Sheikh Krishnadas—Memories of Murshid Sam—4/1/76
KRISHNADAS: The initiation was interesting, at the time this person was initiated, we had never heard of initiation, As a matter of fact we didn't know there was such a word as initiation, the word Bayat was totally unknown. So there was no ambition, there was no hope of initiation—we just came to this house three or four nights a week for a period of months and…
SITARA: What year was that?
KRISHNADAS: It was early’68, Jan, Feb. or March ‘68. The records will show when we were initiated—maybe April or March, I don't know.
SABIRA: How did you happen to find the house in the first place?
KRISHNADAS: Let me tell the story about initiation. We had been involved in food at the time, investigating food, or what is food, we were conducting a fast, and we had just tried our first ten-day fast, and it ended on a Thursday night, I believe, and that was the night we came here for one of the regular meetings; and it was that night that the initiations were held.
But the way it happened was—as a matter of fact, we were sitting right here—and there were people all over the floor, and for some reason we were facing that way (toward door), because normally we would face this way (toward window) because this is where Murshid sat.
SITARA: On the floor, did he sit on the floor?
KRISHNADAS: No, he sat on a chair, but this was the spot. There was a row of chairs here with Mansur and Moineddin and Akhbar—so that night, at break time, Murshid said, "We’ll have a break now,"—and he was standing there in the doorway, and everyone was facing that way—we had some kind of, practice facing that way, and he said, "All those who are going to be initiated sit on this side of the room and those that don't want to be initiated sit over here, and we'll have initiations after the break." I've told the story so many times, it sounds like I read it somewhere, because I tell this to all the people in candidate's classes when they want to know about initiation. And I don't know what it is to tell you the truth. You can’t explain it, and we had never heard of initiation; we were sitting on that side of the room, and Murshid said, "Those that want initiation sit on this side of the room," so inside, what we said to ourselves in the head or in the mind, "We’ll just sit here and we won’t move, and maybe we can sneak in and get initiated," because I’d never heard of initiation and didn’t know what it was, I’d never read up on it, and never hoped for it. I was just coming to this house because of Murshid, and so in my mind I was just thinking, "Maybe I can just sneak in with the rest of them," I didn't know what, it was and "maybe he won’t notice or something like that." But I figure that I’m sitting on the right side of the room and maybe it’s a sign or something. So it turned out that we got Bayat that night along with 7 or 8 other people.
SITARA: Do you remember who else was in that group?
KRISHNADAS: No I don’t, the records would have to show that. I have no idea about the names. We were just stoned out of our heads.
SABIRA: When you say, "We," who was we?
KRISHNADAS: This person—we picked up that practice from Murshid of referring to this person as, “this person,” or “we,” and that’s a habit. So here he was, the one who is speaking, sitting in the right spot and thinking, "I don't know what it is but maybe it will be alright." And we hadn't gone through any preparation or anything, but it sounded alright, so we got initiated.
SITARA: In those days did he initiate one by one?
KRISHNADAS: One by one, pretty fast, pretty snappy, you really had to be on your toes, like, "Next."
SITARA: Do you remember taking a vow or assenting to any vows?
KRISHNADAS: I don't know, I was just carried away; I was swept into his presence. I was just there, there were no thoughts and I don’t really what happened, and I am not sure that Murshid did either, because I’ve heard him give Bayat a dozen different ways, sometimes drinking this, and sometimes—always mentioning Inayat Khan. And first of all, asking people the basic question, if it is their wish to be initiated into the Sufi Order. And it varied quite widely as did Murshid in his own approach to every situation, so I really don’t remember what happened, except that something happened inside. And yet looking back on it, at the time one didn’t know anything. It is only in retrospect that you make up stories about how I felt, and it was so wonderful. It wasn't anything; I didn’t come to this house because there was a Sufi Master; I didn’t get initiation because my soul had been longing for initiation; none of that romantic claptrap. This person was coming to this house and here was this man who was like the only real man or person he’d ever met. And when he said, "We’re going to have initiation tonight," I just figured I wanted to be in on it. It was something he was offering like a meal or a treat. And that’s the story of this person’s initiation.
SABIRA: Did you know anything about the Sufi Order when you came here the first time?
KRISHNADAS: We had bought a lot of the books by that time and read them, and had read the Path of Initiation and Discipleship, but it doesn’t talk about initiation into the Sufi Order there, it talks about Cosmic initiations, initiations that life gives, the initiation of the mother, and the initiation of starting a new business, or falling in love—and he takes it from a very broad point of view. And then he goes into, of course, mureed training, but somehow we had never associated mureedship with this person. We’ve always steered clear of organizations, and ideologies and outfits so that didn’t interest us; I didn’t want to join an outfit. But I figured that whatever Murshid was selling, if that’s the way you could put it, was, he was the conductor on the train and I wanted to get my ticket punched.
SITARA: I came on the scene late in the fall of 1970 or summer—but I always remember him referring to you as the special case. Could you comment on this?
KRISHNADAS: I always hear these stories from other people, naturally he wouldn’t tell me that, but they filtered back to this person over the years. And I would say, "Oh really! Did he say that?" I heard him say things years later, they filtered down, and he has done that to a lot of people, later they have found out something that he said.
SITARA: Do you have any inkling what he meant?
KRISHNADAS: Without sounding egotistical, and this could very easily sound egotistical—but it isn’t egotistical, I just remember it like an historian who isn’t playing politics. For instance, one time he was getting people to bring their charts in order to give them walks, to bring in their positive qualities, to balance the positive aspects of their chart so they could bring them out in their lives, and he asked everybody to bring their charts and finally this person—this person has always been reluctant—don’t push me around, don’t tell me what to do kind of a person, very independent. But finally, you can’t win out against Murshid; your ego just has to take a back seat, so I finally brought my chart. He just looked at it and says, "Alright, we’ll work on this later." He wouldn’t give me a walk in public, or wouldn’t give me any practice, and he just looked at it and said, "Oh we’ll take this up later." So I never got a walk from him. And later on, I saw after he’d passed my record chart which Wali Ali distributed to all the disciples, practices he’d given to disciples, it said, "Krishnadas, all walks, all Tasawwuris," or like that, "Krishna, Rama, etc, all." So I got the idea through something he said—one doesn’t like to say this, but it is the truth, it is a fact, he said, "This is a different class of chart." In other words he wasn’t going to give me a Moon/Saturn to bring out those qualities; I don’t know, maybe it’s because there is a Sun/Jupiter/Neptune grand trine and there is also a Sun/Mercury/Saturn conjunction—they are all right together—directly opposed to Mars and directly 90 degrees Uranus.
SITARA: I think Uranus is the clue—
KRISHNADAS: You could say that and it certainly has been; God this is sounding like "This Is Your Life." And then, after you won your first tournament….
SITARA: What teachings did he give you? Did he give you no formal teaching?
KRISHNADAS: The one practice he gave me was, "This is not my body, this is the Temple of God." And I felt I couldn’t do it—of course ego was the one that said that—I felt I couldn’t do it, because every time I said, "This is not my body," I got hung up on the word “my,” thinking that that just reinforces the sense of me. And "This is not my body," and I’d stop at “my.” I came back to him once, one of the very few times I ever talked to him about practices. And I said, "I have trouble with this practice, it seems to be strengthening my ego by saying my body." He said, "Alright, alright, visualize Lord Krishna dancing," so that was fine. That was the way Murshid worked with people.
As far as I know, if they didn’t like a practice or had trouble doing it, or their ego was getting in trouble, he’d say, "Alright, try this one," and he’d give them something that they felt that they could do.
And right away, okay, that was groovy, and I started doing that, and I’ve done that one pretty much ever since. Of course now, one does, "This is not my body, this is the Temple of God," and gives it to lots of other people; and we have sung it and danced it and put it into all kinds of practices. We do it at Allah’s Acres, as one of our regular practices. But aside from that, all the practices that this person got, we never had a lot of personal consultations about practices. This person always felt that Murshid—I don’t know, but it was like I didn’t have to have personal interviews with him.
I felt that every time that I was in his presence or even thought about him that I was under guidance. I personally felt I didn’t want to take up his time away from a lot of these poor young girls that were strung out on speed, that had lost their boyfriends and had venereal disease?, and didn’t have jobs, all these young people, who were very insecure and very frightened and befuddled by all the changes that were going on in ‘67 and ‘68. It wasn’t that I felt like I was the old person and I was mature, but I just felt that I had Murshid forever; if I never saw him again, I had him, but you know what I mean. The link was established, l felt like I didn’t want to take his time up, like I don’t like to take up Wali Ali’s time, he’s got so much to do, our work was—our contact was really on the inner planes.
SITARA: Did he give you your name?
KRISHNADAS: Oh yes. Right here, he was standing right where this tape recorder is right now—right there. We were standing, he was there and I was here (KD points to places in room).
SABIRA: When did that occur?
KRISHNADAS: The records would show, sometime in ‘67. No, ‘68, sorry. We didn’t start coming here until early ‘68, we met Vasistha—this is not going to be very transcribable, because this stuff is now just shot-gun stuff; there are not any sustained anecdotes—I hate to load this up with lots of fillers. One other story that is a teaching story—and I’ve used it as a teaching story for years—one night there was a party at Gavin Arthur’s and Murshid asked this person to come along, so we felt tremendously honored and very much on our mettle; we were very much watching ourselves because we were the only disciple there. Murshid and this person were the only ones there—and he was introducing us around like this was a specimen. "This is Krishnadas, my disciple, or maybe he wasn’t using my disciple because this was a mixed group, but that didn’t stop Murshid, because he didn’t see any mixed groups. So the story is that at the meeting, at the party, which was a party— people eating things and drinking and talking and talking and talking and moving around—big social thing people from all walks of life as they say, so Murshid and this person were seated and there were some other people, and Murshid got into this incredible wild argument with about 6 or 7 people all at once, and he suddenly became this obnoxious, incredibly argumentative, snappy man who was just behaving in the most atrocious manner, and I don’t recall what they were talking about, but he was attacking their logic, their sources of information, “How do you know, what is your source of information, what is the basis of your statement, that’s an opinion, that’s an opinion what are you talking about?” And people were not used to being talked to like this, because everyone just gives out their own opinion like it comes straight from God; that is the way people act, and he was saying, “What is the base, what are your facts, what are the facts,” and the 3 or 4 people were kind of jumping back and twitching and kind of looking at each other, and thinking, “Oh my, we’ve gotten into a strange situation here," because it wasn’t what you call polite behavior. And Murshid was flashing glances at this person, Krishnadas, out of the side of his eye while he was doing this. He was going (like you’re the people), "What do you mean, what’s the basis for your argument, what’re your facts, you don’t, have any facts," and then he’d look at me—just twist his head and look at me and like Krishna—with this big twinkle—and of course it was a test, obviously, we didn’t know it was a test for maybe 2 or 3 years later until much later, but at the time we were in incredible turmoil. Lots of disciples have been put through this number; you can choose at this point to go with your guide or you can follow your ego and say, "I’m sorry, I just can’t handle this, I disassociate myself from this eccentric behavior," but the opportunity presented itself in our mind, in the mental world, but never for a minute—and we are not patting ourselves on the back— because there was no question of a choice, I just figured that I did not know what he was doing, but I’m with him! Like I don't care what he is doing, it is really strange, but I couldn't care less what they thought about him at that moment and it stopped as suddenly as it started, and there was a big storm (as above: What’re your facts, etc.) and he’d look at me 2 or 3 times, and I guess he felt I had gotten the message and the lesson had gone on long enough, and so it stopped—and then there was this big space. A lot of people have experienced this with Murshid. He would put on a storm or some demonstration, or act angry, or act one way or another, and then after it, it just stops and then it is all quiet. And the people who were all upset by his behavior weren’t upset any more, I could tell that. It just all disappeared; it calmed down.
Anyway, that’s the story. We discovered later in reading and hearing about other people, other disciples all over the world, and other various teachers, that you often get situations like this where the teacher throws a number at you, and you have the choice of following the teacher or following the crowd, meaning this standard of behavior, and in this person’s case there wasn’t any choice, really! I saw that you could see it as a choice, but there was no choice, I would go with Murshid even if he jumped off of a cliff and said, "Let’s go see what’s down here," you’d do it, really you had to, that's the way I always felt. And maybe that's why I didn’t want to have a lot of personal interviews, because I knew this, and I knew that he knew it—somehow! You could put these things into words later, and it all sounds real groovy, like I was intellectualizing all the time. At the time I was in a cloud, I was befuddled, I was goofy, but I was just hanging on, the soul really calling out through all this cloud of ego and opinion and attitude and bad education. My soul was saying, "Here’s your chance, if you want to fly, let’s go!" And go where the light is, so that’s what it was. There is another story at Cultural Integration Fellowship near Golden Gate Park. There was a meeting, and there was some Swami there from India. We’d been kind of hooked on the Swami trip, and the super-cool coy Swami—very calm and everything is so beautiful, this sort of thing, so this little man was a Swami and he had an ashram over there, and he was showing films and doing a slide presentation, and showing pictures of all the American students convert them and what they do over there—weaving baskets and writing letters, and washing their clothes—and they all looked kind of glum to this person, and Murshid was at this meeting, and he had a couple of disciples sitting on either side of him, and this person was sitting back 2 or 3 rows, alone as usual, because there is the Swami and I had the curious notion at this meeting—I was hoping that Murshid would be impressed by the Swami, because you see I had been into Yoga, I’d been studying Yoga for a few months before—I’d been impressed by the Swami and by the Yoga trip before I met Murshid. So he picked up on this, and was always talking about me as the Yogi in the group. So he finally went to check out the Yogi; or the Swami, add this person went too, and we were kind of hoping that he maybe would see how nice the Swami is, and he had never met this Swami—but he just represented the sit-up-straight-be-real-calm-tradition. But anyway the Swami made his presentation, showed his movies, did his talk—the thing is, the Swami was up there (points) and between this person and the Swami was Murshid sitting up about four rows, and you couldn’t help but notice that Murshid was sitting there. There was the swami, and it was like the other story, something was saying, "You can take your pick." And I started losing confidence in the Swami during the hour and a half show, not really, I didn’t get wiped out and say, "Swami’s are no good, "but I felt that it was a kind of dull presentation, that the people in the movie all looked kind of down; they didn’t look very happy—
SITARA: A movie?
KRISHNADAS: He showed a movie of his ashram in India where there were a lot of American students studying, and writing letters and going through their daily activities. But they all looked kind of like the Tassajara people, kind of like, and we are practicing our Sadhana—it was showing all over them, "We are practicing our Sadhana,“ and they didn’t look really happy, and I felt kind of depressed and that Murshid probably didn't think much of the presentation. Anyway, the point of the story is that at the end of it, the Swami goes to the door and says, "So nice you could come," and gave American type greetings as you do at churches or clubs; after the meeting as people go out the door. "Very glad you could come," and all that; so he is standing at the door, and Murshid and this person are on their way out, and we meet right there, and there is the Swami, and the Swami is ready to do the handshake, "Oh so glad you could come, how nice you could come, how nice to see you," he was just saying this to everybody, and Murshid says, "Om Sri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai, Jai Ram," and he flashed with this big smile, and the Swami says, "Oh yes, how nice," he was completely flabbergasted, it just knocked him out, and all he could do was come out with some English, polite social number, and Murshid and I walked on out, with the other two disciples, don't remember their names—and as soon as we got 5 feet from the Swami, Murshid said to me, "Did you see him jump, did you see him jump?" And I didn’t know what he was talking about. The whole thing was just a mysterious blaze of flashing—here’s Murshid doing this thing: "Om Sri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai, Jai Ram," he was just standing there, pow—and throwing it out, and then turning to us and saying, "Did you see him jump, did you see him jump?" Of course I didn’t see him jump; I did not see him jump at the time, but if you think about these things—if that is what you want to call it—thinking— re-visualize them over the years because you knew something happened then and you didn’t know what it was. You couldn’t put any words to it, and the words I’ll put to it now are not really what happened because they are just words, and Murshid was a semanticist—the sign is, "The map is not the territory," but the message is—what this person got after I re-played the scene over and over without any coloration—personal coloration—I did not want to see the Swami jump, but later on I realized that he had actually jumped: In fact, back about six inches! But at the time part of your perception picks that up, but you don’t remember it until later on when you are in a move open state and in a higher place. And then you can look down and see it, "Oh yeah, of course he jumped, I saw him jump. I realize that he did jump, and I’m not making it up, I didn’t make it up. He actually twitched visibly, and all he could come back with was, "So nice you could come." And I thought later on, at least he could have said, "Om, Sri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai, Jai Ram," back to Murshid. And that was one of Murshid” s lessons to this person.
SITARA: Did he ever look ridiculous to you? At that moment?
KRISHNADAS: Oh no, not at all.
SITARA: Sometimes people had a way of perceiving him that way.
KRISHNADAS: Oh yeah, at the other time at Gavin Arthur’s party, I wouldn’t say he looked ridiculous. I knew it was a man putting on a number, putting on an act for a certain purpose, and I didn’t know what it was, and I knew it had to do with me, because I was definitely seated in a certain place, and he was there and he was doing it was all like staged opera, and here we have these people, so I can look at him and give it to them, and say, "Do you get it, do you get, do you get it?" And then he'd look at you, "Did you get it?" And as soon as he felt you'd gotten it, even though it might not be in your conscious mind, he would turn it off, and let it stew for a couple of years, And it wasn’t until a long time later—you think about these things over and over again—“what happened then? What was the meaning of that?" And you don’t want to color it, you really want to be sincere, and you don’t want to be a hypocrite with yourself and you don’t want to read a meaning into it that isn’t there—but the meaning got there: you can go with your teacher, or you can go with your ego, that’s all! And the same thing with the Swami, I don't mean by the Swami, that all Swamis are in this class, but he just showed me that my ideal of the Indian Yogi, as aloof, super-controlled, very calm and very quiet was not necessarily the only way to go, and that Papa was a Swami too, you mustn’t forget that. There are Swamis and there are Swamis! Om Sri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai, Jai Ram came from the Swami! Papa Ram Das! And you would have thought that that Swami would have had the sense to say "hello” to another Holy man, but the message I got was that he was not a real Holy man, he was just selling something to American because a lot of Swamis come over here and they try to push stuff.
SITARA: It takes one to know one.
KRISHNADAS: That’s right.
SITARA: You told a story at the last Leaders’ seminar. Do you think that is a valuable story to contribute now about the credential story?
KRISHNADAS: Yeah, sure, that’s a good one. There was a point in this person's development, which, Alhamdulillah, is never ending, and is constantly going on as it must, when we felt we were enlightened, or we had read about the three stages of initiation that one goes through with the guide and then the Rassoul or the Ideal takes over, or Pir, Rassoul, Nabi, one of these forms, when you go beyond fana-fi-Sheikh, and so you intellectualize all these things and your ego says, "That’s where you are, isn’t it nice? You have reached this place, it’s wonderful; now you don't need a guide on earth anymore, so we stopped coming to this place right here—we don't need to do that anymore, and thinking, ego says, "We are high enough now, God is our teacher," and it is just incredible that one goes through these trips, thinking you are so elevated—so we didn’t come over for a few weeks and started feeling really down, but grimly determined to prove to ourselves that ego—we didn’t know it was ego—you don’t know it is ego, you never know it is ego, you think that that is right, and the way you are feeling and thinking at the time, you say, "That’s the way it is, God wants it to be this way." And that is why you have to have a teacher that will say, "Look at it some other way, why don’t you? Turn around or stand on your head or shut up, or come here, or eat a little of this," or something like that. "Drink this,” or whatever they do to you. So we were living in a household of other Sufis mostly in San Anselmo, and we were not coming to meetings. We weren’t coming to meetings; that was our program that we were not going to go to meetings anymore. It was just a little flurry of ego coming up there. It was like ‘71, or ‘70 maybe, and word got back through Radha to this person that Murshid had said and obviously he had said it so that it would get back to this person’s ears—in other words it was part of the plan. "It is only his ego that is keeping him away." Oh boy! Did that smart! That hurt! What did it hurt? It hurt the ego! So "It is only his ego that is keeping him away." I was just boiling over, and thinking, "What does he mean, it is only my ego? What is he talking about?" After about ten, fifteen, twenty minutes, maybe an hour, I just went and sat, boy I was furious, because of boy what does he mean, it is only the ego? And after an hour or whatever the time was, I kept saying that over and over, you realize, hell, it must be the ego! Nothing else is going to make me this upset, and angry. It was the ego that had been attacked—like a frontal attack. I mean teachers work in different ways with disciples. And sometimes you attack their ego front on, and you say, "It is only your ego that won't let you come to me. And he used that with me, and he sent it to me via a personal messenger, “It’s only Krishnadas’ ego that won’t let him come here." And the intensity of my anger when I got that message was the confirmation to me that it was ego, because after a little reflection, call it Grace of God, that comes to cool you out and lets you see, of course it is ego! Of course! What else could keep you from the path, from your own beloved teacher? So we started coming back right away, but while we were away, and before this message had come to us via the messenger, we got a letter from Murshid, a personal letter written by hand, I think, and in which he laid out his credentials as a formal teacher in the formal tradition. A teacher will use different approaches with each different disciple. I’ve seen him sit in this room and hold a little girl’s hand and talk to her—and I was out in the hall working or waiting for an interview or something—and I didn’t know who it was that was talking—but I heard him talking to this girl, although I didn’t know it was a girl—and they were sitting together on the couch, and he was holding her two hands in his hands and he was talking so slowly and I can’t even reproduce his voice without breaking down and crying— because I was sitting out there when I heard this—and it was like the Father, the lover of all children, just calming her down, saying, "Everything’s going to be alright, now it's alright, you don’t have to worry about anything." Except he wasn't crying like I am crying. He was just super Father—the Father of the World—Father/Mother, and she walked out of that door and she was just radiant, she was just bouncing, just full of life, and when she went in, she was just really strung out, unhappy, worried, confused, almost bumping into things. Anyway, as I was saying, Murshid used a different approach with everyone. He wouldn't have used that approach with Krishnadas. He’d come around and say, "It’s only your ego that’s keeping you away!" "What do you mean?” Oh, you are right!" Anyway, he sent me this letter, a formal letter, "This person has been accredited as a spiritual teacher in the following schools, and he told me about the initiations with Papa Ramdas, with Inayat Khan, in the Zen hierarchy and how he'd been given the robe and his name and his credentials and when it happened, and all this stuff laying it out in a letter. And I was in the position then of, "I don’t need a teacher." God is the only teacher! You read this in all the books, and it’s true, it’s true, it’s true, but if you let your ego get a hold of a number like that and play it back to you, then you’ll start saying and thinking, "I’m the teacher," because it is the ego talking. And until you can become absorbed in—or at least enter into fana-fi-sheikh, into the being of the teacher, then the ideal, the Rassoul, cannot be approached. You have to bow before a human teacher. At least this is my understanding. So he sent me this letter laying out his credentials and saying at the end, and it is hard to say this because as a person who has to fulfill a teacher’s role, now in life—whenever you refer back to the way your teacher behaved toward you, it always makes you remember what a tremendous responsibility, how flexible you must be, and how you must constantly be listening to the Voice of Guidance to match every situation because what he said to this person in the letter was "God bless you!" He said, "Independence is the sign of spiritual progress, and your feeling of independence is like a great sign." I wanted Murshid to say, "Get out, I don’t want to see you again," or something like that, then the ego would say, "See, you’re right, see he wasn’t a real teacher anyway! God is your real teacher and you are superior to the rest of them." And what he did was, he said, "God bless you. Independence is a sign of spiritual growth, and this is a very good sign," and suddenly I saw this person’s behavior as part of a process that was going on, and the rebellion, the independence, and all of the funny notions you get were part of something bigger. And in that letter he showed it to us that, yes—this independence that was manifesting to this person was a sign of spiritual progress but not the way I had misconceived it, and he was saying, "God bless you in your endeavors and here’s my credentials, I really am a spiritual teacher," that all these people, all these paths have given me the right—these developing and he saying, "I have the right to transmit this material." And he probably wouldn’t have used this approach with another disciple because I was not in a position to doubt anything that he said. You get this letter and here is Murshid laying his life out in front of you, saying, "I have been given the robe, and I have the right to give these transmissions."
I couldn’t argue with it, I just couldn’t say, "Oh yeah, oh yeah!" I just couldn’t; there was no possibility of saying such a thing. And then he winds up saying, "God bless you in your spiritual work." I came back fast, I came back fast! Not because I needed Murshid, but because anybody who had that that much forgiveness manifesting in their being certainly had to be God himself; and so it was, and so it is.
SABIRA: What were the circumstances surrounding your becoming a Sheikh?
KRISHNADAS: Oh! I’m glad you brought that up. Everything that has happened to this person—it’s like everybody, like everybody—you look back and it is always a big mystery. At the time you think that X is happening and later on it turns out it was Y or Z or Alpha or something else. We were not any rank at all during Murshid’s time on earth. We were just Krishnadas. I didn't know there was level one or level two and all that stuff. I didn’t know anything about the Sufi Order really; I just knew Murshid. And he was the pathway; he was the key.
SITARA: Oh, by the way, that’s where I saw the special case; you weren’t given a grade ever, were you until you were given the Sheikh initiation?
KRISHNADAS: No, that came about after Murshid passed, and during the meetings in Sausalito one night, David Jamil who is now Khalif Yusuf, was handing out all these piles of papers to people, which were all the Gatha papers, the Sangathas, the Gathas, the Githas, and the Sangithas and laid them all on this person. And I saw the Sangithas and I realized that was 10th grade and I said, "I’m not any grade; I don’t know what grade I am." And he said, "Pir wants you to have these." Pir Vilayat was distributing all the Gatha papers to all of those that were supposed to have them. And so he said, "You are supposed to have these; Pir wants you to have them.” That was the first time I realized that if I was getting the Sangitha papers then I guess I was looked at as being at that level. And I said, "I’m not a Sheikh." He said, "Pir wants you to have them, here take them." So sometime after that, I don’t know—’71 or ’72, I don't remember years, I was living in Geyserville, so I guess it was four years ago, five years ago—Moineddin made a special trip up bearing the message from Pir Vilayat—this is all going to sound egotistical because I’m sure everybody has had special messages from Krishna and Jesus, so it doesn't mean anything. But this is what happened; Moineddin drove up to Geyserville and said, "Pir Vilayat," I don’t know how he put it, it is all that very wonderful and gracious language; it makes you say, Allah—"Pir is offering you the Sheikh’s robe," or something like that, "The robe of the Sheikh." Again the ego flared up and we were willing to accept it, but then after a couple of weeks of thinking about it—and hear that word "thinking" (put it in quotes) because what the ego does is think, think, think! And what the Soul does is feel! Joe Miller, praise God for that! But we thought about it and said, "I don’t want the Sheikh’s robe, I don’t want to be hooked up with any Order, I don’t want to be hooked up with any outfits." And he drove back down, I was coming to meetings regularly, twice a week driving down from Geyserville which is a couple of hours north, and I told Moineddin that I could not accept the Sheikh’s robe.
I didn’t want to be a Sheikh, because I felt it was a limitation, and when I say I, I am using the term deliberately because it was ego! A false personality, thinking, "There is a universal teaching; if God exists, why must we have Orders? And outfits? And robes and ranks?" And again, it was that thing that had come up before, and I didn’t see the purpose of the Message or the purpose of the Sufi Order; I just saw it as an outfit that could be limiting. And of course this person always stayed away from anything that might be limiting, not realizing that in limitations, man’s limitation is—or God’s perfection is found through man’s limitation—don’t know if I got it right—so a year went by after we had been offered the robe and didn’t want the robe, didn’t want anything. Later on, about a year after that, in January, four years ago it came to us after hearing the Pir at some seminar, I just suddenly hit on what the purpose of the Message is, or what the Message was, that the fact that Allah exists, there is nothing but Allah, and that the Sufi Order is directly commissioned to carry out this work, and that I was just starting to grow up enough to realize that a Sheikh is like the beginner, the first one on the step of those who act as transmitters. They are just babies, baby teachers. And I was willing, in fact at that point I was afraid that he would turn me down. And I asked to have an interview with the Pir and it was at Alhamdulillah Ranch where he gave me the Sheikh’s initiation and went through the whole Silsila, and the Chishti line, and gave me the blessing and the initiation there, and I was very afraid, that my cantankerous behavior would put him off. But again, it was like before with Murshid, because the Murshid doesn’t really care how you act, because they see who you really are—what your real destiny is and what your real path is. They don’t care if you get upset and angry, "Screw all these guys, I’m going off in the mountain and be the king or whatever." They don’t pay any attention to that. It’s a real lesson to anybody who is going to be taken into teaching work, always to see the best in your disciples, always look for the very best in them, for any fool can see the worst in them. Any idiot can come down and say, "You lack self-control, or you need more energy, or you are too critical, or etc, etc., anybody can do that, your friends will do it for you all the time.
But your teacher is the only one—that’s why I kept coming to this house—because there was something inside that felt like it was being recognized for what it really was; a ray of Divine Light. And Murshid was the one who was sitting here just looking out and said, "Alright, everybody up, everybody up, join hands and make a circle," and people would be giddy and talking, and he would say, "Join hands and make a circle," and sometimes again, "Join hands and make a circle!" On and on until people understood—join hands and make a circle, that’s all you have to do, right? You get the message! And I felt that anyone who would come on this positively without getting anybody upset, without arousing egos, —those few egos that got aroused would leave in the middle of a meeting and they would never come back—they didn’t come here—but those that kept coming and coming and didn’t care what Murshid did, their Souls were saying, they were just breathing in deeply—just breathing in the Presence—it was like you’d found your way home at last!
End of Tape One
KRISHNADAS: Is there anything you want to take up on the Sheikh Initiation?
SABIRA: I think we covered it very well.
KRISHNADAS: anyway, Pir gave us the initiation—
SITARA: There is a plan in the works that include in this biography will be a chapter on Krishna; do you have anything you would like to add to that?
KRISHNADAS: Murshid gave Darshan once at the Sausalito Art Center, and that is when we first got the Krishna Darshan directly, when one can say that one realized at that moment Krishna was real, because the figure there— for a moment it was a flickering off and on thing—and for a moment it was Murshid and then there was Krishna, and it was directly Krishna. And it was at that time that we saw the Krishna directly, manifesting in the form of Murshid. And along the Krishna line I suppose it has something to do with the fact that when this person first came here there was no dancing and this person had been a dancer for many years, and during the breaks Abd-ar Rahman would play the guitar just for music. Just for music! Music is nothing less than the picture of the Beloved, and it was nothing less than the picture of the Beloved at break time, and he would play and this person felt moved to get up and dance. There wasn’t a lot of room, and so it was just mostly spinning— just kind of turning around and around right on that spot, and Daniel would be sitting there playing, and you (Wali Ali) probably remember that.
WALI ALI: Yeah, I do.
KRISHNADAS: And Murshid wasn’t giving any dancing at all. He was giving Buddhist teachings, Inayat Khan teachings, some breath practices, and no walks or dances. We are not saying that we inspired Murshid to do the dances but it all started coming together at that point. Like Krishna sent this person here, and Krishna mentioned to Murshid that "dancing is certainly a wonderful way, isn’t, it?" And he gave us the practice of visualizing Lord Krishna dancing as one of the first practices he ever gave us. And so it all started coming about at that time, and the dancing and the music and; Murshid started talking at meetings at that time about building up a record collection here at Mentorgarten—music from all over the world, and he was just kind of feeling his way out, and you could kind of tell maybe we’ll play them at breaks, or after meetings for those who want to stay—have different kinds of music from different parts of the world—
WALI ALI: I remember when I was first coming around he was talking about going with you and maybe a couple of other people to India. Do you recall that? And doing a dance—have you forgotten all about that?
KRISHNADAS: I never remembered that. I knew a couple of people had been sent to India.
WALI ALI: No, I’m not talking about that, but he was talking about going to India with one or two people—with Krishnadas and—to do dances at shrines. Do you recall that?
KRISHNADAS: Now that you say it, yes, we heard those words. We weren’t able to fathom it or even take it seriously because Murshid, like Pir Vilayat, was always saying things which later on come true, but at the time they seem very farfetched. Yeah, I remember that; maybe we will yet! Dance at the tomb of Moineddin Chishti! But the dancing started shortly after this person arrived here, and how did we have room in this little room to do dances? Did we go downstairs into the basement?
WALI ALI: That’s when we cleared out the basement and started doing dances down there.
KRISHNADAS: Yeah, it was like April or May of ‘68, something like that. What was the question?
SITARA: I had brought up that you had once said you might like to have a chapter in Murshid” s biography on Krishna.
KRISHNADAS: Oh that’s right, on Krishna—we got the Krishna Darshan from Murshid at the Sausalito Art Center; and since we are in a reminiscent vein; that was the first time in this person’s life that he experienced the reality of Krishna’s being. I was just seeing Murshid sitting there and coming out with this incredible—but I don’t want to use the word incredible, because it has become so deluded by overuse—an incredible meal or an incredible movie—but this was truly incredible because one saw two beings there at the same time. We saw Murshid Sam as the shell, as the body, the spirit that was incarnating, that was infleshing there, was actually Lord Krishna—it wasn’t Murshid pretending! Because you see the ego will tell you at certain points—watching Darshan or getting Darshan, your ego, that’s the way you’ve been wrongly taught for 20 or 30 or 40 years—that people are always shucking. You see Darshan being given and your ego will say, “It’s a man pretending to be Shiva; it’s a man pretending to be Krishna," and it’s terrific, he’s great but he is just thinking about Krishna. So all you hear is your ego, but at this time we saw the possibility—it was just like the other two stories—at that point, you can go with Murshid—who Murshid really is or you can go with the world with your ego—and at that moment we saw this figure up here—oh I can take this as Murshid—and then everything just flashed out and just went white. There was no more thought, and it was Lord Krishna! And it lasted 5 seconds, and they said, "Come on," and somebody led me away. And that was it. And then a month ago, this person gave Krishna Darshan for fifty people at the healing camp and that’s how we learned how to do it. We pretended that we were Murshid giving Krishna Darshan. And how would Murshid be if Lord Krishna were entering into his being? And you had entered into Lord Krishna’s being? How would it be if Lord Krishna were to be looking out through these eyes and seeing his loving disciples coming up? And this made the Darshan work or not work. As long as that concentration was held there was no person, there was only Lord Krishna, and it was, Alhamdulillah! Successful. He always referred to Krishna around this person a lot, and we didn’t know always what he was talking about because we had been brought up with the false idea of who we were—as something else—it wasn’t Lord Krishna, it was someone who was clever and smart and well educated and musically talented and smart and clever and critical and a good literary critic and a good dancer, and I don't know what the hell else. So when Murshid was always talking about Lord Krishna this person is on the floor or just sitting around and he always looked at you as if you know Lord Krishna don’t you? And I didn't know what he was talking about, because one listens to one’s ego. Gradually, and especially after the Krishna Darshan I realized that he was using this person as a focus for other disciples to look at to feel the presence of Lord Krishna. And even today, please forgive me Lord for saying that, not that we are so advanced, but even now we are very much aware of our heritage of a smart-assed past and aware of our true heritage of being a lover of God, which is what Krishnadas means—it means servant of God. So you see yourself like this person tends to get a little angry sometimes, and we realize often that what has saved us from letting this manifest is the thought of Krishna.
And letting that fire become light—breathe in fire, breathe out light. Think of Lord Krishna dancing, that fire that shoots out of his eyes— that loving glance, that isn’t the fire that burns. That’s the fire that makes a thousand Krishnas appear to all who love him, so I think that other people, other disciples have gotten a lot more Krishna through this person than this person did. Because Murshid was saying, "Look at Krishnadas, and this is especially for Krishna now," and this person was wondering, "What's he talking about, what’s he talking about?
I’ll go along with it because it is Murshid, and later on maybe I’ll understand, but right now I don’t see exactly what he is talking about." Here’s a good story. This person was in jail in Arizona, so we get the one phone call and we call our parents naturally—it was the first initiation, the mother, and I talked to the father mainly because they had been expecting this person and there was a choice: should I call Murshid or should I call my parents? I said, "Murshid won’t worry about it, but the parents will. Call the parents." So I called them sitting in the jail office, all the cops standing around listening and saying to themselves, "What’s this dope fiend going to talk about?" So I said, "Call Murshid and tell him I can’t get back." I was planning to be back for something—he wanted me back because he was going to put on some dances, so anyway, the jail trip was all over. Later on we get back and talk to the parents and the mother says, "I called him and he seemed disturbed, he seemed rather upset that you weren’t coming back, he seemed rather annoyed—he said, “Why isn’t he here? I need him; we were going to put on some dances and I wanted him here; that was all he said." When I heard that I just cried and laughed and carried on something awful, because it tickled me to feel that he is ignoring the trip that is going down so that’s your lesson, your ABC’s; you are learning how to meditate in a jail cell, which is why I was put there—to learn how to say Allah. And he was saying, "Why isn’t he here, I need him?" He was concerned about the work here.
SABIRA: Are you willing to tell us about your experiences at his death?
KRISHNADAS: During the time of Murshid’s passing there were very strong feelings of a sort that this person had not usually encountered in life on any level: LSD or not LSD, As Murshid would say. During the 3 or 4 days before his passing, we were hanging out in San Anselmo, just hanging around the house, not doing anything, in a state of almost—we spent a lot of time in the garden: digging, weeding, not talking to people, being very solitary, and not knowing what was going on over here specifically, feeling that Wali Ali and Moineddin were doing all the work and they are taking care of it, I felt like I was letting everybody down. That’s how the ego can make tears come out too, I guess. I did, I felt bad because I knew that a lot of stuff was happening and personally I felt like I was letting Murshid down. Impersonally that’s what was happening, we were being kept there, ego or no ego; and we already had the other lesson about, "It’s his ego that is keeping him away,” and “independence is a sign of spiritual progress."
So we were just hanging out, I guess you could call it. One afternoon, I said to Radha, "Let’s go, let’s go," and we drove to the Chinese hospital. And there were people lined up in the corridor; I didn’t know how to get there, I didn’t know where Chinese Hospital was or anything—but we got the right place, the right parking spot, we got right in and went to the right floor, and someone said, "That way." We got up there, and in the hallway, Moineddin and a whole bunch of all the old disciples were all out in the hall—I shouldn’t say all the old disciples because I don't remember, but Jayanara and Hassan, I think Basira and Shirin. You were there, weren’t you?
WALI ALI: That was right after he died?
KRISHNADAS: It was the day of the passing, yeah. I don’t remember all the forms—it was a hall and there were a line of people—so we were standing and Moineddin said, "Would you like to go in?" So Radha and this person went in and several—Amin and Amina and several people were sitting on the floor, and kneeling by the bed. We immediately just went down on the floor, and I don’t remember how much time passed, I really don’t know, or if time passed—maybe time stopped—it did, of course. What we felt was that there was a great light in the room; it was joy. Lazarus laughed—and that is a story that Murshid told so much. When Lazarus came back from the other side, and they said, "What did you see? Tell us what was it?" He said, "Life and love and eternal laughter." And he told the story lots. And we remembered that story at the time, not thinking, "Oh that means Murshid has passed on, because there was no thought of Murshid has passed or not passed. I don’t know what that means; I still don’t know what it means. If Murshid was real then Murshid is still real! But anyway, there we were on the floor, sitting—and it was light and the room was filled with joy—and I definitely recall looking Murshid’s presence so strong—so joyous, so expansive, like—and I wasn’t saying it in the mind—"Now he’s free from the body," it was just as if Murshid had suddenly become God Himself; the light in the room was filled with life; the eyes were closed, there was joy, there was joy in the room! Hilarity! Terrific! Like Murshid would say, "Terrific!" I don’t remember how he said it, but he would use that expression, and then finally somebody tapped this person on the shoulder and said, "I think the hospital wants to take care of the body." And at that point this person realized, "Oh, he’s dead!" We were laughing inside, "So that’s what they call dead, huh?" And they want to take care of the body; so that was when we first realized that he had passed. The feeling was like in the poem of Rumi” s which Allah told us to read to the disciples, cause a lot of them were going around with long faces and seemed to feel like they had lost their best friend. And the others of us: Wali Ali and Moineddin and this person included were going around really strong. Murshid had re-incarnated and had passed on his joy, like he was just hovering around and dancing, in the spheres. And some of the disciples were going around saying, "Oh my, what are we going to do now? Everything is going to fall apart!" So we mimeographed this poem of Rumi’s saying, "Don’t weep for me when I am gone, I have gone to such a wonderful place; don’t hold me back with your tears; where I have gone is light, is joy." And that is what we felt at that time, and we read that poem and handed out copies to everyone downstairs, I remember a couple of weeks later whenever we had our first meeting after Murshid’s so-called passing, or transfiguration. That was a joyous time, and that is when we really got the message about what so-called death is: don’t weep for people; don’t hold them back with your tears, with your attachments, because they have gone on to help—especially if it is a spiritual teacher, they have gone on to join the Plane of Guidance—the Spirit of Guidance, and they are there where they are free to act through all their disciples and so it has been, so it has been and continues to be. I remember once we made a presentation downstairs and it had been revealed to this person that Murshid was a Saint, or at least it came through in that form, "Murshid is a Saint, you have to tell everybody, Murshid is a Saint." They probably don’t know—oh egotism, wonderful! You have to let them know! Here I’m telling Moineddin and Wali Ali and Fatima and Jayanara, Hassan and Akhbar and Shirin were all sitting up in the front row.
"You didn’t know this probably, but Murshid is a Saint, and I am here to tell you, but he really is—and maybe you didn't know that there really were Saints in this world." Because what I was saying was that I didn't know that there had been Saints, and it suddenly flashed onto me, "Of course, Murshid is a Saint, he really is, he belongs in that class in the Hierarchy." So I made this announcement, and I am standing with my back to Murshid who is sitting at that end, and I am facing this way (gestures) Murshid is sitting there. So we are giving a speech, and getting into the talk our ego disappeared, efface in the message that Murshid is really a Saint, and I just wanted to let you know—and the ego came back, and I turned around and apologized to Murshid for standing with my back to him, he said "Teacher and disciple are the same, there is no front or back!" And I was abashed because my ego, because I was, "Oh excuse me Murshid," and he said, "Cut that crap out, Krishnadas," is what he said in effect, "knock it off, there is no front or back." The teacher and the disciple are the same! And those of us who get put into the position of being guides or leaders, really everything we know—Murshid was a super teacher of teachers. Personally, I always referred to, "How would Murshid have handled this situation?" I don’t consciously pull it out, but you always remember how he treated you and how you saw him treat other people: some with the most incredible tenderness and love and hugs and other people with, "Concentrate on a straight line, that is the end of the interview." Thank you. Zap! One of your disciples came to me last year complaining, at the summer camp in Mendocino, "Wali Ali won’t talk to me; he just says, “concentrate on a straight line." Are you doing it? What in the world do you think it is for? Are you concentrating on a straight line? Go ahead and do it, that’s your practice. He said, "Oh!" He didn’t realize that he was really supposed to do it. Like “He won’t talk to me, won’t hold my hand, won’t give me what I want." I said, "That’s what you were supposed to get, that’s what he is there for to give you that, do it, do it." I saw him recently at that pageant last week, just watched him, I was with some other people, it was just tremendous, he is really strong, self assured and moving around. He used to be kind of lopsided, and walked sideways sort of like.
SITARA: That reminds me of the story you told before, "Okay, form a circle."
KRISHNADAS: Yeah, 3 of 4 times louder and louder: "Join hands and make a circle!" Then louder. Pause—and louder and louder—people were talk, talk, talk, talk.
SITARA: Then by the third time everybody realizes that they really are supposed to join hands and make a circle!
WALI ALI: I’m interested in hearing some of the—I remember—I think it brings out an interesting side of Murshid—it probably brings up certain problems but I’d rather bring it out. Remember there was Ishvani and there was this other girl who was living with you and went off the deep end and she had been a student of Ishvani’s?
KRISHNADAS: Oh yeah.
WALI ALI: And she went to a mental hospital or something? And Murshid went and visited her there. Ishvani came over here and she complained; to Murshid. She said, "I am worried about Krishnadas, how he manages to be a teacher, and I am not sure what he is doing with this girl." And Murshid wouldn’t hear it, he just wouldn’t hear it. And I just want you to know that. That was the way he was with people; even if there was a fault there that he felt that he had to work on, when someone came up and would criticize somebody like that, he was like a piece of stone, just no capacity there. Now I know that whatever it was there is very important to understand about him. To be absolutely indifferent to somebody’s faults, but to be really working with them compassionately.
KRISHNADAS: I brought this out earlier before you came in how he would always stress peoples’ good points and that when he was working with charts, to bring out the positive aspects He would ignore everything—he would even ignore my lack of self-control, my temper, things like that. Finally you start to see yourself the way Murshid sees you. That’s the way it works. In that particular case, I took the same attitude toward Ishvani that Murshid did. Like I didn’t want to have anything to do with her. I drove her over here one night; she was supposed to be here, and no one was present to bring her over to teach some dancing, so this person volunteered and went over in the Nob Hill area and drove her over, and she just gossiped about people all the way over. And finally I said, "I don’t want to hear that kind of talk anymore in this car. Just don’t, please do not talk about that," So she got pissed off at this person. (How are you going to transcribe that?) So she developed an animosity toward this person right from that point because I wouldn’t let her indulge in her favorite gossip trip about someone. I said, "I’m sorry, but I don’t want to hear that kind of talk in this car. It is a rotten atmosphere." Because she was bad-mouthing somebody. From that moment—that night I was playing drums and she stopped the meeting and said, "the drummer is all wrong," I wasn’t wrong, I was all right, and she’s saying, "he's off," so Murshid said, "Alright, don’t play, don’t play, it is bothering Ishvani." So I didn’t play. And then this girl who had been studying Indian dancing with her, moved into the house there, and she’d been on a heavy LSD trip and the residuals started acting up, and she went over to the other side. And this person and another mureed were staying up with her for 24 hours, one of the Cogswell family—
WALI ALI: Yasmin.
KRISHNADAS: Yasmin—we were with her, putting cold packs on her and trying to cool her out, she was just babbling, going on one of those constant talk trips—just talking, talking, talking—so finally Yasmin and I took her to—I just didn’t know what else to do—I didn’t have the ability or capacity the compassion for the healing to manifest—so I took her to Marin General—and it seemed like a good thing to do—the psychiatric outpatient ward, and we sat there until she got admitted. I went back to visit her a few days later and her parents flown out and her father came on to me like I was the devil incarnate or Charles Manson, "You get out of this hospital; she is a minor," she wasn’t a minor. He was treating me like I had corrupted this girl. We hadn’t done anything; we had been good friends, she was about to become a mureed. We weren’t even sweethearts or anything—
SITARA: When was this? ‘71?
KRISHNADAS: I don’t know—
SITARA: After Murshid's death?
WALI ALI: No, no, Murshid was alive. I brought it up because this point of view was brought to him in no uncertain terms. Krishnadas—not only from Ishvani but from the parents and I am curious, did he ever say a word to you about that?
KRISHNADAS: Never! Nothing, because he knew and I knew that there had never been any wrong behavior—really, I hadn’t doped her or drugged her or hit her or anything. But I did hit her like, bonk, bonk—she was hysterical for hours upon hours. And so you hear about that maybe if you hit a person it will shock them. So I slapped her on the cheeks and there was a bruise, and it showed up a couple of days later. So I guess the father had gotten the idea that I had beaten her, something like that. She was throwing herself around and running out into the street naked. She was hitting and banging into things—she was bruised.
WALI ALI: Oh, I remember.
KRISHNADAS: The bruise wasn’t anything that this person had given her. But Murshid never said anything about it. But the parents and Ishvani got together and naturally you have to find a monkey or a scapegoat and—
WALI ALI: I think it is just a good indication of the way he worked with people.
WALI ALI: The tendency would be always when people come in to give them a lot of sympathy on that level if they have criticisms of someone, and if your that person is superior, then it is always easy to sympathize with the criticism. In fact, he felt that that was the position he had been put into at Fairfax and people would go to Murshida Martin and complain about him and then she would gain weight, so to speak, by sympathizing with all the criticisms against him, and he just felt that—and I think that at a certain point he didn’t care if there was a fault there or not. He really didn’t care; he had his vision of what you were supposed to be and he wasn’t going to let that be interfered with by anything real or fanciful that somebody else said. That rock-like quality that he could sustain in certain circumstances—I just wanted to bring that out, because I didn’t know if he had ever said a word to you about it.
KRISHNADAS: I never heard anything about it. I knew from others what others had told me, not that I solicited it, because I don’t care for gossip, but several people had told me that Ishvani had been trying to cause trouble. And I just said, "Had she gone to Murshid?" And I knew in my heart that it was all taken care of, if she went to Murshid. I didn’t have to even worry about it or ask a prayer inside, because I knew that Murshid knew what the story was, and that there was no fault. In speaking of Murshid knowing about the future, concentrating upon seeing where his disciples are moving into the future, about this person’s movement into gardening which started back in ‘69 or ‘70. We first started renting houses that had garden space and then a couple years after that we moved to Geyserville, and rented a ten-acre ranch for a year. And a year after that in ‘72, we went to Allah’s Acres. I mean, God sent us there. We looked from Mexico to Oregon to Idaho and drove all over the place, and suddenly that place appeared. And then later on, just a few weeks ago, Moineddin told this person that they had had a meeting at the house, the Khankah in Novato, and Basira and Shirin were called in because of their special attunement and clairvoyance, seeing—far-seeing, and Murshid had asked Shirin, "What about Krishnadas and what she saw," and she saw that Krishnadas would get some land up north and other people will start coming there. And that that would be a center. Murshid said, "That’s right." He had seen it too, but he just wanted confirmation in the presence of others. Like it could be on the record, that’s what I felt it was for, so he could get this on the minutes of the meeting. And we didn’t know this until a couple of weeks ago. You find yourself doing things in life and you don’t know what the purpose is, that it is part of the plan, and later on your discover, "Oh yeah, this is chapter 14 of a 100 chapter book." And it’s already been written! It just gets opened up to you day by day, and you can’t ask for anymore.
WALI ALI: I know you were one of the people around who knew a lot about Astrology, at the time, and I am curious as to how you responded to the Astrological walks and practices when Murshid started to present those?
KRISHNADAS: Oh God, I thought they were terrific. My knowledge of Astrology had just been books. I had read a number of books and had practiced making charts and all that stuff, but that was the first time it had become real, when he started giving walks based on the planets, and then later in combinations, and then the breaths for the various Planetary aspects, and pointing out to disciples, or all and sundry, but it was mostly the Saturday night class that all the planets are aspects of one’s own being, because a lot of Astrologers talk about rays coming from the Planets and that they are coming this way and that they meet here in each being, but they are all within one’s own being, and Murshid made that clear beyond a doubt, because “That is Saturn and Mars, see, that’s how it looks," He’d be it, and you could throw your charts away when you can watch a person walk; there’s the chart walking around. I mentioned earlier in reference to this about his asking everybody to bring their charts and that this person had brought his chart, and he just looked at it and gave it back. And he said, "We’ll work with this later." He never gave me a walk, and he mentioned to someone else in respect to that—Munira passed the story along, I don’t know whether it is accurate or not, or whether she colored it or whether it is true—but I suspect that she reported it accurately. And when you tell things about your own person it sounds funny but I want to get it on the record, but what Munira said— it was in relation to states of evolution and in relation to walks, and why this person had never gotten a walk, and Murshid evidently said to Munira, "Krishnadas is on a different plane of evolution—different plane, different stage of evolution." I didn’t know what that meant, and one still doesn’t know, because I didn’t—the first initiation I got was Sheikh, and I turned it down for a year. I didn’t want any initiations, I didn’t want to belong to any outfits, and then suddenly I realized that that is how it has to function through a certain form, and that is the Sufi Order.
WALI ALI: Yeah, because Murshid was able—and this is something that is interesting because there were the powers in his being, that changeable quality, he was able to keep so many different kinds of relationships going at the same time without any conflict. After his passing, things got more fixed. "What are you, is it a this or a that?" so I recall his talking about you, too, in the same way. He said, "Krishnadas—it’s a related path, it is not quite the same, so there is no point in putting him through the same mill, so to speak." And still I think that everybody has done their best to make the Sufi Order the vehicle it has become. It’s an interesting question how certain things might have developed differently if that same quality was—
KRISHNADAS: Speculation! Food of the ego! Murshid was sitting right here and Pir Vilayat was sitting right here, and—April or May of ‘68, he said, "I support this man, and everything he says I stand in back of." That was before Pir Vilayat had spoken, and after he had spoken, Murshid was—
SITARA: Speaking about you?
KRISHNADAS: No Pir Vilayat—that was the first time that Pir Vilayat had ever appeared here, and he just showed up at—right in this room, all by himself, clean shaven and very humble and just sitting very quietly. And after he had spoken, with that tremendous eloquence and the feeling of that magnificence that he carries, Murshid said afterwards, "I’ve had everyone of these experiences, I confirm them.” Somehow that was when the Sufi Order became a reality for this person, and not just Murshid and this house, and it has taken quite a few years, and it will take a few more years for the Message to reach the members of the original cast—Murshid’s original disciples—that the Sufi Order really is the channel through which this Message can function—Murshid’s Message.
WALI ALI: Basically what we are doing, Krishnadas, is that we are trying to compile a full historical record, before everybody’s memories get too vague, so that they will be available just for their own purposes as a record—and that there will be a book, I have no doubt. But I am basically interested in just compiling all this data so it is here and then so it is available for people who want to dig in there, and find out what was really going on.
KRISHNADAS: As in the biography, the Gospel of Sri Rama Krishna, that was all taken by his disciple, M—and if somebody hadn’t done that, that wonderful inspiring book would not be here—that big one, that big, thick book—it’s been a great inspiration to a lot of us. Sometime I am thinking up there (points to head) that there is so much to do up at Allah’s Acres and we are keeping everybody working, with projects that are going. I start thinking, “Books, books, books, city trips, and how important are books after all”; I’m trying to get these buildings built, and I got the inspiration for a Temple just a few days ago, and drove a stake in the center—it’s going to be circular, and we made the path around, and we walk the path every morning and do our practices on the circular path where the Temple will be built. And that plus a hundred other things, and I start thinking, "Books, books, books” and Inayat Khan saying, "The only book is the sacred manuscript of nature." But I remember too in my earlier formative period, how inspiring to me Rama Krishna was; what a good-luck charm that book was, reading it over and over. What he said and did, and the same thing about all the books about Papa, and especially Ramanamaharshi —all the books about him, I read them over and over, and I still do, and I read out of them to people. And these are tremendously inspiring, and if somebody hadn’t taken the trouble to say, "We have to get this down," that material wouldn’t be out there. This can serve the same function, because Murshid was a great teacher; and this isn’t praising one’s own teacher, and I tell people in Candidates’ classes which I am having up there regularly—because a lot of people are spooked by the idea of talking about the Master or the group—"Oh, oh, we are going to get sucked into an organization," and I say, "My teacher was terrific, but don’t think that I don’t think that Satchidananda or Swami Muktananda or Joe Miller or any of the other enlightened beings that I know or Wali Ali or Moineddin aren't just as great, it’s just that that’s the one that this person first met, and where it made the strongest impression." I don’t want these people that are candidates to be scared away by feeling that they have got to bow, down and think, “These are the only teachers, and we have to turn our backs on the others." Because I tell them how Murshid behaved and how he wrote letters trying to get in touch with all the other spiritual teachers. And trying to get them all together; that’s what he did—ecumenicalism—if that is the right word—at its highest: eat and pray and dance together! Telling about his experiences in Japan with the Roshis and in India and in all the countries—all the spiritual teachers would say, "Let’s have some tea," and talk about the weather and grace.
WALI ALI: Would you sum up your feelings about Murshid?
KRISHNADAS: Murshid was the gate, the first feelings one had in meeting Murshid was that this was a real being—the importance of your own being suddenly starts to decline, and then later one realizes that this is a gate, that the reality that one perceives in Murshid is the reality of one’s own being. That this is the gate through which God’s Love manifests, through one enters into the Presence of Allah. That the being of the Murshid is the being of God, is the being of the disciple; and the only function of the Murshid is to act as the gateway. Because you look at a man and you see a man, and you look at the man and you see God; and you look at the man and you see Man and God as one, and to the extent that you have effaced yourself in the Murshid, then you are taken into the heart of Allah. Or at least you are placed on that path, the never-ending path toward the heart of the One! Then Murshid disappears, really as a Murshid; what one has now is the presence really of Krishna, of Jesus, of Mohammed, of Moses, of Inayat Khan, and Murshid—all beings you might say, on the place of the Spirit of Guidance, working ceaselessly for the enlightenment of mankind—agencies through which God makes Himself known to men in the forms of men as: Jesus, Zoroaster, Murshid Sam, Wali Ali, Moineddin, Pir Vilayat,—all gateways. By making the attunement to these gateways one’s own false being disappears and one’s true being shines out. And then one’s task is laid open to one and one simply has to—there is no choice—you have to help others, because there is no such thing as personal enlightenment! You are only given a glimpse of that so that you can bring others into that light—and the reason that there is enlightenment is so that all can be gathered into the One. So Murshid’s function is in the life of every disciple a channel, a gate, words, a light—the Light from beyond which shines into this world, then may see the world as it really is illuminated by Divine Light. "Our homage, our gratitude,” are words that we can say, and yet our homage and our gratitude can never be expressed; this is like finding your life! How can you get words to find your life? You didn’t know who you were; you thought you were somebody and you weren’t that, and that all disappears, and the Murshid would say, "Don’t thank me." The Murshid would say, "Praise God." And he would say, "Let’s take a break now and have some tea."