Ramona Carrillo on Murshid Samuel L. Lewis—9/30/76
SABIRA: Would you be willing to tell me how you met Samuel Lewis? What you recall about meeting him, and when was that?
RAMONA: I am just trying to remember, he was 56 years old when I met him.
SABIRA: And he was born in 1896.
RAMONA: And he was going to the Davis College studying agriculture, he was going to become a gardener, I believe, and he had already had his initiation of a very well known disciple of Baba, and this was Princess Matchabelli.
SABIRA: So you would have met him in 1952?
RAMONA: Princess Matchabelli was a very brilliant, beautiful woman and Sam said she had given him a great deal of her spiritual enlightenment, and I believe that was one of the beginnings of his studies with various mysteries. Of course, we know that the Master Teacher and the great soul that Sam was had it within himself. He was very outgoing, as you know, and he always wanted to become involved meeting people. He then met the head of the Buddhists, Mr.—I think his name was Udell (?) He was a Buddhist Priest—I don't know if Sam had met him—but this Buddhist Priest had invited me to go to Palo Alto where Princess Matchabelli lived. I had the pleasure of meeting her and having dinner at her home, and hearing all about Baba. That was a sort of follow-through of what I'd already heard from Sam.
SABIRA: Was she connected with the perfume?
RAMONA: It was her husband—she gave up her fortune to follow Meher Baba who hadn't spoken a word in 25 years—I remember the first time that I had a sort of a real get together with Sam, I can't quite recall how it came about, or with whom I happened to be talking but at the time that I met him, within a couple of months after that—he was very much interested in folk-dancing, and he invited me on several occasions to go and watch him while he was studying his folk dancing. And that I think was one of the ways that he got involved in dancing, this was when he was 56 years old. It must have been at least 35 years ago—
SABIRA: Can you describe any of those early dancing classes?
RAMONA: He was very, very technical, although I don't really think that he was particularly graceful. However he did not miss a step.
SABIRA: Who was teaching the class?
RAMONA: It was some local women here that had been teaching folk-dancing at the time—I can't recall her name because it was so very, very long ago.
SABIRA: If she is still alive we might want to interview her.
RAMONA: But I'd have to remember her name though.
SABIRA: It couldn't have possibly been Magaña Baptiste?
RAMONA: Oh no, I know the two of them very well. Anyway, Baptiste became a Yogi and shaved his head, and went in for, more or less, meditation and so forth and so on.
SABIRA: You said you went to these classes with Sam?
RAMONA: Yes, and he was a very fine student, and I was amazed because as I say, he had rather short legs and he wasn't what you would call the Adonis type—in the body.
SABIRA: He was only 5' 1”.
RAMONA: And he would study every step and he never missed a step no matter whether he got out of the rhythm or not, those steps he learned! He did love to dance.
SABIRA: Of course later on that's what gave him the stamina, I guess, to teach Sufi dancing when he was 70 years old!.
RAMONA: How old was Sam when he died?
SABIRA: Do you remember what your first meeting was like?
RAMONA: I invited him to come down to my daughter's apartment at the time. She lived on O'Farrell, at the El Capitan Apts. and so we spent practically all day long talking about spiritual subjects. So then around 6 o'clock I said, "Let's go across the street." They had a little Spanish restaurant across the street—and have a little something to refresh ourselves, so we went over and we had some Spanish enchiladas or something like that, and then we came back and we sat in my daughter's room and I remember that Sam always sat with his legs crossed in the lotus posture on the couch.
SABIRA: That's the way he liked to sit.
RAMONA: Actually I felt he was a very intelligent and a very attentive person and a good listener. He wasn't egotistical, that means he didn't talk about himself much, and so that ended that meeting, and then on several other occasions when we met, we went to several other meetings. I forget exactly where those meetings were, but spiritual meetings of some nature or another—they had them all over S.F. years ago. Once we walked all through the park on the way back and the whole time he was telling me about the different chants, the very famous, Padme-ma, the Buddhist one.
SABIRA: Oh yeah, Om Mani Padme Hung?
RAMONA:Yes—Om Mani Padme Hung—what marvelous powers that had. He really had me sort of quite entranced with all the mystical developments that he had already acquired at his age. Then from time to time I saw Sam; every time he would write something he would come over and bring me a package of poems and chat, and then very often, when he would go abroad, he would come back and invite me to have dinner or meet him someplace. One time we went to Chinatown and had a lovely Chinese dinner, and another time we went to, I believe it was Mannings or someplace like that.
SABIRA: There is a Mannings.
RAMONA: And there is a Mannings now and there was back then. He sort of followed up the acquaintance by writing letters and bringing poetry.
SABIRA: Did he ask you to critique his poetry? Was that something that you did together?
RAMONA: No, I have read that "Let Us Dance," I believe he called it, that is the name that he had on the envelope that he brought, the Dance of Krishna so I always refer to it as "Let Us Dance," and I thought it was perfect. In fact I told him that I thought it was one of the best poems that I had ever read.
SABIRA: And this all seemed to develop after these dance classes.
RAMONA: Oh no, the dance classes were just the fundamental principles of dance steps. The dance itself must have developed after he got over here, when he started dancing out in the park.
SABIRA: We have this story that when he was very young—I don't know how old he must have been, but he must have been 34 or something like that—he was very ill and he had gone for a long retreat and he was just about ready to die and Khidr came to him or Elijah came to him in this vision, and the vision indicated that he would live and that he would have a choice of writing or dancing, add at that point he chose writing, and then later on the dancing came, so this all fits in with what you are saying.
RAMONA: Dancing and writing are synonymous, you have to have that inborn rhythm yourself to be a poet. We have to get in touch with the deep rhythmic breathing as the higher centers are developed through your deep breathing; also through love of solitude and love of beauty and your love of good—all of the beautiful things in life. Your aspirations, (let's put it that way) and that all goes in to make a real dancer. The motions on the outside are not the real meaning of the dance. It has inner coils of rhythm that go through the body—in circular motions—and come out through your arms and torso etc. I've written many articles on the dance because I've taught the dance myself.
SABIRA: Do you remember the last two lines of "Siva Siva?” It says, "'The watcher is the prayerful devote, but the dancer becomes Divine.”
RAMONA: The singer becomes the song, and the dancer becomes the dance—
SABIRA: Okay, and so after that what do you remember about Sam, after this time that you have been describing of going to the restaurants and taking walks.
RAMONA: I don't really go back to the point where I developed the whole theme as if it were a continuity. His father died and left him some money.
SABIRA: You're right. And that's how come he got to travel.
RAMONA: Yes, and then he told me that he had a terrible time with his brother. His brother didn't agree with him, and his brother called me up and told me that Samuel wouldn't have anything to do with his own mother.
SABIRA: It is a long, sad, ugly story, about his family. And Elliott would only see the negative, but that is just another whole story.
RAMONA: Right. But anyway the brother spoke to me. I don't know why he called me up and told me all about Samuel, what a time he had had with Samuel and so forth and of course, it went in one ear and out the other. I didn't pay any attention to it. I knew that as Christ said, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's." The material world is a world of its own.
SABIRA: Did you feel that you had to defend Sam when Elliott went off on his diatribe?
RAMONA: I never feel like defending anyone. If the thing does not, shall we say, strike home with me, why it just goes right off of the top of my head as if I had never even heard it. Are you that way?
SABIRA: I try to be, yes.
RAMONA: I get a faint recollection of it, and I say to myself, "I wonder why he said that?" or something like that. But petty gossip doesn't interest me, if we want to get that we can get it out of the papers, can't we?
SABIRA: So then at what point in time did you introduce Sam to Father Blighton? And tell me how you were connected with Father Blighton?
RAMONA: I happened to be giving a lecture at the Native Sons Hall—I believe it was the 5th floor, where the Spiritualists used to hold their Sunday night meetings. At that time there were quite a number of Spiritualists—so who was on the lecture platform with me but Earl Blighton. He started talking to me right on the rostrum. He was on one side in a long white robe, and I was on the other—I had on a blue robe of some kind, and he seemed to become very friendly with me and invited me to come to one of his meetings. At the time he was holding meetings at the St. Regent hotel, I believe that is on Sutter St.
SABIRA: He didn't have the Holy Order of Mans at that time, did he?
RAMONA: Oh yeah, he'd always had that from back East. Earl Blighton him gave me a beautiful book of all the poems that he had written and on the bottom it says, "Memoires of a Mystic.” After meeting Earl for several times, I took him out and I introduced him to a very dear friend of mine. She is a poet and also a person who believes in the Hindu philosophy. She has her Masters back in India; no doubt you have heard of "The Divine Life," and inherited quite a fortune, and she went to India. And she had come back from India and she was giving a soiree for a very dear friend of hers who was a mystic from England, Mrs.—what was her name? Oliver I think it was, so anyway, I thought, "Who would I take over to the soiree?" It was in the afternoon, it wasn't in the evening, but it was one of those things where you all sit around and incense was burning, and then the main person was there and then afterwards we had refreshments and so on and so forth—so I thought that Earl Blighton would be interested in that, so I invited Earl to go with me, and when he met Margery, why he took a liking to her, and about three months later they were married. And sometime after that I introduced him to Sam—I'd always kept in touch with Sam from time to time all through the years. And they hit it off beautifully because Sam had all of the knowledge of the mysticism and Earl Blighton, Reverend Earl Blighton had all of the know-how of organizing in a bit more materialistic way, of gathering things together. By the way, I got a lovely letter from a lady up in Reno, just a week ago, and she said that Earl Blighton had schools of learning that had gone all over the U.S.
SABIRA: Yes, that's true—The Holy Order of Mans are just all over.
RAMONA: He wanted me to travel and lecture with him, Earl did, but I didn't feel like I was going to leave home.
SABIRA: We have something about that rings a bell here that I remember—that Sam was trying to bring the culture of the East to the West, and Earl Blighton was trying to bring the culture of the West to the East.
RAMONA: Oh yeah, making the two unite—I think that that is what the whole thing is about—this has been going on, you might say, for the last fifty years to say the very least.
SABIRA: What do you know about their relationship—Earl Blighton's relationship with Sam—
RAMONA: Simply that they seemed to be very successful together, and Samuel always wrote me letters and told me how grateful he was that I had introduced him to Blighton.
SABIRA: Were you present at the lectures that Sam gave on the First Corinthians that have since been published in a book?
RAMONA: No, I listened to some of the lectures that he gave out there on Fulton at the Asian Studies Institute—
SABIRA: These lectures that he gave at the Holy Order of Mans were printed in a book called This is the New Age in Person, and that is out of print, but now it is going to be reprinted.
RAMONA: It's out of print?
SABIRA: Yeah, but the Holy Order of Mans is going to do the next editing of it, and it will be just slightly changed, I guess, but it will be coming out pretty soon.
RAMONA: Margery Avery the poetess married Earl Blighton; I was at their wedding, in fact I did a poem for the two of them. Little did I dream that they would only stay together three months. Then later he married the secretary that he had before.
SABIRA: Is that the one known as Mother Blighton.
SABIRA: We wrote her for an interview and she sent us a nice letter, told us what she remembered, but I don't know how she is. In fact I don't even know her, but at least we got that information from her.
RAMONA: The last time I heard from Samuel happened to be—he had invited me over here, they were going to have a big party of some kind, refreshments, and they were going out into the park and dance, and walk and so on. And I couldn't make it, but I got a very sad letter of disappointment. He always referred to himself as "We."
SABIRA: Do you have that letter?
RAMONA: I may have it someplace, it may be right here. I'd have to go through and look—
SABIRA: When was that then?
RAMONA: That must have been about a year before he died. I was surprised to hear that he had had that tragic incident of falling down the stairs.
SABIRA: Yeah, he fell down the stairs in this house, nobody really knows just what the reason was, but it was fairly early in the morning; some people feel that he might have had a shower and turned the heat up or down or something, but when he fell he had no clothes on at all and nobody knows because he didn't regain consciousness.
RAMONA: Someone told me that he had high blood pressure. And that he may have taken a hot shower or hot bath.
SABIRA: That is one of the theories on it—and also that he had had this rash and had taken some medication for that who knows? It just—it happened. Nobody really knows.
RAMONA: Actually what plane do you feel that he has gone to now? Do you have any idea?
SABIRA: No, I just know that part of the reason he was alive, at least according to our feeling, is that it was to do work in the inner planes. And yet at the same time he is always present, like you are picking him up here—
RAMONA: I didn't say I was picking him up; I felt a very high psychic force—I felt it at the back of my head—
SABIRA: There probably is—in this room—
RAMONA: It's like, if I wanted to pick him up I could.
SABIRA: Do you have any reason for asking that question? Do you have any idea what plane he is on?
RAMONA: Yes, I see him very clearly surrounded by a white halo, and he says to me—very quietly—"I was the reason for your coming over here." He says, "You still can use this." And he says, "You can't tell them all the things that you know in one sitting. I will inspire you to give out the knowledge as it should be given." That comes through very, very directly. You can listen to this whether you believe it or not, but this is what I get psychically. He says that the people on the other planes are looking for a nucleus in which to bring about knowledge in order to bring about this knowledge in order to avert further trouble in the world that is gradually gathering. He says, "I am not here because I fell down, I am here because I was supposed to go."
SABIRA: Isn't that interesting?
RAMONA: He says, "Keep your senses about you and realize that I'd walked down those stairs and gone up those stairs and looked down those stairs hundreds of times; that particular time had meaning to it." Do you get the light, do you get the point?
SABIRA: I certainly do, but that is very interesting because there is another person who works in the psychic field who picked up that he had the choice whether to leave or not, and that he chose to leave at the time after he had fallen.
RAMONA: Now he has said to me, "It's going to take a great deal of energy, to accumulate the knowledge that will be the knowledge that is coming through so that it will be presented, so that it will hit the target." The knowledge of these incidents in his life are, shall we say, the beginnings of a book, and then what comes in from him on the psychic plane will go into depth and will have a greater power to it than just being factional data.
SABIRA: I'm sure that when Wali Ali writes it it will be with that kind of depth to it.
RAMONA: Oh yes, he says that he is universal now. I said, "Are you well there Sam?" He says, "There are many people who pass on, and it takes them a long time before they get back to the consciousness of perfect health. As a spiritual being they take over. You don't just wake up in the next world and find out that if you've been a mass of pains and aches all your life, and didn't know how to get rid of them. You are not going to wake right up and find out that you are just a beautiful, blooming flower." He says, "I am not only 'well,' I am universal now." "What does that mean?" He says that "Universal is the key word to all mystics." Do you know what that meant?
SABIRA: What do you think he meant?
RAMONA: Universal is the cosmic consciousness of the entire, shall we say, spiritual life. All life is spiritual, but until you become consciously universally minded, you think of yourself as living, let us say, on Precita Avenue and you are Sabira and so forth and so on. When you are universal you become one with everyone.
SABIRA: That is the whole point of the Message of Universal Peace—the Unity of Religious Ideals that Inayat Khan has given to us.
RAMONA: He says, "You are a very high-minded person but you haven't become universal yet."
SABIRA: I know that.
RAMONA: He is terribly frank.
SABIRA: Meaning you or me?
SABIRA: Oh I know that!
RAMONA: I haven't asked him about myself. Yes, he's leaving now, he says, "I'm leaving now, I have other things to do." He's not going on. A little of the coming to the point of spiritual awareness is like condensed energy would be compared to just floating around in the ethers—but condensed energy is a focusing for a vortex of energy that can flow right through you and when that comes through you’ve got that much, you don’t need any more, (for the time being,) because you can expand that into days and days of, you could say, revelations and inspirations, when Sam says that you are a “high-minded” person but “you aren’t universal yet,” it means that you are very good for just what you are doing.
SABIRA: That's good, but I don't really know what I'm doing—
RAMONA: You are functioning in a plane—but it is important—if everybody was expanded into the oneness of the universe there wouldn't be anything done here. You would still be on the earth plane but you wouldn't get anything done, you would simply be part of everything and you wouldn't need to do anything, would you?
SABIRA: Not very much—
RAMONA: f you only knew, I never get this so powerful—
SABIRA: That was very, very valuable—
RAMONA: It's just like a you see my work with Dr. Ostoja; most of this work was the developing of my chakras and my breathing. I guess that is why I am alive at this age—I have three children and two grandchildren.
Let me see, this is the poem that was written at the passing of Samuel Lewis; it was published in February 1971. What day did he pass on?
SABIRA: January 15, 1971. So this was written very soon after that then.
RAMONA: And the title of it is: "The Rejected Avatar—1897-1971,"
In Memoriam of Samuel Lewis—by Ramona Carrillo
The mystic bears no title, Dr., Saint or Seer,
In life, in death, the mystic has no peer.
On the altar of love, his heart song bleeds,
Each ruby drop the pulse of jeweled deeds.
The mystic's soul by time not slain,
Though the form of flesh entombed remains.
The living presence that danced in chanting praise,
And Krishna verse, excels the aura of dawn's first rays.
Sufi, Buddhist monk, poet, all these—
Yet Samuel was a child in the joy of rhythmic dance and beauty,
He made all wisdom but a daily duty.
Arisen, a greater light illumines now,
And so did the heavens, this little man, with a living flame endow.
And then this was followed through by a beautiful article by Rev. Raymond Broshears. Would you like me to read it quickly?
SABIRA: If you can just—part of it, for the tape yes.
RAMONA: I will. He says, “Which of the petty kings of earth boasts a God like yours, enriched from your second birth with all the heavenly powers? Daniel Webster once wrote 'Heaven's gates are not so highly arched as Princes' palaces. They who enter there must go upon beaded knees.'" And he says, "Do not feel that Samuel Lewis—a small man physically—went through the Gates on his knees. Not that Dr. Sam was too haughty, nay, not that at all. I feel that the Gates widened and raised so that God's happy holy man could go in as he left the earth—dancing and twirling, free, free as the breeze. Yes, the man of the Dervishes dances left us many happy memories of the joyous moments he had shared with us here on earth. He was truly God's happy holy man. Dr. Sam left the earth's shores to voyage out into eternity January 15. Such a loss to physically, but it is not a real loss, because each person he came in touch with a bit richer for having met and danced with Dr. Sam, God's happy holy man."
SABIRA: Father Blighton used to call him Dr. Sam. This person was with the Holy order of Mans also?
RAMONA: No—because he was the one that wrote the script. And here he said, "India, Egypt, Pakistan, Switzerland—Dr. Sam has been everywhere in his 74 years on earth. The Sufi sect of which he was the leader conducts classes in whirling dervish dancing, a specialty of Sufi worship in the belief that you could whirl and dance your way into ecstasy, and are accompanied by chanting in the Name of God in an Oriental language favored by the dancer. Dr. Sam was considered, by his followers, to be a saint. He, being born in San Francisco of the Jacob Lewis family, which was associated with the famous Levi-Strauss Company, and brought up in the Jewish faith, Dr. Sam found Christianity to be of great interest, and in his later years converted to Christianity, ofttimes saying, 'there is not really much difference between religions in the world.' Dr. Sam later was consecrated in the Buddhist sect where he became Zen Master. The unquenchable search for knowledge then led him into Sufism where he found complete happiness, and after having been consecrated into the Sufis he returned to his beloved San Francisco where he, without trying, built up a rather large following of Sufi devotees. I had first met Dr. Sam in the little office at 1005 Market St. where he was teaching Christianity back in '66, and I followed his career by contact with his personal friend of many years standing, the Reverend Ramona Carrillo.”
SABIRA: Is this person still alive who wrote this article?
RAMONA: Yes. His name is Reverend Raymond Broshears—truly he was a remarkable person. He most certainly had influence on my life and I know that I am the richer for it. Dr. Sam will be interred at the Lama St. near Taos, new Mexico and a shrine is being built there by the Lama Foundation. The many people who live near Taos revere Sammy as a saint indeed. I personally never think of people as being Saints. To me it sort of smacks of the fundamentalism. Don't you think?
SABIRA: It depends upon how you look at it.
RAMONA: I was brought up and raised in a convent, and we had Saint this and Saint that, and Saint the other thing. I don't think that anybody knows who is really a saint. We may be great spiritual leaders, but the greatest saints are the ones that have the most humility.
SABIRA: Maybe that's why they thought of him as a Saint.
RAMONA: Did he have a great deal of humility?
SABIRA: He renounced, he gave up everything, so his life was just what we call Fana, this surrender to God, this surrendering to whatever it was that he was supposed to do or his purpose in life. Do you have any ideas about what his purpose in life was? What is your opinion?
RAMONA: Let me put it this way—what was the purpose in life of Walt Whitman, what was the purpose in life of Wadsworth, what was the purpose in life of all the great poets—William Blake for instance, the great mystic? And what was the name of that very famous Hindu poem/poet—that wrote the short, short verses, and he had an ashram in India—Rabindranath Tagore—I considered him one of the greatest thinkers that the world has known. But anyway, the meaning of any great soul that has been given talents like Samuel was given, and as I say, like the great beings: Tagore, William Blake, Whitman, Wadsworth, Shakespeare—what was theirs, in one little life you cannot express, and I believe his was to express the Divine within him.
SABIRA: That's very well put, that's very close to what we feel.
RAMONA: And when you express that, you feel sorry that you are so limited on this plane of existence; after all, we are beings of, shall we say, a physical form, and we have our five senses, and we have our physical bodies—which in a way are a limitation to the expansion of this vast universality which all great poets—they bring it through, and as they bring these magnificent dreams of reality or truths of reality through, they, in their body feel trapped because it is such a vast thing and how to how to express this vastness when you are so limited, shall we say, here on this earth.
SABIRA: Sam was able to express it. When you read your "Jerusalem Trilogy" you'll see…
RAMONA: On the other hand you mentioned that you said that he tried so hard to be known and to be recognized, which he did, but still I think the fact that he mentioned these things and spoke about them, that was only, shall we say, the three-dimensional being talking, but beyond that, there are many worlds to conquer, and he is conquering another world now. And after he had conquered that world, he is going to conquer another and on and on and on, there is no ending, is there, of the human souls ability to progress.
SABIRA: The Buddhists say, "Gate., Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhisvaha," which means you go on and on and on and on which is all part of the plan. Until we are perfected we can't live with God—that is our feeling anyway.
RAMONA: I think he was very happy when he founded this center and he went over dancing in Sausalito, and he had many disciples here, and he was surrounded by all the things that he loved—they fulfilled his life. Don't you think he did?
SABIRA: Oh definitely.
… [End of side one, reel one]
RAMONA: He thought he changed. As you say, he got away from the worldliness and he just gave up everything to his spiritual understanding, didn't he? After he grew the beard and he wore the robes and all that, before that he dressed just like everybody else.
SABIRA: Were you disappointed that he didn't see as much of you then as he did before?
RAMONA: No, because I had my center up at the Russian River, and I had so many irons on the fire myself that I was happy to know that I was able to get him in touch with Earl Blighton and then how he kind of got started in a more or less composite way, so to speak things began to really work for him.
SABIRA: When was the last time that you saw him alive?
RAMONA: The last time I saw him alive was the night that he went over to the meeting at the home of a friend, who was holding a meeting for Earl Blighton. And Samuel and Earl and quite a few other people who had been at this gathering were invited to go over to this gentleman's house. This gentleman was a very, very pleasant young man; I don't recall his name. Anyway, Samuel was very charming that night. He had lectured at Earl's and we all went over there and Sam did his very, very famous—what is it, a sort of a flute out—you've heard it?
SABIRA: Oh yes, the Flute of Krishna—
RAMONA: Yes, the Flute of Krishna—we had a very nice evening; That was the last time that I saw him in the physical form.
SABIRA: When was this?
RAMONA: This as when he was with Earl Blighton and they were working together.
SABIRA: It would have had to have been somewhere before 1968.
RAMONA: Yes, and he had already had a place in Novato?
SABIRA: Yes, it was called The Khankah.
RAMONA: Yes, and I invited him and I said, "Why don't you come over and have lunch some day," and he said, "I am always surrounded by my disciples,” so I decided that that was that. And of course the last time that he gave this big party, it was just about a year before he died.
SABIRA: That's the one you couldn't get to?
SABIRA: I remember you talking about that—
RAMONA: And it is the funniest thing, I was a Nutrilite representative and Nutrilite was right down the block here on Precita, and I came over here for years, off and on, to pick up my vitamins and minerals and creams and things of that nature. So this particular little place in here always seemed to be so closely associated—it is such a lovely little house, isn't it?
SABIRA: It's very nice.
RAMONA: Do you live here?
SABIRA: No, I live a block away from here—
RAMONA: Oh you don't live here?
SABIRA: No. Wali Ali lives here with his wife and their three children—
RAMONA: Yes, did I ever tell you that Samuel had when he was in—I believe it was in India—a meeting with some Sufi priests there, that he said that they told him to get married and he did meet a girl over there that he was engaged to.
SABIRA: Really! Do you know her name?
RAMONA: It came out, it was in the letter.
SABIRA: I didn't read it that closely.
RAMONA: He told me all about it, and how they were corresponding with each other when he got back. Because the Sufis feels that you first have to have the experience of being a married man, I suppose.
SABIRA: Did he ever talk to you about that, because all the indications that we have was that he never had a sexual experience with a woman.
RAMONA: I don't know, but this was just a courting affair, he met her and that was all.
SABIRA: But you don't have any information as to whether he ever had a sexual relationship?
RAMONA: No, I don't think that he did, because in the first place those Cantos that he wrote to me were purely spiritual.
SABIRA: He seemed to be above that.
RAMONA: I'll tell you one thing—when you have developed the area—some people are brought here with it, and others develop it here—when you have developed the various centers in the spinal column, your energy is like a barometer—it is flowing upward and as it flows upward you can keep it upward if that is what you are—like an inspirational person has this vital force flowing upward and it is even more fulfilling than any sex arrangement could be, because it is the same energy, only it is transmuting that on to a finer force. It is like the difference between a hot red flame and a white flame, and this energy is that. Of course he understood that through the dancing. And the dance itself is one of the means of bringing this Kundalini force up through the spinal column. In fact when I was studying ballet for six years; it opened up my mind so that I would tell people exactly where they were going and exactly what they were going to do and everything else, and I didn't even make the slightest effort because through all this motion and exercise you are using the spinal column. And then when I studied with Dr. Astoya, he told us how to develop the breathing of the throat—one of the great glands for restoring the youth to the body. In meditation he used to say that, "Silence is love and God is love.” Dr. Astoya told us that it is unusual for a man. It is easier for a woman, because a woman is more emotional, her emotions are more or less in her solar plexus, so to speak, and in her heart, as a rule, don't you think so that women are a little more emotional? I'm not speaking of the modern trend and what you hear about now, although I still think in a manner of speaking, I still think that the woman will always be, regardless of what happens, whether you change the mores in life, women will always be, more or less, on the emotional plane.
SABIRA: Did Sam ever talk to you about his work with breath?
RAMONA: I assumed that if he had all this spiritual knowledge like his poetry, he must have, because he wouldn't have been able to write without the pure breath of sprit.
SABIRA: No, but did he talk with you about any of these things?
RAMONA: I don't recall, I know that he studied all the different yogi systems, I think it was just natural for him.
SABIRA: Some of the major work that he left us is with the breath and with the astrological walks, and by discovering what our particular walk is, for instance, and what breath goes with it, and then learning how to use these breaths in everyday life. He really did remarkable work.
RAMONA: Yes, and you can use your breath even when you are cooking.
SABIRA: Oh, constantly.
RAMONA: I'm constantly telling my son that—he walks one way, and I say that I am walking in the rhythm of my own breath; I said that the thing I teach is for each person to befriend their rhythm.
SABIRA: That is the same thing that Sam is giving us and we are constantly learning about ourselves by understanding what our own breath is doing—it is perfectly beautiful.
RAMONA: Yes, and you have all of his writings on this?
SABIRA: His writings on this and we study them, and Wali Ali is one of the teachers—Moineddin and some of the others also, and this is constantly being presented in a series of lessons that we have, and they teach us how to use it in everyday life. Instead of it just being theory or premise we experience it as it is happening. And we learn about ourselves that way, and all of this developed through what Samuel Lewis has left us.
RAMONA: A friend of mine once said apropos to this subject to me—because I had always been interested in breath on account of studying the dance, you couldn't dance at all if you didn't have a powerful diaphragm—and he was obviously introducing me by the way when he lectured—his name was Arian Kelton, he was a very fine, lecturer. He said, "What would you say if I gave you just two minutes to tell me what you would say about breath? I said, "I would say one thing, and that would be, “To get the awareness of breath." If you don't have the awareness of a thing you can be aware of the breath every minute of your life but without actually thinking about it, so awareness isn't really a matter of thinking. It is a matter of becoming a thing. You said, "The dancer becomes the dance," and the singer becomes the song.
SABIRA: That is what Earl did, is that he would become aware of what it was that he was experiencing and this was the whole thing that he based his work on, and that is what the Sufi dances were. So that when we do these Sufi dances, we do a sacred Name of God, we eventually are able, through the grace of God, to become that quality. For instance if you are saying Ya Jamil which means God is beautiful—we are given a way to experience within our own selves what that beauty is, or anything that we would no. And we have these walks of Murshid Sam and if we are doing a walk, we call it Tasawwuri, if we are doing a walk of Murshid Sam, we are actually experiencing at that moment what it would be like to be in his shoes, so to speak. It is wonderful. And you do really become that being, Jesus or Mohammed or Buddha or Samuel, anybody—and you become that being by learning how to—
RAMONA: Yes, you are universal, you are finding it out there is only one Source.
SABIRA: They are all the same, so it is all a very interesting process.
RAMONA: I am so glad to hear that because I had never seen Sam dance—and it must have been quite a beautiful thing the way he danced.
SABIRA: Did you see Sunseed, the movie?
SABIRA: There was this whole movie done about all the different gurus and he is featured in it—and it has been out for several years, and it probably will come back. It is available to be rented but if you ever see it anywhere be sure to go and see it because it features Samuel Lewis. The Laughing Man institute showed it one time and it was shown at the Palace of Fine Arts another time—I don't know just right now where it would be shown. I can give you a place to call to find out where it would be.
Can you think of anything else you’d like to say about Sam before we close? Impressions, feelings—oh I know what I've forgotten to ask you—before we do that, a couple of things. One, do you remember any anecdotes or funny stories or humorous incidents that might have occurred during the time that you knew him?
RAMONA: I remember that he was very much interested in Ginsberg the poet. He used attend his various meetings that he had over there on Ashbury St. when, who was that famous astrologer?
SABIRA: Gavin Arthur?
RAMONA: Yes, and again he was a great friend of Gavin Arthur's, and Gavin Arthur was quite a friend of mine, and I know that Sam used to go over there at Gavin's when they had things and meetings and Ginsburg would recite his poetry, absolutely nude while he recited.
SABIRA: Did you go to any of those?
SABIRA: Did Sam—I know you could reach him just sitting here—has Sam come to you in dreams and visions other than this?
RAMONA: No, I picked up the vibration up here. I feel that he is probably one of the most intelligent people that I have ever met in my whole life; that is one of my impressions of him, and yet he was a very opinionated person. He had his own opinions; he doesn't want to be contradicted in anyway shape or form.
SABIRA: Gavin Arthur used to tell the story—they used to live next door to one another—how he would knock on the wall when he wanted some information, and Sam would know it, and he called him a "walking encyclopedia" or words to that effect. That's what he felt about him.
RAMONA: I met Gavin Arthur years ago when he was selling newspapers down on Kearney St. You knew that didn't you?
RAMONA: Oh, It was in Herb Caen’s column all the time. He was the grandson of Chester A. Arthur. But Gavin was very much interested in spiritualism. He used to go to Florence Beckers all the time.
SABIRA: To where?
RAMONA: Florence Beckers, she is on Clay and Franklin; she is the most, shall we say, erudite spiritualist. She had everyone of the arts: clairvoyance, clairaudience, trans medium, she could just pick up a letter that you had written and hold it in her hand without even opening it and tell you everything that was in it. I
SABIRA: I wonder if Sam knew this lady?
RAMONA: I should imagine that he went there. He was more interested, I believe, in the Sufi knowledge. And he was a great writer of course, and evolving, helping other people to come together. His object, he often told me, he said, "It is the young people that are going to benefit by his knowledge."
SABIRA: In 1967 or '66, when he was hospitalized, he received the vision that his work was to go to the "hippies" of San Francisco and this is where his work would be recognized, and that is what he did. And that is how it all began. It began with no disciples, and then two disciples, then he would take walks in the Haight/Ashbury district around 1967/68 and gradually more and more and more people came to him, and then eventually the dances evolved out of that, and it is a marvelous story, that up to that time he didn't really have any disciples. He had two young men who would come and listen to him and he would teach them and they would learn with him but later on it snowballed.
So do you have anything more to say to sum up?
RAMONA: I can't sum anything up; there is just sort of a thing, as Sam said, "This is something that will take a great deal of energy, to make the meaning of all of these words, so to speak, that have been gathered together, that will give them the energy to hit the target."
SABIRA: This is happening with Wali Ali. I've seen Wali Ali being guided, and I have heard him say that Sam has said a certain thing to him, and he acts on that, and it is coming through him all the time, and through some of the older disciples as with Moineddin and with Wali Ali. Sam is just there inside of them or wherever, and they can draw on it—like you did today. Draw on this energy.
RAMONA: Do you often light candles?
RAMONA: Yes, because I could see the circles of light like a flame, like a candle, but the universal spirit is not the ego, the universal spirit is the life or the spiritual energy, the holy spirit that permeates all time and all space and it conducts the mental impressions that come through like radio going through the ionosphere, so that the person, the spiritual being that has gone on, doesn't necessarily have to bring themselves right into the room, although on rare occasions they will—but the life force of the forces of energy that are being sent through, the atmosphere, and right through the vibrations that come through, are not necessarily the person themselves. They can be just like a radio—
SABIRA: Oh yeah, it's like being a battery, I know what you are saying.
RAMONA: But if a person was attuned, shall we say, to the universality, and spiritual awareness, they can't help but, pick up—
SABIRA: That person is used as a vehicle, that is another way to put it.
RAMONA: You are, you are an instrument too, although you may not be getting the vibrations through your centers, but still, and all at the same time you are absorbing them in another form. It is like if you were in the water and you were swimming in the ocean, you would be absorbing a certain amount of the minerals, wouldn't you?
SABIRA: I'm not at a point where I am ready to absorb them.
RAMONA: You never can stay put once you got going this. It is a gradual momentum and it keeps on going, you can't get away from it. They say that once you are saved you never can be unsaved. That’s wonderful. A woman said to me once sitting next to me at Billy Graham's when I went out to the Cow place. She looked at me and she said, “Have you been saved?” I said, “Have you?” And she said, “Yes.” And I said, “Why did you ask me?” She said, “I wanted to know.” I said, “I never got lost!”
SABIRA: That’s great.