebody that is not already there, and I remember experiences as a child—tremendous experiences of light, experiences of Christ being a reality, shall we say a fore-knowledge of events, that sort of thing. But I was just sort of blown wide open and it is not a very comfortable position to be in unless you are totally dedicated to God it is a little different. After I had stayed there three days I could feel from Murshid that he was very anxious for me to get out of there, leave the Mentorgarten and go on my way, but David spoke to him and said that he felt that I was a spiritual woman and that I was in a great deal of trouble and that I needed Murshid. And Murshid said that David said that as a member of his household that he demanded that Murshid speak to me, and so Murshid did, and I think that interview, that first interview we had was published in "In the Garden."
SABIRA: But it just might as well be repeated here if you wouldn't mind.
ZEINOB: He called me into what is now the meditation room upstairs and had me sit down and facing me where we were practically knee to knee in these straight back chairs that we are sitting in now, and looked me in the eyes and began—the only way I can say; it is that his eyes were like two swords of light, and he began to pierce—shall we say— the veils around my being, the veils that are caused by fear, or by anger, or by doubt or by anxiety or whatever they are caused by, and after he had been looking at me for say, half a minute, he asked me if his eyes frightened me. And I said, "No," because I knew that it was like the glance of truth, and I knew that in my inner being there was nothing to fear from him. For somebody else to see through into the depth of my being could be nothing but a blessing, so I said no, and that seemed to encourage him so he continued until I found myself instead of being in my state of darkness I felt total freedom, I felt joy, but most of all I felt peace which was a feeling that I hadn't had in a long time, and he just stood up and he had me stand up and he said that the interview was over, and embraced me on both sides and said, "God bless you."
SABIRA: Was this after the three days grace?
ZEINOB: This was after the three days grace; this was at the point where Murshid wanted me to go, Wali Ali wanted me to go, and David said, "I insist that she stay." So Murshid said, "Alright, I'll take a look at her." So then he went to David, and David told me this maybe years later, I didn't know that David had had anything to do with this—but he told me years later that Murshid had come to him right after the interview and had said, "I apologize to you, you're right, she stays!" So that was a tremendous relief to me to know that my testing period was done and that I had been accepted by him. And I, on my part, was willing to do anything that he asked me to. If you have no hope left in your life, and hope has suddenly been given to you, you are willing to do anything for it. At first I really wasn't capable of doing much of anything. Murshid fed me a lot, and I lived in David's room—he and I shared a room, and after awhile Murshid asked me if I would like my own room; this was maybe a month after I'd been there, and I said, "Yes," and he said, "Bring me a thousand dollars," and everybody was sitting around the kitchen table and, they were looking at me, like, "A thousand dollars! Ask her to bring you the moon." And I had it, and somehow or another he had the insight to know that I did, and went to Los Angeles with Mansur, David and another man named Greg. We were taping some of Pir Vilayat's lectures on that trip, and I also went to my bank and sent Murshid a check for $1000, which I was perfectly happy to do—I had no need of a $1000—I had need of my sanity.
SABIRA: Did he use it to fix up the room?
ZEINOB: I don't think he used it to fix up the room, but he used it to pay off some of his debts. To me, it was a very fair exchange, I would have given him anything. And it was not an unfair thing to ask of me, I had $3000 so it didn't wipe me out. He needed it, and I needed what he had. So at that point I moved downstairs into the room which is now Wali Ali's office, and it had no window and no door with a window, no floor, it leaked during the winter, it was full of spiders—but I tell you I was so happy to be here, it just didn't matter to me at all, it really didn't. I remember feeling when I was here, that this house had a tremendous amount of power and a tremendous amount of light, and I remember being very aware of my own darkness at times. I was almost afraid to touch things, everything was just glowing with light; I felt so dark that I was afraid to touch.
SABIRA: In the house you experienced everything glowing with light?
ZEINOB: Yes, and I felt like this sort of dark blob.
SABIRA: What caused that change in it? How did all this develop? This is something we don't have on the tapes, that somebody could come in in such a state and then develop, in such a beautiful manner some years later—but how this all came about.
ZEINOB: What started it—it really started with that interview. Murshid had that first one, and as soon as he accepted me within his heart, then I immediately began to transmute. He used to say to me, "I've got to get you positive," and if I would sink into my thoughts or negative emotion or something like that he would take me again into this front meditation room upstairs and we would do El Allah Hu, El Allah Hu, El Allah Hu, round and round and round in a circle until I had lost all of that and it had been blown away again, and he—that was one of the things he did with me. He gave me my first practices even before I was initiated. I really wasn't initiated until March. I felt that rather than any verbal teachings my being was transmuted by contact with his atmosphere. Darkness doesn't hold up to light, especially not if the vehicle is willing. You see what I mean? I grew in heart attunement to him, and he grew in heart attunement to me—and through our love my being was transmuted. One time I had to go to Los Angeles because my mother was in a coma and was supposed to die within a couple of hours, and I was feeling pretty anxious about this trip— about what was going to happen. And he looked at me and he said, "I will never be separate from you; neither will you ever be separate from any of the mureeds. So that statement of his actually held me through many things, including the transition of his leaving his body. And I always felt that, and I still always feel that his being and mine are absolutely one. I would say that it a sort of like transmutation took place, sort of like falling in love.
SABIRA: That's very beautiful, so then how long did you stay at the Mentorgarten?
ZEINOB: I lived here for approximately a year and a half I guess.
SABIRA: Then went up to Ripley?
ZEINOB: Yes, up to Ripley for maybe two months and then on to Guerrero Street for maybe nine months and then back up to Ripley.
SABIRA: Who lived on Guerrero Street?
ZEINOB: I did, just in a small apartment.
SABIRA: Just alone? With Damon?
ZEINOB: With Gary, Damon wasn't born yet; he wasn't here. I was a month pregnant when Murshid died.
SABIRA: Oh, I see; so he never saw Damon then. Okay, then, are their instances that you remember of Murshid's functioning at the level—how shall I say it?—functioning at the level of being in the Presence of God?
ZEINOB: That is sort of a funny question because to me he was constantly in that presence; he was sometimes so aware of it that he—as a person—wasn't at home at all. And at some times he was there and the Divine was there too.
SABIRA: I asked that because in David's tape, it mentioned things about how he would burn his arm, and so I wondered if there were other instances for that that you recall.
ZEINOB: Oh sure, he would walk out of the house with his socks on.
SABIRA: Yeah, things like that.
ZEINOB: And he would tell me things which now I am beginning to understand more fully, but say, he would look into the mirror and he just didn't know who that person was anymore—and that is a very real experience—simply not knowing who you are anymore. The grandness of things that come through you are alien to your concept of who you are. What else can you say? You can say that even his going and picking all these vegetables out of the garden and not washing them properly and just dumping them into a soup pot with mud down at the bottom of it—all of these thing, I suppose, one would call the behavior of someone in the state of madzhubia. He also told me one time after leading Saturday night dance class that he would often lead the dances from the inside of the circle, where most of our people now—Wali Ali and Moineddin—lead them from the outside of the circle—and being in the inside, he would say to me after a class, " I don't know what is happening to me," he says, "I don't see even male or female anymore, I don't see people, I don't even see them as male and female; all I see are bodies of light dancing!" There was such a courage that Murshid had about whatever he did. I remember him shouting at someone on the phone one time for half an hour that he had no heart—at the top of his voice, shouting that—he was just totally fearless. Whatever he felt that he had to do, he had absolutely no fear. When you are talking about not being at home, the personality that says, "Now this is proper behavior, and this isn't," that didn't function in him at all that I ever saw. I think he was very strict about his morals, but as for what he would or wouldn't say to people, this didn't seem to be governed by any personal judgment on his part.
SABIRA: It was really what seemed to come through him.
ZEINOB: That's exactly it, that's exactly it; one felt really that Sam Lewis wasn't at home very much.
SABIRA: Did he shift from being on these higher planes to the earth planes?
ZEINOB: Sure, sure—
SABIRA: Would he shift minute by minute? How did this occur?
ZEINOB: No, it wouldn't shift minute by minute. As Murshid said, he had controlled schizophrenia, and it was controlled. It was where he would go gradually up higher and higher and higher, and then he would edge down slowly too. When one is seeing nothing but bodies of light, one doesn't eat dinner in that state.
SABIRA: So he was able, then, to bring himself down.
ZEINOB: Yeah, of course, of course.
SABIRA: That's very interesting, these are stories we don't have.
ZEINOB: Yeah, in the early morning was a time when he was doing his commentary work on Inayat Khan or working on his poetry, and he was very high. And this was the time when he'd already been up since five o'clock, and I'd get up at seven or seven thirty and I would have to be very careful, because I would have to pass through the office to get to the kitchen, and I would have to be very careful how I walked through that room because I knew how sensitive he was and I could really hurt him. When he was very, very high, he could be damaged easily. It was like a loud bang or anything; it would just throw him because he was in such a state of sensitivity.
SABIRA: A part of it was that you were so sensitive to what his needs were, so that leads me to the next question. How did Murshid work with your natural psychic ability?
ZEINOB: I remember telling him certain experiences that I had, and all I remember him giving me was that that was totally unimportant. I would say, "I've had a vision of Inayat Khan" or, "When I close my eyes I see Allah; I feel the Sufi Symbol around me," or whatever. He just brushed that off—I would tell him about a lot of past experiences that I had had too, and he would listen to what I had to say but at the same time he wouldn't comment a great deal about that. I feel that his work with me was simply to get me grounded, to get me back into my body and to get me strong, and then I felt that these faculties that I came in with actually closed down. I was able to take on more and more and more work in the house, and I became much stronger and much more balanced, but he wasn't looking, I don't think to develop those faculties in me; I think he was looking to develop a balanced human being to begin with.
SABIRA: They were already developed, so he had to work on the other side.
ZEINOB: Right, he had to work on the other side of it, but at the same time, he wanted to keep my sensitivity as you can gather from the practice that we spoke about of holding little fingers. And also he gave me a call-to-prayer which is very refined and very beautiful which I have never heard anybody else do. He gave me very gentle, light practices; it wasn't as though he was trying to cover those faculties up, I felt more like he was trying to transmute them—like hearing—I'd be sitting here and I'd be hearing everybody think. That's not healthy, you don't want to hear what's going through the mental processes of everybody else, you want to work with your own and transmute them. So I don't know if I can actually say how he worked with those forces in particular.
SABIRA: I think you have already answered it—the practice in holding your little finger—what was the basis behind that?
ZEINOB: Murshid, as he said, “Whenever I am joking, I am the most serious," and so often times the deepest practices came in the form of a joke or a game or a pleasure of some sort. The deepest practices were given in a very light vein, and this was one of the things. We would walk out of the house, and he would take me to the car across the street holding my—with our two little fingers joined, and he would say, "This is the way I walk you to the car," and it was always in that vein that things were done. I think what strikes me the most about Murshid at this time is his tremendous capacity for love, as he said, "You start out as a teacher to where you can love to a certain extent until you become—the love capacity grows, you become a pure fountain of love." And he really was that, so many people remembered the side of him that ranted and raved and shouted, and there was also this tremendously gentle side, and the side of Murshid that no matter what you did, you felt as if he would never reject you. He was your friend; he stood by you for life. I knew after that interview when he looked at me that like, I'd made it through the door, and that he would always be beside me, he would always stand beside me.
SABIRA: In David's tape there is a quote about that Murshid wasn't sure that marriage in the New Age would be carried on, and yet you mentioned that he gave you some practices on marriage and couples. Would you be able to relate what they were?
ZEINOB: I was just reading in one of the letters that I wrote to Gary about how a young woman one time had come to Murshid and asked whether a particular man was right for her for not, and he said, "No." Later she asked Murshid why—how did he know that? and he said, “I can tell by the vibrations I get when you mention his name." He immediately could pick up on what the two of them together would be like. He was tremendously sensitive, and I remember him feeling that the institution of marriage would change, but not that it would dissolve. He certainly felt in his mureeds that they should be like Dharma partners—in other words God first! Like a triangle with God and the man and the woman united in their work. When I would wake up in the morning at the Mentorgarten, sometimes Murshid would be typing, and sometimes maybe he would be filing something, and in a place where I could communicate with him and I would go in and stand before him, and I would put my forehead up against his and just stand there with my eyes closed and wait. And I could feel our inner bodies swirling and merging—especially I would become very aware of my crown chakra, and I would just wait until I felt I was totally merged and then we'd usually hug, and then I would go about my day knowing that we'd made that connection of union. Now out of that, Murshid got this dance to Ishq Allah, Mahbood Lillah which was only for couples, where they actually moved together backwards and forwards and also in a circle saying Ishq Allah, Mahbood Lillah and with their foreheads together. I talked to a psychic not too long ago who was a friend of Murshids and she said that she remembered creating children that way in Egypt, so I believe that that was a dance that he gave as a practice to mureeds, and I don't know if that dance is still done. I know that Moineddin and Fatima did it, I used to do it with Murshid, Jayanara and Hassan did it, James and Basira did it, and I don't recall what other couples, but I remember those three in particular.
SABIRA: I experience things like that at the Khankah when we are doing the Ishq Allah Mahbood Lillah dance and we are arms around with the whole Khankah, the group—it's just as if there is one breath, one body, and it doesn't apparently have to be married couples. This is something that people who are so attuned that they pick it up. It's exquisite. What else do you remember from Gary's letters then?
ZEINOB: Let's see, there was a lot of it which I think I have already given, that I skimmed over because either I had given those things in the tape with David, or Kolsoum. Really, I just don't remember too much else right now.
SABIRA: Then, when Kolsoum was here, there were a lot of things that you didn't talk about as happening between the two of you when you lived in the Mentorgarten—that perhaps should be explored. There is a lot on David and you, and Wali Ali and you, and Murshid and you, but nothing whatsoever—or very little—between Kolsoum and you.
ZEINOB: It was a blessing when Kolsoum moved in because I had been the only woman in the house for so long, gosh to have help; when I first came sometimes we'd even have a Monday or a Sunday night class and nobody would come. Actually those things would happen, and by the time Kolsoum came the energy was growing so much in this house and in the center that we really—we really needed her help, so I was very grateful. She held, a lot of the time when she lived here she held an outside job, so she brought in money, but she was still here on weekends to help with the tremendous work of the Saturday night class, and then there was the Sunday afternoon class and the Sunday night class, and believe me it was good to have her here to help. We had to feed people on Sunday nights, and sometimes as many as fifty, so it was real wonderful.
SABIRA: Is that after David moved out then?
ZEINOB: I have the date, if you need that I can send it to you of when he moved out exactly. Kolsoum had been with Murshid for a long time, much longer than I had been, and she'd been living in La Jolla where she actually taught Sufi dancing for awhile.
SABIRA: She learned it from Murshid?
ZEINOB: She did, and I think that would find looking through his correspondence that they did do some correspondence when she was in La Jolla and perhaps he sent her notes even on some of the dances at that time, because when she was this group, in Sufi dancing, was still when the dances were coming through him very rapidly, so that might be a good thing to check into. I just can't think particularly of an instance with Kolsoum. I remember a dance that I wish we still had and she and Murshid did which was from Greek—it was a dance of Aphrodite and the Greek mysteries. It is very beautiful; they did it together one time.
SABIRA: When she played Aridane—something to do with a thread.
ZEINOB: Isn't it Dionysus and Ariadne?
SABIRA: Yeah, I think so; I looked it up in the dictionary—
ZEINOB: I’m not up on the Greek mysteries at this point—
SABIRA: What was life like then during those times, the two of you and Murshid and then whoever else lived here?
ZEINOB: I just remember myself and David and Kolsoum, and when I moved out, Wali Ali moved back in, so I think must have been a period with only Kolsoum and myself living in the house. Of course there were other people, other secretaries. Wali Ali was here every day working so it wasn’t as if the two of us were alone with Murshid. There was so much else happening here with people in and out. I don’t know, unless we get onto another topic, what really I can tell you. There are just no specific instances that involve Murshid that come to my mind with Kolsoum here. I certainly remember hers and my relationship.
SABIRA: Right. How did she get along with Murshid?
ZEINOB: Oh beautifully; I remember she moved in with her set boa constructor.
SABIRA: She did? She didn't tell us about that!
ZEINOB: She did—she moved in downstairs in Wali Ali's office with a pet boa constrictor and Murshid was grumping around because he said, "Nobody had any business giving love to—as a human being, giving love to a cold-blooded reptile.” He was furious at that, and the snake, as it would inevitably happen, got out, and then maybe we started about a week or so late we sort of smelled this funny smell, and I remember one time mentioning it to Kolsoum, and she said she didn't smell it. It was of course the poor snake rotting in the rafters someplace. Because they are from the jungles and very warm temperatures, and here it was the middle of winter. She must have, she must have moved in in January sometime, because I remember it being very cold and rainy when she first moved in and the boa constrictor disappearing in that weather.
SABIRA: What happened to the snake?
ZEINOB: The boa constrictor simply disappeared somewhere into the rafters and I guess died—but one day I came down into her room to peek at the boa constrictor, and said—her name was then Marsha—"Marsha, where is the boa constrictor?" Oh dear!
SABIRA: This is too much! She did mention that she remembers Murshid as being so loving to animals.
ZEINOB: Oh yes, he was—and the thing about the cat—if Nasim or any of the cats were sitting in his chair at the dining table, he would pull up another chair. He would let them sit on the full part of the chair, and he would sit on this much of a corner.
SABIRA: Nasim was Kolsoum's cat originally?
ZEINOB: Originally, right, right. Let's see, there are stories that I remember that Kolsoum has told me about Murshid; I think she's probably given you those.
SABIRA: Some of them may be the one about the boa constructor, and that was incredible. There is something that David scrawled in at the last part of his tape that I’ve never heard before, and just see if you have any opinion about it. Murshid had told him that God had directed him to stop certain agricultural experiments because the human race wasn’t ready to receive what he had discovered—and I never heard that mentioned before—does it ring a bell with you?
ZEINOB: It doesn’t ring a bell with me. He was such a full being that each one of us sort of got a part of his being, and he didn’t talk to me about agriculture. That would have been something that he spoken to David about. But I had the same feeling about him with us! His realization was so great that there was nobody to really let that fully out to—he just planted seeds in all of us, and as I said, yearly I understand more why he said certain thing to me, why he acted the way he did, why he felt the way he did. I understand from living at his madzubian state—it becomes much more of a reality to me. I felt that frustration sometimes, we were so really unprepared to receive the depth that he wanted to give out. I remember Shirin speaking about that and saying, "I know that there is more that he has to give," and being very concerned about the fact that David wasn't either getting his rent together or working and Murshid would have settled for either. If he had given him full time help, real work, he probably could have carried him financially, but anyway, she had to be called in to ask David to leave because Murshid couldn't take that kind of a dualistic standpoint with one of his mureeds.
SABIRA: And he was planting those seeds, and they just lay dormant then.
ZEINOB: They did, and they still are.
SABIRA: And now that you are needing them you are able to cultivate them, if that is the word to use for that. That is very interesting.
ZEINOB: I remember Pir Vilayat saying one time when he was at the Kumbha Mela in India—
SABIRA: Oh yeah, the one that comes every 12 years?
ZEINOB: Right—you'd walk down the street and you’d just catch the glance of somebody passing by you, and that glance might be worth more than ten years at the feet of another master, and that is the way I felt about Murshid. People's lives were changed if they maybe even only saw him for ten minutes.
SABIRA: Did he ever put you in any embarrassing situations?
ZEINOB: Oh very! I found it extremely embarrassing to have to sing at the top of our voices in restaurants with everybody turning around, and that was very embarrassing. He asked me one time to call my relatives when he found out that he used to be a gardener for one of my relatives, and he found out in Marin County—he found out who my relatives were, and he told me to call them up immediately. And they were relatives but people that I certainly hadn't seen since I was a little child; I had no intention of calling them up and I called and fortunately they were out of town!! He didn't insist that I repeat a call to them. But that put me in an embarrassing situation. He was just so free, as I said, and we weren't in that state yet. He was free and he was fearless, and was coming from such a place. I guess it was mostly in public that I would feel embarrassed. I remember also feeling very protective towards him when he would do his lectures at brother Juniper's cafe on Haight Street. I remember this one fellow one week who was standing up and arguing with him and saying that he was a charlatan and that he didn't know what he was talking about—boy I felt furious!! Because, as I said, his love for all of us was so great, unerring, and just brought out the same qualities, in us, towards him.
SABIRA: You felt protective of him as far as people coming to the house.
ZEINOB: Oh yes, but I felt just like standing up and saying to that fellow, "You don't know what you are talking about, this man is for real!!”
SABIRA: Yeah, but you didn't?
ZEINOB: No, and Murshid on the way home, he looked at me and he said, "Sometime when somebody does that to me you are going to stand right up and shout at them, aren't you?"
SABIRA: Talking about hearing what people were thinking.
ZEINOB: That's right. He knew that he could just see that on my countenance. That whole thing just had me very bugged.
SABIRA: Yeah, what about dreams and visions of Murshid after he died? How has he come—I know you said he was always with you and is always with you, but how did he manifest?
ZEINOB: Always before I have to make a major decision, before when Moineddin had suggested to me that I initiate mureeds, he said that he was sure it would be fine with Pir Vilayat; I was considering that whole thing as a question, Murshid appeared to me in vision in the dream state; and then before I was to buy what now is our Khankah, Murshid came to me in vision. Whenever I am at a point of decision in my life he always comes to me in vision so that I get a verification that I should go ahead in that direction. I used to receive, and still do, Darshan through pictures of him. Especially there are certain pictures of his in which the magnetism is so strong that it is like looking through a window, and talking to somebody on the other side. I hear him, in my head, he talks to me. Also the experiences at the Maqbara are tremendous. There one can hear him, see him, dance with him, the whole…
SABIRA: Do you have any specific ones that you'd care to relate? Or share with us?
ZEINOB: I remember the first time that I went to the Maqbara. I could see him and I could feel him standing, waiting for me as I walked up the hill, and I just burst into tears, because aside from that, until that experience, the only experience I'd ever had was a sort of Darshan experience through a picture where I'd sing Zikr for say maybe half an hour or 15 minutes, half an hour or an hour or something like that, then would open my eyes and look at his picture and receive that same glance of light that I spoke of in the beginning, and through that picture, there were times when I was really troubled, because I was pregnant and Murshid had died and my mother had died and I was feeling really deserted, and I needed to maintain that spiritual connection with Murshid. And up at the Maqbara I had long conversations with him—things that I took down as notes in my diaries—long conversations where he would give me instructions, we'd do practices together—no different than if he were sitting right here; the thing is I was looking through all these letters last night that I had written to Gary and to my mother both from his house. He was laughing at me saying, "Do you think you are going to find me in there?" And I agreed with him; it was like looking through this sort of musty closet when he is such a living reality.
SABIRA: I remember once you told me that you were going to Lama, and you said, "I am going to go see my papa!" I just melted, that was beautiful.
ZEINOB: Actually I'd far rather have this dedication on the tenth anyway because that leaves me free to maybe go to Lama right after the dedication and be there right at his birthday.
SABIRA: All right, yeah!
ZEINOB: Which I would really like to do. It's been a year since I've been there.
SABIRA: Would you like to sum up then? Your feelings about Murshid and his purpose in life? You've already said so much about what he meant to you, so—
ZEINOB: Murshid said that he was John the Baptist.
SABIRA: To you?
ZEINOB: No, not to me as an individual but to all of us. He simply said his role was John the Baptist. I think that is a pretty good way of describing it. What I said about him was: he was the initiator, he was the one who opened the door, he was constantly the servant of Inayat Khan. I feel that what his purpose is really can be seen in his disciples. His purpose and Hazrat Inayat Khan's are so linked that it is difficult for me to draw a real line between the two. The unity of religious ideals is the work of Inayat Khan and real brotherhood work, and Murshid carried on so much of this, brought it to fruition. The Sufi Order would not be what we know it today if it hadn't been for Murshid, really! At one of the first leaders' seminars that Pir Vilayat ever held, Fatima looked around the room and she said, "There are 80 people here," and she said something like, "All but six of you either were disciples of Murshid Sam's or took training with him. That can tell you something about his purpose as far as the Sufi Order goes.
SABIRA: So he really is your divine master?
ZEINOB: Oh, Yeah!
SABIRA: And you would turn to him for advice? Like do you use other sources for advice, like say Pir Vilayat.
ZEINOB: Of course, of course; for example, people say, "Do you follow this prophet or do you follow that prophet?" When you get into one of the prophets, they all lead to exactly the same place. It is like the feeling of Inayat Khan is one; the feeling of Murshid is another; the feeling of Pir Vilayat is another, and yet they are all saying the same thing. There's not really much distinction, I just made such a strong personal link; as I said, Murshid to me is my father, and as Joe Miller said to me one time, "You'll always owe him your life," and I do! And so there is a particular feeling about that. I am in my function, of course, serving Pir Vilayat, and serving Inayat Khan, and serving all three. My relationship to Pir is something very special; my relationship to Inayat Khan is something very special; and my relationship to Murshid is very special also.
SABIRA: It couldn't be said any better.
ZEINOB: At one of my visits to the Maqbara—I told you before about the talks that he and I would have, and I think it was the last time that I went there. I did a five day retreat up there, he told me that he refused to speak to me anymore because he and I were totally one being, and I would always act from unity with him, and he said that he refused to carry on a conversation anymore. I found that very interesting. Also at one of my times up at the Maqbara, it began to rain, and I was actually having an interview with him, and I said, "Please hold off the rain," and he stopped it. And as soon as the interview was over, I turned to leave the Maqbara and it began to pour. It's just so real when one communicates with somebody. It's so real, it can be no question in your mind, “Is this really happening or not?" I know that this is the way that Murshid experienced the prophets in all of his visions, and things that we’ve got a pretty good accounting on. It was just that real. That was the last thing he said to me since then. Sometimes he says things to me, but I felt that that was a very good overall attitude rather than my feeling reliant upon the Maqbara as a place or him as a person. And the other thing I noticed was that every year that I went there his being seemed more cosmic, let's see how can I say it? It seemed expanded. Every single year that I'd go it seemed more cosmic.
SABIRA: Was he perhaps saying that you didn't have to go to the Maqbara to find him, that he was everywhere?
ZEINOB: He was saying that he was inside of my being—sure, that there was no difference. In other words, he was saying, “We are in a state of fana, you are in a state of fana with me. Why do you come here and ask questions?" Talk about getting kicked out of the nest!
SABIRA: What better way?
SABIRA: We have one more story.
ZEINOB: When I was living at the house I had gone to San Luis Obispo to visit Gary, and on the way I had been in a very serious auto accident where I totaled my car, and had to take a bus back up from San Luis Obispo to here. I had broken my shoulder. I was in really a lot of pain. David knew that I was coming in on which Greyhound bus, but instead of meeting me there he wanted me to call him to come pick me up, and he and Wali Ali were both home and I kept calling from the Greyhound depot and the line kept being busy, and finally gave up at about 11 o'clock at night and decided to take a bus which I did. But the bus dropped me off about five blocks from here and as I was waiting for the city bus some young men had accosted me and I was in a really—feeling very unhappy, I was feeling miserable, and I finally got home and walked in and dropped these two bags that I had been carrying and went to bed finally about one or two in the morning. Murshid walked in my room the next morning at seven, and asked me how I was, and I said that I was in a lot of pain, but that I was alright.
SABIRA: You said you had a broken shoulder?
ZEINOB: Oh yes, I had a broken shoulder blade and I was not in a cast, but in a sling, to keep my shoulder in one place. They said that putting me in a cast wouldn't have been any help for that particular part up here, and Murshid said, "Can you stand up?" And I said, "Yes, I can stand up, I can get on my feet." And he said, "Then do so!" And that was it. So much for rest in bed and pampered care and all of that.
SABIRA: That's typical. That sounds like the story he told about Moineddin.
ZEINOB: Yeah, he didn't have time, he didn't allow you to be sick, he simply didn't have time for it. I remember one time starting to come down with a tremendous case of tonsillitis, I had such a sore throat I couldn't believe it and Saul brought over some tea to drink—horehound tea—and Murshid even joined me in drinking my medicine, and I got this tremendous heat going through my body and within an hour I was totally cured. So in this house, there just wasn't time for illness. There wasn't time for to even spend a couple of hours in bed.
SABIRA: He didn't give himself time to be sick.
ZEINOB: No, he didn't give himself time, and he didn't give us time either, so what happened to me was that I got up at seven in the morning after the accident, and I got all of my books together, and I took a bus to school carrying my drafting board and all of my drafting equipment—which is very heavy—and it was really hard with a broken shoulder blade. But I was on pain pills and everything, but we just had to keep functioning, there was no time to be sick!
SABIRA: Well alright!