Remembrance by Johnson, Jemila and Nathan

Jemila and Nathan Johnson

JEMILA: Memories of murshid Sam. What struck me the deepest, in my own life and in other people's lives, was his ability to awaken us to our purpose in life. According to Hazrat Inayat Khan  the very first step for a person is the awakening to your purpose in life.  Of course he didn’t say, "OK, this is what you should be doing, this is what you're going to do. He did it in little ways that gave you clues.

 I was his dance partner. This included all different kinds of things. Sometimes first thing in the morning, he'd say he wanted to see me after breakfast in the meditation room because he had a new dance he was working out.  He'd go through the preliminaries with me, showing it to me, and later we would show it to the Gatha class and then later to the public meeting.  When he would do the Krishna dance, embodying the spirit of Krishna, became Krishna, it was my role to become Radha.   Long before the dances actually started,  I had a dream about him as my lover. Later he had a confirming dream. And as the result of those two dreams and the fact he considered me the most “impersonal” woman in the group , he said I should be his dance partner.  In other words, I guess I wasn't very attached to his personality so it worked out fine. We often danced together and it was wonderful, even magical. It opened up whole other spheres and all of life.

And after he passed on, I was at the Khankah one night for a class.  I was  reminiscing in my mind about how I hadn't fully appreciated all that so much, that it seemed to be over before it began. He was with us for just a few years and we were all so immature. Maybe not all of us, but I was, and not very awakened to the depth of things.  I was thinking l how it was really a pit that it all went by so fast without my really being able to feel the depth of its meaning.  I remember thinking, “ah, if I could just dance with Murshid one more time”.  It was like after someone's passed on, you think, oh, you really blew it because you didn't take advantage of the gift of their presence. It was during a break and I had just slipped out of the class for some reason . I was in the Khankah kitchen and I had a vision of Murshid. He said, with his big grin on his face, making fun of my thoughts and saying, "One more time, you'd like to dance one more time, all right." And then we danced all around the kitchen at the Khankah, just like when we used to dance at the meetings.

Nathan, you knew Murshid Sam from the time you were one year old until you were about three and a half. And it was a very significant meeting.  Mansur and I had just moved to California on the invitation of Moineddin and Fatima. It was the day before Nathan's first birthday,  14th of July. Nathan was a little baby just starting to walk.  The first day we drove into Bolinas Moineddin and Fatima said, "You'll want to go into the city tonight and see Sam.” Naturally we said yes and took Nathan with us. Murshid Sam had just moved into his new flat and there wasn't anything around except boxes of books and stuff. We went upstairs, put Nathan down on the floor. He proceeded to crawl over  to Murshid Sam’s feet and went into sidja position, surrender. Murshid Sam took this as a real good sign for Nathan. He said something line, "This little baby knows what he's doing." So, Nathan, do you remember anything about murshid?

NATHAN: I kind of remember, me and my friend Kevin, he used to take us to a coffee shop or ice cream store every day, and we always used to get rock candy and donuts.

JEMILA: He used to make me furious, he'd be buying them sweets all the time. In the middle of a meal he'd say, "Do you want some ice cream?" And you still hadn't eaten your dinner. What else to you remember?

NATHAN: I remember he used to always sit in the Khankah, in the TV room cracking walnuts, watching the news and singing "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot, nine days old"

JEMILA: Do you remember when he had the broom on the end of his finger dancing around trying to balance a broom, for the party?

NATHAN: I don't think so; he always played Bridge.

JEMILA: Yes, that's the other thing, he cured us of bridge. Because we used to play bridge a lot, and when he would play, he played for blood. You'd get scared stiff to play, because he was apparently, so serious. Poor Jayanara and some of the more timid people just couldn't stand to do it anymore, and finally we all didn't like it anymore and quit. So I don't know if that was his intention or not, but that's what happened.

NATHAN: Whenever he was going to put down a trick … ”Uh!"

JEMILA: Like this….

INTERVIEWER: Was he a good bridge player?

JEMILA: Oh yes, fantastic! genius, and that was the trouble, we couldn't keep up, there couldn't be any match what-so-ever.

INTERVIEWER: Were you the only kid around?

NATHAN: Kevin, I lived over there with Kevin. I used to always sleep in his room. After he died or something, I can't remember where he was. He had a real nice soft bed. It was real long.

JEMILA: Although a lot of the time, I didn't know what I was doing , in the midst of it all, still,  murshid Sam gave me an introduction to Hazrat Inayat Khan,  my eternal Master, from the beginning of time to the end of time. I  have nothing but gratitude for the being who opened the way to me.  It was  from his mouth that I first heard the words, "Hazrat Inayat Khan" or the "Sufi Message". He was the doorway to what has been the most meaningful thing in my life.  It’s difficult to remember things because I have a natural aversion to going back  into the past. I think, in many people's case, it is not the past, it's the present. The seeds that were sown at that time have blossomed, and there's a wonderful garden in people's lives. This garden comes from that time