David Hoffmaster: interview, November 20, 1975
DAVID: I met Murshid first in 1965 as part of a bunch of weirdo guys who hung out at City College, San Francisco where I was a horticulture student. And he kind of came and pulled weeds—that basically, is all he did.
WALI ALI: He used to come over to the department and pull weeds, and there were other weirdo guys who came over there too?
DAVID: Yes, that was a strange life.
WALI ALI: They were helpers, or students, or he was, was he both or what?
DAVID: They were retired guys; they'd been into horticulture all their life, and one of the other men was the head nurseryman for the Presidio. When they closed down that nursery, he was out of a job, so he came down. These were people who dug plants more than they dug people, so this was a good place for them to hang out.
WALI ALI: None of these people were on salary?
DAVID: No. No one was on salary; every once in a while they'd take a class, but they just came out more to help out than anything else and supply advice etc. Murshid and I hit it off right away; we kind of formed a friendship, and I found out that I could use him for anything. He seemed to have endless knowledge. I could come up and talk with him about anything. And we'd be talking—much later he admitted that he'd worked on me for quite awhile to get me under initiation, and he introduced me to 3 or 4 teachers—I don't think he really cared who I was under, so long as I was on the path.
WALI ALI: Who did he introduce you to?
DAVID: Father Paul; I met Father Paul before the Holy Order of Mans was even a conception. Father Paul had 3 disciples at the time I met him. Joe Miller came around and I met him—gads, who were some of the other people?
WALI ALI: Are you still now talking around ‘65-'66?
DAVID: Yes, I started school in September ‘65 and that's when I first got introduced to him, so it probably would have been ‘66 before anything happened. The only thing I knew was that he was this strange guy, because when I tell people that all I knew him as was serious, people kind of look at me strange. But that's the side he manifested at school, it was seriousness. He went there and he pulled weeds; and he didn't do all that much joking. He was always a cynic, I think—I don't know ever when he wasn't a cynic.
WALI ALI: Can you give me an example of what you mean?
DAVID: An example of his cynicism, that's hard to do.
WALI ALI: I have to warn you; I'm out for examples.
DAVID: I understand—he always seemed to have complaints—something wasn't right here, something wasn't right there, somebody else wasn't doing what they were supposed to do. Granted, he had every right to be in that frame of reference, because he had been rejected for so long and at the time I first met him he hadn't yet received instruction to really go out and be what you might call a Guru for the masses.
WALI ALI: Had he taken any disciples at that time?
DAVID: At that point, yes, there was Saadia.
WALI ALI: Aside from Saadia, whom I understand. He took a couple in Pakistan.
DAVID: Right, that was one of his first. Akbar, I think, was with Murshid then.
WALI ALI: In ‘65?
DAVID: Right. And there was another guy…
WALI ALI: Clark Brown?
DAVID: Yes, but Clark was before; Clark introduced Akbar.
WALI ALI: Yes, I know that. Howard Mussell, was he a disciple of Murshid's at that point? I never met him, as far as I know.
DAVID: He may have been; I don't know really that Howard was ever a disciple of Murshids. Howard was more like—you've met him—I'm sure you've met him.
WALI ALI: I have?
DAVID: Yeah. Nobody seems to recall him. He was like the last of the Broadway beatniks, the last of the North Beach beatniks, and it was really a sad case.
WALI ALI: What was the fellow's name who introduced Moineddin to Murshid? Kent? Or no, I can't recall.
DAVID: I think that was at one of Steve Gaskin's parties.
WALI ALI: No, it was somebody—I can find out from him. In other words what you're saying is that he hadn't basically begun to function in that way.
DAVID: Right. He hadn't received that instruction yet, he was working more towards Food Programs for the Far East—that's really the only thing I remember.
WALI ALI: You said he was out there pulling weeds—was he doing any other kind of work with tomatoes or anything?
DAVID: He was doing absolutely no experimentation work at all. He was coming out there to help because we were short. The department in those days was in trouble because enrollment in gardening hadn't picked up, it was still manual labor, and people were out for fancy sounding degrees and stuff. So you really had to be dedicated to want to get into it. And they were talking about closing the department down or cutting some classes. And he'd come out and pull weeds out in the nursery just because there weren't enough people around to keep up with it. All of his experimentation work happened long before I knew him. It would be my guess—he was working for the Highway Department—what, in the fifties?
WALI ALI: I think so.
DAVID: I think it was, and his experimentation work happened prior to that.
WALI ALI: He was originally interested in ornamentals, I believe, and then he later got interested in food production.
DAVID: Right, after he visited the Near East, or the East, in general, and he saw the famine that was happening back there, and saw the misuse of the land—that's when he really became concerned about the food problem, because he saw a solution to it. Really, he was always in for the practical; if it was so-called metaphysical, he was against it. If he couldn't apply it, why have it? And he would tell me things like: they would use artichokes in Pakistan for ornamentals and they would refuse to eat them, and here they were starving. They were growing food in their flower-beds and they just wouldn't touch them. In the Arab countries he said there are race-tracks that they have, and they are used once or twice a year. He said the whole field is cleared of everything, and he said it's used once a year for a week. There is no reason why the center of it couldn't be used for agricultural purposes to solve food problems in really simple ways, just, getting people to…
WALI ALI: Take advantage of what resources are right there.
DAVID: Right. He never talked to me about—he hinted at it—it just kind of titillated my imagination about the research he had done in fertilizers and tomatoes; and stuff like that. But what he told me was the practical, like growing coconuts in spots that have extremely saline soil, particularly down in the Colorado Valley, Colo. River Valley down in Southern California wherever it dumps out. The whole basin area down through there is extremely saline and coconuts have to have salt in order to grow, another place that the food problem could be alleviated by using the land as it is meant to be used, and not trying to change it and do something else with it. There is land that you can do that with, but there is also land that can be extremely productive, that is beyond, economic possibility to change it and grow what you want on it. Silent Spring and what Rachel Carson had to say about insecticides he also disagreed with. He maintained that the proper use of insecticides was necessary to agriculture.
WALI ALI: Did he ever mention at that time when he was working out there that he was a spiritual teacher?
DAVID: No, he didn't. As a matter of fact, that was part of what he was doing with me. He would invite me to parties, and he invited me to parties for a year and a half before I finally came to one. It seemed like every two months he had some reason for a party, so I passed up a lot of parties.
SITARA: At his house?
DAVID: At various places, all over the city. He was into food too.
WALI ALI: Restaurants….
DAVID: Yes, restaurants—what's the name of that guy that has the store up on Waverly place?
WALI ALI: On Waverley place?
WALI ALI: I can't place where Waverly Place is.
DAVID: That's where the Dragon Temple is and where—
WALI ALI: Oh yeah, To-Lun was there—
DAVID: To-Lun, right, but there was another guy on down—
WALI ALI: Right, the art store, yeah, I know—Ching Wah Lee.
DAVID: He used to have dinners there; Ching Wah Lee would close up his place and bring out the tables and we'd have Chinese dinner.
WALI ALI: Oh really, right there in the shop?
DAVID: Right, this again was before he was taking on disciples. He had a birthday party there.
WALI ALI: At Ching Wah Lee's? Not at Ye Jungs? I know he had a birthday party at Ye Jungs.
DAVID: Yeah, I was at that one. That was a feast.
WALI ALI: That was when, in ‘67 or something like that?
WALI ALI: He went to Ye Jungs a number of times.
DAVID: That's when he had that corner booth and had everyone else stuck in there.
WALI ALI: But this was before that, at Ching Wah Lee’s?
WALI ALI: And you were there for that?
DAVID: No, I tried, he gave me the address and I went down there and managed to find Waverly Place but the address wasn't around.
WALI ALI: So you wouldn't know who would have been present?
DAVID: He told me who was there: Vera was there, Vocha was there, Joe Miller was there—those are the only names I remember. Guin would have been there too, those two go together.
WALI ALI: And was Harry Nelson with the group that was there; when you were at S.F. State?
WALI ALI: He was the head of the department and was he on the scene every day?
DAVID: He was always there.
WALI ALI: What was his relationship with Sam like?
DAVID: I don't think love would be too strong of a word to say of the feelings that Harry had for him. He didn't understand him; he thought he was kind of a strange old guy that was always pulling off something. He would tell me that, like when Murshid went to the East that he was still receiving postcards from various people from colleges all over India and Pakistan and Asia in general because Murshid went back there and gave his name out, quite freely, I guess.
WALI ALI: Yeah, I'm sure he did, because a lot of what he was doing over there was contacting people that had to do with agriculture in some way. Harry Nelson mentioned one visit with Murshid and Murshid’s mother. The strongest impression Nelson got was how totally she dominated him and how Murshid displayed no ill feelings towards her.
DAVID: Right, he said he was still—and this was in ‘68 or ‘67 something like that.
WALI ALI: So how long did this period last when he was just going out there and working?
DAVID: Up until, let's see, I guess towards the end of ’67; then he was getting too busy, because, when was it? Was it late ‘65 or ‘66, I can't remember when he got laid out in the hospital?
WALI ALI: I can look that up.
DAVID: That's when he received instruction, as he put it, to become the "Guru of the Hippies." After-that, things started falling into place—he received the transmission so students started coming to him, and he didn't have much of a choice about the subject. He didn't take—
WALI ALI: Can you remember some of the names of the people from that early period that you happen to remember and may or may not be in touch with? We mentioned Clark Brown and Howard Mussell and Akbar.
DAVID: Let's see, who else might there be? Nancy…
WALI ALI: Nancy Fish.
DAVID: And that whole crowd who was out there at the Ranch.
WALI ALI: The crowed out at the Ranch, yeah.
WALI ALI: Was the Ranch around in ‘66?
DAVID: No, that was much later. Nancy was there, who else was out there? Debbie would know.
WALI ALI: Tom Mason? Moonie was another early disciple.
DAVID: Yes, because he had all those tapes.
WALI ALI: We have copies of all of his tapes—he was taping mostly in ‘67.
DAVID: I don't think any of his earlier lectures were taped.
WALI ALI: We have a copy of one interesting tape—it was like a forum discussion that he chaired at the Holy Order of Mans on the subject of reincarnation, in which there was a fierce argument between Master Mathew and Murshid. Ajari was there and Gene Wagner was there. Dr. Warwick was probably there also. There used to be weekly…
DAVID: There weren't that many people around him; discussion on comparative religion at the church of the children. Really there weren't, he was an unknown entity.
WALI ALI: And the attitude of the early mureeds was very casual.
DAVID: None of us had any conception at all what a spiritual teacher was. Like the night I took my initiation, he said, "Okay, now you people will call me Murshid," and he explained that Murshid meant teacher. And so we went along with him and said, "Okay, we’ll call you, Murshid."
SITARA: What had you been calling him?
WALI ALI: Because when I came on the scene, which was somewhat later, people were still calling him Sam—so then this situation when you were working with him at City College, and he was coming out there, how long did you say that lasted?
DAVID: He continued going to COSF until the end of 1967.
WALI ALI: When was the hospital experience?
SITARA: April ‘67.
DAVID: ‘67? That late? I thought it was ‘65 or ‘66. I hadn't realized it was that late. Okay, that lasted up until a point. Now the first party I came to was the housewarming party for here.
WALI ALI: Which was?
DAVID: It had to be ‘67. I guess I moved in shortly after that.
WALI ALI: The latter part of ‘67, but we can look that one up, too.
WALI ALI: Was he still working over at City College at that time?
DAVID: Yes, and he continued working for awhile after that out there—not for a whole lot of time afterwards.
WALI ALI: So what happened at the housewarming party over there?
DAVID: For some reason or another I saw him for what he was, and then I went through a period of very intense retrospection to see—actually it was a guilt thing—as to whether or not I deserved to be around him anymore. I wanted to take initiation from him, and he said, "Okay."
WALI ALI: What events transpired that evening? Do you recall anything about what happened? Was there a big meal?
DAVID: There was a big meal—let me think—
WALI ALI: Some fellow was invited in from North Africa that catered the meal, or was that another occasion?
DAVID: Yes and he had trouble keeping enough curry on the table or at least he kept going into the kitchen to do more cooking. Let me think, what did we eat that day? I remember it was a huge—maybe that was the event—I remember it was a huge meal and it was spicy. There wasn't a whole lot. It was like any party that he was at; there was a lot of—
WALI ALI: Were there a lot of speeches or teachings given or anything like that?
DAVID: No, he gave one class—this was before the dancing really had gotten started.
WALI ALI: Yes, but I think he was doing some walks—
WALI ALI: In ‘67 he started doing walks—
DAVID: Right. There were some of the walks; the meal was the main point of it and he gave a very short class that lasted maybe 15 minutes. And I'll be darned if I can even remember what it was on.
WALI ALI: I was just curious what you did remember.
DAVID: I remember that was the first time I met Vocha.
WALI ALI: A lot of his older friends were present?
DAVID: Right, that's the first time I met Vocha and Mr. Hunt. He's dead; that's too bad, that was one we could have gotten some stories from..
WALI ALI: He actually died?
DAVID: Right, about 1970 late, I think. I visited him once at the hospital; I went to see Vocha, September ‘70. She was the one who told me he was in the hospital and that he had died, this was after I was actually in the Order, this was ‘70 or ‘71 I guess. I'm not sure when he passed away.
WALI ALI: He passed away after Murshid?
DAVID: Yeah, definitely, after Murshid.
WALI ALI: So Mr. Hunt moved into this house at that time?
DAVID: Yeah, they shared rooms—they had rooms right next to each other.
WALI ALI: Did Mr. Hunt—oh they had rooms right next each other before—
AVID: Right, when he was living over there in alley.
WALI ALI: Clementina? I was in his room once. It was probably about 1 1/2 times the size of the office at 410 and contained all his books plus a bed, sink etc, so you can imagine how crowded it was— just room enough to turn around if you were careful.
WALI ALI: That was the last place he lived in before here?
DAVID: They had shared a place and then he and Mr. Hunt moved in together and it was the agreement that Mr. Hunt would do all the housework and cooking and stuff to relieve Murshid, because by then he was getting very involved, he was getting into the Commentaries and was screaming because he didn't have any help and there really wasn't anybody who could take it on either.
WALI ALI: And he and Mr. Hunt shortly got upon poor terms, isn't that right?
DAVID: Mr. Hunt was a retiring old coot—he really was—he was a grouch.
WALI ALI: I remember it well—we helped him move when he moved when I moved in, but you were certainly aware of their history?
DAVID: That's the reason I moved in.
WALI ALI: Right.
DAVID: So he'd have somebody to cook for him, so he wouldn't have to hassle with that part of it. The original plan was, just like I said, but Mr. Hunt didn't want to get involved in the public thing—he wanted to retire arid do his water colors, and that was about it, and so that was the cause for him leaving. I moved in while he was still here. Were you here?
WALI ALI: No, I moved in as soon as he left, in Jan of ‘69. And you were living downstairs.
DAVID: I'd been living here for awhile, too.
WALI ALI: How long had you been living here at that time? Six months? It wasn't that long?
DAVID: When I came in September of ‘68—
ZEINOB: Oh the first time you came?
ZEINOB: That was in September of ‘68. And I didn't think that you were living here then.
DAVID: I may have been still up on Precita.
WALI ALI: On O'Farrell?
DAVID: Yeah, up on the hill.
ZEINOB: I came back in Dec. of ‘68 and moved in, you were living here, and I think you were too.
WALI ALI: Dec. of ‘68 you came here?
ZEINOB: Yes, Christmas of ‘68.
WALI ALI: Are you sure it wasn’t ‘69?
ZEINOB: Uh, uh.
DAVID: I remember because we were sitting down; I remember very distinctly because we were sitting at the table in the kitchen eating breakfast, and I heard her scream down here—we won't go into any of the reasons—I embarrassed her—
WALI ALI: I think I probably moved in in December then.
DAVID: So I probably moved in in September.
ZEINOB: You moved in a few weeks before me Wali Ali, I’m positive because when I first come in ‘68, this room was vacant.
WALI ALI: That was Murshid's office, and what David and I did was to move the office into what is now the family room, and I moved into that room. Did you tell Murshid beforehand that you were going to do that?
WALI ALI: Move his office?
DAVID: He asked me to.
WALI ALI: He did?
SITARA: Where had the office been?
WALI ALI: It was in my old room.
DAVID: You still had bookcases in, there.
ZEINOB: Also, the garden work was in there.
DAVID: I don't know, I had two bookcases in my room and there were about three in his room.
WALI ALI: He would still give Darshans in that room, after that.
DAVID: Yeah, because all that magnetism in there, I don't see how you even slept in there, all the energy that was circulating through there.
WALI ALI: Oh I slept in there okay. So let's see, where are we now in terms of the story? So you came to the party, the dedication of the Mentorgarten, which must have been in late ‘67 or early ‘68; it was probably late ‘67, when it was dedicated.
DAVID: Yeah, I can't remember, I know where I was living, but I can't remember what the date was; I would have to do some serious—
WALI ALI: That's okay, we can find the dates somewhere, and then how soon after that were you initiated?
DAVID: Oh, very shortly, about a month
WALI ALI: So he was ready for you before you were ready for him?
DAVID: Right, he'd been laying for me for a long time.
ZEINOB: Yeah, he used to say it to me, too, how he'd been waiting a long time for David.
DAVID: Yeah, he was fishing for quite a while.
WALI ALI: And then let's see, you were living over there on DeHaro St. with Marsha, or did that just happen?
DAVID: Yeah, what happened was we took over—the place was a commune and she was living there first and I was living on Castro. Then I moved in when there was a vacancy, I was looking for a different place. I just got tired of my own room, and because I was the only person with a job I got to pay the bills because I had a checking account. That's kind of what happened over there. I wasn't over there for very long, I really got ripped off in that place.
WALI ALI: What do you remember about any kind of events or happenings with Murshid during that period?
DAVID: Events or happenings. He was looking for a bigger place and considered Using DeHaro for meetings. We also had him over for dinner once or twice. When I first met him he was very serious, I really didn't see his insane side. When he went to City College, he went there to garden. I got to know him first, because he just kind of sat around and talked some. Then I found out that he did know quite a bit, so we would just kind of talk together and because I was a student-aide—I was being paid to work out there at City College at the time—I got to know him. And we'd talk and he'd tell me about various religious movements that were happening in S.F. that I was being exposed to at the time like the Rinzai Order which was becoming very popular at that point. And I asked him what they were and other things like that. I was still looking, I hadn't decided yet really, and I think that was the reason I was kept away from him, even that one time when I tried to go to a party, I couldn't find it, and I think that that's very interesting. So it stayed on a very mundane plane at that point. The only funny story that happened was he took—there was another woman there—that I have since lost contact with; and he always seemed to pick up the waves somehow or another, and he took this woman out to lunch with Howard Mussell, who considered himself a bit of a lady’s man, and just absolutely freaked the woman out. She refused to go out with him ever again—she told me he was crazy and I couldn't understand what she was saying.
WALI ALI: Who, Sam?
DAVID: Both of them. He just kind of let it all hang out, so to speak. And he just absolutely freaked her out. That's about the funniest story that I still remember.
WALI ALI: She was a student over at City College.
DAVID: Yeah, she was a horticulture student over there. He was just trying to do a nice thing with her and Howard, too, because Howard liked to look at pretty ladies, and she was definitely very beautiful. But she couldn't handle it.
WALI ALI: What about in later periods, what stories do you remember?
DAVID: Gads, it's more of an impression, he was such a combination that he was constant heart; he was constant insanity, but it was serious insanity, it was insanity with an intent. He was crazy—life—living with him, it was hell here, for me, anyway.
WALI ALI: I know it was pretty hard for you.
DAVID: When I wrote you, I said that my strongest impressions were being a thorn in my master's side, and it seemed like I was constantly doing something that was rocking the boat, or on the verge of capsizing it.
WALI ALI: I remember he used to come up some and complain about other people.
DAVID: He did the same thing with me.
WALI ALI: He often complained about you. At first I think it had to do basically with money. He counted on you to help him with the rent, and when you came in—you had a job at that point—and then you gave up your job, and had an operation on your leg.
DAVID: And that created some confusion because I skipped one month there.
WALI ALI: So you got behind on your rent, and that always used to freak him out.
DAVID: Monetary considerations.
WALI ALI: I know Iqbal had a similar experience on one event that he still remembers intensely.
SITARA: He would broadcast it to the whole community and then it got back to Iqbal.
DAVID: Yeah right; he never said a harsh word to me ever, except once when I made Ice Cream in an ice cream maker he got as a gift.
WALI ALI: Directly.
DAVID: Yeah, it was always to somebody else, and then I would get these third-person narratives about the fact that Murshid was upset.
WALI ALI: He considered it a mistake for a teacher to verbally correct a disciple because he felt that it marred the subtlety of the relationship—to correct a person directly—I know people would come and complain and say to him, "If you have something to say, say it to my face, not behind my back," and I knew that was the principal he was working with; he didn't want to fix a person in their faults by correcting them directly. He wanted them to pick things up by intuition what he was really feeling—indirectly, so as not to make too deep of an impression. Also it was the principle of no compulsion; if he said it then there was the compulsion.
WALI ALI: Yes, right.
DAVID: I know he very firmly believed in that. It's really strange, when I joined the Order, Father Paul used to take me aside and ask me what Sam was into. And I'd say that I didn't think those two ever really understood each other, because Murshid would rant and rave about Father Paul, and Father Paul would rant and rave about Sam. It was crazy.
WALI ALI: What do you mean, “Rant and rave?"
DAVID: Father Paul was definitely a fire type, and he made no bones about anything. And if somebody was out of line it came down on them, and they knew they were out of line. He told me directly, he said, "This thing—like hell there’s no compulsion in religion, you're compelled to do everything. God makes you do it.” And he'd carry on like this. Even when I was up in Sebastopol he would pull me aside and start mumbling about what Sam was into down in the city.
WALI ALI: He didn't mumble in the sense of being critical because he only saw one side of it, or just had a different way of working?
DAVID: Yeah, it was a different way of working. They were both innovators. They had both received a Divine Message, and both were out to convert everybody, everybody, or at least as many as they could. The only reason the two of them got together was because Murshid received Revelation that he was to work with Father Paul. And that's the reason that Father Paul accepted him, and tolerated him around, because God wanted the two of them together. But as a natural pair they were the odd-couple of the spiritual world, I think. Really strange, because Murshid's approach was—
WALI ALI: I know Father Blighton, he wasn't known as Father Paul at the time.
DAVID: No, in the beginning, it was Father Blighton.
WALI ALI: He certainly respected Murshid's erudition and that's why he was called Dr. Sam, because his tremendous background in the Scriptures was definitely respected, and I do recall a few conversations that I was in on in which he was trying to get Sam to, more or less, take up a permanent staff position there because obviously he had a big organization. He couldn't understand exactly why Sam spent so much time with all those hippies.
DAVID: That was part of it, and part of it was the fact that Father Blighton had a much different method of initiation that is unique in many respects, and Murshid just couldn't accept it. He questioned sometimes the validity of that particular path that was being used.
WALI ALI: I know he used to make the comments on a number of occasions, publically, when he was giving talks at the Holy Order of Mans. He would say, “Father Blighton can get you there, even if he hasn't been there himself." Do you remember that?
DAVID: Yeah, what you guys call “Enlightenment.” I'm not sure if it's what really enlightenment but you've certainly had an experience of light—these kind of really off the wall comments.
WALI ALI: He would always do that. That was in his character. And the people he could work together with were those for whom that kind of thing didn't just mean instant alienation. I remember when Vilayat came here the first time and gave a talk, and at the conclusion of his talk, and before the question time, Murshid stood up and said, "There's only one difference between Vilayat and myself, "I've experienced everything that he's talked about."
DAVID: Do you feel that he said all these comments as though he believed they were true or as challenges?
WALI ALI: No, no, they weren't challenges; they were very innocent in a sense. They were free from any kind of personal malice; they were just said through him sort of as a sort of statement of fact, and the fact that it's uncool to make that kind of statement was.
ZEINOB: I think he felt that the Holy Order of Mans was pushing people through awfully quickly and giving them degrees that wasn't really their realization.
WALI ALI: On the other hand, he would always say—he was so proud of what they were doing—and he'd say, "Here was a church where you couldn't become a minister unless you had an actual experience of Christ."
DAVID: Oh yeah, there was a tremendous respect between the two. That isn't the point I was making. There was just an absolute lack of understanding of the methods the two of them used.
WALI ALI: Yeah, I think that is true.
DAVID: There were two different paths and they both, in a sense, had the same goal. Murshid was uniting East and West; and Father Blighton was uniting West and East. It was kind of a situation like that, where both teachers were teaching their students to be universal in their outlook towards the spiritual path. The fact that there is one God, I think is the common keynote of both of their teachings—one of them. And taught it in reality, not the way any of the other religions teach it.
WALI ALI: Emphasis on experience.
DAVIS: Yeah, emphasis on the fact that there is one God and that that one God is the God of whatever religious calling you happen to espouse.
WALI ALI: Do you recall any more stories? Maybe the easiest time to remember was after you started living here, cooking for Murshid and running him around in your truck and occasions like that. It's helpful to have actual events.
DAVID: I was just really involved in his mundane life and I wasn't going to any of the advanced classes that were happening in Novato at the time or anything like that. The adventures we had were really simple adventures like going to Field's Bookstore and finding new books—we'd go out looking for books—and invariably Fields would have it. Or going across the street to the wine store and talking with the wine merchant and finding out about a good wine. He was constantly, turning us on to good wines. And he would talk about little things like so and so liked such and such kind of ice cream so I'm getting it for her. He was great for running a good thing into the ground.
WALI ALI: You had that experience with the chocolaty chip cookies.
SITARA: Oh God, yes.
DAVID: Did he buy a truck load of chocolate chip cookies for you?
SITARA: Yeah, until I just couldn't stand them anymore.
DAVID: I had the same experience with rhubarb pie.
SITARA: Rhubarb pie?
DAVID: He asked me when I had this operation if there was anything he could get, and just right off of the wall, I said I want rhubarb pie. And a month later he comes in carrying triumphantly this rhubarb pie, and every week, every time he came back from Novato, he would stop off at that bakery and pick up a rhubarb pie, until I got sick of rhubarb pie. I told him to cool it.
WALI ALI: I know, that would be the way he would do it, with presents. Once he had you hooked up with a certain thing, I don't know how he ever got Moineddin hooked up with wine, but he gave him wine for every birthday.
ZEINOB: It was red wine, Vin Rosé, I remember that, and there was always this stuff. Do you remember the lemonade with Vin Rosé poured into it? That's what he used to drink for dinner. WALI ALI: Lemonade with Vin Rosé poured into it, I remember that—
ZEINOB: Or orange juice with Vin Rosé poured into it, or whatever kind of juices—it was usually orange juice or lemonade, because that's what we always drank.
WALI ALI: Oh wait a minute, I had something else—
SITARA: Amin with chocolate ice cream.
WALI ALI: I think an interesting thing to get down to, David, is this curious thing in Murshid's personality that had a lot to do with his real being. In one minute he would be very critical of somebody and angry and saying everything they'd done wrong and the next minute he would be so loving and he would want to go out and buy you a rhubarb pie or whatever, anything he could do for you, the sky was the limit. And, maybe you'd like to say something about that from your own experience. Was that your experience with him?
DAVID: Yeah, he was totally forgiving, he held no grudges. After I joined the Order and had left his direct care, I always looked forward to the Saturday Bible Classes when he'd come over because I always got his blessing. He never held a grudge, with one exception and that's because that person went against his specific instructions and it inconvenienced a lot of other people. And that was when Sheila went over to India. That's the only tine when he held something for any length of time at all. And in the end that was dropped even. He was a true teacher. When the lesson had been given, and as soon as the lesson was received, it was dropped, it was over, there was no sense in carrying it on. And that's the way he operated with everybody. I know, I'm sure he went up to the Khankah and talked about all the faults of everybody down here, and when he was down here and I was driving him around, he would talk about everything that was happening up at the Khankah, and how he was on the verge of kicking so and so out because they weren't doing this, or that and nobody escaped his wrath, so to speak. But it was constructive. He was trying to make a point, and I think it was maybe four years, after he had made his point, that we got it, because he was operating on such a plane. It was really, I think, that we were lucky to have him around in the physical body because he was so taken up in the Spirit of God; he constantly functioned on that level. His feet barely touched the ground, if you ever listened to him walk.
SITARA: Even when you lived beneath him?
DAVID: Even when I lived beneath him. It wasn't that bad. His heels would hit, he had strong magnetism, but he was constantly in that Presence.
ZEINOB: His feet moved by themselves—he wasn't in his body.
DAVID: Yeah, he wasn't in his body. He was functioning from a whole other level.
ZEINOB: Remember how he burned himself, David? He'd get going so fast; remember that whole pot of boiling water that got on his shoulder and one whole arm? That was when the three of us were living here.
WALI ALI: Yes, I recall that; I was taking a walk around the block at the time.
ZEINOB: David and I were in the house; I think David was in the kitchen and I was in David's room, and things like hot water would just pour all over him, he was just going so fast, he wasn't right in his body.
DAVID: That's the thing that absolutely amazed me—was when I get into something, I like to do it perfectly. If I’m going to peel a potato, I'm going to peel the whole potato. He kind of made a couple of passes at whatever he happened to be going at and it was done. The physical didn't matter that much. He paid more attention to the spiritual; in the kitchen, he would do anything. He used to say that after he taught a class, and this was true, I saw it happen time and time again—that after he had been a teacher, he would come back and be a servant.
ZEINOB: He'd forget to rinse the dishes and just put them in the soap and then put them on the drain board.
ZEINOB: Oh no, Murshid don't wash the dishes, please! Crack!
DAVID: And he was serving constantly. Now people are, experiencing his sense of humor which was outrageous.
WALI ALI: The humorous side is sort of like everybody's—it's the myth too, that people love to, remember. Have you seen the In the Garden book?
DAVID: Yeah, I spent the last two days reading it.
WALI ALI: It's well done in terms of bringing—it's got a lot of serious things in it, but I think it's got a lot of the kind of anecdotes and stories that people really appreciate, and because they're true, they're sort of modern Nasruddin, or something.
DAVID: Right. I don't, think he ever—as long as I knew him he always had shaving cream behind his ears.
WALI ALI: Until he stopped shaving?
DAVID: Yeah, until he stopped shaving.
ZEINOB: Shirin said he should have a beard.
DAVID: Right, and then he had problems because it wouldn't grow. He had to command it to grow, he got really upset because his hair wouldn't grow and his beard wouldn't grow. He had the scrawniest looking beard for the longest time. He was complaining about it, he would say, "My hair won't grow, I can't get my beard to grow, I finally had to command it to grow." It never did do much—
SITARA: He was getting haircuts at the end—
WALI ALI: Yeah, he got shaggier at the end.
ZEINOB: I'd trim his beard; I remember doing that, and haircuts.
DAVID: Yeah, he had that scroungy thing; I don't think he ever combed it.
WALI ALI: His beard?
SITARA: Later he did.
DAVID: While I was around him, it was just totally wild.
WALI ALI: I remember when I came in the house and started coming over here during the day to work, when Ed Hunt and you were living here, the place was such a mess, it was unbelievable.
ZEINOB: Oh, I thought I was going to die when I first walked in here.
WALI ALI: The level of housekeeping—yecchhh.
ZEINOB: You know how it looked to me? I saw Murshid and he was just like this little being of light, and he'd make little light paths that he travelled on, and they were clear and all the rest was just, yecchh—you could see where his little light trails were through the house—and all the rest was just filth—
WALI ALI: The office was the same way, it was one pile on top of another pile on top of another pile, and sometimes when he would find something he would say, "It's a miracle!" He had more miracles in his office than anybody I ever knew. Every time he found something he was looking for.
DAVID: His bedroom was the same way, there was one path from the door to the bed and the dresser happened to be on that same path so it got caught too. Kolsoum and I spent one full day cleaning up his room, just his bedroom, and we didn't touch the office.
WALI ALI: Because he wouldn't let anyone touch the office for the longest period of time.
DAVID: Right, that was private domain; I went in occasionally and straightened newspapers in the basket.
ZEINOB: Yeah, I remember him not letting anyone touch the papers.
DAVID: That was verboten, understandably so.
WALI ALI: Finally he let Abdul Rahman and myself begin to organize it somewhat.
ZEINOB: I think you started work on that about the same time I moved in.
WALI ALI: hy don't we go to that story because I think that will probably bring out some things. Was that Christmas you'd come around first in?
WALI ALI: Yeah.
ZEINOB: September 15.
WALI ALI: You came here to the house—
ZEINOB: 14th or 15th, Wali Ali.
WALI ALI: I didn't see you at that time.
DAVID: No, I remember coming home from work and Murshid greeted me at the door, and said, "I have two surprises for you in the kitchen." I didn't have the foggiest what it was. So I walked in and here were Zeinob and another girl sitting at the kitchen table.
ZEINOB: Sitting? Working—chopping onions; what do you mean, “Sitting?”
DAVID: And they split, they didn't even stay for dinner; they were invited for dinner and they didn't stay, and I remember that.
WALI ALI: Were you still strung out on speed then?
ZEINOB: Wali Ali!
WALI ALI: It's true, isn't it?
ZEINOB: It's true. I was, but also at the time I was staying with a family in San Francisco and I had to go back to take care of the children. It was a commitment I had, but I was definitely strung out.
WALI ALI: Zeinob, you were in the worst condition of anybody—
DAVID: She was in better shape then, than when she came back the second time.
ZEINOB: Was I? Was that Christmas Eve the first time?
DAVID: Yeah, the second time was Christmas Eve.
ZEINOB: No, no it wasn't Christmas Eve; it was three days before.
DAVID: That's when we went up to Amin's—
ZEINOB: No, it was at least three days before—
DAVID: Was it three days before? Yeah, I remember I had to talk you into that—
ZEINOB: The 22nd., I think.
DAVID: I had to talk you into going up to that Christmas party.
WALI ALI: You had that one pair of white pants that you wore for the next three months.
DAVID: White pants and a navy turtleneck.
ZEINOB: You wouldn't even look at me. I'm surprised you noticed what I had on.
WALI ALI: I know—I wasn't giving you any energy at all.
ZEINOB: One time David came home and he found me sitting in his bedroom curled up in a little ball saying, "Wali Ali hates me—no Melvin hates me." I couldn't move; you were throwing me so much—I was totally open—and he was throwing me so much yeecch! I couldn't do anything.
DAVID: Murshid wasn't exactly compassionate either.
ZEINOB: When I first came he was really good to me. When I came in September—then I was baby-sitting, so I couldn't come back, and I told him I'd try but I wasn't sure so at least I told him what was happening—that was a hard point in my life—just to come to the house.
WALI ALI: I'm sure it must have been. You couldn't stay still for a second without shaking, you were all shakes.
ZEINOB: I don't remember shaking.
DAVID: I remember that. I remember the six weeks.
ZEINOB: Because my nervous system was shot.
WALI ALI: Yeah, it was shot! You didn't have it together mentally enough to boil a pot of water.
ZEINOB: In fact I have letters—it's really neat—this whole period that I was living with Murshid I wrote Gary at least once a week.
WALI ALI: He was in prison at the time?
ZEINOB: Yes. And so I have those letters and in one of the first letters I wrote to him I said that the house was so full of light and Murshid's being so so full of light, because even though my body wasn't able to do things, I still could see—
WALI ALI: Yeah, you were very psychically eloquent—
ZEINOB: Totally, clairvoyant, clairaudient, I heard people thinking and I saw auras around everybody; I was totally open; I wasn't a dummy, I was just a wreck.
WALI ALI: Your nervous system was shot and your mind was shot and you were wide open.
ZEINOB: But my psyche wasn't and my heart wasn't—
WALI ALI: And otherwise—
ZEINOB: Wali Ali just didn't have any use for anybody who couldn't do something.
WALI ALI: I know, you were totally useless and then later you became useful.
ZEINOB: Murshid thought I was useful; he could see it because I remember when I first came he wanted me to stay for dinner and then I had to leave and then I came back in December and then Wali Ali said I was worse off, and then David didn't, didn't he say something to you after I left, before dinner?
DAVID: You didn't tell him, you told me you were splitting; all you said was that you were leaving, you didn't give any explanation. And here we had this huge dinner, and the two of us ended up sitting down and doing what we could to it.
ZEINOB: He terrified me—he told me more people were coming, he told me you were coming and some other person was coining. Or a couple was coming, there was somebody else expected that night for dinner besides you because he told me.
DAVID: That could have been, because we had guests constantly, it could have been because Moineddin and that whole crowd were still over in Bolinas at that point, I think.
WALI ALI: It could very well have been because they moved from Bolinas to the Khankah, which I believe was founded in spring of ‘69, wasn't it?
DAVID: Yeah, could have been, the Khankah hadn't been around that long when I left.
WALI ALI: It was right around that period anyway. But it was your idea to take Zeinob in when she came back the second time, wasn't it, David?
WALI ALI: Didn't she just sort of hide in your room?
DAVID: Right, it was really kind of strange. When she came back, she was totally destitute, she didn't have any place to stay, so we set up the mattress—it was the rainy season—
ZEINOB: You told Murshid I would be back when I split before dinner. You said he said, "Where'd she go, where'd she go?" And you said, “Don’t worry, she’ll come back.”
DAVID: Yeah, I had a premonition that—
ZEINOB: And you knew that my girlfriend who was with me wasn't going to—and she never did.
DAVID: I don't remember that part; I know I wasn't near as impressed with her as I was with you. Yeah, the second time she came back she hid back, because both of you—
WALI ALI: How'd you get your name? Tell that story.
ZEINOB: The first thing which I think is in In the Garden—the first thing Murshid said to me was—I knocked on the door—and he said, "Who's there?" in this booming voice, and you knew where I was at—a booming voice just sent me into the tremors—and I said, "My name's Claire, and Anon had sent me.” Do you remember Anonymous Bliss who was a friend of Moineddin's and Mansur's from Michigan or wherever it was?
And so I came in and he sat me down in a chair and he said, "Sit up straight, there's nothing you've ever done in your life that's been wrong." And that was the first thing he ever said to me. And then he gave Yolanda, my girl friend, the Darshan of Christ. He said, "You know who Christ is, don't you?" And she said, "Yes." And then he just—I saw him go right into Christ Darshan as he sat across from me and looked at her, and then he said, "Come on, Yolanda, people are coming for dinner, you have to cook." And that was the first meeting. And when I came back the next time, I don't remember, but I think, David, you greeted me when I first came back.
DAVID: The second time? Yeah, I did. Because I don’t even remember if Murshid was around that time. Anon was never initiated by Murshid as far as I know, I met him only once when we went down to Southern California to tape Inayats’ lectures and meditations. When we got back I asked about Anon and his name; Murshid replied that he had said to Anon that if he took that name he could never be a mureed.
ZEINOB: I think he might have been in Novato, when I first came back, or someplace else—
DAVID: He may have been—
WALI ALI: That rings true to me because the Khankah had just been started a few months before—
DAVID: Yeah, it was totally my idea and I had to fight both of you to keep her here for awhile.
WALI ALI: Oh I recall it was your concentration and you shared your room with Gwen.
ZEINOB: Yeah, "What's your name, “Claire,” “Gwen?"
DAVID: She didn't talk above a whisper for the first six months at least.
WALI ALI: And you were so skinny Zeinob.
ZEINOB: And I thought I was fat, I remember putting on these pants and saying to David, “Gee, I’m really fat!”
DAMON: And were fat because I was in you then.
ZEINOB: No, not yet.
DAMON: Mama, where was I then?
ZEINOB: You were with the angels.
DAMON: Oh yeah, I had real wings, too.
ZEINOB: Yeah, I did, I weighted 110 lbs. And Murshid said I was a reject from the skeleton society.
WALI ALI: And he began a program of fattening you up.
ZEINOB: In three months I gained 65 lbs. I went up to a horrendous 175! Wali Ali and I looked like twins and we used to dance around, rock around the living room like dancing bears. Do you remember that, Wali Ali? Dancing with me like bears? It was always your initiative. I never would have initiated that.
WALI ALI: So do you remember how that came down that Zeinob got accepted to live here? Did Murshid ever speak to you about her leaving?
DAVID: He asked me why she was here, why I was keeping her, and I told him that she was somebody that was very spiritual that was in trouble and needed help. That's what I said, I just felt super protective. And I knew I didn't want her out of my sight for awhile anyway. And the reason she moved into my room was because—
WALI ALI: There was nowhere else for her to be.
DAVID: She was down here.
ZEINOB: This was a garage, but there were mattresses down there. No, there was a car in there, but I slept on a crib mattress the first night. And there was no light. And there was a car in here, too. It was filthy!
WALI ALI: That's right, David's truck.
DAVID: Or it could have been that Buick, either one. I'm not sure.
ZEINOB: It was pretty terrifying down here. The only other room or space for me to have a room since the three of you each had your rooms, was to stay in David’s bed.
DAVID: I was the only one who had a double bed, too.
WALI ALI: And you used to sleep together and astral travel or something.
ZEINOB: No, the one I astral traveled with was you. Because what I remember was, I remember going out, and in the morning I related that you said you had the same dream so it was you and I that were actually floating around together.
WALI ALI: I don't recall; I always thought it was David.
DAVID: The only thing I was a listening post, while she worked the thing out. That's what it amounted to.
WALI ALI: I do remember one occasion when Murshid took Gwen and I over to Rudolf Schaeffer School and you were—it wasn't too long after you'd just come on the scene—
DAVID: mother had a stroke, she went down to visit her. That’s when we fixed up the little room in the basement, more or less fixed it up. We put in a closed and a bed but she still had to swim out sometimes, when she got back the change was amazing. It was as if Gwen left and Claire came back.
ZEINOB: No, it took me at least three months to get myself to that point together, I'm sure of that, Wali Ali.
WALI ALI: But when you went over there you weren't a member of the school at that time—the first time he took you over there to see the place?
ZEINOB: He enrolled me in one class that lasted two hours which was a lecture class and he enrolled me in that when Abdul Rahman was coming and staying here and he’d sleep here, because he’d stay here. One night a week he’d sleep here. He’d sleep in the living room because I remember Abdul Rahman gave me a ride to school one morning. Daniel, we should call him. He was Daniel then.
WALI ALI: In any case, Zeinob, you were still somewhat shy at the time, as I recall. I remember very well. It would probably be better to forget some of these things.
DAVID: Anyway, the final decision came; I was working and was going to have that corrective surgery, which at the time I moved into the house, he knew I was preparing for. That was part of the reason that he moved me in here, because he didn’t know what the implications were going to be. Who would take care of me, after the surgery? But there was going to have to be someone else who was going to be doing the cooking because I was going to be out of commission for six weeks, two months, something like that, where I wasn't going to be able to function. And he accepted that, so that's how she became the housekeeper. And that's how she lived rent free for one month, is that it?
ZEINOB: You know what I did? Murshid looked at me and he said—over the breakfast babble one morning—just out of the blue he said, "You bring me a $1000 and I'll fix up that room downstairs for you." So I went off with you, right after your operation, with you and Mansur and crazy Gregory down to L.A. to tape Pir Vilayat's lectures.
DAVID: Right. Reading Gurdjieff all the way.
ZEINOB: Right, and brought him back a $1000. Mansur drove us in his VW van, and there were the-four of us together when we took that trip to LA and back. And I think Gregory stayed in L.A., he didn't come back with us, did he?
DAVID: I can't remember.
ZEINOB: Greg Potemkin.
WALI ALI: That was like—I don't know what to call it—the Fools Caravan or something.
ZEINOB: Ship of Fools. It was a car of fools. Also with the history that came down later to think that Mansur was off taping Pir is also ironic, the whole trip. But anyway it blew everybody's mind at the table when they heard Murshid say, "Bring me a $1000," and I remember saying to David, "I can; I have it, because I had $2500 in the bank from turning 21, because I had just turned 21.
WALI ALI: He never had any idea that you had money when you first came on the set, because I remember him referring later to Cinderella who was dropped on his doorstep.
ZEINOB: He also called me the virgin, he asked me if I was pregnant the first time because I’d come right before Christmas, and that seemed to have implications to him.
WALI ALI: So then you went down there and you got the $1000 and you mailed it up here and he spent it before you got back, Right?
ZEINOB: I think he used it to pay off past debts, but I didn't hear anything that I should pay rent money for some time!
WALI ALI: Right, then you lived here rent-free for awhile—that was taken into consideration.
ZEINOB: Yes, I was a little off the hook. I think after that the noises were made about my paying rent, and finally I started giving him $80 a month for the room that was really your room and you moved into Ripley Street.
WALI ALI: Oh that’s right.
ZEINOB: And that was when I was paying.
DAVID: There you could drag some skeletons out to get Wali Ali.
ZEINOB: Yes I certainly could: You don't want all that on tape, do you Wali Ali?
WALI ALI: I don't care.
ZEINOB: About Wali Ali's romances?
WALI ALI: It's past, it's all over, it happened; my feeling, really, is not to write a polite biography. On the one hand I am interested in getting a lot of data from all sorts of sources and some of it may be more accurate than others, because I know some of the sources are not entirely accurate, and so to have an accurate record on file. The other thing is the writing of the book which I certainly want to take into account that we are dealing with a very complex human being who had many faults and limitations from the human point of view and he was nevertheless a fully illuminated soul; he was functioning with full consciousness, so that people can realize that God uses limited human vehicles to do His Work and it isn't always some kind of fairy-tale thing that goes on where everybody is so good and perfect.
ZEINOB: I think the fact that all of us who came to him had so many faults and yet his compassion was so great.
WALI ALI: That's the reason I want the real story from them—
ZEINOB: People concentrate so much on the fact that Murshid was Fudo, and they forget that he was Quan-Yin. Because, so help me, he never, Murshid screamed at me personally twice in a year and a half of, living with him. Now, most people said Murshid was screaming all the time but he only did that because he knew I couldn't take it. The first time he did it I went into hysterics and I remember I went downstairs and Wali Ali had to bring me back upstairs. You said, "Zeinob, you have to go upstairs and sit at the table." And it was all I could do to control myself, the pain that I felt that this being would be angry with me.
DAVID: I remember that fist one.
ZEINOB: And the second time he screamed at me, I screamed back. And he apologized. But he didn't just go around doing that to everybody. He was conscious of who he did that with and who he didn't.
WALI ALI: It's true.
DAVID: He used to brag about the fact that he had a Zen stick but he never used it.
WALI ALI: But what Zeinob says is true, as Khadija says, Murshid never raised his voice to her. Amina says that Murshid never raised his voice to her.
DAVID: He never raised his voice to me.
SITARA: Shirin too.
WALI ALI: Basira said the same thing.
ZEINOB: He was very gentle-with women. His practice with me was to hold the little fingers like this, crossing the little fingers, and to walk and he would always take me to the car that way. It was so beautiful to me. Wali Ali said I had no clothes and he would take me out, and say, "I have to get you into dresses, you have to look pretty.” He'd go out and take me to Home Yardage and say, "I'll give you five minutes to grab anything you want." And I'd grab, and it was the same way in the super market. We'd have five minutes in the super market and whatever the first impulse, whatever you saw you could grab. Maybe you'd end up with a balanced meal, and maybe you'd end up with potato chips and granola!
WALI ALI: I know he would do that; he'd say, "Buy whatever you want; just get anything you want."
ZEINOB: Remember the children at Christmas? He'd take all the children at Christmastime, like Nathan, Natasha, and maybe Bob Cogswell's children—the city didn't have any children, so it was all Marin children—and he'd take them all to the toy store and say, "Buy whatever you want, pick out whatever you want."
WALI ALI: I remember once that he came back from the toy store; he'd taken Nancy and Natasha to the store up at Sears. He was a combination of very, amused and sort of grumbling. He said, "She went right to what she wanted and picked it up, and her mother didn't want her to get it because it was too inexpensive!"
ZEINOB: That's typical.
DAVID: Really. He went out I remember and bought a swing set because I remember going down there. He was constantly—once a month he would buy something—
WALI ALI: His attitude towards money I think was very interesting because he could sometimes be so generous and the sky was the limit and you could just spend anything you wanted; and you could just spend freely and other times he could be so penny-pinching.
ZEINOB: I remember he wouldn't buy me wax for the floor; the kitchen floor was like, well there were fifty people coming through this house all the time. What did we have, maybe five classes per week? And it was filthy, plus there were at least 8 or 10 people eating lunch and dinner because they were involved in the work here, or whatever, because Murshid kept drawing more and more people in here, so to keep the kitchen floor clean I would have had to wash it three or four times per week. And he wouldn't buy me wax, which would have made the whole thing so much simpler. He would just sort of close down on something.
DAVID: One of the things he bought every shopping trip was cranapple juice. Oh’s on mission St. was where most of the staples, grains etc, were bought. He enjoyed joking with Mr. Oh a lot.
WALI ALI: He wouldn't let you buy butter, either, I remember, margarine was good enough.
ZEINOB: Because Saul kept saying, "Murshid, you should eat butter, margarine is not good for you." He'd buy maybe a couple of cubes and then he’d go back to Saffola.
WALI ALI: But that's just the thing, and then you'd go out to dinner and he'd treat everybody, and buy those sheepskin jackets. In the process he bought one for Moineddin, and Mansur; he'd have 12 people or 15 people to supper at the Khyber Pass. That fellow, Hassan, still remembers, he says, "He came in and spent $500 one evening here—or $400."
DAVID: That was that big party we had in that back room.
WALI ALI: And then he would realize he'd spent all this money and he would get real real…
DAVID: I remember him quibbling about those jackets; he quibbled about them for a week. He said, "I had to do it because they didn't have any warm clothes!" He didn't like it!
ZEINOB: He didn't have to buy $80 jackets either.
DAVID: Right, but they were there.
WALI ALI: It’s just a good example—
DAVID: That's the way the lamps got bought for here, too. He went out to a lamp store, I happened to be in on that expedition. There were, let's see, there was a desk lamp, where was that desk lamp? I think it was up in the office, a great big black thing; he walked in and said, "I want that lamp," and walked right back out again. And that's the way he did a lot of his stuff.
ZEINOB: The first thing he saw, he'd go always, his first—
DAVID: Right. This house was the weirdest conglomeration of stuff that—
WALI ALI: Now you went out to buy the bathroom sink, why was that?
DAVID: That was her—
ZEINOB: It was my fault. David has taken the blame for that for years. It's not David's fault at all. Murshid sent the two of us out, he thought I'd pick the decorative side and David would do the practical, but I'm afraid I won out. And I picked something totally decorative and totally impractical, and David was stuck—
WALI ALI: Which we still have!
DAVID: It still works, doesn't it?
ZEINOB: And David was stuck with the job of putting it in—
WALI ALI: So you spent more money than he wanted or something like that.
ZEINOB: He kept saying that we should go to the Cleveland Wrecking Co. and get a used or another old sink.
DAVID: That's where I won out, because I told him it was ridiculous to go out and buy another hunk of junk that's going to fall apart with as much use as that thing gets.
ZEINOB: And so we got a new, expensive hunk of junk, and it didn't work!
WALI ALI: You tried to install it and you weren't successful or something like that?
DAVID: Something happened with the drain, it wouldn't drain right. I don't know just exactly what it was.
ZEINOB: Yes, we always had a slow drain from that.
WALI ALI: And he was irritated because he didn't want to pay for it, and you ended up paying for it!
DAVID: Right, I ended up paying for it.
WALI ALI: Eventually.
ZEINOB: It all gets so entangled.
WALI ALI: I just think it's curious because his whole attitude about money is a real—
DAVID: He really never comprehended it; here he had these parents who were outrageously wealthy, who had totally turned him off, and for most of his life he supported himself on what he earned.
WALI ALI: Yeah, I know that for years during the depression he just lived on what he was growing in the garden and didn't have any money whatsoever.
DAVID: And then all of a sudden he gets this landfall of money, and he didn't quite comprehend—
ZEINOB: He was getting $700 per month and he never quite adjusted to feast and famine, so that's what we went through. We went through his childhood and then the depression, and into his childhood and then the depression.
DAVID: Okay, an early impression, that's one of the first things he talked to me about. That was one of his primary bitches was the fact that his family completely turned him off, that his family totally rejected him, told him that he was mentally retarded, that there was no hope for him to learn anything. And one of his favorite stories was the one when he took his entrance exams at I believe it was Berkeley, that the psychiatrist that interviewed him asked him how he thought he did on his test, and he said, "I think I passed on it," and she said, "Your problem is inferiority. You have an inferiority-complex," because he had scored the highest, he had made the highest score in history on the entrance exams in the history of the University of California—not just at Berkeley but in the history of the University of California. I remember very distinctly that this was one of his stories that he repeated any number of times.
ZEINOB: I remember the story of the psychologist or psychiatrist that he went to and he said, "Madame, if this isn't the worst story you've ever heard, I'll pay you; if it is the worst story you've ever heard, you pay me." And she paid him!
WALI ALI: She let him go free; it was Dr. Baker.
DAVID: I know Vocha mentioned her a few times; is Vocha still around?
WALI ALI: She's dead. She just died this past year. To get back to the money thing, because I think a lot of, part of the conflicts that would come up in the living situation had to do with money. It was, "David was late on the rent, he bought this sink; it was just this late on the rent" business and then when Zeinob first arrived, "Here's just another mouth to feed—where am I gonna get…" because his Quan Yin, his good side, would care for people but then his—
DAVID: Jewish side—
WALI ALI: You said it, I didn't say it, his Jewish side would be concerned about money, and people supporting themselves with money. He was real sensitive about the problems of communes in which some people were spongers and, some people were contributing, and he had all these problems at Olompali Ranch trying to deal with that whole syndrome out there where everybody was living off of big daddy pretty much. So he would oscillate in that sphere, and then he would sometimes tell me, like when he went out on occasions to do something like going to Hagues, "Get whatever you want, just bring it up, anything you want," he would tell people and then later he would say, "When I get into that place, it's like God—I'm just in this Divine Intoxication, and I can't say no to anything. And then later when I sober up, then I worry about it."
ZEINOB: He used to say for us to protect him too in the house. It did take me maybe three months for him to get me together, because he really did it by the work that he gave me to do. But I remember after that period I was very involved in things, like Murshid saying, "You've got to protect me! When I'm in that state I can't say “No." After a class when everybody whomps onto him and wants this and wants that, you have to step in. And he wanted the three of us,
I remember, to step in and protect him when he was in those high vulnerable states. And also, you remember, when he was typing—the state that he was in. I'd start to go into the office and I'd watch my breath before I opened the door, watch my breath, get very peaceful, walk through the door like I didn't exist, close the door and reassemble myself in the kitchen. And you had to be so careful because you could really hurt him if you went through there with your trip—he was too sensitive.
WALI ALI: And people would be unaware that he was in some high state and ask him sort of mundane questions or something when he was typing. Jarring experiences were his problem because he would get very high and then be jarred all the time. It was very difficult for the nervous system, very difficult.
ZEINOB: Toward the end, he couldn't stand for anybody, not just mureeds, but only when we got larger, he couldn't stand for anybody, to even be upstairs. You remember when we had a Sunday afternoon walks class? This was when the Saturday afternoon class was on Sunday, not the Saturday night class. And then we'd have a dinner for maybe 50 people every Sunday night, and then the Dharma class would follow that.
WALI ALI: 30 of 40; it would differ.
ZEINOB: It would differ, but anyway, he didn't want anybody upstairs washing the dishes. First of all we said, "Is there a mureed who can wash the dishes?" Then he said, "It's only got to be people that I know personally very well." Because it was between two classes and he was preparing for his second class and he had to meditate again.
DAVID: Yeah, I can remember because I wasn't involved in those.
WALI ALI: He just wanted privacy.
DAVID: We laid the carpet down here, and once the classes got too big for up there they came down here and nobody went upstairs. Even before I left nobody was really going upstairs that much.
WALI ALI: A few people could come up; if you wanted to come up and be quiet and watch Perry Mason or something it was alright.
DAVID: Right, but even that had pretty well slowed down.
WALI ALI: So when did you join the Holy Order of Mans, David?
DAVID: In January of 1970 is when I joined the Order.
WALI ALI: Murshid died January of ‘71.
DAVID: Right, I was in the Order for about a year before he died. That was kind of a shock to all of us, I think. We kind of walked around empty for awhile.
WALI ALI: What were the circumstances when you left here and joined the Order? What went down in terms of your discussions with Murshid on the subject?
DAVID: Yeah, we never really did discuss it, and that's something I was going to take up with you after the interview ended. I was at a place where I wasn't really functioning here in the house, and I knew that my time was ending here. I didn't know what I was going to be doing so I was in limbo, so to speak. It was driving me up a wall, and my constant question was doing my exercises, when I'd do my meditations, I'd just ask, "What am I supposed to be doing?" Finally I received the Message, "Join the Holy Order of Mans." I don't know how long it was; it took me awhile before I finally got around to doing it. The really funny part was that I received a phone call from Mansur, I think it was, telling me that I was going to have to leave the Mentorgarten here, and that I could either move in with Daniel, or I was trying to get a thing going with a guy over in Marin that was a gardener; but I'd already made this decision and had already talked to Father Paul and told him the experience I had. He looked at me kind of out of the corner of his eye and said, "Okay, but you're going to have to get permission," and I said, "Yeah, I realize that." And that was on a Saturday when Murshid was going over to the extension for classes. I would take him, drive him over there and then pick him up, and when I picked him up I told him, I said, "I'm going to join the Holy Order of Mans," and he said, "Okay." I told him that I would need his permission—
WALI ALI: As I recall his reaction at the time, he was pleased.
ZEINOB: I remember that too. I remember him really giving his blessing to you.
DAVID: yeah, he did.
ZEINOB: Upon leaving and starting that work, because it continued a connection that he had with the Holy Order of Mans and with Father Paul, and that definitely met with his approval.
DAVID: Yeah, he—
ZEINOB: There weren't any bad scenes over David's leaving at all.
DAVID: No, and like I say, every week when he came over to teach class, he would always, invariably, if he had to go out of his way, would give me his blessing so that that connection was—
WALI ALI: I remember some bad scenes around Frank Tedesco's leaving, and that was a funny situation.
ZEINOB: That was a very funny situation.
ZEINOB: Because apparently what Frank had done was—Frank had given Murshid all of his money and said, "Keep it for me, because I keep spending it." And Murshid had put it in a bank account for him, and then Frank was saying that Murshid had ripped him off, or—
DAVID: He wanted his money back, but Murshid said, "I'm protecting it for you."
ZEINOB: I remember a real scene, you were involved in it upstairs in what was then the meeting room.
DAVID: Yea, for sure. Yeah, I know. It finally came to the point where Murshid wouldn't talk to him. I received a couple of phone calls from him when he was over in Berkeley. Murshid just absolutely refused to have anything to do with him.
WALI ALI: I saw Frank Tedesco in Philadelphia—
ZEINOB: When he was on the East Coast—
WALI ALI: Last year I was giving a seminar in Philadelphia, and who should show up but Frank Tedesco.
SITARA: Did he ever get his money back?
DAVID: Yeah, Murshid finally gave him his money back and told him that he couldn't come in again until he had his things straightened around.
ZEINOB: But Murshid wasn’t planning on spending the money. It wasn't that kind of scene.
DAVID: No he wasn't, he had it in a—
ZEINOB: It was that Frank had made a stand, I think, that Murshid said that he gave him the money, then wanted it back three days later. It was an incredibly short time, and he just didn't like that kind of flip-flopping. Murshid liked it when you made a decision and you…
DAVID: …Abided by it.
DAVID: There was something about the bank account too; he put it in some kind of bank account.
WALI ALI: A special account.
DAVID: Yeah, some kind of a special account where he couldn't get to it without having to pay a fine.
ZEINOB: He probably put it in a savings account.
WALI ALI: I don't know what it was; it was some trouble—it was in another town or—it was just a big drag. He was just trying to use it as a way of teaching Frank some sort of lesson. Frank wasn't having it.
Let's see, what haven't we covered?
ZEINOB: We went very rapidly from the beginning of the three of us living together to David's leaving. It was a gradual build-up of us all. When I first came, the office had already been moved and it was such a gradual building up. More and more people were coming here every week. I remember one time: you and David and Murshid and myself—it was on a Monday night, the Monday night Sufi class—wondering if anybody was going to show up. And nobody showed up and we just roasted marshmallow until I think, maybe Vashti and Basira or somebody wandered in and joined us. But people don't understand that even when we were in this house sometimes things were very slow. And also a lot of people don't know that Monday night was not a dance night. We didn't dance Monday nights; we'd have the meeting upstairs, and Murshid always started with some kind of political, social rap, that's how it usually started. But he'd always done his meditations and while he was doing that he was incredibly high. And he'd usually read a little bit from Inayat Khan, if it was Monday night and Ram Dass or one of the Sutras if it was Sunday night. And then as it got on a little but, then we'd come downstairs to do a dance which would sort of close the class; it was the second half of the class, after the tea-break. We had tea upstairs and then we'd come down here. And also I remember Pir arriving the first time which we haven't talked about at all. At least I don't know if it was the first time he came, but it was the first time I ever met him, and it was maybe two weeks after I came so it was in January of ‘69; and also the New Year's Eve party.
WALI ALI: He came before in July of ‘68.
ZEINOB: That was when you saw their first meeting; you were present at their first meeting. But you weren't living here at that time.
WALI ALI: No I wasn't. I just actually had just met Murshid less than a month before that.
DAVID: The second time was the time I went to pick him up.
ZEINOB: Yeah, because he came back here.
DAVID: The second time, I picked him up, down at the airport.
ZEINOB: And I remember there was talk of him initiating people, so Murshid was this the second time that Pir and Murshid had ever been together that he came to this house?
WALI ALI: He'd seen him before in Los Angeles when he'd been on some sort of panel at the East-West Center, yet he didn't have a chance to talk to him.
ZEINOB: Was this between the July and the—
WALI ALI: No, before that—prior to July—but really the meeting in July was the first real meeting.
ZEINOB: Did Murshid invite him to come here?
WALI ALI: Yes, he did. He invited him, and he accepted, and then he came back shortly thereafter and did a seminar at the camp at Olompali Ranch. Pir Vilayat then gave a seminar there.
ZEINOB: Before he came to the Mentorgarten?
WALI ALI: No, he came back almost immediately because he saw what was going on. He saw all these young people and all this interest and tremendous magnetism and so he responded to it.
ZEINOB: So I remember him, he was giving initiations though in this house in January.
WALI ALI: Right, Abdul Rahman, Daniel, had been initiated by Pir Vilayat at the thing at Olompali Ranch. He was the first person whom Pir Vilayat did initiate. He was in some sort of waiting situation with Murshid, or something; anyway he was initiated by Pir Vilayat at that time. Then when Pir Vilayat came back in January, there were several people that Murshid had not yet initiated and had been kept waiting. Daniel's wife, Fawn, and Banefsha. At that time, maybe those two, and maybe one other person.
SITARA: So Banefsha was initiated by him?
WALI ALI: She was initiated initially by Pir Vilayat, because Murshid still had her on a waiting basis for initiation. She came up to me shortly after and said, "I just couldn't wait."
ZEINOB: But Murshid must have known that that would have happened.
WALI ALI: Abdul Rahman informed him—in fact he was so glad that Vilayat and he were going to be working together—because he'd been forced to work by himself and he never wanted to helve to work by himself, he wanted to work together in the Order.
ZEINOB: He was really into unity.
WALI ALI: You never heard that story before?
DAVID: The thing that kept them apart too were stories that Vilayat had heard.
WALI ALI: It wasn't worked through for years; Murshid wanted to get the esoteric papers for one thing; they'd been taken away from him, and that was one of the things that he wanted from Vilayat was to receive back all those papers—Vilayat had never taken them, it was Murshida Duce. But he wanted back those teaching materials and that was an action that he wanted by way of recognition. And that didn't happen for a long time. They came trickling in gradually, simply as a result of the inefficiency of the secretariat in Europe.
ZEINOB: We were given initiation but Gatha classes, at least for me for us here in the house, didn't start for some time did they?
WALI ALI: But he had the Gathas; he just didn't have hardly any of the Githas and none of the Sangathas with a few pages of exceptions.
DAVID: I know, I'd been a disciple for a long time before we even started receiving them—
WALI ALI: Yeah, he didn't necessarily put people immediately into the Gathas, or didn't immediately give them practices.
ZEINOB: He did immediately give you practices; in fact when I first moved into the house, as soon as he accepted me, when I had that first interview with him where he gave me Darshan, he gave me my practices, prior to initiation, he gave me a few things to do. But also there's Saadia's coming which was a big—
DAVID: Oh yeah—
ZEINOB: That marked a certain part in the history of the three of us living together, too. And I try to remember chronologically when that took place.
WALI ALI: I can remember chronologically when that took place because I was at the camp—it was actually the first summer camp, it was the Colorado camp, so it must have been June of ‘69. It was June of ‘69 in Colorado because at the time when Saadia arrived I was still at the camp and there were a lot of new romances that took place at that camp.
WALI ALI: And what happened then? Oh yes, Fazl Inayat Khan was here also during that time.
ZEINOB: When Saadia was here?
WALI ALI: When Saadia first arrived, Fazl was having a meeting at some hotel where they did the Universal Worship.
ZEINOB: It was the Canterbury Hotel.
DAVID: Was Saadia here—that was before Saadia came, wasn't it?
ZEINOB: I'm sorry I have to object, Saadia was not there—(reel change—some words lost)
WALI ALI: The Universal Worship that Fazl led, that Murshid took some mureeds to.
ZEINOB: Do you remember exactly who was there?
WALI ALI: I know Yasmin was there. And Amin was there and he had to leave the room because he started breaking out laughing.
ZEINOB: And was Moineddin there?
DAVID: Yeah, Moineddin was there, Fatima was there, I think Hassan was there; most of the Khankah was there.
ZEINOB: I think if Moineddin and Fatima came, then probably the whole Khankah came.
DAVID: Right, the whole Khankah came down.
ZEINOB: I remember sitting next to Murshid and seeing this whole thing come down. And it's rare for me to really get angry, and I felt such pain. I was just about to stand up and say, "This is false," with that power that just comes through you, it's not personal. And I said that to Murshid afterwards, I said, "Murshid, I felt such pain I couldn't believe how I felt.” And he said, "You felt the anger of Inayat Khan." And he verified that, he said, "You were right." Because I knew what was truth and what wasn't. I knew when someone was speaking from a place of truth and when they weren't. But Murshid didn't put him down; he tried to find him afterwards and he—Fazl just did what he had to do and the other fellow—a lecturer—remember there was that fellow from—
DAVID: I can't remember who it was—
ZEINOB: From Africa—who lectured—and then both of them just went into another room and then Murshid started the singing; we all chanted and sang outside the door.
DAVID: That was in the room when we did that; we all stood up. Murshid had us all stand up and we all began chanting, at the first one. We went twice to the Universal Worship Service. The second time we went—I went to the second one too—they made us promise at the door that we would keep our mouths shut. The second time we went we had to promise that we'd be quiet.
ZEINOB: And Murshid started, "Allah, Allah, Allah, Allah, Ishk Allah—Oh dear!
DAVID: We got more response than what they did. One fellow came back and said, "That had more life in it than the service did." Not to knock Fazl, but it was empty.
ZEINOB: I remember Pir calling Fazl, "Fizzle."
DAVID: He was the head of the Sufi Order? More skeletons!
WALI ALI: There are always lots of skeletons. So I want to go back to what we were talking about when the tape recorder was off. Can you describe this experience that you had in terms of what actually happened?
DAVID: I have met—I can't remember the woman's name—one of his ex-lovers. He used to always talk about the fact that God had chosen him to remain single. This was something that he talked about very frequently.
WALI ALI: Yeah, I know, I discussed about it with him too.
DAVID: And I remember him specifically, telling me one time—as I recall we were going over to Brother Juniper’s for a class there, he said, "I'm really worried about my disciples putting something on me that I'm not; that I've not been celibate all my life, and they are trying to make me into a virgin, and I'm not."
WALI ALI: He said that?
DAVID: He said that very specifically. It really kind of worried him that they were trying to put something on him that he couldn't live up to. And he described, "I seem to have constantly been bringing in something out of the cold," and I think he saw a bit of himself there doing that. And he would describe various and sundry mutual friends and he said, "I used to live with a woman that was like that. I had to drop her because she just couldn't make up her mind whether I could stay there."
WALI ALI: I don't assume that when he says, "Live with a woman," that he meant sleeping with a woman?
DAVID: Yeah, in the context that he was using it, it was. He not only slept with her, but he was having sexual relations with her. I have to draw that distinction there because of Zeinob and myself. I often wonder sometimes what some of the tales were that were going on—I know I had people coming up to me and saying how happy they were that I had a girlfriend and all this stuff. And the only thing I could say was, "Yeah, she's a girl and she's my friend!"
WALI ALI: You said on one occasion you met—I remember we used to go out to dinner with Betty on some occasions, you're not thinking about her?
DAVID: No, no that wasn't Betty, it was, she was, someone who was Murshid’s age, that came around—he had absolutely no interest; she came out to City College; one time: She was trying to renew an old flame and it wasn't Murshida Vera either, because I can vaguely remember her coming out every once in a while.
WALI ALI: Would you remember her name if you heard it?
DAVID: I might, but it was such a brief meeting, and names don't stick with me. If I saw her face I'd recognize her.
WALI ALI: Just a second—
SITARA: The face of who now?
DAVID: Of this one woman I met that he used to live with.
SITARA: That he had had relations with?
SITARA: It makes sense in one sense that he always was threatening to give us a lecture on super-sex, do you remember that? And he did, on and off, he gave little tidbits, I never got the big one. I don't think if he ever gave it, he would have talked about anything that he hadn't experienced. That was the motto of his life.
ZEINOB: Also, the fact that all of us coming from a different place, that he was tolerant of it. If he'd been totally pure and totally celibate why would he have tolerated it?
SITARA: Have you ever heard of Karmu in Boston, the healer that Murshid met?
DAVID: Yeah, I remember when he went back there he was tremendously impressed with the man.
ZEINOB: Yeah, he said that he was the Black Christ.
DAVID: Yeah, he had met the Black Christ, I remember that distinctly.
SITARA: Murshid introduced us and after that Murshid came back here and Karmu told me that Murshid had told him that he had slept with 28 women. I told Wali Ali that.
ZEINOB: Who said what?
SITARA: Karmu had said that Murshid had confided in him that he had slept with 28 women. Karmu is a Leo and he's an exaggerator, but I'm recall that time that I told you that Karmu told me that Murshid Sam had told him that he had slept with at least 28 women!
WALI ALI: Oh well, that's Karmu's imagination.
SITARA: I think it's exaggeration, but I always felt that he had, because he wouldn't have talked about it. This is the first real authentication of it now.
ZEINOB: I've always said that he was celibate because—
SITARA: Despite what David says?
ZEINOB: No, before, because he always came on to me in such a totally pure way. And he also said to me he knew that I was going to be celibate living in the house—and he said that the secret of it is you just don't exist from here down (and he pointed at his waist)—you don't live from here down.
SITARA: You see that he did master that.
WALI ALI: I know this was one of his old flames or at least an old dancing partner. Her picture is over there on the right, do you recognize that? Leonora?
DAVID: No it wasn't her. The woman I met had longer hair and her nose was smaller. That's the thing that stood out; I notice noses a lot.
WALI ALI: I just thought on an odd chance maybe that was it.
WALI ALI: Do you remember any other occasion beside that one when you were in the car when he said to you, "I hope my disciples don't think I've been celibate?"
DAVID: No, he only mentioned it once in relation to that. He used to constantly walk around—for awhile when he first started taking on disciples—in total amazement of the fact. He said, "You can reach a state where you transcend sexual desires," where you are, in essence, no longer horny. He used to mention that with a deal of regularity, which is not necessarily confirmation of the fact that he did lead a celibate life. But he had views, and I don't know if that's been put on tape yet, about marriage and things like that. He refused to perform a marriage and when asked why he said, "I'm not sure that that institution is going to be carried on in the New Age."
WALI ALI: I think he had a thing about being a priest. He never wanted to officiate at the Universal Worship, for example, but he got put into that position at one point and he resented the fact that the Sufi Order had, after the death of Inayat Khan, put all of its emphasis in the Universal Worship and not in the esoteric school, and he didn't feel that his functions in life were in the line of his being a priest. He was more in the line of being a prophet or a spiritual teacher, or a member of the spiritual hierarchy or something, but not a priest and he didn't see himself having those functions.
WALI ALI: I think what you said is consistent with that; it sounds like a remark he would have made on some occasion.
DAVID: I forget whose marriage it was, was it Mouni? No, it wasn't Shirin. It was early disciples and they dropped out a long time ago. The girl had a perfectly round face.
WALI ALI: Was It Padmani and—
WALI ALI: What was his name?
DAVID: I can't remember what his name was.
WALI ALI: He was never actually initiated—they wanted him to marry them.
DAVID: Right. They wanted him to marry them and he wouldn't. And I remember asking him why, and that was the reason he gave. He also said at one point and I don't know how serious he was when he said it, that he saw his disciples being very free with their sexual energies and that he was teaching them how to renew that force within themselves so that they wouldn't be depleted. He saw all these depleted people walking around. Rather than condemn their actions, he was giving them exercises that would increase the life force so that they could continue functioning. I'm sure he was aware of the side effects, too, for gaining more control over those forces.
WALI ALI: But you don't remember anything further about that whole subject from a personal point of view?
DAVID: He mentioned it only once to my whole knowledge the fact that he was not celibate, and that his disciples were trying to put that bag on him. And he was kind of worried about being made a saint—that's one thing—
ZEINOB: Yeah, he was worried about that—
WALI ALI: I know he used to always go around saying, especially when he started doing this Krishna dance with women; that he never touched them with any kind of lust, and that was just entirely—God had showed him that he was supposed to touch those women, but he was not feeling about it in that way, and he didn't arrogate to himself any ability to kiss or touch any of his women disciples that he wouldn't give to any of his men. That always struck me as funny, when he would say that He was conscious. But for example, the actions of certain spiritual teachers—Hindus and others when they are teaching Brahmacharya and sleeping with their secretary, so to speak.
SITARA: He once told me upstairs in the kitchen, "You are very beautiful, or one of the 200 most beautiful women in the world; and God is sending all to me" and it is a very hard test. I have to be very careful.
WALI ALI: Oh yeah, he was very conscious of being careful about it; he was real strict with himself on that subject.
ZEINOB: Wouldn't that prove also that if he had been celibate all of his life, he would have mastered it by the time he was in his seventies.
DAVID: Not necessarily, no.
WALI ALI: I don't agree.
DAVID: He was probably one of the most virile men I have ever known in my life, really.
SITARA: My father thought he was a ladies' man—that was one of his impressions.
WALI ALI: Some of the stories that used to go around about him in the peripheries of the world were that he was sleeping with this lady and this lady and this lady, that came around.
SITARA: His disciples, you mean?
WALI ALI: Yeah, but of course everyone knows that wasn't true.
ZEINOB: Because they'd see pictures of him, for example, one of them is in that book where he's sitting in a chair and there are two women just—
DAVID: Two disciples kind of draped around him.
ZEINOB: I hate that picture.
SITARA: Oh, I love it. Ayesha and Mashaal.
WALI ALI: And Summer.
ZEINOB: No, not that one, that's not the picture I'm talking about, I love that picture too. This is another picture I am talking about, it is before he has a beard, and it's in the Murshid book, and it's not in the same light at all as that picture. I love that picture; I'm talking about a different one.
WALI ALI: Oh, I bet—
ZEINOB: I'm talking about one that the two women really do look sleazy and it’s not Ayesha and Mashaal. I don't know who it is but it's not in the same light at all.
WALI ALI: I think we are going a little far afield now; somehow we ought to try and refocus and just kind of get down to the basics that need to be covered. I'm glad to have had this discussion with you though, David, because it’s been very helpful. What do you feel, Zeinob? Maybe at some point we ought to go through—it seems to me that you need to make a separate tape rather than trying to do everything today, and I think what we should concentrate on is finishing up David's accounts of things.
DAVID: Okay, the only other thing that we touched upon that I think should probably be mentioned is Saadia, because I had more contact with her actually than even Murshid did. What exactly, I'm not sure. She was one of his early disciples; she was Murad rather than mureed. She chased after him, she told me she chased after him for a long time saying that she wanted him to be her teacher, and he refused for a long time until he received in vision that he was to initiate her. At that point she said that she was in the family home in Pakistan, and they had a private shrine and that he came to her there as she was just finishing her evening prayers and he initiated her at that point, and said, "Because I sought you out, you are a Murad, you're not a mureed." He also spoke of her in very high terms, very high terms.
WALI ALI: I know. I saw her this past year in N.Y.
DAVID: And I was totally surprised at what fell in my lap, so to speak, because I was the one who took her around to see the sights, and the second time she came he was in New Mexico, and I was the only one in the house—you were somewhere—
WALI ALI: I must have been at the camp; Yeah, I was at the camp.
ZEINOB: Yeah, you came back and Saadia was here, and David and I both stayed at home, and you went—it was the next summer that we went off—
DAVID: But we had long talks and in the East he was totally madzub, like maybe Major Sadiq whom Murshid talked about. I guess he would all of a sudden come—Major Sadiq's wife—he stayed at their house for awhile and the wife said, "I don't know what that man is but he has me cleaning out the chair and that's something I don't even do for my own husband." And he would come in to where she was and come storming in saying, "It's because of you that your husband will lose his powers of healing." And he would in the middle of the night go running down the street in his bare feet, or just with socks on or something, going to the Mosque for some reason or another, just totally—something that I don't think any of us ever saw, I know I never saw him in a state like that. He had his feet very firmly planted on the ground. Now there is a question of where his head was, where was the rest of him? But his feet were always on the ground. He was always teaching when he was with us. This is something which in a way I'm sorry I didn't see. But, in the West had he allowed that state to overtake him I imagine he would have ended up in some institution somewhere, because people just don't have the same opportunities here.
WALI ALI: You could feel that, and sometimes he showed it, but it was obvious it was under control, and a lot of his power was involved in his ability to control that state of madzubiat.
DAVID: That state of ecstasy. The real tale, I think, that I gained out of the time I spent with Saadia, other than picking up a lot of what the Oriental culture was, because she was very old world. I don't know what she is like now. I know she went through a lot of changes with us.
WALI ALI: She's had a lot of changes to go through.
ZEINOB: Her approach to Murshid was so different from the way we related to him. Her respect from knowing who a Murshid was from generations and generations was very different from our relationship to him.
DAVID: Verging on worship.
WALI ALI: This is the Oriental way.
DAVID: We treated him with very little respect and quite often no respect at all.
WALI ALI: I don't know—it was certainly different; he tolerated many different approaches and that was one of his interesting features that he with some people, he was a joker, and a ragamuffin and they didn't think seriously about him; to others he was—and even among his mureeds there were many different attitudes that he accepted. Yeah, I think that's an interesting point, David, about the attitude toward a teacher that she demonstrated.
DAVID: I know she was really upset when he was taken to Taos to be buried, because she said that he had picked out a place in Pakistan, that he said, "I want to be buried on this hill."
WALI ALI: Right, he told me, though, that he had two places—
DAVID: Right, he told me that too.
WALI ALI: That he had seen that he would be buried in, and one was in Lahore and the other was at Lama.
DAVID: Right, and it just depended on where he happened to die.
WALI ALI: That was just the decision that was made at the time; nobody was prepared to send him to Pakistan.
SITARA: He did also say that it would be one of the two places depending on what part of the world he was in when he left.
WALI ALI: Oh, I never heard him say that to me; he had just said one of the two.
SITARA: Yeah, he said it to me.
WALI ALI: I'll ask you one last question. Taking in the whole picture of the effect that Murshid had on your life and how you now see him, what would you say to evaluate in those terms the effect he had on your life, and how you now see him.
DAVID: He said it himself one time; he was my ersatz-father. He adopted me and took care of me when I felt that my family rejected me and didn't understand what I was getting into. And he helped me along, because when I'd go through hard times he'd always come through. It wasn't always pleasant for me, but he always did the right thing for me, for my own growth. Spiritually he was the one that picked me up. I was totally unaware of the fact that there was even anything called the spiritual path, and he proceeded to take me by the hand and lead me in that direction. And he couldn't initiate me until I realized that there was such a thing as initiation, but he definitely—and he had the weirdest techniques—for example he started out by inviting me to parties because that was the only thing I could relate to. After that the heavies came! In the Holy Order of Mans he is called the incarnation of John the Baptist, which I am sure is common knowledge. That was his mission, to initiate, and he quite often said that himself, was that his dances were not his main teaching, but that was to introduce people into ecstasy, into a higher consciousness, but that wasn't his real work. I don't think anybody really figures out, as far as I know, what his real work was because he had his hands in so many different things.
WALI ALI: I made a crack at giving that answer; I wrote to the preface of the Jerusalem Trilogy, in terms of his real work. And I think his real work was in the area of what we call the Spiritual Hierarchy, those beings that are responsible for the protection of the whole planet and for the evolution of human history in terms of becoming more God-conscious and meeting with actual problems of the whole planet.
DAVID: He was definitely a member of the Hierarchy.
WALI ALI: And so he was called on to do many different things in different periods of his life and, in fact, it's kind of like reading many different lives. And that's what is fascinating, too, about pulling together the whole picture.
DAVID: Really, I know he said quite frequently that he was the only person in history, or at least the first person in history, that was an accepted Master of all the religious traditions of the world. He was accepted by other teachers of those schools. He was an accepted Yogi Master; he was an accepted Buddhist Master; he was an accepted Zen Master; he was an accepted Christian Master; he was the first man in history that did that. That's what the New Age is all about, if he came to introduce the New Age—the title of this is The New Age in Person, really is an apt title, in that respect, because the Aquarian Age is many individuals functioning as one organism, and that's kind of a keynote. And that's what he set out to do.
I was listing to some tapes the other day and he mentioned his tomato experiments in it. The only real information I got from the tape was that he was doing them during the time he was going to Berkeley and that he was directed by God to stop because the human race was not ready to receive what he was discovering and so he destroyed his notes and thought of it no more.